Hard top restoration.

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Oct 22, 2014
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174
overall my hard top is in good shape, but I fear that if I do not address a few things soon it will not be in great shape for too much longer.

I have some rust bubbling through on the rain gutter. Nothing inside, it’s all on the outer edge. The top was repainted and the paint did not adhere well, so it is chipping and cracking.

So my plan is to put a roll bar and the FST back on it and restore the roof.

I know there are 7,659 about this but I wanted to start my own restore thread here to ask questions and document the process.

My plan is to pull the roof, remove the weather stripping, wire wheel the gutter down the the metal, remove all rust, then POR15 it.

I have read that there are two options for the fiberglass. Either going with a west marine deck paint system, or taking it to a boat yard and having it gel coated. I live in SF so there are lots of boat yards around, and that seems like a really good option, but would love to hear opinions of each, or any other good solutions.

First big question - I have heard it is a nightmare to replace the rain gutter - I assume this come with the riveting and alignment with the fiber glass. So is it safe to remove the fiberglass and gutter as one piece from the side shroudes? Looking at it I feel like it should be easy enough to realign and re attach.

Thanks in advance for any advice.
 
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Here are some images of the truck and details of the most problematic areas of the roof.
 

ginmtb

'74 FJ40 - my first!
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That looks pretty good! Way better than mine did. You should be able to take the fiberglass and rain gutter off as one unit - just need to unbolt it. Lots of bolts and be prepared for some to shear.

I would do as you say and scrape out the sealant. Then clean up the rust and treat it. There probably will be some on the underside. You may find that you may not have to replace the gutter. If you don’t need to remove the gutter I wouldn’t. Put in new sealant and you should be fine. I have some that I never used if you’re interested - self leveling in a caulk tube. Designed for RV’s and something that I read worked well in this application. And I’m not far from you!

You may have seen my roof redo (search my build thread if not) - I sanded off all the old paint and then applied a series of West Marine products. Rolls on so it is easy to work with. Has some flexibility to help with cracking you may have in the gel coat. Then I painted it with epoxy biscuit appliance paint, like $4 a can at Lowe’s.
 

Martyt

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I am a huge fan of using a rust converter as a stop gap. I like Black Start a lot--not cheap but very good. In places I saw minor rust in my rig (mine is a CA rig so no worries in that department), it works great and turns the rust a blackish color (which I like). BTW, your top does not look bad at all in my view; not sure if you need to do a full blown resto on it.
 
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Oct 22, 2014
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Sounds in line with my thinking. I want to deal with the rust before I have to replace the rain gutter. Or at least delay the replacement. Thanks for the advice.
 

Cruiser Corps

Toyota Land Cruiser Parts | Oklahoma City | USA
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I am of the belief that your rain gutter is salvageable at this point.

IMOP I would get a wire wheel and clean out not only the gutter area but also the metal itself to get down to fresh solid metal.

When you go to re do the gutter use a 3M self leveling seam sealer. On the metal use a metal etching primer on all bare surfaces.

The rust you are currently getting appears to be from water getting thru the cracks of the current seam sealer. The new flexible sealers on the market hold up much better than what Toyota put in originally.

I would be happy to shoot you some pics of a top we just finished for reference as well as talk by phone.

Take care
Mike
 

dad4x4

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I would be happy to shoot you some pics of a top we just finished for reference as well as talk by phone.
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Mike, would be good if you could post those pics to this thread for all of us.
 
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My hardtop was in pretty rough shape. I wish I had a good before picture. It had a few holes in it lots of cracking, dry, and one section of the gutter was rusted. I completely took it apart. I had a metal shop recreate the rusted section of gutter. I had the body shop repair the fiberglass top, just like they would do a fiberglass car. All new gaskets, rivets (get a rivet tool), seam sealer, etc and mine ended up like this and still looks perfect after a few years:

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Daughter using Clecos to hold things together for riveting and test fitting. They are great little helpers.
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Splangy

 
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Skip the POR, etching primer, and gel coat and use an epoxy primer over everything. Also, nothing sticks to a smooth surface so make sure you roughen up anything before coating. And don’t forget to use a quality self-leveling seam sealer.
 
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bcsteel

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Whatever you do make sure you research your paint types and go with compatible top coat and primer.
 
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Took my top off a couple of years ago. I didn't separate rain gutter from fiber glass, was lucky to have minor rust and pitting on the rain gutter. I dug out all of the old caulking I could and wire wheeled the best I could. I filled the pitted areas with rubber roof caulk from the RV shop, bought a new gasket for where the top bolts to the sides, and used the same caulking to seal the gutter to the fiberglass. I know some people fill the whole rain gutter with sealer but I don't think it's necessary. I just ran a bead over where the gutter meets the top. I used the self leveling caulk that they use to seal up vents and fittings on RV's. I dries flexible and lasts for years.
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Oct 22, 2014
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Had to pause this project but kicking it off again next week. If anyone has any new learnings to add please do, otherwise I will share pics as I proceed.
 
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Following - this is on my horizon this summer. Mines in bad shape. it was okay, then my rig and top sat a garage for two years and it looks like s*** was stored on top of the stop because I now have cracking where I didn't before.

So, there seem to be differing opinions about how to rehabilitate the top - 1) just use epoxy primer or 2) use the multi step West Marine process, or 3) have it gel coated (which I can probably get done where I am). Is this one of those religious differences that causes existential crisis? - or is there some rational behind the different options.
 
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C6H12O6

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Only thing I can think to add is that modern gel-coat isn't as flexible as it used to be. My fiberglass boat builder (Clackacraft drift boat) told me the EPA stopped them from using the chemicals of the 70's that let the fiberglass flex after cured. The new stuff they have to use is great, just more brittle and prone to spiderweb cracks in the finish. Maybe worth talking to the boat/fiberglass shop if you were leaning toward a gel-coat finish to see if that is their take on it.
 
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Oct 22, 2014
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Diving back into it - I have a bunch of questions.

1) The truck is in SF, which has many boatyards. So I am not opposed to getting it re-gelcoated. Is this overkill? If I get it gel coated will I need to remove the fiberglass from the rain gutter?

2) If I do not go that route is it safe to sand off the repaint down to the primer, or further? I was a assuming a DA with 150 or so would be the way to go for the big parts, then move on to hand sanding the rounded bits. I have never worked with fiberglass before so trying to gain a good understanding of how far is too far when taking off the old material.

3) If not Gelcoat I assume some of the west marine deck-paint products are the way to go? This is the direction I am leaning towards.

4) should I remove the rivets? I know replacing the rain-gutter is a royal PITA, at what point does it become a nightmare? My assumption is that you want to work on the metal gutter and the fiberglass cap separately.

5) if I have holes and spider-cracks (I believe I have one) what is the best way of dealing with them?

Thanks everyone!
 
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Oct 22, 2014
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Only thing I can think to add is that modern gel-coat isn't as flexible as it used to be. My fiberglass boat builder (Clackacraft drift boat) told me the EPA stopped them from using the chemicals of the 70's that let the fiberglass flex after cured. The new stuff they have to use is great, just more brittle and prone to spiderweb cracks in the finish. Maybe worth talking to the boat/fiberglass shop if you were leaning toward a gel-coat finish to see if that is their take on it.
Thats great advice, thanks. I think I am going to just drive it to a boat yard and ask some questions. The truck usually gets some attention.
 
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