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Battle Jitney Syncro camper build thread
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rmcd
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 02, 2013 9:44 pm    Post subject: Battle Jitney Syncro camper build thread Reply with quote

I guess its time to start uploading some pictures and tell some yarns.

I've been working slowly on rescuing a POS east coast rust bucket Syncro tin top that started its life - to me as Blue Rust. My plan was to building my own version of an urban Syncro camper.

I was inspired by some old art deco trucks, steam punk style, and the fictional Herkimer Battle Jitney.
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This thing is definitely going to be a franken monster so purists beware. You may want to shield your sensibilities from this thread cause Gummy ain't going to cater to your build rules.

My goal is to build a panel van camper with a mildly hotroded TDI and a Riviera ASI pop top. I'm not going for a lift kit rolling on 35", but I do want be able to haul around a small enduro bike and be able to hit Mt Hood without pulling out chains. Cause everyone hates chains.

Other upgrades.
A Devo "power dome" inspired pop top.
Merk rims new rubber.
AC.
Build my own cabinets.
Black out exterior.
Build my own roo guard and tire rack.
AC.
External lighting.
Guage pod that looks like it belongs in a Vanagon.
Hotrod TDI install w/ new gearing.
AC.
Awning.
Mild aeronautical theme.
OEM panel van conversion.
Refit mechanicals.
Reliable for long trips.
House battery.

The dream list that may never be.
AC that works.
Air ride so I can get the damned thing into a garage without spending an hour airing up and down.
Reliable for long trips.
Toilet.
Shower.
Something left in my bank account.

Yes the build is ambitious. No I don't have enough money, time or intact cartilage to pull this off. But I do have plenty of "stupid", a dry garage, I'm single, and I have taken 3 PCC welding classes with only minor burns to my toe hairs. Spoiler alert. I started this project in 2010. It was side tracked for 2 years due to issues with the motor swap, but more on that later. I'm just starting it up again.

Here is the before shot.

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And the money shot. This is the old Corrado G60 supercharged i4 that has since been pulled. It was fast but it looked like it was going to fall out at any minute. PDX Aaron is the new owner of the motor if you are interested.

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Tobias Duncan
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 02, 2013 9:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I really like where this is going.
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rmcd
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 02, 2013 11:12 pm    Post subject: ASI Riviera poptop rebuild Reply with quote

First order of business was to get a pop top. I'm over 3' tall so I thought it would be nice to be able to stand up in my van.

At first I thought that I should go with the Westy top. Yes the resale value would probably be higher than if I went with a countryhome campers top or any other 3rd party top. I like melting metal together so I wasn't too afraid of the 80 feet of welding required for the Westy grafting (there's that "Stupid" I had mentioned). On the other hand I hate when I jam my toes into tucked-in hotel bed sheets. Every time I see a Westy top going down to a wedge I feel my toe nails getting stuffed into my shins.

Fortune and maybe fate would help drive the final decision. Kirk from NWesty had a slightly crusty Riviera ASI Poptop complete with canvas.

I forgot all my sales and negotiation training when presented with the opportunity for a donor van and a Riviera ASI pop top. I'm exactly what you can expect from years of low-bid training courses. Once the parts showed up I happly paid the asking price.

The top had a few "wows" in the main structure. The wood under the base was all rotted and being held in place by the rust holding on the hardware. The interior plastic was cracked. Some of the hardware was missing or badly corroded. The yellow canvas was in ok shape. It had lost its rubberized coating in a few places and there were a few issues with the screen but that was about it.

Before photos.
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Unfortunately, the top had been stored neatly on a saw horse on one end and on an anti-gravity well filled with dirt and spiders on the other. Fiberglass and plastic don't play well in the sand box under those conditions. After consulting my fiberglass buddy from glass from the past, who was still reeling from my Audi TT big turbo kit build gone bad, I got him to visit my garage under the condition I didn't have him help in any way, shape or form.

He advised the liberal use of a heat gun.

I used clamps to hold long boards to the sides. I slowly heated the surrounding plastic/fiberglass sides while increasing pressure with the clamps. I left it in place for a week. Good for wood as they say in the land surveying world.

Here it is AFTER straightening. Note the "wow". I use a lot of technical industry terms.
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And the wow showing its face when the top was just placed on the van.
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The bottom piece was pretty rigid. The top hat was also pretty stout and in good shape. The interior plastic was brittle and cracked. I got it all taken part ok. I had to drill out or cut off some of the hardware.

I then set out to replace all the wood substructure under the base with redwood and lots of construction glue. In hind sight I wish I had primed all the wood. Didn't get pictures.

