Parrish Hard-Top

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mauisrl311
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Re: Parrish Hard-Top (aka Smoothline) Challenges With Fit

Post by mauisrl311 »

Since this seems to be the current thread for Parrish/Smoothline hardtops, I figured I'd share my recent experience with Smoothline as a way of helping anyone looking to order a new top understand what they are ordering. After ordering top in Sept 2012 and waiting for it to be delivered in Jan 2013 after some issues with shipping during holiday seasons, I received top in great condition from factory packaging. This is when the challenges started.

Top fit trial 1:
I put it on and it did not fit--the front bow was way too high over the windshield, the back was resting on the soft top clips, the sides would not 'seal' against the rear arch, the front hold-down hooks (j-bolts) did not even reach the hold down points (I had to re-bend the passenger's side significantly and for the driver's side I had to go buy a new LONGER j-bolt and bend it--why longer?-see below) and the door windows were hitting the rain gutters at the rear. That was just the issues with fit. The back deck seal was popping off the back portion of the top and the bright trim was coming unglued at the corners near the doors and over the passenger side rain gutter. I tried shifting the top more aft---but could not because of top hitting twisties at rear (in fact, the 'best' spot was ON TOP of the twisties).

Call/Email #1:
I took pictures, wrote an email and waited for a response. Nothing for 4 days. I called Smoothline and they said they would look at pictures, but insisted that the top will fit car. I pointed out that their website shows a low windshield car, but they insisted that they only make high windshield tops.

Top fit trial 2:
After calling again (no call backs ever), they said that there may be 'stuffing' in the open portion of the seal at the front bow corners that should not have been applied, so I should cut into the seal at the corners and remove the stuffing. I did this (after tearing one side about 4" due to glue on stuffing holding stuffing in), re-tried top fit, took pictures (it did not correct any of the issues listed).

Call/email/fix attempt #2:
Sent email, awaited response, called again after 4 days and was told that they are looking at build sheets but that they believe that a 'lip' during the fiberglass process was not cut off the front bow, and this was causing the front seal to not fit the front correctly. I was instructed to pull back the headliner material and cut the lip off along the entire front edge of the bow with an Exacto and some pliers. I completed the work (using a Dremel and a small cut-off wheel), which took quite some time as I was being very careful about what I cut and having to move the front seal out of the way to make sure it was not damaged (any more than it was from pulling stuffing out). I took pictures during this process and was optimistic this would solve the fit problem. During this process, I noted that the front hold-down 'posts' on the top were not spaced the same from the top front edge. The driver's side is 1.5" more aft than the passenger's side. The quality issue with the back deck seal was addressed as 'just pound it back on with a hammer' and the bright trim was addressed with apply some lacquer thinner to the spots and re-apply trim on re-activated glue, or just use some superglue. The Smoothline contact promised pictures of how they installed these on other's cars at the factory. Needless to say, these still have not arrived after asking and being promised several times. I mentioned that the front bow seal seemed very thick and not compressing correctly for this area, and that I knew of a supplier where I could get a Nissan factory seal that was used for soft-tops. Smoothline was not interested in this idea and insisted it would fit. I ordered a Nissan seal anyway, just to check. I asked Smoothline to send new LONGER front hooks, a new front seal, a new rear deck seal and U channel that it attaches to and new bright trim for this area as I would be removing the existing one entirely. No response if they sent anything here in this round of 'communication'.

Top fit trial 3:
Tried the top on the car again after above modifications and it fit somewhat better, but was still having interference with the corners of the windshield bow, so I cut more of the fiberglass out of the corners just as it heads aft. Retried top fit again, and it was slightly better, but the doors with windows up still did not close without hitting the gutters unless I shifted the entire stop aft and had it sitting on the rearmost twisties. It just was not correct. During this effort, I did find a better way than the eye-bolt and j hook approach (I think--maybe just for my top) of connecting the rear portion of the top to the hold down spots--I purchased more J bolts and bent then in a more square end shape, removed the eye-bolts and had the modified j-bolts come from the UNDERSIDE of the hold down hole. I shared this (in pictures) with Smoothline and they seemed dis-interested, even though it reduced part count and was a more elegant solution as now you can remove the top without having to remove eye-bolts and can go right to your soft-top or tonneau. I also shared that an improvement to the j-bolts was to apply some clear vinyl tubing to the points where they contact the body or front latch areas to prevent gouging or scratching. Pictures of this were sent as well. Smoothline had no comment. I mentioned that I was passing these things along to help them make a better product for roadster owners as they made it clear that they make only a few of these tops a year.

Call/email #3:
After taking more pictures of top in the current state, I emailed and said it still is not fitting, shared all the issues again and figured I'd have a quick response that was an acknowledgement that maybe the construction was not up to their standards and that they would work on getting a better made version to me. I had invested MANY hours over 4 weekends to try to get this NEW top to work and followed all their suggestions. Response (again to my call) was that I should package it back up, send it back at my expense (about $600 to my location) and they would refund my purchase. During this call, I was told the items I requested for 'repairs' had been shipped and was given a tracking number. They have been received--but not LONGER front hooks--even after I shared the issue about the driver's side post being further back. The response on the call was that this is how Parrish designed them and that it was not a manufacturing defect. I pointed out that the driver's side is the same as the passenger side and that there was no reason for it to be further back, but no comment other than that's the way it is.

