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Old 06-18-2015, 04:50 AM   #11
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Re: Homemade Fiiberglass High Top?

I'm not one to discourage a DIY on most things but in this case its not that plausible at all, frankly speaking. While the $2K seems expensive doing this without prior knowledge or experience laying up fiberglass isn't easy at all. The time commitment alone would be enough to cause most to rethink this.

Another advantage of buying ready-made is the engineering and fit work has already been done. Because most still in that business have been at it 10 years the benefit of that experience is part of the product.

Its tempting thinking something of this nature can be done DIY in the backyard or suburban garage but even so there'd be at least $500 or more in materials alone, not including final finishing.

Just my opinion so take it for what its worth.
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Old 06-18-2015, 06:55 AM   #12
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Re: Homemade Fiiberglass High Top?

Getting a decent finish is not as hard as you might think. There are very handy fillers for the resin that are used to fill the weave of the glass that are easy to sand and are very lightweight. Basically you fill the weave with the epoxy filler mix in a peanut butter consistency then sand fair. Repeat until you get the surface you want. You can get a pretty decent finish with polyurethane paint and a brush too, believe it or not.

Two layers of glass molded over a core are going to be roughly as stiff as solid glass of the same thickness but will be much lighter and have some insulation qualities as well.
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Old 06-18-2015, 08:06 AM   #13
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Re: Homemade Fiiberglass High Top?

2 layers of X Mat (a layer of E glass cloth over a layer of glass mat over a layer of E glass) is 1/4" thick.

carringb is correct. At college we glassed up our first kayaks from a two sided clamshell female mold stolen off a 1972 Munich Olympics Lettman Mark IV.

But when I was younger I helped my Dad glass up a wooden boat. Kinda what you have in mind. The hull was essentially a male mold. The glass retained integrity but with use it delaminated from the plywood hull. Wood expands and contracts and absorbs moisture much differently than fiberglass. I don't recommend that method.

witoke has an great idea if you have a respirator and a palm sander. Build a wooden frame on top of your van, cover it with foam (like surfboard blank) shape the foam, glass it up. Then remove your wood frame substructure and glass the inside. So you have a glass-foam-glass boat hull thick strong light and insulated.

Most of my glass work has been with polyester resin. Maybe you should use Marine laminating resin. One advantage of polyester resin is that you can gel coat over the top of it. Gel coat is polyester resin. But quite frankly an epoxy paint is just as good if not better than gel coat, IMO.

But recently I have been using epoxy resin. I prefer it, but you had better be on your game because the working time is not as long. It is bullet proof strong. There is no epoxy gel coat.

Polyester resin products cannot be later patched with polyester resin. They have to be sanded and patched with epoxy resin if that tells you anything about the two products.

Talk to Gigi:

Fiberglass Hawaii
4350 Transport St., Suite 106
Ventura, CA 93003
Hours: 8:30am to 5:00pm, M-F
9:00am to 1:00pm, Sat.
Phone: (805) 644-0009

http://fiberglasshawaii.com/index.html

Even with shipping you will not be able to beat their prices.

P.S. I eventually want to do just the opposite of you. I want to form up some thin gauge (14, 16, or 18 ?) mild steel plate and weld up a replacement top for my van. (I will likely never get around to it, but my guess is that it would be lighter still even fitted with foam contact cemented underneath...)
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Old 06-18-2015, 08:15 AM   #14
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Re: Homemade Fiiberglass High Top?

Quote:
Originally Posted by IanC89
I e-mailed Derek once a few weeks ago, told him I just wanted a fixed high-top. He never got back to me, I figured he was more interested in the high-end mods.

Haven't looked around the junk yards much. Its really hard to do with my work schedule but its worth a few calls.
derek is hard to reach at times, but if your interested, dont give up. hes a great resource if your local. he might be able to point you in the direction of where to find a used top as well. ive seen quite a few at the salvage years here. one of those things though where you gotta be on top of the game and be diligent about searching the yards. not always easy, but its worth it when your a cheapskate like myself.

as far as building from scratch, if you have the time, patience, and skill, it can be done. i had a buddy build a snugtop for his 88 longbox isuzu back in the early 90's when you couldnt buy one for that truck. i was very impressed with the end result from someone who had never even thought about fiberglass work prior. it did take him a really long time to accomplish the task though. just one of those deals where you gotta weigh the pros and cons associated with a project of that caliber. best of luck, and if you choose to proceed with a build, id love to see it materialize with a build thread!
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Old 06-18-2015, 09:09 AM   #15
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Re: Homemade Fiiberglass High Top?

