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What convertible top car tips are out there? Post 'em up guys and gals. I know I'm not the only one who could use some help, like how are you cleaning and conditioning your top? Do you lubricate the tops mechanical side of things?
 

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There is a lot of misinformation about protecting convertible fabric tops; if your goal is maximum protection, do not use water beading/sheeting as an indicator, as its caused by surface tension; while it’s true that it is a visual indicator that the protection previously applied is still present it does not guarantee that it’s actually providing protection. “If water beads on the surface it’s protected and able to repel stains” (Just like water beading on a paint; it’s due solely to surface tension) the answer to both is - No
The waterproof protection you get from a convertible top comes from the butyl rubber core sandwiched between the outer canvas and the inner pre-shrunk cotton layer. An applied protection only renders the fabric water resistant.

You don't have to wash your car's top every time you wash your car, but used occasionally it will remove ingrained soil /road dirt. Every time you wash your convertible top, even with the gentlest car wash shampoo, you are stripping off any previously applied protection. A better methodology would be to vacuum the top using a brush attachment to remove loose dirt and then just rinse the top with clean water.
Rode & Schwalenbert Global Minority Business Network (GMBN) Germany the world leading manufacturer of automobile convertible tops exclusively recommends Harrtz RaggTop Cleaners and Protectant. Developed specifically for cleaning, re-proofing and preserving convertible tops, these cleaning kits consist of two products:

1. Cleaner to remove soiling, stains and atmospheric pollution for both natural and synthetic materials. The best cleaners are formulated from low-pH (low alkalinity) and gentle enough for repeated use over years. They will rely on proteins and enzymes for their safe, but effective, cleaning power.

2. Fabric protector to re-proof and preserve fabric tops from the effects of water absorption, surface soiling and staining, and provide a sunscreen from UV radiation and subsequent fading, and it repels dirt, grease, and oil. It doesn’t make your vinyl top glossy or greasy-looking. It will have the natural matte sheen of new vinyl.

Alternative product

1. This is the fabric protector recommended by Glen Raven Mills (Sunbrella) and the Harrtz Corporation, 303™ High Tech Fabric Guard restores lost water repellence and stain repellence to factory new levels. It stops leaks, resists soiling and impedes mildew formation and helps protect against the sun's harmful UV rays.
2. Gtechniq i1 Fabric Nano Coating– coats individual fibres, which allows the material to breath, while at the same time repelling dirt and liquid. It has no affect on the tactile feel or colour of any fabric


Application Methodology

Masking body- use a 1-mil x 9-foot x 12-foot plastic drop cloth, cut it in two pieces (6 x 9-feet). With the convertible top up in front & back, drape one piece across the back as close to the top hinges as possible. Drape the second piece over the windshield and far enough 6-foot h back to cover the seat back, fold the convertible top down but do not latch. Mask the areas around the fabric top with masking tape (3M® Painters Easy Release Blue Tape)
• Mask the rear window - cover the rear window to avoid over-spray
• Use a soft horsehair brush to remove any loose surface dust, use a lint lifter to remove lint from the fabric surface. Be careful around the rear window to avoid scratching

Cleaning the Fabric Top- Shake product for 30-60 seconds to ensure even mixing
• With all cleaning products, always test a small, indiscrete area first to ensure it won't discolour or stain the surface, and ensure that the pH of the product is suitable for the material.
• Apply fabric cleaner (Harrtz RaggTop Cleaner) with a clean, damp applicator and leave to penetrate fabric for 10 – 20 minutes dependent upon stain. Gently scrub using a soft brush to get into the texture of the fabric. Work the brush from the middle towards the outside.
• Repeat if necessary; applying two light coats are better than the application of one heavy coat: allow drying thoroughly between coats.
• Rinse off using a low-pressure water hose and a soft horsehair brush
• Dry with a waffle weave Micro fibre towel using a blotting motion to dry excess moisture.
• Allow the fabric to dry for as long as possible (preferably 24-hours) before using the protectant. An hour or two isn’t long enough, it may feel dry but that’s only the uppermost surface layer (using a protectant on a damp fabric will ‘seal in’ the moisture and encourage the formation of mildew)
• Apply a fabric protector (Harrtz RaggTop Protectant or 303™ High Tech Fabric Guard ) on the dry fabric, keeping about 6-8 inches above surface and using a back and forth movements spray lightly but do not soak (if you use too much product it will turn white, rinse away excess and allow to dry)
• Always ensure that the stitched seams have adequate protection applied to them
• Alternatively use a soft horsehair paintbrush and apply light thin coats, if time permits, two light coats are better than one medium coat, using gentle sweeping motion. Do not saturate. Allow to dry 10-15 minutes between coats, and to dry thoroughly before using or storing.
• Remove all masking tape and any other materials
• Be sure to remove any accidental over-spray from paint or glass surfaces immediately with a damp Microfiber towel or a 1:1 isopropyl alcohol / distilled water solution. On paint work use a pre-wax cleaner if necessary or fine detailing clay.
• After treatment the top will bead water, when the beading diminishes (usually at 6 monthly intervals, dependent upon climate / use) it's an indication that it's time for another treatment.
Maintenance- normal cleaning: use a medium pH car wash concentrate and apply UVR protection; periodically (dependant on climatic conditions) as its protection degrades over time, apply a UV protection (303™ Aerospace Protectant) to fabric by keeping spray about 6-8 inches above surface and using a back and forth movement spray lightly but do not soak fabric.

Apply a fabric protector (Harrtz RaggTop Protectant) each quarter (adjust for use / and or environmental conditions)


An extract from “ Convertible Top Detailing and How-to extend its life “, one of a series of 120 unbiased technical papers “The Science of Detailing”, a library of educational materials that has become the #1 reference for car care on the Internet

Chances are you'll learn something about detailing if you read any of these; although these articles will not improve your detailing skills, lead to a successful business or change your life. Applying what you learn from it, however, will. That's where your commitment comes in - you need to make a commitment to yourself right now that you will take action on what you learn.


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