View original topic: On the road -- Pop Top Storm Damage, Advice Please (Denver)
snowday Thu Jul 11, 2013 10:47 am

Hi all,

So my wife and I are going cross country this summer in a 73 Westy, from Brooklyn to California and back, and all has been amazing. We've met many a VW owner and everyone has been so nice. We used air cool rescue squad (AIRS) once in Georgia and Jon Hobus in Athens, helped us out which was amazing! (Just needed to adjust points, but I am new to this all)

Other than a wheel bearing replacement, so far so good. Until the other day. We found ourselves in Kansas. And I mean the plains in the middle of nowhere! We got hit on the road with a severe thunderstorm and I said to myself, I'll be ok if I slow down a bunch. Suddenly, we heard a CRACK and we look back and see sky! I pull over and my wife and I run back and hold the handle on the pop top to keep it down. The wind is pulling it up and we both just hold it down as hard as we could. I found some rope with one free arm and tied the handle down and just kept holding. Eventually, the wind dies a bit and I drove to find shelter while she held the roof down. At this point it was hailing like crazy and we saw a barn on the side of the road and just pulled into it to wait out the storm.

So that is the background.... Now, here is the situation. We have 7 weeks left of camping on the roadtrip and our poptop is damaged.

I've attached some pics so you can see.

My goal is to do something temporarily to get us through the rest of the trip and then I can do a real fix at home.

As you san see, it is a wood frame and the wood split off of the top with the wind, which explains why the hook did not hold the roof down.

I could use wood glue on this and in theory it will hold unless we hit another storm. But I am confused by something:

This shows the corner and it seems that there is some sort of edge on the poptop that is not wood that cracked. Is that some sort of fiberglass spray that was holding the wood to the roof?

I am in the Denver area passing through and heading West so if anyone has a bit of time this weekend with some space to work on this, I would be grateful. Alternatively, if anyone can tell me how they would do an emergency repair in this situation, I would also be grateful!

I'll never understand how the wind got enough force from below to lift the top up, given that it is pretty well sealed, but I guess nature is funny sometimes.

Thanks for your time!

Oh, and a few hours before the top ripped, we were having a ball at Monument Rock in Kansas:

(And if interested, you can follow our travels at

Randy in Maine Thu Jul 11, 2013 11:00 am

I think I would try to find some ratcheting straps at Walmart or something to get you home at least.

Sort of like this...

I would probably put them on 2 from front to back and 2 side to side to see if that helps.

mikedjames Thu Jul 11, 2013 1:14 pm

You could probably glue that broken wood together with a few packs of two-pack epoxy and some small nails or screws to hold it together as the glue sets, to keep it going as a poptop that opens for camping -
And tie down with cargo straps on the road.

The 'fiberglass spray' is actually woven fiberglass tape covered in polyester resin - as used in boat and RV construction. Epoxy resin is better at sticking to old polyester resin than new polyester resin sticks to old.

When you get home replace the fiberglass tape that has broken at the corner with a new piece - using new tape glued with boat epoxy resin - the old tape will probably just pull away from the wood and the poptop, or break away using a chisel or screwdriver.

GeorgeO. Thu Jul 11, 2013 1:22 pm

It took me nine hours to put up my pop top and tent but it took me several days to develop a strategy to do it. A can of fiberglass resin kit with fiber glass will cost you about less than $20 and clamps to reset your wood will run you at least $10 ea. from Harbor Freight. You will need to reset your wooden frame in the top by taking the Top off. If you want to do it cheaply just enough to get you back on the road, use Gorilla Glue which will set in a matter of hours and cost you less. You will also need a T-50 stapler to attach your strip on the frame. Good luck, I hope you make it out here.

snowday Fri Jul 12, 2013 10:52 am

Thanks George, Mike and Randy. Your responses give me some ideas of what to pick up to do a temporary repair, and what is in store when I get back to Brooklyn. Very much appreciated!

Randy in Maine Fri Jul 12, 2013 11:03 am

May you continue to have good travels.

BTW, I enjoyed The Chalk Pyramids out there in Western Kansas. Some nice fossils in the area also.

On your way back, you may want to stop here....

GeorgeO. Fri Jul 12, 2013 11:18 am

Take care Brother and watch out for those storm warnings!

snowday Fri Jul 26, 2013 9:28 pm

Randy in Maine wrote: May you continue to have good travels.

BTW, I enjoyed The Chalk Pyramids out there in Western Kansas. Some nice fossils in the area also.

On your way back, you may want to stop here....

Glad you said that! Check out my avatar...

ned Sun Jul 28, 2013 9:55 am

Have you made it to California yet? If you are still on your way west I have a replacement top for you. Of course it doesnt look as nice as the rest of your bus but it is solid. You are welcome to it. I have room to camp and a shop to work on it. Im just sayin`.

ned Wed Jul 31, 2013 4:00 pm

You know you two left and I didn't take one picture. I can say that your bus is really nice. I just hope that I used the right timing marks. If not you are gonna run hot. It was a pleasure to meet you and thanks for breakfast. Travel safe.

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