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Discussion Starter #1
Hello!

I tried searching the site but I have not come across a thread with actual instructions to replace/install an MR2 Spyder soft top.

I've been told there have been a few who have but did not see any of their posts that related to their actual experience. If they're reading this thread, I am hoping they could answer a few questions for me. In return, I will post my step by step experience in removing the soft top with pictures! :)

For reference - I have an '01 Spyder and I bought an ezon soft top off eBay. Its supposed to be made of black stayfast cloth - it definitely feels more cloth like than the original - which feels more plasticky than cloth like. I dont want to say its better - I am just hoping it will not leak the first time I put it through a car wash (this going to be my leak test - unless anyone else has a better idea).

On with the questions...

1. How do you get the front to fit on the frame?! Instructions in the included manual generally have you installing the cover back to front. As I am ready to install the front corners, I am pulling as hard as I can but I cant put the front two corners over the frame (this despite having the frame folded - ergo there is supposed to be slack). Should I put the front on first then attach the rear?

2. The are instructions to use spray contact cement (for the flaps on the sides that are covered by weather seals) and double sided tape (for the head liner) any recommendation on brand and where to buy?

3. There is some black/tar/gooey/weatherstrip gunk that seems to have been used as an adhesive - do I need to replace the stuff? Some got either wiped off or came off with the old top, if I need to replace the gunk, what's it called and where can I buy it? For reference, if you've replaced the door window mechanism on a toyota - it looks similar to the black stuff that keeps the plastic barrier in place (plastic cover that is sandwiched between the metal door and the inside trim/door panel.

4. Any advise on how to clip on the headliner on pillar 2 (2nd pillar/frame from front)? Can I just wedge the channel open and hammer it closed?

5. Also - advise on how to wrap the rear quarter panel flap (the hidden stuff with all the velcro) onto the frame? The most obvious thing to do is marry up the long velcro on it with the pillar 4 velcro - the only issue I have is, where do all the other velcro squares on the flap go? I dont see any other velcro to attach it to.

Apologies for posting the questions first - but I thought I'd present a complete thread to show how I've done the install (with the community's help of course ;) ).

TIA!

Ari
 

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1. How do you get the front to fit on the frame?! Instructions in the included manual generally have you installing the cover back to front. As I am ready to install the front corners, I am pulling as hard as I can but I cant put the front two corners over the frame (this despite having the frame folded - ergo there is supposed to be slack). Should I put the front on first then attach the rear?

2. The are instructions to use spray contact cement (for the flaps on the sides that are covered by weather seals) and double sided tape (for the head liner) any recommendation on brand and where to buy?

3. There is some black/tar/gooey/weatherstrip gunk that seems to have been used as an adhesive - do I need to replace the stuff? Some got either wiped off or came off with the old top, if I need to replace the gunk, what's it called and where can I buy it? For reference, if you've replaced the door window mechanism on a toyota - it looks similar to the black stuff that keeps the plastic barrier in place (plastic cover that is sandwiched between the metal door and the inside trim/door panel.

4. Any advise on how to clip on the headliner on pillar 2 (2nd pillar/frame from front)? Can I just wedge the channel open and hammer it closed?

5. Also - advise on how to wrap the rear quarter panel flap (the hidden stuff with all the velcro) onto the frame? The most obvious thing to do is marry up the long velcro on it with the pillar 4 velcro - the only issue I have is, where do all the other velcro squares on the flap go? I dont see any other velcro to attach it to.
1. You fold the top back a bit and pull and that should be enough to get the corners done. No, you don't do the front first.
2. Only required for top frames that don't allow you to screw the sides of the top into the frame. There was a production change somewhere - the older frames require contact cement, the newer ones have screws.
3. There should be no tar involved anywhere. Maybe it was someone's attempt to seal a leak or something.
4. If you're talking about a BOW not a PILLAR, then yes you wedge it open. I'd do that with your fingers. I'd also suggest closing it with your fingers.
5. No way to talk you through that step. I will say that on some older tops the velcro detaches itself from the top and top well material. If tracing things is your issue look for rectangular patterns in the interior top flaps...those are likely the former locations of things you may be looking for.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks for the feedback Joe!

