Classic 900 Convertible Top FAQ.

A Contribution from Pat Price . 

My top doesn't work, How can I raise and lower it Manually?

In the front of the trunk [under a flap in the carpet on the right hand side] there is a small valve.

Open the valve and then you can manually raise and lower the top.

 

How do I bleed the top hydraulics?

1. Lower the top.

2. Fill the reservoir with Saab top hydraulic fluid or 10w oil [per the Saab top manual].

3. Put the plug back in the pump.

3. Raise and lower the top.

4. Remove the plug and refill the reservoir.

5. Repeat until all air is removed.

 

My top has a rip in it, How do I fix it?

 The best way I have found to repair a ripped top is to do the following:

1.Lower the top enough to relieve the tension on the material.

2.Tape up the rip from the outside taking care to keep the edges of the tear together [duct tape works well here].

3. Lower the top enough to get access to the tear from the inside.

4. PUT ON RUBBER GLOVES!!!! You have been warned!!!

5.Coat a piece of fiberglass cloth [not mat] with Super fast Windshield Urethane [both available at any auto body supply store]. Work it into the cloth with your fingers.

6.Reach between the headliner and the top and apply the patch to the underside of the rip.

7. Let it sit for 24 hours and pull the tape.

8. Raise the top.

 

 The canvas has come unglued under the back window, How can I fix it?

1. Lower the top and inch or two to take the stress off the material.

2. Clean the glass and the edge of the top with alcohol or lacquer thinner.

3. PUT ON RUBBER GLOVES!!! You have been warned!

4. Apply a 14" bead of super fast windshield urethane [available at any auto body supply or windshield replacement shop] along the bottom of the window extending about an inch on each side I keep this a little low of the top of the seam to avoid squeeze out along the seam.

5. Press the top fabric into the urethane and line it up with the material on the inside of the window.

6. Apply tape along the seam to hold the fabric to the window [duct tape works well here].

7. Let it set with the top ajar for 24 hours.

8. Remove tape and clean any squeeze out with a razor blade [be careful]

9. Raise top.

 

 My back window is broken/falling apart but my top is in good shape. How can I change it?

[This is the abbreviated version. For specific instructions see the section on how to change the top]

 1. Remove the two weather strips above the rear windows [quarter windows]

2. Lower windows.

3. Remove the trim strip below the back window assembly. [the one that covers the staples]

4. Remove the two side sections of the rear spoiler

5. Close the top and put two 1 12" wooden blocks between the top of the windshield and the top assembly.

6. Duct Tape the top assembly to the windshield to hold the blocks in place.

7. Remove the trim strip across the top of the rear bow.

8. Remove the staples across the rear bow and the ones that hold the top fabric to the body at the rear.

9. Remove the two springs from the corners near the rear windows[quarter windows]

10. Fold back the top material to expose the entire back window assembly.

11. Follow the instructions in the section entitled "Changing the entire back window assembly [with the top off]" and remove and reinstall the back window assembly.

12. Beginning alongside the back window pull the top back as hard as you can with one hand [no pliers

etc.] and staple [3/8" staples] a 4" section to the body along both sides of the back window. Remember that you should keep the staples low along this seam so the trim strip and spoiler will cover them.

12. Glue the flaps above the rear windows [quarter windows] and let this dry.

13. Finish stapling the rear sides of the top to the body checking your work as you go for wrinkles in the fabric. Don't worry if you have to pull staples and do sections over just keep going until you are happy with the result.

14. Close the top and fully and check your work. Adjust as necessary.

15. Replace the side spoiler sections.

16. Replace the rear trim strip over the staples.

17. Staple the top to the top of the rear bow. Keep in mind how wide the trim strip is so you don't staple too far off to the side.

18. If you are using the factory trim across the top of the rear bow:

Screw the aluminum strip to the top of rear bow [make sure you center it] Using a block of wood and a hammer pound the fabric covered section in place put on the end caps.

