Bestop - Installing a New Soft Top

Story & Photos by Rob Reaser
Replace Your Beat-up Factory Ragtop and Hardware.
There"s a reason why soft-top Wranglers have been and continue to be Jeep"s best-selling short wheelbase model-the open-air experience (especially on the trail) is priceless. But with the wind-in-your-face exhilaration comes a harsh reality. That conglomeration of canvas and vinyl eventually deteriorates with use and exposure to the elements. The good news is you can replace your factory top fairly easily and inexpensively, and with more choices than what was offered by the manufacturer.
Bestop"s Supertop is a good way to upgrade your Jeep CJ, YJ, TJ and JK (or Suzuki Samurai, Geo Tracker and assorted soft top 4x4s), and the company offers a slew of tops with various configurations and materials.
Our project YJ is typical of many trail veterans. The 22 year-old top was beyond shot, and duct tape was the only thing even attempting to hold the broken hardware together (and doing a poor job of it). Since this is a 1987 model (with the button-snap upper door halves), there was no replacing the OE hardware and simply adding a replacement top. Just as well, as it turns out, because for a few bucks more a complete Supertop kit includes the full top, new upper door halves and all new hardware.
The general design of the Supertop and its hardware is fundamentally the same across the YJ and TJ Wrangler platforms. There are some minor design differences, but the installation is pretty much identical. If you don"t run into any hassles, the installation can be done in an afternoon (2-4 hours, depending on your comfort level). Cold temperatures and some issues with drilling/modifying the door channels (specific to 1987 models) stretched out our work time, but was no fault of the Supertop. You"ll have the best luck doing this when the temperature is well above the 70-degree mark.

Since the Supertop comes with its own hardware, and is not compatible with OE hardware, remove all the original top hardware from the body. This includes the old bow assembly, windshield retainer, tailgate bar and, on YJ models, all belt rails.  Measure both sides of the vehicle between the top lip of the windshield to the top outer edge of the body as shown. The correct measurement should be 75 1/8 inches on both sides.
 Remove the two Torx bolts (#40) which secure the sport bar to the windshield frame and slide the supplied windshield bracket into place as shown. Reinstall the Torx bolts and torque to 17 ft. lbs. Repeat for other side.

Position the two windshield retainer halves on top of the windshield frame. The retainer holes matched up perfectly with the OE holes, so no drilling was required. If yours don"t, or you are installing a new windshield frame, use the retainers as a template, mark, punch and drill with a 1/8-inch bit. Be sure to drill one hole between the two retainer halves for a total of 11 holes, then install the retaining screws.
 Place the side belt rail and line up with any existing holes. Once aligned, use as a template to mark where any new holes need to be. Center punch and drill the required holes with a 3/8-inch bit. When finished drilling, insert 5/16-inch Phillips head bolts into the rearward two holes only and loosely secure with washers and tapping plates. Repeat other side.


Place the corner rail onto the body. If your Jeep already has the two top holes, attach the corner rail with the supplied 5/16 Phillips head bolts, washers and tapping plate. The inboard OE screw hole did not match up with the new corner rail hole, so we marked, center punched and drilled a new one (1/8-inch bit), then installed the #8 x 1/2-inch panhead screw. Repeat other side.
 Install the vertical retainer mount, then loosely install the two sets of bolts, washers and tapping plates. Repeat other side.


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