My issue with the front corners is that I've already folded the frame as far back to give me slack but I could not pull one corner once the other is in place. I was already pulling really hard (as in any harder, I would probably herniated my self :D) - I was afraid I'd rip the material too. Did you use any tools or did you just grunt and pull?

I did notice my original headliner was double taped to the bow - did you tape it too? If so, what kind did you use. I am afraid the one you can buy at staples may not be thin or sturdy enough.

I have a 2001 and it had 3 screws with a plastic backing on the top itself. I am inclined to just pull off the backing and use the screws on the new top.

I will post my pics and the completed project,hopefully before the week ends.
 

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Thanks for the feedback Joe!

1. My issue with the front corners is that I've already folded the frame as far back to give me slack but I could not pull one corner once the other is in place. I was already pulling really hard (as in any harder, I would probably herniated my self :D) - I was afraid I'd rip the material too. Did you use any tools or did you just grunt and pull?

2. I did notice my original headliner was double taped to the bow - did you tape it too? If so, what kind did you use. I am afraid the one you can buy at staples may not be thin or sturdy enough.

3. I have a 2001 and it had 3 screws with a plastic backing on the top itself. I am inclined to just pull off the backing and use the screws on the new top.

I will post my pics and the completed project,hopefully before the week ends.
1. You don't fold the top all the way back, just maybe 6-12 inches. I also pulled the top frame inward rather than straight back (don't overdo it!) towards the center a bit to meet it up with the corner of the new top. No tools necessary.

2. Yes, I taped it. It doesn't have to be strong, IIRC. Isn't that flap secured with the bendable tab?

3. Not sure what you're describing. The new top should also have backing (depending on the mfgr, I guess)...and holes for those screws. If not, it's up to you to decide to glue it or modify. The screws can give you problems too - those side tabs may require some stretching too.

When it comes time to latch it closed, odds are it wont come close to latching. First adjust the latches to be as loose as possible. That way they have maximum reach when it comes time to latch it down the first time. While trying to pull both sides down you may, again, also have to tweak one corner inward (much less than you did to get the corners on) to get the latch to barely reach. Once you get one side to reach, latch it down fully. You should be able to get the other side to latch. Once both sides are latched, go back to the first one and adjust it about halfway tighter. Then do the same for the other, keeping at least one side latch during all of this. You then need to leave the car outside *in the sun* and leave the top up for about 2-4 weeks. This lets the top expand and contract with daytime heating/cooling. This will allow stressed areas to relax.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Here goes.

First some background and a warning.

My Spyder is a 2001 model. I bought an ezOn top from eBay. I used a phillips and slotted screwdriver, 10mm socket wrench, long nose pliers and a drill.

The warning - the instructions state that it is highly recommended that a professional should install the top, I heartily endorse that.

Being warned and if you still feel like proceeding... rock on, dear reader.

You can remove the top without disassembling a lot...



For reference, from front to back, frame 1 (latch), frame 2 (headliner retainer channel), frame 3 (right behind frame 2) and frame 4 (spring loaded frame)

Step 1:

Remove the forward weatherstrip. Unlatch the top, look at the forward weatherstrip from the front corners. There's a screw and a plastic retainer plug. The retainer plug does require some coaxing and you don't want to snap them off. I used a slotted screwdriver to pry the plug off, alternating different sides. The pliers would have probably worked but I didn't want to risk it.



Remember the weatherstrip also has a retainer plug (no screw) in the back and can only be accessed when you fold the top.

Step 2:

Remove the rear weatherstrip retainer plugs (no screws) - again - this can only be accessed with the frame folded.



The rear retainer plug of the rear weatherstrip can be removed when the top is fully folded.

Step 3

Once the front weatherstrip is removed, you will expose the metal retainer, the forward retainer has a very short machine screw.



Step 4:

Unscrew the metal weatherstrip retainers (3 on the forward and 4 on the rear metal retainers)

 

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Discussion Starter #6
Step 5:

The removal instructions state that the top forward flaps are glued on to the frame. Mine weren't, they were screwed on. Two silver screws and one black. The black screw was a tad shorter than the silver ones and were always placed towards the rear of the car.



