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Heliotropic 10-04-2012 09:09 PM

My hardtop repair and paint
I bought my '04 Sport with 107k miles at the end of August from the original owner who had kept the Jeep garaged and meticulously maintained. He used it as his daily-driver and very little trail riding. Needless to say, it was in excellent condition inside and out. EXCEPT for the damage you see in the picture below. Apparently he had backed into a bollard at a gas station one night. That was the only thing that made me hesitant on buying it. But after some research and pricing I decided to buy it, I figured after repair cost I would still be below book value. He had also accepted my offer of $1000 less than his asking price because of the damage.

I took the jeep in for bids on the repair for body and hardtop, which came in a little higher than I was wanting to go ($1200-$1500). That was also to repaint the whole top black (I wasnít fond of the khaki-gray color). After a little more research I decided I could repair and paint the hardtop myself, and I have a friend at a Chrysler dealership body shop to do the body work. Though I didnít get a huge savings on the body work, I was able to strip down the jeep to save on additional labor for removal and install of stuff. I also bought the corner panel online myself and saved about $50 there too.

Now, for the repair of my hardtop...
I had ran across a repair and paint process for the hardtop in a Google search. It was for repair of a JK hardtop posted in the forum (Hard Top Repair - : Jeep Wrangler JK Forum). Itís a great write-up and has a lot more detail than Iíll go into, but I basically followed the same process.

Keep in mind, this if the first time Iíve ever done anything like this so some of the processes may not be ďthe right wayĒ to do it. I just used the guide from the JKOwners post and made up the rest as I went.

I purchased the 3M Automix Rigid Parts Repair (05883) from my local automotive paint supplier. It can also be purchased from many places online, like Amazon, if you cant get it locally. You will also need the applicator cartridge gun for dispensing the epoxy. The place that sold me the epoxy told me I can purchase the gun, use it, then bring it back for a full refund, so that worked out well for me. I also bought a bag of fiberglass mat from Wal-Mart for reinforcement.
First thing is to sand down the area and feather it out so the epoxy has something to bond to. I was able to do the same on the inside (somewhat). I wiped down the area with acetone after sanding.

Next I put in a temporary backing and apply the first layer of epoxy and fiberglass fibers.

Next step... removed the backing, sand, clean with acetone, and apply another layer of epoxy and fiberglass fibers.

Repeat... sand, clean with acetone, and apply epoxy. (these last two times I didnít add any fiberglass)

After one last sanding I decided it was good enough considering the finished paint will be textured.
I primered the area with Rustoleum (rattle-can) primer. The repair turned out pretty good being my first time. If I was going to have a smooth finish I would have done a little more fine tuning.

The epoxy was fairly easy to work with and it dried to a sand-able surface fairly quickly. I sanded the first layer about an hour or so after application, applied the second layer, an hour or so later I sanded again. The repair didnít feel rigid at that point, I was able to wiggle it a little bit and was becoming concerned that this epoxy wasnít as ďrigidĒ as the name implies. I went ahead and applied the third layer and left it overnight. It was much more rigid the following day. I then sanded again, applied another layer, and let it sit overnight.
In the end, it feels like a solid repair, though Iím not about to see how much force it will take to break it off.

Heliotropic 10-04-2012 09:10 PM

Reserved for part 2 Ė painting

reissigree 10-04-2012 09:18 PM

You did a damn good job!

jquinn83 10-05-2012 04:58 PM

Heck of a job, it looks like you had benefit of a nice workspace. Is that an aircraft I see in the background?

Lookin2buy 10-05-2012 05:13 PM

Nice work. I'm a custom painter by trade and I hate doing bodywork...looks like that repair should hold up real well. You using spray cans for the top or gun?

Heliotropic 10-05-2012 07:34 PM


Originally Posted by reissigree (Post 2863047)
You did a damn good job!

Thanks :)


Originally Posted by jquinn83 (Post 2864335)
Heck of a job, it looks like you had benefit of a nice workspace. Is that an aircraft I see in the background?

Yeah, my dad let me use his garage to do the work. He has more space than I do.
No, not an aircraft, but it does kinda look like that.


Originally Posted by Lookin2buy (Post 2864361)
Nice work. I'm a custom painter by trade and I hate doing bodywork...looks like that repair should hold up real well. You using spray cans for the top or gun?

I used the spray gun that came with the Raptor Liner I used. I have the write-up about it ready to go but I can't edit my second post to put it up. I've messaged the administrator to see if I can get in to edit the post, otherwise i'll have put it in the middle of the thread.

fourty4magjr 10-05-2012 07:44 PM

That's one hell of a job you did! :thumb:

Heliotropic 10-06-2012 06:30 PM

Part 2: Painting
Well it looks like I'm going to have to post the second part here...

