Okay, this seems like a stupid problem, but I must be missing something.
Im installing my freshly redone TJ top on my 02 Sport, and do not know what im missing. I set the top on, and get the two clips on the side into the front window molding. Top lines up flush on the top of the window channel. But, the front latches have WAY too much slack to even think about latching. I mean, I can latch the latch, and it wont even get close to applying pressure to the top. Am I missing a seal??
I didnt remove my soft top seal from the windshield. This is an OEM top also.
Any help would be GREATLY appreciated. Im headed back outside to cuss at it some more.
Location: where I wheel: N 45º 36.663' W 123º 20.935'
Do the 6 torx bolts along the side of your Jeep line up and go through the holes? If in fact that is an OEM top, I'm not sure about the latches - mine were black - yours are either stainless or not painted. You apparently have the header weather stripping in place. How does the back look?
1998 TJ Moss Green Sahara w/ numerous scratches & dents whose playground is on a tropical island that's 33 miles long and 4-12 miles wide, in year-round 82 degree weather
Could the holes where the latch goes into be stretched out. I just checked mine and they are a small oval. In your second picture, the hole looks oblong. I may be wrong, but mine are alot smaller. That would take tension off of the latch. I actually cut a vacuum hose in half and put them in the opening to give mine a little more tension cause I had wind noise, not anymore.
Your "front" bolt holes are right behind the door frame. There are "slotted" holes between the front and second (middle bolt) where a plastic clip goes. I think you have the "front" bolts in the slotted holes for the clips. They have about 1" of "play" if you have a bolt in there. So, unbolt it and do everything BUT remove the top.
Line up the top where it's supposed to go in the front and clip the clips. They aren't supposed to do much except hold the front down and in place on the gasket.
Then, check the rear bolt holes and they should be lined up. See if that's the ticket.
Ok, but if you got the front of the top to line up on the rubber seal ok this time, I think it's just an issue with you latching it.
They ain't tricky per say but you have to have the latches in the window frame when the latches are like 2/3 closed and then keep them in the frame while you push the handle forward to snap them in. The snap tight enough to be "firm" (for lack of a better term) but not so tight that you really have to push all that hard...
The biggest concern I had was the photo you posted with the front of the top not touching the window frame on top. So if that's "normal" now, I think you are good to go minus messing with getting it latched.
So todays search for a TJ with a hard top yielded little results. I looked at it again.... and decided to weatherstrip the CRAP out of the header. I also took the hose suggestion, and put a piece in the slot to take up some extra space. It latches and stays, but is not really that tight. I put the remainder of the bolts into the tub.... and am going to go with that for the moment. Im going to take my other set of latches, slice the latch in half... take out 1/2 in of material and weld it back together.
So really... im pretty stumped. As far as I know, there is only one set of latches for this thing. There is no seal on the hard top... and it only uses the factory header seal to seal against. I never thought putting a hard top on could be such a pain. Looking back, I have almost spent more time trying to do the install than I spent repainting and glassing the crack that was in it.