19. If you are using a replacement strip:

Cut the new strip to the length of the old strip and staple [3/8" staples] it to the top of the rear bow [be sure to center it. Using a block of wood and a hammer pound down the strip down to close it. Install the end caps.

20. Replace the weather strips above the rear windows. Attach with nuts and tie wraps as necessary.

 

 I need to replace my top, How do I do it?

 ASSESS WHAT YOU HAVE

 BACK WINDOW

1. Take a good look at your back window assembly from both the inside and the outside. Lower the top a few inches and look where the top overlaps the back window assembly [check here for holes and rotten material. Pay particular attention to the canvas strip under the back window [how well is it glued to the window etc.].

2. Is it in great shape? If so leave it be.

3. Does just the lower canvas strip show wear? Just replace the rear canvas strip. The only place I have found this replacement strip is from Bill Hirsch Co. [see below for source].

4. Is it coming unglued everywhere? Replace the whole assembly.

 HEADLINER

 1.Take a good look at the headliner especially at the ends of the seams. While you are there try pulling apart one of the seams to assess the condition of the threads.

2. Look at the front of the headliner. Has the material turned white from being exposed to the sun? This really isn't a problem. You can paint this area but keep it in mind when assessing the overall condition of the headliner.

3.If it's good Leave it alone.

4.If it is bad replace it.

 

SHOPPING FOR A TOP.

 Basically there are two different materials for Saab convertible tops.

1. Haartz Cloth:

This is basically the material that is used in the factory tops for the classic 900. I have also heard this referred to as Original German Canvas. It is a synthetic canvas with a cotton lining.

 2. Stayfast Canvas:

 This is a synthetic [nylon] canvas that is manufactured in this country [lower price partially due to the lack of import duties]. Although this canvas is cheaper than the Haartz cloth I believe that it is actually more durable than the original canvas.

 

The Haartz cloth is a little stiffer and thicker than the original so there are slight differences as to how it fits the car [bows are a little bit more defined etc.]. But considering the cost [usually half the cost] the stayfast is the top I choose.

 

 Suppliers:

Tops, window assemblies and headliners.

 Search the web for Saab convertible tops or try the following companies.

 Hydro-E-Lectric Co http://www.hydroe.com 508-832-3081

 Bill Hirsch Co. http://www.hirschauto.com 800-828-2061

 

I have bought all my tops [6] from Hirsch so I can't comment on anyone else. There tops fit well and they are about the least expensive I have found.

 

 Piece of canvas under the back window.

The only place I have found this piece of material is from Bill Hirsch Co. [see suppliers list above]

 

How do I change my top?

 Round up the following tools and supplies:

1. Drill and bits

2. #1[small] Phillips screwdriver

3. #2 Phillips screwdriver

4. #20 torx screwdriver

5. Utility [razor] knife

6. Old small bar of soap[used to mark top]

7. Staple gun, I use a run of the mill Arrow T-50[available at most hardware stores]

8. Stainless or Monel staples 3/8" and 14" [I get them from Home Depot]

9. Roll of duct tape.

10. 2 tubes of 3M Weatherstrip Adhesive Part#051135 Available at any auto body supply store and most auto parts stores.

11. Large screwdriver[for prying headliner off of the bow strips]

12. 2 &endash; 1 12"[40mm] blocks, I use a couple of 2x4 chunks to space the top frame off the windshield.

13. !/4" ratchet, 4' extension and 8mm and 10mm sockets.

14. Pliers for pulling staples

15. Small wire cutter for pulling staples

16. 8" black tie-wraps [to reattach the quarter window weather strips to the top frame.

17. Small punch[1/8"to remove the leftover rivets from the side cables]

18. Large pair of scissors

19. Caulking gun [only if you are changing the strip of canvas under the back window]

20. 1 tube superfast windshield urethane[only if you are changing the strip of canvas below the back window]

21. 1 pair of rubber gloves[only if you are changing the strip of canvas under the back window]

22. 1 can of black spray paint [to touch up the top bows]

23. 2 small sheet metal screws to fasten the side cables to the top assembly

24. Hammer

 

  Unpacking the top

 Unpack the top and lay it out in a safe place at least a day in advance to remove any wrinkles that may have occurred during shipping.

