I have a 1995 YJ with an original soft top. I recently invested in a Brand-X aftermarket fiberglass hardtop and separately, Bulldawg fiberglass uppers (awesome product!). The top is made by a local San Diego firm and is not factory or one of the aftermarket "big names." The top seemed to fit just fine, including the hardtop/windshield boundary. But during its first time at extended highway speeds, I noticed a draft coming from the center of the top and at higher speeds (65+), could occasionally see some daylight. My son drove it to Death Valley today and called to report that the weatherstripping had started to come loose and blow through the center area. So, I need to do something soon for him, as he will working there this winter.
This top is mounted to the tub by four large bolts, but has no hardware to secure the top to the windshield frame. The only bit of flex seems to be in the center of the hard top, near where it meets the windshield frame. There certainly isn't much flex. For the windshield frame/hard top gasket, the installers used 3 layers of foam tape, each about 1/4" thick each and stacked them to get the proper seal, sandwiching them between the top of the windshield frame and the hardtop itself. Despite the seeming solidness, our recent experience cries for a solution.
I have done some looking on this forum and elsewhere on the internet trying to find a solution to my problem. Most everyone seems to be using the foam tape, or a similar approach, to create a seal between the hard top and the windshield frame. The aftermarket kits to fasten the hardtop to the windshield, or at least snug it up a bit, seem to be oriented towards the factory tops. I hesitate to drill through or into the top itself, as fiberglass is not that robust. One gentleman also recommended putting a bead of clear silicone sealant between the hardtop and the windshield frame, to further block air flow.
Has anyone had similar issues with aftermarket tops? If so, how did you overcome them? I had thought of trying to find some harder rubber (about 1/2" thick or so for a bottom layer that is glued to the windshield frame, with a layer or two of the silicone tape between this harder rubber strip and the hardtop itself. Not sure where I would get the rubber strip I envision, and it may create other issues.
Any thoughts or advice are welcome. Thanks in advance!
Every top I have ever seen has always had a method of securing it to the windshield frame. The factory tops use a metal strip with screws and most aftermarket tops use some form of clamps. I think you pretty much need something up there to pull the front of the top down or wind will get under it at highway speeds and try to lift it up.
yeah i would def find a way to secure it to the windshield atleast near the middle section. i would almost guarentee that after time of driving and def on the highway that it will some how weaken the fiberglass and it will prob start cracking and be trash.
Take a pic of the outside edge and the inside edge for us on here and we might be able to help you out some more....GL
The Jeep is up at Death Valley right now. It may take some time to get the pictures of the aftermarket hard top. I will see what I can do. Wish I had discovered this problem other than at the 11-1/2th hour.
In lieu of photographs, here is a description of how the top fits to the windshield both inside and out. Externally, the hard top fits very close and tight to the windshield when at rest. There is really not much of gap to speak of. From the inside, there is about a 1/2" gap between the top of the windshield and the hardtop. A bit of the gasketing material can be seen. At highway speeds, the gap view from the passenger's seat can grow another 1/4" at speeds over 65-70mph and in gusty winds.
Wrangler Haven and minigfather -- This particular top does not have the attachment points that you describe. I did some scouring of the web and now understand what should have been included in the design.
I found some references to using draw latches to secure the top to the windshield. These appear to be used in newer models and in certain other aftermarket tops (not mine, unfortunately). I have found a couple of good candidate latches from McMaster-Carr. Attaching the base to the windshield is not a problem. However, I have zero experience in bolting or riveting things to fiberglass. Any advice would be very welcome.
Here is what I have on my '91. This is an aftermarket top. There is a sheet metal strip which runs across the front inside of the top and is attached with screws into the fiberglass. The quick clamps are riveted to the sheet metal strip. The clamp hook-end is riveted to the windshield frame. This distributes the load exerted by the clamps across the entire front of the top.
The factory top uses a similar sheet metal strip substituting the quick clamps for about 10 screws into the windshield frame.
This crude diagram is my idea of how I could attach my particular top to the YJ windshield. I need to secure it in center, for sure, to reduce or eliminate the movement there. However, since I am going to be drilling holes, I might as well secure it on the driver and passenger side as well. I could use the center footman bar and the driver/passenger sun visor mounts for this.
My main concern is putting undue stress on the fiberglass roof by doing this. I just have no experience here. The roof is reasonably beefy, but I do not have the exact specifications for it. I estimate at least 1/4" to 3/8" thick where my roof mounts would attach. To further spread the load, I could rig up a strip of metal 1" to 1-1/2" wide to go across the width of the roof on the inside to act as on giant washer.
Again, any guidance would be most welcome. I'd hate to have three relatively small holes ruin the hardtop.
Wrangler Haven - That looks pretty sharp. What type and size of screws does your rig use? (e.g. sheet metal screws, #6 1/2" length). Better yet, perhaps I could order those pieces from your aftermarket and use them on mine. I do appreciate your assistance.
#6 1/2" sounds about right. They are not very long, just enough to get some bite. The clamps are just the ones from the "Kwik Kit" (Quadratec).
As for the sheet metal strip, your top should have come with this. It's pretty much the standard way to secure the top to the windshield frame.
You may want to contact your seller and ask them about it.
As for the maker of my particular top, sadly they are no longer in business.