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Jocklandjohn

110 lifting roof (has begun in earnest)

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Guest wunntenn

Been a bit mild so a good chance to get some more stuff done. During the week I put sealant all around the joint of the roof sheet, inside and out, and over the rivets top and bottom too. This is the PU overpaintable sealant which should not toss the paint off like silicone does.

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Then I cut the insulation to fit the roof sections. The idea is to fit them and number each one, then take them out, put a 3mm packer of foam in behind each of the 19mm box section subframe 'ribs' that supports the roof sheet, and then plaster all around the box/roof sheet joints with adhesive sealant. This should stop the roof sheet from popping up (I'm trying to avoid putting more rivets in anywhere other than the edges). There is a 3mm gap between the top of the box subframe and the inside of the 1.2mm alloy sheet because the welded ends of the box goes over the top of the 3mm thick frame material. This is a useful 'problem' because it means I can put the 3mm foam in which acts not only as a packer but insulates and will stop cold spots and condensation.

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You can see a couple of the 3mm foam packers - this is underlay for laminated flooring which I had lying about.

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Once the adhesive is set I'll put an X of adhesive on each insulation panel and gently push it into place so it 'grabs' the roof sheet. Then shove more adhesive around the edges of the insulation panel to bond them to the 19mm box. Once the ply goes on over the top it should be pretty rigid.

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In order to hold the roof sheet against the 19mm box underneath whilst the glue dried I wrapped several ratchet straps around the roof and on the 'outside' which you cant see in the picture below I shoved a couple of pieces of insulation under the straps to 'push' the roof sheet tight against the subframe to hold it until the glue sets. I took the roof into the garage - not much room as you can see but as its internal to the house it stays dry and relatively warm so the glue can dry.

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Hopefully tomorrow the glue will have set and I can take off the straps, and stick the insulation in.

Ok this is the next day and it's still mild so work continues. I stuck the insulation into place on the lifting roof section. Put adhesive all over the back of the insulation panels so it stuck to the roof alloy, and then silicone mastic into the edges where it abuts the 19mm box section that forms the roof subframe so it binds the lot together.

Now it has all set solid (but flexible) it's onto the next step. This was a very 'messy' bit.

The roof overall is 8 inches wider than an 8 foot x 4 foot sheet of ply, so to save me trying to joint some ply pieces together I'm fitting a length of red wood, 4.5 inches wide by 3/4 inch thick on either side, and across the rear. This not only allows the 8x4 ply to fit nicely across the width as a single sheet, it also gives a solid fixing point for the top of the fabric sides which can be screwed tightly onto it, and as it's pretty robust it will give a solid fixing point for the top of the gas strut so that when the roof is being pushed up by the struts the weight of the whole roof is not all on that one fixing point (and the box section underneath) but instead is spread evenly along the whole length of the roof side by the red wood. As the red wood is self-tapped to the box subframe it should be strong.

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I'm going to rebate the edge of the red wood by 6mm to allow the ply to be supported on the red wood along its length. I'll keep the ply sheet hard against the front of the roof and at the 8 foot length near the back I'll put the joint for the second piece of ply (roof is 9 feet long) with another redwood plate over it also tapped to the box subframe and this will be perfect for mounting a pull handle on which will allow the roof to be pushed up/pulled down, and also be used to pull oneself up into the sleeping area. A couple of locking support rods will also be fitted at the rear corners to hold the roof up, and form a corner around which the fabric sides will go to keep them taut. These will fold out of the way when the roof is down. As these are mounted to the red wood plates it will again spread the load across the entire length.

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The messy bit is cutting the insulation so that 3/4 inch red wood sits down flush against the box section. The box section is 19mm and the insulation is 25mm so theres a 6mm difference. I did think about cutting the 6mm out of the insulation before I stuck it in but I figured it would weaken it and it might snap when I pushed it in. So this is where the oscillating tool comes into its own because you can easily slice through the foam with it.

