And I did a mini write-up for the miata guys. If you're interested, here it is!
So as some of you know, I picked up a super cheap 94 Miata beater about a month ago. Top was well worn; holes, broken vinyl window, etc. So I looked for the cheapest solution. I found a 1 piece top, no rain rail, on eBay for $159 shipped to my house. It came in like 4 days. Not bad!
So how hard was the install? Well, I tackled it by myself. I had never done a top before, so I took my time. I started about 10:30 this morning, and I had the new top on by about 5pm with the job finished up just after 6pm. I also had company (my wife/daughter had a playdate here today), so I had to take a few breaks to socialize and about an hour off to cook and eat lunch. So I would be comfortable saying, that if you are fairly handy, and know how to use basic hand tools, and have a bit of patience and the slightest mechanical ability, then you too could swap tops in about 6 hours in your driveway. By yourself. It's not really that bad, actually. But I also wouldn't want to do it again any time soon... lol
So, armed with the walkthrough from here - http://www.miata.net/garage/top/index.html (THANK YOU CHRIS LAMBERT! Whoever you are!) - I grabbed my tools and went to work.
Tools. What tools? Well, I used:
Cordless impact with a 3/8" drive bit <---This Guy's new favorite tool!
Cordless drill with phillips bit, and a 3/16" and 1/4" drill bit
Phillips screwdriver assortment - All #2, but some short, long, and in between
Straight slotted screwdriver assortment - different lengths, widths
Crafstman ratcheting 90* bit driver with a #2 Phillips
Harbor Freight "panel/clip popper" (plier style, with overlapping forks)
Craftsman panel tool (like a bent, forked screwdriver)
Califonia Duster (for top-propping duties) & then a box of rags to replace it after it bent - Doh!
Scissors - strong enough to cut vinyl!
Plain old razor blade
Assorted metric sockets - 10mm, 14mm, 17mm
Assorted ratchets and breaker bars (1/4" and 3/8" drives)
Assorted Rivets 1/8" & 3/16" in both 1/8" and 1/4" depth. I used aluminum.
Awl <--- Very inmportant tool for the cheap top!
Small adjustable wrench
I pretty much followed Chris's walkthrough with a few modifications here and there. But it was an AWESOME guide and saved me a ton of time.
So here's what I started with. Nasty top:
I laid the new top on, just to be sure. Then I laid it in the sun to stretch.
I decided to remove the seats. I figured that I'm a pretty big dude, and the 5 minutes spent removing them would save me a ton of aggravation. It did. I was happy. 14mm impact and they were out.
Used my panel popper pliers and removed the rear deck carpet. No clip casualties! Woot!
Towel down, tools out. If you look closely, you can see that I removed the back rails and the window weatherstrip and their grooves. Also, you can see the printed out walkthrough!
Oh boy. Time to cross the point of no return!
Here's a pic of the front attachment for the tension cable. Drill out that rivet.
It's still attached in this pic.
Not in this one.
Then you take the screw out of the bottom attachment of the cable, at the spring, and then... YES!
See. That wasn't too bad! Making a mess in the driveway...
Old top. New top. I bet you can tell which is which.
Now, to transfer the tension cable. Oh noes! The cheapo top doesn't have a pull string! What to do?!?! *sarcasm* Just straighten out a coathanger (probably one of my most used tools!!) and slide it through the pocket for it, and pull it through. Pay attention to route it EXACTLY as it was in the old top. Do one side at a time, so you have a reference if you need it.
And start putting it back on. I struggled with that damn B-pillar for a while. That was probably the hardest part of the whole deal. The bottom clip, the screw and the two pushpins on the rubber. Ugh. Hated it. lol
I used the middle screw temporarily to hold the top to the pillar while I effed with the base of that B-pillar. Then I riveted it in place once I had things where they needed to be. Make sure your tension cable is routed correctly before you rivet it!
I did have to trim some of the excess off the top at the base of the B-pillar. In this pic, you can see that I have the clip on the bottom and the channel for the weatherstrip in place.
Here's where the cheap top really shows where it stayed cheap. On the stock top, these two bows are wrapped with vinyl. Not so on the eBay top. It uses a nylon strap that is cheasily attached (but functional) to the 3rd bow, then wraps around the 4th bow, and then has an eyelet that goes to one of the bottom bolts at the corner of the top. It works pretty good. Each time I've opened it, it popped that 4th bow into it's correct position. And it's nice and taught. I guess it's good enough for me.
Here it is after I attached the front of the top and the header trim. I guess I forgot to take a pic of riveting the cable back to the frame. I used a 3/16" drill bit to open up the hole on the cable end and in the top frame so I could use readily available rivets to secure it.
And here it is! Almost done! I have attached the back and rain rail stuff. It wasn't as bad as I was led to believe. See the 90* corner at the top of the side window? Nice and smooth. Remember that.
See this window? The top has a wrinkle in at that 90*... I screwed up somehow. I guess I wasn't paying enough attention on that side when routing the cable. I need to pull the moldings and their channels off and see if I can make it a little better. Bummer.
And HOLY CRAP! Was that top hard to latch the first time or what? Man, I musta spent 20 minutes trying to get it to close. Inside. Outside. Back inside. Back outside. Ugh. I even loosened up the latches as much as I could, too! But I was missing the latch by like 1/4" inch. Finally got it though!
Hey look! I can see out the back window! That's a first!
And here it is, all done.
Woot! Hooray for clear windows!
The car is still a wicked turd, but at least it's weather tight now, and I don't have to listen to the damn duct tape flapping on the highway! lol Bodywork and paint next! Lowering, too!
Anyways, I think it was worth doing myself. It wasn't all that tough. Hope ya enjoyed the pics and maybe I've been able to motivate someone who's been on the fence about it... Go for it!