I replaced all the wood in the interior plastic piece with redwood, construction adhesive, and new stainless screws. I also painstakingly glued new plastic strips to the back to chemically weld the cracked bits back together. It all cracked later. In retrospect I should have had the whole thing covered with some kind of upholstery material and not wasted my time trying to fix the cracks.
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Paint prep for the interior plastic as follows. Again from fiberglass dude.
Wash with soap and water.
Scuff with scotch bright red pad.
Wash with soap and water.
Wash with mineral spirits.
Sprayed on primer.
Sprayed on grey paint.

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This is where I learned that I may be OCD.
I didn't like the skanky white-ish fabric that is used to wrap around the opening. The velcro and rusty staple stains look like hell.

I washed them with simple green and then water/bleach. It still looked like the old mans white tshirts. So I decided to try out some vinyl fabric stain.
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This is where I learned that being OCD doesn't always pay out. I thought I'd get fancy and tried to use some of that new spangled plastic dip on the ends of my newly polished/restored aluminum lift rods. It cured for weeks before I had a chance to put it on the top. The rubberized material leached into my new white canvas from bus depot and then sluffed off with the slightest touch from matter. Stay away from that garbage.
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Here is the interior plastic piece ready for reinstall. I removed the old busted-up light and replaced it with a couple switched LEDs. I think the vinyl fabric stain worked outstanding.
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New canvas. Measure twice, order wrong. Forest Gump's mother said "stupid is as stupid does". At the time I didn't understand what that meant. I do now.

When ordering canvas make sure that you measure the circumference of the middle when open. I measured the curb at the base of the opening. For extra OCD measure I'd recommend that you also measure the top curb where the material hits the canvas and send all three into bus depot.

I kind of measured the circumference of the curb when the top was fully assembled and the old yellow canvas still in place. This didn't help with my precision either. In the end Bus Depot said to measure the middle when the top is open. I also learned that there are two sizes for these and I'm willing to bet that the CountryHome Camper top is a 3rd size - but don't quote me on that.

Again my old friend fate would jump in to help mitigate for my stupidity when the tent bus depot sent me had been mis-manufactured and had the elastic all jacked up. They were happy to send a new one. To this day I don't know the exact measurement or method of measurement.

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Next step. Putting it all back together. Shoving 10# of sausage into a 1# bag.
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Syncroincity
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 03, 2013 4:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 03, 2013 5:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Looking forward to follow this one..
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 03, 2013 6:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is going to be good Popcorn
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 03, 2013 7:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

NICE! Keep up the posts!
I love the look of those things.
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 03, 2013 7:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Awesome work and great reading.
I dig those retro buses!
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 03, 2013 7:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yep!

Popcorn

Very Happy
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 03, 2013 8:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I like your meticulous attention to detail, very nice work! I was sad to hear your comments on the plasti-dip stuff. I just bought a can of that to use on some projects. Did you find a replacement product?

Kevin
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rmcd
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 03, 2013 9:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

61Scout wrote:
... comments on the plasti-dip stuff. I just bought a can of that to use on some projects. Did you find a replacement product?

Kevin


Sorry dude. I didn't try to find anything else.
Bad stuff. Really soft and poor adhesion. Blame me for the poor adhesion assuming I did something incorrect, but the material really does scratch with your finger nail.

I also put it on my pop top hooks. Just bought a replacement set in army green from a gun show. The old ones are now junk.
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rmcd
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 03, 2013 9:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

syncromike wrote:
NICE! Keep up the posts!
I love the look of those things.
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Slap 4wd and a TDI in one of those and I'd drop the Syncro like a hot potato with a spider on it.
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 03, 2013 10:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Despicable me's Gru would be proud. Wink
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Looking forward to seeing the progress.
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 03, 2013 11:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Re: gauges...

To me, steampunk style & "making them look like they belong" seem completely at odds...

For that matter, your overall themes [steampunk: clunky, funky, hacked; <vs>
art deco: sleek, stripped, minimalist] seem to be completely different camps.

How do you reconcile these two far-ranging genres? I like your inspiration,
but how have you thought this through? Any sketches?

Still...fun project with lots of potential! Popcorn, definitely! Entertain us, please!

Cool
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rmcd
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 03, 2013 6:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

dhaavers wrote:
Re: gauges...

To me, steampunk style & "making them look like they belong" seem completely at odds...

For that matter, your overall themes [steampunk: clunky, funky, hacked; <vs>
art deco: sleek, stripped, minimalist] seem to be completely different camps.

How do you reconcile these two far-ranging genres? I like your inspiration,
but how have you thought this through? Any sketches?

Still...fun project with lots of potential! Popcorn, definitely! Entertain us, please!

Cool


Good points and I don't have a real answer. I'm not a designer, but I know what I like and I've had several years to think on this and collect parts.

