refilling convertible top hydraulic pump? - Chevelle Tech
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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old Oct 20th, 03, 2:07 PM Thread Starter
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I am debugging a problem with my top and I drained out all the fluid.

I am thinking of changing from brake type fluid to transmission type (read in old post that brake fluid was originally recommended but transmission is recommended on newer cars). I am not sure if it is the original pump.

Anyway, how is the best way to fill it? the whole system is empty now (cylinders, lines, and pump/tank).

I know about running a tube from tank to a bottle with tube submerged in fluid, but does the tank and/or cylinders need to be filled first?

The GM manual is kind of vague.

Thanks,

Charles Perrell

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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old Oct 20th, 03, 3:08 PM
 
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i used atf in mine. you just have to fill it thru that hole near the top of the pump. then run the top up and down. add more fluid....run it up and down. i still have a few bubbles i can see in the lines but it doesnt affect the function.
regards dick
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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old Oct 21st, 03, 11:26 AM
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I just did this last year, but this is just off the top of my head:

I bought a "KIT" and instructions from a large convertible top supplier...

run a piece of clear vinyl tubing (3/8 inch?) from the fill hole on the pump to a bowl of fluid located down in the truck. The "Kit" I got included a Rubbermaid/Tupperware bowl with lid, and a hole drilled in the lid so the tubing fit snuggly (keeps the hose end submerged and reduces risk of spilling)...

Then the top is cycled "up" and "down" through several (many) complete cycles. I you will see the fluid move through the tubing and here the sound of the pump/motor change as air is worked out...

Do NOT top off the pump when done bleeding the system (I did this and blew the o-ring out-what a mess). Had to reset the oring and start all over (plus cleanup)...

I might have a copy of the instruction sheet somewhere...

Once you go RAT, you never go back...
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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old Oct 21st, 03, 1:20 PM
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Tony's right on, on this but you don't need the kit to do it... I use clear tubing (aquarium shops sell it by the foot) long enough to reach from the pump motor to the floor. I wrap electrical tape about 1 1/2" from one end of the tubing to make a plug that seals off the pump when the tube is incerted into the fill hole. Then I stick the other end deep into a quart of transmission fluid. Run the top up and down several times. You'll know by the pump sound when it's at the proper level and run it up and down one more time... That's it, the pump will set it's proper level this way and running the top up and down extra times won't over fill it.

Oh, lable the left over fluid "for hyd top only" and don't us it to top off your transmission. It may have contanimants from the pump in it...

...Dennis

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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old Oct 21st, 03, 1:38 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the replys.

I saw in the manual about using the container and hose, but I would think that you would need to put some fluid in the pump tank before cycling the top, rather than just filling up the external container. Is this true?

I wouldn't think that the pump would be strong enough when completely dry to pull enough air to draw the fluid from the container to the tank. It seems like you would need a little fluid in the pump tank before you started, so the pump/cog mechanism would be submerged and form a seal. I know the pump is a positive displacement type, but it diden't look like the clearances were tight enough to pump air very well.

I disconnected the cylinders and manually cycled them to pump out all the old fluid (as much as I could), so the system is pretty much empty of fluid.

I am assuming that the fluid level should be up to the bottom of the fill hole to be considered full (like on a holley fuel bowl sight plug). Is this correct?

Also, I am planning on cycling the system with the hydraulic cylinders disconnected from the top to reduce wear on the top. I am planning on keeping the top cylinders positioned so they don't bind on anything as they are extending.

Does anyone see a problem with this, or does there need to be some "weight" on the cylinders to properly bleed the system?

Thanks,

Charles Perrell

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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old Oct 21st, 03, 3:23 PM
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Quote:
I am assuming that the fluid level should be up to the bottom of the fill hole to be considered full (like on a holley fuel bowl sight plug). Is this correct?
This is not entirely correct...

When I finished bleeding my system the first time, I topped of the pump as you mentioned... Thats how I blew the o-ring seal... You can top it off, BUT, I believe the top has to be all the way up or all the way down (I can't remember which)...


Quote:
I am planning on cycling the system with the hydraulic cylinders disconnected from the top to reduce wear on the top. I am planning on keeping the top cylinders positioned so they don't bind on anything as they are extending.
That should work, but be careful... The cylinders (supposedly) can break/explode if over/under extended. The top mechanism usually helps limit their travel... Just keep an eye on them as you do the bleeding, and try not to keeping pumping once the cylinders have reached their travel limits...


And Dennis was right... When the "Kit" arrived, I was disappointed... Cheasy kit that obviously caost alot less than I purchased for... At least I got the instructions (of course, just a cheap photo-copy )...

Once you go RAT, you never go back...
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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old Oct 21st, 03, 4:01 PM
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I didn't have a dry system when I did mine so I can't say 100% that the pump will be strong enough to pull fluid starting dry. I believe it will though. My top wouldn't go down with a bad hyd ram and as soon as I replaced it and hit the down button I had movement and fluid was flowing from the qt container to the pump. Maybe just prime the pump with a few ounces and go from there.

I personally wouldn't operate the system with the rams unhooked from the top. I don't know the pounds of force used to move the top from the point the hyd rams attach to the top frame but it's way up there. Without the top attached the rams are going to go full up or full down in about a 1/2 second or so. I think you will damage the hyd rams, I think this is what Tony is cautioning as well. If you use the car as a convertible the amount of times it takes to purge and fill the system is a drop in the bucket to all the times you will put the top down and up.

To keep your top nice always put the top up at the end of the day and be sure it's clean before putting it down. Also watch for areas where the frame may want to pinch the top when going down. If the frame was assembled properly it will last for years and years...

...Dennis

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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old Oct 23rd, 03, 1:28 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the replys.

I guess I will hook up the cylinders to the top to bleed it, just to be on the safe side.

I will probably also add some fluid to the pump tank, since I don't think it will hurt anything even if it is not correct.

After I finish bleeding the system, I will run the top up and down a couple times with the hose disconnected to make sure the max fluid level in either top position is not above the fill hole. I think the fluid level will be higher in the "up" position, since the actuator rod will be inside the cylinder and displacing a bunch of fluid.

I will be bleeding the system this weekend, so any last minute comments / suggestions are welcome.

Thanks,

Charles Perrell

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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old Nov 1st, 05, 7:55 PM
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Re: refilling convertible top hydraulic pump?

Thanks everyone. The top works a little so it must have some fluid in it! I'll let you know my results.
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