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Old 09-11-2014, 05:10 AM   #1
jjrichar
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DIY: Convertible roof canvas removal/installation

Canvas removal and installation.

Link to liner removal/installation
https://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=1051507

Link to parent thread
https://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=1051493


First remove the liner and leave the bow 1 lock cover off. Instructions at link above

Move the roof by hand so that bow 1 is vertical.

Follow instructions in the photo to detach front of roof.





Remove the metal clips from the cable and pull cable out of the canvas to the rear.

If you've just removed the liner, the removal of the seal and metal bracket along the base of the tension bow should already have been done. If not, refer to the DIY on the liner removal of how to do this. Don't try and pull the end of the canvas over the tension bow now. We will do this later.





Disconnect the plug for the demister on each end of the window.



Detach the double sided tape along the length of bow's 2 and 3.





Go inside and detach the canvas attachment as shown.





Now here is the difficult bit, removing all the rivets along the C pillar seal. You don't want to damage the seal, so use a socket stuck inside the seal and then drill through this. I used a 5 mm drill bit, and this worked fine. You may need to lower the roof into the storage compartment to put a good amount of force on it. No problems, just be careful you don't break the tension bow seal.

I tried as much as I could to keep metal shavings from going down into the workings of the roof. I found it impossible to stop it all. In the end, I just drilled as required, then cleaned up everything later with compressed air and a vacuum cleaner. You will need to blow out everything that is under all the mechanism. Spend a bit of time cleaning up thoroughly.

There are 6 rivets inside of each seal. They are in there tight. Drill the heads off, and then just pull the seal off over the rivet shafts that will still be stuck in the C pillar. It will take a bit of force to do this. Pull from the top, not the bottom, as you don't want to damage the tension bow seal.








Once the seal has been pulled free, you can pull the canvas off the C pillar. There will be a bunch of double sided tape on the inside of the C pillar you will need to detach.





Once the canvas is off the C pillar, it is easy to pull it up and over the tension bow. Fold this part forward so you can see the rear of bow 4. Remove the screws and bar on the rear of bow 4 and the canvas can now be removed.





With the canvas off, you now need to remove all the rivet shafts from the C pillar. I tried numerous approaches, drilling, punching them out, etc. They will be very well embedded in there. The most effective way I found was as follows:

The holes the rivets are in are 4mm, so I drilled them out using a 3.5mm drill bit. Drill from the side of the rivet heads you had previously drilled out. Drill down the center of the rivet. It will push the mandrel shaft and expansion ball (bits that expand the rivet)out the other side. When this happens, pull out the mandrel with some pliers. Now keep drilling from the same side as before until you push it all the way out the back. Be careful, as in some places there are hydraulic pipes that are close. Move these to the side slightly while you are drilling so you don't damage them.

Ensure you clean the whole area as you will have aluminium shavings all over the place.

Roof installation

Installation of a new canvas is not that difficult a process, if you do it the right way. This is not immediately obvious. The canvas will be a very tight fit, and if you don't use the correct sequence to get it on, you will want to scream at it. Also, the attachment points at bows 1, 3 and 5, on the old canvas will have been there for ages, and bent to the correct spot for the holes to line up and make attachment easy. This won't be the case on the new canvas. Being material, it's not like a machined part that will fit perfectly straight away. They are deliberately made slightly small, and allowed to stretch to the correct shape over time. As the bloke who I bought the roof from explained, you are stretching a flat material into a curved shape.

I tried a bunch of different methods to get it on correctly, and what I came up with is below. My roof now looks like it just came out of the factory.

The sequence is exactly the opposite of how you removed it.

Have the roof frame extended with the tension bow down. It's easier at this stage to have the compartment lid closed. Lie the canvas on the roof frame, and then fold the rear window section forward so you can attach the canvas at bow 4 using the screws and bar. Fold the canvas back down so the window is where it would normally be, but do not fit then end of the canvas over the tension bow.

Open the compartment lid and prop it. Lift the tension bow up and prop it.

Fit the canvas over the C pillar. Ensure the protection piece is on the end of the C pillar when you do this. There are a couple of long plastic pieces as part of the canvas that run along the C pillar's length. Ensure these are correct. It's obvious if it's not. Once this is in place on both sides, now fit the bottom of the canvas over the tension bow (it will be a tight fit, but can be done with the tension bow up). After this, remove your tension bow prop and allow the tension bow to fall down. After this, lift at bow 1 so the roof moves partially into the storage compartment. Move it so that bow 1 is vertical (like when you removed the bow 1 lock cover).