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Before I started I used a Stanley knife with the blade stuck out 6mm and cross-hatched cut the insulation so that when I pushed the oscillating tool through it the pieces just fell out. Still, its very very messy and tiny foam particles go everywhere - I used a face mask, and a big tip - don't wear a fleece as it attracts the particles like a magnet.

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Had a dry morning (sleet and hailstones forecast for the pm though) so I thought I'd rebate the pine that runs along the side with a groove to accept the ply.

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Doing the short (end) piece first.

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Worked ok so onto the longer pieces for the sides, you can see the idea below. These allow the fabric to be securely fixed on either side, whilst also spreading the load of the gas struts.

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Nice neat groove for the ply.

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A quick slit in the insulation and the wires for the roof lights were in and taped over too.

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Last thing was to paint the whole lot with varnish to seal it all.

Next day it was dry and I got it all assembled. The strip of pine nearest this end is there for three reasons: there's a joint in the ply sheet (the roof is 9' long, and sheets are only 8'), and as this is where we'll climb up to get onto the sleeping platform it will provide a firm fixing point for a couple of handles or a bar that can be used to pull up on, and which will also be useful for physically pushing the lifting roof up, and pulling it down again.

Because of the length/angle of the gas struts and the fact they have to lie horizontal when closed they will only operate when they reach 12 degrees so that first push up is important and a good firm fixing point is essential. The metal strengthening plates will be countersunk and can be filled or veneered over.

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And then yesterday because there was snow forecast I decided to take the lower frame back off the roof and put it in a neighbour's garage where I hope to rub down and etch prime it asap. Also as you can see the roof was filling up with leaves, crisp packets and sundry junk so needed a good clean out!

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Managed to get the lower section primed and painted in my neighbour's garage over the last week. One can of 500ml Etch Primer (Acid8) and 6 cans 300ml white auto paint did the job. Fumes were diabolical.

I bought a proper 3M mask and goggles and could not smell anything whilst doing it, but when I took the mask off outside the smell was grim.

I 'scrubbed' all the surfaces first with the angle grinder using an alloy cleaning disc/pad, then towelled it down and ensured it was clean and dust free. The acid etch primer dries really quickly, in less than half an hour, but I left it for a few days until we had the forecasted mild day, then did the white topcoat.

No idea whether it's right or not but I was advised to do it in a single session, light coats, 15 to 20 minutes between each and continue until complete. Didn't take too long. Left it three days to cure and today carted it out and took it back into my own garden. There are a couple of slight runs but nothing too terrible - not any worse than the cra*p 'professional' paint job that I had done several years ago that's on the rest of the van.

What did I learn doing this? You need a lot of light to see what you're actually doing, and the light needs to be properly angled and able to reveal the texture of the paint (*I did not have one and resorted to a super bright mountaineering LED headtorch). I also chose not to overprime the slightly grey etch primer with a white primer so that I could see where I was painting with the white topcoat - not sure I'd do that again when doing the lifting bit. I think I'll white prime it over the grey etch and make sure I have a load of light to see what I'm doing and where I need to spray.

PS - it is actually white, I've slightly underexposed the images so the paint texture can be seen - if I make the exposure so the paint is 'white' you can't see the detail. And the surface is also speckled with a light shower of rain so those are not bubbles you're seeing! (at least not yet!)

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The pairs of small holes visible in various shots in the perimeter raised frame are for the 'ironmongery' - the clips that hold the lifting top down tight to the lower frame, you can see them in the previous posts. I removed them so they didn't get stuffed full of paint.

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This is the front end (slope above windscreen).

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This is the rear end, with cut-out for the back door. Small hole in the lower corner is for the bolt that fixes it to the original roof - will bore it out to a slightly larger diameter for the final fixings which are all stainless steel.

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Looks like a pretty good finish if you ask me :)

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Superb job John and an interesting and informative write up. I'm looking forward to seeing the finished article.

