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post #1 of 35 Old 11-17-2010, 03:38 PM Thread Starter
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Hard Top Repair

Let me start by saying Iíve done my share of body work, but I am neither a professional nor an expert, in fact I am quite the novice. I did my research and also talked with a friend that runs a body shop to make sure my plans made sense before starting my work. In the end the nature of the damage to my hard top may prevent the repair from lasting a life of being taken on and off, but itís about as good as it can get and I expect it to last many years. This stuff is messy to work with and proper personal protection equipment should be used.

I recently picked up a used hardtop for pretty cheap to run on my 07. The reason it was cheap is because it had been dropped. All the glass was fine but it had significant cracks at the corners of the rear window which is a pretty structurally important area. It also had some minor damage along the lower lip, purely aesthetic. The following photos show the damage, though only one side is shown there are equal cracks on both sides of the rear; the damage is bad enough you can pull the sides out far enough to stick your finger in the crack.





The first thing to note and the reason I decide to post this is that most people think this is fiberglass and can be repaired with traditional matting and resin. This is NOT true. The top is made of SMC. Fiberglass resin may work and it may hold up for smaller repairs but over time fiberglass and SMC will expand and contract at different rates and the repair will not last, not to mention you wonít get proper adhesion of the fiberglass to the SMC. I am sure there are exceptions to this.

The first thing I had to do was figure out how to reinforce the corners so the repair would last. We have to make it worse to make it better. What I chose to do was to sand down the damaged area feathering (dishing) that out so that it is thinnest at the damaged area and back to stock thickness elsewhere. This allows me to build up the repair material at the crack, but feather (dish) it out as much as possible for the best adhesion and strength. In addition to this I also made the crack into a hole so I could put a corner reinforcement inside. I cut corner reinforcements out of sheet metal and used a 3M panel bonding adhesive ( 3M 8115) for metal to plastic bonding for the permanent hold. Because I could not get clamps on it I drilled and riveted it to hold the piece in place while the adhesive dried. The rivet heads will be sanded down later.







The next step is to repair the hole. The material I used for repairing this is 3M Automix Rigid Parts Repair. Similar to the adhesive this requires a special gun that can push both sides up at the same time. I borrowed one from a friendís body shop, but you can also use a dowel or a screw driver to push them up in a pinch. Itís much easier when you can get to the backside of the area to be repaired but since I could not I was forced to build it up from the front. At this point I cut a piece of fiberglass matting bigger than the damaged area and coated it with the Rigid Parts Repair front and back and layed it over the hole and pressed it down with a spreader.



After this it is pretty easy. Just sand and fill and sand and fill until you build it back up. You can mix fiberglass strands in with the epoxy for strength too. I didnít do this on this repair but I did this on the lower corner as I built it up a little at a time. This stuff sands similar to any body filler.





Because I was going to be coating this top with a textured liner I was less worried about perfecting the body lines and tiny imperfections as I finished. In the end I finished with what you see above and these:



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post #2 of 35 Old 11-17-2010, 03:38 PM Thread Starter
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The next step is to prep and paint. Ideally you want to use an epoxy primer over the SMC repair before paint or finish of choice. My choice of finish was Raptor Liner, but anything goes at this point. So I prepped the area as described (I think they might say sand to 180, but I used 120). You donít want to remove the black coating or primer, you just want to take the gloss away from it so the liner has something to adhere to (this is only the painted portion, new primer doesn't need much work). I have used other liners in the past (Herculiner, Duplicolor, Durabak, Line-x and Rhino) and this one beat my expectations more than any other. Granted itís nowhere near the durability of Line-x, but itís a fraction of the price and lighter. For the price (about $100) it FAR exceeds Herculiner and Durabak which are about the same price. The end finish is MUCH nicer and more durable. It comes with everything you need including the gun. Well it doesnít come with a compressor. It sprays nicely and itís easy to master, very little overspray as compared to paint, though Iíd still make sure you make yourself a little plastic booth or do it outside. In the end I let it sit a couple days to cure up and ended up with a nice finished product, along with doing my bumper and a couple other things.





Here you can see the texture I ended up with. You can affect the texture by changing gun distance or air pressure or by using a reducer. I shot at about 45 PSI, 10 inches and reduced by 10%.



I hope this helps. Good luck.
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post #3 of 35 Old 11-17-2010, 03:51 PM
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Nice writeup!
It looks great!

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post #4 of 35 Old 11-17-2010, 04:53 PM
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Nice writeup!
It looks great!
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Fantastic job.

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post #5 of 35 Old 11-18-2010, 07:10 AM
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WOW Nice Job! Looks like factory or better!

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post #6 of 35 Old 11-18-2010, 07:30 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks. I'm very happy with how it turned out and figured I'd share the process.
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post #7 of 35 Old 11-18-2010, 11:39 AM
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Very nice salvage job. It looks mint!

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post #8 of 35 Old 11-18-2010, 12:34 PM
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Great Job.

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post #9 of 35 Old 11-18-2010, 01:19 PM
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Very nice job! One hell of a salvage job (even though you can't tell it was damaged from the end result)!
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post #10 of 35 Old 11-18-2010, 04:13 PM
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Keep us informed of how it holds up!

