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GhiaLover Mon Jan 04, 2010 8:50 am

I'm looking to convert my Vanagon (bus) into a high-top or bubble-top camper. I'm having no luck finding any companies that manufacture them anymore, and it's difficult for me (location-wise) to wait for and find a wreck.

Anyone know if there is someone making bubbletop or hightop kits for an 86 Vanagon?

I met a guy with one who told me there was someone in Oxnard, CA who did it about 12 years ago, but no luck finding them online.

Thanks.

danfromsyr Mon Jan 04, 2010 9:03 am

word on the net was/is these guys still can and will make vanagon profiled hightops for under $2k, my aging memory thinks it was more like ~$1k.
vanagons aren't listed on the website, but call and talk with them if interested.

http://www.discountvantruck.com/vantopsraisedroofs/vantops.htm

that is all I know on this company.

Dan in NY

blakeck2 Mon Jan 04, 2010 10:54 am

Ed is the guy who made the AdventureWagen conversion in Ft Braggs, California and did it up until the last vanagon was made and continued for a couple more years on fords. Ive herd many stories why he stopped but its sad to see what a great conversion he did disappear.

Its really rare to come by one in a junk yard or one that pops up for sale and they arnt the cheapest.

I also herd that the molds where sold to a guy and then the guy lost interest and they kind of vanished.

GBA 88West LA Mon Jan 04, 2010 12:14 pm

there was a guy on the samba who had the mold for the adventurewagen top and he was selling it....last time i saw it was a year or so ago

jacob. Mon Jan 04, 2010 12:20 pm

Somebody could make a lot of money if they made a nice top and started selling it. In fact, theres a lot of things you could make for these vans that could make you a lot of money it seems.

GBA 88West LA Mon Jan 04, 2010 12:36 pm

:idea: :idea: :idea: :idea: :idea: :idea: :idea: :idea:

Dogpilot Mon Jan 04, 2010 12:46 pm

I had heard the guy's wife got cancer and he was consumed with that and dropped out of touch. Understandable.

A skilled person could pull a mold and make the master from a good one, but it is a lot of work and a decent investment in time and materials. One would need to sell quite a few to make enough money to pay for the investment.

levi Mon Jan 04, 2010 1:14 pm

So you think folks are going to be willing to put up 4000 for a top?
I want to see that line.
:lol:
The last guy who had these molds (and I believe he got them for free), made ONE, (for himself I suppose?), and came to the conclusion that he'd have to sell at that price to make anything.

motelvw Tue Jan 05, 2010 5:25 am

Here's a company in the UK that sells them.

http://www.timbertechnicians.co.uk/13301.html

ThorAlex Tue Jan 05, 2010 5:58 am

bernd jaeger and reimo both sells tops, but both are in germany.

danfromsyr Tue Jan 05, 2010 7:38 am

The adventurewagen tops are in 3 pieces, outside top, inside ceiling & inside bed base, with insulation, they truely are a nice piece of work. but quite pricey to form & lay that much glass these days. and yea even @ $2k there isn't that big of a line in the residual vanagon owners market. that kind of 'upcharge' is far easier when one is buying a NEWish vehicle to slip in with financing.
Lets hope there's still a positive option in the link I provided above.

Dan in NY

Dogpilot wrote: I had heard the guy's wife got cancer and he was consumed with that and dropped out of touch. Understandable.

A skilled person could pull a mold and make the master from a good one, but it is a lot of work and a decent investment in time and materials. One would need to sell quite a few to make enough money to pay for the investment.

joetiger Tue Jan 05, 2010 8:05 am

See this thread regarding Fiberine tops:

http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=338892&highlight=fiberine

EDIT: I was just reading through the above thread and it contains the build photos of Dave's (TDIVanagon) build. Un-freaking-believable:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/sets/72157612979964968/show/


There was an ongoing discussion about saving the Adventurewagen molds on the Vanagon list several years back; I'm not sure whatever came of it:

http://gerry.vanagon.com/cgi-bin/wa.exe?S2=vanagon&m=232205&a=2002&s=adventurewagen

