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Build thread: Aussie Westfalia Conversion
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OzzieJo
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Location: NSW, Australia
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 17, 2019 11:56 pm    Post subject: Build thread: Aussie Westfalia Conversion Reply with quote

“Hi team, I live about 180Km South of Sydney in Australia and have a project on at the moment where I want to convert an 89 T3 tin-top into a Westfalia camper. Ha, I hear you say, too easy. Well this may be not such a hard task over on the side of the planet where most of you are from, but down here it is proving to be difficult. For a start T3 Westy’s are extremely rare in Aus, so the donor transplant method of doing a conversion is not really going to be an option for me…there are simply no donors. I do however have a Westy top coming from the US in the next few weeks. “


Well it has been near enough 3 years to the day since I started off a topic with the above Post. At that time I had just imported a Westy top from the US however did not have a donor roof to complete the conversion so was contemplating just cutting a hole in my tin top and fitting the Westy top to that. Thanks to the Samba community a few members stepped forward and helped me source a donor roof which arrived about 6 months later, but due to a hectic work and family life the project stalled....that was until last week

This is the intended recipient of the donor roof. It hasn't been on the road for at least 10 years but it runs and is pretty much rust free.

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and this is the donor roof, the front R shows evidence of a collision so the intention is cut along the B-Pillar cross brace (or just fwd of it) and use the material from this point back.

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I want to use as much as the donor roof as possible so it was time to get out the spot weld cutter

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and start cutting out the spot welds in the gutters

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You can see some of the front end damage in this pic. The skin rapidly becomes un-useable about 1-2 inches fwd of the pillar on the RHS, but aft of this it is fine (pic looks worse than it really is).

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I would like to state up front that I have never done anything like this before, I have zero experience working with sheet metal and no welding skills. In order to pull this off I'm going to be relying on some nearby friends and hopefully all you experts out there !

Before going all out with the spot weld remover I made sure that I center punched all of the spot welds ... otherwise the tool has a mind of its own and tends to wander all over the place. I also found that it was much easier to identify the spot welds after I had gone over the drip rail with a wire brush on the end of my grinder.

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It was about this point that I read a post that suggested it was easier to just drill out the spot welds in the rain gutter on the donor, and grind them away on the tin top. With my very limited experience I think that I would have to agree. I used this method on the last remaining spot welds in the gutter and it was pretty quick, I still centre punched each spot weld , then drilled a 3mm pilot hole before finally finishing with a 8mm drill.

Once I had finished drilling out all of the spot welds in the rain gutters it was time to start working my way around those that secure the upper bunk support to the body.

These spot welds tend to be in areas that cannot be easily reached with a spot weld removal tool so you really have no option but to drill them out. Once I used the punch, a 3mm and 8mm drill on each. This job was relatively easy for me as I could lean the roof section up against a wall in the shed and then use my weight on the drill.

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Once I drilled the pot welds I slid a paint scraper in between the upper bunk and body just to make sure that the weld was completely broken.

I cut welds that hold the upper bunk cross support with a cutting wheel.

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I'm fairly sure that the 3-4 spot welds (highlighted) will need to be removed as they hold a bracket to the roof skin.

I'm going to try and remove as much of the donor roof skin as possible so I drilled out some of the spot welds on the rear cross support. I then used the spot weld cutter to remove those welds where I did not want to damage the skin underneath.


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After about 2 days of drilling the skin finally started to come off


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In the middle of a heat wave over here at the moment so being in a tin shed in 40 deg C heat is not fun ..... more to follow when things cool off a bit Very Happy


Last edited by OzzieJo on Sat Jan 26, 2019 1:07 am; edited 1 time in total
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dobryan Premium Member
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 18, 2019 5:32 am    Post subject: Re: Ozzie Pop Top Conversion Reply with quote

Popcorn Very Happy
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nilza
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 18, 2019 7:44 am    Post subject: Re: Ozzie Pop Top Conversion Reply with quote

Hi Jo,

Boy! have you got some work ahead of you, there are so many extra reinforcing pieces there that are not on your tin top.

