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 25 convertible top replacement (Read 4800 times)
1933beer
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convertible top replacement
Jan 3rd, 2014 at 6:46pm
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This tutorial is to help those who would like to replace their convertible top on their 944 or 968.  My top was original and needed replaced due to a recent tear and a mouse hole. When I called a local shop to do the work they said $1700 or more. (They had not done a 944 before) With this information  in hand  and fair skills on a car I looked into how much it would be to do it myself and how hard.  Cost for supplies not to hard but how you go about removal and installation no help. I did buy a general book inline that helped but it was to general and mainly dealt with tacking or stapling. This process is not used on the 944. It gave me some helpful tips that allowed me do a better job in the end. I will say that I had never changed a top before doing this one.
What materials will you need?
1.
New top. I used   original material (cost $420) you can go cheaper but it wont last as long.
2.
New liner ( I chose to use the old one a little faded in front but in good shape
3.
Rivet gun and rivets
4.
Contact cement. (Wood Weld) by Dap (flammable type). I also used HH-66 vinyl cement, you can bond things sooner with this stuff but it does not hold as well as wood weld.
5.
Brushes acid brushes and 1 inch hair type brushes.
6.
Lacquer thinner or adhesive remover ( to remove old adhesive from metal)
7.
Drill to remove old rivets
8.
0 and #2 Phillips
9.
13mm deep socket 10mm wrench 
10.
Spray adhesive or ľ contact tape you can buy from auto paint supply 5 feet
11.
Lots of clamps
12.
Chalk and sharpie
13.
Needle and small nail
14.
Blankets or towels to protect car finish
15.
camera
I have this diagram to refer to so we are talking about the same thing. the car uses a two piece top.



What to do first. Order your top. I suggest you order your new top 3 weeks before you plan to start. And when it comes in lay it on top the one on the car make sure things appear to line up.
When you start you need to take lots of pictures. (I took some that will help but should have taken others and some I took didn't look well enough to use.)  I had to wait 3 weeks in between the removal of my old top and putting the new one. (I painted the car.) Remembering what screws go where ( I am old I forget things)   and how the material is connected. I marked the center of the top front, middle and  back bottom of the window with the top up take and write down the distance from the bottom of the window to the seam of the to parts above the window.

Top removal

The removal process in general goes from front to back. You start at the header. Open the top and remove screws and parts this will allow you to get at the edge and start pulling back (if hard you can use a heat gun  if you have one and it  will help loosen it up You can remove the front of the headliner as well.  There is a cable on each side that goes through holes on the sides I removed the rear nut ( 7 or 8 mm) pulled it through an reattached it.  Put the top down. To remove the window edge you have to pull the rubber out. ( there will be some washers under it ensure you mark the location where they go ) not all screws had them I assume they were used as spacers)  At this point you are at what is called the C pillar. Both parts of the top and the head liner attach here. You have to remove the head of a rivet on each side then the rubber ( the connection on the bottom  is with a plastic push pin try not to mess it up I donít know where to get these)  once this is off you can remove the front connection for the top it is kind of behind the seat belt attachment ( this  connection was hard to find I had all other connections I could find off then found this)


on the inside of the car about 6 inches back from this bolt is two Phillips head screws on each side remove them.



There is a piece at the front of the top at the back of the door jam. You may not need to remove this ( I did since I was repainting the car.) the cross bars ( bows) need to be removed so the top will remove from the frame. Try to make sure you take a pick or video of how this goes together. You should be able to remove the front half of the top. You can remove the head liner the rest of the way or leave it to the end. With the top still up, Take blue painters tape and run it along the bottom edge of the top. Mark where the front of the top stops and where each of the bonnet screws are located. Then remove them.



