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Anyone out there replaced a Cabriolet top?

I'm quite amazed that with all the books, websites, boards, tech articles, etc. that I can't seem to find a good, detailed procedure for replacing the convertible top on my 86 Carrera Cabriolet. It's Grand Prix white with blue interior, and my PO had recently replaced the top with a BLACK top. Otherwise, it's in great shape.
I've been seeing these 400.00 "Buy it Now's" on Ebay for a Blue top, and if the DIY install seems doable, I'd be up for it. Any experiences?
Old 06-04-2006, 07:06 AM
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some gurus in the cab top world are verdones in scottsdale az. dont have number but they do all scottsdale porsche audi's convert tops. i mean they have a parking lot full of cabs and converts. hope it helps. not at home w/their number right now.
Old 06-04-2006, 08:27 AM
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What I meant was has anyone done it as a DIY...
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Old 06-04-2006, 08:41 AM
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I did my VW Cabriolet, Bought the top from CABRIO WORLD in NJ great deal, they also sell Porsche tops in many colors. Don't settle for a black cover if you really want a blue one. I also ordered new cables from them as the old ones were rusty. The top was like 230 bucks or something instead of paying $1200 to have it done. They also gave me provisional instructions. Not super detailed.
Indeed the porsche top is totally different obviously, but it could be easier or harder I don't really know. There HAS to be good instructions somewhere on how to do this. (Waynereally shouldv've put it in this book) I would check EVERY p-car web site (like renn list) The guy I found who wrote the cabrio instructions was hillarious unfortunatley he doesn't own a Porsche. One thing I can tell you is that you learn 90% of what you need to know by dismantling the old top, remember what you took off and do the reverse exactly take notes take digital pictures-- could be a big help no matter how good of instructions you get. And you can post the pictues here for the next guy.

Did you try the search function?
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Old 06-04-2006, 11:03 AM
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Yeah, I tried a search and that's why I posted...I'm generally pretty good at those and came up with nothing. I like the idea of learning from the dismantling, that should help a lot I think. I guess I was looking for was someone who did a 911 to say something like ..."whatever you do, don't do THAT,,," describing pitfalls. For one thing I know to MASK OFF THE PAINT ON THE CAR. I spent hours getting little flecks of adhesive off white paint when I detailed this thing when I got it.
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Old 06-04-2006, 02:34 PM
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I did it on my 83sc, trying to save a few hundred dollars. It's not worth it. It's a big Pain! all the glueing, cutting, making templates, stretching of the fabric, seals, etc...it's a big hassle..

Take it to someone that has done 911s before and ask to see their work.
Old 06-04-2006, 02:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by on-ramp
I did it on my 83sc, trying to save a few hundred dollars. It's not worth it. It's a big Pain! all the glueing, cutting, making templates, stretching of the fabric, seals, etc...it's a big hassle..

Take it to someone that has done 911s before and ask to see their work.
I did it myself, I swear I will never do it again, spend the $$$$$$$$$$
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Old 06-04-2006, 02:45 PM
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Not sure if this'll help, but...there's an article about a guy who recovered the top on his '83 SC cab in the May 2006 issue of 911 & Porsche World. I can send it to you, if you like- but I'd like it back sometime.

Cheers,

Paul.
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Old 06-04-2006, 02:54 PM
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My advice (even from a Dutch ) Find an expert who has done many before.
The 2 piece top is glued and tightened such that it does require experience. I had mine done 3 months ago (original roof was 17 years old) and am VERY happy it was done superbly.

Additional advice: go for the original Sonnenland fabric, the best material there is.
I bought mine from a specialist in Germany, check www.cabrio.de (also in English). The ship overseas.
Old 06-04-2006, 03:11 PM
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The general concensus is that this is a very complicated job best left to professionals who have actual experience with 911 tops, not just anyone who does car upholstry.

I had mine done by a local shop and it was one of the best ideas I've ever had. The shop guy told me when I picked it up he had forgotten how hard it was to do 911 tops and he wouldn't do it again for the price he quoted me.
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Old 06-04-2006, 05:16 PM
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Here I go again:

Based on the archives, take it to the professional. Mine was done with the newer 993 top and it looks slick.....but I would go back to the 2-piece one as soon as the new one dies.

The functionality of the 993 top is pretty dangerous as it has a very very very wide blind-spot.
Old 06-04-2006, 09:00 PM
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I did my 87.
It started out when I need to repair my RH main top "bow", the funky aluminum support that has a very thin casting.
After I removed the convert. top material to fix the bow
I decided I might as well replace the whole top.
By the way, the bow broke not because the drive motor cable was broken or the gears were out of timing, it was because the bolts that hold the drive gear mech's. were loose on one side.... making things out of time.

I purchased a top from cab world. Overall the quality is not bad for the price. Then I started dismantling the canvas from the bow's etc.

