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Thread: Soft top string and fabric care - important

  1. #1

    Exclamation Soft top string and fabric care - important

    There is a problem with a safety string, and it's associated brass clip, on either side of the soft-top. It's purpose is to pull back the fabric, and keep it out of harms way as the top folds down.

    The flimsy clip can both 'let go' of the string, or just fall out itself, which in turn allows the scissor motion of the top mechanism to cut the roof fabric. You can easily check this with your roof in the half way position. It is very important you do so regularly, so as not to destroy the fabric of your top.

    This is a known design flaw, BMW have issued a recall for it, so get it fixed while you are under warranty. The kit will remain available as a $120 fix after your waranty period is up.

    The entire design of the soft top, even the frame under the canvas, changed during the run, and the Mk ll top was meant to have cured all the issues like the string breaks and the rear window fabric flap coming unglued.

    I don't have the exact VIN of the change, but it was around 61300. If you order a replacement now it will be one of these as BMW took all the Mk l's out of circulation back then because of their problems.

    Here is a useful link to the Z8 Club's fact file on the tops.
     
    Andrew Macpherson

    Expert Z8 Inspections, with full support for both Z8 sale and purchases.

  2. #2
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    I'm over here on this thread to learn more about the safety string as it may relate to my problem involving the boot cover not staying in place. (Please see my posts on that thread.) Here is what I have observed. Sometimes when the roof is raised a loop of string continues to protrude from the edge of the top approximately 2/3s to the rear of the side window. This is on the drivers side. Other times after raising the top the "loop" does not appear.

    Can someone help me understand what is going on? Further do you think this could be related to the boot cover problem as has been suggested? Say for instance, could there be some fabric bunching which is causing the top to stop short of full retraction.

    Thanks.

  3. #3

    Could you take a couple of pictures of it....

    as it sounds as if you have the problem caused by the older strings 'letting go'. You should never be able to see the string with the roof up, so the fact that you can when it 'loops' is what worries me, but it is hard to know exactly without seeing it.

    This could possibly be the cause of the fabric not sitting down enough, and 'popping' the boot cover off, but again hard to say without seeing it.
    Andrew Macpherson

    Expert Z8 Inspections, with full support for both Z8 sale and purchases.

  4. #4
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    It remains to be seen whether we have solved the boot cover problem, but I certainly have the "soft top string" problem.

    Attached is an image of the right side of the roof partially retracted. Clearly the string has come free from whatever it was moored to at it back point of attachment. (The front of the string remains sewed or woven into the roof.) The left side presents the same condition. Apparently, since it is completely loose it was occassionally throwing the protruding "loop" to which I referred.

    The car has a few more weeks of warranty, but my dealer is unable to locate the Service Information Bulletin. He does have Bulletin #540399 which deals with the same problem in the Z3 roadsters. Can anyone help with the E52 Bulletin number?

    Thanks for your help. This is VIN#60767
     

  5. #5

    I couldn't find as TSB# for that....

    I would suggest calling BMW NA Customer Relations, and asking for the Z8 dept. There should be someone who can help there;
    1 800 831 1117
    Andrew Macpherson

    Expert Z8 Inspections, with full support for both Z8 sale and purchases.

  6. #6
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    Interesting. I don't want to make too much of this, but Customer Relations says that there was never a recall for the soft top string and that if my dealer can't find a Service Information Bulletin number then there isn't one.

    They were entirely sympathetic with the problem and will do whatever they can to help, ie., they want to participate in the fix but claim no knowledge of the problem.

  7. #7

    More Soft Top wearing problems.....

    Jonny's car is going back in to have the 3rd top replaced since owning the car. It has 16k miles and the current top was replaced about 3500 miles ago. Since replacing it he has been very conscious about using the boot, but still the issue persists.

    These are the latest pictures of the problem:
     
    Andrew Macpherson

    Expert Z8 Inspections, with full support for both Z8 sale and purchases.

  8. #8

    I had a really good long look at it today.....

    and the only way I can see the canvas top fouling the mechanism or the bolt tops is for the string to have broken. With the string correctly tensioned the top can't get near anything that could harm it, so I think the moral here is every time you clean the car, check your strings.
    Andrew Macpherson

    Expert Z8 Inspections, with full support for both Z8 sale and purchases.