So as I mentioned, I didnít care for the khaki-gray color of my hardtop, though everyone else seemed to like it. I just like black better. But if it hadnít been damaged, I would have just left it because it was in excellent condition, no fading or scratches. True, the damage was minimal and only cosmetic, I just HAD to fix it.
Again, following the guide on the JKOwners forum, I chose to use U-Pol Raptor Liner for the finish. I liked how his turned out and it seemed easy enough. I purchased mine from as it was cheaper than buying it from my local automotive paint supplier. It comes with 4 cans of the paint, hardener, and the gun to spray it with. I only used 2 cans for my entire top. You can buy it in black or tintable to create your own color, obviously I just got black.

Starting with red scotch-brite pads on an angle grinder (and some manual sanding with scotch-brite pad sheets) I began scuffing up the surface. Then took it outside, washed it with soap and water. Let it dry for a day, then wiped it down with acetone just before applying the paint.

I strung some plastic around to create a paint booth.

I donít have any pictures as it was being painted, I didnít have time, you have to move quick as this stuff dries fast. You also need to stretch out each can of paint evenly because you have to clean the gun between each can, and by that time the previous coat is mostly dried. Youíll definitely want to put down plastic and wear clothes and shoes you donít mind getting paint on. Itís a bit messy as it sprays. Actually, itís more of a splatter than a spray.

And here is the finished product, a couple weeks later, and just after itís first time at the carwash since the repairs. It seemed to hold up well against the pressure washer, but I didnít have it real close trying to make it come apart.

And here is the top and body repair.

Overall I like the outcome. It has a unique look to it. But if I was to do it again I would have added the 10% reducer in the paint to thin it a little bit. It was a little more textured than I was hoping for, but itís growing on me.
There are a couple small areas that I didnít get quite enough paint on and you can slightly see the gray through it, but theyíre in inconspicuous spots (like the door jam). At certain angles and lighting some areas seem more ďshinyĒ than others. Iím guessing thatís from poor spraying technique, but I can live with it.
Iíll see how it holds up and report back.

ryanmalzac1 03-18-2013 03:46 PM

looks awesome, i was looking at how to repair mine , now i think im gonna re paint it as well, hopefully it turns out as good as yours

jimmy_buckle 04-18-2013 12:55 AM

How much did the whole process cost you?

Heliotropic 04-19-2013 10:39 PM


Originally Posted by jimmy_buckle (Post 3651078)
How much did the whole process cost you?

I bought the U-Pol Raptor Liner from TP Tools for $109 + shipping.
The 3M Rigid Parts Repair for fixing the damage to the top I purchased from a local auto body & paint supplier for around $40-$50 (I don't exactly remember). I had to buy the cartridge gun for the 3M stuff, but was allowed to return it for a full refund when I was done.
I already had the sanding disks and pads for scuffing the top, the plastic sheeting, masking tape and paper, and tools. I did buy a bag of fiberglass mesh for the repair from Wal-Mart for around $5.
So overall it was under $200.

6+ months later and sitting outside through the winter, it still looks like the day I applied it. No chipping, peeling, or fading so far.

jimmy_buckle 04-21-2013 08:27 AM

That's awesome. Thanks so much for the info. Super final question. What did the cartridge gun look like....a double caulking gun?

Was it this thing
9-Inch Heavy Duty Double Component Cartridge Cardle Type Caulking Guns

Thanks for any help

Heliotropic 04-21-2013 09:32 PM


Originally Posted by jimmy_buckle (Post 3663570)
That's awesome. Thanks so much for the info. Super final question. What did the cartridge gun look like....a double caulking gun?

Was it this thing
9-Inch Heavy Duty Double Component Cartridge Cardle Type Caulking Guns

Thanks for any help

Yeah, it was basically the same thing.

jimmy_buckle 04-22-2013 05:56 AM

Cheers for the info. Thanks very much

Harris4627 05-24-2013 08:03 AM

Very Impressive. I just found a used hardtop for 150 bucks but it has some damage to the rear corners. (hence why its 150 bucks). But I think I'm gonna tackle that monster after seeing this write up! Thanks for the info!!

Davidramil03 05-26-2013 04:31 PM

Great write up. Taking the hardtop off today and putting the soft top on for the summer. I will be doing some repairs to the hard top over the summer and will more than likely use the same stuff you did.

Olsen185 07-31-2013 12:58 AM

How is the U-pol holding up on the hard top? Looking back, do you still feel the scotchbrite pads were necessary?

Heliotropic 07-31-2013 11:30 PM

The U-pol is holding up great! Still looks as good as the day I applied it. Still no cracking, peeling, or fading. More than a half-dozen car washes and it spends 90% of it's time outside. It was definitely worth the time and money.
I don't know if NOT using scotchbrite pads would have made a difference since I don't have anything to compare it to, but I would think it has to make the paint adhere better. If I was to do it again, I would definitely use scotchbrite pads again. It wouldn't be worth the risk of having to sand off the paint and redo it if it happen to start peeling.

Olsen185 07-31-2013 11:37 PM

Awesome! Thanks for the update. I really wanted the paint matched bumpers and hard top but I actually wheel my jeep so I figured the paint wouldn't last long. Hopefully this will give me the look I want, but also be durable enough for the trails.

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