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Old 08-08-2012, 10:19 PM   #1
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Land Cruiser 'Sportsmobile'

I have been reading and taking copious notes from the various build threads in this forum for the past couple of months. I am not building a 'sportsmobile' per se, but am building a vehicle made for sports - a UZJ100 Land Cruiser pop-top camper. One of my major inspirations is this beast:
http://www.ronaldbrunner.ch/projekte/hdj100.htm

So while the platform is very different, my philosophy and construction techniques are very similar to what is described in this forum. At this point I have the pop-top complete (made out of aluminium), with the exception of the bed and the pop-top fabric - which brings me to my questions:

1. What material do other home builders use for their pop-top fabric? I am trying to decide between a sunbrella type fabric (as is often used in Westies) and using Gore-Tex or similar Waterproof breathable fabric. The first big trip for this vehicle is going to be the Canadian Arctic, so long periods of rain is a concern. In this regard, I a leaning towards the heaviest 3-layer Gore-Tex I can find (unfortunately only 6 oz / sq yrd). However I am concerned about durability, which leads me towards sunbrella or similar. Anyone have any thoughts on using either of these fabrics for a hinged pop top or other suggestions?

2. What to make the upstairs bed platform out of? The bed is 48" wide, will be consist of 3 28" segments to allow the bed to be slid forward above the front seats when not in use. The platform will only be supported by rails on the sides. I was thinking of 1/2" ply, but suspect that it will not be stiff enough. I could use thicker ply (3/4" would probably be sufficient), but I would like to minimize weight up top. Anyone used composite panels for a bed base? How about plywood with Al or steel stiffeners?


Thanks in advance!
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Old 08-09-2012, 10:48 PM   #2
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Land Cruiser 'Sportsmobile'

Rando, good to have you. Looks like a neat project. I've been home building, and watching others for awhile, and I don't think hardly anyone here has actually done their own fabric, but I could be wrong. I think most of us have either had someone like SMB, CCV, or the like do our actual tops/canvas, or popped in a used Westy top with all of that included, like BettyFord has done a couple times. Good luck though, I'll be watching to see what you come up with.
Also, my bed up top is 1/2 I think, but has 1.5" angle iron frame, and it's very sturdy, but very heavy.
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Old 08-10-2012, 12:29 AM   #3
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Re: Land Cruiser 'Sportsmobile'

I'm not sure I understand where the desire for a breathable fabric comes from.

I have a fixed top, and if I need to exchange air I'll pop the side window open. While I'd like the extra space of a pop-top, I don't feel any need for a breathable membrane. Perhaps I just camp in cold or dry enough conditions to not understand this.

There's usually two of us and a dog generating heat and co2.
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Old 08-10-2012, 07:42 AM   #4
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Re: Land Cruiser 'Sportsmobile'

Rando,

nice project. Did you make the al. pop top yourself? I'd be interested to see some pictures of yours if you have any. The vehicle looks like it will be a very nice compromise between size and comfort.

If you search the forum there is thread out there somewhere about the use of composites for this purpose. There are some really light and super strong materials available that will work and save quite a bit of weight.
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Old 08-10-2012, 09:15 AM   #5
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Re: Land Cruiser 'Sportsmobile'

Thanks for the replies!

I will look into 1/2" plywood with a frame (or at least lateral members) of aluminium angle.

Since I have appreciated browsing everyone else's detailed descriptions of their projects, I should do better about describing mine. Unfortunately I only have a couple of poor quality photos of the work so far.

I am building the pop-top myself, out of sheet 6061 Al with t-slotted Al framing as the structural members (aka 80/20 framing). The photos below show the lower (fixed) part of the pop-top being test fit to the roof of the LC. It attaches to the factory roof rack mount rails in six place on both sides. Once I am satisfied with the top, I will cut the roof out between the rails from the tailgate up to just behind the front seats - anyone want the sunroof? The second photo shows where I am now, I have to sikaflex in the large flat panel for the roof and clean up a few joints and it is done. The next step is the tent and the bed platform and mattress.

As for the breathable fabric - My current camper is a Wildernest flip top camper on Toyota Tacoma. It works very well here in the Mountain West, however when we took it on a several month trip through northern Canada and Alaska we really learned the shortcomings of having our camper essentially be a non-breathable tent. Even though the tent itself was fairly water proof, it was so humid that the inside of the entire tent would be covered with condensation every morning. Here that is not so much of an issue, as it is less humid, and it will be dry within an hour or two in the morning as it almost never rains for more than 1 day in a row. I am hoping to maintain a high degree of waterproofing, but minimize the condensation. Another idea is to have a breathable inner tent out of sunbrella etc, and a waterproof 'fly'that can be attached outside the tent when we expect long periods of rain. However this would increase the complexity of set up and mean we would have to decide 'is it going to rain?' every evening.



