Hardtop install...what can I expect?

chuckkizer

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Apr 6, 2022
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Iowa
Hey folks! I'm working on my first YJ and I just got a YJ top off of FB marketplace. I'm driving my jeep to the seller and putting the new top on in place of my current soft top. I bought some c-clamps to use temporarily while I wait on the proper hardware that I ordered. What I'm wondering is...will these C clamps do the job of holding the top on while I drive back at 50 - 55 mph speeds? It's about a 2 hour trip. Is there anything I can do to secure the front of the top temporarily. Also will I need to take all the hardware off that I use to attach the soft top? If there is a post that already addresses this then please put a link to it as a comment. Thanks in advance!!
 

machoheadgames

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I would order some factory bolts and nut plates for the drive. The 7 screws that go along the windshield channel are far less important, but I would at least want 4 or so of the 8 bolts holding it to the tub, rather than clamps or anything else.

Could also instead of the factory torx bolts get something like these thumb bolts:

 
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Flyer58

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Apr 12, 2020
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Magnolia, Texas
For what it's worth I had a pickup truck with a fiberglass topper on the bed which was held on with only four C-clamps and it worked fine. The topper dealer said that's all he ever used.

For some reason I can get the front of the top down low enough for the holes to line up except for the one center hole which is slightly lower. I think it's the new corner seals aren't compressing enough. So far no problems but I don't drive it in the rain to see if there any leaks.

I may add two latches in the future to hold the front down.
 
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chuckkizer

chuckkizer

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Apr 6, 2022
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Iowa
Well I picked it up folks and it fit really well and went on fairly smooth. I did have a couple of issues though. First was I can get the back window to come up because it keeps hitting the tire on the back. They are original tires so I think it's just too big. Also, I had to strap the front down until I figure out how I want that attached. The top had a plug in for the wiper and the defrost but I could not find the infamous harness attachment in my Jeep to connect it to. Last thing is the doors that came with the soft top weren't at all able to be fitted for the hard top. Is that pretty normal? When I took off the uppers the half doors were perfect. I'm going to pick up a set of full doors in a couple of weeks and I'm hoping its a pretty seamless fit. All these are little things but still things that need to be figured out. I appreciate you all and the amount of knowledge I've gotten from just reading posts that I've search. Thanks for making this forum possible!!

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machoheadgames

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Well I picked it up folks and it fit really well and went on fairly smooth. I did have a couple of issues though. First was I can get the back window to come up because it keeps hitting the tire on the back. They are original tires so I think it's just too big. Also, I had to strap the front down until I figure out how I want that attached. The top had a plug in for the wiper and the defrost but I could not find the infamous harness attachment in my Jeep to connect it to. Last thing is the doors that came with the soft top weren't at all able to be fitted for the hard top. Is that pretty normal? When I took off the uppers the half doors were perfect. I'm going to pick up a set of full doors in a couple of weeks and I'm hoping its a pretty seamless fit. All these are little things but still things that need to be figured out. I appreciate you all and the amount of knowledge I've gotten from just reading posts that I've search. Thanks for making this forum possible!!

View attachment 119890
You usually need to open the tailgate all the way to get the hardtop to go up and clear the tire. Did you have it open all the way? Those do not look like stock tires either, and definitely not stock wheels (those are from a newer Jeep and look to be 32” tires on 17’s), so it may be an issue.

Your Jeep was a soft top Jeep, so the plug won’t be there. They give you a different dash to tail light harness depending on model. The differences in later years were soft too, hard top with wiper/washer/dome, and hardtop with all the options (wiper/washer/dome/defrost). You can get a harness from eBay if you want. It should just plug in above the parking brake and then run out to the hardtop and down to the tail lights. Have to pull the gas tank to change that harness out. You could also buy an eBay harness and pull out the applicable hardtop wires and marry them to your existing harness. I did that to add defrost but it was a bit of a pain.

For the soft top doors I believe you can get some aftermarket uppers for about $750 that will fit the hardtop shape, the half door and will also have a little sliding window in them. I forget the name but googling should find it. You can also reweld the posts on some TJ uppers and use those if you like instead.
 
