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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 wasn’t 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 didn’t 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 JKOwners.com forum (Hard Top Repair - JKowners.com : Jeep Wrangler JK Forum). It’s a great write-up and has a lot more detail than I’ll go into, but I basically followed the same process.

Keep in mind, this if the first time I’ve ever done anything like this so some of the processes may not be “the right way” 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 didn’t 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 didn’t feel rigid at that point, I was able to wiggle it a little bit and was becoming concerned that this epoxy wasn’t as “rigid” 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 I’m not about to see how much force it will take to break it off.
 

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

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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?
 

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Discussion Starter #6
You did a damn good job!
Thanks :)

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.

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.
 

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

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Discussion Starter #8
Part 2: Painting

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

So as I mentioned, I didn’t care for the khaki-gray color of my hardtop, though everyone else seemed to like it. I just like black better. But if it hadn’t 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 TPTools.com 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 don’t have any pictures as it was being painted, I didn’t 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. You’ll definitely want to put down plastic and wear clothes and shoes you don’t mind getting paint on. It’s a bit messy as it sprays. Actually, it’s more of a splatter than a spray.

And here is the finished product, a couple weeks later, and just after it’s first time at the carwash since the repairs. It seemed to hold up well against the pressure washer, but I didn’t 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 it’s growing on me.
There are a couple small areas that I didn’t get quite enough paint on and you can slightly see the gray through it, but they’re in inconspicuous spots (like the door jam). At certain angles and lighting some areas seem more “shiny” than others. I’m guessing that’s from poor spraying technique, but I can live with it.
I’ll see how it holds up and report back.
 

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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
 

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Discussion Starter #11
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.
 

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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!!
 

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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.
 

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

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Discussion Starter #18
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.
 

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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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Great post! Veryyyyy helpful! I would love to know what compressor was used for this project. Before buying a really exspensive one, could I get away with using like an 8 gallon compressor with 2HP?
 
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