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Convertible Top F.A.Q.s

Convertible Top replacement is a very detail oriented endevour. Here we try to answer most of the common questions about replacing convertible tops.

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Questions? Call (805) 921-0100 or (800) 222-9577, Monday - Friday, 8 am to 5 pm PST. Click to e-mail us anytime!

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Q. What material was my top originally made of?

A. Some manufacturers offer several material choices. All convertible tops are made from some form of either vinyl or canvas. In general most post 1950 American cars and several European cars with removable convertible tops were originally supplied in vinyl. Canvas sometimes referred to as mohair is used exclusively by Mercedes, BMW, Saab, and Porsche. Rolls Royce and some Jaguar models use Everflex topping which is a variation of a vinyl topping.

Q. Can I replace my top with a different material?

A. It depends on the frame. Older cars generally have a larger top wells and larger tolerances between the top frame parts allowing for the use of any top material. Newer cars are best kept to the original type and weight of fabric as close tolerances may result in premature wear or pinching of thicker fabrics. Substitution of vinyl for canvas is a popular choice when cost concerns are raised.

Q. How long should a new top last?

A. There are many variables that affect a top's life span. Variables such as number of times up and down, cleanliness and dryness when folding and sun exposure all affect top life. However some generalizations may be made. Vinyl tops, assuming first grade quality, should last between 3 and 5 years with normal care. High quality canvas tops, given the same care, should last between 7 and 10 years.

Q. What is the difference between Crush Grain vinyl topping (CG) and Pinpoint vinyl topping (MSF)?

A. Both Crush Grain & Pinpoint vinyl topping materials are identical in internal construction. Outer coating is embossed with a fabric looking pattern in pinpoint while crush grain has a rough leather look.

Q. What is the difference between German Happich and Stayfast Canvas?

A. Both canvases are constructed by bonding 3 layers of material together. The outer layer (face) is a fade resistant acrylic fabric in both canvases. The German material has a higher thread count giving it a richer look. The middle layer of both canvases is a rubber membrane. Both canvases use an inner layer of cotton bowdrill. The American lining material is plain, the German canvas has a distinct herringbone pattern. Overall life of both materials is dependent on care given as well as sun exposure. The German canvas , may, given the same care, give several more years of service.

Q. What is Stayfast 'G' Canvas?

A. Sometimes referred to as Sonnendeck, Stayfast 'G' is American Stayfast Canvas with the inner layer being German bowdrill instead of plain tan cotton bowdrill. Durability is equal to American Stayfast.

Q. Can I install a top on my car?

A. It depends on the top. Top installation methods and the amount of skill needed vary from model to model. Complex top mechanisms, especially tops with headliners are usually best left to professionals. Removable convertible tops are usually fairly simple to replace. All others should be inspected for complexity before a decision is made. Usually anyone mechanically inclined with a free day can install a removable top. We recommend however that all our tops be professionally installed. If you decide to install your top yourself, please request for installation instructions.

Q. What tools & materials are required for installation?

A. Most top installations only require tools commonly found in the toolbox (metric/American wrenches/sockets, pliers, screw drivers). Seal replacement may require modification (round corners) of a putty knife. Contact adhesive, weatherstrip adhesive and cleaners may be necessary. Be prepared with a suitable work area and protective coverings.

Q. Can I replace just the plastic window on my top?

A. It depends on the condition of the top. Normally, plastic window replacement involves top removal and sewing in of the new plastic window. Condition of top as well as its age pre-determines the possibility of window replacement. Consider labor cost of top removal when considering replacing rear window. It is usually more cost effective to replace a complete top if the fabric is reaching the end of its life. If in doubt, consult a professional installer.

Q. What other parts are needed to replace the fabric on my top?

A. Generally replacement tops include only the top fabric. Sealing rubbers, headliners, pads, cables and wood bows are usually purchased separately. It is best to inspect the complete top assembly and order all parts necessary before starting installation.

Q. Why are advertised prices for tops so different?

A. There are several grades and weights of top material available to top manufacturers. Some materials are lighter, less durable or possibly not fade resistant. The use of less than Original Quality Materials allows some vendors to offer tops at substantially lower prices. Always ask what weight and grade of materials are being used also which manufacturer made the fabric. It is also a good idea to ask what additional parts are included and if any other parts may be required.

Q. Where do I find a good Top Installer?

A. Better installers are usually used by the dealer who sells your make of car. It is often productive to talk to the service manager or parts manager about the abilities of installers in your area. Word of mouth is usually the best. Call 805-921-0100 and we will try to match your needs with a local installer.

Q. How do I Clean and Protect My Canvas Top?

A. The Haartz Corporation recommends using RAGGTOPP™ Cleaner and RAGGTOPP™ Protectant (available from World Upholstery at tel: 800-222-9577, fax: 805-921-0101.) Thoroughly tested and endorsed by HAARTZ, the world’s leading manufacturer of convertible topping fabric since 1920s. HAARTZ is the designated supplier of convertible topping fabric for virtually every U.S. automaker and most European manufacturers, and is the world’s only manufacturer of both PVC and cloth combined automobile and sport utility topping.

Products include, CAMBRIA®, STAYFAST, SONNENLAND, SONNENDECK, TWILLFAST® and SEAMARK™, all Solution Dyed Acrylic Topping Fabrics. Although the fabrics do not promote mildew growth by themselves, mildew may develop on dirt and other foreign substances that are not removed. This is especially true in warm, humid, dark environments. A program of keeping the fabric clean through regular washings, BEFORE it gets dirty, will enhance the life and beauty of the acrylic and make successive cleaning easier.

