The Stormtrooper’s top has bothered me since day one. It’s… just not good. At all
I mean, it WAS good originally. The orange top looked very rich and beautiful (I’ve seen some in garaged/new condition) But this one lived outside for a decade and had a lot of cats love it.
Stormy’s had a lot of complements over the internet and instagram about the paint and top color combo (thank you all!). But… well… that’s because I adjusted the contrast and gave it a bit more color via photoshop. Stormy isn’t a set of my gauges after all. With those, I try to photoshop for realistic colors and accuracy. But for this old NC with a faded top? Sure, I punched up the colors.
These pix are true to life showing how bad the faded orange top really was. Lots of black spots where the factory glue was seeping through. A metric ton of cat hair. Lots of wear.
I used packing tape to get the cat hair off. The round suit roller I use on Bucky’s cloth top didn’t even make a dent in the cat hair. I had to use bits of packing tape to slowly get it clean inch by inch.
And when I got the top clean, it looked even more faded and sad.
Time for action.
This is Renovo soft top dye. I got it off Amazon shipped via the slow boat from the UK. Delivery took over a month. But it’s supposed to be the best stuff on the market for reviving a cloth soft top… or DYING it a new color.
I mean really, when was the last time you saw a Stormtrooper with a tan baseball cap? Yeah. A black top was the plan from the beginning.
A few words about Renovo dye – it’s super super thin. Very water. Such runny. It’s like brushing water onto a canvas. You have to really work it in and you have to get your brush a bit drier than you think before painting it on.
You need at least 1 liter of the stuff for a Miata-sized top. For me, that was TWO bottles. The Amazon bottles were 500ml. I learned this once it was delivered…
Look at that pitiful amount of masking. Nothing like what is needed. I thought this would be enough… and for all the leather dyes I’ve worked with, it would have been. But Renovo is really goddamn thin. It splatters and runs everywhere. The whole car needs to be masked off.
The good news – it’s easy to clean off paint and SUPER easy to clean off of a window. So if it gets everywhere, it’s not the end of the world. It just means you get to spend the 20-30 minutes in between coats cleaning off the mess you made on the car.
It looks REALLY good after application. The Renovo stuff looks BLACK. Very very rich and awesome.
And 5 minutes later? Not so black. You can see the brown coming through as the first coat dried.
After I cleaned up the splattered black dots from the white paint, I took my masking a little more seriously. This is Sharka’s ancient indoor car cover. It’s at least 15 years old. I really only use it when I’m spray painting something in the garage and I don’t want to pull Sharka out. I cover the little guy in this old cover.
So I sliced a soft-top sized hole in it and decided the cover’s last ride would be taking care of Stormy’s paint.
Little did I know, I needed two bottles of dye (the Miata.net forum claimed only one) and I’d be waiting a month and re-masking again…
I remembered to pop the top and use the last of the first bottle of dye to get the leading edge of the top. It wouldn’t do to open the thing and see a lot of orange on the front lip.
Looks pretty good eh? I wasn’t too disappointed with just 2 coats of Renovo. It really hid the tan well. Or so I thought.
One Month Later…
As I said above… the slow boat from the UK. After waiting another month, the 2nd bottle of Renovo finally arrived. And this is how the top was looking with only two coats.
Not good. I mean, not bad. It looked like a faded black top. But I didn’t do all that work to live with a faded black top.
So I took the old car cover out again and re-re-masked the car. It was pretty easy having done it once. Not too much effort. Maybe an hour.
I cleaned the top very well before this too. You’re not really supposed to let a month pass between applications. But a good scrubbing with some Raggtopp cleaner and a brush got it ready for more dye.
I even cleaned up and upgraded my garage a bit during the wait between dye applications!
A non-black top REALLY needs at least four coats of dye to get a good color change. These pix are with the dye still a bit wet, but… dang. It looks really good. Worth the wait and re-mask.
And here it is in the sun and actually dry. It’s not bad. It doesn’t look like a new top, but it looks a mile better than it did. I think it was worth the time and effort.
We’ll see how the dye holds up to New Mexico’s insane sun. If it fades or starts to look bad, I’ll update the blog.