The next step is to go into the trunk.(You can get to these through the seats with them down this would allow you not to remove part of the carpet. I was painting so it all came out.)  You need to remove the carpet in the trunk to access the 4 special bolts that hold the back down.  The power top motor cables run through the same channel and may make it had to get at the heads. Use the 13mm socket and loosen from one side to the other. You donít want to remove these bolts just loosen until the top releases.  You can pull up on the top more as you do each one to check for release. You will notice something still holding the top. Inside the car the back ledge it still attached. There are 4 yellow fasteners that are holding it in.  I used a large screwdriver placed next to each one to separate them. Be careful donít damage this panel. The top should now be loose you can remove the rest of the head liner if not done before. You can now remove the top.
Again take picks of how things are attached so you can refer back to them. You can remove the back portion of the top and begin removing the adhesive from the frame in prep for installation. Mark the center of both pieces of the new top.




Use tape to mark the center on the car and the back rail. ) there are a few places where some material is removed I used the old top as a guide  by laying the old over the new  make sure dimensions are the same before doing so.
Installation
In general installation is done in the reverse process.  In the information I had it said to fasten the top to the # 4 bow ( this is where the tow haves of the top come together)and then using the measurement during removal measure and mark the top at the bottom. Then attach the top.   I did not do it this way. I marked the bottom of the new top.



I attached the top to the bar removed from the old top I also made marks with chalk alone the top that I measured along to use as a guide. If you have a body to help great, put on the contact cement and when ready have your body on one side and you on the other first stick the canvas to the bar aligned on the center marks then each of you pull out wards and attach evenly as possible the pulling out ward will help with the back window to lay properly. Screw the bar back in place on the frame. Pull the top down to ensure the marks on the bottom frame are where you want them make any adjustments. Apply cent to both bottom rail from center to the corner and the canvas. Attach the bottom rail to the canvas when ready aligning the center marks first attach and then you and your body pulling out ward line up on your marks and attach. Let sit for 5 minutes or so, then line the top up with center and front marks on the tape you put on the car and top. With your friend hold the frame in position and see how things look ( if you have covered the window to protect from scratches with paper to protect remove it and look to see how the window lays) Do not be afraid to pull off and adjust if things donít look right. Now is the time. If it looks good prep the rest of the bottom from corner to front on the bottom and make sure you pull down and to the front and have your body mark the cloth where the edge would be every few inches.



This is import part for a nice fit and the hardest. ( in the corner is another place where you have to remove some of the material you may choose to attach the top then use a razor blade to remove the excess.) Apply cement and attach when ready.( I used claps to hold cloth in place until adhesive set up)  If all looks good re attach the bottom rail. If not pull it apart and adjust. You are now ready to attach to the C pillar. (Make sure you if you have removed the piece at the bottom front of the top that you replace them first before reattaching the bottom.)

  

1990 944 S2 convertible
1985 Toyota Celica GTS convertible
1987 Toyota Supra
1997 BMW Z3 convertible.               Council Bluffs, IA
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1933beer
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Re: convertible top replacement
Reply #1 - Jan 3rd, 2014 at 6:49pm
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You are now ready for the front half.  If you have not used the old top to see were and how much to remove around the screw holes.  Attach the back of the top to the bar aligning the center marks and attach in the center first and pulling out ward to the sides lay it on the car to make sure it lays right.  Then you need to use a needle or small nail to go from the back side of the BAR this will help show you where to put each screw. Start all before tightening them down.  Feed the side hold down cable back through on each side. Pull the top into place.  Attach side flaps use a pin to help find the holes before screwing.  Then pull the flap into place on the C pillar. You are ready to do the header. Lift the top up 1 Ĺ inches. I used a short 2x 4. Prep and pull the top outward on the sides( buddy helps again) lay the top from center mark out you donít have to pull hard toward the front since it will get stretched when you close the top. Let top set up then close the top. If it looks good then lift the top up and let cure. Then you can start replacing the head liner.
I this pic you can see how the window is laying I did not remove the paper that I covered the window with before attaching the back of the top. This has changed for the better as the top has gotten wet when washed and heat of the sun.



This tutorial could use more pictures but do to lighting and quality of my phone camera several pictures were not usable. Still if I had this information when I replaced mine I would have been able to do a better job. I know if I ever have to replace the top or have the window replaced I will be able to improve the end project.

if you have usable picks from your replacement   added them.
  

