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Replacing the Tent
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snowleopard
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 06, 2007 8:14 am    Post subject: Replacing the Tent Reply with quote

As is usual, my old Westy tent is crapped out with patches and new sorts of holes and rips. It served me well. I bought a replacement (and am looking forward to having the three windows), but here's the prob: GW suggests at least 3, if not 4, people to assist in removing the poptop. My buddies have all left town for vacation. Frankly, I think it was on purpose to avoid helping...a few choice words there.... I'd like to hear from folks about the trials and tribulations of changing out the old with the new...and has anyone had the insanity to try and change this all by their lonesome...like someone in Montana?
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camo westy
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 06, 2007 9:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

If your canvas has the later beaded top that is held in by an aluminum strip, its easy.

The earlier staple in variety will be a headache...

Pull off one side of the upper and make sure you have the correct canvas. Later has a bead sewn into the canvas, earlier is staple in.
Lower side is helg by a 1/2 scale plastic fender welt strip sewn into the bottom of the cnavas.

I have an '85 and it has the later type with the beaded top., I hope yours is too.
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PDXWesty
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 06, 2007 10:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have an 89 and changed my tent last year. I've done it twice now and I wouldn't do it without removing the top. It's already a back breaker and an arm wrencher. I can't imagine trying to hang the canvas, get it in the right place, and put in all those screws while upside down. I took it off with just one other person.

My recommendation is to remove the top. it will save you at least two hours and a lot of struggle.

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msinabottle
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 06, 2007 12:32 pm    Post subject: Thank You! Reply with quote

Thank you, that's a very useful post. I hope you can add a few pictures of attaching the lower part of the tent!

One of Winston's previous owners used a heavy caulk all along the seal of the poptop, if I pull that top, I'll need to razor that off carefully and install a new seal. It adds to the daunting nature of the job.

Do you suppose it's possible to install the later aluminum beaded type of top once you've pulled the screws and staples of the older installation? At least the job would be easier the next time.

Best!
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PDXWesty
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 06, 2007 1:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Unfortunately I didn't take pictures of attaching the lower section. The hardest parts are the back corners where there is limited room. I used a Makita angle drill to reach those screws. Using an awl is useful for poking through the canvas and finding the screw hole in the sheet metal.

Mine didn't have any caulking. I'm not sure it's necessary with the newer style screwed aluminum strips. I didn't use any and i've had no leaking in the wet Northwest.

You can unbolt the top completely then have a neighbor help you take it off. You won't need help again until you have to put it back on a couple hours later. The tent can be put on by yourself.

If you PM me with an email I can send you a few more full size pictures.

Good luck!
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snowleopard
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 06, 2007 2:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Those pics certainly were helpful. But let me get this straight from your last post...you think two people can handle the top, or do I need the 3-4 that GW says? What was your situation with manpower?
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PDXWesty
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 06, 2007 2:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I handled it with two people. Start with one outside on the back and one inside. Lift and walk the top towards the back as far as you can go. The inside person can then move outside underneath and then keep walking it straight back off the top. Set it down and flip it over. It can be done from each side but it is much more of a reach. Straight off the back is easier.

Hope that helps. You can PM me with an email and I can send you full size and more pictures.
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wbx
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 06, 2007 2:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

PDXWesty wrote:
I have an 89 and changed my tent last year. I've done it twice now and I wouldn't do it without removing the top.


PDXWesty wrote:
I handled it with two people.


I've only done it once (although i am getting ready to help my father in law with his), but i had a very different conclusion than you. I would tend to want to keep the top on the van. I took mine off, but only to really attack the mold that was growing. Come time for assembly, i put the top back on. The other way it looks like we approached the same task differently was that i installed the bottom first. This let me take up all the slack in the relatively non-cosmetic upper edge. I just tacked the top in place with a couple screws as i finished up the bottom, and then went through tightening up the canvas from front to back. I spent a little extra time making sure it was wrinkle free, and am very happy with the results.

Go from bottom to top, front to back. That's my recommendation, anyway.

