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Under Top Elastic Strap Repair

 
Old 01-12-2008, 03:12 PM
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Post Under Top Elastic Strap Repair

You guys may have seen Modifry's convertible top fix (Modifry page).

More Modifry install pics here

The elastic straps get old and weak pretty quick (mine is a 2003). If it gets weak enough the top won't go down all the way -- but someone pointed ot recently that there is a danger that the frame hoop will stick up and break the latches!

Anyhow.. I decided to pursue a fix on my own. I have some industrial elastic samples still coming, but I bought several feet to try from Strapworks (here), and was happy enough with it to go ahead with the project.

My goal was to do a factory level job with better elastic if possible. As a secondary goal I would have liked to change the rivets for screws to make the next time easier, but that goal was not achieved in this pass.

I have a right angle drill that made drilling the back rivets out possible (I don't think you could do this with a standard drill).
<added 6/2010>
The drill works well, but you have to deal with the shavings in the seat. When I did this for a second time and used a sharpened putty knife to slice the head of the rivets off. A sharp wood chisel would be another option. You just tap the chisel with a hammer to slice the head off (Thanks for the tip Chris!) Be sure to place something between the rivet and the top you don't want to slice through the top if you slip. </end add>

Also I had some trouble tracking down rivets, as 1/8 dia. are too small and 3/16 are too big to go through the factory mounts without drilling. I found 5/32 dia. at Sears they weren't expensive and replace the factory rivets without further modification. 5mm would likely be the correct size if you were pursuing screws, but you need a very low rounded head to keep from damaging the elastic at the front where the bands wrap over the heads.

Added -> When I attached the first strap I noticed the flat head of the new rivets didn't sit completely flat against the round bar, so I used small hammer to tap rivets down. Looking at the second side, there were small flattened areas on the top and bottom edges of the original rivets, making it appear this was the same method used by the factory.

When I got the old strapping off, I was very surprised at how bad they were. The extent of the wear was not evident when they were installed. You could see daylight through parts of the straps when they were removed. It has been suggested that these are only good for two years or so. Mine were at 5-1/2 years and looking weak. You may want to take a piece of white paper and slip behind your straps to see how they look, or open the top about half way and shine a light at the back side.

When you get the old straps off (don't cut them), you use them as a pattern to measure and get hole placement for the new straps. Lay the straps out flat and measure them relaxed. The holes on my straps measured approximately 11" center to center relaxed, but it was hard to tell because they were so deformed and curling.

I used a hollow punch to cut holes in the new strapping. I recommend this approach as it did great job and left clean holes. I don't think you would could achieve this with a drill or awl. After cutting and punching I used a match to prevent the ends from coming unraveled.

I placed cardboard between the top and the ribs while drilling to ensure that if I slipped I didn't drill through the roof. I placed a tarp over the seat to catch the aluminum shavings while drilling. The new elastic is slightly thicker than the old so I was unable to double the ends -- but since that doesn't seem to be where the wear occurs, and this is thicker strapping, I am not too concerned. Without doubling the ends, you need more like 12 inches of material (each strap) rather than 14-1/2".

Key points:
- Straps are approx 1-1/2 by 14-1/2 ea. relaxed (need approx 20% stretch). Strapworks.com (here),
- 5/32 X 1/4 rivets (Sears, or assortment at AutoZone)
- 5/23 drill bit (to remove old rivets)
- 1/8"(?) hollow punch (harbor freight page)

I will let you know this hold up over time, but I am very pleased with the job overall. If you want to try and do your top I am happy to help, If enough folks are interested we can line up a mod day to do several.
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Old 01-12-2008, 03:16 PM
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BTW -- Rob I bought a new rivet gun ;-)
Note how thin the elastic looks in the light...

New elastic next to old:

Angle headed drill (needed to get to back rivits):

Hollow punch (used to make holes in new elastic):
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Old 01-12-2008, 03:57 PM
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The Elastic dry rots quick in the South...

I've actually had a 07 that had weak elastic and punctured 2 soft tops because the bow wasn't folding correctly all the time.
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Old 01-12-2008, 05:40 PM
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Pics added
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Old 01-12-2008, 07:22 PM
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Great write-up! My straps are in pretty bad shape, so I will need to do something soon.
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Old 01-14-2008, 06:33 PM
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I checked mine yesterday, while I was giving it a quick cold weather cleaning, and they are horrible!!
I think I need to do them soon!!
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Old 01-14-2008, 06:45 PM
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very nice John!
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Old 01-21-2008, 04:35 PM
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Good stuff, John. Thanks for the post!
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Old 04-24-2008, 10:53 AM
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I know this thread has been dead for a while but I just wanted to say a big thanks! I'm about to install my top this weekend and noticed that my straps are toast! The elasticity of them is pretty much non-existant at this point. I freaked out when I noticed that the top doesn't come with new straps...doesn't matter now, I have all the info I could possibly need to fab up some new ones!
Thanks again buddy
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Old 04-24-2008, 11:00 AM
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WOW!! Someone from SoCal is lurkin in Bama!
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