Step 6:

Remove the front metal retainer plate (6 screws total)



Step 7:

The top cover should now be removable. It took some prying and I did not really care for the state of the old top, so I ripped the corners. It probably would have been easier had I folded the top and tried to remove it then :D



Step 8:

Unscrew the top cable guide

 

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Discussion Starter #7
Step 9:

The cable slots into a retainer near frame 2. Note that the ezON top does not seem to allow for the cable to slot back into this retainer



Step 10:

Remove the liner from the retainer. The ends of the liner are actually attached on a velcro system but everything else is slotted into the frame 2 retainer





You could actually gently pry the retainer with the slotted screw driver, but why do it the easy way :)



I just ripped it off - the encircled stuff was plastic piping that helped keep the liner in the retainer.
 

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Step 11:

Unhook the springs of this cable from a grommet attached to the top. Remember to save that plastic spring cover, you'll need that for the replacement top. The black stuff is like a soft thin sponge - I had to re-glue it to the plastic cover - dunno what it exactly does. :p



Step 12:

Unsnap the rear deck hooks/string/thingamabob



Step 13:

Unhook another set of springs from frame 3. Save the spring and the covering (which the installation instructions refers to as a silencer). The silencer is held in place by a retainer plug - take care when removing them and save



The hook and the plug go in the same hole (errr...hmmmmm....just look at the picture)

 

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Step 14:

At this point, you can peel back the top some more and you can expose the frame 3 and 4 covering - it wraps around the bottom of these two frames. You can unstick the covering and unwrap



Here it is unwrapped all the way - goes all the way down to the bottom - its extremely dusty! There are some pieces of velcro that I've no idea what/where they attached to :(



Step 15:

Once the coverings are removed, it should expose a grommet wrapped around a buckle on frame 3 attached to the top with a ziptie (at this point you probably should have guessed I am not using their real technical term ;) )

 

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Step 16:

The top has a retainer that bolts on to frame 3 (or was it 4) Just unbolt and that should be the last of the pieces that attach the top the frames



Unbolted



The retainer has a shim/washer. Keep those and remember the orientation



The ezON top has the hardware that was a little off for the shim to attach to. I had to file the shim's hole a bit, using a drill to progressively ream it so the bolt/post would fit (it was probably less than a millimeter so don't take to much off - just enough to fit)

*yawn* that's it for now... I will finish this tomorrow...
 

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Let's finish this sucker...

Step 17:

Unbolt the rear side bracket. This bracket pulls the velcro strap and keeps it taut. This is also the same strap that pulls frame 4 back.



The instructions claim that there are only 3 nuts holding the bracket, for my car though, there were 4. This is a close up of the rear most nut - I had to get intimately familiar with it as this was the one nut I had to put in blind for this bracket.



The bracket removed and out in the sunshine



Step 18:

After you remove the bracket - its attached to this garnish/cover - it was stuck on there with some black goop - not sure if I've compromised the water seal when I took it off as some black goop went with it.

This is the garnish on...



Garnish off...

 

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Step 19:

Almost the last few steps. The rear felt cover is held together with 3 retainer plug button left, center and right.



That felt cover is hard enough to push back/remove. It covers the metal retainer that holds the weatherstrip. That metal retainer is held by 7 nuts.



Another view of the metal retainer. Note that sandwiched between the metal retainer and the rubber weatherstrip is some sort of water barrier/tyvek like cloth.



Helpful tip - as you work on this side of the car, flip up the rear deck - its what makes the felt cover hard to pull back :)

 

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Step 20:

Unplug the defroster...



But where o where? Does that line extend down? Do I have to take the storage compartment apart?



Thanks to Kool PT (http://www.midshiprunabout.org/mk3/replacing-the-soft-top/), I knew to do that. Ooops - the connectors there weren't the ones I was looking for. :confused:



Whats that you said? Go back to that sleeve right beside the defogger? Could it be?!.... D'oh! :D

 

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Step 21:

Remove and save the hard plastic/rubber weatherstrip that sandwiches the top (its that u shaped thingamabob at the bottom of the picture below). Its riveted, so you'll have to drill out the rivets.



