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Old 07-02-2013, 10:32 PM   #1
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Soft top rec: easiest/quickest to from from naked to clothed :)

Hi all! I'm new to the Jeep world with my 02 and loving it! Had the doors off and soft top down for the past week and today put it back together and wow, what a hassle. To be fair it is 13 years old, a few owners and I don't think it got much use going up and down. The rear window's zipper is pulling and slipping and splitting in a few areas along with the zipper ends peeling off and I had to negotiate a lineup about 10 ties before taking. Then it took an act of God and a few curse words to get the side windows in too (zippers) and the parts you roll and tuck in over the doors were incredibly difficult. And overall it feels like the little kid overbundled in the winter and zippers about to pull!

Judging by this I have factory hardware:
Identifying Your Jeep Soft Top Hardware | etrailer.com

Question: Which softtop would be easiest and fastest to get on and off? I'd like to be able to take it on and off a few times during the summer without much hassle. I've read hear this can be done in about 15-20 minutes with quality top and maintained zipper and practice!

Thanks much in advance.

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Old 07-02-2013, 11:42 PM   #2
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Do you mean like a brand new top? I've got a Rampage Frameless top. With practice, you can have it from naked to totally clothed in 20 minutes, with out the hassle of the framework. But I'm unsure as to what you're specifically asking....

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Old 07-03-2013, 12:04 AM   #3
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Hello! Yes, I'm looking for a new top. Mine now has horrible zippers and feels like it's a half size too small. Took me an hour to get the top up and windows on. Doors back on in under 2 minutes. The back window was almost a half hour itself
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Old 07-03-2013, 12:21 AM   #4
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Hello! Yes, I'm looking for a new top. Mine now has horrible zippers and feels like it's a half size too small. Took me an hour to get the top up and windows on. Doors back on in under 2 minutes. The back window was almost a half hour itself
My problem exactly. I'd tell you to get the Rampage Frameless. No complaints, plus, it can convert to a nice safari top in like 5 minutes and has a pocket to store your windows. And it isn't too hard to totally take off and put in the back. The only thing, it doesn't fold down all nice and neat. So....there's that. Idk what your preference is. I love mine. With it in safari mode, your get the full feel of no top, with out the seats burning the skin off your thighs when you sit down.
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Old 07-03-2013, 12:28 AM   #5
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Softopper. Frameless, comes with all the necessary hardware, sailcloth, available tinted windows, comes in several different colors.

www.softopper.com

Takes about 3 minutes to convert it to a safari top, or about 5 to take it all the way off. Goes back on just as quickly.
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Old 07-03-2013, 12:33 AM   #6
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No doubt, go frameless. How do the smaller windows in the soft topper work out? I was considering getting one, but they looked too little to me. Kinda....idk disproportionate.
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Old 07-03-2013, 01:12 AM   #7
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Wow, those are 2 great options thank you both! I love the idea of a safari top with stowed windows just in case!!!

I assuming each of you have those, right? Question: how well do they do at highway speeds and during the winter?

Wait, Lindel, you are not far from me! I'm in Hoffman Estates by the Assembly restaurant, where are you at?
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Old 07-03-2013, 01:30 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by WredTJ View Post
Wow, those are 2 great options thank you both! I love the idea of a safari top with stowed windows just in case!!!

I assuming each of you have those, right? Question: how well do they do at highway speeds and during the winter?

Wait, Lindel, you are not far from me! I'm in Hoffman Estates by the Assembly restaurant, where are you at?
I've had no problem at highway speeds. Little to no flapping. BUT I've only had it for a month, so no advice on winter usage
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Old 07-03-2013, 04:56 AM   #9
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Buy a bikini top for the warmer months and a soft top for the rest of the year. Besttop makes nice tops that are relatively quiet.
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Old 07-03-2013, 05:06 AM   #10
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The OEM framed top is the easiest top for closed/fully open. While you can take off the frameless top, they are not as friendly to remove/install nor are they easy to carry with you.

To reuse your frame, you can get Bestop Replace-A-Top which is new fabric.

Note you may not be installing in the best method. Look on Youtube. There are lots of videios for how to work the top.
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Old 07-03-2013, 05:28 AM   #11
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It takes some trial and error before you get your own routine. I imagine its one of those things that no two people do exactly the same! I can have my top up or down in about ten minutes. The side window zippers are the awkward part. It alway amazes me how much difference warm weather makes too. It doesn't even feel like the same fabric when it's been in the sun for a while.
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Old 07-03-2013, 06:11 AM   #12
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I like the Bestop Sail cloth replacement top. Quieter on the highway and looks nice. I can have my stock top down in less than 10 minutes every time and back up in about 12. As said above, once you have a routine it gets pretty easy. One little trick I learned was to put a zip tie through the hole in the zipper tab for each side window. Use a larger tie and leave it so there is a big loop. Works terrific to get a little leverage to move those zippers up and down in a hurry. I can post a picture if anyone is interested and doesn't understand it from my description.
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Old 07-03-2013, 09:44 AM   #13
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Thanks for the tips, all, they are appreciated.

