Converting a factory JK/JKU hardtop to modular

jscherb

Expedition Leader
Well that is disappointing as I just moved here so it will probably be a while before I meet someone that I can impose on for the mold.
In case I do come across someone that is willing to let me make the mold what supplies do you recommend i have on hand/quantities? Appreciate the help as I really don't know much about this other than what I learned here. Thank you.
I suggest if you're going to try to make a mold on someone else's hardtop and you haven't done this before that you make a test mold for practice. Pick some area of your hardtop, prep it, apply gelcoat, do the layup and pop the mold off the hardtop when it's cured. Just to make sure you've got the technique down before you do it on someone else's top.

You won't need this much for a small mold, but I'd get a quart of resin and a quart of gelcoat (that's the smallest quantity you can buy), get release wax and the smallest PVA you can, and maybe a few yards of 3/4 oz. mat.
 

Tkhawk

Adventurer
I'm finally making some progress on my conversion after many months. Getting the flanges ready.20200524_230743_copy_2016x1512.jpg
Bonding the first flanges on. I added an additional stabilizer at the bottom front using the measurements from the tube of the jeep.
20200607_203938_copy_2016x1512.jpg
Bonding the rest of the flanges.
20200609_212128_copy_2016x1512.jpg
When I reinforce the flanges to the top, I'm going to have to figure out what to do here. I'm thinking that I'll use some of the remanants from the flanges, cut them to fit, bond and then reinforce them.
20200609_212143_copy_2016x1512.jpg
I also need to do something here, where I kissed a tree a little too hard. None of it is all the way thru, so I was thinking about filling it with some of the SMC resin and then sanding it back out.
20200609_212146_copy_2016x1512.jpg
20200609_212155_copy_2016x1512.jpg

@jscherb thanks again for the idea and the info on how to do this.
 

Attachments

blowery

New member
A few weeks ago I made up a proof-of-concept quick release "window" panel:



I used a solid panel because I didn't have anything clear/tinted on hand. Since the proof-of-concept worked very well, I picked up a piece of tinted plexiglass and made a quick release tinted window:






What do you call those "latches" that hold the window in? I'm trying to find something like it, but not having luck.

thanks
 

jscherb

Expedition Leader
What do you call those "latches" that hold the window in? I'm trying to find something like it, but not having luck.

thanks
For the proof-of-concept prototype, I used marine hardware - latches intended for keeping swing-open windshields closed. The ones I used were from Sea-Dog and were black nylon.
 

briandamge

New member
I was able to get the panels cut - pretty easy process. Thanks again for your instructions! I will probably have to put this project on hold for a few weeks, but something I have been pondering, and I would appreciate your thoughts... did you consider going with a tool-less quick release mounting/attachment option for the panels? Being in Florida we get a lot of rain, often times unexpectedly, so having the ability to quickly replace the panels would be appealing. The idea on unbolting like 20+ bolts sounds cumbersome. My concern with this, however, is ensuring the panels are secure so they don't fly off while driving down the highway. Any thoughts on this, Jeff?
I've been wanting to do this in my conversion. The best potential solution I know of is Dzus fasteners with winged heads. One problem with this solution is that my flanges are not perfectly uniform in thickness, and the fasteners are sized at about 0.020" increments - very precise! Another roadblock is that if I rivet these in, there needs to be a recessed area for the head to sit without contacting the other flange. I guess both of those problems can be overcome with patience, work, and money...

I don't suppose I've proposed a solution, just food for thought.
 

LazyLfarm

New member
For the proof-of-concept prototype, I used marine hardware - latches intended for keeping swing-open windshields closed. The ones I used were from Sea-Dog and were black nylon.

Thank you! Any issues with the proof of concept latches and trimlock sealing good?
 

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I've been wanting to do this in my conversion. The best potential solution I know of is Dzus fasteners with winged heads. One problem with this solution is that my flanges are not perfectly uniform in thickness, and the fasteners are sized at about 0.020" increments - very precise! Another roadblock is that if I rivet these in, there needs to be a recessed area for the head to sit without contacting the other flange. I guess both of those problems can be overcome with patience, work, and money...

I don't suppose I've proposed a solution, just food for thought.
Thank you for sharing. I have never even heard of those fasteners, but they are fascinating! I agree that although they function exactly as you and I would like, implementing them properly might be a bit of a challenge. I'm still a ways off from getting to the point of making a decision on fastener type, but these will definitely get a look.
 

jscherb

Expedition Leader
I would be cautious about implementing Dzus fasteners to hold the panels together. Dzus fasteners are spring loaded and when the Jeep body flexes they could allow the panels to move relative to each other and any movement between the panels could lead to leaking. I'd proceed with caution and I'd recommend making up some small test panels that you could experiment with off the Jeep before committing to implementing the hardtop with Dzus.
 

Tkhawk

Adventurer
Well, I had hoped to use this past long weekend to wrap up my top but I messed up and could definitely use some direction. Friday morning I started out reinforcing the last 3 flanges. I mixed up the SMC compatible resin with about half the recommended hardener as the temps were already in the 90s. I got one flange done before the resin started to gel. I mixed up another batch with even less hardener and made it thru the other 2 flanges with seconds to spare. I mixed up the standard resin at the suggested ratio and laid two layers of tape. I checked it Saturday morning and it had not hardened and it still hasn't fully hardened. Its harder now than it was Saturday but its still a little flexible. I tried to peal a section of it off yesterday but it was pretty well adhered to the flanges and the top. I guess I didn't mix it enough or maybe added the pigment in before I had the hardener stirred in good enough. Should I try harder to scrape it off and start over, add another layer to it after waiting a few more days, or is there another alternative? It's been in the mid to high 90's everyday, but the humidity has also been 85-95%. Thanks.
 

jscherb

Expedition Leader
Well, I had hoped to use this past long weekend to wrap up my top but I messed up and could definitely use some direction. Friday morning I started out reinforcing the last 3 flanges. I mixed up the SMC compatible resin with about half the recommended hardener as the temps were already in the 90s. I got one flange done before the resin started to gel. I mixed up another batch with even less hardener and made it thru the other 2 flanges with seconds to spare. I mixed up the standard resin at the suggested ratio and laid two layers of tape. I checked it Saturday morning and it had not hardened and it still hasn't fully hardened. Its harder now than it was Saturday but its still a little flexible. I tried to peal a section of it off yesterday but it was pretty well adhered to the flanges and the top. I guess I didn't mix it enough or maybe added the pigment in before I had the hardener stirred in good enough. Should I try harder to scrape it off and start over, add another layer to it after waiting a few more days, or is there another alternative? It's been in the mid to high 90's everyday, but the humidity has also been 85-95%. Thanks.
One good thing about polyester-based resins is that they don't need the "hardener" to cure. The hardener is actually a catalyst that starts a chemical reaction that generates heat and the heat is what causes the resin to cure. What this means is that you can cause polyester-based resins to cure by heating. I keep a heat gun around for such problems; mine is an industrial unit that gets pretty hot but a decent hair dryer should generate enough heat to help the resin cure. A hair dryer might have to be aimed at the uncured resin for a little while to generate enough heat to cause the chemical reaction to start, but heating will solve most slow/partial cure problems.
 
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