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Fiberine high top
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Mundopacheco
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 25, 2009 1:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Whew! I need a cigarette and a quick nap.........

Thanks Karl
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TDI Vanagon
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 25, 2009 3:24 pm    Post subject: Homemade Hightp Reply with quote

Nice collection Karl. Mine looks pretty mild now. Smile
Karl said some of you were interested in my homemade Top.
I put together a flckr slide show that sort of covers the last two years.
Be glad to answer any questions.

Dave

The show info at the top right, gives short descriptions, enjoy.

http://flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/sets/72157612979964968/show/
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 25, 2009 5:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That is a AWESOME side show! I like the trailer wire set you did great idea.

That is quite possibly the best set up I ve seen on the interioir... a friggin home theatre
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levi
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 25, 2009 6:25 pm    Post subject: Re: Homemade Hightp Reply with quote

TDI Vanagon wrote:
Nice collection Karl. Mine looks pretty mild now. Smile
Karl said some of you were interested in my homemade Top.
I put together a flckr slide show that sort of covers the last two years.
Be glad to answer any questions.

Dave

The show info at the top right, gives short descriptions, enjoy.

http://flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/sets/72157612979964968/show/


Geez... I wish I was even capable of something of that magnitude.
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Kburns737
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 25, 2009 11:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dave,
if you don't mind, I've got quite a few questions about that top of yours. Namely regarding construction methods and materials. I'm not sure if I should clog space on the post or PM them. Others might be curious to know a bit more about the construction of that top as well though. Moderators, what do ya recommend?

Kerry
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?Waldo?
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 25, 2009 11:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think construction techniques of custom tops is VERY pertinent to the vanagon forum. Post more please. (my .02)

Andrew
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Kburns737
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 26, 2009 12:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Alrighty then, well here goes a few quick ones. First off Dave, I'm assuming its fiberglass correct? And You used a one-piece mold, unlike the AW tops which are two piece? What do you think of building a top using a foam core technique, a la sailboat construction? Seems to me like it might be a little easier and if its strong enough for a boat or surfboard, then it ought to suit the van. How many layers do you estimate you laid of the fiber mat? Lastly, for now, did you spray a gel coat on the inside and out or some other coating? Thanks a bunch, those pictures offer a lot of inspiration, to someone like me who wants a high top but cant quite find the one hes looking for.

http://www.fortunesport.net/documents/One-Off_Construction.pdf

This article is a good example of what I was thinking of doing. Was this method something you considered doing?

Kerry
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TDI Vanagon
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 26, 2009 8:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well no, not fiberglass in the traditional sense. I am sure you are referring to the polyester/mek systems, that use stranded matting for reinforcement.
I used a Epoxy Surface Coat, and laminating system. The reinforcement, was a special volan weave tooling glass, that is used in the mold making industry. It is many times stronger, and does not warp over the years.

Yes, it is a one piece mold design. Not like the Exterior/interior molds that the AW uses.

I am familiar with the foam overlay systems. No, I did not consider this type of system for this application. They are strong, and light weight, but I would not be comfortable with the tensile, compressive, and impact forces they have. I have already hit 2-3"thick branches in parks, at 25 mph. All that was needed was a little rubbing compound to remove the sap.

The build up of my top is as follows:
2 Applications of Epoxy Surface Coat (about .090")
1 layer of 10oz volan tooling glass. This follows all your details well.
1 coat Epoxy Laminating System, to prep for the next layer of glass.
1 layer of 35oz. volan tooling glass.
1 more coat of Epoxy Laminating System, or apply till glass is saturated.
1 more layer of 35oz volan tooling glass.
1 more heavy coat of Epoxy Laminating System, till there is full saturation, and a solid plastic coating on the inside.
These are all applied with disposable chip brushes.
Dave
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Kburns737
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 26, 2009 9:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow, I guess after seeing the rest of the pictures of your van and the amount of detail and care that went into it, I should have guessed that you wouldnt be using fiberglass. Too cool man! I guess it makes sense, my buddys epoxy surfboard just takes abuse and keeps on kickin and is lighter to boot, than all the other fiberglass boards. How much do you estimate, the top ended up weighing? Must be less than an AW top. And more durable, sounds like the best of both worlds. Correct me if I'm wrong, but the materials you used must be quite a bit more expensive than traditional glassing materials. Still, it seems worth it to do it once and do it right, especially with a piece of art like the one you've made. Did you have prior experience with this type of application or just learned on the fly for this project?