Biggest problem is my rear wind: the zipper leading tab to start the zip up process is deteriorated and not there so I have to start by feeding a piece of crusty cotton into the zipper feeder and hope my estimation is right + zipper unzips mid-stream in 2 or 3 spots AFTER it's okay for a few minutes + those lead to a weird pulling on the rear window.

The other things (the pull & tuck plastic tabs (sorry don't know propper name) and the order of things, etc) I am sure I can improve on with practice. But when the back window takes 30 minutes alone and the rest is a physical workout I'm thinking I need something better than a 13 y/o system that is over crusted with horrible zippers. Seriously, I wouldn't buy a jacket with wimpy zipper like those

Side question for the frameless: if i found a great deal locally on a hardtop wouldn't i have to remove the softtop frame to put it on?
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Old 07-03-2013, 10:33 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WredTJ View Post
Wow, those are 2 great options thank you both! I love the idea of a safari top with stowed windows just in case!!!

I assuming each of you have those, right? Question: how well do they do at highway speeds and during the winter?

Wait, Lindel, you are not far from me! I'm in Hoffman Estates by the Assembly restaurant, where are you at?
Right now I'm in Dallas visiting family, but I live in Carpentersville. Not far off of 25, about 1.5 miles north of 72. I'm planning on being at home on the 11th.

My Softopper did great last winter, and it's much quieter than the stock top. The top also has window storage above the driver.
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Old 07-03-2013, 10:36 AM   #15
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No doubt, go frameless. How do the smaller windows in the soft topper work out? I was considering getting one, but they looked too little to me. Kinda....idk disproportionate.
No problems at all seeing out of them, they're pretty much the same size as the stock soft top windows.
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Old 07-03-2013, 10:37 AM   #16
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The OEM framed top is the easiest top for closed/fully open. While you can take off the frameless top, they are not as friendly to remove/install nor are they easy to carry with you.

To reuse your frame, you can get Bestop Replace-A-Top which is new fabric.

Note you may not be installing in the best method. Look on Youtube. There are lots of videios for how to work the top.
Not so! The softopper is easier and faster going up and down.
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Old 07-03-2013, 10:40 AM   #17
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Thanks for the tips, all, they are appreciated.

Biggest problem is my rear wind: the zipper leading tab to start the zip up process is deteriorated and not there so I have to start by feeding a piece of crusty cotton into the zipper feeder and hope my estimation is right + zipper unzips mid-stream in 2 or 3 spots AFTER it's okay for a few minutes + those lead to a weird pulling on the rear window.

The other things (the pull & tuck plastic tabs (sorry don't know propper name) and the order of things, etc) I am sure I can improve on with practice. But when the back window takes 30 minutes alone and the rest is a physical workout I'm thinking I need something better than a 13 y/o system that is over crusted with horrible zippers. Seriously, I wouldn't buy a jacket with wimpy zipper like those

Side question for the frameless: if i found a great deal locally on a hardtop wouldn't i have to remove the softtop frame to put it on?
They ship the vehicle with both tops from the factory. The fabric for the soft top needs to be installed, but the frame is already in place.
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Old 07-03-2013, 10:48 AM   #18
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My jeep came from the PO with a bestop replace a top on the factory hardware. I had originally planned on going with something like a softopper or a rampage frameless, but after owning the bestop for a year, I won't. The convenience of being able to go from covered to uncovered (no window install, just the canopy) in less than 3 minutes is priceless. I keep my windows with me rolled up in a bestop carrying bag, but rarely if ever use them in the spring, summer and fall months. I'm doorless anyway, so as long as I stay moving, the rain doesn't get into the jeep too bad. When torrential downpours hit, I might throw the windows in and just tough out the doorless part. Going from naked to completely covered with windows installed takes me 7-10 minutes. I can cut it down to under 5 if I have a helps.

From what I've seen online, taking off and putting on a frameless is FAR more work (obviously) and it just doesn't seem worth it to me. The framed tops fold down nice and neat and they're always with you... Just my two cents.
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Old 07-03-2013, 11:16 AM   #19
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Check the videos for the Softopper.
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Old 07-03-2013, 12:19 PM   #20
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lindel, thanks for all the great info and loving the videos! Wow, I'm about 90% sure my plan will be order one today and then look for a hardtop down road.

Last questions on Softopper:
1) how are the zippers? They look supper rugged like a Columbia jacke (vs tent zippers on my current)
2) how easy to get windows on when the temps are cooler? I'm assuming all will be snug at first then relaxed so let's say after a month!

