The 2015 Jeep Rubicon has the nice painted Freedom hard top, which is one of the main things I like about this Jeep, aesthetically. Having said that, the hard top is no where near as versatile as the soft tops. If you want to remove it, you better have at least two capable people of lifting around ~50 or so pounds over their heads to be able to get it off cleanly. This is relatively easy, if you have multiple people to help; however, what happens when you don’t and want to enjoy your Jeep without a top? In comes the hoist system.
Luckily, for me, I already had the main component to this system installed and ready to go, the winch.. When I had my bass boat, due to extreme clearance issues on either side of the garage door, I chose to install a wireless ATV winch in the rear of our garage, bolted & secured into the concrete floor to give it a solid anchor point to be able to pull the boat into the garage slowly. This allowed me to stay at the bow, and swing the tongue sharp right or left to steer the boat safely into the garage.. Imagine trying to back a boat into a garage with 1-2″ of clearance on either side…..then imagine doing it with a manual transmission… 🙂 The winch was a perfect solution!
The second main component to the hoist system was the method of connecting the top to the winch cable. My first attempt at this was “okay..” It worked, lifted the top safely, and served its purpose; however, I was displeased with the finished product. #1, the frame that I used was connected to the winch cable with a series of 4 smaller cables (connected to each corner). Even though I installed tensioners to keep these cables very tight to reduce sag, this still cost me quite a bit of clearance at the top, causing the top to rest much closer to the garage floor. In addition, the other piece I didn’t like was the fact I used straps front to back to support the top. The majority of the weight of this top is in the rear, so if you can imagine, two 3″ straps going through the back window towards the front, this put all the weight directly on the weatherstripping.. I felt like, over time, this would cause two permanent depressions in the weatherstripping leading to leaks in the rear window. Obviously something I wanted to correct ASAP.
In comes version 2.0! After doing some further research, I found quite a few different ways others created their own hoist system; however, I landed on the T with 3 hooks. For me, building a steel T frame with 3 hooks (2 on either side at the front, and 1 centered in the rear) was the best approach for a few reasons. #1, this would have zero sag since it is steel, there is no room for give. #2, the hooks that I used (common square U-Bolt with 1 side cutoff) allowed for the weight of the top to be placed on rubber feet and off the weatherstripping (in the rear). #3 NO STRAPS 🙂 This approach allowed me to regain nearly 2 feet of clearance due to no sagging issues. You can tell from the pictures the difference in resting height of the top fully retracted. This gives much more clearance in the garage while the top is off (no more ducking super low), and I feel is much more secure and safe than the strap approach with a frame constructed with cables, clamps, tensions, etc.. Version 1.0 just created way more room for error and failures, potentially leading to the top crashing down.. Now, with version 2.0, I have a winch cable, connected to an eye bolt, which is connected securely to a steel T frame, connected to the top with steel hooks that can’t move, etc.. Much less potential for failure and certainly more stable.