Mo

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Thanks chaps. Filling and rubbing down the lifting bit at the moment - inside the garage, with it on its edge. But I've bought four industrial castors and bolted them to a plank so I can stick the lid onto it and wheel it outside. It is liftable between two of us, but I don't want to drop it, which is highly likely, or even more likely is to do our backs in. If I get a dry, windless day in the next couple of days its getting sprayed in the drive so I don't gas everyone in the house (integral garage) and so that I can actually see what I'm doing!

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Still waiting to try to get the lifting top painted. Been a bit rainy so not much joy.

But I ordered the gas struts yesterday and they arrived today. Fantastic service from the suppliers Struts Direct (I have no connection with them otherwise). They have an online calculator and lots of helpful descriptions of how the struts work and how to establish what you need. I used their free design service - enter the length, width, depth of the base and lid, and the location of hinge, and weight to be lifted, and they work out the correct dimensions and fitting location and send you the following very helpful diagram.

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My requirement is for a flat-surface-fixing for the top (tube end) and a vertical-side-fixing for the lower (rod) end. Each strut end can accept a variety of fittings and there is a good range so you can pick the appropriate fixing for individual need (or have one made to suit for special requirements). I've got the steel eye at top, with a bolt-through fitting to the flat plate (which is then screwed up into the wood on my roof). The bottom is a ball joint and my choice of side-fixing, which is so that I don't have to make any holes in the horizontal surface of the alloy lip which might be a leak point.

This is the top fitting (tube end) with the fixing plate attached.

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And this is the rod end (bottom) which will be bolted onto the side of the upstand.

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Here's the diagram showing how they will fit. Strut diameter (tube) is 18mm (and I have 25mm space). This is the SD02 type, 345mm long tube (giving a 'stroke' of 300mm) so the overall length open is 645mm. The struts will support up to 35kg each so plenty strong enough for my roof. The strut will only actuate beyond 12 degrees so it'll need a good push for that initial movement.

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The red bit is the lower fixing plate (as shown in pic above) located on the side of the upstand (or 'verge' or whatever else you want to call it!), which will hopefully be a location that will prevent water entry. The canvas side fabric will of course be located behind this fixing plate - in other words the fabric sides will be fitted first and then the strut fixing plate bolted through the fabric and the alloy. I may need a small spacer between the fabric and plate to prevent chafing, but will have to see it operate to establish exactly how it will be finished.

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Today I was able to paint the lifting section. My neighbour has allowed me to use his wider garage to do it in which was a relief as the weather's been a bit damp. We had to get it from my house to his so I made a small trolley with castors on it and we lifted it on and rolled it down the street last night in the dark - made a hell of a noise and got the street wondering what was afoot. The last bit is his gravel drive over which the trolley would not roll so we had to lift, and realised that it was not actually so heavy as we thought and was an easy carry.

Anyway - peeling off the plastic protective sheet from the alloy.

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Roughing the surface up with wire wool.

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First coat of Acid Etch primer - 1.5 large cans.

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Then top coat - 10 cans of white.

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Me - mask, goggles, gloves, hood, and although I could not smell the heavy vapours in the mask (proper 3M jobbie) I could still feel the effect.

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So every new tin was taken outside to shake for two minutes, and it was mask off, deep breaths and then back in properly oxygenated. Its really nasty nasty stuff that tinned paint and I dont enjoy doing it at all. Its now drying and I may be able to lift it onto my LR roof in the next couple of days, depending on the number of neighbours I can draft in to help lift it.

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Well it's painted and on the LR roof! Not sealed and bolted, simply sat there. Paintwork is not perfection - I reckon another ten tins would achieve that! Its white, its on, Its a Land Rover with a hat.

My neighbour and I managed to lift it on on Sunday morning. Bit of a pain because it snowed, then rained then froze just before we got it on the roof so there was a good coat of ice on the roof when it went on. Then it snowed again pretty quickly, then froze again so there was snow & ice on the new roof as well! Ah the joys of winter driveway DIY!

