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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So I'm not big on the aluminum rail screwed in the body of the Bronco nor do I much care for the look of it while the top is off. I decided to take an old hard top and modify it to accept my soft top. The screw holes in the body I plan on putting some paintable silicone over and then touching up with some paint. I wish I had done this before I had the body repainted but live and learn. Well here's the pics.

1st thing to do was figure out the cut line. I wanted to keep enough of the old top to keep the rigidity of the top.



When I cut the top off the sides had broken the bonding. I'll get this fixed later with some fiberglass mat.



What I ended up with after cutting. You can see in the center it dips down. The center bolt hole was cracked around it. I'll add some fiberglass to strengthen that up.



I found a guy on ebay that sells the snaps that I need and also some snaps to go in the top. I ended up buying the installation tool from him as well. I also went to the parts store and got the fiberglass needed to close this top back up.



So after test fitting the top and getting some snaps in place this is how it is going to look.





For the back I am going to use a piece of aluminum angle iron to mount the snaps to.



Now comes the fun, fiberglass. I'd suggest wearing long sleeves when sanding this stuff as it is pretty itchy.

I wanted to add some fiberglass mat on the inside where the weak joint was after cutting.



After that I was able to build up in layers the inside.



In the very center of the top it was cracked. I clamped it back together and added some more mat to the inside area.



For the center bracket rod supports I am going to fiberglass those to the top so there are no unnecessary screws going into the body. I've also eliminated the window gasket lip on each side with a grinder.



And this is where it is at now. Some more sanding and it will be ready for a final coat of bondo to finish it up.



More pics to come as progress continues.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
what brand soft top is that?
STC.

The big question is, how sturdy is it? Even after fiberglassing will you be able to pick it up with one or even two people?
Very sturdy. I can pick it up and carry it around by myself now. The fiberglass work makes it even sturdier.

Are you planning on re-using any of the interior trim?
I am going to try to fab up the original covers so I can cover the hold down bolts and give it a finished look.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I don't know if a newer style top will work or not. I'm going to guess not as the body style is different.

Well I got some more sanding done and some bondo spread. Now I have to figure out how I am going to finish off the back with some fiberglass to make it look finished.





So now we have gone from this:



To this:




Here is a test fit to see how it looks.



At the back I am not liking the big excessive hump there. I am going to cut it at the black line and fiberglass the end closed to give it a neat finished look.

 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
So things have settled down a little and I got back to work on it. I decided to fiberglass the metal brackets to the top so there would be no screws attached to the Bronco and this would be a totally self contained assembly.

1st thing to do is mark off where it goes and cut away some of the top for the pins I will be using for the bars:





I decided to round the corners off so it wouldn't catch on something later:



Next was to precut some fiberglass mat to lay into place:



Setting up:



I then applied a final coat of fiberglass web to give it a nicer finish coat. This will probably be the final on it as trying to put a coat of bondo and sanding is going to be to much of a hassle.



Some final sanding and it should look pretty good and be nice and stable:



At the rear I got the cut line down. This will get finished off with some fiberglass as well.



 

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I should be able to pick up fiberglass matting and bonding agent at a part store?
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Looks good enough to keep it on there all the time once its painted.
Not sure I know what you mean. The plan is to keep it on all the time once done. The only time the hard top will see use after this is done is if I ever went on a trip somewhere.

I should be able to pick up fiberglass matting and bonding agent at a part store?
Yep, any good parts store can get what you need. The resin uses a small amount of liquid hardner in it. Make sure you use the right amount or you will have resin harden faster than you use it.
 

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Looks good. What about weight? Is that a concern or not remotely. I know the regular softtop is easy to menuver. I can't imagine that being the same. But it looks more like a perminent install anyway.

Great job so far. I really want to see how it turns out.

D
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
What about weight? I would have to add quite a bit of fiberglass to add any kind of weight to worry about. The key thing is it will look finished when the top is down.

The soft top will still be easy to manuver, the fiberglass topper frame is going to be more of a permanent setup. I have no plans of removing the fiberglass frame work once it is complete. It will look 10 times better than the aluminum channel that was seen before when the top was down. Thanks

That is the whole idea tripleh87.
 

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Charlie don't surf..
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Great work..I'm just wondering how that fiberglass will hold up when you lock and unlock those bows..it takes a lot of pressure to push those down.


If this bracket is just in fiberglass and not metal, you might crack something..just a thought.

 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thanks and good point Jer. First thing I did was took a grinder to the OE topper surface to give the fiberglass a little more to grip to. I used 3 layers of fiberglass mat and then went over it with 2 layers of fiberglass net. The rear bow is the one that will get the most torque applied to the bracket once it is flipped into position. Hopefully it will be strong enough to hold it. It may crack but I don't think so. I did apply some hand pressure on it this morning and it felt pretty firm.