PDX, did your canvas end up tight and wrinkle-free? I like the ergonomics of your approach, but i'm not sure how you'd get it tight with your approach. My canvas was probably an inch or two long vertically.
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PDXWesty
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 06, 2007 3:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My canvas was tight after installation. I located the bead just behind the aluminum strip top and bottom and it fit great.

The first time I did it was in the GoWesty Parking lot. I had them install my first tent and that's the approach their installer took. I helped him. The second time I did it on my own using the same technique they used. My gallery has some pictures with the top up. Taking the top off is how GoWesty installs them, not that it's the only way, but I found it easy to duplicate.

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wbx
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 06, 2007 5:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

PDXWesty wrote:
Taking the top off is how GoWesty installs them, not that it's the only way, but I found it easy to duplicate.


Cool - i think whether or not you take the top off is just a personal choice. I'm a thinner guy who can get into smaller spaces, so that probably made my "install with the top on" decision easier.

I have no doubt that installing from the top down is a faster method, i'm just not convinced it is the best method. I've heard a lot of accounts of varying sizes of canvases, and that points to the safest way to go is fastening the more cosmetic bottom first. GoWesty obviously has the experience with their product, though, and their method worked well for you.
Thanks for the picture,

-Damon
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bacwmi
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 07, 2007 10:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I did mine with the top still on because I didn't have anyone to help get it off
I liked being able to make adjustments to the tension while the top is on because when its done its done I started with the top I located the center and then attatched the corners and worked back towards the middle I just repeated that on all the sides Having equal tension on the poptop supporting posts seems to be most important so haveing it centered is crucial if the top is still on you can see immediately if that tension is equal. then I attatched the bottom in the same way. Getting the screws in the way back was not as bad as I thought it would be but it is tight. It helped having a cool breeze from some monsoon storms all around me I took sat to remove the old canvas and sun to put the new canvas on (I always double the time that it takes a normal person to do the job because I'm special Smile
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Rhinoculips
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 13, 2007 9:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This just proves that you can find anything on Youtube...

As I am sure the original poster has his tent installed already, I still figured others that plan to do this project will benefit from this guys video on install and maybe learn from his troubles. Gotta love the commentary as well. Laughing


Link

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msinabottle
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 13, 2007 10:39 pm    Post subject: Oh. My. Gawd. Reply with quote

That film was... HORRIBLE BEYOND BELIEF!

Shocked

That poor, poor bastard.

I'd say it does make a great case for pulling the entire top... But perhaps an even better case for repairing 'em as long as you can. It also makes a case for a compressed air brad driver.

I wonder how much he researched the whole thing before he plunged so bravely in? Definitely Samba material, we should invite him here.

I think if I do mine, I'm definitely matching the old tent and the new tent dimension for dimension...

But... SHEEZE!

Best!
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tikibus
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 13, 2007 10:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jinkies!

I can't even play the Vid. My Mac is too old.

Ah well.

You'll do good things . If putting in a Hemp replacement, don't go trying to smoke it.

Laughing
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Rhinoculips
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 13, 2007 11:07 pm    Post subject: Re: Oh. My. Gawd. Reply with quote

msinabottle wrote:
That film was... HORRIBLE BEYOND BELIEF!

Shocked

That poor, poor bastard.

I'd say it does make a great case for pulling the entire top... But perhaps an even better case for repairing 'em as long as you can. It also makes a case for a compressed air brad driver.

I wonder how much he researched the whole thing before he plunged so bravely in? Definitely Samba material, we should invite him here.

I think if I do mine, I'm definitely matching the old tent and the new tent dimension for dimension...

But... SHEEZE!

Best!


God, I know! In the words of Mr. T, "I pity the fool" I could not believe it, ripping a $300+ tent after trying 4 times to install the damn thing. If I did that, the vid would no longer be "G" rated, more like "R". I just hope the next fellow thats replacing his tent can use it to know what not to do and maybe get a laugh or two as he thinks back to this fellows rip while he tests his newly installed tent.

The vid, will add to the reasons of why removing the top is better than doing the install with the top on.
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tsombrero1
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 14, 2007 5:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's pretty important to line the tent up right... not sure if that was his problem, but...

