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Old 03-19-2012, 07:51 AM   #1
Matador's Avatar
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Location: Long Island, NY
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DIY Hardtop Hoist and Dolly

I finally had some free time this weekend and took the hardtops off my wife's JKU and my JK. I didn't want to spend over $100 on the racor lift, which is a great setup BTW just overkill for me since I would just be lifting it 2-3" and then putting it back down. I opted instead to buy a set of ratchet straps from Harbor Freight, some 2x4 and some bolts for a total of under $15

This made it easier for me to pull the Jeep back into position. After removing the freedom tops and all the bolts I lifted the top a bit and slipped the straps over the roll bars spanning the length of the hardtop.

From there, I just ratcheted it up enough to drive the Jeep out from underneath it.

From there, it was time to lower it. I slowly released the straps, alternating sides and readjusting the angle of the top since it tended to tip back. I had placed some carpet and padding over the rubber seals in the back window so this made it easy to slide the top.

I worked it down slowly until eventually, Touchdown.

Next came the storage dolly. Again, I could have gone out and spent over $100 on a rolling dolly, but I decided to make my own. I used these plans...
Dolly Instructions Jeep Wrangler.pdf

Overall the plans are good, I just added and additional 2X4 to brace the center. Also, I would recommend larger caster wheels. I used the 2" in the plan which worked, but 4" would be much better. Overall I spent less then $35 on each Dolly. I had to make two, so I was able to knock out the second one in under an hour.

From there I placed the hard top into position, making sure that it was nice and centered.

Then I just tilted it up and back. The top slide against the brace really easily and it worked perfectly. Its a nice stable support.

Finally, I wrapped a tarp over it and tied it all up. Its now wheeled in the corner until the Fall.

Overall it went pretty smoothly. I was able to do everything alone. It took me a couple of hours because I was very careful and figuring everything out as I went along. When my wife came home we just lifted her top off the Jeep together so I didn't use the straps, but if I had to do it all over again it would go by much faster. I know that pulley systems like the Racor are more efficient and would have taken me a fraction of the time the straps did but I figured that I could use the money I saved towards other mods. I hope this is useful for others looking to do the same thing, let me know if there are any questions.

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Old 03-19-2012, 08:35 AM   #2
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Nice work and good writeup. That flooring is pretty unique for a garage.

'11 JKU Sport - TF Leveling Kit - 16" Strike 5s on 33s
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Old 03-19-2012, 10:23 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by 4fit View Post
Nice work and good writeup. That flooring is pretty unique for a garage.
Nice! My first thought was why is he putting his hard top in his home office. Then I saw the garage door opener and had to reorient my perspective on the room. Sweet garage!
Clake Bewije
'11 JKU-S
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Old 03-19-2012, 10:53 AM   #4
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I've been using a similar setup for several years and agree... It's cheap, easy and works great!
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Old 03-19-2012, 11:03 AM   #5
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Since you moved the 59" 1X2 more towards the middle, do you notice better support?
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Old 03-19-2012, 11:10 AM   #6
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Thanks guys. I use the space as a work out room whenever I'm not building stuff or working on the Jeep. So I wanted something cheap I could throw down that wouldn't look terrible and I picked up some cheap laminate flooring that Lumber Liquidators had on sale for ˘17 sq/ft. I bought a couple of boxes and knocked it out in one day last summer. Its held up pretty well and I have had the Jeeps in/out of it several times. I just can't bring them in wet because standing water would warp the floor.

As for the hoist, I don't have much room to begin with given the height of the garage and the door opener etc. so I figured I would give the ratchet idea a try first and if it didn't work I would try something else. But overall it worked really well. The only thing that slowed down the process was the lowering part. Loosening the straps slowly was a bit difficult and I had to do it slowly and alternating the sides then shifting the top so it sat straight instead of at an angle. Other then that its a great alternative to the more expensive hoist systems.

While I was at Harbor Freight I saw that they had a small electrical winch on sale for $39. I might look into bolting that up and using that instead, I'll see. Right now I'm just enjoying this weather and driving around with the soy top down.
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Old 03-19-2012, 02:26 PM   #7
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That's pretty sweet! I think I might try this this summer. How long are those straps? (I guess I should also ask how high your ceiling is to...) I've already got some straps, but I don't know if they will be long enough.
"I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom that I provide, then questions the manner in which I provide it."
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Old 04-17-2012, 03:44 PM   #8
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4 hooks anchored into the joists of the garage ceiling. two ratchet straps with 400lb load each. i've had the jeep just over 2 weeks and i've used the hoist about 5 times. works like a charm.
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Old 06-01-2012, 02:05 PM   #9
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How do you lower it using the racket straps? Once you pull the release it just drops? Right?
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Old 06-01-2012, 02:20 PM   #10
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I made myself a similar setup, I used an eyebolt screwed into a joist, and then two heavy duty bike hanger hooks that I screwed into the beam in my garage. I back the Jeep in under the hooks, run a simple rope through it and tie it off at the front on the eyebolt, takes 5 minutes...then I drive right out. To make it even better, I can park under it, the hood ends up being just inches short of rubbing the bottom of the hardtop (saves all kinds of spce in the garage). To put it back on I just back into the garage under the top, release the rope and it only has to drop about an inch, the rollbars guide the top on when I am backing in. I didn't spend any money on this setup as it was all things i had laying around the garage, regardless it wouldn't take more than $15 to rig this up.

Happy Trails!
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Old 10-10-2013, 12:59 PM   #11
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I plan on modifying this, since I already have it.

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Old 10-10-2013, 03:39 PM   #12
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My DIY hoist is generally like Matador's and Patty's. I used 4 eye bolds in ceiling beams and 2 more larger gauge ones in a side 2x4 to support. I found that I'm not strong enough to lift everything by pulling on the ropes. So I use the ratcheding straps instead.

The whole contraption is unsafe. If any element gives way, the whole thing is going to come down. A particular danger is having ropes slip off the strap hooks, which are very smooth. The ratchet straps are typical made in China things. The 2x4 used to construct the garage sides is not awesomely strong either and in the end all the weight rests on one of those. But it worked okay so far. When I'm away wheeling, I build a support inside the top from folding tables and chairs, which hopefuly should save my wife's car at least in case of a failure.

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Old 04-12-2014, 07:55 PM   #13
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pretty disappointed, just put a DIY hard top cart together, was on a level surface and one wheel is a solid 1/2 inch off the floor. the boards looked straight at the store, not so much put together i guess....

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