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1988 FSB, 351W, Towing Package
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Discussion Starter #1
As the title says, I’m interested in grabbing a soft top. I live on the gulf coast in lower Alabama and would love being able to just roll the top down. I want to know if anybody just prefers their hard top though and reasons why?
 

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1989 Bronco XLT 351W with C6, manual locking hubs. 6” suspension lift with 35” Cooper tires
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311 Posts
In for the answers. I’m wanting one also....


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Super Moderator
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Yo,
Reasons why our #4 son went back to installing the "camper top".
Thieves sliced it open for change, mischief, spite...
 

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Joisey don't smell funny
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I've never had a hard top for this 78, and have never missed it. I had a 93 that I got STC speed top for when I lived in Florida, ran with that as often as I could also. I have considered the theft factor, but in this day and age anything only realistically keeps the honest people out. If someone wants in, they'll get in. I'd prefer no broken glass.
 

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1989 Bronco XLT 351W with C6, manual locking hubs. 6” suspension lift with 35” Cooper tires
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311 Posts
Being that mine is a cruiser and not my every day truck, I don’t keep anything in it. Besides if I get the soft topper, I will probably keep the sides and back rolled up.

I’m curious how water tight the soft topper is.


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Ford Hoarder
78 & 92
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the soft topper is a bit better then the rampage (in my opinion). I have had both on my 78. They both are around 98% water tight, with only ever 1 or 2 spots have water, ever. Spot meaning maybe 1/3 of a shot glass at the most. I ran the rampage one all year long too, even had snow on it in this part of Indiana for a bit. Have not had the softtopper on the truck long enough to put it through a winter yet.
I like the soft tops enough Likely not going back to the hard top on the 78, I removed all the glass stuff from the tailgate on mine.
 

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The only down side a found during my research is body flex. We already have an uphill battle with the A pillar seams, taking the top off can cause some flex.

I'm looking to reinforce with a roll cage before I take the top off for good.
 

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solid steel bumpers will greatly reduce flex.

i have a softtopper and have run it full time for a little over a year. i don't miss the hard top at all.

for water intrusion, it's only leaked a couple times. the leaks occurred where the water would soak through the straps. so it was very low impact.

Yo,
Reasons why our #4 son went back to installing the "camper top".
Thieves sliced it open for change, mischief, spite...
do your children know that you rank them? are the kids competitive about who's #1?
 

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78 & 92
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The body flex comment is a valid point... Mine has had at leat a 6 point cage for a long time (tied to frame), way before softtop went on. So something I cannot really comment on. Also has had beefy bumpers for the same amount of time too.
 

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....
do your children know that you rank them? are the kids competitive about who's #1?
Yo d,
😎
Yes, they know we list them by birthdates on web sites such as this for privacy issues.
Al
 

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As the title says, I’m interested in grabbing a soft top. I live on the gulf coast in lower Alabama and would love being able to just roll the top down. I want to know if anybody just prefers their hard top though and reasons why?
I absolutely love my SofTopper and will most likely never go back to a hard shell.
 

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'92 Custom w/ '95 MAF 5.0, 33's, 4.10 LSD
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solid steel bumpers will greatly reduce flex.
The bumpers affect flex around the cab? I wouldn't have guessed that... Wouldn't a hitch receiver do the same thing in the rear, then? I've got a buttload of B-pillar and drip rail cracking that disagrees. :)
 

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78 & 92
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Hitch should help, but they typically only mount to the bottom rail of the frame, where as the bumpers mount the the sides. I am unsure how much flex just a hitch is going to take out due to that reason.
The best fix is something like the factory GT bar, or an aftermarket piece (rollbar) that does the same.
 

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Not sure you'll find many folks that switch back and forth between the two..I'd be willing to bet once you go soft top you'll never go back..I've had one on my Bronco for 16 years. Never ever missed the hard top..my first was the STC, top was made well but it required drilling into the cab and the back buttoned to the tailgate so there was no easy access to the inside like with the softtopper. At the time, there were a few cracks starting on my cab corners..with the soft top on all of the time and the increase in frequency I was offroading (along with the difficulty), I believe the cracking got worse..I was also running a GT roll bar, not sure that helped (still have it)..Depending on how it's done I'd bet a full cage would minimize the flex in the frame but it's never going to be completely gone..

