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Premium Member
1998 Red SL500, 2002 Black SL500, 2014 Black E550 Cabriolet
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1,458 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Greetings R129 owners!
Perhaps we could all benefit from the information...and I am thinking that all years would be lowered the same way?

Most of the info I have read on this site and in the owners manual covers raising the top manually. How about lowering the top manually?!

Car is not with me...so I am passing the info along for them to lower the top and put the hard top on.

Appreciate the reply's and links!
 

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03 SL Kleemann, 97 SL320, 95 E320 cab, Tesla X, Ferrari 360, etc
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944 Posts
Major differences in manually lowering the top between early and late model years

Greetings R129 owners!
Perhaps we could all benefit from the information...and I am thinking that all years would be lowered the same way?

Most of the info I have read on this site and in the owners manual covers raising the top manually. How about lowering the top manually?!

Car is not with me...so I am passing the info along for them to lower the top and put the hard top on.

Appreciate the reply's and links!
Benica,

you know this, but I would like to make it clear to future readers: manually raising and lowering the soft top is an emergency operation. The latches are not designed to be operated manually all the time, and you will eventually face significant damage if this is not done only on an emergency basis.

I hope that someone has a handy video link. Meanwhile, here are my two cents:

It is different for two model year ranges:
A) Model years 1990 - 1994 (some late model years 1994 in Europe fall in to the '95-'02 category)
B) Model years 1995-2002

For model years '90-'94, manually opening is the reverse process of manually closing. Manually closing is described in the owner's manual. In a nutshell, do this:
1) Lower the roll bar with the pump if possible, and if it isn't down already. If the roll bar is up and your hydraulic system doesn't work, then things become more inconvenient. Now turn OFF the ignition.
2) Access the rear locks from the trunk - they are located near the trunk hinges. Using the 10-mm open wrench end of the soft top tool, move the levers (marked in red) UP. Lift up the rear bow (rear window section).
3) Unlock both tonneau cover locks with the 10-mm open wrench of your soft top tool. The tool slides down straight between the tonneau cover and the outside of the roll bar, just about in the middle of the 45-degree angled section of the roll bar. Turn the wrench towards the trunk once it has caught the bolt (really an axle with two 10-mm flats machined on it) on the tonneau cover locks. Tonneau cover = convertible top storage compartment cover. Lift up the tonneau cover.
4) Locate the plastic plugs in front of the sun visors and pull them out of the windshield header. You now have access to the front locks. Use the 6-mm Allen wrench end of your soft top tool to unlock. On the driver side, turn clockwise until the latch is open. On the passenger side, turn counter-clockwise to unlock. I actually loosen one lock first, then unlock the opposite one, then fully unlock the first one.
5) Holding the rear bow (rear window section) up as far as you can, manually lower the top into the storage compartment. If you don't hold up the rear bow as far as you can, then the canvas can get caught on the tonneau cover hinges.
6) Close the tonneau cover and lock it with your soft top tool. To lock the tonneau cover, use the soft top tool again, turning it forward on the latches.

NEVER slam the tonneau cover shut on model years '90 and '91, unless your tonneau cover lock cylinders have already been upgraded. The piston seals on the cylinders p/n 1298000072 swell up so badly with time that the shafts in these cylinders can be moved only hydraulically. If you slam the tonneau cover shut, then the shafts will bend and hit a sharp edge inside the latch before they finally move. That will dent up the chromed shaft and require us to replace the shaft when we rebuild your cylinder.

For model years '95+, it's a bit more complicated:
1) Lower the roll bar with the pump if possible, and if it isn't down already. If the roll bar is up and your hydraulic system doesn't work, then things become more inconvenient. Now turn OFF the ignition.
2) Access the rear locks from the trunk - they are located near the trunk hinges. For access, you will have to move some of the carpeted paneling in the upper front corners of the trunk. See these illustrations:



