Converting 95 ST to SW - Defender Source
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  #1  
Old March 6th, 2007, 05:42 PM
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Jim Cheney
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Converting 95 ST to SW

Just adding more documentation of my recent projects figuring it will be of interest to someone at some point.

We've lived in SC and CA for several years, and the ST configuration was quite nice. Next we'll be moving to NY and I decided that it would be more convenient for the truck to be in a SW configuration for a few years. The additional security is nice as well as being more resistant to cold and ice etc (soft top windows in winter - no good). Having previously owned a fiberglass hardtop, I didnt want to bother with one of those again for this truck.

I bought all my body panels from George at RDS. He also had a POE liftgate so that I could retain the ST tailgate and not have to buy a SW rear door.

I originally thought I would make the truck "POE Style" and simply attach the roll cage side rails to the roof. The POE-specific pieces to do this prove impossible to find, and the more I thought about it, the more I wanted a functioning cage anyway. As luck would have it, CvC still had his SW cage from when he installed a full external cage on his truck, so I was able to replace my ST cage wholesale (please no offer to buy my ST parts - I'm keeping them).

For mounting the liftgate, I drilled the rear of the top to attach the series liftgate hinges and used button head hex bolts for a smoother, rivet-like appearance. I also removed the rear washer jet and plugged it using another identical bolt. Two 30-pound gas struts were required to support the lift gate (I didnt want to use the original series prop-rods) and the brackets are stainless ones which seemed the proper shape. All the gas-strut stuff was sourced from McMaster-Carr. Since I had a used, imperfect headliner, I didnt feel bad cutting it to accomodate the hinges.

Sometime in the future I think I'll get an extra set of door tops and have the frames painted yellow, so that the look can be more uniform yet still retain the sliding windows that I prefer.
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  #2  
Old March 6th, 2007, 05:50 PM
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Scott
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That is a great looking truck.
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  #3  
Old March 6th, 2007, 06:23 PM
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Nice work Jim & thanks for sharing.
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  #4  
Old March 6th, 2007, 07:07 PM
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Chris Snyder
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Looks great. Any shots of the entire truck with the hardtop?
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  #5  
Old March 6th, 2007, 07:21 PM
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Sure-
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  #6  
Old March 6th, 2007, 07:22 PM
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Is that the only AA Yellow SW on the planet?
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  #7  
Old March 6th, 2007, 08:43 PM
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Andrew Najarian
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I love it! Nicely done.
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  #8  
Old March 7th, 2007, 09:42 AM
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David Marchand
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That is awesome Jim. I'm digging the lift gate feature. Did you ever consider going with a drop tail gate as well?
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  #9  
Old March 7th, 2007, 01:37 PM
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Jim, when you can, could you post pics of how you did the lift gate struts? I need to do this on my series build. Looks great. Where did you get the pistons and parts?
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  #10  
Old March 7th, 2007, 04:19 PM
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There is another 90 AA SW floating around and one with a painted fibreglass top in the same color scheme.

JimC does nice work.
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  #11  
Old March 7th, 2007, 04:30 PM
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Jim Cheney
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Yeah, while I was living in San Jose, an AA Yellow 97 wagon came up for sale. It was clearly factory or the result of a _complete_ color change. It had the full doors, SW door in the back, interior bulkhead yellow etc. It was claimed to be a custom order, though could have easily been produced by the dealer using a 97 ST and SW parts available when the truck was new. Either way, it exists and is complete. And then of cours there is ECR4 - its kind of stripey, even if predominantly AA.

I briefly considered a drop tailgate, but decided not to bother with it because I would have to custom rig-up the tire carrier and I think the swing out is more convenient.

I'll get some pix of the struts for you Randy. Although you're hosed on the rivnuts, I left them in SJ, sorry.
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  #12  
Old March 7th, 2007, 05:01 PM
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Tony Fannin
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Glad to see that old cage we pulled out of Chris' truck put to good use. My wife's even happier that the cage is out of our backyard.
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  #13  
Old March 7th, 2007, 05:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JimC
Yeah, while I was living in San Jose, an AA Yellow 97 wagon came up for sale. It was clearly factory or the result of a _complete_ color change. It had the full doors, SW door in the back, interior bulkhead yellow etc. It was claimed to be a custom order, though could have easily been produced by the dealer using a 97 ST and SW parts available when the truck was new. Either way, it exists and is complete. And then of cours there is ECR4 - its kind of stripey, even if predominantly AA.