1990 944 S2 convertible
1985 Toyota Celica GTS convertible
1987 Toyota Supra
1997 BMW Z3 convertible.               Council Bluffs, IA
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scuba717
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Re: convertible top replacement
Reply #2 - Jan 4th, 2014 at 2:04pm
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You are the MAN!! Excellent write up, thanks for taking the time to post. Mine needed a new top, but I made it a condition of the sale. The seller said it cost him $1900 to have a shop do the work. Just goes to show, what you can save if you tackle these jobs.
Nice work!!
  

1991 944 S2 Cabrio - 1959 Bugeye Sprite - 2007 C6 Corvette
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Re: convertible top replacement
Reply #3 - Jan 4th, 2014 at 3:40pm
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Thanks. Great info. This job is next on my list. Did you catch this video about replacing the "Sunruff Top" ?http://youtu.be/2PHjRpr67Dg
Also, where did you purchase your replacement top and how was quality fit etc?
  
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1933beer
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Re: convertible top replacement
Reply #4 - Jan 4th, 2014 at 10:31pm
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I found that video a few monthes back it was posted after I did my top it is additional help but I will point out that it is not pulled tight enough on the back panel. Look at how your current top is. It should be tight a nice curve that is the play part that you need a bouddy claps and patience.

I would not recommend the place I got my top. The fit and material was good but I was charged more than the on line price(I should walked then) and then they charged me twice and I had to send them an image of my duble billing. They still argued with me and said they didn't when I said I would put it into dispute they then found their error. Jason recommended a place that he used and liked they just couldn't get the top to me  in the time I needed perhaps he can pipe in with that place. I just recommend paying the extra for the original material.

also want to add the video showed the removal of the power top motors I also removed the clutches on the sides. It lightens things up a bit.
  

1990 944 S2 convertible
1985 Toyota Celica GTS convertible
1987 Toyota Supra
1997 BMW Z3 convertible.               Council Bluffs, IA
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1933beer
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Re: convertible top replacement
Reply #5 - Sep 16th, 2014 at 12:46am
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wanted to update a change to top replacement. When I did mine I covered the window to protect. The problem was I could not see if the window was tight. I would now sugest that you take it off before the lower fitting so you can see the window. If you scratch or scuff the window there is a product you can use to rerpair a scratch by polishing. The po used it on the 97 bmw I purchased. It is also use to remove a yellowed window if you are not ready to replace your top.
  

1990 944 S2 convertible
1985 Toyota Celica GTS convertible
1987 Toyota Supra
1997 BMW Z3 convertible.               Council Bluffs, IA
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Bushcaddy
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Re: convertible top replacement
Reply #6 - Jun 4th, 2015 at 3:48pm
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Just finished replacing my top, based on the above info, and a couple of generic videos on UTube.

The directions are a good starting point, but the details will probably vary depending on the year (mine is an early production 89) and wether or not anyone else has been in there messing around.

A few things that were different for my car:

1.  The early production cars will require welding of an extra piece of metal to the front bow, as the newer tops (and the only ones available to buy) are 7mm wider on each side at the front.  I was lucky, my top had already been changed at least once, and the extra pieces of metal were already there.

2.  I could not simply loosen the bolts that hold down the rear "tack" strip and pull the rear window section off.  My old top was cemented to this strip so I had to remove the whole thing.  (these bolts are accessed through the trunk.  You will have to pull the carpet down (it is cemented to the underside of the rear ledge)

3.  Because of item 2 above, I cemented the new top to the rear tack using the old top as a guide, before installing the tack to the car, and then worked forward.

I would also recommend installing a new headliner at the same time.  In my case, there was no way to remove one without damaging the other.
Also, my hold down cables were worn, so probably a good idea to replace those at the same time.

All in all, the top turned out very nice.  Definitely doable, but I bet you I spent a good week working on it.

Thanks OP for posting the original instructions, as I might not have dared try it otherwise.
  

