CONVERTIBLE TOP EDGE DOES NOT FALL INTO GUIDE CHANNEL

WHEN CLOSING THE TOP DIY


 

 Credit for this article should go entirely to Maurice.

  This DIY applies to 986 Boxsters from 1997 to 2002.  Model Years 2003 and 2004 and 987 Boxsters will be very similar, but may have different part numbers and measurements than the ones supplied.

  The following will assume that the convertible top cable (“tension cable”) that runs from the aluminum shoulder plate (plate cannot be seen with the top installed, but is above the forward part of the top of each window) to the base of the B‑Pillar (where it terminates in an eyelet) is intact and has not stretched or snapped inside its plastic rib covering. 

  The correct length of the tension cable from the center of the rear eyelet (that is attached to the base of the B-Pillar through one leg of the clamping rail) to the center of the forward eyelet (that is attached to the aluminum shoulder plate through the tension spring) is 655 mm.  The part number for the tension cable is 986 561 921 00, costs about $17.00 as of this writing, and usually comes with one eyelet attached, and another eyelet that must be crimped on to make the correct length.  This is to allow you to attach the pre-fastened eyelet to the tension spring under the aluminum shoulder plate, and then thread the other end through the hollow plastic rib on the edge of the convertible top fabric.  Once it is threaded through, you can then crimp on the other eyelet at the correct length, with a pair of crimping pliers, and then screw the eyelet into the base of the B-Pillar..

  To access and remove the rear eyelet, open the top halfway or a little more and look at the forward face of the B-Pillar, at its base.  The rear eyelet is located about 5 inches below the two blue arrows in Photo # 2.  You can also see the cable and rear eyelet disassembled from the appropriate hole in the clamping rail in Photo #4.

  At the very least, verify that the tension cable has not broken or split apart inside its plastic rib covering, by unscrewing the Torx screw that goes through the rear eyelet and then tugging hard on the eyelet and cable.  If the cable is broken, it will pull out and must be replaced.  When re-assembling the eyelet to B-Pillar, put the parts back on in this order: Hole in B-Pillar, plastic clamping rail eye, canvas with hole, serrated lock washer, Torx screw.  Be careful not to cross-thread the screw, as you are going into aluminum, and DO NOT over-torque the screw. 

  In order to access the forward eyelet, unfortunately, part of the convertible top covering must be undone at the front and at the side of the roof frame on the relevant side.

Note: If you must replace a stretched or broken cable, see Mike Focke’s Porsche Boxster Web Pages, in the section entitled “Replacing the Top - A Do It Yourself Guide” for detailed instructions on removing that part of the convertible top.

  There are three main causes for the black plastic‑covered cable on the edge of the top material to fall outside of the guide channel on the B‑Pillar part of the window frame:

1.  Torn or separated convertible top holding strap;

2.  Insufficient finger spring tension (OR bent or broken finger spring);

3.  Slider either binding OR seized (stuck in one position, does not slide back and forth).

  Once you have determined that your tension cable is not stretched or broken, or have replaced it if necessary, proceed as follows:

  To access and assess each one of these potential causes, open the convertible top so that the front center of the convertible top is 22 inches away from the (body color) PAINTED METAL top center of the windshield frame.  Stand outside of the car just to rear of the (closed) door and look at the side of the convertible top, at the area immediately behind  where the top rear round corner of the (raised) window would be.  You will be looking at the area just behind the lower section of the (flat black, metal) B‑Pillar, from where it starts at the top of the rear quarter panel (rear fender) to where it is now separated from the next section of the convertible top frame.  This “next section” just referred to is the one that ends up above the closed window when the convertible top is completely closed.

1.  Torn or separated convertible top holding strap:

  Look behind the B‑Pillar part, and near the top of that section there should be a two‑part black fabric strap (red arrow in Photo #1) that is wrapped around a black metal tube (green arrow in Photo #1) and fastened securely around that tube by means of Velcro.

 

Photo #1

  If the holding strap has come undone, or is torn or missing, you must re‑wrap it around the black metal tube, or replace it.  The part number for the holding strap is 986 561 931 00, about $10.50 as of this writing, two needed.  (Porsche has it as a separate part because it is a common failure point).  In a pinch, you can make your own strap from similar material and Industrial Velcro, and sew it in with Machine Yarn #30, black.

  If the holding strap is too loosely wrapped around the black metal tube, pull the Velcro apart and wrap it more tightly around the tube.  Make sure that the strap can nonetheless slide easily up and down the tube as the top moves.  Also insure that the black metal tube around which the holding strap slides back and forth doesn’t have any sharp edges, burrs or any sticky residue that might impede the smooth sliding of the holding strap.  Correct any of these conditions until you restore the smooth sliding operation of the holding strap on the black metal tube.