You are going to rivet the canvas and seal to the C pillar. Put one seal in place, and then run the remainder of the seal over the window to the other side. It's hard to get all the holes lined up correctly on the seal, canvas, and C pillar. You may need to pull up on the canvas/ jiggle the seal to get all the holes to line up initially. Once the first rivet is in, the rest are much simpler.

The rivets you use are important. You need to use normal aluminium pop rivets, 4mm diameter, but with a grab of at least 8mm. This is a pretty long rivet, but you need them to be this long to get all the way out the other side. I found 8mm was only just enough. Longer than 8 mm would be fine, and would stop the risk of the rivet expansion ball falling out later, as it will be pulled well inside the rivet. There's nothing for it to foul with on the other side.

Rivet installation order is important. The first time I did this, I just worked from the bottom up. This made it difficult to get the top rivet in, and I needed to use a clamp to get things lined up (see photo below). The next time I did it, I put the most bottom rivet in first, then the top, and worked from the center out after this. This was much simpler, and everything lined up without a hitch.

The problem is getting your rivet gun in there far enough, as there is only a small gap between the sides of the seal, and a standard rivet gun won't get all the way in there. Here is the solution I used. I made up a small piece from a bolt that I cut and ground the threads off. I then drilled a hole from one end to the other that was just big enough for the mandrel to fit through. The problem is that it needs to be long enough so you can push the rivet down far enough, but not so long that your rivet gun can't grab the mandrel. The piece I made was 10mm long. It actually would have been better to have it a bit shorter, as I had a couple of mandrels break in the gun from not having enough grab. Don't try and rivet in one big squeeze of the gun. Do it in little bits at a time, ensuring you push the gun hard down against the rivet between each squeeze.

Once you have riveted one side, leave the tension bow seal on top of the window, and move to the other side. Unless you want more practice of drilling out rivets and fitting them again, ensure you don't have a twist in the seal prior to riveting to the other side.





When doing the top rivets, you may need to clamp the seal hard against the C pillar to get the holes to line up.





With the rivets all in, the worst is behind you. Raise the tension bow all the way up and gently pull the tension bow seal around to the underside.

Put on the metal bracket that holds the seal (don't put on the seal now), and put in all the screws. Like removal, it's easiest to put the center screw in first. It's a bit difficult to get everything aligned, as the new canvas won't be bent back into the correct shape with the screw holes lined up.

One of the problems I found with this canvas was the holes weren't in exactly the right position. It's important to push the canvas hard into the tension bow so that it is all the way down there, and then insert the screw. If the hole in the canvas plastic doesn't line up, no problem. Get your screw and screwdriver and push the screw through the plastic where the hole in the tension bow is on the other side. Screw a new hole in the plastic, and then continue turning to then screw it into the tension bow. If you don't do this, the edge of the tension bow won't be right down into the end of the canvas where it should be, which will make the canvas look crap when you put the roof on and everything gets stretched.

Take your time and don't get angry. I found the best method was to put the single screw in the middle like removal, but then put the screws at the far end in. Each of the holes on the bracket will now line up nicely with the corresponding holes on the tension bow.

Once you've got the bracket on, fit the seal. Ensure it is even on each side. With the tension bow up, there will be a bit of slack just before the C pillar. Ensure it is the same on both sides. What you don't want is for one side to be tighter than the other, which will stretch hard when the tension bow lowers, possibly breaking the seal.

Connect the wiring plug for the demister at each end of the window. Ensure you push the connector into the elastic on the canvas to hold it securely.

Now go into the car and attach the strap as per the 4th photo above.

Also you need to pull the cable through from back to front. I used a wire coat hanger with a hook on the end. Just feed it though, hook the cable, and pull it out the front. Attach it with the clips you removed before





Now pull the front part of the canvas over bow 1. You will find a new canvas doesn't have the nice fold of the old one with all the holes lined up, which makes it very difficult to get the lock cover on. Also, you need to lower the roof completely without the lock cover on so you can attach the canvas flap at 1B (the rear of bow 1). This is how I did it.