First two pics below are around 2004..last two are within the last few years..
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157128


I've since repaired my cab corners twice, going on a third time. While I still drive the Bronco, it's pretty much weekends only and the occasional trail ride..I can count on one hand the number of times I completely dropped the top, I prefer it with the side rolled up..Something to keep in mind, the top is a wear item..over time the windows are going to haze over and it won't stay as clean, but you'll still enjoy it..

Softtopper
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The bumpers affect flex around the cab? I wouldn't have guessed that... Wouldn't a hitch receiver do the same thing in the rear, then? I've got a buttload of B-pillar and drip rail cracking that disagrees. :)
there's no comparison between the change i felt in the flex when i changed the front bumper and then again when i changed the rear bumper. i didn't expect it and hadn't even heard of that as a possibility. so it was a pleasant surprise.

also, comparing the sheer size of the bumpers vs a hitch is really no comparison.
 

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it's pretty much weekends only and the occasional trail ride
out of curiosity - do you think that's (in part) due to the amount of modifications you've done to it? as in, you've made it such a beast that it's lost some of its appeal on the street?
 

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'92 Custom w/ '95 MAF 5.0, 33's, 4.10 LSD
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Hitch should help, but they typically only mount to the bottom rail of the frame, where as the bumpers mount the the sides. I am unsure how much flex just a hitch is going to take out due to that reason.
The best fix is something like the factory GT bar, or an aftermarket piece (rollbar) that does the same.
My thinking was, anything locking the ends of the frame together should have the same effect on flex at the middle of the frame. For there to be any mid-frame twisting then, it would mean the hitch itself is twisting, which seems pretty unlikely. I can't see there being enough elasticity in the last few inches of frame to allow just the bottom of the channel to move independently from the sides. That would be a serious wet noodle.

I've had my eye on a full roll bar for that reason, but I'm not sure I want to make the spatial compromises...

there's no comparison between the change i felt in the flex when i changed the front bumper and then again when i changed the rear bumper. i didn't expect it and hadn't even heard of that as a possibility. so it was a pleasant surprise.

also, comparing the sheer size of the bumpers vs a hitch is really no comparison.
Well, you've got the first-hand experience... You can actually feel the frame flex? Not just the audible part? The angles I cover with my driveway setup are comparable to a lot of offroading (3' drop corner to corner, maybe 2' side to side), and I can certainly tell you about the creaks, but I can't feel anything that screams flex to me.

I don't see why the size of the bumper relative to the hitch would have any significance. Both are just a chunk of metal connecting the ends of the frame. The rest of it is just mass surrounding those connections. (E.g., the ends of the bumper contribute nothing to its strength in the middle.) So, like said above, unless the hitch is able to twist, which would seriously beg the question of tow ratings, the size should have no effect.
 

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@fodder this is the best way i can illustrate it, i guess. you think these will perform equally? and for feeling the flex, i guess it's that i could feel a reduction in flex (i.e. a stiffening of the body) when adding each bumper.

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out of curiosity - do you think that's (in part) due to the amount of modifications you've done to it? as in, you've made it such a beast that it's lost some of its appeal on the street?
Not really..for a vehicle it's size it drives good and the ride is relatively comfortable, A/C works and I can still do 75/80 comfortably on the highway..part of it is I'm getting older and the constant wrenching isn't as much fun as it used to be. I'd say the biggest factor is I just don't have the time, so if I can get it out once or twice in a weekend for a run to Lowes or a cruise around the neighborhood that's good for me..
 

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85 Bronco, 309ci I6 w/4bbl, np435, 4" lift, 37" Irok NDs, 4.56 w/ Detroit Locker and tru trac
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Both receivers on my 85 attach to the sides of the frame with at least 4 bolts per side. That's gonna be just as good as most heavy bumpers. The ends of the bumper past the frame ain't doing nothing.

Never had a soft top myself, unless you count a blue tarp!

To stiffen the B-pillars, one could mimic the shape of the topper with plate steel and make a "hoop" that bolts in place of the topper, and extends down into the bedsides.
 
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