Soft Top Repairs

I’ve got a hand-me-down Kayline soft top that came with Peer Pressure when I bought it at auction. It’s a fastrac, which, unfortunately, I wouldn’t have chosen. It’s black vinyl, which, fortunately, goes with anything. It has a hole in the center section above the bed. And the flaps that close over the door panels, which originally fastened with velcro, stopped working before I even bought the truck. Kayline sewed loop velcro to the flaps and glued hook velcro to the metal door inserts, but the glue failed over multiple summer/winter cycles. This makes driving with the top on interesting, because the fabric around the doors puffs up like a hot-air balloon and flaps like a chicken trying to achieve liftoff.

I knew that re-gluing the velcro wasn’t an option, so I decided snaps were the best answer. After looking around online, I found a snap set at West Marine with everything I needed. The important bit were the pliers, which offer a lot more control over installation than a hammer and punch. I then went to the Home Depot and picked up a couple of different combinations of bolts and nuts, and a metal drillbit to fit.

First, I marked off where the snaps should go on the driver’s side, then pulled the insert and drilled holes. I used 8/32 3/8″ bolts to hold in the female sides, held in with nylon lockwashers. The bolts are just long enough, with the thickness of the insert, to hold the whole nut without going beyond. I put three snaps along the top and two on the side, and that seems to work pretty well.

I’m not as happy with the snaps as I’d like to be; they don’t hold as securely as I’d hoped they would (or the OEM snaps on the top itself). I thought I’d try something different for the passenger side, so I went to find a bolt with a smaller head to use on the male side. I picked up some 6/32 1/2″ machine screws and they fit inside the male heads much better, so I put the male heads on the insert and the female side on the fabric, then removed the excess on the bolts with an angle grinder. Either way, these snaps still don’t seem to have a whole lot of grip.

Overall I’m pleased with the results, and after a day’s driving at 55+ with the top buttoned up safari-style, the flaps didn’t budge. I’d still like to find some heavier-duty snaps that will grip tighter.

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