Here's what I'm thinking. The Vanagon is a simple utilitarian vehicle where form does follow function. I think this is exactly why these vehicles have maintained their popularity even though they are as ugly as a brick. They will never be as pretty or stylized as a split bus or have the cool lines and shapes afforded the examples above. They are NOT classic cars nor do they have any of the styling that will make them "classic". Flame suit already on. They are, however, way way over the top on functionality. Thats what makes them cool to me - at least.

Having said that it doesn't mean that when adding a gauge cluster, roo bar, or pop top that they need to be completely devoid of design or thought for how they form or become a theme. Neon wiper blades, spinners, fart can exhaust tips?

My hope is to add parts that embellish the mundane utilitarian design elements like the shape of the existing gauge binnacle or the wedge of the nose. I hope to build further on those design elements with a very slight aeronautical theme. I am looking to add functional items and features that start to suggest the steam punk flavor. If I do it wrong it will look like I threw a bunch of parts at the van. If I do it correctly then you won't realize it has an any theme at all, but just has a great look.

Take the Riviera pop top. The Devo power dome. Its also ugly as a brick. But when you spend a minute and look at the shape and lines compared to the van - it works. I tried to enhance this by using exposed SS bolts equally spaced to mount it all the way around. IMHO they look steam punk because there are too many of them and they begin to look like industrial rivets. Its the one thing I chose NOT to black out so they would show.

All my own opinions. Not for everyone I know. Guess we'll see in the end how it turns out. The only thing that matters in the end is that the AC works and this has been a fun process.
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syncromike
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 03, 2013 8:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

dhaavers wrote:
Re: gauges...

To me, steampunk style & "making them look like they belong" seem completely at odds...

For that matter, your overall themes [steampunk: clunky, funky, hacked; <vs>
art deco: sleek, stripped, minimalist] seem to be completely different camps.

To me, THIS is a "Steampunk" RV...
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These examples are classic art deco to me. Art deco doesn't necessarily imply minimalist.

On a sidenote, one of 16 Daystar RV's was for sale here in Idaho about 2 years ago... Pretty awesome but I didn't have the bankroll to neither buy nor restore it. It had an all-teak interior. This looks like pics of the same one, but I'm not positive.
[/img]http://www.allmanufacturedhomes.com/html/html/1975_daystar.htm
I found out it was designed by W. E. Miller, who was famous for his "streamliner" designs in the '30's. http://www.allmanufacturedhomes.com/html/html/1975_daystar.htm
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 03, 2013 8:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

syncromike wrote:
dhaavers wrote:
Re: gauges...

To me, steampunk style & "making them look like they belong" seem completely at odds...

For that matter, your overall themes [steampunk: clunky, funky, hacked; <vs>
art deco: sleek, stripped, minimalist] seem to be completely different camps.

To me, THIS is a "Steampunk" RV...
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


These examples are classic art deco to me. Art deco doesn't necessarily imply minimalist.

On a sidenote, one of 16 Daystar RV's was for sale here in Idaho about 2 years ago... Pretty awesome but I didn't have the bankroll to neither buy nor restore it. It had an all-teak interior. This looks like pics of the same one, but I'm not positive.
[/img]http://www.allmanufacturedhomes.com/html/html/1975_daystar.htm
I found out it was designed by W. E. Miller, who was famous for his "streamliner" designs in the '30's. http://www.allmanufacturedhomes.com/html/html/1975_daystar.htm


That would be an awesome tiny house.
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 03, 2013 9:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Gimme one of these!
http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-r8nm4pcULeM/Tmvc90ubNNI/AAAAAAAALCA/XYUJcElNzlc/s1600/Mudmans.jpg
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 05, 2013 8:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Funny. Todays Google Doodle is a for Raymond Loewy's birthday. You can definitely get some inspiration from his designs.
https://www.google.com/search?q=Raymond+Loewy&...mp;bih=681
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 05, 2013 8:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Syncronicity wrote:
Funny. Todays Google Doodle is a for Raymond Loewy's birthday. You can definitely get some inspiration from his designs.
https://www.google.com/search?q=Raymond+Loewy&...mp;bih=681


Yeah, he was quite a guy. He and his employees designed everything from the logos of Shell and Exxon to the International Metro panel van to Coca Cola dispensing machines to the Elna Lotus sewing machine to the Greyhound SceniCruiser to Air Force One's paint scheme and graphics!

Robert Downey, Jr. is his grandson and looks a lot like him.

http://gizmodo.com/raymond-loewy-the-man-who-made-the-20th-century-beauti-1458724316

http://www.theverge.com/2013/11/5/5068132/raymond-loewy-the-man-who-designed-everything
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