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Sierra Off Road Soft Top Does Not Fit 97 TJ

mikelarsoninca

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Apr 24, 2018
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North Hollywood, Los Angeles, CA, USA
Hello - New member in LA. I just purchased a 97 TJ and it just so happen to have a brand new Sierra Off Road sailcloth soft top with tinted windows and upper fronts in the boxes. I attempted to install the top and ran into a few problems. It seems either my 97 TJ does not have the standard equipment and bars or the top is not the correct replacement top. The biggest issue is the front of the top does not seem to have the roughly 1/2 " thick plastic notch that slides into the channel above the windshield. Also the bars I have don't match pictures I've seen online for a 97 TJ and the rear windows aren't lining up with the top. I'm new to the Jeep world so most definitely could be user error. It's a really nice top and the tinted windows are great so I'd like to use it if I can figure it out.
Thanks


IMG_5342.JPG IMG_5341.JPG IMG_5346.JPG IMG_5344.JPG IMG_5337.JPG
 
Last edited:

Rob5589

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Jerry Bransford

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The TJ's soft top doesn't make use of a slide-in channel on top of the windshield, it uses a header system that clamps down onto the top of the windshield that is held down with a pair of clips that snap shut just above the window visors.Some aftermarket soft tops try to make do with various less costly kludges to install a soft top but compared to how well and easily the OE design works, they're just not worth the effort to figure out what's missing to get them working.

If it were me, and this is what is installed on my TJ, I'd go with Bestop's Supertop NX kit which includes literally every part needed to install the very high quality/tight-fitting/quiet soft top that is also part of that kit. Bestop was the OEM for the the factory soft top that Jeep provided with all TJs, their quality and fit is unsurpassed.

It's not cheap but it'll fit right, it'll have all the right parts needed to install, it will be easier to install than cheaper tops that don't use the OE design support mechanism, and it'll give you a quieter interior due to the thickness and quality of its multi-layer Sailcloth fabric.

https://www.bestop.com/jeep/1997/wr...top-2/sub-model/standard/window-color/tinted/
 
OP
mikelarsoninca

mikelarsoninca

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Apr 24, 2018
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North Hollywood, Los Angeles, CA, USA
Welcome to the forum! You need a top in SoCal? :D Is there a way to call the top manufacturer and see if it is the correct top? It is possible that the entire top, bars, and other pieces are aftermarket. This may help you out,
https://www.4wheelparts.com/Tops/Bestop-Replacement-Soft-Top-Bow-Assembly-55002-01.aspx?t_c=75&t_s=461&t_pt=10823&t_pn=BST55002-01&utm_source=google,google&utm_medium=cpc,cpc&utm_campaign=shopping&emlprox=out&ppcfon=1&gp=1&scid=scplpBST55002-01&sc_intid=BST55002-01&gclid=CjwKCAjwq_vWBRACEiwAEReprLybThcma38TL0b8zyS1aE30MpoTtn1gNG2kAF4nBZ89R0fNUHRVUhoCrwEQAvD_BwE

Posting some pics would be helpful as well.


Thank you and posted some pics. SoCal gets chilly in the morning!
 
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mikelarsoninca

mikelarsoninca

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Apr 24, 2018
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Location
North Hollywood, Los Angeles, CA, USA
I put the older top back on and it fits like a glove and has the piece that slides into the channel on the top of the windshield. I don't know if the channel is not OEM on a 97 TJ and I've seen the tops that clamp down on top rather than a piece that fits into the channel.
I don't think the older top is the original but I'd like to figure out where it came from.
 
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mikelarsoninca

mikelarsoninca

New Member
Joined
Apr 24, 2018
Messages
7
Location
North Hollywood, Los Angeles, CA, USA
The TJ's soft top doesn't make use of a slide-in channel on top of the windshield, it uses a header system that clamps down onto the top of the windshield that is held down with a pair of clips that snap shut just above the window visors.Some aftermarket soft tops try to make do with various less costly kludges to install a soft top but compared to how well and easily the OE design works, they're just not worth the effort to figure out what's missing to get them working.