Thanks again!!!
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Old 07-03-2013, 12:19 PM   #21
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Bestop replace a top is nice. my jeep's PO put one on. zippers can still be tough for the windows, but as said earlier, use something to get extra leverage.. one of my pulls broke off and I just use a needle nose pliers. works great.
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Old 07-03-2013, 01:00 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by WredTJ View Post
lindel, thanks for all the great info and loving the videos! Wow, I'm about 90% sure my plan will be order one today and then look for a hardtop down road.

Last questions on Softopper:
1) how are the zippers? They look supper rugged like a Columbia jacke (vs tent zippers on my current)
2) how easy to get windows on when the temps are cooler? I'm assuming all will be snug at first then relaxed so let's say after a month!

Thanks again!!!
The zippers are a lot more substantial than factory. As far as putting windows in, I did the initial install towards the end of last October, on probably the last 60* day of the year. Another nice feature is that the zippers on the top itself are held on with industrial velcro, makes it infinitely adjustable.

If you can stand waiting a few more days, you can look mine over in person. Delivery took 3 days from Boulder, CO.
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Old 07-03-2013, 01:17 PM   #23
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Bestop replace a top is nice. my jeep's PO put one on. zippers can still be tough for the windows, but as said earlier, use something to get extra leverage.. one of my pulls broke off and I just use a needle nose pliers. works great.
You can replace the slider. It's a YKK#10. You can get replacements from jeepit.com or ebay
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Old 07-03-2013, 02:00 PM   #24
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Neil, the stock zipper for the back window is a wimpy thing which is pulling apart and I cannot feed it into the slider properly since the metal tab at the end crusted off. So it's all a guessing game for me

Thanks, Lindel, that is really super kind. I'm off work this week and Monday and wife is out of town so I have time to work on it so I think I'll just place my order. But I may reach out in the future if you don't mind, neighbor
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Old 07-03-2013, 02:26 PM   #25
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Neil, the stock zipper for the back window is a wimpy thing which is pulling apart and I cannot feed it into the slider properly since the metal tab at the end crusted off. So it's all a guessing game for me
The reply was for nicholas.c on getting the new slider
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Old 07-03-2013, 02:36 PM   #26
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Neil, the stock zipper for the back window is a wimpy thing which is pulling apart and I cannot feed it into the slider properly since the metal tab at the end crusted off. So it's all a guessing game for me

Thanks, Lindel, that is really super kind. I'm off work this week and Monday and wife is out of town so I have time to work on it so I think I'll just place my order. But I may reach out in the future if you don't mind, neighbor
NP, let me know.
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Old 07-03-2013, 08:55 PM   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WredTJ View Post
Thanks for the tips, all, they are appreciated.

Biggest problem is my rear wind: the zipper leading tab to start the zip up process is deteriorated and not there so I have to start by feeding a piece of crusty cotton into the zipper feeder and hope my estimation is right + zipper unzips mid-stream in 2 or 3 spots AFTER it's okay for a few minutes + those lead to a weird pulling on the rear window.

The other things (the pull & tuck plastic tabs (sorry don't know propper name) and the order of things, etc) I am sure I can improve on with practice. But when the back window takes 30 minutes alone and the rest is a physical workout I'm thinking I need something better than a 13 y/o system that is over crusted with horrible zippers. Seriously, I wouldn't buy a jacket with wimpy zipper like those

Side question for the frameless: if i found a great deal locally on a hardtop wouldn't i have to remove the softtop frame to put it on?

I have the orignal factory soft top. As said get a couple zipper pulls (ziptie's/keyrings) as far as the rear window once you have found out the correct zipper alignment mark it on both sides with a sharpie marker or some other way then you will be able to align it perfect the first time. The warmer the better if you have some spare time roll it in the sun first. I hook the front of the roof first and work my way back. Hook the rear corners next then rear window and finally side windows align up the vertical hard plastic door jam then zipper all the way then tuck in the velcro finally the bottom hard plastic cilp. It goes faster if you have 2 people of course. If it is really hard to do by your self I have used a ratcheting strap down strap, run it over the rear soft top fram rail and hook it to the hitch, ratchet it down and hook it all around then release the strap.
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Old 07-04-2013, 10:10 AM   #28
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I got rid of the factory top after the first time I used it. I purchased the Softopper and have been for the most part quite pleased with it. I always leave the top on, but can remove or reinstall the three sides in about 5 minutes.

Keith
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Old 07-04-2013, 11:16 AM   #29
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hcarl - thanks for the tips. I'm sure if it was new this would not be such a problem. The zipper is jacked: missing starter tab, pulling apart in multiple spots.

For reference, here is the model I was following:

Trains - thanks for your feedback. That was exactly my hope with this! Thanks!!
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Old 07-05-2013, 09:56 PM   #30
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I will be honest I gave that tip about the ratcheting strap before I had ever proven the concept. Well I can now report that I used that just the other day putting my top back on. Started at the front and used the straps to pull down the rear worked so smooth. Had the top done in almost half time. Over the rear bar and hooked to the trailer hitch chain loops.

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