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One problem I knew I'd have to overcome is that because I've had to split the welds on the drivers side lifting section the additional heating when it was rewelded has caused a slight 'banana' in the long inverted L section that forms the sides. You can see it at the left and right ends of the join. It looks worse than it is - it's about 2mm of a gap. I was a bit concerned about this so figured I could ameliorate this when I fit the seals. I say 'fit the seals' as if I knew what I was going to use, but I didn't and am deciding now!

What I reckon might work is a length of P (or Tadpole) section rubber fitted into the join.

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You can see it in the cross-section model I've been using, below:

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It can be glued onto the back of the alloy sides of the lifting lid, and the thickness of the 'bulb' that protrudes outwards is just shy of 3mm so wont extend much beyond the face of the alloy so should not interfere with the clips that pull/hold the lid down.

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The bulb seal is about 6mm overall diameter and will deform to about 3mm under pressure which should be more than enough to accommodate the slight joint gap difference at each end of the side. Now of course fitting this P section on the two sides and rear will raise the roof by a few mm which I'll have to take into account in the front at the hinge area. But that's an advantage because it now gives me a few mm gap I need to fill and can use a rubber strip which will make a very good seal when squished and bolted down under both the lower hinge leaf, and above the upper hinge leaf. I'm considering using either an L section with the flap of the L hanging out and down to cover the hinge ball to stop water and dust from getting blown in. I can of course also use a simple flap of rubber that goes under both hinge leaf and forms a U around the hinge ball. Will need to do some testing on the actual roof and see how much the P section deforms and what the actual height it raises the roof is (as defined by width of the gap at the hinge).

My other, completely different option, is a composite of two neoprene rubbers - one is a 1mm thick section of solid neoprene and the other an expanded neoprene about 4-5mm thick. These will be bonded together by the manufacturer, and have an adhesive backing with peel-off tape. The idea is that this will be 30mm wide and stuck down to the lower (horizontal) section of the fixed portion of the new roof (so nothing required on the edge of the lifting section). The solid neoprene gives robustness, and will withstand the wear and pressure of the roof coming down onto it, whilst the expanded stuff deforms underneath and allows it to accommodate the slight 'banana' shape in the section. It's substantially cheaper than the P section too, as well as easier to fit. This will also act as an insulator and prevent condensation, which as I've watched over the last few days will freeze solid.

Thinking! Thinking!

Meanwhile I've been offered the use of a some covered space in a barn and an adjoining workshop used by a campervan repairer/servicer whose wee boy goes to school with my wee lad. That'll give me a bit of breathing space to lift off the new roof, hopefully able to suspend it above from the joists, clean the roof off, dry it, drop and seal the lower section, drill and fasten it, then get the hinge and gas struts attached.

The major problem with the hinge fixing is that in order to access it one needs to flip the entire lifting roof up and over beyond vertical to get into the hinge with a screwdriver. Solution - and I suggest this for anyone having a go in my wake - get the hinge made as a loose-pin type. Then you can simply remove the pin, separate the hinge leafs, attach upper to top, lower to bottom, then drop back together and shove the pin through to fasten. That would save so much grief. As it is I reckon I'll need a least three people to hold it in order to fasten the hinge!

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I can't recall reading anywhere, but is the plan to ultimately remove the standard roof and replace with the elevating one, or do you plan to cut a large opening in the old roof? If you are removing the old roof are you going to add some form of structural "wall plate" to the top of the sides/door reveals?

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Not removing all the old roof.

There's a previous (short) post about it if you go back. But basically I'm leaving intact the whole area above the front seats right back to the big structural piece that marks the joint of the flat section of the existing roof, with the slope down to the windscreen. I'll remove only the flat portion of the old roof, to within a few inches of the back door (to allow a metal brace to run across). And at the sides will cut the roof at the point where it starts to curve down. That leaves plenty of the old roof to retain some integrity and to allow me to fasten strengthening members to.

