Installing An Original Canvas Top

No Willys restoration can be complete without an original canvas top.  Most of these original tops have long since rotted away and thankfully there are a handful of manufacturers that are recreating these tops.  The first thing you need to find is all the rods, bows, and door hardware, but original sets are rare.  Beachwood Canvas can supply you with everything you need for the original top, but be prepared to spend about $900 for the the rods, bows, and doors alone, then throw on another $1400 for a complete 7 piece top.  I opted for a reproduction 2A bow set from Walcks for $250, and door frames from Beachwood for $350.  The 2A bow set will require some modification as you will see below.  My top was made by New Life Resources and cost $750 delivered.  Total cost for my top setup was $1350.

The bow set from Walcks included the front and rear bows, the front spreader, and the door opening rods.

Overall the kit is okay for the price.  It's cheap Philippine steel, but still looks good and is well made.

The front spreader fits just like the original

The bow bends are correct

The overhead bows are correctly notched to fit into a pin (see right) to prevent them from twisting

This pin inside the side bows accepts a notch to prevent the frame from twisting

This bracket on the bow just behind the seat will need to be removed and a new tab welded at the black line above it.

The 2A's top had the door handles on the vertical door jam and not the door.  This needs to be cut off.

The brackets that attach the horizontal door rod to the 2A windshield frame are cut off...

Rods are fabricated to extend them...

And they are welded on.

My 3A was missing the windshield brackets that the horizontal door rods attach to.  I fabricated some new ones out of some plate steel.  To put a bend in them to fit the curve of the windshield, I place it in a jig in a vice...

An this gives me the correct bend.

Here's the mock up before everything gets painted.  You can see the extended door rods that got threaded, and the fabricated bracket.

The door frames were from Beachwood and are well made.

Here's one door without the latch, and one with.  The doors will be covered in canvas, then the door latches are installed.

The door frames are sent off to New Life Resources to get covered in canvas.  Make sure you paint the bare metal frames before sending them in.

The striker and door latch are installed after the canvas.  Everything is coated in several coats of black Rustoleum.

The front half of the 7 piece top slides in through the channel on the front of the windshield. 

Once over the framework, the vertical door rods are installed.

The top wraps around the horizontal door rods and is secured.


In the days before turn signals, drivers would unzip this opening to stick out their arm for hand signals!


The doors slide in the channels.

The top is secured by footman loops mounted on the wheelwells.  To complete the halfcab, the rear window section mounts in the opening.


The rear top section zips to the front....


...and wraps around the rear hoop and gets secured.


The rear window section


The rear window section attaches to the back roof section and is secured at the bottom using the footman loops

The side window sections zip in and are folded around the back and secured

The rear roof section is held down with four of these straps

The top fits a little loose, but will tighten up over time.