Kerry
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foodeater
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 26, 2009 10:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This just popped up in the classifieds

http://www.thesamba.com/vw/classifieds/detail.php?id=730792

Thought that one of you guys might want to jump on it.[/url]
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 26, 2009 10:19 pm    Post subject: top Reply with quote

Having built numerous hand laid boats using a variety of fibreglass or kevlar cloths and various epoxy resin systems I see no difficulty in using the cloth mentioned over a foam core or core made of other materials In fact, a foam core could provide nice insulative properties.
Getting the shape right and symetrical is the real skill. CHeck out
http://www.noahsmarine.com for materials, alternate core materials, resins etc.
JC
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TDI Vanagon
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 26, 2009 10:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Polyester/Glass systems will work fine. Corvettes, Boats, etc, use these systems. I own a company that sells specialty tooling systems.
www.bp-ind.com Epoxy is way more stable than most systems.
The America's Cup sail boats use Epoxy, with carbon fiber reinforcement.
The cost are around 70% more than than standard glass.
IIRC It weighs around 170 lbs. My cost was around $750.
That includes everything.
Dave
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Kburns737
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 27, 2009 8:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

foodeater,
Yeah I saw that one in the classifieds, funny thing, I pm'd the seller and then looked at the post time and I stumbled upon the ad less than 1 minute after it'd been posted. Waiting on a few pictures, we'll see.

Dave,
In your the slideshow, I believe you mentioned using epoxy to mount the top to the roof, how exactly did that work? Did you just glue it to death or epoxy/glue and glass reinforcement? And how does the epoxy take paint, judging by the paint job on the van, it looks fantastic, but I've never heard much about painting epoxy finishes before?

Kerry
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Witless Joe
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 27, 2009 4:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

TDI Vanagon wrote:

The build up of my top is as follows:
2 Applications of Epoxy Surface Coat (about .090")
1 layer of 10oz volan tooling glass. This follows all your details well.
1 coat Epoxy Laminating System, to prep for the next layer of glass.
1 layer of 35oz. volan tooling glass.
1 more coat of Epoxy Laminating System, or apply till glass is saturated.
1 more layer of 35oz volan tooling glass.
1 more heavy coat of Epoxy Laminating System, till there is full saturation, and a solid plastic coating on the inside.
These are all applied with disposable chip brushes.


Is this your laminate schedule?

If so, that is a LOT of liquid epoxy, and you're just painting each layer on with chip brushes. This thing would be heavy as a tank.

Cored laminate is the way to go, but requires more skill in the build. Vaccuum bagging is essential to keep the amount resin minimal.

I've had a fair bit of unlucky experience in crashing things into cored-glass laminate boats (or vice versa).

Foam core laminate will dent, but not usually puncture. Balsa core laminate is much more resistant to impact damage, and it's the cheapest kind of core, but if you get a leak, then the water spreads into the laminate and rots out the core.

Honeycomb is probably the best solution for the core, it makes for a very-high-impact-resistant laminate, super light, but the most expensive core and requires greater skill to bond the skins to the core. Vaccuum bagging is essential. Gravity and chip brush technique will not work.

Fibreglass cloth would be fine for any high-top. A layer of kevlar cloth would improve impact-resistance. Carbon cloth is super stiff, but can be a bit brittle relative to glass and kevlar cloth.

Slickest solution for a new hi-top design would be to use pre-preg carbon cloth (pre-impregnated with epoxy, so rookie builders don't dump tons of liquid epoxy into the laminate & add tons of weight), then vaccuum bagged to a mould.

Rule of thumb is that epoxy will stick to polyester, but polyester will not stick to epoxy. So if you want an epoxy laminate with a (polyester) gelcoat surface, then the builder has to spray the gelcoat into the female mould *first*, then when it's cured, he can layer in the epoxy/glass/core on top of the gelcoat and it will stick.

Lots of paints are formulated to stick well to epoxy. Most boat builders who do epoxy laminate now can't be bothered to do the gelcoat thing, and paint the thing instead.
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Farfrumwork
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 27, 2009 4:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

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

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


Hey - I test drove that van about 3yrs ago! Passed on it as I wanted more room up top for my son, and the "golden egg" was in need of more TLC than I cared to get involved with.

