Custom Jeep Hardtop Lift

When I bought my Jeep, I immediately started shopping for a hoist system to help me lift the hardtop off. Two people can easily remove the top - however, I wanted a way to do it myself. Also, I didn’t want the hardtop taking up any floor space.

There are certainly hoist packages out there you can buy - one in particular was around $400 for an electric hoist and a cheap metal frame to provide 4 lifting points on the top. After some digging around online, I realized just an electric hoist can be purchased by itself for only around $150. So, I opted to just pick up the hoist and build a custom cable & pulley system in my garage.

I came across this post and thought it would work great for a Jeep hardtop. Many thanks to Alan at panofish.net for posting an awesome design.

Here is a quick video of the lift in action:

… and another video of just the hoist

The hoist and pulleys are mounted in the attic above the garage - the controller to the hoist hangs from the ceiling just at arms length…high enough so you don’t hit your head on it walking by.

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Since the hoist cabling runs horizontally (due to lack of overhead space in the attic), the ‘draw’ of the cables happens on this slide - which is just 1/4 flooring underlayment

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I built the entire structure up from the rafters using 2x8’s so the cables would recess into the ceiling - that way they are not dangling in the garage when not in use. Most pieces that would take any load use lag bolts (e.g. the pulleys, the hoist).

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To prevent the cables from wrecking the drywall on the ceiling, I used a 1 foot section of 3” PVC pipe and a bushing (or reducer to act as the trim piece in the garage. A 3 1/2 hole-saw worked great to cut the holes in the drywall and a pipe strap was used to fasten the PVC pipes vertically to the rafters.

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I did use a small piece of 1” electrical conduit through the drywall as well to run the wire to the hoist controller through.

Also, note the 1 foot heavy chain at the end of each cable - I needed a counter weight so the cables would come down when the hoist was lowered when the Jeep top was not hooked on it.

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Measurements

For anyone interested, here’s a rudimentary sketch of the design (overhead view). It took me a while to come up with where to place the 4 holes to line up with back window of the hard top and the sides. The picture tries to illustrate the ‘draw’ of the 4 lines to the pulleys and back to each individual drop point. Draw distance would depend on your ceiling height (mine is about 10 feet). Measurements shown are the distances from the hole centers - or, at least where I think they should be … mine are a tad off and I may move the back holes a couple of inches :-(

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Materials Used

Here’s a rough list anyway

Safety Warning

While not pictured above, I use 4 eyebolts in the ceiling with ratchet straps to help secure the top after its lifted off. A typical Jeep top only weighs around 130 pounds .. I can’t recommend a lift like this for any serious loads.