2001 Suburban Pop Top Conversion

sallf

Member
Hi sallf,the best thing i did to my burb was cutting the roof out.Now i can walk around if i have to and also get dressed in a upright position.As my fibreglass roof is on the light side i can easy push it up by hand.Cut as much roof out as you can as long as you reeinforce it enough.
Cheers Urs
@heidiurs you make a strong argument, I never actually considered cutting past where boll_rig did. I'm definitely going to continue to think about this as I finish up some other things...mainly how I'd reinforce it. I think I'll finally need to track down a welder.

You're 74 burb is looking good!
 

sallf

Member
Finally have an operational lift! Might not be the simplest design, but that's what happens when you design by trial and error.

I ended up attaching 2 of my big gas struts to the back. This now serves 2 purposes: to assist in the lift and to help support my cantilever. I don't love that there is about 180 lbs of force trying to push the topper off the back when it's down, but I think the heavy duty metal and bolts I've been using should be able to take it. Once I get some latches on, I think I'll feel complete.

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Since the gas struts are stronger than gravity after about a foot of lift, I needed to find a way to keep the back from lifting too fast. Ended up bolting on some angle iron to sandwich the outside bearing. Seems to be working pretty well!

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The low angle, as it starts to lift, is still pretty intense for the actuators, so I've also mounted a couple ~9" 50lb struts towards the middle. I picked up some knobs to act as feet and disperse the weight.

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Drilled a big hole through the steel tube on the side and shoved the gas strut in until the top hit the metal on top of the topper. The picture below is from earlier in the build, but that is where the top of the gas strut is sitting.

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Here's it mounted (currently with duct tape...will find a better solution at some point).

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I'm planning to JB weld a couple flat steel "landing pads" to the top of the roof, so this doesn't start to dent it.

The whole things starts rising a little bit like an Imperial Walker from star wars, but smooths out after it gets about a foot up.

To control it, I've got a master on/off toggle switch with safety cover. It looks a little intense, but I wanted to limit the potential of anything or anyone accidentally hitting it... as that could be a bad situation. To the right of my 'ready the missile' switch, is a double pole double throw toggle to send it up or down.

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I've also attached my limit switches for the actuators (sorry no pictures, I'll post some later).

The biggest question mark for me right now is what I'm going to do with the fabric sides. I haven't been able to find anyone to take on the project, most people seem to be intimidated by the idea of sewing thick canvass.

I know canvass is the material of choice for this, but what about something like rip-stock nylon?

I feel like with nylon I could still get waterproof sides with zip-able mesh windows. Anyone have thoughts on this. Is nylon just much more expensive or is there another reason people don't typically use it for this?
 

jakegrovephoto

Active member
Just found your thread and progress looks great! Any update since the last post as far as adding canvas and finishing touches?
I did a similar project on my XJ, but upcycled a westfalia poptop from a vw bus and re glassed it to fit. Always wanted to make a mold style like this! Might try out the cantilever actuator concept as well if I change my hinge system from factory vw.

If you're still looking for a fabric to tent it in, I used a westfalia canvas on mine and stitched it fine with a home sewing machine (thanks mom!)
Also look into the possibility of pvc coated vinyl used for tarps/awnings. I think you could work this similar to @gfccampers, and ive seen videos of "heat welding"the seams to waterproof it with a heatgun and roller. Then perhaps incorporate a bungee around horizontally like some van campers have to help pull the canvas in as it lowers.
 
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sallf

Member
@jakegrovephoto thanks for asking and thanks for the info. I wrapped up this project (v1 anyways) a little over a month ago and have just been super busy since then. I actually finished it about 2 hours before driving to Burning Man lol. Not sure if that made it really good timing or really bad timing since I had to rush.

Didn't take any spectacular photos of the setup, but here's one in its beautifully dusty form.

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Looks like in my last post I was still trying to get it to lift reliably and still needed to get the skirt figured out, so here's what happened.

First off, those small gas struts I was trying to add to help the lift get started, that was a dumb idea and I removed those. There were a number of reasons that design was doomed to fail, but maybe the number one issue was because of the angle, so when the pistons started to compress, they would slide across the roof or get pinched by the edge of the topper. Wish I had a picture, but in the end I found that I could literally put my back into the topper when I start the lift and that solves all my problems.

Next up...lights!

This photo doesn't do it justice, but I mounted and wired up the strip lights in the coves. Love the look of the lights on the wood panels. Gives it a real cozy feel. Will try and take some better photos soon.

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To make wiring a little easier, I have a master switch to turn the strip lights on and off, but wired them up with a remote dimmer so I can use the remote to turn them off from bed. The puck lights are on a separate switch and they are so bright, and the dimmed strip lights are so nice, that I'm not sure the pucks will get much use.

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The bed came together pretty easily. I think I ended up using 1/2" ply and wrapping it in the same $20 Home Depot carpet that boll_rig used.

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I was a little worried about putting to much weight on the sun roof, so I added a little extra structure to the front along with a little strip of carpet.

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Then rigged a little more lift.

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And bolted it down to the unistrut.

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Cut my existing full size mattress (from my old setup) to fit.

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This is a little hard to see, but it all ended up a little tighter than I would have liked, but was able to get it all to work.

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I've hit my 10 photo max for this post, but skirt to come in the next one.
 

sallf

Member
I finally found a company called Acme Tents in Denver who would take on this job. For not having any experience in a project like this, I think they did a pretty good job and were really friendly. I decided to go with 2 long screen windows along the sides and then another screen window at the front. For the back, I wanted to have the option to completely open it, so asked them to just cut me an extra piece of vinyl and said I'd figure it out. Here are the plans I sent them.