  9. #9
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    Thumbs up Soft Top Strings and Boot Problems

    I noticed I never followed up on this and some of you-like me-have had trouble with the back edge of the boot popping up, especially at speed.

    Previously my dealer replaced the boot under warranty but the problem continued. After studying this thread I also had him remedy the string problems-also under warranty.

    The boot now stays in place.
    Herb Summerfield

  10. #10

    Thumbs up Repair Kit Informatiom

    I had my top replaced under warranty last week due to a hole caused by the string breaking at some point before I had the car. My service technician (Jeff Stiehm) at European Motorcars in Des Moines was great and showed true interest in the problem and related issues. He did some reasearch on the above mentioned repair kit after I showed him this thread and when I went to pick up the car he gave me the information to share here.

    Tension Rope Repair Kit
    2-8
    part # 54-34-7-036-354
    $73.20

    He also had printed the instructions for replacing the convertible top fabric for me. If anybody is interested in getting a copy, I will be more than happy to fax them.

    My top is working great and as an added bonus, the boot is much easier to put on.

    Happy motoring !

    Skip Hammerman

    2002 BMW Z8 - Meisterschaft GT, PP installed, CDV delete
    2013 BMW X3
    2015 Porsche 911 Targa 4S

  11. #11
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    would love a copy!

    Hey Skip, I would love a copy of whatever you have. I've had my top replaced 3 times now. Thanks Jonny
    Jonny

  12. #12
    Andrew -

    You should have received my fax. If not, please let me know. Also, my just installed new rearwindow came unglued on the top. Trip to European Motorcars Monday morning...
    Skip Hammerman

    2002 BMW Z8 - Meisterschaft GT, PP installed, CDV delete
    2013 BMW X3
    2015 Porsche 911 Targa 4S

  13. #13

    No fax as yet.....323 656 5066

    That sodttop glue is a real pain, it is always coming unglued!
    I know that many have had the issue, but I don't think anyone has found a permanent fix as yet.
    Andrew Macpherson

    Expert Z8 Inspections, with full support for both Z8 sale and purchases.

  14. #14
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    Fax instructions

    Can you fax me a copy, mine jusy broke and I will be replacing it.
    Thanks
    Giorgio

    fax 281-596-9822



    Quote Originally Posted by Musta10000
    I had my top replaced under warranty last week due to a hole caused by the string breaking at some point before I had the car. My service technician (Jeff Stiehm) at European Motorcars in Des Moines was great and showed true interest in the problem and related issues. He did some reasearch on the above mentioned repair kit after I showed him this thread and when I went to pick up the car he gave me the information to share here.

    Tension Rope Repair Kit
    2-8
    part # 54-34-7-036-354
    $73.20

    He also had printed the instructions for replacing the convertible top fabric for me. If anybody is interested in getting a copy, I will be more than happy to fax them.

    My top is working great and as an added bonus, the boot is much easier to put on.

    Happy motoring !


  15. #15
    Administrator thegunguy's Avatar
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    Smile A self repair process

    A few weeks ago I noticed that the driver?s side string had broken loose. Under further investigation, I discovered that I was lucky in that the string itself did not did not fail, but rather the original ferrule that secured the loop in the end of the string that attaches to the bottom front of the top had broken apart. This seems to be the most common failure point, and the OE ferrule is definitely not as robust as it should be. So, rather than use the BMW repair kit, I picked up some heavier duty ferrules at a local hardware store and repaired the sting myself in about 15 minutes. They should have the ferrules in the rope and chain section, and a pack of two will run you about two dollars or less.

