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Old 02-19-2013, 06:25 PM   #1
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Why I converted to a manual top...

Last year I started a thread discussing the possibility of converting to a manual top. Well, a couple of things happened between then and now.

First off, I had a control rod that decided to pop a tip off and it was before I was ready to start my build. The V levers were still in great shape so I ended up with a manual drop of my top and an electronically controlled clam shell.

This seemed to work well as I could drop and raise the top from the drivers seat...an easy breezy process. I completed my build and things seemed to be going well. Then one day while leaving work for what ever reason, my top transmission went screwy and the top ran off the gears and locked itself down...solid!

Well, this is now becoming a frustrating issue. I come home, work out the release of the v-lever and begin the process of retiming the 50 teeth drive gear so the clam shell can function again. I reset the transmission not once or twice, but seven times dead nuts, but each time the clam shell would function it would over drive and lock the clam shell down.

OK, there comes a point when the value of what you are trying to do is lost to frustration. Now, this is not my first convertible and in my other cars, the tops were manual and guess what, I was still able to enjoy everything about the car, there was just a couple of physical aspects you the driver had to do that was not controlled by electronics.

How many times have you read a thread where someone has been locked in a situation with a top half up/down or in any position in between! Well, this was my car and I will not be limited to using my car because of a few micro switches or silly gears that do something I have more then enough brain cells and muscles to do on my own.

Well, I am basically at the point I am looking for. To complete the process of making a manual top, I disconnected the drive lines, pulled the fuse disabled the top light in my dash. I know have a fully manual top...but wait...how am I going to lock the clam shell down?

In looking back at the vintage Porsche cars, you will find that in many cases there were leather straps that would lock the frunk and trunk in place. Not wanting to attach leather to my car to lock the clam shell down, I came up with another mechanism...draw latches. I pulled my McMaster Carr catalog out and found that for $24.00 I could order a 6" rubber draw latch. I had used these on my boat for securing gear lockers and other enclosures and they can stand up to a hard beating and are very durable to weathering.

As such, this is how my car sits today, for $48.00 and about $8.00 in aluminum rivets. It takes me about 45 to 60 seconds to open and or close the top. Yes, my windows still drop when I open the major latch mechanism for the top and the windows small drop during opening and or closing of the door when the top is up still works.

Downside??? None in my mind. Upside? I never have to worry about an electrical switch or gremlin ruining a day of driving. Oh, if you are wondering how this does at an elevated pace on the road? Nothing moves one bit.

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Old 02-19-2013, 07:28 PM   #2
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I will print this out and hang on to it. Nice job. I converted my 993 cab to manual because of issues with the mechanism.
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Old 02-20-2013, 06:44 AM   #3
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Nice job, Eric! Looks good and totally eliminates a common trouble spot on these cars. Does the dash light still go on and off as the top changes state?

Maybe you would consider doing a step-by-step for us less inventive people that might want to do the same mod.
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Old 02-20-2013, 06:58 AM   #4
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Very interesting write-up!
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Old 02-20-2013, 07:41 AM   #5
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Very clever solution!

However, I have a manual top on my Miata and I have to say that its a bit of a PITA to use. The powered top of the Boxster is simply too convienent for me to go to manual operation - especially with the one-touch Robotop and the speed and parking brake interlocks disabled. I can put the top up/down with one press of the button at any time or speed.
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Old 02-20-2013, 07:46 AM   #6
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i find i have to get out of the car regardless in order to properly fold the rear window ?!?
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Old 02-20-2013, 07:47 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Radium King View Post
i find i have to get out of the car regardless in order to properly fold the rear window ?!?
When the time comes for a new top, upgrade to the glass window. No more chop!
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Old 02-20-2013, 08:13 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thstone View Post
I can put the top up/down with one press of the button at any time or speed.
While I have to admit that is a really cool feature and you won't get any argument from me on that...it was just things on mine went wonky in what I believe is an age related issue of equipment.

To answer the question on the dash light...for now I used a small circle of self adhesive opaque insulating sealer (electrical tape) to cover the light till I pull my gauge cluster and make it permanent.

As for any specific write up, in the end all I did was disconnect the v-levers and push rods for each side, pull the drive cables for each side and pull the fuse for the convertible open switch. I left the transmissions and electrical motor in place as there was no reason to pull them.

Using the template that came with the draw latch, I measured out a location on the car that would allow for aesthetically pleasing spacing AND the ability to place a support washer on the back side of the aluminum pop rivet that holds the draw latch in place. using 3" wide painters tape I covered the clam shell and trunk and marked where I would drill the holes, then attached both latches.

I think the total time to do this was about an hour with the hardest part being the spacing for the latches.