I'd love to see you try it, but as others have said, it would be a big time commitment. If because of your work you don't have time to run by a few local junkyards, I'm not sure how you'll find time to do this! It would be exponentially easier to find a used hightop.

But if you do, take lots of pictures.
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Old 06-18-2015, 02:07 PM   #16
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Re: Homemade Fiiberglass High Top?

Here's another option, from over at ExPo - a metal high top fabricated from 1/8" aluminum.

New Build The "RDV"

Quote:
So I will say this now I am not a Professional Fabricator and not a very good welder,Have some really good guys in the shop,but this one is all me. And as I said not very good at welding so don't expect a bunch of beauty pics, But I am pretty crafty with a grinder so I ensure you I can make the ugliness go away.

Cheers,
Brent
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rdv high top.jpg  
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Old 06-18-2015, 08:43 PM   #17
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Re: Homemade Fiiberglass High Top?

Hmmm many interesting ideas..

I should say that I did only e-mail Derek once, I didn't mean to make the guy look bad. I am sure he is very busy (especially this time of year) and I never followed up...just wanted to add that in.

My estimate was about the same as yours JWA. Although the 'marine grade' resins seem to be much more expensive. I figured several hundred for materials at bare minimum. The quotes I got for tops were closer to $3000+ though, making $500 look pretty nice even if it was a time commitment.

Brent - You got my wheels turning with the aluminum top. I used to work in a metal shop in Denver, I am sure some of the guys there would be willing to help out. I am going to look through that thread in a bit.

I appreciate everyone's input, I like hearing your thoughts and past experiences. The general consensus I'm feeling is it is possible but will take a lot of time and if I %#&! the first time than I am out of a few hundred bucks. I will keep doing some research on it, and I am still interested in trying a small scale mock-up just for the hell of it.
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Old 06-19-2015, 04:05 AM   #18
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Re: Homemade Fiiberglass High Top?

Tempering my comments a bit I had no idea a ready-made top could cost upwards of $3K----was thinking $2K at the most, based on my own searches of a company out of Michigan or upper Indiana, Sampson Fiberglass.

Definitely try the mock-up first, see if the process suits you---the skill level can certainly be built up with a bit of practice. Also agree most material sellers would be helpful and a great source of info/help along the way.

Volunteer labor or someone local who'll walk you through any problematic steps could further reduce the final effort involved to complete everything.

Either way you go I hope you'll keep us updated---best of luck if it's DIY!
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Old 06-19-2015, 05:29 AM   #19
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Re: Homemade Fiiberglass High Top?

JWA: My Sportsmobile Crusier top was about $5000 installed at Sportsmobile Texas in 2005. They may cost more or less now.
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Old 06-19-2015, 08:38 AM   #20
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Re: Homemade Fiiberglass High Top?

$3000 for just a fiberglass fixed top, uninstalled, is not what I had found.

I had offered up a group buy last year when I was looking into doing the mid sized top. I did A LOT of sleuthing. I found reputable places which were way less than $3,000. This was BEFORE CCV decided to build their own mold for the mid size top.

Link to Group Buy thread: viewtopic.php?f=24&t=14576

The fixed top in that picture was available for around $1,300 (unpainted) last year. The big caveat was how many were going to be ordered as shipping can be more than the top. Remember for DIY install - there is trimming, headliner, lights, fasteners, sealants, rear taillight, and of course, possibly, painting.

Which style are we talking here? What is OP looking for in terms of shape/size?

imho, making a top (fiberglass OR aluminum just to save a few hundred dollars is not worth the time, effort, health risk, nor mess. If someone is doing it out of enjoyment, then we are talking a different motivation. There enough things I have spent way more time on and effectively earned $3.00 an hour for a hundred hours to "save" $300 I should have taken up a temp job at MacDonalds for 2 weeks and I could have bought what I wanted.

If ANYONE is serious about wanting a FIXED fiberglass top, please PM me.
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