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Author Topic: Questions about removing the High top roof  (Read 3785 times)

Yuipme

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Questions about removing the High top roof
« on: May 03, 2018, 08:19:58 PM »
Hello

I have looked at some vids which show that the high top is mounted to the frame of the van with Screws and Sealant.  How easy is it to remove this top w/out damage to the vehicle or top?

Approx what is the weight of a 12" raised top?  (I estimate 150-250 lbs)

Camper_Dan

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Re: Questions about removing the High top roof
« Reply #1 on: May 04, 2018, 12:59:37 AM »
Greetings & Welcome!

A lot of it depends on who installed it originally and the methods they used.  A good install only involved a rubbber gasket, and if that's all that's there, you shouldn't have a problem.  If the original installer used sealants, or some owner added sealant, then there is a very high probability that you won't be able to get it off without damaging the top.  The fiberglass can become pretty brittle over time, left alone they're fine, but start messing with them and you can create huge problems. 

The bigger question is why would you want to remove it?  Too many people make fatal mistakes by stripping stuff under the misguided idea that they are somehow going to improve upon it.  Stripping stuff rarely ends well...  Craigslist is chock full of stripped vehicles, that the owner regrets stupidly stripping, and has given up on.  Even if the finished product looks good, it is usually far inferior to the original.

Is your problem leaks, or exactly what  are you trying to accomplish?

Cheers!

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Yuipme

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Re: Questions about removing the High top roof
« Reply #2 on: May 04, 2018, 05:18:12 AM »
So here is my crazy adventure :)

I want to detach the roof from the frame and mount it on sliders, and be able to raise/lower it.  i want to make it into a Pop Top!  Have you seen anyone do this with the raised roof?  (if not i want to try)

Camper_Dan

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Re: Questions about removing the High top roof
« Reply #3 on: May 04, 2018, 08:38:25 PM »
Greetings!

What year of van, and what type of top are we talking about?

The strength of most fiberglass tops is a combination of the outer shell, an inner shell, and the spray foam in between them.  Typically the wiring is between the two shells prior to the spray foam, so it becomes permanently embedded.  Separating any of these will greatly affect the structural integrity of the top, so this should be avoided.

Over the years I have seen quite a number of attempts at this, and the two schemes that seemed to have worked the best was either mimicking the Calthorpe solid sided pop tops, or mimicking the Westy's with only one raising end.



FWIW, I think creating a pop top is more work than it's worth.  I live in a low top van, and just do everything while seated.  The amount of time I would actually spend standing inside, would be very very little, and I have the whole outside to stand up in. (And I spend a LOT of time inside my van...)

Now if you need an extra bed up top,  maybe that would be worth it...

If you're considering soft sides, they can be nearly impossible to make weatherproof.  (A friend's professionally installed pop up top has leaked since day one.)

Don't under estimate the scope of the proposed project, and failure could be catastrophic both to the van and to your finances.  In the end  it will likely cost you more in time and money than just finding an existing pop top van.

Cheers!
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Yuipme

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Re: Questions about removing the High top roof
« Reply #4 on: May 04, 2018, 09:17:37 PM »
Don, Thank you for the detailed answer.  Much appreciated, you seem to know a lot about this.  I was wanting to do this on a Chevy express conversion but I think it should work on any van.

I would like to use the Pop top as a "Canopy".  In other words, I would like to work on my computer in my van and enjoy cross ventilation + natural (indirect) sunlight while enjoying the shade the top is providing.

My plan is to screw in a wooden frame to all sides of the top on which I would mount lift actuators, with the other end mounted to the van Frame.  When im moving the top would be completely down and locked down onto the frame of the van so it doesn't blow off / let in air noise. 

It will be used primarly in open spaces (dessert, beach, camping spots)  (im planning on taking it to alaska)

Pros:
better gas mileage vs a larger bubble top.
I will not need a vent fan, even when I cook.
At night I would crack it open about an inch to let in fresh air.
From the outside all windows would be closed/locked so more security.

Cons:
Possibility of leaks/road noise/structural integrity.

I will not mess with the inner shell of the top.  I just want to be able to raise/lower the whole thing.  When you say soft sides, i assume you are talking about the westy style with screen/vinyl right?  I dont see that as being too complicated to implement, it dosent need to be rain proof while in use (just when lowered) It will be raised only during good weather.  Since the top has a natural "Lip" water will flow away from the top, so i cant see it getting into the van when its down.

I figure worse case, if i cant get my idea to work i can A) put the top back on as I got it.  If i destroy the top ill buy a different one from a yard and reinstall it.  I have no need to cut any of the van's framework/body.

I hope i conveyed my ideas more clearly.  Appreciate your feedback.

Camper_Dan

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Re: Questions about removing the High top roof
« Reply #5 on: May 05, 2018, 05:42:46 AM »
Greetings!

That might work, just make sure you reinforce any strut attachment points with solid metal, because those will cause a lot of strain especially when closing, and the fiberglass isn't known for sheer strength.

To eliminate this problem, the westy's used a folding H bar lift system, no springs or tension required.  Not much to go wrong with them either.  When up they go slightly past center, so the weight of the top holds them open.  I built a similar setup out of metal electical conduit when working on a friends build.

Here's a westy one:



Here was my design:



Please forgive my lack of drawing skills, but hopefully between the two pics you'll get an idea of what I'm talking about.  You just grab the cross bar and either push to open, or pull to close.  These were really cheap and easy to build, not much to go wrong with them, and extremely easy to pop up or down.  The leverage those H bars provided was nothing short of amazing.

Cheers!
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Yuipme

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Re: Questions about removing the High top roof
« Reply #6 on: May 11, 2018, 05:29:59 AM »
Sorry for the delay in responding.  I am still on the lookout for my van, and just missed a good deal :(  Kind of getting frustrating, it seems prices are rising as we enter the nicer weather..

You mentioned the better quality conversions were done using Rubber Gasket.  Is this something I can look for prior to buying?

If not, any recommendations on what brand/line of conversion co's that used rubber gasket rather than sealant on the raised top.  (Sherrod & explorer come to mind)

 Thank you very much for the detailed writeup.
« Last Edit: May 11, 2018, 05:35:30 AM by Yuipme »

Camper_Dan

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Re: Questions about removing the High top roof
« Reply #7 on: May 11, 2018, 08:40:29 AM »
Greetings!

The exact rubber gaskets can vary per builder, so I wouldn't advise looking for them ahead of time.

There's so many manufacturers, that you'll just have to look at all of them, pay attention to whether they have only the gasket, or if someone has added goop in an attempt to seal it.  If it has added goop, that's a fair indication that the original seal/gasket failed.  This could mean trying to use a different type of seal if you purchase it.  Butyl rubber is a popular choice.

Keep us advised...

Cheers!
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