If it were me, and this is what is installed on my TJ, I'd go with Bestop's Supertop NX kit which includes literally every part needed to install the very high quality/tight-fitting/quiet soft top that is also part of that kit. Bestop was the OEM for the the factory soft top that Jeep provided with all TJs, their quality and fit is unsurpassed.

It's not cheap but it'll fit right, it'll have all the right parts needed to install, it will be easier to install than cheaper tops that don't use the OE design support mechanism, and it'll give you a quieter interior due to the thickness and quality of its multi-layer Sailcloth fabric.

https://www.bestop.com/jeep/1997/wr...top-2/sub-model/standard/window-color/tinted/

Thank you, appreciate the link. I'd love to grab a Bestop at some point but not feasible at the moment.
 

glwood

Jeepless
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Sep 16, 2016
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Albuquerque, NM
Hello - New member in LA. I just purchased a 97 TJ and it just so happen to have a brand new Sierra Off Road sailcloth soft top with tinted windows and upper fronts in the boxes. I attempted to install the top and ran into a few problems. It seems either my 97 TJ does not have the standard equipment and bars or the top is not the correct replacement top. The biggest issue is the front of the top does not seem to have the roughly 1/2 " thick plastic notch that slides into the channel above the windshield. Also the bars I have don't match pictures I've seen online for a 97 TJ and the rear windows aren't lining up with the top. I'm new to the Jeep world so most definitely could be user error. It's a really nice top and the tinted windows are great so I'd like to use it if I can figure it out.
Thanks


View attachment 39646 View attachment 39645 View attachment 39644 View attachment 39643 View attachment 39642

The hardware you have is not the oem type bow system. I believe what you have is for a Supertop, and it uses a completely different bow system/ mounting style than the Sierra Off Road replacement top, which most likely is designed to use with the oem bow system. To use the top you have, you will need to purchase an oem style bow system, with the door surrounds, bows, sport bar brackets, and rear tailgate bar with clips. If you have a channel on the top of the windshield that has a metal slot for a plastic flap, that will have to be removed.

Is the top shown in the photos the top that came on the Jeep when you bought it, and is not the Sierra Offroad top you want to install?
 
OP
mikelarsoninca

mikelarsoninca

New Member
Joined
Apr 24, 2018
Messages
7
Location
North Hollywood, Los Angeles, CA, USA
The hardware you have is not the oem type bow system. I believe what you have is for a Supertop, and it uses a completely different bow system/ mounting style than the Sierra Off Road replacement top, which most likely is designed to use with the oem bow system. To use the top you have, you will need to purchase an oem style bow system, with the door surrounds, bows, sport bar brackets, and rear tailgate bar with clips. If you have a channel on the top of the windshield that has a metal slot for a plastic flap, that will have to be removed.

Is the top shown in the photos the top that came on the Jeep when you bought it, and is not the Sierra Offroad top you want to install?

Yes, the top in the pictures is the older top and not the new Sierra Off Road top. It fits great so I assume it's a factory top. Just wish it was in better shape and had back and sides.
 

glwood

Jeepless
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Sep 16, 2016
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Albuquerque, NM
Yes, the top in the pictures is the older top and not the new Sierra Off Road top. It fits great so I assume it's a factory top. Just wish it was in better shape and had back and sides.
The top in the photos, if it works with the hardware shown, is not a factory top. A previous owner put that version on sometime in the past. This is what you need to work with the Sierra Offroad replace a top:
https://www.bestop.com/jeep/1997/wrangler/factory-bow-kit/sub-model/standard/
 
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mikelarsoninca

mikelarsoninca

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Joined
Apr 24, 2018
Messages
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Location
North Hollywood, Los Angeles, CA, USA
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