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Looking For Experiences With Military Soft Tops

Discussion in 'Early CJ5 and CJ6 Tech' started by mickeykelley, Oct 24, 2023.

  1. Oct 24, 2023
    mickeykelley

    mickeykelley Well-Known Member

    Republic of Texas
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    I am considering putting a M38A1 soft top of Willie. The reasons don't matter so not worth debating on that subject. My question is in the military tops, I understand the so called summer top is really a winter top with the doors and side curtains removed, but it comes all the way down the back. I have seen some that are only top with no rear down pieces, which I understand is not how they originally were but someone started making them. With it coming down in the back, does it make it much harder to see the back when backing up and hooking up a trailer? Other input is always welcome.
     
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  2. Oct 24, 2023
    Fireball

    Fireball Well-Known Member 2024 Sponsor 2023 Sponsor 2022 Sponsor

    Pullman, WA
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    I don't have experience with military tops in particular, but in the summertime I mimic the configuration with my Bestop Supertop. We live on gravel roads and having the back down immensely reduces the dust that rolls back into the Jeep. If you live anywhere with dusty roads, I highly recommend having the back:
    [​IMG]
     
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  3. Oct 24, 2023
    Jw60

    Jw60 That guy 2024 Sponsor 2023 Sponsor 2022 Sponsor

    Sedalia MO.
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    I have the fastback tigertop and the bikini top. Typically the fastback is preferred with the rear window rolled up. The rear corners are make it feel closed in but don't add much of a blind spot. The rear curtain also protects the back seat passengers from the elements a lot better even without the side curtains.
     
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  4. Oct 24, 2023
    PeteL

    PeteL If it wasn't for physics, and law enforcement... 2024 Sponsor 2023 Sponsor 2022 Sponsor

    Hills of NH
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    The ones like that I have seen were made in India. Based on my experience with other Jeep parts from India, I wouldn't take one if it was free.
     
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  5. Oct 24, 2023
    zinertia2

    zinertia2 "and which part are you keeping?" 2024 Sponsor 2023 Sponsor 2022 Sponsor

    Greencastle , IN
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  6. Oct 24, 2023
    TonyM

    TonyM Member 2023 Sponsor 2022 Sponsor

    Middle Tennessee
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    What you’re wanting to do is definitely possible. When I had a full M38 top on my 3A many years ago - if you’re using military hardware You can take the back of the military top and fold it up under the “roof” and secure it to the bows with the straps that you’d use to secure it to the rear footmans loops. This would get the back out of the way (visually) but still have the shade of a full top. Should also work with an M38 A1 or a CJ5 IF using military hardware. Dave at WeBe Webbing/OD cloth is a great resource as is New Life Resources if they’re still in business. Beechwood is also really good but a bit more expensive than other places.
     
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  7. Oct 24, 2023
    mickeykelley

    mickeykelley Well-Known Member

    Republic of Texas
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    I’m not usually on dusty roads but had not enough about that, so that’s good info and food for thought.

    I have both the Bestop Supertop and their Bikini. When going cruising under 20 mph at our mountain cabin, I love putting the windshield down but at times want the sun protection when the windshield's up, which is why I got the bikini. It is fast and easy to put up and down in the event of rain. However, it does not provide any sun or rain protection for the rear. None, zip, nada. And I have the grand boys in the back all the time, especially now that we are raising one of them. It’s a 100% of the time issue now. I have run the Supertop without the the doors and sides and rear and it is better at the protection, but to get the windshield down, let alone back up in a hurry if rain happens, is a real battle. Their method is just not easy for me with the zippers and the plastic lip side rains, etc., etc. Add to that the bows that come with it come apart in the middle, create an additional problem for me due to my rear family protection roll bar. That front bow won’t clear that rear hump without taking it all apart to get it to fold down for stowing on the tub rails. If I just leave it there, not only is it in the visual for the rear passengers, but it is simple a tempting thing for the 8 year old boys to pass up. It’s at a perfect place to grab when getting up and to bang their heads when getting out. A problem just waiting to happen. When I had the roll bar made, I told the guy to make sure it was shorter than the soft top, which he had when he made the bar, and he did accomplish that. But, I didn’t even think about that rear family part being an issue with that front bow until years later when I finally got it up to the mountains and went to lower the windshield. And I’ve already had to warn the boys to keep their grubby little paws off my bow. I’m so mean……

    Now I have to figure something out to accomplish all cases. The thing I like about the M38A1 bows is I’m pretty sure from studying them, is they will clear that rear part of my bar. At least the best I can tell without actually having a set here to pre-test. They would fold down quickly and stow, and the top would fold up pretty quickly and lay under the windshield when down. Quick to get back up in a hurry and would provide the rear sun/rain protection. I could roll up the rear if I wanted the back open and strap it or let it down. Seems pretty easy given I have not actually done it. Now, when I want the winter full enclosure, it becomes more of an expense, but seems easier that fighting those double zippers per panel. But again I have not actually done it, so I’m having to use my imagination. Of course, all this starts to add up. Bows, mounting hardware, top, then if I wanted the full enclosure, the sides and doors and rods. My Supertop is in great condition so I could always sell it to recoup part of the cost.