While you're at it - you might want to save the plastic tabs (one is encircled) to act as a washer when you put your new top on instead of gluing those flaps on.



And thats it, the top is off, I didn't really have to disassemble the storage compartment.

I did not document the process when I put the new top on - it is literally going through these steps backwards. You dont have to rivet back the rear weatherstrip and it is a bee-atch to put the weatherstrip, metal retainer and tyvek/moisture barrier on. Make sure to alternate the nuts from the center out.

Another thing to make sure of - the rubber weatherstrip attaches to other bolts which are outside the metal retainer - the side bracket with bolt on to these - so make sure you stretch out the material and the rubber weatherstrip sandwiches the top.

I did spray glue some notched cloth that attaches to frame 2. I used 3M cloth adhesive spray (the can says its made specifically for cars).

Some other observations:

1. The ezON top had short rivet strips (the strips where the springs on frame 3 attach to the top) and I had to stretch out my springs a bit (the original top had longer rivet strips). Now when I fold my top 10 times out of 10, the springs will unlatch from the rivet strips. Are these springs critical? Not sure.

2. One of the duh things I did - instead of sandwiching the headliner between frame 3 and the top - I slipped the headliner below the frame (thereby covering it up - probably contributes to the springs popping off).

3. Because of the constructions of the top, I was not able to place the cable into the channel pictured in step 9 (encircled).

4. Right now, it takes extraordinary effort to close the top - I think my latches are paying for it.

I am thinking I may have not done some things right (see observations above) - including returning the weatherstrips properly. I did a simple leak test - running a hose full blast every which way and sprung leaks like a screen door on a submarine. I've encircled the areas where it happened:



From left to right

1. Water falls down like anything - happily into the drain but that much water, I feel like its going to cause rusting on the exposed frame parts

2. Where the rubber strip meets glass - NEVER EVER had a problem before the new - this one I attribute to inaccurate placement of the rubber weatherstrip

3. The frame joint lets in water like crazy when the water hits that part of the joint just right - I attribute that to the cable guides not going into their slots, but how?! They're sealed off in some sort of piping - the easiest thing to do is rip out the piping - but is that advisable?

4. Again, a case where water seeps where the glass meets rubber. Never had this problem before but it may be due to the placement of the rubber weatherstrip

Overall - a hard closing top indicates that the geometry is off, hence the leaks. At this point, anybody know a good place that can do remedial work on tops in Philly/South NJ/DE?

It was worth getting to know the car - now I want to be able to use the car when the rains come and not shy away from it. For the curious, the stayfast cloth does look luxurious - it looks like the top on a Solara or a Bimmer - its a deep black and looks nice when its wet.
 

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1. The ezON top had short rivet strips (the strips where the springs on frame 3 attach to the top) and I had to stretch out my springs a bit (the original top had longer rivet strips). Now when I fold my top 10 times out of 10, the springs will unlatch from the rivet strips. Are these springs critical? Not sure.

2. One of the duh things I did - instead of sandwiching the headliner between frame 3 and the top - I slipped the headliner below the frame (thereby covering it up - probably contributes to the springs popping off).

3. Because of the constructions of the top, I was not able to place the cable into the channel pictured in step 9 (encircled).

4. Right now, it takes extraordinary effort to close the top - I think my latches are paying for it.

5. I am thinking I may have not done some things right (see observations above) - including returning the weatherstrips properly. I did a simple leak test - running a hose full blast every which way and sprung leaks like a screen door on a submarine. I've encircled the areas where it happened:

6. Overall - a hard closing top indicates that the geometry is off, hence the leaks. At this point, anybody know a good place that can do remedial work on tops in Philly/South NJ/DE?

7. It was worth getting to know the car.
1. Which springs are you referring to? If they are the springs that go inside a sleeve of their own then yes they are somewhat important. The are there to pull in the mid sides of the top as you put it up. This ensures the top fabric falls *behind* the drip lip at the rear upper corner of the windows, rather than overlapping on top of it.

