I live in Austin, TX and have a '97 soft top. I have no roof between 7 and 10 months of the year just depending. I currently use a fiberglass hard top for our mild winters. The fiberglass roof is really showing it's age. I understand ECR does make an aluminum hard top that requires a new roll cage. I am sure they do phenomenal work but I would be looking at shipping the truck twice and not having use of it for quite some time. I was wondering if it would be possible to fab an aluminum version of the fiberglass hard top with the following improvements:
1) the side and rear corner piece could be made into one on both sides.
2) I could use the sliding glass window on the sides.
3) I could have a sun roof in the roof portion
4) I could incorporate a gutter system to hold the sliding doors tighter.
5) I could have bosses in the side and rear corner pieces instead of worrying about those stupid rectangular washers.
6) I can re-use my seal kit(or have a source from the factory for new seals) and factory roll cage.
I have access to a phenomenal metal shop. Look at the following directory: http://www.prismnet.com/~amit/Defender/
focusing in pictures: 35 to 50 to get an idea of some of the work he has done. Of note: I no longer have the hi-lift jack in the truck. I got the SG rear tire carrier.
Is building aluminum versions of the fiberglass top pieces a good approach? Or is starting over just so much better and I either swap roll cages every time I take the roof on and off or just leave the modified roll cage intact at all times?