Friday, April 24, 2015

The Pop Top Story Part II

But first, before doing any cutting I had to dis-assemble the old top from the donor van.
I set the top upright on a rolling stand, then popped the top. I wanted to keep the bed functioning so I carefully removed the vinyl covered plywood by drilling out the rivets, and popping off the glue. I set the bed pad and plywood aside. I then focused on removing the fifty screws that held the bottom track to the canvas. It was still stuck pretty well with butyl tape. I used a reciprocating blade to separate the track from the sheet metal. Taking the ten bolts out that bolt the brackets to the sheet metal was the easy part. I then flipped it over and removed the top track. This was just screwed to the top, without any butyl. I removed the old canvas, hinges and bracket and set them aside. I then went after the inner reinforcements of the donor roof. There were two side brackets that held the bed front to rear, a rear bracket that reinforced the rear roof bow side to side, and a front bracket that reinforced the front roof bow. That bracket looked the most important because it held the latch. It also held the nutserts to bolt the front pop top folding bracket. With that all disassembled it was time to set the pop top on the van to see what I needed to trim. I used a chain hoist and some ratchet straps so just my girlfriend and I could manage the process. And a process it was. On and off, trim a little, on and off, trim a little...... the back of it didn't sit at all flush with the roof. Doing it with your eyes closed didn't help either.... Okay now the front has a big gap, have to trim the front down.
We finally got it where it looked even around the whole outside. Up next ... painting.
First up is to paint the underside. It was a gray vinyl. The interior is tan, so gray wasn't going to work. I used a paint specifically for plastic, beige in color. It worked well even on the front folding bracket. Sorry for the iPhone pic.
Now on to sanding & priming the top.
Finally base coated and clear coated.
Up next: The canvas The old canvas was rotten and worn, and gray. I ordered a beige canvas top to match the interior.
Now is the time to install it, at least to the pop top and lower retainer. Much easier than trying to do it up. Fastening it to the pop top was the easiest part, just a matter of screwing the retainer to the fiberglass sandwiching the canvas in between.
Getting the canvas, and gasket installed in the lower retainer was nearly impossible. I had to use a nylon type of paint stick to force the gasket into the retainer. The bottom of the canvas had a rope around it, with that and the gasket it installed like a window screen, except one inch at a time. It took several hours to get it done. Also note the bottom retainer has a bunch of sticky butyl tape stuck to it. I used masking tape to protect the top from the black sticky stuff. I didn't use a wide enough tape so it didn't protect the top well enough. So I got a bit of the black stuff on the top. If I had to do it again, I'd use a thick, wide packing tape. With the canvas installed the top is ready to go. No more beating around the bush, it's time to start cutting the hole.... :l1:

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