At the front I'm making the sleeping platform in two sections each about 3' 3'' long. One will be permanently fixed above the driving area, well bolted down and through into the old roof and with a strong metal brace across where it was cut. During the day the second loose portion of the bed will nest on top of the fixed one. I'll see how it's looking but have not ruled out a clip-in metal brace that goes across at the 6' 6" bed length mark, which will provide strength and rigidity, allow the bed to have a good strong support across the width and this can be clipped in in some way that allows it to be whipped out if I need the space clear.

In effect I'm making a giant sunroof about 4' wide by 6' long, strengthened all round.

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Thanks for explanation. I have been after making something similar for my truck but wasn't really sure where to start or which route to go down. I have followed your thread from the outset and find it very inspiring. Great attention to detail and top workmanship. I know the bespoke lifting roofs are expensive but I think we can all see why now!

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Well, after a lot of deliberation, faffing about with a micrometer, a sharp pencil, and a load of catalogue browsing, I've made a decision about the seals - they've got to be easy to fit. On the three (non-hinged) sides: they have to deform sufficiently to accommodate the slight 'banana' shape of one of the sides (taking up about 3mm gap). They need to (preferably) not protrude beyond the outer face of the lifting roof section when NOT under pressure otherwise the seal will hit the surface-mounted clip body on the way down. And at the front they need to cover and protect the ball of the hinge from blowing water, grit and muck, also flex when open, and seal the interface between top leaf of hinge and metal top, and between bottom leaf of hinge and metal bottom. Crucially - did I say - they have to be easy to fit!

I found the following rubber profile which ironically is a part for a LandRover door but is available off-the-roll from seal suppliers (Seal Direct). Its a simple flap with a pre-formed curl. Wall thickness is around 2mm.

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The idea is that I can use this above the top leaf of the hinge. The long flange (25mm) will both seal the hinge/roof join and the pre-formed 'curl' is perfect to go down and around the hinge ball, effectively sealing it from blowing water coming in.

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It is supple enough that when the lid is opened it will bend and flex with the hinge and still maintain a reasonable seal sufficient to shed water and stop blowing sand from clagging the hinge.

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On the lower hinge/body interface I can put a simple strip of 25mm x 1.5mm rubber tape that will extend out to just butt up against the curled over section to provide a reasonable join. It wont be utterly watertight but it doesn't have to be because the only 'leak' prone holes will be the screw fixing holes for the hinge and they'll be both mastic sealed and approx 10mm back in the hinge body totally surrounded by the rubber seal tightly pinched under screw pressure. A 5mm thick neoprene strip inserted in between the hinge (ie over the top of the screws) will seal it when closed, as it will be also be 'pinched' and under pressure from the closed hinge. With the 40mm upstand I've got behind the hinge It'll need some serious water pressure to get past the seals. All of the seals are easily obtained and replaced. I did consider a simple 70mm flap of rubber that would 'wrap' right around the hinge but after deliberation (and watching the ice build-up over the last week on it) I reckon it will be both awkward to fit and be a water trap that can freeze and then impede the hinge. The open flap method I've described above removes both those problems (I hope!).

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As you can see above there's plenty distance between the outer edge (outside) of the rubber/hinge and the hinge screw hole so should provide a good seal when under pressure after being screwed down.

Now of course this sealing method has raised the lid - but it has done so by roughly 2mm (the thickness of the curl section), plus 1.5mm (the flap on the lower hinge), so that's a total of 3.5mm to 4mm. This has meant that I need a slightly thicker seal on the other three edges around the roof than the P profile I mentioned in a previous post. So after some searching I found an 8mm 'tadpole' section that is perfect. It's actually got a manufacturing defect and this has resulted in the flange being off-centre so that the gap on one side is 2.5mm and on the other is 3.5mm instead of being central. This has meant I can use it for my 3mm section and it wont protrude beyond the face of the top section when not under pressure, and will therefore be clear of the clips when it comes down. (To understand what I mean there: I've kept the clips slightly above the surface of the lower lip of the roof to use as stops/guides for the raising/lowering section as you can see here in a previous post.)