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chuckkizer

chuckkizer

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Apr 6, 2022
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Iowa
You usually need to open the tailgate all the way to get the hardtop to go up and clear the tire. Did you have it open all the way? Those do not look like stock tires either, and definitely not stock wheels (those are from a newer Jeep and look to be 32” tires on 17’s), so it may be an issue.

Your Jeep was a soft top Jeep, so the plug won’t be there. They give you a different dash to tail light harness depending on model. The differences in later years were soft too, hard top with wiper/washer/dome, and hardtop with all the options (wiper/washer/dome/defrost). You can get a harness from eBay if you want. It should just plug in above the parking brake and then run out to the hardtop and down to the tail lights. Have to pull the gas tank to change that harness out. You could also buy an eBay harness and pull out the applicable hardtop wires and marry them to your existing harness. I did that to add defrost but it was a bit of a pain.

For the soft top doors I believe you can get some aftermarket uppers for about $750 that will fit the hardtop shape, the half door and will also have a little sliding window in them. I forget the name but googling should find it. You can also reweld the posts on some TJ uppers and use those if you like instead.
You are right with the wheels! 32's on 17's. Looks like they are just a bit too big for the back window to lift up. I did have it open all the way I believe. I even tried forcing it just a bit more but was not successful. I think I'm going to get through the summer and then looking at putting a new bumper on with the swing gate on it for the tire. I'm noticing that the tailgate is sagging a bit and hitting the tub due to the added weight of the bigger tire. I'm not gonna put the hardtop on until this fall anyway.

Thanks for the info on the harness. I'll probably go ahead and make that investment. That defrost and wiper will be nice for these Iowa winters. I'll probably keep my eyes out for some hard uppers but I don't want to spend a lot of money. The full steel doors I'm getting are about the same price that you mentioned. Maybe I'll get lucky and catch a deal. The idea of rewelding a post is an option too. I'll have to do a little research on that. Any links to videos that you've seen or did you just figure it out yourself?

Thanks again!
 

machoheadgames

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You are right with the wheels! 32's on 17's. Looks like they are just a bit too big for the back window to lift up. I did have it open all the way I believe. I even tried forcing it just a bit more but was not successful. I think I'm going to get through the summer and then looking at putting a new bumper on with the swing gate on it for the tire. I'm noticing that the tailgate is sagging a bit and hitting the tub due to the added weight of the bigger tire. I'm not gonna put the hardtop on until this fall anyway.

Thanks for the info on the harness. I'll probably go ahead and make that investment. That defrost and wiper will be nice for these Iowa winters. I'll probably keep my eyes out for some hard uppers but I don't want to spend a lot of money. The full steel doors I'm getting are about the same price that you mentioned. Maybe I'll get lucky and catch a deal. The idea of rewelding a post is an option too. I'll have to do a little research on that. Any links to videos that you've seen or did you just figure it out yourself?

Thanks again!
Yeah a swing out should fix it. Honestly I only have 31’s so I’ve never had an issue but I’m not sure what will happen when I go to 33’s. My tire carrier is aftermarket but swings with the tailgate and the hardtop gate is still pretty close. Hopefully I don’t have trouble. Definitely a good idea to get your tire off the tailgate, the YJ hinges are weak and if it’s sagging then it’s not going to last forever.

I just noticed you have actual defrost glass, nice. That is all I’m lacking to complete my conversion. My stock hardtop came with the wiper and washer top which comes with plain glass. The defrost wiring was in the dash, but stops at that connection to the rear harness. So I added the defrost wiring from those plugs all the way to the hardtop plug. Easy enough. The defrost wires were hanging out inside my top unused, so I fished them out. I tested them and they now get the 12V needed when I flip the stock switch I added. So it works. Only thing is I don’t have glass with a heater element. That will happen eventually. For you you just need the wiring and switch and stuff since you already have the glass.

I basically figured it out myself. Electrical is one of my stronger suits so it was pretty easy to figure out. There are next to no videos or posts about doing any of this stuff with YJ hardtops. I basically learned what I know by gathering info through tons of searches.

I got my hardtop heater harness from dead Jeep. I got the switch from a random eBay seller.
 

SirDoopYJ

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Stick Red, Louisiana
Link to the hard half door uppers:
 
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