    Tools:
    Torque driver with T20 head
    Crimp tool
    Jewelers? screwdriver
    Small needle-nose pliers

    Parts:
    1/16? ferrules (1/8? may also work)

    Repair procedure:
    1. Open the top about half way so that you can access the inside of the top and you have some slack on the string.
    2. Rethread the string through the guides (compare to other side for order and orientation).
    3. Use the T20 to remove the anchor screw where the original loop attached (again reference good side of car for location)
    4. Use the T20 to remove the next guide after loop nut that you just removed. This will give you a little more slack to work, but make sure that the guide stays threaded on the string.
    5. Thread the end of the string through the new ferrule and then back through to create a loop. You may need the jewelers? screwdriver and needle-nose pliers to help thread the loop back through the ferrule.
    6. Create a big enough loop to fit the anchor nut. Depending on how far the top is retracted, adjust the loop so the overall string length is equal to the opposite side of the car. There may be some wear at the previous apex of the loop to help you adjust the length.
    7. Once the length is correct, crimp the ferrule to set the loop.
    8. Place the end of the loop over the anchor screw and reattach it to the frame. Be sure that the string can pivot freely and does not get caught in the threads of the bolt (compare to other side).
    9. Place the screw back on the guide that was removed in step four, stretch the string into place, and tighten the screw.

    Your repair may vary depending on the condition of your string, but this should give you a general idea of the process.

    The pics show the finished repair loose and stretched.

    Anyway, I hope this will save you some time and money over going to BMW for the repair with the same sub-standard part. It should also last longer.
     
    thegunguy

  16. #16
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    Unhappy Convertible top String Problem

    Quote Originally Posted by Musta10000
    I had my top replaced under warranty last week due to a hole caused by the string breaking at some point before I had the car. My service technician (Jeff Stiehm) at European Motorcars in Des Moines was great and showed true interest in the problem and related issues. He did some reasearch on the above mentioned repair kit after I showed him this thread and when I went to pick up the car he gave me the information to share here.

    Tension Rope Repair Kit
    2-8
    part # 54-34-7-036-354
    $73.20

    He also had printed the instructions for replacing the convertible top fabric for me. If anybody is interested in getting a copy, I will be more than happy to fax them.

    My top is working great and as an added bonus, the boot is much easier to put on.

    Happy motoring !

    I own a 2001 Z8 that only has 4000 miles on it but is out of warranty. The strings that are pictured in previous posts are broken on both sides of my car. After reading the post on the Tension Rope Repair Kit I ordered it. Unfortunately this kit is not a repair kit for the famous broken strings. They are small cable wires that replace cable wire that are deeper within the convertible top.

    Other than having the convertible top replaced after holes eventually wear through what can I do to repair the strings? Are the newer convertible tops different enough to resolve the string issue? I hate to think the convertible tops are wear items...

    Any advise?

  17. #17

    I think that the best thing to do is call.....

    Ken Green at the Z8 Customer Service Dept at BMW NA - 201 263 8227
    I would explain the problem, as ask him if he has can arrange for you to get the string repair kit. I am surprised that it can't be found in the spare parts catalog, because I know it used to exist as a kit, I've had three of them over the years. I hope they are still around, as they are something that we'll need in the future, just like brake pads and clutches.
    Andrew Macpherson

    Expert Z8 Inspections, with full support for both Z8 sale and purchases.

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    String Repair

    I have a vmail into Ken Green.

    Also, my local dealerships part manager has another part for me on order. On the parts screen the only description was "repair kit" and was about $30 bucks. It did not detail what this kit was for but we decided order it to see what it is. I am keeping my fingers crossed.

    I will post what I find out.

  19. #19
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    Convertible Top String Part

    After going through three different parts my parts advisor finally located the right fix kit for the convertible top strings. The correct part # is 54-34-7-072-808 description "Creaser" and it costs $84.90.

    The Creaser Kit includes the following:

    1. 2pc - 20" Strings
    2. 4pc - washers
    3. 4pc - wire loops
    4. 4pc - crimps
    5. 2pc - beveled washers
    6. 6pc - screws

    I plan to install the kit myself. Because both my strings are broken I do not know how tight they are suppose to be. Can anyone let me know what the proper length of the installed string is to be Anchor Point to Anchor Point?

    Ken Johnson at Sterling BMW in Newport Beach was a big help in locating the repair kit for me.
     

