by Ken Harper
OK, folks, now to answer my own question -- yes, I can say I have indeed replaced tension cables.
Although this is pretty much a footnote in terms of most owner's experience, it is a pretty major footnote if it actually applies to you.
In my case, I knew that I was getting water leaks from the area about the driver's window, and no reason to think it was due to seals, but rather related to the fact that I also had a problem with the driver's tension cable failing to align properly during top fold-unfold operations.
So, I placed an order with a forum sponsor for new tension cables and started thinking about my plan (i.e., how to replace tension cables on an installed top w/o seriouly messing with the top itself).
First, a few recommendations. It is very hard to get to the phillips screw at the anchor point of the cables near the seatbelt tower. I went to several hardware stores looking for the lowest-profile offset screwdriver I could find. See below for how I kludged a solution.
Else, no special tools are needed, unless a pop rivet gun is a "special tool." It was for me, since I'd never used one before, but that's it.
Terminology: cable defined to have a "flag" end and a "spring" end. Pretty obvious when you see the cable uninstalled.
Identify that the cables are attached at the header bow with a rivet and near the seatbelt tower with a blind phillips screw. Will need to undo the header retaining plate's screws, a bit of the weatherstripping, and the header plate itself to peel back the top's corners and thus expose the rivet. No way, or real need, to better expose the blind phillips screw.
Find a way to secure the top in a semi-open position (not only best, but mandatory if you have a glass rear window and place tools on the parcel shelf -- if, during this operation, the rear glass slips and falls onto a tool carelessly left on the shelf, you're probably going to crack the window). Such as:
Next, drill out the pop rivet. I used (I think) a 9/32 bit and that was fine. Not rocket science, but don't drill it out larger than necessary.
Then, work the phillips screw. It will take a lot of 1/5 turns to get it out, but that's all you'll have the room to do. I decided to customize an offset to get it done with minimal fuss [dremel tool used to cut a normal offset]:
Now, get some fairly strong but narrow string to attach to the cables you're removing. I used 50lb. test braided fishing line. Good luck to you if you use something puny and the string breaks. No ideas whatsoever on how to do this in such event.
You will be better served if you remove the spring from the new cable, and much better off if you pull the old cable out from flag to spring, and then replace with the new one starting spring first. This is because the flag is too wide to easily pass through the channel in the top. Also, I'd suggest you wrap a little 'lectricians tape around the end to make it easier to pull through.
A little back and forth of the top may be needed to help the string pull the new cable into position. But as long as the string is attached you won't have any trouble finding the right route.
Then, I'd suggest replacing the phillips screw with a hex head bolt. Much better lateral access.
Next, pop rivet the flag end into place.
In my case, I also decided to straighten the bracket into which the flag end mounts, because I was having a cable alignment problem. First, old status:
Then, twisting the bracket to better "square up" with the flag (and, BTW, you want the flag aligned as illustrated in the final image, rather than pointing down):
New cable installed with rivet and "squared up" mounting bracket:
Now, replace the part of the top you peeled back, re-install the retaining bolts, and you're done.
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12 February, 2008