Using the 10-mm open wrench end of the soft top tool, move the small aluminum levers that are currently pointing down UP until they are about horizontal. That releases the rear locks. Lift up the rear bow (rear window section). Do NOT use the red button for the automated system or even to move the roll bar, before there is a top back in these locks, or the system will freeze up. More about this below.
3) Unlock both tonneau cover locks in model years '95 and '96, or only the right tonneau cover lock in model years '97-'02, with the 10-mm open wrench of your soft top tool. The tool slides down straight between the tonneau cover and the outside of the roll bar, just about in the middle of the 45-degree angled section of the roll bar. Turn the wrench towards the trunk once it has caught the bolt (really an axle with two 10-mm flats machined on it) on the tonneau cover locks. Tonneau cover = convertible top storage compartment cover. Lift up the tonneau cover.
4) Locate the plastic plugs in front of the sun visors and pull them out of the windshield header. You now have access to the front locks. Use the 6-mm Allen wrench end of your soft top tool to unlock. On the driver side, turn clockwise until the latch is open. On the passenger side, turn counter-clockwise to unlock. I actually loosen one lock first, then unlock the opposite one, then fully unlock the first one.
5) Holding the rear bow (rear window section) up as far as you can, manually lower the top into the storage compartment. If you don't hold up the rear bow as far as you can, then the canvas can get caught on the tonneau cover hinges.
6) Close the tonneau cover and lock it with your soft top tool. To lock the tonneau cover, use the soft top tool again, turning it forward on the latch(es).

Now back to the rear locks on model years '95-'02. If you have manually released the rear locks without any further action, and you turn on the pump by moving the red soft top button or even the roll bar button, then at least one of the rear locks will close on its own, and you will find the soft top system freezing up on you. For more info on that, check out http://www.benzworld.org/forums/r129-sl-class/1592024-1995-roadster-soft-top-rst-rear.html. To avoid this from happening to you, either follow the reset procedure described in the aforementioned thread, or put on the hard top immediately. The trick is, you must have the prongs in the rear of the hard top all the way in the rear locks before turning on the pump. Thus, seat your hard top properly, make sure that the rear prongs are in the rear locks, ideally have someone pushing down on the rear of the hard top, and (simultaneously) push the red button forward.

I hope this makes sense... :)

Klaus

www.tophydraulicsinc.com

 

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Premium Member
1998 Red SL500, 2002 Black SL500, 2014 Black E550 Cabriolet
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1,458 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Klaus! You're the man! :bowdown:

I don't care what anyone says about you! You're alright!
 

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Premium Member
2012 GLK350
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60 Posts
Klaus! You're the man! :bowdown:

I don't care what anyone says about you! You're alright!
New here but I seem to have the same soft top issue and I am stuck.
We have a 97 SL500 with 98k miles which we have had for almost two years and have only put about 1200 miles on it. Everything was working until recently, when the roll bar and raise/lower switch illuminated and the top would not operate. With the stay at home order, I thought to put the top down manually until I can get it to a mechanic for expert help.
Found that I did not have a tool.
Bought a tool. It arrived today. Unlocked the rear latches in the trunk and the latches on the front.

But, when I tried to unlock the tonneau cover, on the right side, I cannot find the bolt that the wrench is supposed to engage. Is there some trick I am missing?

Thanks in advance for any and all help
 

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Departed 1998 SL500 (and the Pano is in Bogota)
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13,070 Posts
Some car model only has 1 cylinder for the cover and some (older cars) has 2.
So if you can unlock just 1 sided of the cover, try lifiting it up, as you car might have only 1.
 

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Premium Member
97 E-420 (180K miles), 97 SL500, (93K miles) 2015 GMC Sierra Denali 2500HD CC/SB/4x4 Duramax(55K)
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4,657 Posts
Some car model only has 1 cylinder for the cover and some (older cars) has 2.
So if you can unlock just 1 sided of the cover, try lifiting it up, as you car might have only 1.
exactly. early 97's had two cylinders, like earlier models. later 97's had one. Mine is an "early 97" with cylinders on both sides.
 

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Premium Member
2012 GLK350
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60 Posts
So after ruminating in my sleep I went after it again this morning. It would have been helpful to know that the bolt was just a nub sticking out.

Finally got the top down and stowed. Thanks for the patience

John
 
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