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Old 09-02-2013, 01:48 PM   #1
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Popping my top

or......"getting the cart before the horse"........

So, I bought a pop top, now I need a van.

The plan so far is:

pop the top off of the donor van Done

Refresh the top while looking for a van In process

pop the top on the new van Need the van first

I ended up buying the top that was discussed in this thread:

viewtopic.php?f=24&t=11696

Here are a few pics of the removal process:


A nice shot of the condition of the top after giving the van a bath




Cutting the butyl seal with a (broken) guitar string and a couple of wood handles




Separating the double seals at the front and rear




Canvas separated from the van




Covering the butyl goo with packing tape




Ready for lift-off.......




We have lift-off!



Here is the (condensed) procedure of the removal process:

Note: This is a least a four banana job.... probably more like five bananas in terms of skill level, and there are a couple of steps that are dangerous and may result in death, dismemberment, maiming of a loved-one etc.....Please don't try this at home! The springs in the lifting mechanism have lots of stored energy and need to be treated with respect.

Step .5-spend 2+ hours driving the donor van from San Diego to Orange County for the extraction

step 1-remove all of the upholstered trim exposing the mechanism, and disconnect the wiring going to the top.

step 2-remove the screws around the perimeter of the canvas that attach the canvas to the roof.

Step 3-use a guitar string (actually about 5 strings after allowing for breakage) to "saw" the butyl sealant. I used only the smallest two strings on a guitar since I didn't want to use a wound string. I now need to re-string 3 of my guitars since I cut the strings off in the heat of the project. The long sides are easy to saw through; the front and rear ends have 2 rubber seals, we cut above the seals leaving the the seal and staples on the roof for removal after the top was removed. I have no idea why there are seals only on the ends (and around the corners for about 6")....If anyone can enlighten me, it would be appreciated.

Step 4-use tie downs and packing tape to raise the canvas in preparation for lift-off. We applied packing tape to the butyl sealant goo on the bottom of the canvas to prevent it from getting all over the canvas. Remove the plywood slider-block thingies that attach the top to the lifting bars. Note: when these are removed the top is just "sitting" on the bars thanks to gravity. I used my neighbor's driveway since this step required a flat surface (my driveway is ridiculously sloped).

Step 5-call a couple of your strongest friends/relatives and lure them to your house with the promise of beer. Lift off the top. It took two of us standing on milk crates/step stools to lift the top over the mech. I elected to do the lift-off with the top up as the springs will be (mostly) unloaded. As seen in the pics, we placed the top on 2x4's between the van roof and a pair of ladders.

I considered tying down the lifting mech with tie downs to remove the top, but releasing the tie-downs without the weight of the top would be very dangerous so we went with the "top-up" method.

Step 6-use a come-along to remove the chains from the springs and slowly relieve the load on the springs. Of course we didn't have a come-along and instead we used a cam-type tie down and the strongest person in the group to pull on it NOT RECOMMENDED.....and, as usual minutes after finishing this step I found a pair of ratcheting tie downs under the passenger seat of the van. These are also not recommended but are better than a cam-type tie down. Don't forget to hold the scissor bars up when releasing the second spring.

Step 7-unbolt and remove the mechanism, springs, etc from the van, and take lots of measurements of the giant hole in the roof, they'll be needed later.

Step 8-lather up with sun-screen and drive the van back to it's owner in San Diego.

Next step will be to refresh the pop-top since I don't have a van to work on yet.......
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Old 09-02-2013, 02:18 PM   #2
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Re: Popping my top

Quote:
Originally Posted by boywonder
or......"getting the cart before the horse"........

So, I bought a pop top, now I need a van.
Boy (no pun intended) that sounds like a stupid plan, so stupid that I could probably be found guilty of doing something like that too.

Good luck with the build, once you get a van that is. At least you have a parts donor van if nothing else.


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Old 09-02-2013, 02:43 PM   #3
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Re: Popping my top

Quote:
Originally Posted by BroncoHauler
At least you have a parts donor van if nothing else.

Herb
No donor van here, I just bought the top.....note step .5 and step 8 above.....
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Old 09-02-2013, 06:47 PM   #4
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Re: Popping my top

I'm assuming that this top is plug-n-play for a newer (2008+) econoline.........

Can anyone confirm this, i.e. has the roof line changed at all from 2003? (this top is from a 2003 E-150)
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Old 09-02-2013, 07:19 PM   #5
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Re: Popping my top

I believe the roof is the same from 92 up. It might be easier if you are putting it back on the same body (RB vs. EB) length. Looks like the donor was a regular body, and if so the top would look quite short on an extended body van - but don't let looks stop you. Another forum member put an EB top on an RB, so it can be done.

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Old 09-02-2013, 08:22 PM   #6
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Re: Popping my top

Great, just what I was hoping.......

I'm looking for an RB, that's why I picked up the top
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Old 09-03-2013, 04:31 AM   #7
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Re: Popping my top

From my experience looking for top quality used vans they are quite plentiful, at least in my area and within a close enough driving distance for the right one. Having this top ready to install soon after the van is acquired cuts down on waiting to afford or find a top.

Assuming you got this top cheap enough? And what was so wrong with the donor van that it became a donor van?
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Old 09-03-2013, 07:03 AM   #8
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Re: Popping my top

Quote:
Originally Posted by JWA
From my experience looking for top quality used vans they are quite plentiful, at least in my area and within a close enough driving distance for the right one. Having this top ready to install soon after the van is acquired cuts down on waiting to afford or find a top.

Assuming you got this top cheap enough? And what was so wrong with the donor van that it became a donor van?
If I want a white cargo van they are a dime a dozen.....I don't want white, and I'll probably end up with a window van, although a cargo would also work.

The donor van was hammered; high miles, needed body work, has a side slider, and was white.....I'm looking for a 2009 or newer, the donor was a 2003.
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Old 09-03-2013, 07:17 AM   #9
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Re: Popping my top

Did I read correctly that you drove the van 2 hours back to the owner with no roof? The ultimate sunroof!!
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Old 09-03-2013, 08:56 AM   #10
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Re: Popping my top

Quote:
Originally Posted by BrianW
Did I read correctly that you drove the van 2 hours back to the owner with no roof? The ultimate sunroof!!
Good thing there wasn't a Sharknado happening at the time.
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