Shortie soft-top fixed


To fix the problem of the individual pop fasteners coming loose.  I found a piece of extruded aluminum 3/4″ x 1/8″, cut to length and bent at either end to follow the top windscreen contour. This involved heating the aluninum until it JUST started to bend and using large pliers, form the curve. Note that the curve is on the wide way (3/4″), so its quite tricky to get it right. Also if you heat the aluminum too much, is just breaks off.

With the bends on either end finished, I marked and the drilled the holes to mount the pop fasteners. Mounted the fasteners and verified the fit onto the top windscreen.

Then I removed all the screws and pop fasteners and started threading the aluminum extrusion into the seam of the soft-top. This was a very tight squeeze and took about 1/2 hour. Once in place, I found each of the mounting holes and screwed on the pop fastener and completed with a stainless steel acorn nut. With all those in place, I installed the shortie and went out for a test drive. Took it up to 70mph and the top stayed on – test passed.

A few maintenance activities

While Jeff & I were comparing cars on Sunday morning, I noticed some oil on the outside of the sump. So, on Tuesday evening I decided to take a look. Jacked up the front end and I noticed the LHS front stub axle bearing was loose – there was play in the wheel.

But first things first. The oil temp sender mounted in the drain plug was not fully tight – so I took care of that. Next the oil filter was a little too loose for hand tight- so I hand tightened it a little more. There’s maybe some oil slightly leaking around the oil filter mounting casting, but I’ll wait a while on that to see what the other two fixes have achieved.

Now the LHS front stub axle. Took the wheel off and noted that the lock nut was not fully tight even though there was a fitted cottar pin holding it from moving. Also noted that the inside stub bolt (where the front wing bracket bolts onto), was not tightened to the spec 81NM (60 ft lbs). So, I torqued that first. Then tightened the outer bearing-facing nut until the wheel just got too tight to freely rotate, then backed off to the closest cottar pin hole. Fitted the cottar pin and put the wheel back on. Looseness all gone.

I looked under the back and noted the rear A-frame mounting point looked like there was a small gap, checked the bolt and noted it was not tight, even though its supposed to be 81NM (60 ft lbs). Now when I built the car, I had inadvertantly not included 2 nylon washers on either side of the bushing on the rear A-frame mounting point. So, I found the nylon washers, took out the bolt, then re-assembled with the nylon washers and torqued it up.


A fun weekend despite setbacks

We had been invited to display our 7 at 2 events over the weekend: first at Roseville shopping mall; and second, the Sacramento Capitol Air Show at Mather field. Many thanks to the Hamlins for putting us up in Plymouth.

We drove to Roseville late on friday afternoon sporting the “shortie hood” (soft-top) that Dot made. We did OK for a short while, but the corner front press studs kept coming loose. Running repair was made using zip ties. Then about 3 miles short of Colfax, “Whack!”.  All the press studs broke free and the soft-top blew over our heads heading rapidly towards the rear of the car. Dot hung on to it until we got to Colfax, where we removed it and put it away in the boot (trunk) – that makes it sound too big – rear glove box is rather more like it.

We continued without a top, but on the driver side the turbulence around my head was rather more (I was using a front deflector).

Dot on the other hand had a regular 7 door/window on, which was OK until we hit slower traffic off the freeway. At that point she started cooking (it was ~90F).

So, lessons learned:

1. front deflectors work a little, but need the rear deflector or shortie soft-top to be more effective.

2. The front press studs on the front of the shortie soft-top need to be spaced closer so that the fabric has to stretch to get them to fit (thus removing the bulges that attract the wind).

3. Need to incorporate a stiff strengthener in the front ‘rail’ of the shortie soft-top, thus all the fasteners will act in unison with a combined higher force to get them free. This stiffener will follow the windscreen top contour, and not be too big as to become dangerous if it comes off in flight.

4. Sitting in the hot sun all day at Mather field really requires: an ice box; fine mist water spray; even more cold water to drink.


You can find a full set of air show photos at this url:

Pics include: Raptor; DC3; P38; P51; B25; T33; Harrier; Spitfire; Wing Walker and a few cars.

Deflectors part 3, shortie hood & new cycle wing

Front deflector with mirror

Front deflector with mirror

Over the last 2 weeks, I updated the 2 front deflectors and added large convex mirrors. On Tuesday, we took the 7 out for a drive to Markleeville to visit the Alpine County Superior Court to pay my speeding ticket. The deflectors allow driving up to 70mph without getting blown away, but it still requires a baseball cap to prevent the wind coming in from the back  and blowing my hair into my eyes.

RHS deflector & mirror

RHS deflector & mirror

But the best feature was the new mirror—I get a perfect rear view unblocked by roll bar, plastic windows or other impediments.

New LHS cycle wing

New LHS cycle wing


I finally fitted the replacement cycle wing on the LHS. (I had damaged the other one when I hit an ice patch last December and fell off the road.)



The Dragon Lidy as been at it again. This time sewing a shortie hood that hopefully will block sun & rain, but keep the open feeling.

Shortie hood

Shortie hood

The front fastens onto the existing poppers on the windscreen. For the rear, I installed some brass holes and tried bungee cords to hold the hood in place. This did not work too well as the hood was not tightly fitted and the wind turbulence at 60mph had the hood flapping rather wildly. The poppers at the 2 ends also came loose.


shortie hood fasteners

shortie hood fasteners

Plan B came into effect and Dot sewed some straps with adjustable fasteners. This looks like a better solution, with a much tighter fitting. Have not gone for a test drive yet though.