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post #11 of 35 Old 11-18-2010, 10:25 PM
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Excellent repair. I prefer your surface texture to the factory's.

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post #12 of 35 Old 11-19-2010, 06:12 AM
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Excellent repair. I prefer your surface texture to the factory's.
agreed, it looks really sharp without just looking like you sprayed over a standard hardtop.

I think this thing is finally coming together. Still Needed: drive shafts, frame mount rails...then done son! For a while...
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post #13 of 35 Old 11-19-2010, 07:12 AM Thread Starter
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Excellent repair. I prefer your surface texture to the factory's.
Thanks. I think you could get away with doing two tops with one Raptor Liner Kit. Maybe one 4 door and one two door. Most certainly you could do three 4 door tops with two kits and split some cost. But even if you only use half the material you can save the other half for later since it's in 4 separate containers. I love my Line-x interior, but if I had it to do over again I'd Raptor line the interior and save $$$. It probably wouldn't hold up as well in the bed of a truck with heavy use as Line-x does, but it would hold up to foot traffic really well.

I've had the bumper on the trail since I sprayed it and it's holding up quite well. I just put the top on this week so I haven't had it on the trail yet.
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post #14 of 35 Old 11-25-2010, 02:53 PM
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Nice work man!!

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post #15 of 35 Old 01-08-2011, 02:02 AM
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thanks for the info, I need to repair a little piece on the bottom back left of my top about an inch tall by 6 inches wide

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post #16 of 35 Old 01-09-2011, 05:27 PM
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Question

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The first thing to note and the reason I decide to post this is that most people think this is fiberglass and can be repaired with traditional matting and resin. This is NOT true. The top is made of SMC. Fiberglass resin may work and it may hold up for smaller repairs but over time fiberglass and SMC will expand and contract at different rates and the repair will not last, not to mention you wonít get proper adhesion of the fiberglass to the SMC.
First off... GREAT WRITE-UP

I'm glad I found it before I started my repair tomorrow

I just want to clarify one thing. It's only the fiberglass resin that you need to substitute for 3M panel bonding adhesive ( 3M 8115). You still use the same fiberglass with the 3M 8115 right?

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post #17 of 35 Old 01-09-2011, 05:30 PM
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Looks great!! Well done.

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post #18 of 35 Old 01-09-2011, 07:38 PM Thread Starter
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First off... GREAT WRITE-UP

I'm glad I found it before I started my repair tomorrow

I just want to clarify one thing. It's only the fiberglass resin that you need to substitute for 3M panel bonding adhesive ( 3M 8115). You still use the same fiberglass with the 3M 8115 right?
Yes you can still use standard fiberglass matting. Just mix it in with the 3m stuff. Somewhere there is an instruction sheet from 3m that shows just that.
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post #19 of 35 Old 01-09-2011, 08:31 PM
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Very nicely done. I had a small crack on mine that I needed to repair before I sold it. Tried all sorts of stuff, but the only way to get it to stay together was with the fiberglass matting. My repair was functional, but nowhere near as nice as yours.


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post #20 of 35 Old 01-10-2011, 07:42 AM
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Yes you can still use standard fiberglass matting. Just mix it in with the 3m stuff. Somewhere there is an instruction sheet from 3m that shows just that.
Thanks

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post #21 of 35 Old 01-11-2011, 08:38 AM
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Wow! Came out great, thanks for sharing the repair. I have a friend who backed into a pole and punched a hole in his hardtop. I will have to share this with him, good work!
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post #22 of 35 Old 01-11-2011, 08:52 AM
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3/M 5883 is the part number for rigid parts repair that comes in 5oz. tubes so you do not need a gun instead of using the 8115 or the Automix stuff which you do need the gun for. It is a 1:1 mix. Just an FYI for those of you who may not want to buy the gun.

Nice job on the repair man!

8275 -- 5883 is the part number to use if you do not want the gun
8115 -- 8300 is another seam sealer by 3M that just uses a standard caulk gun.

Just trying to help someone out on the money end of it; sorry.

Last edited by 08detyelJP; 01-11-2011 at 09:26 AM. Reason: spelling and part numbers
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post #23 of 35 Old 01-11-2011, 05:27 PM Thread Starter
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3/M 5883 is the part number for rigid parts repair that comes in 5oz. tubes so you do not need a gun instead of using the 8115 or the Automix stuff which you do need the gun for. It is a 1:1 mix. Just an FYI for those of you who may not want to buy the gun.

Nice job on the repair man!

8275 -- 5883 is the part number to use if you do not want the gun
8115 -- 8300 is another seam sealer by 3M that just uses a standard caulk gun.

Just trying to help someone out on the money end of it; sorry.

That's great. I was lucky that I could borrow a gun from a friend. Nothing to be sorry about. Any info is great. I posted this because I couldn't find a good writeup anywhere and barely found it mentioned that the top is SMC and not fiberglass. About the only writeups I could find out there were for Corvette repair and even those left me asking some questions.
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post #24 of 35 Old 01-12-2011, 09:14 AM
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I just did not want to take away from the excellent job you did is all.
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post #25 of 35 Old 01-12-2011, 10:24 AM Thread Starter
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I just did not want to take away from the excellent job you did is all.
no worries!
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