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Has anyone ever removed all of the hydraulics from the car and just use the top manually? I am curious how much easier it would be to open and close it without the cylinders...
 

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I haven't read about it here yet but from my understanding even if you do this the locks/latches will wear prematurely from doing it manually. I'm almost certain it was Klaus at TopHydraulics who mentioned it and I will listen to him regarding anything top related any day of the week.
 

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there are 2 kinds of owners: those who have repaired their soft top cylinders and those that will have to in the future...

soft top hydraulics issues are the number 1 post on this forum? certainly top 5. if not the cylinder replacement, the controller.

Are the R107 locks mechanisms that different ? ...I can see the potential damage if you don't engage the tool fully you can round the fittings over time...

while there are many features of the R129 I appreciate over the R107, this is not one of them. The automatic top is a nice feature on a new car but with an aging car, would simplicity be easier to live with?
 

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Having a 107 and a 129, The monkey motion on a 129 to dig around and all the various latches that are not easily accessible is a bitch. The 107 has locks and cranks and latches all easily accessed. I've never been a big fan of the windshield header latches, but they work. The magic of the top is one of the things I enjoy on my 600. Once Klaus has worked his magic on the cylinders and if you can keep the jackass's away from your car with jumper cables, you should be golden. Your point about it's complexity is well taken. But therein lies the beauty ! These cars are not for the faint of heart !:eek:
 

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I can appreciate some folks just not being able to spend a few Dollars on doing what is best for the car in the long run, but it's a shame. A working top is adding a huge amount of convenience and value to the car. If the hydraulics don't work, then you will never be able to retract the roll bar after its first emergency deployment. If my '97 didn't have a working top and I had no way of fixing it or affording to have it fixed, then I would probably not hang on to the car. That's theoretical, of course.

If you cannot afford to make the top work, then you probably have a hard time affording the gas and vital maintenance for the car.

If no parts have been stripped from your top hydraulics, the controller hasn't been fried, and nobody has tried to take the cylinders apart in some uncoordinated effort, then it is not all that expensive to get the top working again. Just over $500 plus your labor if you have to go all out and have all cylinders upgraded. Vipergts, if you are willing and able to take out all the cylinders, then you are already half way to getting the top working again. I always do my best to support customers in getting their top working again, in case they have electrical issues after the hydraulics are fixed.

Having said all of that, the answer to your question is that the top will be easier to move manually with the cylinders removed. Unfortunately, I haven't seen a case yet where this wasn't a one-way street. The latches are not made for continuous manual operation. On models '95+, Mercedes even made it so that uninformed owners cannot lock and unlock the rear manually. If the latches don't give the signal that they are closed all the way, then you will have the warning chime going off, or you possibly won't be able to move your windows any more. Of course, there is always some clever way to defeat the electronics, but usually one thing leads to another, and you will never stop band-aiding your cheap "fix"...

Klaus

Top Hydraulics | Rebuilt and Upgraded Convertible Top Cylinders, Pumps, Hydraulic Lines - Top Hydraulics, Inc
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks, I do plan on sending the cylinders to you Klaus in the next month or so...I figure even if it costs a grand its worth it...If the top does not function properly it will take an easy grand off of resale down the road...It was a theoretical question only!!!
 

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I have to say this is something that has crossed my mind on more than one occasion

I did a quick search to see if there were manual conversion kits out there for other convertibles, but it didn't really appear to be the case

I have often come across 129 SL's for sale quite cheap with inop top's. I agree with Klaus's opinion above but if for example taking on a fairly cheap SL, being able to eradicate top issues with a simple "kit" could be quite appealing. There would no doubt still be plenty things needing money spent along with time and attention.

Having had a somewhat intermittent soft top operation issue with my 1991 (eventually traced to the signal to the control unit from an ABS sensor) I have seen the appeal of wiping out soft top worries in one swoop
 

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The R129 was the first SL with an automatic top. And because of the rollbar they made the hardtop out of aluminum - not designed as an integral rollover protection (hence the "pagoda" roof on the 113 and the 107).

My family had a beautiful 1969 280SL for 15 years and believe me taking the hardtop off and raising the soft top was a major undertaking. That hard top easily had to weigh over 100 lbs - take the levers out of the glove box, insert them in the roof above the visors and turn to unlock them

Release the levers on the back of the hard top.

Then remove the hard top and if you hadn't gotten a hernia pull the lever in the rear shelve to pop up the rear deck lid.

Pull the soft top up - and it will probably have shrunk so you really have to push that into the locks over the visors...Really push that thing into the locks above the visors.

Until the R129 raising/lowering the top was not a particularly pleasant experience.

Not as bad though as, say, an MGB or TR3 where the experience has been compared to raising a tent ;-)
 

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I chime in 78 months later to give a different perspective. Automatic Soft tops have been around since the 1950's and make sense on a Cadillac or other huge tops but, on a two-seat roadster its needless complexity. It makes as much sense as a power inside rear-view mirror.
A well-engineered manual soft top like a C3 Corvette or even a 1st gen Miata are brilliant in their simplicity and are raised or lowered in seconds. I wish there was a way to adapt the Corvette hardware onto an R129 and save the hydraulics for the roll-bar.


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I have replaced every single wear item on my car and got completely carried away. But the top is something I have not gotten to.
I know the hard top had not been off the car since 2016 then I had to remove it for a new windshield. The drivers front lock cylinder broke up and started leaking. I replaced the seals in those with the German red ones you can buy online to replace the green ones that were in it.
Having driven the car without the top, I might actually get the rest of the cylinders taken care of next season. I thought about just driving it as a roadster but it would be nice to be able to put the top up and down if needed. I'm sure the first time they get used they will blow too from years of no use.
 

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Did I just see the guy actually had to get out of the car to raise the tonneau to lower the top?!
Completely undignified!
All joking aside, anyone who doesn’t like to power top feature of the r129, either doesn’t understand the inner workings of it, or can’t afford the repairs of it.
For those, fortunately there are several antiques, and lower end models to chose from, other than the R129.
 

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If one had to use the dealer for repairs on those cylinders and didn't have 5k to do all of them then I could see the obvious question but for the DIY less than $600. will get you back to new.
 
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