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Installed New Pop Top Canvas - My thoughts
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wolfej1
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 28, 2006 6:31 am    Post subject: Installed New Pop Top Canvas - My thoughts Reply with quote

Installed new poptop canvas utilizing the $245 3 window model from Bus Depot (which is a unit that is sold by a company named JustKampers located in the UK).

First thing I noticed is that the material used is definitely of a thinner grade material than the original. Somewhat disappointed Sad My advice would be to get the expensive Westfalia replacement if this would be a problem for you. I wish I would have.. Sad

3 windows are a nice feature

That being said, I installed it with the top on, as I had nobody to assist me in taking it off. I think that of all of the work I have done on my van during the past year, this was the worst Mad . I did not mind removing the engine, installing a new brake vacuum booster, new brake master cylinder, clutch slave cylinder, fuel pump and filter, rear brake lines, or lifting the rear end.

This job just sucked Exclamation

If I had to do it again, I would make certain to have helpers and get the top off. I think the end result would have been more professional. Keep in mind I did not butcher anything, but it ain't perfect like I like things to be.

I got to the point where I just wanted the damn thing installed (after about 9 hours) and finished and I messed a few things up.

My advice:

Buy the best canvas you can if you are going to keep your van long term.
Have 2 helpers
Take the top off
Clean the top and roof while top is off
Have a small phillips screw driver
Have a good staple gun - if you need it (later vans do not)
Take your time
Don't get pissed off

Out,
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Raynor Shine
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 28, 2006 7:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have to say, nothing I have done on my van, not even blower motor replacement tested my patience like this project.

Maybe because like you stated we want things to look perfect. I also agree, I purchased the gowesty sunbrella top & was suprised how much thinner it was than original. be careful screwing the bottom rails back on...

But at least you are done!
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r39o
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 28, 2006 7:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just becasue the material is thinner does not mean it is not as strong. There are some materials they use for kites that is paper thin and very strong. I think it is a threads per inch sort of thing. Thicker threads of the same material means stronger. But if the thread material is different, then all bets are off.

I sure am glad my top is basically OK, since we use it so little. I KNOW it is a PITA to put those things in. I too have heard many war stories about thiem. The 3 window design, though is really neat. Maybe the material has to be thinner so the two side widows fit right when folded? These tops seem to last a decade or two, so maybe in 20 years there will be something better....
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wolfej1
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 28, 2006 8:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Just becasue the material is thinner does not mean it is not as strong. There are some materials they use for kites that is paper thin and very strong. I think it is a threads per inch sort of thing. Thicker threads of the same material means stronger. But if the thread material is different, then all bets are off.


Agreed...

However, I think all bets are off in this instance. There is no way that this material is stronger than the original. It seemed like it would rip pretty easily if one was not careful....
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Jeff Stewart
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 28, 2006 9:01 am    Post subject: Westy Canvas Reply with quote

I too, used the less expensive Bus Depot canvas and regret it. Last time on another Westy I used Bus Depot's better canvas and was very satisfied-you get what you pay for! That said, even the cheap stuff has kept the interior dry even during some pretty good thunder storms, so while I wouldn't call it crap, it probably won't have the lifespan the heavier grade does. Jeff Surprised
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dragonfire709
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 28, 2006 11:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I had the exact same problem with the replacement roof I got from JK here in the UL. Also the front bar really pulled on the cavas, which meant every time it rained the van got waterlogged. It looked like this(Van on the right).

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


Luckily JK were very good about it, and sourced and supplied me a German canvas(and lots of freebies!), which is very good quality thick canvas and fits like a glove. It took a while to sort out, but I am so much happier with the German roof.
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dragonfire709
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 28, 2006 11:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ok.

How do I make the picture bigger?!?!? Embarassed
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mightyart
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 28, 2006 11:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You are linked to the images thumbnail:
https://www.thesamba.com/vw/gallery/pix/thumbnails/305149.jpg
you have to be linked to the full size .jpg address, which is:
https://www.thesamba.com/vw/gallery/pix/305149.jpg
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bacwmi
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 28, 2006 11:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I installed the gowesty canvas (cheapest grade) and it seemed quite a bit thicker than the original. When closed it doesn't tuck up against the sides as neatly as the original but it is acceptable. I was worried that with its slightly looser weave or thread count that it might leak -I was wrong, it did great. it came with a nice water repellant coating.
I installed it without removing the top and it wasn't that bad for me. It was during the summer monsoon so there was a decent cool breeze blowing so I didn't sweat too bad. A power screwdriver w/extention makes a difference. took sat and sun to get it on. I would install a new canvas over having to put on a steering boot anyday of the week (never been so pissed off in my life)

thanks
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dragonfire709
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 28, 2006 12:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Mightyart!