 

 Replacing the canvas strip under the back window.

 1. Remove the aluminum trim strip under the back window[the one that covers the staples]

2. Tear the old canvas strip off of the back window leaving all the staples in place. Usually you can tear the canvas off around the staples if not tear it off above the staples.

3. Lower the top 3" or so, You'll probably have to block it open.

4. Scrape off any old glue and clean the window with alcohol or Lacquer thinner.

5. Trim the new strip to length

6. PUT ON RUBBER GLOVES!!! You have been warned.

7. Apply a 14" bead of superfast windshield urethane across the bottom of the window extending about 1 12" on either side of the window. I keep it a little low so there is not too much squeeze out.

8. Press the new strip into the urethane and smooth it out.

9. Tape the new strip to the window with Duct tape.

10. Close the top.

11. Let it sit overnight

12. Pull off the tape and clean up any squeeze out with a razor blade

13. Pull enough staples from both sides of the top to allow you to slide the new canvas strip into place under the top.

14. Leaving the old staples in place pull down on the new strip and staple it to the body of the car starting in the middle and working to the ends.

 

 Removing the old top

1. Lower the windows

2. Remove the aluminum trim strip from below the rear window

3. Remove the two weather strips that are above the rear windows[quarter windows]

These are attached with 3 8mm nuts and a long tie wrap.

4. Peel the top fabric away from the top frame channel where the above weather strips fits.

5. Remove the side spoiler sections. These are attached with two 10mm nuts and one wing nut. The rear. The rear one is a wing nut located under a flap in the carpet on the inside of the quarter panel [upper front corner]. The second is reachable through the trunk. Reach between the quarter panel and the vinyl bag that holds the top when it is down. Waay up in there you should find the nut in question. If you feel like you have found the stud but it is covered with a plastic sleeve and there is no nut you are one of the lucky ones who does not have a nut here but only a plastic push clip that you don't have to do anything with.

6. Remove the trim strip across the top of the rear bow and set it aside. If it is the factory style remove the end caps and pry up on the cover piece and then remove the aluminum base strip. If it is an aftermarket strip remove the end caps and pry up the back of the strip and remove the staples. Set this strip aside [note: I prefer the original strip and I would reuse it]

7. Lower the top about halfway and drill out the two pop rivets that hold the side cables at the front corners of the top. Use the punch and hammer to knock the remainder of the rivets out of the holes.

8. Pull the cables from the top. Lower the top the rest of the way and you should find the third nut for the spoiler hiding in the front. Remove the spoiler sections

9. Remove the screws that hold the weather strip to the front of the top assembly[where the top sits on top of the windshield]

10. Carefully peel away this weather strip to expose the top fabric that is overlapped at the front.

11. Under this weather strip is a wind stop, which is a piece of canvas, stripping. Peel up the top layer of this strip to expose the staples. Pull the staples and remove this strip.

12. Draw a picture of how the main top is fitted over the front bow for your future reference [How it is cut etc]. Peel back the main top from the front bow.

13. Raise the top

14. Pull the staples around the rear of the top. Remove the 2 springs from the corners by the rear windows, I usually hook these on the top of the quarter panel. Tear the canvas from the top bows [if it is still attached] and remove the top.

15. What you should end up with is the top bow assembly with the headliner still in place

 

Dropping the headliner

 1. Sitting in the rear seat, remove the screws that fasten the rear of the headliner to the Rear bow. Remove the trim strip and gently peel the headliner away from the last bow. Move to the third Bow and pry the plastic headliner retainer from the third bow. Then pry the retainer for the second bow.

2. I leave the headliner hanging from the front Bow because it is kind of a pain to get it straight again after you take it off. If you are replacing the headliner remove it from the front Bow and discard.

