Turning a ST into a Hardtop for part of the year -- possible/too much effort? - Defender Source
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  #1  
Old September 6th, 2013, 01:59 PM
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Turning a ST into a Hardtop for part of the year -- possible/too much effort?

I'm a pretty green Defender owner (bought a few months back) and am pondering whether to begin a hunt for a hartop to use on my ST during the winter months (I travel up to the snow and I would also enjoy chaning up the look between winter and summer). This is an original 1994 ST.

I searched the threads first to try to figure out if the conversion process is just too much (sorry if I missed a discussion that's directly on point). Based on what I researched before buying a D90 I learned that some of them came with hard and soft top -- so my assumption is that for some trucks this isn't a big issue. If there are fiberglass tops out there that I could use on a ST without having to do very much in terms of modifications I think I might go down this road -- but if it's a really involved process then I think I would dismiss the idea.

I'm hoping you guys can give me an overview on this subject.
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Old September 6th, 2013, 02:06 PM
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Search the for sale parts section - there are A TON of the fiberglass hard tops for sale. They take a few hours to put on with a friend. A few more hours and broken pieces from the fiberglass top if you do it on your own (probably even if you have a helper). It's discussed how poor the fiberglass tops are if you did search I'm sure you saw a ton of discussions on it. An actual metal hard top would be more hours. JimC has a thread on it and it's in the FAQ section I believe if you back out of the forum.

------ Follow up post added September 6th, 2013 02:06 PM ------

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Originally Posted by JSBriggs View Post
It alot of work and expense to go back and forth. Te best way is to get a factory plastic top that is designed to go over the ST cage. It goes on and off much easier.

-Jeff
Fiberglass not plastic. You'll confuse him.
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  #3  
Old September 6th, 2013, 02:39 PM
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A fibreglass top does not like being removed and refitted every year. They suck; they crack, they leak water and air. They are fine if you want to do it once and leave it on and put dum dum all over it to prevent leaks.

If you are able to find an aluminium D90 hard top, liftgate, end pieces from a POE or SW cage, and drill the bottom part of the hardtop to fit the b-pillar cage ends through and you have a helper, once you set it up the first time and get all the cage bolts loose, I would not think it would be more than 2-3hours with two poeple an a torx impact gun to swap between a ST cage and an aluminium top which is about the same as a fiberglass top.
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Old September 6th, 2013, 03:18 PM
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The Defenders I've driven with fiber tops were disappointing. Badger top IMO is a better option and investment over the long term.
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Old September 7th, 2013, 12:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by evilfij View Post
A fibreglass top does not like being removed and refitted every year. They suck; they crack, they leak water and air. They are fine if you want to do it once and leave it on and put dum dum all over it to prevent leaks.

100% agree. I removed my fiberglass top at the beginning of summer for a few years and everything Ron mentions above is true. Those days are done.
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Old September 8th, 2013, 10:19 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JSBriggs View Post
It alot of work and expense to go back and forth. Te best way is to get a factory 'FIBERGLASS' top that is designed to go over the ST cage. It goes on and off much easier.
Thanks, Jeff -- we'll have to meet up in the near future (I'm not sure why, but it didn't occur to me that you have a hard top).

Quote:
Originally Posted by 1of40 View Post
The Defenders I've driven with fiber tops were disappointing. Badger top IMO is a better option and investment over the long term.
I have a new Badger II on there, but was thinking about this as well.

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Originally Posted by GYM View Post
100% agree. I removed my fiberglass top at the beginning of summer for a few years and everything Ron mentions above is true. Those days are done.
I'm now fiberglass averse -- thanks.

Quote:
Originally Posted by evilfij View Post
If you are able to find an aluminium D90 hard top, liftgate, end pieces from a POE or SW cage, and drill the bottom part of the hardtop to fit the b-pillar cage ends through and you have a helper, once you set it up the first time and get all the cage bolts loose, I would not think it would be more than 2-3hours with two poeple an a torx impact gun to swap between a ST cage and an aluminium top which is about the same as a fiberglass top.
I think I've been sufficiently deterred from going fiberglass, so perhaps this would be the only option -- I don't completely follow what you mean regarding the part about the end pieces and drilling out. If I decided to go down this road I think I would want to talk to someone who has done this to see about the conversion and then switching back and forth between winter and summer.

