Jeep Cherokee - Custom Soft Top
Part of an ongoing pop-top camper builder series
The original Softop / Rag-Top on my Jeep Cherokee XJ came about as a solution to weather exposure while the camper top was in the re-build process. The video above details the concept and materials put to use for this custom top.
The Soft-top uses a hook-and-loop style velcro to hold itself in place and keep tension to prevent soft-top wind noise. 2" Velcro strips are adhered in place in each of the 4 door jams (in the case of my 4-door cherokee). 3/4" Velcro is fastened directly to the rain gutter along the rear quarter panel section. 1" Velcro is used at the front and rear, direct to the roof surface.
The major issue with this process is the adhesive durability of many velcro products. Moisture and heat may cause it to lose its initial hold. On all fabric-side velcro I ran a series of stitches with a sewing machine (heat welding can alternatively be used with PVC Vinyl to provide greater water resistance) as the velcro alone will not hold well on the slick vinyl.
1" wide x 1/8" thick T6 aluminum bows are fastened between the inner roof material and custom roll cage. Approximate measurements follow: Roof inner distance: 48", Aluminum Length: ~53". The aluminum is cut longer and bends to an arc, which will put upward tension on the soft-top, limiting flapping and wind noise. These bows are positioned near every 10" along the roof opening.
To pull the greatest amount of tension, the soft top is installed snug at all points before putting the bows in place. The bows are then formed into their standing arch and add a shape to the vinyl profile.
This top proved fairly water resistant in moderate weather. A greater fastening method could be used in place of velcro for a long term solution. For a summer top or backup this worked great. The cherokee sounds little wind noise compared to driving topless, thicker PVC material could be used along with an insulation layer to further limit this. Directing the edges into the door jam provides greater water exposure to door seals, often clapped out in the 20+ year old XJ platform, providing a risk of leaks.
Fabric: 18 oz Vinyl Coated PVC
Attachments: 3/4", 1", 2" Industrial Hook & Loop Velcro
Top Bows: 1" Aluminum Flat Bar
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