  Wrap the two parts of the holding strap securely around the black metal tube, and make sure that the Velcro is completely overlapped and pressed in on itself.

  Put the convertible top up and down a few times, and, if the black plastic-covered cable rib does not fall properly into the guide channel when the top is almost closed, adjust the circumference of the loop by pulling the Velcro apart and making the loop smaller.

   If the cable rib pulls too far to the inside when the cable rib should be falling into the guide channel, then make the Velcro’d loop slightly bigger in circumference until it falls just right.

 

 

    Photo #2 

  In all cases, you must observe the loop formed by the holding strap gliding smoothly back and forth over the black metal tube as the top is operated up and down.  Adjust the circumference of the loop as necessary.  Here is another photo of the holding strap (Photo #2), which now has been pulled apart and is being held outside of the top by a yellow wire so that you can get a good idea of what an intact holding strap should look like, and an idea of where the Velcro is located if you have to fabricate a new strap.

  In 987's there is a different device holding the canvas in place, which we will call "looped strings", one on the left side and one on the right side. If either of the "looped strings" on your 987 are sticking out from where they exit the sides of the convertible top, and no longer under tension, you will have to replace the entire part that connects the two looped strings.

  The looped strings are attached to the convertible top frame by means of one fastening screw on each side. The overall part is called a "fold placer" and is part # 987 561 773 01. The fold placer costs about $69.00 as of this writing. The fold placer is actually two pieces of string that are connected to each other by being crimped on to a flexible elastic band in between them, from one side of the top to the other. The failure occurs when one of the crimped connections comes apart near the center of the top, and if that is the case, you will have to replace the complete "fold placer". It runs left to right through a canvas channel and you can guide the new part with a long piece of wire, then remove the wire and attach the strings with the fastening screw on each side. You will have to partially pull apart the convertible top liner in the area near the fastening screw to get at it.

  If you don't want to spend the $69.00, in some instances it may be possible to re-attach the looped strings to the center elastic band, but you will have to devise your own method of re-fastening the string to the elastic band after you remove the elastic band from its canvas channel.

 


2.  Insufficient finger spring tension (OR bent or broken finger spring):

  Look about 4" up from the top of the rear quarter panel, and you should see a 5" long metal flat finger spring (circled in yellow in Photo #3) that is attached to the convertible top frame by two T20 Torx screws (two blue arrows in Photo #3) near its bottom.

 
 
  Check the finger spring tension by pulling its top edge (white arrow in Photo #3) away from the frame and seeing how strongly it returns.  In its normal, originally installed, position the spring has a slight curve towards the front of the car.  To increase the tension that the finger spring provides, unscrew the two T20 Torx screws and reverse the position of the finger spring by turning it so that the face that was hidden from view is now facing outwards (i.e., towards the front of the car).  The increased tension that the finger spring now provides will help to pull the plastic rib edge of the convertible top material properly into the guide channel in the B‑Pillar.  If the finger spring is sharply bent or is broken (less than 5" long), it must be replaced.  The finger spring (also called a “leaf spring” or “tension spring”) is part # 986 561 749 00, two needed, and costs about $4.25 each as of this writing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                    Photo #3 

 

3.  Slider either binding OR seized (stuck in one position) :

  The convertible top fabric from the base of the B‑Pillar to about 10" above the top of the rear quarter panel is wrapped around what is called a "Clamping Rail" and the fabric has ribs that are slid into a channel in the Clamping Rail and into a channel in the "Slider".  See Photo #4, which shows the Clamping Rail and the Slider pulled apart, the Slider with the fabric rib slid into its channel, and the two protrusions (circled in yellow) on the Clamping Rail, as well as the terminating (rear) eyelet of the cable.

   Photo #4 

 The Slider is pressed into a protrusion near the bottom of the clamping rail and, at its uppermost part, has an elongated hole along which the second protrusion (which is near the top of the Clamping Rail) allows the top of the Slider to slide back and forth. 

  When you pull on its top part (circled in white in Photo #5), the Slider must slide back and forth without any hesitation all the way to the front so that the rearmost round edge of the elongated hole presses up against the protrusion from the Clamping Rail and the Slider must then snap back to its original position by the action of the finger spring.

   
   Photo #5

  On the left side of the car (driver’s side), to pull on the Slider, wrap your left hand around the B‑Pillar at the point shown by the white circle in Photo #5 and, with your middle finger, pull on the black plastic ear or tab that is jutting inward just at the level of the top of the finger spring, as illustrated in the photograph.  Use your right hand when standing outside the right side (passenger’s side) of the car, and again pull the tab forward.  Each time, the slider must move freely, were the only resistance should be provided by the finger spring, which should then snap it back when released.