I would possibly have considered cutting though the pillars to save work. Doing the spotwelds of course will create a better job in the end.

Im in Newcastle and own a OG westy if you ever need a look at the final assembly or trim as you go further down this rabbit hole.

Good luck,

Nils
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dhaavers
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 18, 2019 7:55 pm    Post subject: Re: Ozzie Pop Top Conversion Reply with quote

1st four of your pix are missing...

Crying or Very sad

- Dave
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<EDITED TO PROTECT INNOCENT PIXELS>
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OzzieJo
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 19, 2019 1:46 pm    Post subject: Re: Ozzie Pop Top Conversion Reply with quote

nilza wrote:
Hi Jo,

Boy! have you got some work ahead of you, there are so many extra reinforcing pieces there that are not on your tin top.

I would possibly have considered cutting though the pillars to save work. Doing the spotwelds of course will create a better job in the end.

Im in Newcastle and own a OG westy if you ever need a look at the final assembly or trim as you go further down this rabbit hole.

Good luck,

Nils


Thanks Nils, I think I saw your van at the Berry blast a few years ago, I took a hep of photos back then and promptly lost them. Will you be going this year ., if so I hope to catch up.
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OzzieJo
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 19, 2019 1:49 pm    Post subject: Re: Ozzie Pop Top Conversion Reply with quote

dhaavers wrote:
1st four of your pix are missing...

Crying or Very sad

- Dave


Thanks Dave, not sure what happened there, I will upload again when I can get back on my desktop PC.
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OzzieJo
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 19, 2019 2:00 pm    Post subject: Re: Ozzie Pop Top Conversion Reply with quote

Nice cool day here yesterday, and I thought by the end of it I would easily have the donor skin totally separated from the body, unfortunately that was not the case. I have drilled and separated all spot welds in the gutters, upper bunk support and B-Pillar cross brace. I cannot figure out though how to break free the C-Pillar cross brace.

Is there anyone who can offer me some sound advice on this area.

I was thinking of removing all of the spot welds that hold the roof skin to the upper bunk support (about 100 Sad ).
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OzzieJo
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 19, 2019 8:43 pm    Post subject: Re: Ozzie Pop Top Conversion Reply with quote

OK here are some of my project that did not work on the initial post.

The recipient van (89 Tin Top)


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and here is the donor roof

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The RHS shows evidence of a crash but I will be cutting the roof off over the B-pillar cross brace and there is minimal damage in this area.

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OzzieJo
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 19, 2019 8:48 pm    Post subject: Re: Ozzie Pop Top Conversion Reply with quote

This is the area that I am having trouble with at the moment, all of the spot welds have been removed with the exception of those holding down this cross brace and it is just not clear to me how previous adventurers have tackled this task.

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I was toying with the idea of removing all of the spot welds that hold the roof skin onto the upper bunk support, this should give really good access into the area where that C-pillar cross brace is welded in, but the though of removing another 100+ spot welds makes me want to cry Sad .


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OzzieJo
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2019 8:29 pm    Post subject: Re: Ozzie Pop Top Conversion Reply with quote

To make this thread a little easier to search could I ask that one of the moderators change the title to " Build thread: Aussie Westfalia Conversion"

Cheers
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jimf909
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2019 9:09 pm    Post subject: Re: Ozzie Pop Top Conversion Reply with quote

I’ve been enjoying this thread despite not having a single thing to offer.

I believe you can re-name the thread yourself by editing the title in your first post???

Keep up the good work, mate!

(I have an Aussie co worker who’s said that. At least he says he’s from Australia. I wouldn’t know. Actually, I have a cousin who lives in NT, near Darwin. Hooker Creek in the past. The continent is still a mystery to me. Sorry to be such a ridiculous ‘merikan.)

p.s. Nice shop!
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Current: 1990 Westy Camper - Bostig RG4, 2wd, manual trans w/Peloquin, NAHT high-top, Flash Silver, seam rust, bondo, etc., etc.

Past: 1985 Westy Camper - 1.9 wbx, 2wd, manual trans, Merian Brown, (sold after 17 years to Northwesty who converted it to a Syncro).
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OzzieJo
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 26, 2019 1:05 am    Post subject: Re: Ozzie Pop Top Conversion Reply with quote

Thanks Jim, I will give it a go.