These are aluminium washers I made for when I was doing my lock fix about a year ago. They worked perfectly for this job. They are just sheet aluminium with holes drilled so that the screw can go on. You are trying to do a couple of things here. Pull the canvas around and align the holes and bend it into shape so when you put on the lock cover later the holes are all aligned. Also, when you close the roof, you are going to put loads of force on the front here. You don't want to use the screw only, as it will probably rip things due to the load not being distributed.

The next thing is to close the roof completely. I would do this using the manual locking method. I tried to do this by motoring it, and because I had moved the roof so much, I think the hyd system got some air in it. That combined with how tight the roof is, it just wouldn't go down. I had to get my wife to push the close button with me pushing down on bow 1 to get it in the correct position to lock. I would suggest having a second person push down like I did when manually locking for this reason.

Don't be phased by how tight it is. Mine was like a snare drum. When locked at bow 1, the tension bow lifted about 1 cm off the rear deck. This slowly lowered after a day or two, especially after it got wet in rain and dried out. I would suggest wetting the roof when everything is fitted for this reason.

Once you have it locked down, you need to stick the canvas strips to the numerous places on the frame. In the factory they use double sided tape. It isn't any ordinary double sided tape, but industrial strength stuff that sticks like crazy. If you want to buy some of it, you will have to go to 3M industrial, and fork out about $200 for a roll. Normal office type double sided tape is useless. I spoke to the bloke who sold me the roof, and he said that all aftermarket roof fitters don't use the tape. They use rubber contact adhesive. This is the stuff you smear on both surfaces, wait 20 mins for it to dry, and then push together. This is what I used, and it worked a treat.

When sticking the canvas strips on bow 1, 2, and 3, it's important for the roof to be locked closed so the strips sit in the correct position. Once they are stuck there, you can open the roof, stick the small strips to the side of bow 1, and then put on the lock cover. This is covered in the liner installation post.

Last thing is to glue in the tab (6, #1) (photo in the covering post) into the rear seal. Once all this is done, lock the roof down and leave it there for a couple of days to stretch to the right shape.

Enjoy your new roof.

For those interested, the roof I fitted was made by EZon. There are a bunch of aftermarket roofs available, but this was the only one available locally here in Oz. Really nice roof. Fits and looks perfect. The construction is slightly different, mainly with how the window is mounted, and the mounting points for the liner in the window surround. If you didn't just remove the previous canvas, you wouldn't think anything of it. The canvas itself is exactly the same stuff the original roof is made from. In a nutshell I'm very happy with it, especially considering it was 1/6 the cost of an original canvas from the local dealership.

If you love your car and plan to keep it a while, but your roof is looking sad due to age, I would definitely recommend doing this DIY.
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Last edited by jjrichar; 09-22-2014 at 01:07 AM.
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Old 09-11-2014, 02:21 PM   #2
taylor192
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Awesome! Thanks!

Mods, please sticky all 3 of these DIYs. So much good information!
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Old 09-13-2014, 04:14 PM   #3
mxchris727
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Do you have any pictures of your car with the new soft top installed?

Awesome write-up BTW! I may save it as a PDF so I'll always have it.
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Old 09-13-2014, 05:38 PM   #4
jjrichar
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Photo of new roof


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Old 09-18-2014, 04:30 PM   #5
tran330cic
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Excellent write up!!! Looking to replace my soft top and this will help a lot!

Did you replace all the rubber seals or keep the old ones?
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Old 09-18-2014, 07:16 PM   #6
jjrichar
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I didn't replace any of the seals. The only seal that is difficult to replace on the roof, and can be done as part of this DIY, is the one at the rear that runs up the C pillar and along the base of the tension bow. It's pretty expensive, and mine was fine. All the others can be replaced any time you want with little difficulty.
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Old 09-21-2014, 08:40 PM   #7
jjrichar
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For those interested, I've amended the original post above. The roof I initially installed was replaced under warranty due to a fault with how the window was joined to the canvas. So I had another practice at it last weekend. A lot simpler the second time around I can tell you.
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Old 10-04-2014, 10:17 PM   #8
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Excellent writeup!
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Old 10-21-2019, 02:26 PM   #9
Sev1980
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is it normal for bow 5 to be uneven when the top is closed? I have a gap between the lid and bow 5 on the left side and its flat and even on the right side.
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Old 10-24-2019, 06:04 PM   #10
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Great writeup! Saved for a future project!
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