DIY convertible top repair

Photography by Tony Christy

Story by Marianne Brunson Frisch

PROBLEM: You’re driving along, enjoying a top-down kind of day, perhaps listening to Irving Berlin’s tune crooning “Blue skies smilin’ at me, Nothin’ but blue skies do I see,” on the radio as you meander along. Boom! A storm approaches. Top up, off you go. Drip, drip, drip-the rain sneaks its way through a canvas tear worn from raising and lowering the top.

SOLUTION: A repair that’s a cinch with easily procured supplies and instructions from the crafts people at Automotive Restorations Inc.

Step 1:


First up, move your car to the garage and away from sunlight. Thoroughly remove any surface dust surrounding the tear, both inside and out, and be sure the area is completely dry.

Step 2:


Now you’re set to make your patch. Cut the canvas into a circular or oval shape large enough to cover the hole. On the interior of the convertible top, place your patch over the hole and lightly draw an outline just smaller than the patch, indicating where it will later be adhered.

Step 3:


Lay the patch on your worktable. Evenly brush a coat of adhesive on one side of the patch and also on the area you outlined on the interior of the convertible top. Let the patch and convertible top set for about 10 minutes until completely dry.

Step 4:


Reapply adhesive to the same side of the patch and your outlined area on the convertible top interior. Wait until those areas are slightly tacky but not damp. Touch the patch–it’s ready when it drops off of your finger, leaving no residue. Align the two edges of the convertible top fabric along the tear line and place your patch over the outlined spot on the interior.

Step 5:


Apply pressure to both the interior patch and the corresponding exterior area until they have set. Ta da, your top has renewed integrity and is now waterproof.

Step 6:


Follow-up step for vinyl tops: Make the repair nearly invisible and even more waterproof. Get your tools handy, instructs Automotive Restorations quality control technician and glassman Craig Cronin Sr.: silicone sealant in a color matching your convertible top, a caulk gun, spray glass cleaner and a rubber squeegee, all available at Home Depot or Lowe’s. Load your caulk gun with the sealant and sparingly apply an even line of sealant on the original tear line on the exterior of the convertible top.

Follow-up step for cloth tops of various materials: First, follow the same steps as outlined for vinyl tops. Then edge trim a bit of your canvas or Stayfast top material and create a pile of short cut fibers. Using a modelers paint brush, which can be purchased at a craft or paint store, apply a bit more sealant just at the exterior glued repair seam and insert your trimmed material “loose ends” to further hide the repair. This can also be done with a nicely applied bead of silicone clear adhesive sealant, then covered with the fibers.

Step 7:


Spray the entire area with glass cleaner and wipe off the excess with a squeegee.

Step 8:

Patience now: Leave the top up and allow it to dry for 24 hours. Then get back on the road, rain or blue skies.

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redtanrt10 New Reader
7/22/22 10:10 a.m.

Thnks for the article but I can't figure out what to buy at West marine?

mvh New Reader
10/24/23 4:10 p.m.

This would be more useful if the story specified what kind of adhesive to use and where to procure it. As it is, it just describes some pretty obvious obvious procedures, but doesn't help with sourcing either the materials or the adhesives.

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