Lets try this;

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

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msinabottle
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 28, 2006 12:57 pm    Post subject: Anybody tried the Acrylic? Reply with quote

I'd be interested in going in the direction of the modern 3-window synthetics--from the horrible descriptions of the job of replacing it, I'd as soon not have to do it again for a couple of decades.

Anyone tried one of those?

Best!
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noganav
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 28, 2006 1:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Damn that is one sweet hi-top camper, is it a euro westy?
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tsombrero1
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 28, 2006 2:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Huh, I replaced mine last weekend with a new Sunbrella one. I did it with the top on and it took about 7 hours at a relaxed pace... kinda a pain but maybe I have a high tolerance for torture? If other vanagon jobs are that much easier, I'm going to enjoy working on this baby...

BTW mine has the screws, not the staples. Maybe that's the part that sucks.

Anyway, it's in now and I love it. Seems plenty strong and looks great too.
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wolfej1
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 28, 2006 2:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Also the front bar really pulled on the cavas, which meant every time it rained the van got waterlogged. It looked like this(Van on the right).


Actually, mine pulls a bit tight on the front as well. not nearly as bad as yhe picture though. I think it would be better to be a bit loose than too tight.
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dragonfire709
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 28, 2006 2:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah, it was pulling very tight. We couldnt quite work out why, and it was very loose at the sides. It was embarrasing to pop the top! The German roof is much better, almost like the original.

The other van is an Autosleeper. Its a UK conversion, favoured by the older generation of campers, but my friend has extensively modified it. It does get a lot of stares at the shows!
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Dellaone
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 28, 2006 6:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

"BTW mine has the screws, not the staples. Maybe that's the part that sucks."

Aye.

Thats the part that sucks.

Especially like I did with the top still on.

Dave
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wolfej1
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 28, 2006 7:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes - the staples are a big factor in the suckiness of the job. Very awkward and messy.

Screwing would be better! Wink
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wbx
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 28, 2006 9:20 pm    Post subject: Re: Anybody tried the Acrylic? Reply with quote

msinabottle wrote:
from the horrible descriptions of the job of replacing it...


My canvas replacement experience was quite a bit different. I had a buddy come over, we started the job, stopped half way through, went for a bike ride, had some beers, got further along, called it quits, and then i finished the next day. It was tedious, but fun having a friend help me.

Sounds like that may be the key Smile

And yes, the thin replacement canvas is a bit dissapointing. Not that there is a performance difference that i can tell...

-Damon
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Dharma_Bum
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 28, 2006 9:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good information. Thanks for sharing it. This project is on my next spring’s to-do list <<This job just sucked>> and I am already looking forward to it!

I was planning on going with the 3-window design in the Sunbrella. The Sunbrella is a very nice fabric and wears very well. I lived in the Caribbean for a couple years and Sunbrella was the fabric of choice for all outdoor applications - boats, yachts, patio furniture…. As I recall there are two different grades of the Sunbrella. I reupholstered some furniture with it. It is not bad to work with and I used the heavier grade. It sews up like a heavy cotton duck fabric. Traditional cotton canvas in the salt air disintegrates after a couple years.

I would think that the Sunbrella pop-top canvas would last the life of your Vanagon. My OEM canvas is still in fairly decent shape after 23-years. The weakest point on the Sunbrella would be the seams and the thread. I would hope the manufacture would use a thick high grade nylon thread with this fabric.

I was planning on removing the pop-top for this job. Your experience confirmed this. This would be a good opportunity to refurbish the fiberglass top and the cargo basket. There are a couple good posts in the archive on marine grade paints to use.

I am curious how the 3-window Sunbrella would roll up with the pop-top closed.

Do you have any pictures of this project? I would be interested in seeing the steps.
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rudar
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 28, 2006 11:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Would it be possible/ advisable to ``upgrade'' from the staple system to one using screws if and when I get around to replacing the canvas? All one would need, it seems, is a rail with some grip to it and holes for the screws; I'd imagine something from the insulation section of the hardware store could be pressed into duty...
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