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Fiberine High-top Review
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micklongley
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 10, 2010 10:33 am    Post subject: Fiberine High-top Review Reply with quote

The Westfalia pop-top is a great design. It is airy, sleeps two adults, is comfortable, and provides a great amount of standing and storage space while you are parked. A few of the downsides are poor storage space while not popped, and difficulty in insulating for winter camping. These downsides led me to a decision to install a high-top. I had a great desire to be able to store adventure equipment and camping supplies while I was roaming the country. A high-top allows me to stow equipment, sleep, and stand with plenty of head space (I stand at 6'3”).

As I started my search, I found that there were limited sources for getting my hands on one of these gems. One way was to find an Adventurewagen top, or complete van as a donor. I searched for weeks on Craigslist and The Samba but was never lucky enough to find one. I then moved on to looking at new fiberglass options. I found that there were only two companies producing any sort of top for the Vanagon. The first was a XXXXXXXXXXXX out of Canada, which the tops were imported from England, and the second was a manufacturer, Fiberine, out of Los Angeles.

The imported high-tops looked great and had plenty of options, like carpeting kits, windows, etc. The lines were clean and looked great on existing Vanagons I had seen with these particular tops installed. I then checked into the price and found that it was just too far out of my price range and my priorities for money were elsewhere. I also found that since they were imported from Europe, and not manufactured in North America, there was going to be a bit of a wait once my order was placed. Driving to Canada was another hurdle I had to weigh when I considered my options.

I looked further into Fiberine, the manufacturer out of Los Angeles, and found one negative review on The Samba. I decided to contact Fiberine and see what their guarantee on quality was and talked to Rico, the V.P. He assured me that the product quality was excellent. I continued to research the quality issues as well as try to find first-hand experience with the Fiberine tops. I couldn't find anyone with first-hand experience, just a lot of speculation and opinion, so I decided to continue to talk with Fiberine. The mold was recently repaired and Rico sent pictures of the fiberglass mold and continued to offer his assurances of quality to my skepticism. I went ahead and took the plunge – I told Rico to go ahead and make me a top and that I'd be there in a week to have it installed.

I live in Durango, Colorado so it is still a bit of a drive out to Los Angeles but a couple friends and I decided to make a Southern California road trip out of it. We arrived at the shop early on Friday morning and I was able to look at the top while it was in the last stages of being buffed out for its final brilliant white finish. It looked great, so I started disassembling the Westfalia top. We were able to get the Westy top off in about an hour and immediately the high-top was placed and fitted by Rico's guys. About 5 hours later the top was trimmed out and installation was complete.

The quality of the Fiberine top is just great. It may not have all the bells and whistles of the other North American option, but for the price I figure I can trim out the interior to my taste. Windows should be a snap to install, and it should insulate with ease. My original criteria for a top were met 100%. I can store my equipment while driving, sleep, and even cook while standing!

I will be continuing to post my experience with the Fiberine top, as well as my modifications to the interior. I hope you find this review useful if you are in the market for a new top.

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Bruce Wayne
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 10, 2010 11:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

may I ask how much it was?
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DAIZEE
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 10, 2010 12:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Comments re using Search are withdrawn with an apology!
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MarkWard
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 10, 2010 1:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Daizee, Having a bad day? The search engine with all the threads can be cumbersome to use. I am surprised with this coming from you. mark
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DAIZEE
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 10, 2010 4:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

well then I will take the time to apologize.

Could I also add tho that I'd be very concerned re that space i.e. scoop at the front. That's all. I'm not now nor will I be interested in a hi top. I just thought 2 new threads started back to back was odd.
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WW_Victoria
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 10, 2010 7:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Can you fold the upper bed away?

How was the drive back? how did the handling change and to what extent?

install method? adhesive or screws or both??

PRICE!? Smile


Looks good. I think a couple of vents maybe a window... will watch your reviews with interest.
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 10, 2010 7:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, please keep posting your progress and...price?
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 11, 2010 12:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

In this post he says it's about 1000.
http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=423217
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micklongley
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 11, 2010 9:32 am    Post subject: Answering some questions Reply with quote

PRICE: I got a bit of a discount due to me giving Fiberine a shot after their reputation was tarnished on The Samba by the bad review. He repaired the mold and gave me a deal on it. I would call Fiberine and tell him you read this review and see if he could cut you a deal. I know he's looking to get these back into steady production (and I'm stoked to see a manufacturer not let a good Vanagon product slip out of production).

HANDLING: I noticed a bit more roll in side wind situations. I had a chance to drive about 800 miles back home, so this was a good test to the top affecting my vans handling. It was incredibly windy through East San Diego County and blew me all over my lane, but it was manageable. Keep in mind I have a bit of a lift as well as 28" tires on 14" wheels.

