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How to replace your soft top in two and a half hours…

Posted by Maurice | Posted in Parts | Posted on 18-08-2010

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If it’s the first time you’ve ever replaced the vinyl hood on your MX5, the bads news is you’ll probaly need a weekend. On the other hand, if you’ve a bit of extra cash to hand you can call in The Soft Top Shop to do it for you and they can do it in a record breaking two and a half hours. How many roofs do you need to replace to get that fast – about 1000. How do I know? I asked when they came to fit a very smart new hood to my smurf coloured MX5!

I’d read in quite a few places it’s a bit of a git of a job to tackle yourself and as Maurice’s roof was in such poor condition and the prices from The Soft Top Shop were too good to miss, I cheated and had them fit it for me. I did however watch, annoy and interrogate Paul – the fitter – all through the process so I had an idea of what to do when I fit one myself. Thanks Paul for being so tolerant!

Paul arrived at my house – yes, that’s right they come out to you! – as promised between 1.30 and 2.30. He arrived at 2.10 to be exact  and lost no time getting to work. Half an hour or so my little MX5 was completely topless.

hood-off

It was nice to know the back shelf of the car was in such good condition, it’s the first time I’ve had the chance to look under the carpet. No corrosion or signs of rust which is pretty impressive for a 20 year old car with a leaky roof! The drainage holes in the corners just behind the seatbelt fitting were totally clogged and water will begin to leak into the cabin of the car if you don’t keep them clear – as I found out one very rainy day when the carpets were particularly soggy. The design is that rain from the hood is directed to the corner drain holes which go right through the car and exit out of two small holes under the sill near the rear wheel. Use an unfolded metal hanger to rod the holes to keep them clear – water running out of the bottom of the sill is a good sign!

rain-guard

This is the old knackered hood removed. The red arrow points to what I described as a tatty piece of plastic, apparently it’s called a rain rail and is £140.00 new. I checked, Paul was right they are, he fitted a new one. The old one was covered in silver duct tape which is by all accounts a good way to repair it. It’s not visible in the car and fits around the arc of the parcel shelf to direct water from the roof into the drain holes behind the seatbelts. It a vital bit of kit as it keeps water going to where it should do and not into your carpets :)

frame-polished

The old roof was removed from the frame. Paul treated a few rust spots, oiled the hinges, cleaned the frame and polished it. It wasn’t in bad nick but it looked like new once he’d finished it. He’s about one hour fifteen minutes into the job.

hood-fitted

I only realised how grey and faded the old roof was when the new one was pulled out of it’s box.  I also only realised how much visibility I’d lost through the old scuffed rear plastic window when I saw the new totally clear window. Visibility is a bit of a premium with MX5′s unless the roof is down – so do yourself a favour and keep that tiny rear view window as clean as possible or replace it.

Once the new vinyl was on the frame, it was fitted back onto the car, very expertly, very precisely; tweaked and fine tuned to make sure it moved smoothly and clipped back into place as it should. A last polish and I think you’ll agree that the new hood is a great improvement on the old, although I am kind of sad to see my Blue Peter fix with sticky back plastic consigned to the bin!

new-hood-2 old-hood

Up until this point, two hours and twenty minutes into the job, Paul could do no wrong until he said ‘Now the bad news’ – Was it the price I hear you say? No, it wasn’t. He told me the roof would need to stay up for five days to finish stretching :( I disliked him intensely for all of two seconds as it was a sunny day, perfect for whizzing around with the hood down and something I’ve been looking forward to for a while.

Then as I admired my ‘suddenly looking a whole lot better’ MX5 I liked him again. I like him even more now as it’s done nothing but pour down with rain and Maurice is totally dry inside, so’s the seat of my pants and so am I when I get out thanks to snazzy rain gutters above the windows. The princely sum for such a professional job? A mere £245 – the best money I’ve spent yet!

If you need a superb quality roof, vinyl or mohair give The Soft Top Shop a call. Covering the whole of the North West they come out to your home in rain or shine to fit sparkly new roofs to MX5′s and don’t mind people like me boring them to tears. Now, that’s professional!

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