Fiberglass Hardtop Install on 94 - Defender Source
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  #1  
Old April 14th, 2015, 01:40 AM
jperakis
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Fiberglass Hardtop Install on 94

I have a lead on a good condition fiberglass hardtop for my 94 ST.

The truck I have doesn't have the rivnuts installed, but I've been told I can easily source the conversion kit.

My question to the forum is - are there any NAS ST's that are not compatible with a hardtop?

My mechanic was really hesitant about me installing the kit and especially the fragile nature of the fiberglass.

Should I go through with this? Is the fiberglass top a bad idea? Is my 94 ST able to be retrofitted?

Thanks!
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  #2  
Old April 14th, 2015, 02:35 AM
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It's easy to retrofit, and if you're lucky,mother top will have been originally fitted to a94 and will have the right cuts. If not, the only mod required is enlarging the space where the diagonal from the b-pillar meets the tub capping on each side.

None of this changes the fact that the fiberglass top sucks in general, but it is not hard to put any fiberglass top on a 94.
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  #3  
Old April 14th, 2015, 02:49 AM
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I figured that the unrubberized '94's b-pillar diagonal base plate would be smaller than the later model's rubber base plates and therefore easier to fit (no cutting) the FG top. I'm sure I must be missing something about the '94, but I can't tell what.
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Old April 14th, 2015, 02:54 AM
jperakis
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JimC View Post

None of this changes the fact that the fiberglass top sucks in general, but it is not hard to put any fiberglass top on a 94.
This is what scares me... is it worth installing the retrofit kit and dealing with the fiberglass top?

I owned one on my previous 94 but that was a lifetime ago...

Are there ways to enhance the structure of the fiberglass top?

Also, how difficult is the install of the rivnut kit? I'm generally "handy" but I've never drilled into a defender body before.
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Old April 14th, 2015, 02:56 AM
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Come see me. I have two FG tops you can test fit. That FG top deal in Ross is awesome by the way.

"Also, how difficult is the install of the rivnut kit? I'm generally "handy" but I've never drilled into a defender body before."

Rivnuts are easy. I'd say a "snap" but I won't. ;-) Drilling is no big deal in some ways, but obviously, only in certain places. Replicating a stock element should not be feared. You just have to decide if you want to live with the permanent change. Heck, if you install a Badger top,'95-'97 belt rail defenders still need to add more than a dozen more rivets. It's drilling, but it still remains stock, just better/stronger and more versatile in your case?
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Old April 14th, 2015, 03:13 AM
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Oh, i forgot about the rivnuts. It can't really be described as a "kit" it's just som m6 rivnuts. They're easy if you have a rivnut tool, not as easy if you don't. Other than that it's just drilling.

I don't want to talk you out of a top, because they have a purpose and are much more secure than a soft top could ever be, but they take some effort to fit properly (adjusting and fitting, not modifying the truck). Glass windows are much better than plastic as well.
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  #7  
Old April 14th, 2015, 03:55 AM
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The instructions for fitting one are in the FAQ section just outside of the forum on this site if you have not read them yet.
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Old April 14th, 2015, 11:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rijosho View Post
The instructions for fitting one are in the FAQ section just outside of the forum on this site if you have not read them yet.
Thanks! I actually started there but my primary question was rooted in the fact that my mechanic indicated that early 94's were not able to properly support a fiberglass top

I think I'm going to just pull the trigger regardless and if push comes to shove I'm sure someone on the forum would take it off my hands
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  #9  
Old April 14th, 2015, 11:49 AM
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I had several FG tops on my '94. Both on my original in '94 and my subsequent one years later.
They suck... but you already know that.
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  #10  
Old April 14th, 2015, 01:05 PM
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If you have the full cage with the C-pillar there is no issue. A small trim on either side with a dremel and add some rivnuts. If you do not have the C pillar I would not fit one as I don't think it is structurally strong enough to support the top although land rover did sell them that way.
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Old April 14th, 2015, 01:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by evilfij View Post
If you have the full cage with the C-pillar there is no issue. A small trim on either side with a dremel and add some rivnuts. If you do not have the C pillar I would not fit one as I don't think it is structurally strong enough to support the top although land rover did sell them that way.
Good point! I always assumed he had a full cage! I guess C-pillar deletes were pretty common back in '94.
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Old April 14th, 2015, 01:23 PM
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I don't think the cage actually touched the top except incidentally. I did put a piece of foam on the alpine bar to prevent drumming from vibration.

I wouldn't worry about putting it on a half cage at all.
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  #13  
Old April 16th, 2015, 12:59 PM
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James Perakis
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Thanks all for the advice.

Can someone walk me through the installation process of the rivnuts to support the fiberglass hardtop in the 94?

My retrofit "kit" (ie rivnuts and brackets) are arriving today and I need to install the kit before sunday.

I don't have a rivnut tool at the moment and I'm not exactly sure where to easily source one in my area. I'll figure that out though!

Any details about how/where to drill, issues to look out for, ways to protect the body and top, etc would be greatly appreciated.