For the back I picked up some aluminum angle iron. I cut the ends and folded them over for a little structural support at the end where it meets the topper. I had planned on bolting it thru the ends but with the expected fiberglass finish there I would not be able to get the bolt into the angle iron. I changed that around and ran a single bolt thru the end of the top so at any time the aluimnum angle iron can be removed to gain acces into the back of the Bronco. I am going to use some foam insultion tape on the lower part of the angle iron to keep the rain/water out.



 

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how do the snaps attach? :toothlessIf they just screw into the fiberglass they will pull out and crack the glass. Make sure you bolt all the way through with a machine screw and put a nut and a flat washer on the back side for strenght. you might want to look into a acorn nut for a finished look.
 

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Charlie don't surf..
'92 Ford Bronco XLT
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Maybe you could add some thin steel and sanwich the top where that bracket is placed. This would help spread that force out over a larger area. Either way, nice work..

Have you thought about how you're going to open and close the tailgate with the top in place. This is one of the things I dislike most about this top. I have to get inside, undo the bows and then unbutton the rear snaps to open the tailgate..It's a real PITA.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
how do the snaps attach? :toothlessIf they just screw into the fiberglass they will pull out and crack the glass. Make sure you bolt all the way through with a machine screw and put a nut and a flat washer on the back side for strenght. you might want to look into a acorn nut for a finished look.
Screwed right into the fiberglass. I've already done a test fit of the soft top and it worked fine. I doubt they will pull the self tapping screws from the glass but I'll keep ya posted if they do. Take a look at this picture again and you can see how nice and tight the soft top is. I also only had about 4 snaps on the lower side during this test fit.

That nut and bolt is temp for now, probably go to the hardware store and get a nice chrome plated bolt for it when the time comes.:thumbup




Maybe you could add some thin steel and sanwich the top where that bracket is placed. This would help spread that force out over a larger area. Either way, nice work..

Have you thought about how you're going to open and close the tailgate with the top in place. This is one of the things I dislike most about this top. I have to get inside, undo the bows and then unbutton the rear snaps to open the tailgate..It's a real PITA.
If you look in this picture you can see the gap between the gate and angle piece, the tailgate will open with the aluminum angle in place. The gate should open fine with the top in place if I wanted to slide anything in but I'd have to undo a couple snaps anyhow to get to the handle to pop the gate. Now once I add a foam seal it might affect opening the gate up but I'd rather keep the water out. It isn't going to be that hard to remove the angle if I need to.

 

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I don't mean to be an a** but if your snapping and mostly unsnapping them I think they will pull out.:rockon
O wait I just used my brain Your idea should work the snap on the boat my dad has are just screwed into the glass and there not falling off and its 19yrs old. :banghead

But keep your eye on it. if they start breaking look into machine screws with acorn nuts it won't look all that bad.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I don't mean to be an a** but if your snapping and mostly unsnapping them I think they will pull out.:rockon
O wait I just used my brain Your idea should work the snap on the boat my dad has are just screwed into the glass and there not falling off and its 19yrs old. :banghead

But keep your eye on it. if they start breaking look into machine screws with acorn nuts it won't look all that bad.
I'll tell ya what, next time you have the hard top off your Bronco take a look at the lip on the edge of it. It is plenty thick enough, there is no way a screwed in snap is going to pull out. Plain and simple the snaps will be fine screwed into the glass. The snaps that I bought are penetrating all the way thru so I am going to have to take a grinder to what has popped out the other side to keep from scratching the paint. Acorn nuts won't work on the back side for the mere fact they will hit the metal part of the body.

Well back at it.

I got the fiberglass laid in the back section. I also put a fine layer of bondo over it to finish it off.





After some black paint this is the final outcome for now. I'll probably pull it off next spring and redo some sanding on it as there are some sand scrathes showing thru. I wanted to finish it up now so I could get the soft top back on.

Here is what the finished product is starting to look like. I still have more snaps to get in but I should be able to finish it tommorow.:chili:





 

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Ranger, that is awsome, very inventive. Quick question, how easy is it to remove that rear angle?

the only reason i ask is the issue of putting something tall in the bed, im sure you thought of this, just curious of the simplicity of removal.

great work
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Ranger, that is awsome, very inventive. Quick question, how easy is it to remove that rear angle?


great work

Take out this bolt, 1 on each side, and the angle comes right out.

Thanks:thumbup



Oh and far as inventive, I'm not the originator of this idea. There was an article in a BD magazine a while back. That is where I got the idea to do it, I only wish I had done this before the Bronco was painted so I could of had those holes welded up.
 
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