  20. #20

    I emailed our technical expert about this....

    and this is his response...
    There are two different kinds of string in the softtop. The one in the post above and the repair kid with the number 54 34 7 036 354. Normally this is the repair kit we need, but I do not know whitch one he wants to change. There is a special tool necessary for the change.
    I'd say to look closely at the anchor points, and be sure that this is the exact same string set that you need, and also to see how much overlap you need at the anchor points. My car is in deep storage now, otherwise I'd go and take some shots of it to help illustrate how it should look.
    Andrew Macpherson

    Expert Z8 Inspections, with full support for both Z8 sale and purchases.

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    Thanks Gunguy--fix worked great

    Upon inspecting my strings, I found BOTH sides to be hanging loose, due to failure of the ferrule clamp as described in gunguy's post. As he noted, my case points also to this being the most common failure point, and since the string itself is not broken, the fix is easy using his directions.

    I used two 1/16" aluminum ferrules found at Home Depot, a screwdriver with a T20 head (look at the bolts, you will see what T20 means), and a 1/32" teeny tiny jeweler's type screwdriver, and some needle nose pliers. Use the tiny screwdriver to shove the string thru the ferrule--it looks like a tight fit but goes thru just fine with a little prodding, a very thin nail or stiff wire might work also to shove the string through, then pull it out with the pliers when it pokes thru the end of the ferrule. I could see where the string was slightly worn where it went around the final bolt in order to determine where the ferrule clamp should go--I had no guide since both sides were broken. As it turns out, if you leave about 1/2" of excess string coming out of the ferrule you will be right on (just as shown in gunguy's pictures), as long as your strings are intact and not broken off short.

    The only clarifying point I would make regarding gunguys's pictures is this: in the last picture, where the string is loose looking from the inside of the car out, the job is not yet finished (whereas the top picture is of the finished job looking from the outside of the car in). As detailed in his directions, from the point of the last picture, you will need to screw in the bolt with the looped end (ferrule) of the string on it, and then screw in the next bolt behind it which secures the silver looped guide which the string slides thru. The pictures do not actually show the last bolt which secures the end of the string (with the ferrule clamp on it). If you have only one side broken, it is very easy to figure out how it goes by looking at the good side.

    Although it may sound complicated, it is actually very easy and a great self fix. With the tools mentioned, it took me about 10 minutes on the first side and 5 minutes on the second (learning curve). The top works great and the strings are working like they should. CHECK YOUR STRINGS IS ALL I CAN SAY---I AM LUCKY MY TOP WAS NOT DAMAGED--I SHOULD HAVE CHECKED THEM A LONG TIME AGO.

  22. #22
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    Soft Top String Repair

    I had a chance to work on the string problem this past weekend. I believe the part# 54-34-7-072-808 I previously posted to be the correct kit.

    What I found on my car was that the last anchor wire rings and ferrules had pulled out. I used the original strings and the anchor wire rings and ferrulles from the repair kit to recreate the proper set up. All went well so I thought until I began to cycle the convertible top open and closed. The wire ring anchor on the passengers side kept popping out. Unfortunately the anchor rings that came with the kit (identical to factory originals) are just open ended wire loops that spread apart and pop off when there is too much tension on them. I check the tension on the string and it seemed tight but not overly so. I finally got it to hold by rebending it and praying. At this point I do not feel very confident the anchor will hold and I believe I will have to figure out something else as an anchor at a later time.

    Things to note: I took the advice of previous posts and left about a 1/4" of excess string through the ferrule. This seems to be the about the proper length because it keeps the soft top away from anything that would cut or wear a hole in it. Also, the repair kit comes with many parts that most people will probably not need. In my case the original strings were not cut so I did not have to extend them by using the strings that came with the kit. I did however use the anchor wire rings and ferrules. Knowing what I know now there is nothing in the kit that could not be recreated at a lower cost and at a higher quality materials from materials you could find at a local hardware store.

  23. #23
    Sport Button On - DSC Off mollyshark's Avatar
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    I don't have any sign of string ANYWHERE. Well damn.
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    Red/Crema Tan top (both of us)

  24. #24
    Administrator thegunguy's Avatar
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    Talking We know Molly!