I estimate when its under pressure the tadpole will deform to 'lose' most of its hollow in the middle part of the roof (but only half deform at each end of the roof given the 'banana' shape I'm working to alleviate/seal) and so will end up raising the lifting lid by twice its own wall thickness of approx 2mm = so around 4mm total. Which is pretty much what the hinge rubbers at the front raise the lid by given their thicknesses. Of course the only way to find out for sure if all this works in practice is to do it! Does all that make sense? Basically I'm having to take into account the deformation of the main seals around the three sides, and estimate what thickness they end up when under pressure, and then that precise amount will be the gap at the hinge that needs sealing, but split into two separate seals, one for above and one for below the hinge leafs. Clear?

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Van is now temporarily in a friend's dry barn/workshop with masses of overhead space - I need 16 feet to raise my roof to up to and over vertical to fasten the hinge so its a perfect space. They don't need a Land Rover sized chunk of space for a few weeks so that will give me time to get it dried and sealed properly. Hopefully will have the roof fastened down, sealed, lid and hinges fixed and rubber seals on, gas struts fitted in the next few weeks if it all goes to plan. (fingers crossed!))

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Now that's what I call a workshop! Its way longer than you can see here - there's another 75 feet behind me!

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Well its slowwwwwllllly ongoing. I'm at the stage where a lot of effort results in (apparently) little progress.

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I've cleaned the old mastic out of the gutters of the old roof on both sides in preparation for sticking the new top on (and can now see where leaks originate) and have drilled the holes for the bolts through the lower section brackets/old roof, and stuck the lower section down with PU sealant.

I'm not fully bolting it up tight until I fit the lifting top as I may have to tweak the alignment of the sides to suit the top alignment - there's a few mm play because I've drilled the roof holes slightly oversize to allow the roof to flex (the whole van flexes quite a bit when on rough ground).

I've managed to get the brackets aligned with the rigid strengthening channel above the windscreen - pics below show the area above above the rear view mirror, through the two main ribs in the roof on either side near the middle of the van, and above the drivers side windscreen, which means the new roof has got a good 'grip' of the old roof.

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I'm fitting a pressure-treated timber batten under the lower hinge fixing point which will a) strengthen the hinge fastening area, b) provide a firmer attachment point for the self-tapping stainless screws, c) help seal the lower hinge area from water ingress. The angle alloy I've used for the sides and which has dictated the size of the front area will take a 25mm thick insulation sheet under it and give a flush finish - you can see the insulation in the shot below. It'll be tacked on with mastic then builders foam will be skooshed all around it to fully grip it and the new sides and fasten the whole plot to the old roof - basically I''ll fill the recess down the curve into the old gutter with foam and it will insulate, seal and glue the new roof to the old.


lid-1.jpg

The rubber seal on the hinge is fitted - the roof is standing on edge against the wall so the pics are 'vertical'. Basically the pre-curved rubber is fitted so the flange is trapped between the lid and the top hinge leaf. The curve then wraps around the ball and presents a nice curved barrier to weather and allows any drips running down when the lid is lifted to run right off.

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I know there's been some wondering about whether I remove the old roof or whats going on - so here's a rough idea for you - I'm keeping the front area of the roof intact above the front seats, and cutting it across the width just behind the big strengthening rib that is immediately behind the lap joint where the roof goes from flat to slope.

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And at the back I'm cutting it a few inches in from the back door (to allow for some bracing of some kind to be fitted) and along the sides it will be cut just where the flat of the roof starts to curve down into the gutter. It is in effect a giant sunroof - keeping the front area makes it strong above the front seats and means the front part of the bed which is bolted through into the remaining roof becomes a structural component, and leaves a void that can hold stuff - radios, flip down tv, an inverter, whatever. The sides will be braced with some angle alloy and will provide a storage area for the flapping fabric that will eventually fall inside when the roof is closed and the fabric sides need somewhere to go. Keeping the sides wont impede the interior in any way because there will be a cooker unit on one side and sink on the other, both of which are about 300mm deep so will stick out into the van. The void I've created can hold wiring, lights, ducting for a cooker smells extractor or whatever else I fancy.

