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Poptop on or off for canvas replacement?
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Poptop on or off for canvas replacement?
Leave it on
46%
 46%  [ 21 ]
What, you don't have three friends? Take it off!
53%
 53%  [ 24 ]
Total Votes : 45

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Zeen
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 24, 2005 8:21 pm    Post subject: Poptop on or off for canvas replacement? Reply with quote

Finally made up my mind and got the Sunbrella canvas for my '76 Westy. I've been searching for tips and suggestions, and this question is still unresolved. The instructions that came from GoWesty, and the "official" looking instructions from VW Trends, seem pretty adamant about taking off the top. But others have said it's easier to leave it in place. What is the consensus of the board?
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germansupplyscott
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 24, 2005 8:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

i can't imagine replacing the canvas with the top still on the bus. it's like taking the heads off the engine with it still in the bus, it might be possible, but...
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60sbeetleguy
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 24, 2005 8:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I replaced the canvas on my 73 Westy with the top ON the bus. I don't see how you would be able to do it with it off. You have to staple it to the top and then screw it into the roof. I just popped my top up about half way (I used a box to hold it up) and then started in the corners and it came out looking as good as the original. Just take your time.

Al
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Bajatacoma
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 25, 2005 12:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Take it off. Working overhead on anything is a pain.

After you remove the old fabric, spray the flocking down good with water and Tilex Mold and Mildew remover, let it sit for a bit and then scrub it with a soft bristle brush. Rinse well and allow to dry. Mine was pretty nasty and I was surprised how clean it got; I think one of the POs must have been a smoker so washing that along with the plaid made the bus smell better inside.

Now start on your new fabric installation.
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Brian Bower
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 25, 2005 2:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I did mine with the top on . Like Al , just held the top open with a box and took it apart and put it back together. Mesure up your 16 points and line them up and it will turn out real nice. Plus ,I didn't have any help to take it off my Westy,and I wouldn't want to mess up my paint.
Karl
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twinfalls
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 25, 2005 5:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was told that removing the old staples with no damage to the wood is difficult.
If that is true, I would remove the top to unstaple and to clean bus top and pop top. Removing and bolting back is very easy.
Stappling back must be done with the top installed, if you want to check about enought and no too much tension on the fabric when fully extended up.
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vwcampin
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 26, 2005 8:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just helped my friend replace the canvas in his 78 Westy a couple weeks ago. After removing the old canvas we decided to remove the top and I can't imagine putting the new canvas on without having it off. As stated above, it's a great time to clean the flocking which came out pretty nice, and we also decided to paint the top while we had it off. Stapling the canvas to the roof was much easier IMHO than it would have been to have it still on the bus. Take your time and it will come out great.
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rccbusfreak
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 26, 2005 11:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I voted to take it off. Tell some friends your "havin a party"! When you pull off the poptop it will give you the chance to check out all the hardware for tightness and NO leaks. Mine has to come off soon to paint front half of roof. I am swapping all carriage bolts and misc. hardware for stainless steel (the wonder metal). Plus seal them all with marine grade clear silicone. Good Luck!
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kookrod
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 26, 2005 8:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

did my canvas and poptop seal at the asme time. with a little help from my brother it was a snap. Very Happy the whole job took the better part of a saturday and only one trip to the hardware store! Wink
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bdann
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 26, 2005 8:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's one fine looking bus.
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jeremysmithatshawdotca
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 26, 2005 9:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

We took the top off when we did it. I think you'd do yourself a favour if you measured how much the tent extends from the roof before you remove the original, so that you can get it right with the new canvas on your first try. I think the one we did was pretty close, perhaps a shade shorter than it should have been, which made the tent pretty tight in the beginning (it did strech a bit later).

Jeremy
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westy78
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 26, 2005 10:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Take it off. It may seem like more work but working at the back in that tight space trying to staple the canvas correctly just isn't worth it. There should be seams at the front and back. Make sure they are centered and work around to the corners from there and then make sure the corner seams are lined up to the corner of the screw strip. Make sure to put the canvas against the pop top and then staple the tack strip to it. That way the canvas folds over the top of the strip and hides it when finished like the original. That is the problem I had with mine. The canvas was about an inch to short so when I got all the screw strips on the bottom in and went to raise the top the material was to short and I couldn't lock out the pop top struts. I would suggest instead of bringing the canvas to the bottom of the tack strip only go half way down the back side of it so you have enough slack in it when you try to raise it.
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metropoj
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 27, 2005 6:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I did it with the top on and had no issues. I may try it with the top off next time to see if it's any different next time. i was worried that if I took it off i'd end up with too short or buched up canvass and look like crap. Top on worked for me personally ...
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TrollFromDownBelow
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 27, 2005 7:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Don -

My 2 cents.... if you have dedicated help for a whole Saturday afternoon - take it off. If you don't, leave it on.

