After wrapping up (we thought) the Jeep CJ-2A with the new seats and interior in our last installment, it was very satisfying to finally be able to cruise around in the Willys after all the hard work this restoration entailed. Driving around in an open-top vehicle is certainly more exciting than a roofed vehicle, and it allows you to truly experience the outdoors. However, there are times when the sun can become a bit too much. We knew we never wanted or really needed a completely enclosed top, but we felt something with just a bit of shade and respite from the elements would do the trick. After looking around, we drew a bead on one of the original-looking Summer Tops available from Kaiser Willys Auto Supply (KWAS). This quality canvas top had the look we wanted, fit well, and was offered in black—a perfect contrast to the Pasture Green paint and tan seat covers.
The new KWAS Canvas Summer Top will also help to keep the seats and dash from taking a beating; and since we went through all the trouble to replace the rear top bow holders during the body restoration, we thought we might as well put them to good use. Several versions of top bow kits are available; we opted for the unit made in the USA. It had all the pieces needed, and that was a good thing—we had none of the original bows.
Shown here are all the “Made in USA” OE-style top bows and the black Canvas Summer Top available from KWAS. The bow parts are clearly tagged to avoid incorrect placement during assembly, and although the parts are carefully packed for shipping, some painting or touch-up may be necessary.
No matter what your top or bow situation is (ours is CJ-2A with an M38/3A windshield frame), OE complete or even partial, KWAS can help you get just what you need. In order for the new top to fit our tub/windshield mutt, we had to order what’s simply called a “hybrid” canvas top that allows for different attachment and windshield heights and widths. KWAS Canvas Summer Tops are available in olive drab, gray, tan, and black, so finding one to your liking should be easy. Check out the installation of this high-quality KWAS Summer Top, as we show you how we “finished” off this CJ-2A project.
Make sure to test-fit all the bow bottoms beforehand to ensure everything will slide into all four holders and be snug but not damage or chip the Jeep’s paint. On our Jeep we needed to modify the bottom of both front pocket bows to a slight oblong shape with a large vise (in stages) as shown on the right until they fit perfectly into the square openings.
Before painting all the bow parts, we completely assembled the bows and all the supports to get everything straight and vertically level; some of the front to rear top supports may need to be cut to proper length and fit tightly to avoid rattles.
All the bow parts were painted with a few coats of our favorite brand of Satin Black, and then we carefully installed the bows into the holders as shown—again being very careful not to damage the paint. We had already removed it, but here is where some blue tape might help to protect the surrounding areas as a precautionary measure.
Now that the rear and front vertical bows are joined with their center cross-bow pieces, start with inserting the rear support rods into the proper holes, and then move on to the front support rods that are secured with a cotter pin up front through the hole in the windshield frame.
Once the entire bow framework is completely installed and all the parts feel tight, you can then have someone help you start to slowly drape the canvas top over the Jeep as you install one side of the front attachment flap into the square channel opening on the front/top part of the windshield frame; then continue to slide it to the other side as the entire top is being carried over at the same pace.
Each side of the rear of the canvas top is wrapped around and attached to the bow with these high-quality twist fasteners already expertly installed into the top. Simply position them through the opening and then twist it either way.
With the top now centered at the front and then firmly pulled down on the back, the rear is secured with the six sewn-in nylon strap slide jaw buckles that connect to the footman loops as shown. And if you’re missing any of the footman loops, KWAS has those available as well.
After only a short drive, it was apparent that the KWAS Summer Top was exactly what we were looking for, with both stunning looks and craftsmanship. The canvas didn’t flap or create hardly any noise in the wind at speed, and the cover gave all the passengers a bit of shelter from the elements.