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Next job is the rubber Tadpole/P-section seals glued onto the lid perimeter. I'm still working alone so some tasks take ages as they're so fiddly and an extra hand would be useful - these bolts through the roof are a good example - pita to both hold them below and stick nuts on above - 9 foot arms would be handy (three of them)!

Next day I got the seals fitted. Some sort of special two-part contact adhesive was suggested by the seal supplier, but I'm not impressed by its 'workability' - seemed to go off very fast, although to be fair I may have used too much catalyst as there was no instructions so I assumed equal measures of the two components. Anyway the seals went on but I had to give two coats of glue and work fast. Seems to have stuck ok though.

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I then added some closed-cell foam above the seals simply to prevent condensation on the bare alloy (which will obviously form behind the seal and be trapped otherwise). This part is all hidden when the roof is up/down so I'm not too fussed about how pretty it looks.

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I'm intending putting a length of self-adhesive closed-cell foam draught strip between the hinge leaves, stuck to the lower hinge face which will also help seal the c/sunk screw heads. You can see it here below - I had this laying about so thought it might do, although it looks a bit on the fat side I think it will compress when under pressure of the closed roof.

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Up front above the windscreen I've installed another wooden batten which will strengthen the hinge area on the frame for the bottom hinge leaf, help seal it, and give more grip to the self tappers which are 25mm long and will come pretty far through the 3mm alloy and get a good bite into the timber. It's just stuck on with silicone mastic at the moment and will be properly held by the hinge screws when they go in. Which I hope will be a 'dry run' of the lid fairly soon - need a few people to help me lift it so it needs some planning.

seals-9.jpg

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Well yesterday (Saturday) was a surprise. I wanted to try to fit the lifting lid, but it was dependent on the availability of a couple of other lads to help me lift it, and if it didn't work and we'd to come back to it later it'd be the next Saturday before I'd get another chance. But it all came together and we kicked off at about 3.30 and by 6.30 we'd got it on and to my surprise and delight it fitted (more or less)!

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We'd to put a small scaffold in front of the LR and balance the (awkward & heavy) lid on it. That was a big and difficult lift. Then pull the lid forwards onto a wooden T piece that supported it over the bonnet, with its other end resting on the scaffold. Then we realized that the rubber seal that curls around the hinge was preventing the hinge leaf from going onto the lower lid. So we'd to duct tape it up out of the way - which was a fiddly wrestling match but worked fine.

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I managed to get two screws into the guide holes I'd drilled when I did a dry run during a test last year when it was still a bare frame and manageable to lift on my own, and then slipped a length of thin rubber tape under the hinge leaf to pack it up and seal it when screwed down. Those two screws were all it needed to hold it firmly so we could then lift up to vertical and tip it over to try it down onto the lower frame and see if it fitted.

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Getting it up and over was a horribly precarious and slightly unnerving experience - a couple of straps over the roof joist made it a bit easier, but it was still pretty fraught - one careless slip and someone would at the least lose some fingers, at worst be killed, and either way the whole thing would be trashed, falling from that height. But we took it slowly, always two of us holding it, and up it went, and down it came and although it was rather tight on the passenger side - about 1mm out and hitting the edge of a clip - it fitted. I shoved a piece of wood across inside the lower frame to push the sides out (widen it) and the lid popped down. I'm going to have to either slightly bend a clip or two out by 1mm or file a bit off the edge of the lid at the clip area (or both) to 'sweeten' it a bit.

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Front with duct tape holding rubber seal up out of the way.

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Tape removed and seal rolled over and curled around the hinge ball nicely.


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It looks like all my calculations and guesses about the seals thickness and accompanying rubber packers under and above the hinge were reasonably accurate - I'll test it with a hose soon. My one fear was that the clip adjustment (the clasp part is on a screw) would not be sufficient to reach the now further away J hook on the lifting section, but I'd left enough play and the clips caught just fine.