Top fit trial 4:
Since I could see that I was stuck with this 'lemon', I decided to pull off the Smoothline front bow seal in the area of the front bow and put in its place the Nissan bow seal that I received from Dean. As I suspected, this helped the top fit MUCH better. I no longer had a top front that was sitting inches off the window and I could nudge the top back just enough to get the doors to close with windows closed. I still have an issue with the rearmost twisties so I have removed them and placed 4mm screws in their spots. I'm not sure I want to trim the entire back deck lip some to get this to 'pull in' (i.e.: move more forward) but maybe I will since I have to replace the back deck seal anyway. To get the Nissan front bow seal to integrate with the remaining Smoothline seal, I had to cut 'notches' into the Smoothline seal above the vent window as it was too thick. I was hoping I could 'stuff' the Nissan seal into the Smoothline one but it was too thick when this was attempted and interfered with door closing. I took the top off once again, glued the headliner back on then glued the Nissan seal in palace. I let it sit on the car overnight to set and I think this is a good as I am going to get. I should let you know that I also cannot roll up the windows with the hard top in place and doors closed; I have to roll them up with the door open then close the door.

If anyone wants pictures of any of this, just message me off list and I can send. I did not include them here for interest in space. I have already taken enough of your time.

I promised Smoothline that I would be sharing my FULL story with as many roadster owners as I could. You are reading this now.

Consider yourself informed or warned, depending on your life outlook.
Last edited by mauisrl311 on Mon Feb 18, 2013 2:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Parrish Hard-Top

Post by jamesw »

Wow - that's quite an ordeal!

I have some clarifications and suggestions for you based on my experiences with an ORIGINAL Parrish top.

1) The weatherstrip sold by Smoothline w/ the top is a bit wonky and yes, the front seal is HUGE. The rear seal is also not a good choice as it has a small bulb and it's not at the right angle to the top.

I recommend the McMaster Carr seal numbers: 12335A74 and 12335A71 for the bottom and window seals. The factory Nissan seal is good for the front or the McMaster Carr 93085K68 ($.96/ft). You should be able to get all the seal you need for $50 to replace everything on the top. It's an investment in your car's paint if nothing else.

Smoothline purchased the mold for the high windshield top from Parrish, so essentially all the tops that come out of that mold are the same. If it doesn't fit your car that could mean lots of things but I wouldn't place all the blame on Smoothline.

Cheers
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Re: Parrish Hard-Top

Post by notoptoy »

It's a real bummer that you had such a bad experience. These are (usually) such nice tops it's disappointing to hear their poor response.
"When all else fails, force prevails!" Ummm, we're gonna need a bigger hammer here.

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Re: Parrish Hard-Top

Post by mauisrl311 »

jamesw wrote: I have some clarifications and suggestions for you based on my experiences with an ORIGINAL Parrish top.

Smoothline purchased the mold for the high windshield top from Parrish, so essentially all the tops that come out of that mold are the same. If it doesn't fit your car that could mean lots of things but I wouldn't place all the blame on Smoothline.
James--Thanks for the McMaster-Carr options. Since you have an ORIGINAL Parrish top, can you tell me if the driver's side post that the front latch goes though is more aft than the passenger's side? This will help me understand if the Smoothline version is somehow different than an original, at lest in this aspect.

Thanks in advance.
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Re: Parrish Hard-Top

Post by jamesw »

Sorry :-( I sold my Parrish top when I sold my high windshield car. There are some photos here in the threads on 311's though.

Here's another pic - not from the interior though:

http://reefpix.smugmug.com/Cars/69-2000 ... &k=3pcQSHJ" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

HTH
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Re: Parrish Hard-Top

Post by ACote »

I think a couple of pics are in order at least for the curious. (me). Sad to hear about your new top, I was hoping for one of these down the line.
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Re: Parrish Hard-Top

Post by Gregs672000 »

Wow. I surely WOULD blame smoothline... they are responsible for the product, period. I would contact the BBB and file a complaint (some might poo poo this, but it has been quite effective for my wife and I regarding a timeshare service organization, and we got a full refund), contact the owner or CEO of Smoothline, and demand a refund or at the very least a steep discount. THERE IS NO EXCUSE FOR THAT LEVEL OF POOR CUSTOMER SERVICE. I can tolerate things not working, needing adjustment etc. It is their seeming lack of concern, lack of communication, and indifference to all YOUR efforts to solve THEIR problem that is totally UNACCEPTABLE. Say in now and say it loud on the internet. Nothing twists my tail more than bad customer service. :evil:
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Re: Parrish Hard-Top

Post by Datsun.David »

I am with Greg. Seems like they should be stepping up. I guess I am back to looking for a used original... I wouldn't have the patience to go through that gong show!
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Re: Parrish Hard-Top

Post by Linda »

Seems they are saying that since they only make a few of these hard tops, they are not very committed to doing them or fixing them. So although you have a case they may just stop making the product. That could be a good yhing if they are not going to do it right...

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Re: Parrish Hard-Top

Post by jamesw »

It's a tough one. I think if enough people complain they will quit making them. I personally would be disappointed if that happened but don't have a dog in the hunt anymore as I won't be getting another high windshield car.

In my mind it's almost one of those products you just have to accept will require some tinkering. I'm not saying that's right, just the way it is :-/

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Re: Parrish Hard-Top

Post by spl310 »

If the price were cheap, then I would agree that some tinkering is OK. At the price that they get for a new hardtop, that level of quality is not acceptable.
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Re: Parrish Hard-Top

Post by Datsun.David »

With no two roadsters alike, I accept and expect a little bit of tinkering. This seems beyond tinkering and more like re-engineering. I've fit lots of 40+ year old tops that fit better than what is being described here...
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Re: Parrish Hard-Top

Post by spl310 »

Oh, I don't have a problem with tinkering a bit. What was described is unacceptable to me.
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Re: Parrish Hard-Top

Post by dbrick »

I think Woody used a smoothline as a mold for his carbon fiber top, he may have some input

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Re: Parrish Hard-Top

Post by spl310 »

He needs to go into production!!
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