A friend of mine hooked me up with his used soft top a couple of months ago, shortly after 4AJUMR. Another cool Jeeper, who works in Sedona for one of the local Jeep tour companies, hooked me up with some new soft top hardware that she had removed from one of their new ’04 TJs. I was finally ready to pull the hard top from Lady and slip on a soft top for those trails I wanted to play on that were NOT hard top friendly. However, I needed a place to put my hard top while it was removed. Carrying it into the back yard for safe keeping was not a good option and I couldn’t leave it in the front yard either.
I had one of those inexpensive 400# Harbor Freight electric hoists sitting in the corner of the garage, but I just didn’t have the motivation to install it so I took the easy way out. I gave MikeW a call and we set aside a Saturday morning to dig up the necessary parts and rig an inexpensive hard top hanger in the garage. I think I spent a total of $20 to $30 for everything so it should certainly fit in just about anyone’s budget.
The plan was to suspend the hard top, by a nylon strap at each corner, from 4 eye-bolts that protruded from the garage ceiling. I purchased some 10″ long eye-bolts and a two by four (which was sawed in half at the Home Depot parking lot so it would fit in the back of the TJ). We measured the hard top to find the appropriate mounting spots and then transferred those measurements to the ceiling, making sure we weren’t going to drill through a ceiling 2×4 while making the eye-bolt holes. The holes were drilled and while Mike held the eye-bolt in place (pushing it up into the ceiling), I went up into the attic and poked them through the pre-drilled two by fours and put the washers and nuts in place. As seen above, the weight is distributed across a fairly large section of the ceiling. As I weigh more than the hard top and I know the ceiling supports my weight concentrated in a fairly small area, I felt confident that it would hold the hard top as we had configured it.
The eye-bolts after I finished mounting them in the ceiling. You can not see the forth eye-bolt as it is hidden by the lamp fixture at the left side of the picture.
The 6′ nylon straps were obtained from the local Lowe’s store. I didn’t want ratchet straps but rather the type that have a friction grip fastener on them. You push the fastener with your thumb to release it and allow the strap to easily slide through it. Release the fastener and it grips the strap again. I’ve used a pair of these to position a loaded D44 axle under a TJ before any of the suspension components were attached. If two of them can hold a full D44, four of them can hold the hard top. Since I almost ran into the corner of the hard top shortly after hanging it from the ceiling, I took some old roll bar padding and pushed it onto the corners to make things a little safer in the garage.
Lady is parked nose first in the garage which allows for ample room under the hard top for her to sit. When we removed the top, I backed her into the garage, directly under the eye-bolts. We then put a strap under each corner and raised the top about a foot or so and then I drove out from underneath it. Installation of the hard top will simply be done in reverse. When I decided to run with the hard top for a while, I’ll fold the soft top and use the eye-bolts with a few bungee cords to keep it up and out of the way.
NOTE: At the suggestion of another JU member who had stored his hard top in this manner for some time, I put a 2×2 under the rear portion of the hard top to support it. He stated that leaving it hanging from the hooks for an extended period of time caused his to spread a bit and make for a poor fit at the rear window. Here is a pic of the change I made to my hard top hanger.