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The windows all have vertical zippers on the sides and some black ties to roll them up. In hindsight, the issue with this design is that the bottom is open, so when it rains the water runs down the vinyl and basically comes inside. If I had installed it the other way (so the open portion is at the top) or insisted that we zip all the sides it would hold up to the rain a little better. I have a couple gutter type ideas to fix this, but probably wont get to it until the spring.

Here you can see one of the windows partly up as I was trying to attach it.

Also, by far the best last minute decision I made was to paint the steel scissor arms black. They had some rust already so wanted to improve their longevity and to keep rust off my bed!

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Used tin flashing to screw it in at the top.

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And riveted it in on the bottom between a small piece of aluminum angle.

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I ended up screwing in a thin aluminum strip on the outside, which helped keep the vinyl from getting pinched when the topper closes. This is still a little bit of an issue, but I've found that if I lower it and then stop when it's a couple inches up, I can just walk around the truck the material in.

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Sorry I don't have great photos at the moment and I'm probably leaving out a lot of details, but overall I'm really happy with how it came out! The memory foam is super comfortable and everything mechanically is working great so far!

I'll try and get some better photos posted next week. Here's a couple shots in Buena Vista the other day.

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jakegrovephoto

Active member
I finally found a company called Acme Tents in Denver who would take on this job. For not having any experience in a project like this, I think they did a pretty good job and were really friendly. I decided to go with 2 long screen windows along the sides and then another screen window at the front. For the back, I wanted to have the option to completely open it, so asked them to just cut me an extra piece of vinyl and said I'd figure it out. Here are the plans I sent them.

View attachment 478248
The windows all have vertical zippers on the sides and some black ties to roll them up. In hindsight, the issue with this design is that the bottom is open, so when it rains the water runs down the vinyl and basically comes inside. If I had installed it the other way (so the open portion is at the top) or insisted that we zip all the sides it would hold up to the rain a little better. I have a couple gutter type ideas to fix this, but probably wont get to it until the spring.

Here you can see one of the windows partly up as I was trying to attach it.

Also, by far the best last minute decision I made was to paint the steel scissor arms black. They had some rust already so wanted to improve their longevity and to keep rust off my bed!

View attachment 478249

Used tin flashing to screw it in at the top.

View attachment 478255

And riveted it in on the bottom between a small piece of aluminum angle.

View attachment 478260

I ended up screwing in a thin aluminum strip on the outside, which helped keep the vinyl from getting pinched when the topper closes. This is still a little bit of an issue, but I've found that if I lower it and then stop when it's a couple inches up, I can just walk around the truck the material in.

View attachment 478261

Sorry I don't have great photos at the moment and I'm probably leaving out a lot of details, but overall I'm really happy with how it came out! The memory foam is super comfortable and everything mechanically is working great so far!

I'll try and get some better photos posted next week. Here's a couple shots in Buena Vista the other day.

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Looking good! Glad to see that the posts disappeared due to busy-ness and the project still went on.

Like the final touches, have you seen the light bar style on GFC campers? Concept reminds me of yours.

From the pictures this looks like one of the higher full lift tops I’ve seen. How is the stability so far? Any side to side play still present?
 

sallf

Member


Do you have a link for those LED strips? Thinking I’ll install some on my XJ top
Hey Jake, I ended up getting them from a lighting shop in Boulder but this was the product: https://www.diodeled.com/fluid-view-12v-led-tape-light.html

I'd recommend a warmer temperature (maybe around 3000K) as it looks better on wood and gives more of a cozy feel. There's a weatherproof version of the fluid view too, jic.

Also, wiring up a dimmer was one of the best things I did. I'm not sure I'll ever turn it higher than 25% and if you use a remote like I did it gives you a little more flexibility. They're really cheap on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/RGBZONE-11-key-Wireless-Controller-Connector/dp/B01HM8AJMQ/ref=sr_1_4
 

sallf

Member
Finally got around to taking some glamour shots last week. Enjoy!


Fully popped. You can just make out the solar panel on top.

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The black cord that goes around the middle is just a piece of elastic that pulls the material in when the top closes.

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The back flap fully opens and mesh windows on the right.

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Led strip lights in the cove up top.

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Here's a good shot of the scissor lift and a full length mattress ended up fitting perfectly.

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Looking up through the hole.

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Switches for lights and actuators, and hole for the Goal Zero battery. Velcro'ed a 4 way usb splitter for easily charging lots of stuff.

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Led lights in the back are super bright!

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And possibly the best unintentional feature of this build, is I might actually have a place in my life that isn't covered with dog hair. Lol, I give it two more trips before she's up there with me.

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Just realized that I don't think I have a single picture of the truck with the topper down. Coming soon!
 

Patrob

New member
Finally got around to taking some glamour shots last week. Enjoy!


Fully popped. You can just make out the solar panel on top.

View attachment 481041


The black cord that goes around the middle is just a piece of elastic that pulls the material in when the top closes.

View attachment 481042


The back flap fully opens and mesh windows on the right.

View attachment 481045


Led strip lights in the cove up top.

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Here's a good shot of the scissor lift and a full length mattress ended up fitting perfectly.

View attachment 481043


Looking up through the hole.

View attachment 481044


Switches for lights and actuators, and hole for the Goal Zero battery. Velcro'ed a 4 way usb splitter for easily charging lots of stuff.

View attachment 481046


Led lights in the back are super bright!

View attachment 481047


And possibly the best unintentional feature of this build, is I might actually have a place in my life that isn't covered with dog hair. Lol, I give it two more trips before she's up there with me.

View attachment 481048



Just realized that I don't think I have a single picture of the truck with the topper down. Coming soon!
Wow
 
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