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Old 06-16-2015, 08:32 PM   #1
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Homemade Fiiberglass High Top?

Has anyone ever built their own high top? I'm talking about just the fiberglass top that you would get from a place like Fiberine.

The tops I am interested in are very expensive (several thousand after shipping). I noticed there is a lot of information online for building fiberglass boats and I think it would be possible to do a topper for much less than several thousand.

Any thoughts? Anyone see or know of anyone doing this?

I apologize if this has been covered, please point me in a direction.
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Old 06-16-2015, 09:25 PM   #2
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Re: Homemade Fiiberglass High Top?

Doing just one will be an expensive proposition. To get a good surface finish, you need to make a female mold, and build your top in that. It it possible to also build a male piece on top of a male pattern, however the additional glass and filler required to get a decent finish will add lots of extra weight and time.

Have you browsed any junkyards? Sometimes a high-top van turns up in a wrecking yard, and you'd probably get a good buy there.
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Old 06-16-2015, 10:14 PM   #3
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Re: Homemade Fiiberglass High Top?

Quote:
Originally Posted by carringb
Doing just one will be an expensive proposition. To get a good surface finish, you need to make a female mold, and build your top in that. It it possible to also build a male piece on top of a male pattern, however the additional glass and filler required to get a decent finish will add lots of extra weight and time.

Have you browsed any junkyards? Sometimes a high-top van turns up in a wrecking yard, and you'd probably get a good buy there.
I was thinking the same thing. Someone has to crash one of those airport shuttle vans every now and then.

Hopefully no one was hurt blah blah blah
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Old 06-16-2015, 10:19 PM   #4
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Re: Homemade Fiiberglass High Top?

Just buy rallypanam's SMB pop top delivered to your door with solar panels already mounted. Or are you looking for a fixed top?
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Old 06-17-2015, 04:39 AM   #5
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Re: Homemade Fiiberglass High Top?

How about modifying a fiberglass truck tonneau cover for a lift top. You should only have to extend the flanges to fit the van's roof.
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Old 06-17-2015, 06:06 AM   #6
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Re: Homemade Fiiberglass High Top?

I know nothing about fiberglass work, except to maybe patch it, but I would look at the salvage yards. Derek at CCV got his start doing tops with a $150 shuttle van top from a local yard. Speaking of which, he's expensive but he's a do-it-yourselfer and a nice guy and he's in your neighborhood. Drop by and talk to him.

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Old 06-17-2015, 09:47 AM   #7
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Re: Homemade Fiiberglass High Top?

A more complex slide-out top over on expedition portal: http://www.expeditionportal.com/forum/t ... -4X4-Build

A simple fiberglass top used to extend roof of ambulance camper, page 9:
http://www.expeditionportal.com/forum/t ... -Restarted
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Old 06-17-2015, 03:29 PM   #8
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Re: Homemade Fiiberglass High Top?

Making one with all glass would be a lot of work and would be heavy. Making something with foam or some other core material (nidacore, balsa, ply) would be much easier and would be lighter, stiffer and stronger. Make the required shape and size in your chosen core material, glue it together and then add layers of glass inside and out to get the required stiffness and strength. You can use regular polystyrene foam board (XPS) that is sold at Home Despot and the like. Be careful though, if I remember correctly, cheap, non-epoxy resin, such as you get at FLAP's dissolves XPS, so use epoxy.

Basically it's how a lot of boats are built and there are tons of resources available. Fun project though I suspect you are still going to be better off finding a used one unless you really want to acquire the skills for building.
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Old 06-17-2015, 07:54 PM   #9
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Re: Homemade Fiiberglass High Top?

Thank you everyone for the input.

My thought was to build a 'male' mold out of plywood or foam and do the fiberglass on top of that. For finishing I figured it would require a good deal of sanding. It seems plausible - if you look online people are making boats with pretty nice finishes, car parts, etc. Maybe I'll try doing a very small mock-up to see what can be done.

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.

catman - thanks for the links. I am going to try to find the rest of the thread that's mentioned in the ambulance build. I'll have to create an account there to see the pictures in the first it seems.

As far as building it goes, I am very confident I could make a male mold. The fiberglass will be the tricky part... I did see one article online where the guy used foam for the mold than melted the foam with acetone once the fiberglass set. He was left with just the fiberglass shell... pretty cool
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Old 06-17-2015, 09:02 PM   #10
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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.
Na, it's not that. It's that he doesn't get back to most people. Keep trying. Believe it or not he's gotten better. Good luck whatever you do. Cool ideas floating around here.

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