The experience: I probably spent over 40 hours on the job, more than a shop would do but I was taking my time and wondering along the way "why did they ever do it this way instead of that way".

Here is what I can suggest:
Get a copy of the R&R procedure, I forget for the moment where I got mine but it helps a bit. I also had a factory CD on how to adjust the gear drives, motors and actuators which will be helpful since the "timing" is important to get the electrical top to work properly after a new top is placed on. Print off some part drawings of the PET.

Glue- I visted a local auto Upholstery shop who was kind enough to sell me special glue they use, he gave me a few tips on gluing. You will need alot of glue, a dozen acid brushes and I would estimate at least a quart. Caution when working with this glue, it is very hard to get off the plastic window and other parts.
When you "glue" you put the glue on both surfaces, let the glue "flash off", meaning let the thinners evaporate until the glue is tacky, and then press the two glued items together.

Camera- since the shop manual and the CD do not have all the fine details, take pictures of all the details, lots of them so you can remember how it all goes together.

Plastic bags- I printed out the parts diagrams, highlighted the respective hardware as I took it off and placed the diagram and the parts in indiviual bags.

Sequence- like doing a carpet set, you will be putting the top back on working backwards. So consider cataloging your hardware bags, pictures in such in a logical order.

Key Areas - to get a tight top and window "flat" with out wrinkles, and mine is not perfect but pretty close, you have to have certain areas of the canvas tight and you have to assemble it in a logical order (again "sequence"). There is metal rail (I recall in three sections) that lays across the rear and surrounds the rear seats perse. You have glue the back section canvas to this first and the "seam" on the canvas should align with the bow on a certain edge. There is another metal rail above the window section of canvas that will secure with fasteners to the underside (as I recall) of the top bow. This is critical too in getting a tight top. The front of the canvas, near the windshield perse is glued last.

Other parts - while I was at it I replaced gaskets in the top around the window and bow riser above the door jambs. ... and many small parts that were rusted or worn.
You might as well inspect your drive motor to gear box drive cables and replace them if they are old, check to see if your gear box bolts are tight, etc. Though you may find a new canvas aftermarket top from $250-500, you can figure another $500 in misc parts (glue, fasteners, gaskets) just to be on the safe side. A new sharp exacto cutting knife helps, a few good clamps to secure the glued items together, a piece of white chalk or seamstree marker to mark alignments of the canvas.

Would I do it again? No and Yes.
No because it was so time consuming, it is a winter project. I recall there is a fella here in NJ who does most of the tops for the Dealers and he offered to help me if I got stuck. Looking back his price was very fair, he gave me some pointers, so if I needed it done again I would just pass it over to him.

Yes ? NO., only if I had too. I rather attempt a G50 rebuild than this project again.
Old 06-05-2006, 05:42 AM
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Thanks for your thoughtful insight into this project. It is much appreciated. I already bought a top ( surprisingly cheap.actually) and I'll report with photos as the nightmare progresses. I recently passed on a 915 gearbox rebuild so I feel like a DIY wuss for that....so I feel like I need to redeem myself for that. ...and besides, I have the help of a guy who has done several of these....and I have a manual top, (86) which is purported to be MUCH easier and less part-wearing.
Old 06-06-2006, 03:50 PM
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Friends are good to have. Especially if you only have to buy the beer when they do the work.
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Old 06-06-2006, 06:33 PM
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Silvercar,

Can you tell me more about your cab top replacement experience. I was thinking of tackling my own as well, but not completely sure after reading this thread. How did yours end up? Anything you can share about the experience?

Thanks,
Shane Van Wey (vanweys@charter.net)
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Old 06-05-2007, 05:43 AM
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Took me 40 hours (I work slow). Most shops do it in a day or two.

If I was retired (ha ha) I would tackle it again.
Otherwise I'd let someone else share in the fun who likes
this kind of stuff, someone who has done at least a few dozen of them.

I can tell you I had seen quotes ranging from $1500 to $5000.00
Tips:
1) take lots of pictures, have lots of plastic bags to put the parts in and marker to note where they came from (SOP)
2) get the right type of glue (I purchased some from an auto reupholstery shop and he gave a me a few tips).
3) I believe I purchased my top from cabrio world? it was OK, not perfect but OK for the value.
4) it is handy to have the factory top adjustment guidelines so you know how the gear boxes work and the adjustments work, I recall I also had a factory cd video of the top workings (boring, funny at times, but helpful).
5) I recall the key is to start the installation with the attachment of the back bow bar which secures the top (section below the window) to the back of the tub.

Quote:
Originally posted by v8_ranch
Silvercar,

Can you tell me more about your cab top replacement experience. I was thinking of tackling my own as well, but not completely sure after reading this thread. How did yours end up? Anything you can share about the experience?

Thanks,
Shane Van Wey (vanweys@charter.net)
Old 06-05-2007, 08:03 AM
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