    You've made it very clear in the past that you don't like tan lines.
    thegunguy

  25. #25
    Sport Button On - DSC Off mollyshark's Avatar
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    Shhh...you give away all my secrets.
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  26. #26
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    1. 2pc - 20" Strings
    2. 4pc - washers
    3. 4pc - wire loops
    4. 4pc - crimps
    5. 2pc - beveled washers
    6. 6pc - screws

    Isn't that wonderful- $84.90 for about $1.50 worth of hardware, and inferior hardware at that.

    Had mine fixed once under warranty- will have to re-check the strings once I take it out of storage.

  27. #27
    Sport Button On - DSC Off mollyshark's Avatar
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    I wonder if they will take care of MISSING strings under warranty. Guess I'll call.

    Hey, here's some roll your eyes news. Remember the new Mini I bought my son? Last week he got the wild hair to teach his girlfriend (not yet with license) to drive a stick. All was well until she decided to downshift coming down a hill...and slammed it into reverse. Can we say 5K of transmission repair NOT covered by the warranty? They figured it was slammed into reverse without anyone saying a word. Guess it is a pretty obvious thing. Things are a tad tense around here!
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    String repair and damage to top

    I recently acquired a 2001 Z8 and noted the top deformation on each side of and followed the posted threads for repair. Indeed the ferrule end had failed. I confirmed the the string had not failed, its length was 20" and the string end had not unraveled. 20 cents in parts and a half hour of labor solved the problem. The top now has no deformation when up, but there is still some minor abrading on the surface. I'm concerned (no longer under warranty) with damage on the inside layer of the canvas just behind where the string attaches, as that layer has been worn thru for about 1.5" parallel to the string. Does the string repair stop the wear? In any event, I will continue to monitor the top.

    SProZ8

  29. #29
    That is a tough question, as if the fabric has already been worn thru I'm not sure that simply replacing the string will stop it getting worse, but it will certainly stop it getting worse more slowly than leaving it as is.
    Andrew Macpherson

    Expert Z8 Inspections, with full support for both Z8 sale and purchases.

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    Hi,
    i just noticed that my passengerside string is broken! However i didn't notice the broken string but rather the little hole in the roof
    I didn't know about this issue until i read this thread. It seems that the original string is still firm in place at the sewed end (red circle on picture 2), but the ferrule is gone. I think i could easily replace the ferrule (like thegunguy wrote). So i guess i don't need the fix yet. however i got that little hole. since i'm out of warranty i thought i'd just get that fixed by a saddler until i get a new top anyway. any concerns here?
    Thanks
    regards Klaus

    sorry for the bad picture quality but i just took these last night without much light
         

  31. #31
    Administrator thegunguy's Avatar
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    Kuyu,

    Before you take it anywhere else, take it by your BMW service center. As this is a well documented issue with the Z8 (I believe the Z3 too perhaps), I would not be surprised if you could get BMW to repair the hole, even out of warranty. As I, and many have experienced, BMW seems to treat the Z8 differently when it comes to out of warranty service. Personally, I have had a few things repaired at no cost out of warranty.

    Anyway, there are no guarantees, but it's worth a try to see what BMW or your dealer may do for you.
    thegunguy

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    I've been to the BMW dealer yesterday. I probably won't get anything repaired on warranty, but they will ask BMW about it... however i got the hole fixed at a saddler. He just attached a matching patch beneath. Looks quite good actually, of course you can see the cut if you look closely, but ok for now (and waterproof). I also fixed the broken string myself. however this is just an interim solution (doesn't look that professional, but works). Once i find the right crimps it will be just fine!

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    I'm curious how the patch came out as I have a very small hole. Did your saddler stich a new piece in place behind the hole or glue a piece in place? Do the stitches show through, if used?

    In regards to Gunguys comments on out of warranty issues, I think it depends on your relationship with the dealership. If you bought your Z8 there, they're much more likely to comp some out of warranty service.

  34. #34
    Administrator thegunguy's Avatar
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    Certainly the dealer is the first line of defense/generosity, but if the dealer doesn?t assist with ?known? issues, contact BMW directly. They are generally more interested in the reputation of the Z8 and the value of the owners. This has served me well.
    thegunguy

  35. #35
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    I am so glad that I came across this posted thread. My car soft top started show light wear marks in the fabric and I did not know what to make of it. After reading this thread, I found the strings on both sides to be hanging loose. I will work on the ferrule clamp.

