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Join Date: Mar 2002
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do it yourself 87 cab top replacement

I have an 87 Cab that needs it's top replaced and new carpeting. I called a few companies in the back of Excellence Magazine and got prices of approx $500 for german carpeting, $300 for non german pile and I think $550 for a top.

I want to do this myself but have not found any info on the web that explains to the do it yourselfer the ins and outs of removing the top / installing it and what to look out for. The only place that is local to me, in Phila Pa wants about $2200 for a new top and headliner and the wires that run inside the top. This is about $1700 in labor that I have to believe I can do myself. This is not rebuilding the engine where special tools and a lift are necessary.

I did find a site on the carpeting job but have lost the url for it. With all the junk that is on the internet I was suprised that I could not find any detailed info on doing these jobs.

Please help!
Thanks
Eric
Old 03-23-2004, 08:15 PM
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Having done a few Targa tops, my guess is, doing a cab top would be significantly difficult for a DIY project, unless you've had some experience with it prior. There are issues with tightness, alignment, etc. that seem difficult for a total novice. I may be wrong, but it would seem so. A cab top and headliner might be pushing the 5 wrench limit...

Carpeting, not too big a deal. Use a good adhesive, and make sure all of the old adhesive is cleaned off (hardest part of the job.) When you remove the old, take notes and pictures of how things were lined up to help with the placement of the new. Not a super easy job, but prolly 3- wrenches for that one.
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Old 03-23-2004, 08:49 PM
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I've redone the top to my Targa and it was pretty easy and staright forward. I have also replace tops on several British cars and didn't really come up against any major problems.

Is it a power top or manual top? The power top will probably be a little more complicated and involve. The headliner could be easy or hard, but if it is similar to the targa top it fairly easy to install.

Try replacing the carpet first, and if you feel confident afterward, do the top next.
Old 03-24-2004, 02:08 AM
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I had replaced the top on several British cars as well as VW beetles over the years. I also am an Engineer so I was not afraid to tackle my 911 top. Do not be fooled- it is quite a job to do it right and have it come out satisfactory. I ordered to best German canvas from World Upholstery (around $750) and carefully examined every piece as it came off. It took me about 3 weeks, a total of 40 hours I imagine. The result - a rear window with no ripples (that is the hard part) and canvas pulled taut uniformly. There have been a few others on the Board that have done this with mixed results so I will conclude by saying this - If you are confident, go ahead and take your time and do it. If you have doubts about your ability or time allocation, farm it out.
Good luck,
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Old 03-24-2004, 03:18 AM
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I replaced my non powered top little over 2 yrs ago. It was a severe PITA. The trimming, hand fitting, glueing, stretching to get it just right, convinced me that I would probably not ever do another one. If you do decide to do it, be very sure to take plenty of photos before, in and out, of everthing that looks like it will be needed to be removed, a LOT of parts there. All said, I am very happy with the way mine came out, nice and smooth, and tight, still looks great. Good luck.
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Old 03-24-2004, 05:17 AM
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I have done almost everything on all my cars, including rebuild trannys and engines, but I will never attempt to replace a top, although for $2200, it would make me think long and hard as you are. Getting the rear window smooth is the most difficult part, and the shop that supposedly did about 1000 911 tops here in Van Nuys, CA, Rich and Famous Auto Tops, had my car for 7 weeks going through 4 iterations of tops trying to pull out severe ripples on both sides of the rear window. But the total cost was $800 including a new headlinder and recovering the B-pillar rubber seals, so I can't complain too much.
Old 03-24-2004, 07:57 AM
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If it is a power top, DO NOT ADJUST anything. Once the top gets out of alignment it is a huge PITA to get correct.

Ask any of the Denver Pelicanites that were driving away while my top was stuck sticking straight up in Estes Park.

Bill
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Last edited by BSiple; 03-24-2004 at 12:00 PM..
Old 03-24-2004, 11:20 AM
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$1700 in labor seems mighty steep. The P Dealer and several private shops recommended a place called "The Tin Lizzy Affair" here in Dallas for this work. I bought a 993 style top for my SC and spoke with their installer about what it takes to do it right. The top was about $500 and the install was going to be another $900, maybe less since the 993 is one piece instead of two. The installer said if I removed the existing top and cleaned off the old glue, he would cut $200-250 off the install cost. It's still $$ but worth getting it done right.
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Old 03-24-2004, 11:56 AM
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This is not for the faint of heart, but $1700 labor is too much. Look around some more. Years ago, i had mine World Upphostery german top put on my 84 cab for ~1200, including the top. But, I was not happy totally with the wrinkles after ward.

Not a fun job, or an easy job. Sort of like painting a car. you don't do enough of it to get good at it.
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Old 03-24-2004, 12:04 PM
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I have just ordered a Sonnenland top from
http://www.convertibletopguys.com/cgi-local/displaycat.cgi?cat=808
and a headliner. The have instructions to help get it installed. I also ordered a german carpet kit from autos international. I will take lots of pictures while I do this.

Thanks for everyones feedback. It sounds like an involved project, which I love.
thanks
eric
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Old 03-24-2004, 12:09 PM
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I've gotta say, for $2200 compared to $550 DIY, I'd give it a go. Hell, you could totally screw things up once, start over with a new top, and still come out ahead.

Emanuel
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Old 03-24-2004, 05:17 PM
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