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Pop-top Extension: Evolution of the Pop-Top
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Howesight
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 25, 2011 1:37 pm    Post subject: Pop-top Extension: Evolution of the Pop-Top Reply with quote

My Westy is adapting to the changes in its envronment by growing an extension!
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

UNDER THE BIG TOP

In my Ď86 Syncro Westy, I always found when camping that there was no decent place to put all the things that you bring along in the area behind the back seat when itís time to use the lower bunk. Sure, you could put it all in, on, around and under the front seats, but then you canít use the front seats, and you have to pull all that stuff out in the morning anyway. Or, you could put some of your stuff outside, under the van. But we have lots of rain, bears, raccoons and other critters here in BC. Oh, just use the luggage bin at the front of the roof you say? Still gets rained on, gets sap on it, and gets dew. The small critters can also get up there. Maybe even more importantly, anytime I wanted to fetch something off the luggage rack at night, Iíd let cold air in and warm air out.

So I decided to add the luggage rack to the main part of the pop-top and gain the storage space inside the Westy. Iíll show how I did it in a few posts to come.


Last edited by Howesight on Fri Mar 25, 2011 5:10 pm; edited 1 time in total
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DAIZEE
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 25, 2011 1:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

there's more coming, right?
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Mofus
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 25, 2011 2:06 pm    Post subject: Re: Pop-top Evolution Reply with quote

Howesight wrote:
Iíll show how I did it in a few posts to come.

He said there's more to come...probably needs more than 5-minutes.


Howesight, are you going to custom make a giant tent that extends all the way to the front?
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Howesight
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 25, 2011 2:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, I am making (or having made) a large tent using Sunbrella fabric. I am also making a large fly out of ripstop waterporoof nylon which I plan to on calling my (fingers making quotation marks here) "Grosserwasserstopper".
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Spinal Tap
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 25, 2011 2:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Are you going to "remove" the luggage rack? By that, I mean, are you going to make the top of the pop-top more-or-less smooth from front to back?

Thanks!
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Howesight
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 25, 2011 2:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am leaving the "luggage rack" as it is formed from the factory. This allows me to put odds and ends and camp chairs up there.

BUT, I am also making a "lid" for this area to cover it for aerodynamics improvement and hopefully a little less wind noise. This is why I have to attach drain plumbing to the drain holes on the "luggage" area.

As it turns out, there will still be a space of about 1.5" to 2" between the bottom of the luggage rack and the steel roof which will accomodate the front portion of the tent when the poptop is down plus, if I am lucky, my "pillow board" from my upper berth.
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Howesight
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 25, 2011 3:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Big Top How-To:

http://images.thesamba.com/vw/gallery/pix/788747.jpg[/img]

1. Measure and Mark:
a. I wanted to ensure perfect alignment, since the front of the finished roof will have to seal properly. So, with the pop-top and luggage rack still on the Westy with the seals properly installed, I used a long straight edge to draw lines on the side of the Westy pop-top portion and onto the luggage rack. I used pencil which is good because none of the solvents I used for other work on the roof would erase the pencil, but one of those white rubber pencil erasers worked when the job was done.

b. I also made a space measurement to establish the proper space between the front luggage rack and the Westy pop-top.

2. Temporary bracing:


Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.
a. I got four 1/8" by 1" by 6 ft. mild steel strips from Home Depot. I drilled four 5/32" holes in each strip to correspond with some existing holes in the pop-top from the rack attachment drip rails and elsewhere to rigidly support the luggage rack.

b. I then used an M6 tap to tap these holes to receive M6 bolts. This was key to getting accurate alignment.

c. I placed the strips in alignment and marked my locations with a sharpie for the holes to be drilled in the fibreglass.

d. Then I threaded the bolts through the strips and into the fibreglass.

e. I had already cut off the old ripped tent. If you are saving your tent, you should remove it at the start.

f. Now I removed the roof. It turns out to be far easier to leave the rear pop-top hinges on the steel Westy roof and instead remove the bolts holding the fibreglass roof to the hinges. I removed the roof myself without a helper, standing up inside the Westy, lifting up the roof, turning it 90 degrees, and ďwalkingĒ it to the sliding door side of the vehicle. I donít recommend this, but if no helper is available and you are 6"1", go for it!

g. Now I placed the roof on my work table and removed each of the bolts, one at a time, threading them in from the inside of the roof to the metal strap on the outside, before moving on to the next bolt. This enabled me to tighten the straps quite tightly to eliminate any movement.

h. In order to have the two portions of the roof align at the point where they will be joined with fibreglass, I had to cut off a portion of the front part.


Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

The entire bulkhead you see in the above photo gets cut out together with a band, from the driver's side of the pop-top to the passenger side, about 1.5" wide.

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

In the photo above, you can see the 1.5" strip and the bulkhead cut out and the gap fibreglassed together.

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

In the photo above, you can see the stubs for the drain pipes that have to be installed to drain the luggage rack. These are PVC plastic from Home Depot used for in-ground lawn watering systems. I roughed up the ends of the PVC and the luggage rack mating surface and used white gel-coat to "glue" them in place, then did two layers of fibreglass over top to hold them in placed.

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

In the photo above, you can see where I built the channel that the tent will attach to. It is installed so that it lines up precisely in height to match the 1/2" channel in the regular Westy pop-top both as to width and as to height. Belowq are a couple more views.

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

Since the "luggage rack" will no longer be held in place by 8 bolts, it was necessary to stiffen the front lip of the luggage rack to prevent the wind from making it vibrate or lift. I added a stiffening rib by attaching a 1" by 1" piece of pine cove trim, face down. I used very tiny screws installed from the top of the pop-top to hold it in place to 'glass over it and then removed the screws once the fibreglass hardened. This can be seen in the pics below:

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

I have now gel-coated over all the work shown above, but no pics yet. I am prepping to paint the roof body-colour ("color" for the Americans on the forum).

This project was quite dirty, but quite fun too.
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Ahwahnee
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 25, 2011 3:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just when you think you've seen everything...

Interesting mod, look forward to the finished product.
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vanagonjr
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 25, 2011 4:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've always liked this idea since seeing the below van on vanagon.com
Glad to see someone doing this.

John

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IrideWheelies
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 25, 2011 5:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm really interested in seeing how the water is going to drain from the luggage rack. It looks like drain hoses will take the water outside of the canvas and onto, or past, the rain gutter on the roof.

Great idea! Thank you for posting!
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DAIZEE
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 26, 2011 7:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm getting the concept now, looking forward to future pics. Cool
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wbx
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 26, 2011 8:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think this is pretty damn cool, and makes a lot of sense (I know I never use the luggage rack and would rather not fill up the front seats, either...)

My only concern is the front lip catching air and trying to pry the top up. Have you considered adding a little air deflector lip to the front of the van's roof, kind of like a roof rack would have, but way smaller? Something just an inch tall would do - securely fastened to the body, would seem to eliminate any chance of that.

I'm curious to see the results!
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 26, 2011 10:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Brilliant!
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Howesight
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 26, 2011 2:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

WBX said:

"My only concern is the front lip catching air and trying to pry the top up. Have you considered adding a little air deflector lip to the front of the van's roof, kind of like a roof rack would have, but way smaller? Something just an inch tall would do - securely fastened to the body, would seem to eliminate any chance of that. "

I have a plan for that. I am going to use the bolts at the very front of the "luggage rack" but turn them into "wing bolts" by adding a round knob that allows the bolts to be screwed in by hand. I'll leave the two front attachment brackets in place, but I will likely have to pad them a bit so that they do not damage the pop-top fabric.

Here are some more pics illustrating this:

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

The photo above shows a mock-up of where the pop-top rail will be installed. The rail will be notched where it overlaps the attachment bracket.

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

The photo above shows the passenger side area mocked up. The aluminum rail will need to be straightened where the orginal is kinked for the roof profile.


The three photos below show the underside of the pop-top very close to closed as I wanted to see how much space there would be remaining and where my drains would have to go.

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.
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1621
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 26, 2011 3:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm really enjoying this thread. Great work and innovation!
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dobryan
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 26, 2011 3:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Way cool. Looking forward to more. Very Happy
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noganav
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 26, 2011 4:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Awesome. Super inventive.
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akyrie
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 26, 2011 5:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was feeling spiffy with my recent tin-top to pop-top conversion. This is something else though.

A.
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fastwagens
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 26, 2011 5:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Very cool. That will add so much more space.
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Sodo
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 27, 2011 3:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Very nice. Nothing like being wide open as soon as the top goes up. Every westy-camper knows how it goes, a big messy pile of 'stuff' on the front seats. Especially with a small family!

For those who want more space but can't undertake such a big modification, GoWesty has a rain fly kit that provides some storage space there, accessible thru the tent front window.

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.
(GoWesty photo from http://www.gowesty.com/ec_view_details.php?id=4046

Edit: One problem with this kit ( as a storage extension ). It covers the side windows on a newer "3-window" tent.
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Last edited by Sodo on Sun Mar 27, 2011 6:15 pm; edited 1 time in total
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