    I know I could always take the bar to someone to modify that back part and then get it re-powdered coated, but it might not provide the protection and the expense of it.

    This is the long explanation as to why I’m trying to figure out all the angles. In fact taking the time to put it into words, actually helps. And finally, Willie is red and I had not planned to repaint him so I won’t freak out if a branch comes out, etc. and these tops come in OD. Not the biggest issue but would be nice if weebee did black, but I’ve already asked.
     
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  8. Oct 24, 2023
    TonyM

    TonyM Member 2023 Sponsor 2022 Sponsor

    Middle Tennessee
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    I believe you can get the military tops in other colors than OD through New Life Canvas. https://www.newlifecanvas.com The great thing about the the military style tops is the flexibility. Full enclosure, no sides or doors, sides with no doors, etc. They can get a little pricey, and they do require some extra care.
     
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  9. Oct 24, 2023
    PeteL

    PeteL If it wasn't for physics, and law enforcement... 2024 Sponsor 2023 Sponsor 2022 Sponsor

    Hills of NH
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    My opinion is that the military canvas is much less delicate than a vinyl top - with the exception that it must be protected against mildew or rot.
     
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  10. Oct 24, 2023
    52M38-73CJ5

    52M38-73CJ5 Member

    Wenatchee WA
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  11. Oct 25, 2023
    Glenn

    Glenn Kinda grumpy old man Staff Member

    Apopka, Fl
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    I agree, canvas is more durable but being canvas it needs protection from mildew and rotting.
     
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  12. Oct 25, 2023
    PeteL

    PeteL If it wasn't for physics, and law enforcement... 2024 Sponsor 2023 Sponsor 2022 Sponsor

    Hills of NH
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    Anyone have a current source for old-fashioned smelly tent dressing? I won't use the silicone "waterproofing" crap on real canvas.
     
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  13. Oct 26, 2023
    danielbuck

    danielbuck Uncle Buck

    USA
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    I don't know if Jeff Petrowich is on these forums, but he made (still makes?) nice military style soft tops for early jeeps. He custom made one for my 2A that fit my home-made cage while I was visiting him in Illinois about 10 years ago, it's held up great. I don't know what material it was, but it's some sort of thick waxed canvas. I've not re-applied wax, it has remained waterproof as best I can tell (don't drive it in the rain often), but it is parked outside year round under a light canopy cover. Hasn't rotted or molded.
     
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2023
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  14. Oct 26, 2023
    Jw60

    Jw60 That guy 2024 Sponsor 2023 Sponsor 2022 Sponsor

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    Jeff is not on this site, He has stepped back from the tops as of last I spoke to him in September. He has more responsibilities at his day job so the tops have fallen to the wayside.
     
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  15. Oct 26, 2023
    Oldpappy

    Oldpappy A.C. Fults - Curmudgeon at large 2022 Sponsor

    East Tennessee
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    ODCLOTH.COM

    I have bought a "summer" top from them, and two sets of seat covers. All of it top drawer quality, and they will work with you if you want something a little different. They also sell the smelly waterproofing treatment. I have seen a recipe for making your own canvas treatment but don't remember where I saw it.
     
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  16. Oct 26, 2023
    PeteL

    PeteL If it wasn't for physics, and law enforcement... 2024 Sponsor 2023 Sponsor 2022 Sponsor

    Hills of NH
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    Maybe on the forums for primitive camping re-enactors.
     
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  17. Oct 26, 2023
    danielbuck

    danielbuck Uncle Buck

    USA
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    ah, bummer :-\
     
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  18. Oct 27, 2023
    Dave Deyton

    Dave Deyton Member

    Fuquay-Varina, NC
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  19. Dec 16, 2023
    mickeykelley

    mickeykelley Well-Known Member

    Republic of Texas
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    Well, I decided to take the plunge after fighting the top and bows, again, while at the cabin. The bikini top had to come off and the full one back on with the cold. And the reminder about what a pain it is. So I ordered the military bows and hardware. Can anyone point me to a pattern for where to drill the holes on the body? I know I get the pattern from the hardware, but the placement on the body in terms of height and angle.
     
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  20. Dec 16, 2023
    PeteL

    PeteL If it wasn't for physics, and law enforcement... 2024 Sponsor 2023 Sponsor 2022 Sponsor

    Hills of NH
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    I would start with image searching.

    normal_20160207_122000.jpg
     
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