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I mentioned this before on the forum. Well I gave it some thought and the £6k for a german or french one is out of my league. So after some deliberation I decided to build one myself. Apologies that its a mix of metric and imperial sizes but I'm sure you'll understand. Pic above is not quite to scale but shows roughly what it will be like (have not drawn roof rack on this yet but it will only add 50 or 60mm height) I didn't want to have the vehicle off the road whilst I built this, as I need to use it regularly, so it needed to be 'easy' and not involve taking the van apart. Some of these lifting roofs use the existing LR roof and raise it on a hinged plinth which is fitted between the old roof section and the van sides to allow the lifting/opening. However this means forming a curved piece for both above the windscreen and the shape of the back door, which is complicated and labour intensive (as well as needing to take the roof off.) To get round these 'problems' I thought I'd use the existing roof as a base, working up out of the existing gutter to form the sides and back from 3mm alloy sat in the gutter, with a front piece bolted on, and put a hinged lid on it and then once its fitted, sealed and I'm satisfied it works, I can lift it up, get inside on top with the jigsaw and cut out as much of the 'old' roof as I want, retaining enough around the vehicle to bolt the new one on to. Various other mods across the vehicle width to support the bed platfrom in the roof area will help to retain structural integrity and I reckon the finished item will be stronger than original. A roof rack made of simple alloy flat bar welded to the top on its edge with alloy tube across, will also help to make this even stronger (and I can carry my canoes on it). I searched the alloy extrusion folks catalogues and found two sections that are perfect - an unequal z section which works for the 'base' giving a good sized upstand to prevent weather ingress, and onto which I can fasten the lower part of the fabric sides, and which also has enough 'width' to allow a gas strut to fit in between. Above that, the 'closing' section is L alloy, inverted, which has bags of overlap up into which the fabric can be fastened and allows sufficient space for the loose material to pull inside when the roof is lowered and closed. Pic above shows sectional mockup with unequal Z section at bottom, with inverted L section on top, with 19mm box which will be basis for sheet on the roof. The black line is where the rubber gasket will go to seal the lid when closed. Note sufficient space for fabric to pull inside. To retain the front slope (windscreen angle) and give some wind shedding ability I've had the front section above the windscreen bent by my local alloy fabricators (who will do the difficult welding for me). This is because the stock extrusions are all right angles and wont work with the slope backwards. Above diagram shows section above windscreen to be folded by local alloy fabricators after I've fitted it perfectly (!) to windscreen. And a possible gasket solution (I have several solutions all of which should be fine.) Weight. A conventional roof tent is between 100 and 200 lbs, depending on make and size, and that's without a roof rack to support it. Add a rack which will be at least 50lbs and the overall weight on top is between 150 and 250lbs. My existing roof rack weighs about 50lbs and the roof section I'll remove is probably another 20-30lbs. So I'm 'losing' about 70lbs or so. The new lifting alloy roof will come in about 140lbs max with internal bits and bobs, so deducting the weight of the current roof rack and old roof thats being removed I'm only adding around 70lbs and at the very most 100lbs to the vehicle(and that is including roof rack). That's not anywhere near compromising vehicle stability. Sides and alloy Z and L sections are 3mm and roof is 1.2mm sheet on 19x19x 1.6mm box subframe. Height. Keeping it to less than 2.2m shipping container height. The new roof will end up only about 5 inches higher than the current rooftop (plus 2 inches for roof rack), so somewhere around 7 inches in total, but still less than a normal roof with roof rack (never mind adding a roof tent). There will be no sloping top on the roof above windscreen (like on the original roof) as it will be flat all the way through, so it looks a bit 'top-hatty' but I can live with that to have room for my feet when lying in bed! Speaking of which: the length from windscreen top to back door is 9 feet. Deduct a bed length of 6' 6'' (fitted in two sections) and that leaves a 2' 6'' gap at rear end which gives anything up to 10 feet of standing head room with the roof up and allows me to climb up and get onto the bed, and I'm fitting a small sink on the passenger side and a cooker on the driver side. The bed base in the roof area will be in two sections with the front piece bolted firmly in place to the sides and braced to be a structural member, and the second section towards the rear will be lift-up and remove and during the day will 'nest' on top of the front section, and can be pulled to the rear and popped in place for sleeping. That two part method allows a good amount of standing room for about 6 feet from the back door when the bed base is 'nested' and will make moving about inside easier. Ladder access to bed will either be rungs built into kitchen sink base unit and cooker base unit opposite (so two bed access points) OR a small alloy ladder fixed externally for roof access which can be unclipped from the outside and pulled inside at night and used to climb up on either side as required. Anyway some rough plans should accompany this, as well as pics. Plans not to scale, just for guidance. Although the extrusion code numbers are there in case you want to have a go. 3mm might seem overkill but when I added up the weight of using thinner stuff, but needing a stronger subframe to support it, and then the complexity of fabricating that, well.... 3mm sheet was an easy winner, cheaper and lighter. I'll try and keep photos coming so you can see it evolve. I should be in the welders in the next few weeks all things going to plan to have it all stitched together. Above diagram shows section of roof with extrusion ID codes and dimensions and a rough idea of construction method (not to scale). Above diagram shows gas strut fitting and fabric sides. Ply template for windscreen cut to fit then dimensions and shape transferred to ally. Ready to cut. Once its cut with jigsaw the local ally fabricator boys fold the front for me..........(with their years of experience)........... ......and do a lovely accurate job - and that's the front almost ready. The front gives the dimensions from which I can work backwards and establish all the other dimensions. Did it this way to allow leeway in the folding process, then use the final folded dimensions of the front as the 'gospel'. Working from back forwards makes getting front dimensions super-critical and more stressful for folders than necessary. Using the gutter as a working surface gives a 'fixed point' from which everything can be established when combined with the accurate front fold. Sides cut, offered up, and 'bodged' to get the right angles and length. Lots of wooden wedges and a shedload of swearing. Doing this on your own is not recommended. 3m long wobbly alloy is a pig to control. Especially if its windy! And you have one on each side! Back cut and fitted too. Sides then able to be cut to length. Lots of length allowed in case of errors. Rear aligned and finally cut, wooden wedges to hold it all in place. Everything level and perfectly aligned and ready for fitting the unequal Z section to the top of these pieces (left and right side and rear.) front has no Z section because it's folded. Above all is aligned and wedged, measured, and checked by eye for level all round. Unequal Z fitted and cut. Bit rough but within the tolerances of the welding. Front detail above windscreen ready for pop riveting the z section permanently to the vertical sides/rear. Small bolts to hold in place temporarily whilst I cut the 45 deg mitre at rear, and the effing awful multi-angle mitre at the front which has both a 90 degree angle and the 'whatever the hell the front slope is' angle. Front angle cut is a nightmare. All long cuts were done with a jigsaw, short right-angle mitres with a chop saw, and the multi-angle ones done with a jigsaw, hacksaw, oscillating tool and my teeth. I've just finished pop-riveting the Z section to sides and sealed the joint with Tiger Seal, so its ready for welding. Once thats done I can get the width for the lifting top and get that cut.
Look what came onto the campsite in Ireland where I stayed over the weekend.... The owner is rightly very proud of it and it's certainly effective. Fully reversible too, so no 'damage' to the originality of the vehicle.