November 14, 2018

Spring is here, and this past weekend, I wanted to take the top down on the LJ and take my daughter for a ride.  So I started the procedure of learning the LJ’s soft top.  I bought the Jeep this past december, so I hadn’t had the chance to take the top down yet.  So this was a first.  The top looks pretty similar to the JK’s top, so I didn’t expect any surprises.  Then again, you never do right?  That’s what makes them surprises.

So I unlatched the sunrider, and filded it out of the way, then tried to pull the pins above the driver and passenger doors, like I’d done on the JK so many times.  They wouldn’t budge.  I thought maybe they were stuck.  Maybe the last owner only used the sunrider, and never took the top down?  So i used a little force. To my dismay, the cap that is only very lightly attached to the pin pulled off in my hand.  Well crap. I tried the other side, and it was just as stuck, but I didnt give it as much force this time.  I do learn from my mistakes.  So i thought, ok, i’ll just disconnect the door surrounds, and fold the top down the rest of the way, to give me more room to look at these pins.  So I pulled the threaded knobs that hold the surrounds to the cage, and then pulled the rear corners of the main top body.  Then I went back to start folding things down, and low and behold, the pin’s arent stuck anymore.

Apparently…. They’re under stress when the rear corners of the top are still in their rails, and all I had to do was pull those rear corners, and the pins would have pulled as they were suposed to.  Now I feel dumb.

Once the tension was off the top however, the spring loaded pin popped further into its mate, and now I cant even get ahold of it with pliers.  I’m essentially stuck in sunrider mode until I can get this pin out.  I figured out a number of ways that I might get it out, but none of them would leave the mechanism in-tact, ruining the latching mechanism, and making my sunrider useless.  So i put everything back up, folded back the sunrider, and just accepted that today I wouldn’t be taking the top down. 

Then I started looking around online to see what I can do about this.  I found that the door surrounds could of course be replaced, replacing the latch/pin with them, but wow, over $200 for one side from what I couldn find online.  The latch/pin can also be replaced, but even those, wihch come down to a spring-loaded pin, attached to a piece of u-channel steel, are $60!  Small price to pay for a functional top again, but seriously?  I just can’t justify $60 for such a simple part. If you’d like to go that route, you can find them a few places.  Here’s a link to Quadratec. Just be aware, there are apparently several versions of this part, check to see if that one matches yours before blindly purchasing.

So I continued digging, and came across this thread. It’s a pretty low-tech fix, but basically, you drill out the collar that holds in the spring loaded pin, and replace it with a pin similar to what you’d find in a sway bar disconnect.  Simple, right?  I had some old sway bar link pins in my get-back box, so I took one of those, and removed the clasp. 

So I took my pin, and removed the retainer from it, and got to work.

I took a 1/4″ drill bit on my cordless drill, and drilled out the shoulder that retains the spring loaded factory latch pin.  This was pretty easy going.  Once I had that done, I was able to pull the spring out, then fish out the old pin with some small needle nose pliers.  At that point, the top was free, and I could get the whole assembly detached from the door surround.

The pin is also 1/4″ so it slid right into the newly enlarged collar. 

I re-attached the whole thing to the door surround for a test fit.

 

To me, this looks way too long.  In fact, i tried sliding the pin in and out, it just doesnt work well.  I decided the pin needed to be shorter.  So I cut it down to abou 1.5″, and rounded the end off with the bench grinder.

That looks much better.  I placed the arm from the top back into the channel,a nd pushed the pin into place.  Test-fitting.  It worked flawlessly!

Now, my concern was wheter this was going to stay in place via tension like the spring loaded pin did.  The old pin had just enough spring tension on it that it wasn’t going to back out on its own.  So I locked the rear corner of the top back into its rail, and tried my damndest to get that pin out.  It will not budge. i took this video demonstrating.

 

Tech

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