  On some early Boxsters (early to mid ‘97), the Slider was also fastened to the frame with a screw, which sometimes ends up too tightly torqued and thereby restricts the free movement of the Slider.  If you have one of those, loosen it by ½ a turn.

  Also, the Slider (left and right sides) has been updated by providing a 1 ½ inch extension to its top surface so that it can guide the fabric rib that much further towards the channel in the guide channel in the frame.  Photo # 4 shows a sketched‑in version of the extension onto the old version of the Slider.  You can determine which version has been installed into your new top by verifying if there is indeed a hard plastic extension above the area of the elongated hole.  If you have the old (shorter) version of the Sliders installed in your early year Boxster, then you probably also have 4" long elastic strips which are sewn into the plastic rib edge of the top and serve a similar purpose to the elongation of the Sliders.  If you have them, you will find them stitched in about 5" below the lower edge of the holding straps.  The black elastic strips are 3/8" inch wide and 4 inches long from where they sew into the edge of the plastic piping to the center of where the plastic pin is inserted through the (doubled-up) elastic.  A black plastic pin goes through the center of the doubled-up elastic at the end of the strip.  The important part here is to insure that the black plastic pin is securely pressed in to the center of the upper protrusion of the clamping rail mentioned above and that it does not pop out, which would leave the elastic string dangling and no pulling pressure on the plastic rib and cable of the top.  If your plastic pins are missing, they are part #986 561 597 00, four needed, and cost about $1.00 each as of this writing.  Whether or not you have the elastic string version of the top, you MUST have the four plastic pins pressed in permanently into the protrusions (circled in yellow in Photo #4).  You can see the upper protrusion of the clamping rail in Photo #4, below the sketched-in extension on the Slider, circled in yellow.  (Note: The lower protrusion in this photo is damaged.)

  You must have either the elongated (updated) Sliders OR the elastic strips installed in order to minimize the possibility of the cable falling outside the guide channel when closing the top. 

  Unfortunately, in order to install updated Sliders you must take apart the entire bottom of the canvas top where it is wrapped around and attached to the base of the B‑Pillar with the ears on the Clamping Rail.  The old (short) Slider part numbers are 986 561 669 00 (left side) and 986 561 670 00 (right) .  The new, updated, elongated Sliders are the same part numbers, but end in “03" instead of “00"and  cost about $13.00 each as of this writing.  There is currently some confusion as to the correct, latest part numbers, and that will be updated with a correction, if necessary.    Again, refer to Mike Focke’s Replacing the Top DIY for the procedure necessary to replace the Sliders.  The Clamping Rails are part #986 561 559 01 and 986 561 560 01 (left and right 1997 to 2002) or part #986 561 559 02 and 986 561 560 02 (left and right for 2003 and later) and cost about $10.00 each as of this writing.

  Make sure that there is no fabric, paper, foil or other foreign material in the elongated hole in the Slider that would restrict the free movement of the Slider.  To avoid disassembling the canvas in that area, you can also increase the height of the elongated hole by an additional .7mm by filing away plastic material FROM THE UPPER EDGE of the elongated hole.  If you file away the .7mm, you should end up with a dimension of 11.5mm from the bottom edge to the top edge of the elongated hole.  This can be done very carefully, with a Dremel tool and a mini-drum sander attachment or rotary file.  Be extremely careful not to press against or go through the canvas top material, which is immediately behind the elongated hole. 

  When you have checked or altered the above parts for their proper function, open and close the top several times to verify that you have solved the problem.  Of course, be sure to check out both the driver's and the passenger's side for each of these parts and their operation.

  In the less common case, where the convertible top cable falls to the INSIDE of the guide channel,  in addition to loosening the holding strap as explained above, you may have to widen the channel a bit, to catch and accommodate the tension cable rib.  The purple arrows in Photo #2 show you the inside edge (which is covered by crimped-on molding) that you must bend slightly in the inboard direction to widen the channel that the inside edge forms with the inside surface of the B-pillar frame.

  If you have followed the instructions carefully, you should have rectified the problem, and you will no longer have to get out in the middle of the top operation to guide the edge of the top into the guide channel.  It’s hard enough to get out to do the “chop”.

  If you find any errors or omissions, discover any tips that you would like to add to this DIY or would like to make suggestions please feel free to email me at 1schoir@gmail.com or contact me through PPBB.com as Maurice on Long Island.