View original topic: Westy Table vertical slider modification (How-to) Page: 1, 2, 3, 4  Next
Sodo Sun Sep 14, 2008 9:16 pm

******* Easy access to the cabinets!!! *******

Hello folks,

I saw a similar modification somewhere on the web and decided to copy it. You can set your table at any height with the knob - which is great when you want to get into the storage cabinets.

The modification is to add a pipe INSIDE the bent table support pipe. This holds everything in line when you lift the table.

Actually you CAN raise the table without a pipe inside, but when you try to put the table back down it will punch a hole in your Wheaties box, and then it's pretty hard to align it onto the little plastic bushing at the bottom.

I can't claim it's the best thing I ever did for my Westy
...... because JackBombay's air lift kit ( ) still has that status in our van. But its a good one, another modification that I wish I had ten years ago!!!

Stuff you need:

1) one inch electrical conduit (about 22 3/4"). 10 feet costs about $11.00 at a hardware store.
2) A benchtop Vise
3) Hacksaw
4) quarter-round file, (fine tooth)
5) hammer and punch
6) 10mm wrench

Pull out the support pipe and remove the lower bracket. This lower bracket will be modified. You will remove the plastic bushing and put a 22+ inch pipe in its place.

You will have to remove the top bracket too (when you install your 'slider').

"One INCH Electrical conduit" actually neasures about 1.165" outside diameter, which is PERFECT to insert into the table support. Almost no slop and it doesn't bind at all ----just perfect!. Don't bother measuring diameters, just bring your table support pipe into the store and check that the conduit slides into it before you buy. There can be variations in the pipe used to mfr Westies, and also variations in the OD of electrical conduit. A 10 foot section was only $10.65 at Home Depot.

Insert the conduit until it touches the 'bend' in the table support. Mark it and cut off. It's better to cut it a half inch long (about 22 3/4") then trim it after you have verified that it is 1/4" higher than the upper bracket.

Remove the white plastic bushing. The hole in the bracket must be opened up from 1.140" to the diameter of the conduit: 1.162". This is only .022" of enlargement (= 1/2 mm) , very easy to do.

It only took this quarter-round file 2 1/2 minutes. The ideal condition that you want is the bracket fitting TIGHT around the pipe. So file slowly and keep checking the pipe. For this reason I recommend leaving the Dremel in the drawer and go buy a "fine 1/4 round" file. Yes, I understand this is difficult for you modern fellas to go all old-school manual but trust me it's better this way.

Also file the corner off the pipe edge so you can jam it into the hole tightly.

Nice tight fit huh?
Cut a bunch of 'tabs' with a hacksaw. This hacksaw blade is a 24T (24 teeth per inch) It would have
been MUCH easier to make cuts in this thinwall pipe with a fine toothed blade (32T).

Bend the tabs over with a punch. After the first one, put the table support pipe (the heavy bent pipe that supports your westy table) in the vise, and slide it into the table support pipe which will help to keep everything all straight. Don't bend them down flat, stop about 10-20 degrees short. When they are all bent outward most of the way, then Hammer them all flat against the bracket, (....which is backed up by the heavy table-support pipe.)

Ready to Install. This may be kind of ugly, but it's NOT going to be visible because it's the underside of the lower bracket.

Put the upper bracket onto the pipe, and then install the new lower bracket with pipe slider. Drop the table-support in.

Notice the internal slider extends about 1/4" above the top bracket for easier alignment when you drop the table support in from the top. The slider fits perfect, with almost no slop. Consequently the table is secure and slop-free at any height even almost touching the light.

goffoz Sun Sep 14, 2008 9:26 pm

I like it!
nice presentation :D

foodeater Sun Sep 14, 2008 9:28 pm

Nice mod, I just might have to do this. Nice write up too... thanks.

motelvw Mon Sep 15, 2008 2:38 am

I did that to mine this spring. It's so nice to lift that table up, now.
Nice pics and instructions.

j_dirge Mon Sep 15, 2008 9:45 am

Cool. Simple fix.

Now.. if you want to trick it out.
Mount a little strut (like the type that lifts the rear hatch) inside the tube and it will lift by itself!

Sodo Mon Sep 15, 2008 5:51 pm

Yes that would be great. Need the proper air lift that operates at 'neutral' so it just stays wherever you nudge it to.... I bet that's pretty 'low' for an air cylinder....... I wonder if they make one with ~5 lbs force.

NOW its starting to sound like a Jackbombay kit (....but give the guy some time to get his new shop built). :lol: :lol:


badger7777 Tue Sep 23, 2008 12:19 pm

After reading about this mod, i disappeared off into the garage and set about modifying mine. I went about it a slightly different way...

8) 8)

j8 Tue Oct 07, 2008 10:41 am

badger7777's mod is pretty much ideal in terms of amount of time necessary + low permanent impact, and i can only imagine what that would fetch on a vendor site.

parishollow Tue Oct 07, 2008 4:30 pm

I am off to the shed to see if I have the conduit, really like that mod.

Franklinstower Tue Nov 04, 2008 12:57 pm

thanks for that mod Tom.

I did that last night in about 20 minutes (already had the conduit with a perfect fit to the table leg). Instead of bending the tabs over like you did, I welded the conduit to the bottom bracket - took less than 5 minutes.

Again, great idea!

jackbombay Tue Nov 04, 2008 5:10 pm

I found shocks with as little as 10 pounds of force, but I couldn't find any with enough travel, they max out at 11 1/4" of travel, but those have more force, the 10 pound shocks only have 8" of travel.

