TR4 Soft Top Installation Hints
by Art Kelly, ArthurK101@aol.com
This page provides some hints regarding replacing the top for a TR4.
In my humble opinion, although you can do it yourself, the best thing to do is to take it to a "top shop" - one that does either auto or boat tops. The reason is that they will have the correct tools and more expertise. Having said that I am going to forward you a message which I wrote about a year ago. I had a boat "top shop" replace my original top in '94, but, whether you do that or do it yourself, there a few things which YOU should know about (and be sure he does).
1st - the front (top/side of windscreen) hooks. The Robbins (the replacement brand I bought) hooks are fine but the rivets supplied to attach them could not be installed by the shop which I had do my installation (he didn't have a tool to compress them, so he used pop rivets which I then had to trim). You might want to check that. Be careful not to install the hooks until the rest of the snaps are done and the top is correctly fitted. I made that mistake and had to move the hooks around thus ending up with several more holes than I wanted.
2nd - the sealer around the back (don't know if your replacement top has an inner rubber seal which fits over the aluminum trim - mine didn't but the original top did). Marine top suppliers have an identical groummet which comes in different colors. Because I did not think this out and was therefore in a hurry (top was off and rain was coming and no place to go inside) I had to settle for white rather than the original black. BUT - it works fine, he just cut a piece the same size as the original and sewed it in the same place on the new top as it was on on the old.
3rd - be sure to properly fit the top on the car before you put on any snaps. The guy who did mine did not exactly match the two sides - the top is sort of twisted so that there is more overlap on the passenger side front than on the driver's side. Reason for that was that the snaps cannot be installed while the top is under tension and when we released the bow tension after initial fitting the top shifted counterclockwise (looking down on it). The snaps are a little off (maybe 1/8th inch ) in their placement. This means that the rear of the driver's window just covers the downpart of the top while the passenger's side has almost too much top downside underlap. Also the original top had stiffeners on that downpart - if you have an original top u can cut them out and use them on the new top.
4th - be careful how u put on the lift-the-dot part of the snaps. The "dot" part should be placed so that u can pull from the outside of the car centerline rather than upwards when removing the top. This is important because it is hard to get a grip on the skirt of the top to pull up - there is not enough material below the snaps. I managed to catch him before he installed it wrong. It is more difficult to install the snaps correctly so he was taking the easy way out not realizing the problem it would have caused me later. I wish I had known these things before I had the top done - although no-one else would probably notice the small glitches, I do and it ticks me off because the whole thing can be done correctly.
5th - be sure the top is tight. The 1st few times I put the top on it it took about 25 minutes to get it on because I had to keep pulling and stretching BUT now it has stretched out by itself and fits quickly and easily. So if you fit it loosely it will stretch and be baggy later.
6th - concerns the part which snaps across the bow on the inside of the cockpit and holds the top down. On my replacement (Robbins) top there was too much cloth and after we first installed it the top really bowed up at speed. The answer was to cut some cloth off and reinstall the snaps (3 or 4 - I think) until the top was tightly secured to the cross bow.
I can't think of anything else now but if you have ANY other questions please ask.
Art Kelly 64 TR4 CT33118L (Original owner - 1st car ever owned and still a daily driver)
VTR TR4 Vehicle Consultant