 

Changing the entire back window assembly [with the top off]

Measure the distance from the last bow to the top of the back window. Save this for future reference

1. Remove the staples from the fore and aft support straps where they attach to the body.

2. Disconnect the wiring to the rear window demister.

3. Remove the staples where the back window assembly meets the body.

4. Remove the staples where the back window assembly meets the rear bow.

5. Remove the old rear window assembly

6. Staple the top of the new rear window assembly to the rear bow taking care to keep the measurement between the top of the window and the rear bow the same as was measured earlier. Also be sure to center it on the car.

7. Open the top slightly and insert the 2 1-1/2" blocks between the top of the windshield and the top assembly.

8. Pull down on the bottom of the rear window assembly fairly hard and staple it to the body starting from the center and working out to the ends.

9. Re attach the two support straps to the body by pulling them snugly and stapling them in place.

 

Checking out the top bows

With the top up check over the top assembly where the 2 straps run fore and aft along the top. Replace any loose staples etc.

1. Check the front bow for corrosion and sand and paint as necessary.

2. Step back and look at the top from the side particularly between the third and the rear bow if the support strips seem loose or look saggy remove the staples from the end where they attach to the body and tighten them up.

 Installing the new top

21. Remove the two aluminum strips that retain the top fabric to the second and third bows as well as any material from the old top.

22. Insert the two retaining strips into the sleeves attached to the underside of the new top fabric. Center the top on the retainers and reattach the retainers to the second and third bows.

23. Slip the side cables into their appropriate sleeves.

24. Open the top about halfway and reattach the cables to the top assembly using the two small sheet metal screws.

25. Close the top.

26. Center the top from side to side and align it fore and aft so the rear edge of the top aligns with the edge where the fabric of the back window assembly meets the glass.

27. Tape the top to the back window along this seam.

28. Check the fit where the top meets the back windows [quarter windows] and make any minor adjustment fore and aft to make sure this fits well.

29. Pull the top snugly forward and using the bar of soap mark a line across the front of the front bow where the top fabric crosses it.

30. Undo the tape at the front of the top and open the top fully.

31. Glue and fit the top to the underside of the front bow according to the drawing that you made earlier. Use a lot of glue here as the staples really don't hold this all too well.

32. Glue and staple [1/4" staples] the wind stop across the underside of the front bow being careful to keep it even where the wind stop overlaps the top.

33. Glue the flap on the wind stop back down.

34. Screw the weather strip back down

35. Close the top and insert the two 1 34" blocks between the top of the windshield frame and the top

36. Tape the top to the windshield frame.

37. Attach the two springs at the Corners behind the rear windows[quarter windows]

38. Beginning alongside the back window pull the top back as hard as you can with one hand [no pliers etc.] and staple [3/8" staples] a 4" section to the body along both sides of the back window. Remember that you should keep the staples low along this seam so the trim strip and spoiler will cover them

39. Glue the flaps above the rear windows [quarter windows] and let this dry.

40. Finish stapling the rear sides of the top to the body checking your work as you go for wrinkles in the fabric. Don't worry if you have to pull staples and do sections over just keep going until you are happy with the result.

41. Close the top and check your work. Adjust as necessary.

42. Replace the side spoiler sections.

43. Replace the rear trim strip over the staples.

44. Staple the top to the top of the rear bow. Keep in mind how wide the trim strip is so you don't staple too far off the side.

45. If you are using the factory trim across the top of the rear bow:

Screw the aluminum strip to the top of rear bow [make sure you center it] Using a block of wood and a hammer pound the fabric covered section in place put on the end caps.

46. If you are using a replacement strip:

Cut the new strip to the length of the old strip and staple [3/8" staples] it to the top of the rear bow [be sure to center it. Using a block of wood and a hammer pound down the strip down to close it. Install the end caps.

47. Replace the weather strips above the rear windows. Attach with nuts and tie wraps as necessary.

48. Re install the headliner in the reverse order in which it came out.

49. Raise the windows

50. Wash the top to remove any soap marks

51. Walk around your car and drink lots of beer