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So here's what it looks like - front, rear quarters, back. Unfortunately the duct tape was damp and the silver stuff came off when I removed it from the hinge area but left the glue behind so a bit of cleaning to do there. Can anyone suggest a cleaner for the glue that wont remove the paint as well? What hasn't helped is that the paint on the roof is not entirely smooth but has a slightly rough texture (probably not enough of it on there) - and when it was outside and it snowed onto it the snow really gripped it and was hard to wipe off - so any suggestions for a decent brush/roller applied gloss enamel that I can put on the roof to both seal it further but make it more durable and 'slippy'?

Ignore the paint runs in the lower picture - these will be covered over with some vinyl transfers I'm putting on to break up the white slabby sides. And that's the tail of the thin rubber seal under the lower hinge leaf that's hanging out - seals need some trimming and mastic to finish here and there.

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Despite what it looks like - rather tall - its ended up only about 5 inches higher than the original roof. The line at the bottom of the clip in the pic above is the height of the original roof inside so overall it's ended up less than the height of a roof rack on top, never mind adding a roof tent on top of the rack. Will need to measure it from the ground and see what it is overall.

This was a significant step forwards - the van can (hopefully) be driven now and not turn into a swimming pool. I'm so grateful to my friends for the use of their barn - could we have done this outside? Maybe - by going under a tree or by rigging up some wooden or metal support structure, or with a forklift - none of which I have handy! But with any of those one gust of wind would likely end in disaster. Anyone having a go at this make sure you have a good think about process, make sure your companions fully understand what might be clear to you but may not be so obvious to them, and take more precautions than you need, backups for your backups are always worth putting in place. Big thank you to Steve and Richard for the muscle, ingenuity and encouragement!

Next step is the gas struts so it will stay up and I can then get accurate dimensions for the fabric sides.

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Nice. well done.

Mind you I still get a surprise when I measure and cut/ drill things, then on fitting I find they line up.

I do like that long prop to hold the lifting bit up

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Looks great - well done !!

For the roof paint perhaps just a decent coating in wax would be enough ?

For cleaning the tape residue I've used isopropyl alcohol, it only damaged paint once and that was 50 year old paint in an old speedometer.

Dare I ask ? What stopped you grinding the alloy welds smooth on the edges before you painted it ?

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Cheers Mike - aye all the tech in the world and at the end of the day a long plank is just what's needed!

Yep technology. Have you seen the vid of the Mclaren super car having the exhaust tuned ? They used a broomstick to hold the engine bay cover up

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Looks great - well done !!

For the roof paint perhaps just a decent coating in wax would be enough ?

For cleaning the tape residue I've used isopropyl alcohol, it only damaged paint once and that was 50 year old paint in an old speedometer.

Dare I ask ? What stopped you grinding the alloy welds smooth on the edges before you painted it ?

Yes wax might do - I did think of that, but was concerned that if it didn't work I'd have a bugger getting it off again in order to paint it! Might be worth a go. I'll try the isopropyl and see if it works - thanks.

The welds? Ha! I love the fact that you can do magic with metal and 'burn' it together. The bare welds are pretty neat and I like the fact that you can see that its been worked by hand and is actually 'constructed' out of metal. It's the signature of Steve the welder who was really helpful and accommodating (and particularly so when my partner 'died' just before Christmas) so I thought it wholly appropriate to leave them as his mark. I took off the little snaggy jaggy bits but am happy to leave the rest. I'm not a huge fan of hand-working something to the point where it looks machine-made. Its a 25 year old land Rover with a lid on it, simple as that. Like me its got lines and wear marks and scars and lumps of metal where bits are joined (my legs) and I'm comfortable with that.

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Yep technology. Have you seen the vid of the Mclaren super car having the exhaust tuned ? They used a broomstick to hold the engine bay cover up

No! But I can imagine! One of the cornerstones of fine engineering is adapting something to do something else entirely unrelated!

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