Just waiting on some more tools and and current heat wave to move on before I can get back into things.
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OzzieJo
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 15, 2019 1:30 pm    Post subject: Re: Build thread: Aussie Westfalia Conversion Reply with quote

Back into it now that the weather has cooled down a bit. I've been working on the underside of the donor roof just cutting away all the pieces of the frame that are not required. The weapon of choice for me in this job has been my trusty 115mm grinder with a cut off wheel (make sure you have at least 20-30).


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There is a bit more supporting material in the area where the c-pillar cross support is spot welded onto the frame so I plan to cut either side where the supporting material is spot welded to the frame and then remove the left overs with a grinder.


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At the very back of the roof where the lift gate hinges are I opted for a more subtle approach. I marked the area to be cut with a felt marker.

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then I got out my trusty Dremel with a reinforced cut off wheel

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Voila ... a nice neat cut, I don't think that I could have got this result with the grinder.

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The old hinges are a little rusty in so I'm having trouble removing them, when I can I should be able to get the Dremel right into the gutter to complete the cut.
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Mellow Yellow 74
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 15, 2019 5:02 pm    Post subject: Re: Build thread: Aussie Westfalia Conversion Reply with quote

OzzieJo wrote:
I would like to state up front that I have never done anything like this before, I have zero experience working with sheet metal and no welding skills. In order to pull this off I'm going to be relying on some nearby friends and hopefully all you experts out there !


You should think about doing a welding course here then when you are ready to weld the roof on you can't take it there for a few days and do the work with their equipment and assistance:

http://motorretro.com.au
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OzzieJo
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 15, 2019 7:48 pm    Post subject: Re: Build thread: Aussie Westfalia Conversion Reply with quote

Thanks Mellow that looks great, I'm down near Nowra though so it might be a bit of a hike. Will you be coming to the Berry Blast this year?
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OzzieJo
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 16, 2019 11:42 pm    Post subject: Re: Build thread: Aussie Westfalia Conversion Reply with quote

A bit more work on the donor roof today. I feel like I am finally getting on top of this side of the conversion. Everything is mostly cleaned up down the left hand side.

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and I removed a fair bit of excess material that was around the rear lift gate

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I started to clean up the rear corner

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hopefully not much longer before I have a Westy roof ready for transplant !
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OzzieJo
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 21, 2019 1:25 am    Post subject: Re: Build thread: Aussie Westfalia Conversion Reply with quote

After another session with the grinder I have finally managed to clean up both sides of the C pillar cross support

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The next step will be to remove all of the unwanted material around the rear right corner. I've already done this on the LHS and kept the small brace that sits just under the skin where the Pop Top bolts to.

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Here's a pic taken from the LHS looking toward the RHS, the final piece of the puzzle will be to remove all of that strengthening piece that sits behind the rear lift gate.

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I removed one of the lift gate hinges last night and man those bolts were stuck in hard. I ended up having to drill a pilot hole and then use an EzyOut (extractor) !
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bizarre
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 21, 2019 1:15 pm    Post subject: Re: Build thread: Aussie Westfalia Conversion Reply with quote

G’day
Loving your work. Respect.
I’m in Sydney. Hope I can see this one day
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jberger
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 21, 2019 10:08 pm    Post subject: Re: Build thread: Aussie Westfalia Conversion Reply with quote

I found it easier to section the top at the inside flange and just at the screw line under the canvas securing strip. You’ll find it’s all the same, Westy to tin top. Cut the c pillar cross member from the inside and it pulls out with the flange. In the rear you cut around the hinge footprint in order to get access to the reinforcements underneath and transfer the proper roof skin profile. Yrmv


J
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OzzieJo
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 22, 2019 3:27 pm    Post subject: Re: Build thread: Aussie Westfalia Conversion Reply with quote

bizarre wrote:
G’day
Loving your work. Respect.
I’m in Sydney. Hope I can see this one day


Thanks man, I'm hoping to see it finished one day as well!
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