There's already a lot of good advice in this thread, and a search of the forum has given me some additional information, but I'm looking for the step by step approach to getting the truck ready to support a fiberglass HT.

Thanks guys,

james
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Old April 16th, 2015, 02:07 PM
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Just got a rivnut tool

Amazon.com: Astro Pneumatic Tool 1442 13" Nut/Thread Hand Riveter Kit: Automotive

Looks to be highly regarded and good quality. Anyone familiar with this tool? Will it serve me well trying to install the hardtop rivnuts?
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Old April 20th, 2015, 03:36 PM
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Get a Good Rivnut tool. You will have to remove the 3 pieces above the visors. Get good rivnuts as well and go slow on installing the rivnuts as you can break a cheap mandrel. Once you remove the upper windshield trim you will to remove the A to B snap rails if you are currently using them as a top. Don't forget to remove the Alpine Bar.

Yes I am in agreement with other that these top suck and are super fragile. I got some thin rubber foam, about 3/4 inch in diameter and put it between the truck body and between the sides and back before mounting the top as this cut down on any potential squeaks.

Also - if you can afford it, I had my topped color matched to the truck. I had the inside of the fiberglass top sprayed with a somewhat sound deadening white which really brightened up the inside of the truck.

Don't forget to remove, if you are running them, the tailgate bar clips for a best top/ badger top before install.

Good luck!!
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Old April 20th, 2015, 10:17 PM
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the suck...

Quote:
Originally Posted by CDeWan View Post
Get a Good Rivnut tool. You will have to remove the 3 pieces above the visors. Get good rivnuts as well and go slow on installing the rivnuts as you can break a cheap mandrel. Once you remove the upper windshield trim you will to remove the A to B snap rails if you are currently using them as a top. Don't forget to remove the Alpine Bar.

Yes I am in agreement with other that these top suck and are super fragile. I got some thin rubber foam, about 3/4 inch in diameter and put it between the truck body and between the sides and back before mounting the top as this cut down on any potential squeaks.

Also - if you can afford it, I had my topped color matched to the truck. I had the inside of the fiberglass top sprayed with a somewhat sound deadening white which really brightened up the inside of the truck.

Don't forget to remove, if you are running them, the tailgate bar clips for a best top/ badger top before install.

Good luck!!
let me just clarify my comment above. They don't suck they are just not for me. I really do think the fiberglass hardtops, sedans or POEs do look cool, just a soft top guy as I like the option of taking tops on, off on a whim.
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  #17  
Old April 20th, 2015, 11:11 PM
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Hard top



Try this kit. I did for my retrofit and it worked well. Highly recommend it. Also I can't seem to find it but 6 months ago DogPilot and wrote threads and included insight on fiberglass top refurbishment. May give you some ideas on your questions about strength.

I can tell you that I was happy with the extra glass I applied near the cage penetration point. That and the UPOL saved the neighbors kids bacon this weekend. I had removed my hard top and laid it in the grass. I went back to the truck to bolt back down the roof rack only to turn around and see a 60 pound kid walking on my top! No damage to be seen. No cracks at all. I think I just got lucky, but then again an original top couldn't stand the weight.

If all things were equal, yes I'd buy a badger and be done with it. I just don't have the cash nor the time to wait for a guy who may or may not get you a top in 6 months. I don't have a garage in Arlington and needed something for the snow/winter. That said, ive been very happy with the fiberglass top and my alterations.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/LAND-ROVER-D...-/271175406145
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Old April 20th, 2015, 11:29 PM
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Found the link. I imagine you ordered the same kit that I did. If so the instructions are detailed and tell you where to drill, etc. make sure to measure twice and mark well. Also follow the sound advice above on rivnut tools. For what it's worth I also used loctite around the rivnnut as I read threads of rivnuts spinning free after a while. Probably rivnnut tool user error, but I added a bit anyway.
http://www.defendersource.com/forum/...ore-57528.html
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  #19  
Old April 21st, 2015, 04:11 AM
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I think your question on fitting goes beyond drilling and installing the rivnuts, right? After you do that part of the install you need to ensure you have all the hardware,both for mating the top to the sides, top to the windscreen and top to the tub, along with the hardware (nuts for the side assembly.

If you don't have it all looks at my thread, to get some insight on making the rectangular spacers for the top to sides and some of the nylon spacers for the sides to the tub. I also found that on the bottom of the pop up window benefits from some of the same weather seal as goes on the door frames.

Now the fiberglass top is not perfect, but it does allow you to lock your Rover, something I find nice when I have a bunch of expensive gear in the truck. When I put the soft top back on in the summer I have to lock some big pelican cases in the back so I have some sort of secure storage. Aside from that the top is nosey, leaks and lets wind in from nearly every crack, just like any good top should since the beginning of Land Rover time.
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  #20  
Old April 21st, 2015, 09:30 PM
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I had my fiberglass top Rhino lined! It definitely does not suck now. It is quiet and well insulated. I used weather stripping, silicone caulk and spray-on rubber to seal all gaps. There are no air holes or leaks anymore
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