I briefly considered a drop tailgate, but decided not to bother with it because I would have to custom rig-up the tire carrier and I think the swing out is more convenient.

I'll get some pix of the struts for you Randy. Although you're hosed on the rivnuts, I left them in SJ, sorry.
That truck was on Ebay... The story was a "Doctor" wanted a custom truck, it was origninally Green. Eitherway it is a good looking truck.

Scott
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  #14  
Old December 17th, 2007, 10:43 PM
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Amit Likhyani
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Jim, did you install a gutter kit? How good is the window seal. I have a fiberglass hard top. Obviously I hate it and the poor seal is a big reason why. Are you able to convert it to a soft top? What is the time required to convert back and forth?
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  #15  
Old December 17th, 2007, 11:08 PM
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It takes several hours to go swith between the aluminum top and the soft top. The entire roll cage must be swapped. It takes at least a day once you start disassembling the trims, headliner, and everything.

I dont know what you mean by "install a gutter kit" - the hard top of course has a gutter. Previously, I had a Badger gutter kit with the soft top.

You'll get a good seal with the Badger, I only switched to hardtop for security and durability really.
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  #16  
Old December 18th, 2007, 10:14 AM
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Is there really no way to set up an aluminum hard top like the fiberglass top?
I love the look of the aluminum and the function, but I want to keep my roll cage as is. Pardon my ignorance, but I have never looked at the fiberglass top other than in pictures and my time around a SW is limited.

My ultimate goal is to have a bare aluminum top that would function just like the fiberglass one is supposed to. Fairly easy on and off while making a good "winter" seal.

Obviously some modifications would be needed, I just dont know how much.

Thanks in advance!!
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  #17  
Old December 18th, 2007, 10:56 AM
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At the risk of having this brought up when I run for president in 15 years, I will state publicly that there is no way to install an aluminum hardtop over a NAS soft top cage.

The B-pillar hoop and C-pillar hoops both occupy the same physical space which the metal top occupies when installed. Below there are two pix, one of my truck with a fiberglass top installed, and the other with the aluminum top. Note that the fiberlass top actually stands out from the body instead of fitting flush. Also, look at the sides where it is relieved to allow clearance for the roll cage mounts.

To fit the aluminum top, you would have to cut out all these areas to allow the roll cage to fit, and then you'd still have interference because the padding on the cage would not allow the hardtop sides to sit flush to the tub sides.

Moreover, note how the fiberglass top is curved to match the profile of the NAS cage. The NAS cage would not permit the metal top to drop down and mount to the now very poorly installed roof sides.

When I did my conversion I even considered using a burned cage with no padding in hopes that it would fit inside the aluminum top, but I concluded it would not work. The NAS soft top B-pillar mounts onto a tube that protrudes up through the tub side by about 3 inches. The top would have to be cut (in an area where it has necessary stiffening bracketry) to accomodate this tube, and then the tube would rub the very inside of the top, not allowing the other B-pillar tube to slide over the top of it.

Furthermore, now that you have this mess kludged onto your previously nice truck, you have to make a hole in the side of the top for the horn of the B-pillar. This will need to be filled in with silly-cone or some sealant.

So after all this, you have a hacked up aluminum top which is leaking in the exact same place as a fiberglass top, and probably more because of all the modding.

There is not a best of both worlds solution. Period.
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  #18  
Old December 18th, 2007, 11:12 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JimC
There is not a best of both worlds solution. Period.
LOL, way to ruin Christmas, I suppose there's no Santa too...JERK!

So we need someone to fab up an aluminum version of the fiberglass one...

Btw...I'll vote for ya! You can't be half as bad as what we've had so far.
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  #19  
Old December 18th, 2007, 11:30 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by themaxx
Btw...I'll vote for ya! You can't be half as bad as what we've had so far.
My last name is Cheney...
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  #20  
Old December 18th, 2007, 11:45 AM
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ohhhh....riiight....hmmmmm, LOL
Quote:
Originally Posted by JimC
My last name is Cheney...
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