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W-O Canvas Soldenized Duck Soft Top

• CATEGORIES: Advertising & Brochures, Features

Rear view of the W-O Canvas Top on a VEC CJ-2A. The PTO pump looks to my untrained eye to be an MP Universal Jeep Packaged Pump Model 12M-WJ.

UPDATE II: I’ve added a second version of the W-O Canvas Top brochure (tan brochures). they come from a Willys-Overland Equipment Book that, based on other brochures contained in that book, was likely published earlier than the brochures that appeared in the original version of the post.

This jeep brochure from an early Willys-Overland Special Equipment catalog highlights the first production soft top for the CJ-2A. It was labeled a W-O Canvas Top. The material used wasn’t your average canvas, at least according to the brochure. Instead, it was 10oz soldenized duck. That description meant nothing to me, so I attempted to decipher it.

Scanned Document

Scanned Document

These two brochures were published in a Willys Industrial Equipment book. It appears Willys-Overland changed up the name slightly to the Willys Canvas Top, though in the text the W-O Canvas Top name remains the same as above.



The biggest mystery was the term “soldenized”. Not even the internet knows what “soldenized” means. The fact that the term probably describes a means of mildew or waterproofing makes sense, and Robert Ackerson described it similarly in his jeep book, but that’s more a description of the result of the process, not a description of the process itself.

As of yesterday morning, that is where my soldine discussion ended. However, not more than two hours later, I received a 1949 Willys-Overland Accessories booklet (to be scanned and shared in full later) in the mail. On the very last page was the recommended product for protecting and waterproofing Jeepster tops: Soldine V-110 Top Dressing.


The Accessories brochure indicates the canned product is spelled Soldine, but the soft top brochure indicates the process was spelled soldenized. Were they one in the same? Maybe the process should have been spelled “soldinized“? I certainly don’t think it’s a coincidence that both are so similar in spelling. Any insights are welcome.

Apart from the ‘soldenization’ (is that a word?) process, other specifications for the Willys-Overland top are much easier to parse.

The material, Duck, is also known as Cotton Duck, used for diverse applications such as sandbags, paint canvases, sneakers, and many other items. Duck is more tightly woven than plain canvas. Sometimes to increase strength, hemp strands were added to the weave, but today the use of plastic strands is more likely.

Duck is classified by weight per size. According to Wikipedia, the 10oz duck used in a Willys top was 14.75 ounces per square yard or 500 grams per square metre.

The top’s windows were made from a cellulose acetate, a thermoplastic that was also used in numerous forms with a variety of effects, including in the manufacture of Bakelite steering wheels, as described in the May 1940 issue of Popular Mechanics. To attach the window to the canvas, the window was first attached to a metal frame; then, the metal frame was attached to the top. So, unlike today’s plastic soft tops, a window in these original tops could be easily replaced.

According to this price list from the late 1940s, the price of the front of the top was $55.33, while the rear portion was less at $38.73.


The closest top to the original Duck canvas for early jeeps is sold by Beachwood Canvas. Whether the tops are exact copies or not, I couldn’t say as I’ve never owned one of either, let alone both; Having an original and a Beechwood would be great for comparison purposes.


7 Comments on “W-O Canvas Soldenized Duck Soft Top

  1. Mike

    Picture #2, is the first pic I’ve ever seen with the top bows in the side pockets. What I find interesting about this brochure is that the canvas top is marketed with the Willys brand name through the Willys parts dept. Did Willys manufacture the tops themselves or just them sub it out to another company?

  2. David Eilers Post author

    Bill: I didn’t notice the windshield. It looks doctored to me, too.

    Mike: I haven’t found any info on this, but my guess is the company outsourced manufacturing, just as they did with the hardtops early on with Worman.

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