Take care...
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Old 02-20-2013, 08:24 AM   #9
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I wish that Porsche had done this with the Boxster Spyder istead of their camping tent and poles option.

It would have been very interesting to see how light they could have produced a manual top using titanium, some manner of ultra light and water tight carbon weave for the canvas, maybe gorilla type glass for the window on a perfectly smooth ball bearing track. A lever near the arm rest that raised the top a third of the way so that you didn't have to reach all the way behind you like on the Miata would have been convenient too.

The thing I liked about the Miata top was that if I got caught in a sudden downpour I could raise the top and latch it shut in 10 seconds. I got really good at that after some time. The motorized top in comparison seems like it takes an eternity.
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Old 02-20-2013, 01:58 PM   #10
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That's pretty darned interesting.
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Old 02-20-2013, 04:57 PM   #11
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This is good info.

However, what happens when you open the trunk? How does that affect the latches. Might it be better to squeeze them to the outside so they attach to the fender?
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Old 02-20-2013, 05:55 PM   #12
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JD, believe it or not I am able to open my trunk without having to undo the latches...it may not go all the way open, but I can put groceries and other items without issue. This was another concern when I was looking at placement of the latches.
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Old 02-20-2013, 05:57 PM   #13
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I did this with my old test Boxster 5 years ago and never looked back! I prefer manual over factory any day.
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Old 02-21-2013, 07:43 AM   #14
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My roof has been manual for 2.5 years and 30k miles - including up to about 140mph on the autobahn.

There's no need to secure the clam.

Due to the weight of is and the way it's hinged, it's not going anywhere.
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Old 02-21-2013, 09:45 AM   #15
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Very nice solution for a manual top and I applaud your effort. However...

The power top mechanism on the Box is simple and inexpensive to repair. Your clamshell was overdrive because of a simple failed or misadjusted limit switch on the B pillar of your car. Top transmissions are passive devices that cannot overdrive their position by themselves.

I'm sorry you had such a fight with your power top. I bought a 98 Box last year with an inoperable top...the control relay was missing. While waiting for the relay, I had a cable snap on my other Boxster and drove it for several weeks as a manual top car without any real complaint. Anyway,. Between the two cars, and with the help of many great posts on this and other forums, I learned exactly how this system worked and marveled a it's simplicity.

I could have enjoyed my car with a manual top, no problem, but replacing the cables and adjusting the alignment of the transmissions was not difficult at all.

I'm sure you are happy with your top but if you ever want a power top again (like when selling), investigate your limit switches. They rarely fail and if they do, are inexpensive to replace.
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Old 03-23-2013, 06:11 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pothole View Post
My roof has been manual for 2.5 years and 30k miles - including up to about 140mph on the autobahn.

There's no need to secure the clam.

Due to the weight of is and the way it's hinged, it's not going anywhere.
It is not from worry of flying up, rather it bounced when going over bumps and that drove me nuts. Also with the new top on her, the clam shell tends to ride high until the fabric and top are broken in.

Quote:
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I'm sure you are happy with your top but if you ever want a power top again (like when selling), investigate your limit switches. They rarely fail and if they do, are inexpensive to replace.
Thanks and given enough time I am sure an alignment/limit switch situation could have been worked out. However... I am not selling this car and there is zero chance the top will fail ever for either myself or my wife where ever we are.
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Old 06-30-2016, 04:06 PM   #17
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Can anyone help me with my 1997 Boxster? The top is down, I have 2 broken plastic ends a loud thumping every time I try and raise the top, and the top will now not come up for anything. The clam shell is shut tight and can not be maneuvered in any way to get to the cloth top to try and manually pull it back. I read that if I could release the shock absorber that it would release the clam shell, but how in the heck do you get to the shocks? Desperate..
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Old 07-01-2016, 04:50 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flewis99 View Post
Can anyone help me with my 1997 Boxster? The top is down, I have 2 broken plastic ends a loud thumping every time I try and raise the top, and the top will now not come up for anything. The clam shell is shut tight and can not be maneuvered in any way to get to the cloth top to try and manually pull it back. I read that if I could release the shock absorber that it would release the clam shell, but how in the heck do you get to the shocks? Desperate..


Go to your owners manual it explains exactly how to release the rods on he clamshell and top. You basically have to pop them out using a pointy sharp tool that you have in your tool set that came with the car, it's the long aluminum one. If the top is down its the easiest way to pop then out. Once you do that you can move the clamshell and top freely and then you can start fixing it
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Old 07-01-2016, 08:06 AM   #19
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Awesome job. I love the simplicity to it. If I had my way I would have roll up windows. I hate frivolous stuff that break and add weight.
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Old 07-01-2016, 08:46 AM   #20
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Great solution, and looks good too! Well done!

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