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Old 05-27-2015, 07:53 PM   #1
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Installing a new canvas top?

Hey all,

I've been living full time out of my sportsmobile for the past 10 years, and my poor canvas top has seen better days. Sun rotted screens are letting bugs in, and blown out zippers letting are letting warm air out. Heavy rain in high winds- bummer. Patches and sewing with dental floss only go so far. So I ordered a new top from the factory in Indiana, which is being shipped to me to replace myself, and I'm wondering if anyone here has any experience with this?

I've taken the entire roof off before, and I rebuilt the entire insides myself, so I'm mostly familiar with how things work... but I wouldn't say I'm naturally skilled when it comes to working with fabric. If anyone who ever reads this has done this before, I'd sure be much obliged with any helpful advice.

Also, I'm thinking of insulating the roof with several layers of that foil-bubble stuff instead of blown fiberglass and flat wood, and then gluing a piece of outdoor caret to the top, as my ceiling. With the pads for the scissor mechanism for up-downing to roof, and some nicely stained wood strip to hold the canvas and around the lights, I think this would look pretty good. But again, and advice or suggestions would be much appreciated.

Thanks, and happy traveling,
Ryan
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Old 05-27-2015, 10:30 PM   #2
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Re: Installing a new canvas top?

As you probably have already figured out, the headliner holds up the canvas.

I reworked this by making 2" wide by 1/8" thick plywood strips to fasten the canvas to the PH roof. This does several things, like now I can remove the headliner without the canvas falling around my ankles. That's very handy when you want to add solar, roof lights, etc.

My headliner is now held in place by being sandwiched between the lifting blocks and the roof, so no screws around the perimeter of the headliner. I also ended up with one seam on the new headliner, right in the middle.....Scalf77 put the seam under one of the lifting blocks on his headliner rework, even better.

Here is the build thread with the headliner/canvas mod:

http://sportsmobileforum.com/viewtopic. ... 4&start=15
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Old 05-27-2015, 11:21 PM   #3
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Re: Installing a new canvas top?

Boy Wonder is correct that the headliner holds the canvas at the top. If I remember correctly the bottom has a bead of butal rubber between the canvas and the roof.

It would be great to hear what it has been like living full time in your SMB. Ten years is a long time. Could share some stories and what you have learned about full timing it. Photos of your rig would be great as well.
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Old 05-27-2015, 11:24 PM   #4
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Re: Installing a new canvas top?

Rallypanam replaced one back in early 2013. He'll probably stop by with some advice...

viewtopic.php?f=8&t=10578
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Old 05-27-2015, 11:52 PM   #5
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Re: Installing a new canvas top?

I installed the top of mine the way SMB does them - the headliner holds the canvas - but i think boywonder's solution is much better.

The base is a rubber gasket, butyl caulk or tape (my donor definitely used caulk, so I did the same, but tape is probably easier and just as good), and plywood strips and sheet metal screws from the inside. My recommendation from that other thread stands true.. If I did it again I'd install the whole thing, make sure it was aligned using minimal screws then unscrew sections, install butyl and screw it down well. Mine worked out great, but it could have gone bad quick as that butyl is sticky and messy!

I'm certain somewhere on this forum I and others have linked to the seal equivalent that McMaster Carr sells but damned if i can find it. But I think its the [s:1b5wpjp4]1142A14[/s:1b5wpjp4] [edit: that's wrong - damn iphone surfing - it's 1142A76] on this page: http://www.mcmaster.com/#catalog/121/3496/=xde9mz

Easy enough to confirm from your own van though - once you peel up a corner.
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Old 05-28-2015, 09:24 AM   #6
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Re: Installing a new canvas top?

The McMaster butyl tape is here:

http://www.mcmaster.com/#butyl-rubber-tape/=xdlnlw

1 1/2" wide is slightly skinny and 2 1/2" wide is slightly fat. I used several layers (like 3-4 IIRC) down the long sides since it needs to fill in the roof channels. The bottom layers were 1 1/2" wide and the top layer is 2 1/2" wide.

For the bulb seal, I think I used 1142A76 but there are several profiles that will work just fine. The EDPM is rubber, the stock SMB bulb seal is plastic. I'm still not clear on what the bulb seal does....
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Old 05-28-2015, 10:02 AM   #7
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Re: Installing a new canvas top?

Quote:
Originally Posted by boywonder
For the bulb seal, I think I used 1142A76 but there are several profiles that will work just fine.
Yes, that's the one I used.. That's what I get for looking at McMaster's site on my iphone. 1/4" x 1" is about right.
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Old 06-20-2015, 03:57 PM   #8
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Re: Installing a new canvas top?

Thanks for the advice everyone. The new canvas was a bit of a hassle to put on, but not nearly as much as I was expecting. Drilling the holes to hold down the bottom, and then loosening them enough to squirt the sticky stuff under there... certainly saved me some messy paws. I've yet to take a full storm on the head, I'm in CA now-- bring the rain-- but everything looks good.

Just wondering, do the new canvas tops not have that button snap thing that connects around the X part of the scissor lift, which seems to keep the canvas tucked under the top when you're closing the lid?
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