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Old 08-28-2017, 06:34 PM   #11
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If you use end grain balsa that is available in backed rolls, you can sandwich it between the existing shell and a new layer of boat cloth. You will then have a very strong composite structure. There is also a plastic cellular material that does the same thing, but very expensive. The width of the material you use shouldn't make any difference as long as you saturate and bond it well.
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Old 08-29-2017, 06:17 AM   #12
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I'd been planning on putting balsa ribs across the top, about every 24", but I am wondering if I have that wrong. Would balsa ribs provide support?

Rolls would be tough to do on my particular top.

My other thought was to steam some wood ribs like they do with boats.
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Old 08-29-2017, 08:10 AM   #13
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IMHO balsa ribs bonded to the inside will add almost no strength.
End grain balsa comes in rolled sheets with an adhesive backer so that it can be applied to the surface without falling apart. It is very "floppy" and will conform to even very tight radii. It's strength comes when you add a second layer of glass, effectively creating a beam. The layers of glass are your chords and the balsa is the web. This may be more rigidity than you want or need.
Other options to add strength are to simply add a couple layers of glass, or rather than cover the whole inside, glass over the top of some sections of garden hose installed transversely. The hose and resin soaked glass form an "omega".These every foot or so would probably be plenty?
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Old 08-29-2017, 05:28 PM   #14
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Thanks for the insight. It is very helpful. I've got some figuring to do.
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Old 05-25-2018, 09:10 PM   #15
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It has taken quite a while to get back to the van. I had been working on the insulation, but a muffin in the oven seriously puts a damper on your ability to play with toxic fumes. The little guy is out now and can be placed at a safe distance, so I am back on it.

At this point I have been prepping the top. I took off the luggage rack and sealed the holes with epoxy resin. I threw some Eternabond tape on the interior of the ceiling to be extra secure. Under one of the rackís brackets I could see what the roof looked like once upon a time. The dark parts were a deep, shiny chocolate color. Must have been nice.

The rear top window also had a major gap. The frame has been warping and the window was only attached with sealant. For now I filled in the area with butyl tape and will caulk it too. Iíll figure out later if there is a way to attach it to the top with hardware.

My next step is to raptor liner it and prewire for solar. Just waiting on materials to arrive.
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Old 05-25-2018, 09:50 PM   #16
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Congratulatoins I the muffin. Are you going to two tone the top again or go with a single color?
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Old 05-26-2018, 05:27 AM   #17
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I am going to try to two tone it like it currently is.
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Old 05-26-2018, 09:31 AM   #18
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Fiberglass looks really thin if you can see that much light through it.
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Old 05-26-2018, 07:44 PM   #19
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It is thin in those spots. I gave a coat of epoxy resin over the entire interior and the Raptor-liner should help with that.
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Old 06-24-2018, 08:03 PM   #20
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The weather has been very uncooperative, but I was able to get a couple of clear days to paint my roof. Granted, they were 1.5 weeks apart and I had to redo most of my masking, but it is finally done.

I went with the tintable Raptor Liner and chose colors similar to the vanís original. When I got home I looked at the tint names. The lighter color is Tan. Just Tan. So I spent 20 minutes in the car paint store agonizing over paint chips just to pick the most boring color imaginable. At least the dark brown is called Signal Brown. I had wanted something more of a sand for the top, but I can live with it. If I paint the rest, Iíll probably recolor the top.

I gave the antennae the Jetsons treatment. I like the retro look of it and I think it will be a good early warning indicator if I go under something too low without crushing the back part of the roof.

I decided to try to match the two-tone pattern that was already on there. It made masking relatively easy. I did the light part first. I had to wait a long time to get to the other color. The masking at that point turned into a hot mess, and when I finished masking the second time was of course when I realized the other case of raptor was still in the van.

I ended up having to buy another paint gun. Even though I carefully cleaned the first, it was sputtering out big globs of paint when I tried to use it for the second color.

The baby was a total trooper and put up with a day of being virtually ignored. He was inside for all the spraying bits.

Itís done and was a neat project. It looks better than before and I hope the liner will provide a little more strength and element protection.
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