    I thought the boot cover is only for looks, but does it prevent the popping and does it also help reduce the wear on soft top? Thank you all so much for your instructions.

    Robert

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    ok, here are the pics. on the first one you can see the fixed hole. course you can still see it, but it just looks like a rough part. the second one is the patch beneath the hole that's been attached. it is glued, so it's waterproof and you don't see any stiches on the outside. ok it doesn't look that great, but it's inside and invisable and doesn't interfere with any mechanics, so....
    on the last one you can see the fixed string, however i just made this until i find the ferrules I need.
    regards Klaus
         

  37. #37
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    New Soft Top

    I have seen numerous posts and references to replacing the soft top on the Z8. It seems that many members have replaced their soft tops at one time or another so I would appreciate guidance based on their experience.
    I recently acquired my Z8 and am slowly but surely getting it back to top shape. My Z8?s soft top unfortunately fell victim to the well documented safety string problem well before I took ownership. There are holes in both sides of the soft top in the expected locations. I want to replace the soft top at the BMW dealership
    Has anyone done this recently? Can you give me some idea of expected parts cost and labor cost? Any precautions I should highlight to the technician before he starts the work? Any other advice?

    Thanks in advance for your help[/FONT]
    Simon

    60255 Silver/Black
    2008 E60 M5

  38. #38
    I would suggest taking it to Peter Pan BMW in the Bay area (Dana Caldwell - 650-294-2123) before anywhere else depending on which part of CA you are in. The frame of the soft top is made of magnesium and is very, very fragile, but worse, if you scratch the paint it will oxidize and break very quickly, so it is very important that this job is done by someone familiar with our cars.
    Andrew Macpherson

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  39. #39
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    Thanks a lot - I will call Dana next week. Current quote that I have is very steep. Anyone know how much labor is reasonble?
    Simon

    60255 Silver/Black
    2008 E60 M5

  40. #40
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    I went ahead and had the work done at Peter Pan. Dana was extremely knowledgeable and helpful as was the entire staff I dealt with. I took advantage of being there and also got the PP installed + a couple of other things attended to. Now car is getting very close to looking brand new again! I have enclosed a few photos for those who may be interested. I cannot say enough good things about Peter Pan BMW and would recommend them to anyone. Thanks Andrew for the advice.
             
    Simon

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  41. #41
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    String replacement

    Bought and replaced my own top springs recently. Kit is complete for two sides. The photo's and info here helped a great deal, whereas BMW does not provide any instructions with the kit. This assumes your old string is still long enough to grab and attach the new string to. If your old string is torn from its' top mounting points, then you will most likely need a professional shop to do the work.
    Not really a problem, if you follow the guides above. You need a large/high leverage set of crimping pliers to crimp the string connection ferral.

    I also glued in a few small doubler patches on the inside of the roof to help prevent undue future wear during top operation.

    To those posting above, thanks. This forum and members are a great resource.
    StuM
    2013 M3 Lime Rock Edition coupe (sold)
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  42. #42
    Z8 Millennial Monster hayvenhurstkid's Avatar
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    The strings on my 2001 were just loose since the factory ferrals were not of the best quality and had disintegrated. I had my interior guy get special heavy duty ones that are used on fishing line. These new ones, I think, will never let the strings get loose again.
    Marty

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    2011 Porsche 911 turbo S coupe

  43. #43
    Maybe I should get him to check mine too, where is he?
    Andrew Macpherson

    Expert Z8 Inspections, with full support for both Z8 sale and purchases.

  44. #44
    Z8 Millennial Monster hayvenhurstkid's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Posts
    1,113
    Dale at Thomas Top and Upholstery in Hollywood. He fixed the window on your top.
    Marty

    2001 Z8
    2014 Range Rover sport Autobiography
    2013 Ford Raptor
    2011 Porsche 911 turbo S coupe

  45. #45
    Awesome, I'll give him a call, thanks!!
    Andrew Macpherson

    Expert Z8 Inspections, with full support for both Z8 sale and purchases.