Hand washing in shade or partial shade, not direct sunlight, is best. DO NOT USE DETERGENT. Bird and tree droppings, as well as other loose particle soils, should be removed immediately. Vacuum with a brush attachment and rinse thoroughly with water to remove loose particle soils. This will also prevent the soils from being redeposited during the cleaning process. Once the fabric has been rinsed thoroughly, spray RAGGTOPP™ Cleaner evenly over the entire surface while still wet. Allow the cleaner to soak for 10 to 20 minutes and then scrub lightly with a soft nylon brush or terry cloth rag. Rinse thoroughly, preferably until no remaining soap foam is observed. Additional cleanings may be required. It is best to determine the need for additional cleanings after the fabric has dried completely.

Once dry, cleaning must be followed by re-water repelling with RAGGTOPP™ Protectant. (This product does not contain CFC's and therefore, is not harmful to the environment.) Failure to apply will result in rapid resoiling of the unprotected fabric.

Washing with soap (i.e.. Ivory or Lux) and warm water is a safe alternative to RAGGTOPP™ Cleaner, but not as effective.

For more stubborn cases, mix a solution of no more than 1/2 cup (4oz.) bleach and 1/4 cup (2oz.) RAGGTOPP™ Cleaner per gallon of water, soak for approximately 20 minutes and scrub lightly as indicated above. (Excessive soaking with the bleach solution can deteriorate seam threads.) Rinse thoroughly to prevent streaking on painted and chrome surfaces. Several cleanings may be necessary. Once again, RAGGTOPP™ Protectant water repellent must be applied to the fully dried fabric.

Seamark™, Stayfast®, Sonnenland®, Twillfast®, and Cambria® are registered trademarks of the Haartz Corporation. RAGGTOPP™ is a trademark of Wolfsteins Pro-Series.

Q. How do I Clean and Protect My Vinyl Top?

A. ash the top thoroughly as outlined above. If it is still dirty, use a Heavy Duty Vinyl Cleaner to deep clean the top. Do not use scouring powders such asComet on a vinyl top. These type of products will get the top very clean for about two weeks and then it will start to crack and fail. The chlorine bleaches leech out the essential oil in the vinyls and deplete the UV protectants. Once the top is clean, apply a coat of Vinyl Cleaner/Conditioner to protect the vinyl surface. Apply the conditioner with a soft cloth, work into the surface, allow to penetrate and buff off the excess.

Q. How do I Clean and Protect My Plastic Window?

A. Do not use glass cleaners on a plastic window as they are too harsh and may actually damage plastic. There are several cleaners and polishes on the market that are specifically designed for plastic windows. Make sure that the window is clean and free of dust, spray a thin coating on one third of the window and immediately spread out with a 100% cotton terry towel. Turn the cloth to a dry section and buff out using linear strokes, left to right, right to left. Don't go around in circles, as the resulting swirls are very visible. Repeat the process for the entire window. Once the window is done, rebuff with another soft cotton towel. If there are scratches or discoloration, try a Clear Plastic Polish. This two stage cleaning/polishing will usually remove most light scratches. If not, you may have to resort to a more aggressive cleaning product. We have found that 3M Imperial Hand Glaze will remove almost all deeper scratches.

Q. How do I stop the Plastic Window from Creasing?

A. One of the problems many convertible owners encounter is a crease in the plastic window from repeated folding. The easiest way to prevent this problem is to use a super soft 100% cotton blanket or towel that is a little larger than the rear window. Place the blanket/towel over the window as your fold the top down, so that the blanket/towel is folded within the rear window. The thickness of the blanket prevents the plastic window from creasing and also keeps the two halves from rubbing against each other.

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Over the years, different terminologies have been used for the same parts. To minimize confusion we've collected many of the different names to give customers some reference to the different Alfa Romeo, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Porsche, Ferrari, Fiat and Jaguar trim parts that vary in terminology around the world.

Convertible top = soft top, rag top, head, hood, hooding, soft window Targa top, retractable top, vinyl top, top boot, convertibles arriba, converteerbare boven
Carpet = rug, rugs, carpet kit, carpet set, molded carpet, cut and bound carpet.
Seating = seat kit, upholstery kit, leather upholstery, sport seat, recaro seat, vinyl seat, cloth seat, sitzkissen, perforated, perforiert, embossed, sitzpolsterung, imbottitura sedile, asiento tapizado
Sealing = rubber seals, weatherstrips, weatherseals, door seals, window seals, gaskets, dichtungsrahmen
Panels = door panels, linings, trimmings, coverings, sun visor, sunvisor, sonnenblenden, headliner, himmel bespannung, encabezando
Trunk = boot


Leather = hide, side, skin, cowhide, leder, cuero, Connolly, Roser, Bridge of Weir, cuoio, split
Carpet = Abetone, Dorsett, FTV, feintuft, loop, cut pile, Wilton, perlon, tufted, automatico de alfombras, teppich, tapijt, tapis
Vinyl = Spradling, China General, Freudenberg, MB Tex, ambla, leathercloth, rexine, hardura, ICI, vinyle, naugahyde
Topping = Happich, Stafast, STF, Aresma, Sonnendeck, Sunfast, dobby, lienzo, leinwand
Seat Pad =  rubber fiber pad, foam pad, gummihaarauflage, almohadilla
Sunvisor = sonnenblend, pare soleil, domenica visiera, zonneklep