For the first two summers that I had my ’95 YJ, the hard top had to sit on a wooden palette on my lawn whenever it wasn’t on the Jeep. Not only was it unprotected from the elements and vandals, but it also required two strong people to lift it off the Jeep and over the yard fence.
When I got married, I made sure we got a place with a decent garage so that I had a place to store my top. I wanted a hard top hanger/hoist to put in the garage so that I could easily remove the top by myself and store it without wasting valuable parking space. I’ve seen hangers/hoists advertised in catalogs for $100-140, but that just seemed a bit pricey to me, so I decided to make my own. It only cost about US$50, and took an hour or two to assemble. Here’s how I did it.
Note that I no longer use this setup. When I lifted my Jeep, I no longer had room above my top for the excessive height of this setup. I also found this setup to be somewhat unstable, with the possibility of falling & breaking the top. I now use this setup, which is cheaper, more stable, and requires less head room. I’ve left this web page hanging around simply for posterity’s sake.
|1/2" electrical conduit (or any stiff, lightweight rod). Two 3' pieces and two 4'6" pieces.||$3.38|
|Four 1/2" right-angle elbow pipes.||$3.00|
|Trailer winch / hand crank with at least 12' of rope and a hook on the end, rated at at least 200 lbs.||$26.00|
|Two pulleys, preferably with swivel mounting holes, large enough to hold the rope on your winch and rated at at least 200 lbs.||$12.00|
|Four 3/8" x 1.5" screws.||$1.61|
|25' of nylon rope, rated at at least 100 lbs.||$5.00|
|Four S-shaped hooks with open ends.||$5.00|
|12" of rubber tubing (or get padded S-hooks).||$0.50|
|Maybe some duct tape.||negligible|
- Using two of the screws, mount the winch to a sturdy wall in your garage. Make sure you leave room for the crank handle to turn a full circle.
- Mount one of the pulleys at the ceiling directly above the winch.
- Mount the other pulley directly above where you want the top to hang. In order for the top to hang level, the pulley (and therefore the center of the hanger) should be positioned a few inches rearward of the center of the rear section of the top. If this is confusing, see the photo (once I get it scanned).
NOTE: If your ceiling isn’t tall enough to allow lifting the hard top higher than the rear brake light, then you’ll need to allow room at the rear of your garage to open the tailgate and/or the rear window. Failure to do so will prevent you from driving out from under the top once it’s lifted.
- Use the conduit and the elbow pieces to make a 3′ x 4’6″ rectangle. The exact dimensions aren’t critical, but the end result should be a perfect rectangle.
- Cut four pieces of nylon rope, each 33″ long plus however much length your favorite knot requires. My nameless knot of choice required about 40″ total. WARNING: Square knots don’t hold up well under stress, and should be avoided! Secure one end of each rope to each corner of the rectangular frame. Tie a small loop at the other end to fit around the hook on your hoist rope. These ropes must all be exactly the same length, otherwise the frame (and later your hard top) won’t hang level.
- Pad the metal S-hooks by pushing the rubber tubing around them. You might have to smear the hook with soap to get tight-fitting tubing to slide over them. Unpadded hooks are likely to scratch your paint or windows.
- Once the frame is hanging level, back your Jeep underneath it and suspend it an inch or two above your roof. One of the 4’6″ sides of your frame should be even with the rear end of your top. The opposite side should be a few inches rearward of the top-rear corner of your door.
- Cut four lengths of rope–two about 12″ long and two about 3′ long. Tie one end of each rope to each corner of the frame. Tie the other end to one of your S-hooks. The exact length of each rope should allow the bottom of each hook to hang even with the surface it will hook onto.
- With the hoist perfectly positioned over your Jeep, mark your front & rear tire positions on your garage floor. This will help you navigate in under the top when it’s time to put it back on your vehicle.
- Back your Jeep into the garage under your hoist.
- Lower the hoist so that the hooks are a quarter inch or so above the bottom of your hard top.
- Unfasten the hard top, lift each corner up slightly, and hang it on the hook.
- Crank the hoist up to your ceiling, then get in your Jeep and drive away!
Here’s some pictures of the finished product:
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