Don't start at the corners-- mark the midpoints between the corners, on the tent and the top, line those up, and work toward the corners from there.

I did mine with the top off but I think it could be done with the top on... also had me and one other guy to lift the top on and off but a third person might have prevented a few paint scratches.

A small right-angled ratcheting screwdriver comes in handy in the corners too Smile
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Tomswesty
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 15, 2007 6:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You might want to book mark this page:

http://www.limbobus.org/poptop.htm

Lots of good advice,
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wavanagon
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 15, 2007 6:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

that is a great write up, thanks for the link.
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rockfish
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 15, 2007 12:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This summer we replaced the tent on our 89 Westy (acrylic 3-window). I did most of the work solo - my wife helped me with some of the final attachments of the bottom screws and rails where the tent was tight.

The directions are well-documented on this site, as well as many other group and individual sites. You know the drill ... mark the center points on your new tent, etc.

By default, I worked with the top on. Recommended tools:

- Bosch rechargeable angle screw driver (or something similar)
- Philips screwdriver (manual)
- LED headlamp (very helpful when attaching the back corners!)
- Angle Philips screwdriver (has an S-shape)
- Digital camera
- Sharpie & Pencil
- Tupperware type containers for all the screws
- iPod w/ a very long playlist of your favorite music - many hours!
- Silicone caulk
- Water bottle - hydrate!

Take many pictures before you start - record how the tent is attached to the top vs. attached at bottom. Note - on the top the aluminum rails are on the exterior; on the bottom the rails are inside.

Make life easy in the back corners - remove the top mattress pad in the front ... unbutton the back mattress but keep it up on the bed. You'll need to move it away from the back for better access to top, bottom and corners. However, I kept the mattress up there for some padding while on my knees or lying down while working the back corners.

Mark the rails as you remove them - top/bottom, left/right, front/back, etc., which direction it runs, etc.

When removing screws/rails, be sure to separate top screws from bottom screws - they are different lengths/sizes between top and bottom.

When installing the new tent - starting on the top side is a must. Working against gravity will be a little difficult at first, but once you have a few screws in, the job will get easier. If your tent is a tight fit from top to bottom, you definitely don't want to work at stretching it up to the top ... much easier to work down hill.

Silicone caulk was used for the bottom front corners - the tent was so tight that we were unable to get the corners 100% flush to the sheet metal. There was about a 1mm gap ... filled it with clear caulk. Will go back and retry the corners sometime next summer when the tent has more time to stretch.

If you're debating a 1-window vs. 3-window, the 3-window is absolutely the best way to go. This summer we had some hot and humid days while camping at the beach in Santa Barbara. The 3-windows made a huge difference with keeping the interior reasonably cool via excellent ventilation.

In Box me if you have any questions.

Craig
89 Westy
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otiswesty
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 23, 2007 12:35 pm    Post subject: Changing the tent Reply with quote

I swapped in a new tent this summer also. My prev experience were 3 window canvas replacements in a 74 Westy and a 78 Westy. For my 89 Vanagon Westy I used a Westfalia make 3 window that is sold by Bus Depot. A nice quality tent much like the original, but with 3 windows. I liked the fact that the canvas was light duty. The aftermarket tops that I put in my Bay campers were heavier grade than the originals they replaced. I figured that if the orig canvas lasted 18 years, another of the same make should be adequate. A downside of the thicker canvas is that the sides are more likely to protrude out from under the top once it is closed up. The Westfalia replacement top also has a removable front screen.

During the process of removing the original canvas I noticed some sealing wax in the angles of the ribs of the metal roof. I replaced this with some "museum wax" to help provide a good seal. I did my whole job in about 3 1/2 hours without removing the top. Like mentioned above, the rear can be easily done with the mattress pulled out. And doing the rear before the front simplifies matters alot. The older stapled type is the same in the older Bay campers and takes a little longer. It helps to warm up the plastic strips with a heat gun or in the oven prior to installing so the the staples go through more easily. Also don't use an Arrow spring stapler, you will need a compressor and air staple gun to get a strong enough grip to hold the canvas on under tension.
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