2. Again, not sure what you're saying but I'd fix this immediately. I think I recall someone here having a really tough time with his install (maybe damaged his top and frame...can't recall) and it was this part he got wrong.

3. Why not? It should just be a cable in a sheath and it should simply be placed behind that tab and the tab bent down on top of it.

4. See #2. Also, in case I have to remind you, there should be no up and down with the top for about 3-4 weeks.

5. The frames the rubber weatherstrips press into are adjustable. They leave some play so you can align the weatherstips to make even contact with the glass. I'm sure there's a trick to it that I don't know, but as you have, I initially had a lot of leaks. I readjusted them once or twice and it helped a lot. Try adjusting them in then take note of the change, then adjust them out and take note of the change. Also note that there may be some benefit to sliding the rubber weatherstrips up or down their channels a tiny bit. Also, over time, the rubber has rebounded to make better contact with the glass and most of my leaks are gone. The only time I get water creeping over the window is when it's under high pressure, as in washing the car with a pressure washer or a touchless car wash.

6. Don't cave in yet. You saved significant $$$, don't throw your savings out the window. The top will take months to set right. Only now, after summer, are my top corners starting to fold themselves in somewhat correctly. And even then, I have to help lower the top because the top design on my aftermarket top doesn't accurately mirror OEM.
 

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I just replaced my top yesterday with an EZ-on top. took quite a while but it went on.

When I folded it down, the bracket at the bottom of the cable got a bit mashed. I think the bracket didn't slide down. I just noticed the "shim" above. I found one on the driveway when I was done. Is that what makes it slide down? I only found one...
 

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I had an ez-on black stayfast cloth (I think they call it canvas) top installed on my car by a professional shop. I don't see it mentioned here, but the top that was provided by ez-on came with a bulletin update and extra pieces of canvas in order to reinforce the corners above the glass so that they don't split open like they do with the vinyl top.

Did either of you receive this bulletin regarding some precautionary steps to be taken with either of your kits?

Reading this thread makes me very glad I had it done professionally.
 

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I had an ez-on black stayfast cloth (I think they call it canvas) top installed on my car by a professional shop. I don't see it mentioned here, but the top that was provided by ez-on came with a bulletin update and extra pieces of canvas in order to reinforce the corners above the glass so that they don't split open like they do with the vinyl top.

Did either of you receive this bulletin regarding some precautionary steps to be taken with either of your kits?

Reading this thread makes me very glad I had it done professionally.
I did not get the bulletin.

It was not as hard as I thought, however, it did take all day...

AND

I found the other shim on the driveway. So do they point forward or backwards? They also have a slight bend. Do they bow in or out? Any help?
 

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What an incredible write up. This is exactly why spyderchat.com is so valuable. Our members are amazing.
 

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The cable under the tab by the second bow. You have to BEND the tab up, put the new cable in and bend back down. You should be able to figure out at which location this length of cable goes under the tab.

Like Joe mentioned most velcro halfs are probably long gone with the original glue giving out. No matter only two pieces of velcro matter and that is the diagonal piece that connects to the side brackets and right under that. This keeps everything hidden.

Those rubber window mouldings are tricky to install correctly. If you look at the shiny metal channels pieces they go into on one side is a larger "continuous flap" of rubber that goes in and on the reverse side is a smaller grove. The small side is hard to get in properly. What I do is position the large one in and then go back and push against the rubber to reveal the smaller side all the while using a flat head screw driver to push the small rubber lip into the groove thru out the length. This could be your leak problem? You can also adjust the position of the metal channel pieces too.

The L shaped "shim" that is sandwiched between the softtop cable end and frame bracket.


All the three tops i've done has had black goop where you mentioned. I have never replaced the goop, no leaks.

I tried using the recommended H/H contact cement unsuccessfully. It takes forever to dry/set. I basically just reinstalled the headliner into the retainer and hammer.

I did get the bulletin with the extra "skin" pads with the lastest Ezon top recently. My first one did not have this and no excess wear I have noticed. I think the cloth stretches alot easier than vinyl and therefore moves over stress points easier.

And for anyone trying this, for god sakes, take alot of pics so you know how to put it back together. :biggrin:
 
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