My van didn't come with a table so I made my own that attaches the the passenger side of the van youtube vid of how it works for those interested. thread about it here to avoid thread-jack.

But if I had the stock table I'd certainly Sodo-mod it!

Thanks for the compliment 8)

VANGAUX Thu Jun 04, 2009 10:37 am

I wanted to use the ideas listed in this "how to" section to be able to raise my rear table to access those lower cabinets. However, I could not find the right size tubing.

In looking at my collection of odds and ends I found an old piece of plastic water line that worked perfectly and installation was extremely easy--no welding, bending, or cutting little notches. All it took was a quick cut of the pipe to the right length, some sanding of the end of the plastic pipe and a little epoxy.

My wife is absolutely thrilled with this modification. If VW still made the Westy, I'll bet they would have done something like this. To see pictures, go to:


Jon_slider Fri Jun 05, 2009 7:47 am

> I found an old piece of plastic water line

that is the simplest solution I have seen yet, thanks!

climberjohn Fri Jun 05, 2009 4:27 pm

Thanks to a tip from 1621, I did a mod like this. I used a thick wood dowel and a sort of lag bolt that has threads at both ends (dunno what to call that).

I drilled a pilot hole in the floor, and threaded in one half of the lag bolt thing with pliers. Then I drilled a pilot hole in the dowel, lined up the dowel over the bolt sticking up from the floor, then threaded it tight.

Fast, cheap, works great. It's an excellent enhancement for the van that I'd recommend to anyone.

singler3360 Sun Jun 14, 2009 9:58 pm

Performed this mod today and it's a really nice (easy) thing to do for instant gratification. The hardware store had two different types of 1" metal electrical conduit (IMT and EMT??). The one without the threads and flared end fit inside perfectly, the other didn't, so the advice to take your table support into the store is a good one. The mod also results in being able to elevate the table far above the stove so that a second shelf is created when not cooking. Thanks for the post.

Sodo Fri Jul 03, 2009 4:12 pm

OK, continuing the table slider project..... to stop the maddening

Since the table can now be lifted to align with the metal moulding strip (which is part of the Vanagon body) I added rare-earth magnets to hold it against the wall. The metal strip is at 32" above floor level, which is 4.5" higher than original table height. These magnets are (one inch) long, embedded deep into the table.

The magnets protrude about 1/16". 3/32" would be better.
Source of rare-earth magnets ---->
I used four .75 inch magnets, 7.5 lb pull, but the longer 1.00" (10 lbs pull) would be better for many reasons. I drilled holes into the side of the table and pounded the magnets in.

It's not easy to drill the depth accurately. In the bottom of each hole is a small adjustment screw, which I used to pre-set the hole depth (so the magnets are equal across the 4 holes). The Gray edge-moulding is a "T" moulding. So don't assume that you'll get the full engagement of a 1" deep hole. A significant portion of the hole is taken up by the groove for T of the T-Molding.

The "steel strip" is not actually vertical, you have to hit it with a hammer at each contact point to make a vertical landing spot for each magnet. It's very thin and deforms easily. Tune it with a strip of paper between the magnet and the moulding, so all 4 magnets contact at the same time.

This aluminum bicycle part was modified to fit onto the slider. The hole was enlarged with a round file to fit the 1.165" electrical conduit. (30mm). This clamp (collar) is set at the default height where the magnets align with the metal strip. This is 4.5" above the original. It's easily adjustable too.

There it is, the new default height of 32", 4.5" higher. A little harder to open the rear closet, but easier to get into the bins. The table now equal to the stove height makes cooking easier.

wbx Fri Jul 03, 2009 8:48 pm

Sodo wrote:
No more "eeeeeeek....BONK!....eeeeeeek....BONK!....eeeeeeek....BONK!....eeeeeeek....BONK...."

Sodo, i'm digging the mod. Any fix that uses bike parts is right up my alley. 2 questions, though:

Do you find the new table height still suitable for eating/general table use?
Is there anything stopping you from placing the metal strip lower down to use the stock table height?

Thanks for the writeup!


Sodo Sat Jul 04, 2009 7:55 am

>>>Do you find the new table height still suitable for eating/general table use?

Good question! I edited the original post above adding this info (a few minutes ago.)

The metal strip is at 32".
Original height was 27.5, which is a little too low"
Standard dinnertable height (in your house) is 30".
At 32" it's equal to Westy stove height, which is convenient.
Access to the bins is good, they are much more useful.

>>>Is there anything stopping you from placing the metal strip lower down to use the stock table height?

Note that the metal strip is part of the existing Vanagon body. To get a height other than 32" you could ADD a 2nd metal strip (or attach 4 metal 'targets' to the pressboard paneling,. But the paneling is flimsy, and it's significantly un-flat, and finding structure behind it is hit/miss.

wavanagon Sat Jul 04, 2009 8:15 am

Sodo, I love the rare earth magent mod. As I near final reassembly of my westy's interior, this is one problem that I was wondering how to tackle. I have a pile of scsi hard drive magnets, and was trying to think of a way to put them to use to solve this problem, but your solution seems much more elegant! Thanks for continuing a great post!


Sodo Sat Jul 04, 2009 8:45 am

wavanagon wrote: I have a pile of scsi hard drive magnets

Hi Chris, I started with hard drive magnets too, but couldn't think of a way to use them - they are not very attractive either, and often epoxied to a chunk. Maybe create a front curtain and sew them into the fabric.

While you're ordering magnets, add this pack of 12 for your existing curtains. It's great for the slider door curtain, and you can get rid of the lower springy thingy:

(more info------->

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