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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I just bought a 98 Smittybilt wrangler TJ for a fun second vehicle. First time jeep owner. I discovered that the fast back soft top (frameless) on it needs to be replaced BUT I also learned that I don’t have the standard levers/clips above windshield; mine are clips w a bolt on the top, seems to be more permanent & not easy to put top down. Also don’t like Ranpage top on it now because side windows are fixed & can’t be removed so…
Question 1: can these clips be replaced with the “standard” latches to make everything easier?
Question 2: if not, can anyone recommend specific brand & model of soft top I should get, that windows can be taken out?
Thanks!
 

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‘21 JLUR, AEV 2.5 DualSport, 35x12.5x20 BFGoodrich M/T KM3, 20x10(-19mm) Wheels
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Well, your questions are above my “pay grade,” but just wanted to say welcome aboard and cool looking Jeep!
 

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Welcome to the Forum, from Cave Creek AZ.
 
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As long as you have an intact seal on top of the windshield frame, the Bestop Trektop NX will fit. Early and very, very budget (ie:cheap) tops used clamps that tightened to the slots in the windshield frame with bolts instead of the over center clamps. Those tops were not ever intended to be easily put down. In the case of the Trektop NX, it is also not intended to be folded down, but the front section flips back when the clamps are released. Bestop calls it the Sunrider. That feature was a factory option on the TJs but is standard on all the JKs and later.

This is an enlargement of a section of a photo of the original top on my TJ. You can see the clamps dangling from the header bar.


4521814


Here is the Trektop NX with the Sunrider open, but rear windows out. Good open air feeling. Note the straps in the rear for tension on the top. The center section of the top has straps that go around the B pillar cross bar right in front of the sound pods.

4521815


This is with the rear windows in. I believe the Rampage top has the rear straps on the outside, but Bestop has them on the inside.

4521816


The bad news is that the Bestop is 2.5 times the cost of the Rampage. The side bows you see on the underside of the Sunrider are attached to the header bar and the door surround allowing that section to flip back. Not shown is an arch bar that clips into the door surrounds and arches over the front seats as I usually run with it out. However, if the Jeep is parked outside the arch bar in necessary to keep water from pooling on the front section of the top since there are no cross bows as found on the normal fold down full top.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
As long as you have an intact seal on top of the windshield frame, the Bestop Trektop NX will fit. Early and very, very budget (ie:cheap) tops used clamps that tightened to the slots in the windshield frame with bolts instead of the over center clamps. Those tops were not ever intended to be easily put down. In the case of the Trektop NX, it is also not intended to be folded down, but the front section flips back when the clamps are released. Bestop calls it the Sunrider. That feature was a factory option on the TJs but is standard on all the JKs and later.

This is an enlargement of a section of a photo of the original top on my TJ. You can see the clamps dangling from the header bar.


View attachment 4521814

Here is the Trektop NX with the Sunrider open, but rear windows out. Good open air feeling. Note the straps in the rear for tension on the top. The center section of the top has straps that go around the B pillar cross bar right in front of the sound pods.

View attachment 4521815

This is with the rear windows in. I believe the Rampage top has the rear straps on the outside, but Bestop has them on the inside.

View attachment 4521816

The bad news is that the Bestop is 2.5 times the cost of the Rampage. The side bows you see on the underside of the Sunrider are attached to the header bar and the door surround allowing that section to flip back. Not shown is an arch bar that clips into the door surrounds and arches over the front seats as I usually run with it out. However, if the Jeep is parked outside the arch bar in necessary to keep water from pooling on the front section of the top since there are no cross bows as found on the normal fold down full top.
Thank you SO much- this is very helpful. I’ve watched a million YouTube videos on tops including a bunch on the Trektop NX but have never seen my kind of clamps in any so was still unsure if that was the one I should get or not. Do you have to put the bolts back on when you close top or is it ok to leave them off you think? These clips can’t be swapped out then for the other easier latches huh?

My anti-Jeep mechanic friend says Jeep stands for ‘just empty every pocket’ LOL. I’m starting to get it now, but still, worth it! :)
 

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Different headers and clamps for different manufacturers' tops...
I believe the bolt-on header you have for your frameless top remains attached to the windshield when you remove that frameless soft top. You just slide front lip of the top fabric out of the groove and leave that header bolted on.

Trektop NX, like rgreen65's, has to have the bars that attach to the header and flip-open clamps, so the front part of the sun-rider can flip open.

All factory/Bestop framed soft tops have the flip-open (non-bolted) clamps on their headers. they do not bolt on.

Yes, you could replace the top you have with a replacement of the same kind from frameless top from the same manufacturer. You would need to keep the header you have, if you do. I don't think leaving the bolt-on header would be any inconvenience if you were taking the top off or putting it back on.

You have a lot of options. Just be sure you keep or buy the appropriate header/hardware for you you get.
 

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My original factory frame as seen in the first photo of post #4 did not have the Sunrider feature. Apparently it was an option in those days.

tzukows - you are correct, the very early TJ tops used to use a windshield channel (a carry over from the YJ) but instead of attaching with screws ala the YJ, it attached via clamps that hooked into the slots in the windshield frame. To put the top down, you had to relieve tension and the remove the front edge of the top from the channel and then folding the frame down. I believe even the very first Bestop Supertop used this method, replaced by the Supertop NX (which also includes the Sunrider).

Here is the instruction sheet for the Supertop:

Here is the instruction sheet for the Superton NX (clamp on header bar):
 

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I just bought a 98 Smittybilt wrangler TJ for a fun second vehicle. First time jeep owner. I discovered that the fast back soft top (frameless) on it needs to be replaced BUT I also learned that I don’t have the standard levers/clips above windshield; mine are clips w a bolt on the top, seems to be more permanent & not easy to put top down. Also don’t like Ranpage top on it now because side windows are fixed & can’t be removed so…
Question 1: can these clips be replaced with the “standard” latches to make everything easier?
Question 2: if not, can anyone recommend specific brand & model of soft top I should get, that windows can be taken out?
Thanks!
Hey @Jb1114
Our tops typically come as complete kits. The clips above the windshield are part of the kits and would be the latch style that you're referring to. Whether you went with our Supertop or Trektop, all three windows are removeable in each of those tops. Let me know if you have any questions, I would be happy to walk you through your options.

Lee
- the Bestop team
www.bestop.com
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Hey @Jb1114
Our tops typically come as complete kits. The clips above the windshield are part of the kits and would be the latch style that you're referring to. Whether you went with our Supertop or Trektop, all three windows are removeable in each of those tops. Let me know if you have any questions, I would be happy to walk you through your options.

Lee
- the Bestop team
www.bestop.com
Thanks Lee,
I ended up buying the Trektop NX top. Supposed to arrive by end of week. :)
 
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