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Third Project Build-up - Bestop Supertop Installation
Well, after trying to sell the Jeep in the dead of winter without a top on it, it was decided to put a top on the Jeep. I had a hard top for the Jeep, but that wasn't going to cut it without doors, so I called up and ordered up a soft top. I ordered a Bestop Supertop for the Jeep and it had an instant rebate, so that made the purchase a little easier to swallow. Even though it was easier on the wallet, it still cost $700.00 for the top all said and done.

So, a few days later it showed up and I set out to install it during a day that I had off. It was also the day that I started out on the "Free Jeep" or FJ project, so we had limited time to put it on, as we had to set off to go get a free motor and hood from a member on the Jeep Forum. There is more on this new project on the left side link under the "Free Jeep" link.
We got up early on 12/23/05 and headed up to install the Supertop. It was a decent day out and we got up to the garage around 10:00 AM. I unloaded all the stuff necessary for the installation and opened up the box and laid out the pieces all around. Frank had graciously turned on the heater, so it was probably 65 degrees in the garage. The warmer it is, the easier the top stretches and thus the easier it is to install.

So, with the pieces laid out, I started on the doors as they were on top of the package. I put them together and hung them in the brackets. I had already purchased new black powder coated pieces for the door hangers and they were already on the Jeep, so the doors just slipped into place. The door latch was not installed yet, so the doors were taken off and we moved onto the bracketry that the rail system would use.
The rail system is really a great invention on the part of the Bestop company. It installs easily and eliminates the needs for snaps. Snaps were used on the original softop design from the factory on a lot of CJ's and they usually pulled out after they got used a few times. These also rusted, so some people use rivets to keep them in place, but with the rail system, the need is eliminated altogether.

A lot of the original factory holes lined up, in fact, 4 of them lined up on each side, so there was only a need to drill 2 holes per side. This really sped up the installation of the Supertop. Also not needed in this installation was the bikini top rails (which are also used for the front of the Supertop) that were purchased earlier and installed when the windshield was put together.
With the rails lightly snugged into place, there were some hardware pieces that needed to be installed on the windshield behind the sport bars to hold the top in place when it was connected to the windshield. Also necessary at this point were 2 more hardware pieces that went on near the door strikers that held the bracketry in place and allowed for the top to fold over them to mold to the door contours via Velcro.

With the rail system in place via a bunch of screws, we moved onto putting the top in place. Since it was warm in the garage, the top went into place relatively easy; however, it took a little bit of fitting to get it into the right areas. Next the windows were zipped into place and finally the top was almost complete. We finished up the installation by putting the tailgate hold down in place. This piece allowed for the tailgate to open and close with the top in place and allowed for everything to seal up. This was a neat piece of hardware engineering and it slipped right into place. Very nice work from the Bestop company once again!
With the top in place, the doors were final assembled and put into place. Since they were together already, the door hardware that connected the doors to the strikers was installed with four screws and then they were test fitted. Once everything was in place, we tightened down all the nuts and bolts and we had a very nice looking and very functionally softop in place. This is the 2nd Bestop Supertop installation and I have to say that the CJ-7/Wrangler top installation is even better then that of the CJ5 installation that was done about a year ago. They have a very nice product and with the feedback they have been given over the years, their product has evolved into one of the best on the market.

Thanks again for all your help Jen, as well as your patience with the Supertop installation and obtaining the motor. More on that later in another write-up. :)

cb (12/25/05)

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