GhiaLover Wed Jan 06, 2010 12:32 pm

Thanks Danfromsyr for the referral to Discount Van and Truck.
http://www.discountvantruck.com/vantopsraisedroofs/vantops.htm

Yes, they can make a bubble-top for the Vanagon. They build them to order, so you can get options. Here's a brief run-down of prices:

Cost of basic top: $1050
Liner: about $500 (I think)
Flange: $120
Windows: $525 for two on the sides
Crating: $200
Shipping: about $450 from Southern California to Washington State

They'll also install it for you on Saturday mornings, for about $400, if you drive to their Southern California factory.

It takes about two weeks to make them. The Vanagon isn't listed on their website, but they do have the mould to make tops for Vanagons. The salesperson I talked to didn't know they could make them for Vanagons, though - I had to talk to someone in the technical support department who confirmed.

buildyourown Wed Jan 06, 2010 12:48 pm

You could make one easy enough for those prices. You wouldn't need to do a traditional investment and mold style contruction either. The Westy tops were made over a male mold.
Use polystyrene (pink or blue ridgid roam) to make a "model of your top. Then lay the glass over and tuck under to make a flange. Remove foam either mechincally or chemically. Yes the outside finish won't be gelcoat smooth, but neither is a westy top.

Texxxxx Wed Jan 06, 2010 12:54 pm

I guess I can see where the structural strength could be maintained with the bed and storage options, but what about without? I mean, you just can't cut the top off and place a shell up there...right? Do you keep the cross-members from the pillars intact and have to duck under them?

blakeck2 Wed Jan 06, 2010 2:37 pm

Texxxxx wrote: I guess I can see where the structural strength could be maintained with the bed and storage options, but what about without? I mean, you just can't cut the top off and place a shell up there...right? Do you keep the cross-members from the pillars intact and have to duck under them?

The cross member in a AW is removed :shock:


danfromsyr Wed Jan 06, 2010 7:05 pm

In the european market vanagons hightop delivery commercial vehicles the cross bars are non-existant. the vanagon is fairly stout by design, not saying you'd want a tall centered SUV to broadside w/o that roof cross brace.
but the factory/commercial aftermarket does remove them with little/no problems. think of the single/double cabs. well I guess they have a back wall to add 3d rigidity, so maybe not a good compare subject

Texxxxx wrote: I guess I can see where the structural strength could be maintained with the bed and storage options, but what about without? I mean, you just can't cut the top off and place a shell up there...right? Do you keep the cross-members from the pillars intact and have to duck under them?

Wolpi Thu Jan 07, 2010 9:17 pm

Scirrocco, Do let us know which route you choose. I am also contemplating a hitop for my Westy. I've been thinking of a foamcore shell with fiberglass overlay... Saw a local hovercraft manufacturer making large foamcore shells- light and strong. Lived in Germany for 8 years, so I have seen many of the amazing hitops they have over there.
looking forward to hearing more and seeing photos!
JD
'81 Westy Vanagorsche

westyventures Thu Jan 07, 2010 9:55 pm

SciroccoLover wrote: Thanks Danfromsyr for the referral to Discount Van and Truck.
http://www.discountvantruck.com/vantopsraisedroofs/vantops.htm

Yes, they can make a bubble-top for the Vanagon. They build them to order, so you can get options. Here's a brief run-down of prices:

Cost of basic top: $1050
Liner: about $500 (I think)
Flange: $120
Windows: $525 for two on the sides
Crating: $200
Shipping: about $450 from Southern California to Washington State



I'd bet if you look closely you'll find 'discountvantruck' is Fiberine. Get some installed photos of one on a van before plunking down the $$$.

GhiaLover Fri Jan 08, 2010 9:41 am

westyventures wrote:
I'd bet if you look closely you'll find 'discountvantruck' is Fiberine. Get some installed photos of one on a van before plunking down the $$$.

Thanks, Karl. So, is the general consensus that Fiberine tops aren't great quality or design?



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