The top had some cosmetic issues (fading/staining on te outside), and some structural issues (well, maybe just more cosmetic but the top was wavy and Not straight). There was a strange funk in there as well Confused

Glad I held out for my '85 Wolfsberg - same price, better ride.
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TDI Vanagon
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 27, 2009 7:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well... I have been in the industry for 25 years, and have a chemical engineering degree.

"Rule of thumb is that epoxy will stick to polyester, but polyester will not stick to epoxy. So if you want an epoxy laminate with a (polyester) gelcoat surface, then the builder has to spray the gelcoat into the female mould *first*, then when it's cured, he can layer in the epoxy/glass/core on top of the gelcoat and it will stick."

That is the most absurd theory I have ever heard. There are two types of bonds when it comes to plastics. Chemical & Mechanical. The chemical polymer links of polyester vs epoxy, are in no way similar. Thus, Why would one stick to the other, no matter what the order?
There are many ways to bond the two, but they are mechanical exclusively.

Aluminum Honey comb? Get serious, it would look like the early stealth fighter proto types.

No, this is not my laminate schedule. Did you even read the first step?

As I stated earlier, the combined weight is only 170 lbs. That's both sections. The steel I cut out was weighed, including the 36" sunroof.
I am only 45 lbs over the stock GL Vanagon.
The maximum thickness of my top is .250"- .300"
Dave
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Witless Joe
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 27, 2009 8:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Geeze, what a thin skin you have Dave. Human skin, not laminate skin. I guess anything you don't know about plastic isn't worth knowing, right?

You could be one of the Gougeon brothers, for all I know, but it's pretty weird to argue against the superiority of cored laminates.

No comments about vaccuum bagging in your reply, either, so I have to assume you're not bothering with that. Guess that's an inferior technique in your opinion too, Dave.

As for this -

Quote:
That is the most absurd theory I have ever heard. There are two types of bonds when it comes to plastics. Chemical & Mechanical. The chemical polymer links of polyester vs epoxy, are in no way similar. Thus, Why would one stick to the other, no matter what the order?
There are many ways to bond the two, but they are mechanical exclusively.

You are being intentionally obtuse. The point, as you well understand, Dave, is that the mechanical bond of the epoxy curing to a polyester substrate is much stronger than the mechanical bond of polyester curing to epoxy substrate. If you torture the semantics of what I said, then I suppose you could argue it's "absurd".

There are countless examples of bond failure between gelcoat and epoxy laminate out there, and hard-won experience from many boat builders (with expensive warranty work) shows that the only way to ensure a semi-decent bond is to start with the gelcoat in the mould and then finish with the epoxy. It's such a hassle, almost nobody will do this anymore. They'll paint the finished epoxy composite instead. If you have been in the industry 25 years, you know this is true.

I laughed out loud when reading your suggestion that the only type of honeycomb core is aluminum. A project like this would take plastic honeycomb, as you would well know unless you have not kept pace with new industry products since starting your business 25 years ago. Again, that's intentional semantic distortion on your part. Very silly.

For what that thing is, 170 lbs is pretty portly. Could be done much lighter and just as strong, IMHO, although it would cost more money. And it would take some techniques that apparently you have not picked up in 25 years. Like vaccuum bagging.

I guess the moral of this story is to pick your composite manufacturer carefully. If they get hostile when you ask detailed questions, or suggest alternative ways to accomplish the same end, probably it's best to walk away.

Caveat emptor.
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 27, 2009 10:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Shocked Rolling Eyes Rolling Eyes Rolling Eyes Rolling Eyes Shame on you
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GrindGarage
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 28, 2009 6:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

hey dave nice top! you shure put alot of lov into that van. pretty impressive being only 45lb over stock looks sweet. Kerry are you getting the fiberine top? I wonder what it is like unfinished on the inside? It would be nice to insulatate and have a fabric on the inside rather then a gelcoat.
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 28, 2009 8:32 am    Post subject: c'mon guys Reply with quote

Hey Witless Joe and TDI Vanagon - we read this forum to gain and share information - no one needs or wants to see two or more people, obviously with expertise in a topic, flaming each other over choice of words or minor innacuracies. I suggest that you read the tone of TenCent's numerous posts, he corrects folks all the time and shares information and he does it in a helpful non-threatening manner.
I think everyone agrees, the top and conversion is/was a beautiful job. The fact that it was a "one of" is a bit of a pity, but it has to be accepted. So, we move on - if we can positively share ideas and expertise, perhaps those of us who are interested will be able to do something similar, even if it isn't an exact copy.
JC
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