Based on
Quote:
Originally Posted by rijosho View Post
An actual metal hard top would be more hours. JimC has a thread on it and it's in the FAQ section I believe if you back out of the forum.
Thanks
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  #7  
Old September 8th, 2013, 10:46 AM
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Nine-zero on here has a metal hardtop over the nas soft top cage. He told me he did it by removing the foam from the cantrails and the c hoop and something about reversing the diagonals. I obviously would never endorse removing the foam but finding cage pieces with no foam is easy. If you had a metal hardtop and bought some cage pieces this would be a cool way to run the truck in winter or whenever.
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Old September 8th, 2013, 11:42 AM
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As a former CJ/TJ guy, I found that with a nicer (read: thicker) soft-top, it really wasn't worth the effort to put a hardtop on at all. Temperature and noise-wise, it was comparable... just my 2 cents
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  #9  
Old September 8th, 2013, 11:56 AM
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I have both Badger and a Fiberglass Hardtop. Its not that bad putting it on and taking it off. Just have to be careful. Your best bet is to go take a drive in one. Mine does not leak but does have air gaps around the roll cage feet. It seals great around the doors but I also have SW doors on an ST. Took a while to find all the pieces but I would do it all over again. Im a fan.
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Old September 9th, 2013, 12:26 AM
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Originally Posted by bjp View Post
I have both Badger and a Fiberglass Hardtop. Its not that bad putting it on and taking it off. Just have to be careful. Your best bet is to go take a drive in one. Mine does not leak but does have air gaps around the roll cage feet. It seals great around the doors but I also have SW doors on an ST. Took a while to find all the pieces but I would do it all over again. Im a fan.
Well you've got my attention... So I take it yours was an original ST and then you changed out the doors. Can you give a thumbnail sketch of what you had to do and what parts you had to seek out. Jeff B (above) lives pretty close and has a fiberglass top so I can try a regular fit fiberglass top -- but I'm wondering how different things are for you compared to a regular hard top. I don't need airtight, but I also wouldn't want it to be more wind than with the ST -- I just need water tight (or as water tight as you can reasonably get with a ST. Thanks
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  #11  
Old September 9th, 2013, 06:55 AM
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SW doors are a huge difference. The other big improvement with the GRP (glass reinforced plastic) top is the rear lift gate. Everything else is a compromise and you have to really pay attention to fit it properly and not break it. I painted my original hardtop but only used it one season before I sold it (search AA Painted hardtop - that should find the thread). I bought another GRP top when I took a NAS 90 to live in Moscow for a year. The security improvement is a nice benefit.
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  #12  
Old September 9th, 2013, 10:16 AM
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I'm wondering if someone should make a hybrid hard/soft top.

There seems to be a fair number of posts from people who want a hardtop for their soft top, but they don't really want/need the entire hardtop - they just want the part that goes over the driver and passenger.

So perhaps if someone chopped an aluminum hardtop off right behind where the B-pillar mounts for the cage are located, then made a soft-top portion that was made to hook into that for the rear of the truck, then they would have the best of both worlds...
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  #13  
Old September 9th, 2013, 11:51 AM
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As part of our restoration, I'm doing the ST to SW conversion now on my old '95 NAS and it's just an endless sea of spending. In addition to buying a hardtop, you'll have to get a completely new roll cage, an SW rear door, interior trim . . . then you might need/want a new headliner.

PS- I'm with what the other said, the fiberglass top, while it does come on and off easily once you've got your routine down, its going to break no matter how careful you are. I've had the fiberglass hard top since '96 and every year I would switch from soft to hard to soft, I'd get new cracks. And my Mama always told me, say no to crack. Crack kills.
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Old September 10th, 2013, 05:51 PM
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Endless sea of spending to put on a hard top for the winter -- cracks if I got with a fiberglass HT .... I'm thinking this is way more involved that I wanted (which gets to the call of my original Q). Too bad there isn't a good aftermarket set up that you can just pop on top of an existing ST NAS roll cage. I thought I saw something that came close somewhere but it didn't seem true to the original look.
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Old September 10th, 2013, 05:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dragon Breath View Post
Endless sea of spending to put on a hard top for the winter -- cracks if I got with a fiberglass HT .... I'm thinking this is way more involved that I wanted (which gets to the call of my original Q). Too bad there isn't a good aftermarket set up that you can just pop on top of an existing ST NAS roll cage. I thought I saw something that came close somewhere but it didn't seem true to the original look.
You're probably thinking of the one that was made of wood.
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Old September 10th, 2013, 06:01 PM
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