1989 944 Cab Black on Black
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1990 cabriolet
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Re: convertible top replacement
Reply #7 - Sep 8th, 2015 at 6:47pm
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F
The 944 cab is electrical and cable operated
And do not force it !!
E mail me
And I'll send yiu the diagram of how it works

Hi Ian:

I saw this post and I am wondering if you could be so kind as to send me the diagrams. I have a 1990 S2 with 2 broken main supports. I have found a competent welder who is making the repairs but I would like to make sure things are properly lined up. I also need to know how to make  adjustments so that the motors take the top up far enough.

An help or suggestions are greatly appreciated.


Thanks
Peter
Sent from my iPad
  
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1933beer
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Re: convertible top replacement
Reply #8 - Sep 10th, 2015 at 1:21am
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90cab why are you not wanting to go manual? your main bow is broke because they became miss aligned. As ian said they will mess uo again many people have there welds break. Theses parts are getting hard to even locate. I much prefer my top manual. Much faster up and down. You don't have to shut the car off to do it.
  

1990 944 S2 convertible
1985 Toyota Celica GTS convertible
1987 Toyota Supra
1997 BMW Z3 convertible.               Council Bluffs, IA
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1990 cabriolet
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Re: convertible top replacement
Reply #9 - Sep 10th, 2015 at 10:20pm
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Could be something I'm willing to try. I don't have a manual  for the car. Can you tell me how to convert the top to manual?
  
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1933beer
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Re: convertible top replacement
Reply #10 - Sep 10th, 2015 at 11:15pm
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I am pretty sure I have a pic showing the two allens to remove in this thread. It is a long thread and I can't remember when I posted it. I also think I posted it on here once as well. If you can't find I will try to find the pic and post on this thread.   
sorry I forgot the link.


http://rennlist.com/forums/944-and-944s2-forum/485038-what-have-you-done-to-your...
« Last Edit: Sep 11th, 2015 at 10:54pm by 1933beer »  

1990 944 S2 convertible
1985 Toyota Celica GTS convertible
1987 Toyota Supra
1997 BMW Z3 convertible.               Council Bluffs, IA
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Re: convertible top replacement
Reply #11 - Sep 11th, 2015 at 4:50am
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Great! Thanks
  
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Elite944
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Re: convertible top replacement
Reply #12 - Sep 14th, 2015 at 9:41pm
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awesome!  thanks!

A quick story, years ago i had a shop order a top for replacement.  they did, and i didn't get around to it for 18 months.  when i finally took the cab in, they realized they ordered a 911 top, and could not return it so had to eat it.  Ordered the right top for me, had so much trouble fitting it on.  I had to make final adjustments at home.  Gotta love these cars...
  
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1933beer
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Re: convertible top replacement
Reply #13 - Oct 9th, 2015 at 4:37pm
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1933beer wrote on Sep 10th, 2015 at 11:15pm:
I am pretty sure I have a pic showing the two allens to remove in this thread. It is a long thread and I can't remember when I posted it. I also think I posted it on here once as well. If you can't find I will try to find the pic and post on this thread.   
sorry I forgot the link.


http://rennlist.com/forums/944-and-944s2-forum/485038-what-have-you-done-to-your...      


<a href="http://s826.photobucket.com/user/1933beer/media/insideoftopmanual.jpg.html" target="_blank"><img src="http://i826.photobucket.com/albums/zz185/1933beer/insideoftopmanual.jpg" border="0" alt=" photo insideoftopmanual.jpg"/></a>


here I thought I would post  this is a link to the pic I posted elsewhere on what to remove to make the top manual. you don't have to take anything apart. I do recommend removing the connection to the switch and I removed all parts to save a little wait.
  

1990 944 S2 convertible
1985 Toyota Celica GTS convertible
1987 Toyota Supra
1997 BMW Z3 convertible.               Council Bluffs, IA
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1990 cabriolet
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Re: convertible top replacement
Reply #14 - Oct 24th, 2015 at 2:01am
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Thanks. Got it done!
  
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