I plan to paint the top to match my "zebra" theme then build a rack to stow the solar, surf boards, etc. Then I'll be installing a few windows and a top vent. After that I will be finishing the interior and building a new bed surface (the existing Westy bed platform will not fold down, the top is too short).

Let me know if you have any other questions and I'll be keeping this post going as modifications are made.
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PDXWesty
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 11, 2010 9:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Congratulations on the top! About the top bunk, if you disconnect and remove the hinges on the fold out, you can still store it in the same place and slide it out for use. It doesn't have to fold. You can also devise a method to hold it in place too if you're worried about that, but it can work in multiple ways. Some cleats attached to the underside can keep it centered in the correct spot when slid into position.
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werksberg
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 11, 2010 9:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Make a friendly suggestion to him to blast a white gel coat layer (with surfacing agent to cure proper) on the inside after they lay it up. It won't be smooth but better looking than the lamination resin brown and reinforcements.....
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micklongley
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 16, 2010 11:41 am    Post subject: Some progress has been made Reply with quote

That is a good point about the interior finish. If you chose to keep it uninsulated, or just wanted to maximize space and have a decent looking finish, then I would definitely follow the previous suggestion. Im planning on epoxying furring strips in rib-like fashion and insulating, followed by coroplast and vintage wallpaper that goes with my interior. The rough fiberglass should hold the epoxied strips well.

A little progress was made to the exterior this week. Another benefit to the high top that I didn't give much thought, was the fact that you can have a strong, fixed, roof rack mounted to the gutters. Below are a few pictures of the new paint and a safari-style rack I put together using 3/4" EMT conduit. I am now able to mount my bridging/sand ladders and my solar panel so I'm happy to get those back onto the van. I'm planning on working on the interior in about two weeks - I'll be sure to take pictures and give folks some inspiration to enrich their lives with a high top Smile

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 16, 2010 1:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nice job, I really like the rack. I was going to make one out of EMT and felt that it would have been way heavy for the size I was thinking...

Nice solar....
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micklongley
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 26, 2010 9:38 pm    Post subject: No progress yet... ugh Reply with quote

Well no progress on the top, but I did replace axles and my sink faucet!

EMT is a great material to use for a rack. Its super light weight, strong, and can be bent easily. The only draw back would be the noxious galvanized coating that must be physically removed before you try to weld. If you went without removing the galvanizing you will lose some brain cells.

I hope to be installing windows this weekend, then insulating and finishing the interior by next week. I'll keep y'all updated.

Mick
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 28, 2010 10:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi. Reading how you intend to finish the inside top. I'm wondering if that's not a lot of weight plus the rack, plus the solar?. Does that make you top heavy or does it balance out the bottom.? I don't know, I'm asking
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micklongley
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 01, 2010 6:38 pm    Post subject: Started a new topic! Reply with quote

Hi All, I started a new topic detailing my build, as this topic was intended to be a review of the hightop itself.

Here is my build topic: http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?p=4811234#4811234

Daizee, The rack is made of very lightweight EMT conduit and weighs less than 10lbs. The solar weighs less than 5lbs. The bridging ladders are the beasts, and they weigh in at around 15lbs each. The method I'm using to finish the interior will also hopefully be lightweight, using salvaged 1X2's, fiberglass insulation, and wall paper (or some other light covering).

I have noticed a bit of body roll in heavy wind and when screaming around corners, but I attribute this too the weight of the top mostly. Also keep in mind that I'm on big squishy tires on 14" wheels and have a bit of lift.

I hope that answers some questions. If you wouldn't mind, post to the new topic regarding my build process.

Thanks!
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 02, 2010 11:03 am    Post subject: Re: No progress yet... ugh Reply with quote

micklongley wrote:
EMT is a great material to use for a rack. Its super light weight, strong, and can be bent easily. The only draw back would be the noxious galvanized coating that must be physically removed before you try to weld. If you went without removing the galvanizing you will lose some brain cells.


Bear in mind that the galvanized coating contains lead. If you grind it off and inhale any of the dust (even in extremely small quantities) it can cause a whole slew of very serious gastric and nervous system disorders.
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micklongley
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 07, 2010 5:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is a very good point about the galvanization compound. Please be careful if you decide to use this material and wear eye protection as well as a HEPA type mask. This will block even the finest particles of the galvanized material from reaching your lungs.
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 19, 2011 12:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

that top is so rad and it sounds like its way cheaper than the other hgh tops from canada and it looks a little more low profile. Plus i live an hour from LA i need to order one for my syncro tomorrow!!

whats there contact info?[/u]
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 19, 2011 1:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

after looking at photos of both tops i was wondering how tall it is in the upper bunk area on that fiber line top?
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