HMMWV 4-man Soft Top Slant Back

copterbill

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more images.

a lot of your past images did not pop up. love to see some current. are you like me and take inspiration from every jeep you walk by? just this morning, walking the dogs, a brand new jeep next door and the rear cargo area framing and cloth is awesome.
 

Chirider

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I want to thank Bulldogger for an awesome product. I ordered a olive drab canvas slant and it arrived well packed and undamaged. The cost for the engineering, ingenuity and BEING handmade in the good ol’ USA by a fellow SS is priceless. Thank you engineering this.
 

Bulldogger

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I want to thank Bulldogger for an awesome product. I ordered a olive drab canvas slant and it arrived well packed and undamaged. The cost for the engineering, ingenuity and BEING handmade in the good ol’ USA by a fellow SS is priceless. Thank you engineering this.
Have you installed it yet Chirider? Would love to see some pictures.

Copterbill, all the photos showed up when I clocked through this thread this morning. Maybe some setting on your browser, or you could try a different one just to view this thread? I use Firefox and all images came through.

BDGR
 
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Bulldogger

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A recently completed Tan soft slant back and frame are listed in the classifieds. I took to long to build it and the buyer wandered off. Will be my last Tan one for a while as no one seems to have the desert tan fabric I was using now.
BDGR
 

ikoinu

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Wanted to post pictures of my truck with one of Bulldogger's slantback tops he made for me.

The first one I received didn't fit too well on my tiedowns the way they were laid out on my truck. Alex had me do some measurements and send it back to him. He put a new one together and sent it back in short order.
End result: Extremely pleased with the top. It looks great, fits well, and keeps the slantback military appearance that I like without having to purchase a used hard slantback top.

Notes: Because I have the DWF exhast on there, I wrapped the external cage with DEI header wrap so it wouldn't melt the nice top. Still have to spray it down with 383 green to blend in.

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Bulldogger

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Looking good ikoinu, I'm glad to see it.

I hope to make some more later this month. Have to save $$ for supplies.

Bulldogger
 

Bulldogger

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Changes in the works

I'm honored to be popular again for a time!

I am currently unable to make any soft slant backs due to the post-surgery condition of my back. However, I am recovering slowly but surely and I hope to be able to manhandle such large amounts of fabric in due time. I am hoping to be back in production by Spring, which isn't too far away. It may be limited production, only 1-2 a month, but I'm hoping for better.

I have invested in a few additional bits of tooling to try to make production easier. A tubing saw was on the list, so as to give me a better chance at making good welds on the custom fittings needed for the frame. I haven't been able to test it yet, but perhaps by end of month.

In reviewing my last year's progress and comparing the amount of time spent versus price paid I am obliged to change my prices to reflect more fairly the amount of time I spend making, improving and supporting these.

One change in the business model is that I will begin taking deposits rather than making tops on request and hoping to get paid after. Not that I've been stuck with any soft slant back I've ever made, but there have been cases where a potential buyer either left the site while I was sewing, never to return, or another buyer changed his mind about what style of enclosure he wanted. These are both understandable, but I need more assurance to push myself to complete a top than the belief that "It'll sell eventually".

Pricing will change. I have not decided exactly how much, but it will increase. Some marketers I have spoken with (I work in business so get to ask people with more experience than me for advice) have said I should charge as much as four times what I have, to account for my R&D time and for gathering and storing bulk materials and lastly for my evidenced willingness to form a relationship with buyers to ensure they are satisfied with the setup and performance of the product. Four times what I have charged so far would be well over a thousand dollars! My checkbook and spare parts wish list love the sound of that, but I feel it is unfair, even if I truly am the only source of these soft slant backs. Conventional business wisdom says one should charge "what the market will bear" meaning as high as you can. Maybe this is acceptable for commodity products or products where there is no relationship between buyer and seller, and the seller has no attachment to the product.
That is not my situation and that is not me.
(By the way tlmarks, I sent you that PM and quoted you a price. I will stand by that. And you get first refusal on the next soft slant back I produce.)

Currently I am limited to black and green, as I am still without a source of Desert Tan fabric. I have no idea why several places had it when I began this project, only to have every single one dry up while I was using my initial outlay of fabric. Last week, I decided to stop waiting for eBay or other sources to magically satisfy my repeat requests and I have begun reaching out to textile mills and their distributors myself. They are not excited about dealing with a guy who thinks just one whole roll (~40 yards) is a lot of fabric. They want my to buy a container load. I can't do that, but I am trying to find a source even if I have to buy what to me is going to be a lifetime supply.

Sorry for the novel. I have been thinking hard about how to serve my fellow MV owners and our tight-knit community to the best of my ability while recognizing I have no plans to make this my true line of work, i.e. stay a cottage business. I say MV owners, rather than just HMMWV owners because I have had the honor of having been asked to develop a better mousetrap for M35 owners as well. I'm working on that as my back and schedule permit too. I have a pattern, and now need to test it.
I don't foresee a custom textile business in my future, but I am very honored to serve my fellows here. I will probably never sell this stuff on my own website or even on eBay, but never say never...

So in summary, by the end of February I hope to be in a position physically and financially to open up for orders in a revised fashion and format. Prices will increase but I will offer more choices for form and function too. I will post updates on this thread and will PM those of you who have encouraged me to continue in this thread, to offer you head-of-line opportunities.

Sincerely,
Alex Boesenberg (Bulldogger)
 

Bulldogger

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I am pleased, and relieved, to report that after going through a huge book of sample swatches yesterday I found a match for the Desert Tan Cordura that I had not been able to find for the past year. This means I will be able to offer tan soft slant backs once the purchase and shipping are all taken care of. Sunday I received 20 yards of heavy zipper material and 19 yards of OD green Cordura. The black ballistic nylon is also on its way.
I'm working on an M35 sewing project still, mostly because it involves smaller pieces, but am starting to put my thoughts in order for how to move forward on increased availability of soft slant backs.

I appreciate all those interested encouraging me.

Bulldogger
 

nattieleather

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Bulldogger, Man rest up and heal up. Don't try to push your back into service too soon. I know the growing pains you are going through with this little business and I understand exactly what you are struggling with. If I charge what I should for materials, time and labor the cost of the product will be more than what I think people will be willing to pay. I go through that all the time with my business. It has cause me to rethink how I do things and "reinvent" the business every so often. My rule of thumb has always been cost of materials X 4 for the product....and then would I pay that price for it and adjust as needed. Sometimes I go material X 4 -10 or 15%.... So maybe that will help you with your pricing?

You make a great looking top so don't cheat yourself and don't apologize for the price.
 

TOBASH

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I have admired these tops for a while, but I have a slantback already.

As far as determining cost:

Why not drive into several auto interior shoppes and boat shoppes with pictures of what you have created and ask them what they would charge to make it? Tell them you saw these online and thought you might like to buy one, if push comes to shove.

Then you have professionals giving a realistic price.

If you make these so inexpensive that they become a pain in your rear, you will quickly close shoppe. You need a sustainable margin, balancing friendly cost with sustainability and profitability.

I used to share an auto interior place with my best friend ('till he wised up and moved South.) We regularly called our friends at other shoppes to work out design and cost and such.

Best,

T
 
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