Hood Erecting Techniques

I can't say the following method is perfect, but it's the way I do it.

1. Fit the two halves of the frame together, and fit it to the car. Don't open out the two top rails, but keep them both upright as close together as you can get them. Push down on each side of the frame to compress the spring loaded struts, and turn the bottom part on each side to lock the frame in the lowered position.

2. Throw the soft top loosely over the frame, and straighten out any folds, wrinkles or kinks in the vinyl or plastic. Yes, it will be easier if you let it hang there for 2 to 3 hours in the hot sun, but you might not have that opportunity!

3. Running across the front of the soft top is a steel bar, embedded in a sleeve in the top. This needs to be tucked into the lip under the top of the windscreen frame. The attach the two "Lift The Dot" (LTD) fasteners to the studs at the corners of the windscreen frame. Check that the leading edge of the soft top is now central, and firmly in place.

4. You should have another steel bar sewn into a sleeve running across the back of the soft top. There will be two places where it is exposed on the bottom, to hook into the two "tear drops" on the back of the body. Do that now.

5. Finish connecting the soft top to the body, by means of the LTDs and turn buttons just behind the door.

6. Hop into the car, grab the front top rail, and pull it forward until the securing bars on each side lock into place. Unlock the spring loaded clips at the bottom of the frame, and give the frame top rails a thump upwards to tension the soft top. You have now finished erecting the top.

7. Practice this over and over until you can do the entire operation in under 1 minute during a torrential downpour. Remember that rain cloud that you said would blow over? Or was it the highway underpass where you kept driving, and said you would erect the top at the next underpass - and there was no next one!

Some people prefer to fit the rear rail to the teardrops first, but it's a secure fit of the front rail into the windscreen that keeps you dry, and you can get this in place better if you start from this end.

To fold it up afterwards:
a) Lay it upside down on a clean dry surface. Like your bonnet, that you washed and polished just yesterday.
b) Fold the two rear side windows inward under the rear window. Make sure you fold the top along the vinyl between the rear and side windows, and don't fold the clear plastic. (See comment below.)
c) Tuck the rear bar and about 1" of the rear of the top under the rear window.
d) Lean forward, grab the front of the top and fold it over the rear window.

You should now have a rectangular package, with only the vinyl showing on both sides, and all the clear plastic protected inside the package.

The book now says to roll the top up into a cylinder, stow it deep into the boot on top of the rear inner mudguards, and secure it there by the two straps that came with the car but were lost many years ago. I would love you to do this, as I sell a lot more soft tops that way. When you roll up the top into a cylinder, the clear plastic gets creased, then it cracks. So don't roll it up. Leave it as a flat rectangular envelope, and juggle it into the boot, where is can sit flat on top of your spare tyre.

Ideally the rear bar should be the same length as the rear window, letting you fold the side windows in at the vinyl strip. If the bar is too long, and you can only fold the plastic, then remove the bar and shorten it. This is critical. If you fold the plastic, and the soft top gets cold, then the plastic will crack when you unfold it.