I did mine with it on. However, I did cheat and use a pnuematic brad nailer to reattach to the top - tried electric stapler, and it just wasn't happening.

If you leave it on be careful not to twist the hinges in the rear (w/o the canvass the assembly is kinda 'twisty') if you bend them, it won't want to seal tightly in the front.

Mike
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tristessa
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 27, 2005 10:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Did the canvas on my '75 with the top on, all by myself. Spent about a week doing it too, "puttering" for an hour or two every evening until I got it done. It's not perfect but all in all it came out pretty well.

Yeah, it would have been faster and easier to take the top off. But I would've had to have some help and a day with nothing else to going on .. and with the "honey-do" lists I get from my wife out of nowhere that just wasn't gonna happen. Rolling Eyes
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Zeen
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 27, 2005 6:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you very much for the votes and comments. The collective wisdom of the board coming together is such a beautiful thing. Cool

So I guess the consensus is it can be successfully accomplished either way. You're trading the hassle of removing the top for the ease of working on it at waist level instead of overhead and scrunched up in the back corners.
If the bus is your main ride, and you couldn't risk being caught with the top off, you would probably go for top on, and if you needed to scrub the mold or do some other serious work on the top you'd definitely take it off. Being able to check the fit on the bottom before you attach to the top might be a plus for the top-on strategy. I think I'll putter with it for a few evenings with the top on and see how it goes. If it gets to be a pain I'll try to recruit a crew with a case of beer on a Saturday.

Troll, so the brads are holding up? I've got a compressor and a brad nailer, but the heads are so tiny I didn't think they'd hold. I was thinking it would need a pneumatic stapler.

Kookrod, that is a sweet bus. I love the grey ponytail too. One of these days when the kids are through college and I'm free of the corporate shackles, "I'm gonna let my freak flag fly" like the old days! Very Happy

Thanks again.
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Bajatacoma
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 27, 2005 7:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I used an Arrow T50 stapler and had tap some of the staples in place with a hammer. This was another reason that having the top off was easier to me- I had room to manipulate the hammer without worrying about striking the top. The pnuematic stapler would have been easier; you'll still have to cut the air up a bit to seat the staples through the plastic as it's pretty thick. Get the fabric straight and just tack it in place with a few staples then after you've made sure it's straight go back and add more staples.

It's definitley one of those jobs where you can feel justified in rewarding yourself with a beer at the end of it. Very Happy
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kookrod
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 27, 2005 8:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Kookrod, that is a sweet bus. I love the grey ponytail too.


HAR! the ponytail belongs to my brother Bob. I'm the fat bastard with the rubber hammer. Wink as far as the bus being sweet. you bet! shes a traveler. infact the wife and I are leaving on a camping trip tomorrow for a mid week get away. Cool

oh yea I also had a chance to clean up the rest of the roof a bit while I had the top off too. Idea a lot of crap built up under there over the years.
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tharmon
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 28, 2005 9:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

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Kookrod: How did you post three pictures? I've tried without success.
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Zeen
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 08, 2005 8:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thought I'd bump this back up with my vote and experience. I can't say which method is better, having only done it this one time, but I had good luck with the top on. Using Troll's idea of the pneumatic brad nailer, it was relatively straight forward to get the canvas attached while laying on the bunk, and it had the advantage of being able to line up the length properly.
The hardest part of the job for me was attaching the metal strip on the bottom, with those little screws angling away from you up against the canvas, and that's the same whether you take the top off or not. Actually, next time I might just put the bottom on first, then stretch it for a perfect fit to the top. I think my tack strip was brittle, because I cracked it in a number of places with the nailer. A pnuematic stapler would probably be better, but I couldn't justify the investment.
The biggest factor in choosing top-on was I didn't have a whole day to rally a crew and focus on the job, and was able to do it myself by putzing at it over a few evenings.

Oh, and I'm happy with the Sunbrella fabric from GoWesty. It's soft, easy to handle, and looks nice. But check it carefully before you install it, mine has one poorly sewn seam that would have led me to send it back if I had discovered it before I was halfway into the installation.

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