I'm helping get a '97 Jeep TJ with a third party sailcloth soft top out of retirement. This was a top quality lid in its day but it is showing signs of fatigue and brittleness due to its inactivity and sun/weather exposure for a few years. The only visible damage is some tearing at the rear tailgate hooks (a known stress point) and even that is not through all of the layers.

I waxed the (plastic) zippers with beeswax and they are working fine. The 'pieces' that make up the full top were under stress (taut) when I started to unzip them.

I was thinking of applying sheep's lanolin much as one would weatherproof a pair of boots in the hope of restoring something resembling its original suppleness and strength. Is this going to produce restorative properties or just make a slippery mess of disintegrating fabric? It isn't at the 'fall apart' stage yet and I don't want to make it worse. I'm aware that the smell may be strong for a break-in period.

As you may have inferred, I prefer natural products but I am open to commercial alternatives with a proven record.

  • I've had several soft tops over the years, and I don't really know how to restore the fabric, but call a marina, boat shop or maybe an RV shop, they might have some products that will do the trick. Also, consider sewing over those small tears with upholstery thread to keep them from tearing any further. – Paul Dufresne Apr 16 '16 at 3:51

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