Wednesday, December 26, 2012

I Can See Clearly Now

To say the Jeep top was in sad shape was a bit of an understatement.

The driver's side window's zipper broke in 2011. I couldn't get it to close so, over the last year, I've resorted to duct taping it shut. As a result, I couldn't use drive throughs of any sort because I couldn't get the window open. The only time I used those was when I took the window off.

The passenger side window sort of worked, although only one of the two zippers each window has worked properly.

You see the tear above the window. It's like that on both sides. Last year, only the driver's side was noticeable and I made do by using a plastic bag stuffed in the tear. This year, that wasn't going to work.

Both back windows had come apart along the top seam. On the driver's side, I could make the window stay in place by hooking it in front and pressing along the velcro. That velcro is tough stuff. It's hard to get the windows off because it really does lock in place. On the passenger side, however, it wasn't working. As I drove to Iowa for Christmas, the side window's stitching finally gave out and the window flapped behind me as I moved. That must have been quite a sight, to come up to me from behind and see this window flapping in the wind. I finally had to just shove it into the Jeep and I drove to my brother's with one window open. It was actually warmer inside the Jeep with the window open than when I tried to tape it to the frame.

When I got a bonus in November, the first thing I did was save part of it and then I ordered a new top. My brother, Dan, had moved into a new house at the beginning of November so he was going to have Thanksgiving at his house. "You come and we'll put the new top on for you." Well, I couldn't drive that far. I was having knee problems and the drive would have been excruciatingly painful. Plans were made for Christmas.

Dan does welding for a guy who builds and rebuilds stock cars. There is a large racing circuit in Iowa so they have a lot of business. His boss offered the use of the shop to change the top. We were going to do this in Dan's garage but the shop had much more room and could be heated much quicker than the garage. This was a great idea and I'm grateful to Craig for the offer.

Dan's girlfriend's son, Chase, came along for the fun. He was quite the help. It took us an hour and a half from start to finish to put the top on. The only time we had to look at the instructions was to find where the top was anchored to the front bar. Here's the Jeep completely topless.

That bar to the far left is where the top anchors into the bar. You have to fold the top all the way over the bar, upside down, if you will, and then screw it into the bar.

I got the top we were replacing back in September of 2005. It took 90 minutes then to replace the old with the new.

I think the hardest part was getting the front windows onto the frames. Dan got the windows started and Chase got one window off but had problems with the other one.

This is my favorite photo from replacing the top.

Chase got framed.

We wound up having to heat the canvas to stretch it just enough to get it over the frame. Ideally, you do this in the summer when you can lay the top out and let the sun warm it up. Then, when you go to put the top on, it stretches just enough that you're not tugging on things. Dan had to use the shop's concentrated hand-held decal remover to stretch the canvas. When the top was replaced in 2005, we did it in the office parking lot and used the hand dryer in the restroom to stretch the canvas.

We did it. The effect, to me, is startling because I can now see clearly out the windows again.

I'm back to being able to listen to the radio or CD's again. I'm back to having to turn down the heat because it's getting too warm. I'm back to knowing rain and snow won't find their way inside. I'm back to being able to back into the driveway and not meander all over the lawn because I can't see clearly out the rear window. I'm thrilled with this top. If it lasts as long as the other one did, I will have gotten my money's worth, even half as long is worth the money.

Here's the view of the Mississippi River as I crossed it at Clinton.

Shot through the window. Clear as glass. Hallelujah. Now, come summer, I can go topless again and know the top won't tear when folded down and back up.

Beverage:  Darjeeling tea



  1. There's something about having clean windows in your car - life's simple pleasures.

  2. So much better, it looks like a new jeep!