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Old 02-04-2013, 10:29 PM   #6
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Re: Land Cruiser 'Sportsmobile'

Here is a bit of an update on this project. The top is finished and installed and I have started work on the interior cabinetry and sub-systems. I had the inaugural camping trip this weekend, and all went well. The tent is currently made out of tyvek, which I am using as a prototype/pattern for the final tent in goretex. I highly recommend this, the tyvek is functional enough to use it for a while to decide on where exactly to put windows etc, but cheap enough to be disposable. Once I am happy I will cut it up for a very good pattern for cutting the goretex. I also have not cut out the roof yet, as I wanted to make sure the concept would work before essentially ruining a fairly expensive vehicle. That being said, I was happy enough with this weekends trip, that I will be cutting out the roof next weekend. The propex heater worked very well, and certainly makes winter camping more enjoyable.

Next on the agenda is finishing up the water system for spring, and plumbing in the propane camp stove, and choosing an awning. Any one have any leads on the best place to buy a Fiamma F35 without ridiculous freight charges?

Also has any one used a filter such as http://www.amazon.com/Filtrete-Under...k+water+filter for mounting in a camper? It would be nice to be able to bleach the tank, then remove most of the bleach before the water hits the tap.




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Old 02-05-2013, 02:20 AM   #7
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Re: Land Cruiser 'Sportsmobile'

Nice project ! Your build seems to get really fine.

I drove a UZJ100 during my last trip in Wyoming and Utah one and a half year ago. I hired it in Jackson Hole and I was really well suprised by this rig. Confortable and off-road capable. I really enjoyed it! It had an AirTop top-tent on it, which was exactly what I was looking for: easy to install, easy to pack, perfect for a guy like me who often wake up very early to shot at dawn... I had a propane stove and an ARB portable fridge in the back, table and chairs, well, all what needed. It drove me in all places I wanted to go...

I don't want to pollute your thread but if you want, I can post some pictures of it...
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Old 02-05-2013, 02:57 AM   #8
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Re: Land Cruiser 'Sportsmobile'

Very nice projekt and a good choice!
I loved my LandCruiser (80 serie) soooo sad that i sold it
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Old 02-05-2013, 08:27 AM   #9
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Re: Land Cruiser 'Sportsmobile'

Schluchtenflitzer, thats an amazing vehicle! It is a real pity that there really aren't many commercial options for this sort of conversion in the US. There is a guy who is just stating to do similar pop tops for 80 series Land Cruisers here in Colorado, however I was not ready to make this much of an investment in a vehicle with a 25 year old design.

I would love to see photos of any other Land Cruiser exploration vehicles. The photos from schluchtenflitzer and other european builds have been my inspiration.
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Old 02-05-2013, 09:04 AM   #10
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Re: Land Cruiser 'Sportsmobile'

I have a gore-tex tent that I have used for many years and have a fair amount of time in gore-tex bivy bags and some in gore-tex dry suits. While gt is great stuff, I am not so sure that it would work all that well in a set up like the one you propose.

My experience is that when the weather is both cold and wet/very humid, there does not seem to be enough of a 'pressure' differential across the fabric. At that point the water vapor inside condenses on the inner surface of the fabric. After using my gt tent both at altitude with super dry, cold air and in the desert, the first time I used it in the wet and cold weather of Scotland in the winter I got a nasty surprise. My bag was soaked with condensation when I woke up in the morning. The same thing happens in a gt bivy bag when sleeping out in the cold and the rain.

I would think that in the similar conditions of Alaska, the key to keeping the interior of the vehicle dry is ventilation rather than fabric. Remember that with a conventional tent, the breathable inner allows the vapor to pass through relatively freely, condense on the cold inner of the flysheet and run off harmlessly. If the humidity and temperature are roughly the same inside and outside the tent, my experience is that you will get damp anyway, regardless of fabric unless you allow for a good amount of ventilation. Even canvas or cotton will not breathe enough under those conditions.


I would think a simple fly for wet weather camping would be more useful, allowing you to ventilate the vehicle from inside. Have you seen the GoWesty VW Westfalia fly? I used to have one on my van. It's not perfect, but it does work well as a fly. If I were to design one now, I would want it rolled up and out of the way but still attached, allowing it to be deployed from inside quickly and easily. My 2 cents and BTW I really like the vehicle. Oh, what did you end up doing for the bed frame?
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