Replacing the Campster Poptop roof - Fiberglass RV


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Old 05-05-2015, 10:01 PM   #1
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Replacing the Campster Poptop roof

First, I need some help from owners. I know what the fiberglass piece looked like and have dimensions (or close) for it. The popup mechanism is intact though probably needs some repairing (it already did so I assume it could only be the same or worse.) It has the wood frame around the top of the two X's intact. Small screws are in the top of that but whatever they were holding down is gone. Top part of the clamps (the spring loaded part that was supposed to hold the top on) are all gone. I can't remember how they were attached. So what I need first is for you to photograph or describe how those parts were attached.

Second, I'm thinking of replacing the top with Lexan polycarbonate instead of fiberglass. I really like the light that comes in with the top gone (but the rain part isn't so good) so it occurred to me a clear top would be like a skylight. It's stronger than fiberglass and easier to work with. Pros, cons? I should be able to buy a sheet cut to size and then just have to heat/bend it and maybe make corners (which I've done with acrylic or lexan before). It's sawable and drillable.

For the time being I'm going to need a short term fix for driving to two camping trips this summer (as I can't do the work on the top until I have a garage). I thought for storage I'll just make a 2x2 frame to go where the roof would have, and staple a few layers of tarp to it and put some eyebolts in so I can tie it down. That may also work for travel but not sure yet.
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Old 05-05-2015, 10:29 PM   #2
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I would go to a sheet metal shop and have them press a new cover for you. They could also press an x from corner to corner out of galvanized sheet metal with a 1 to 2 inch rise. When your ready you can use that as a support to lay up your new top out of fiberglass. If you really want to form a new top out of clear plastic use lexan otherwise if plexiglass you will be replacing relatively soon. Stressed and bent plexiglass doesn't like to be exposed to weather. It may be easier to cut the top off a van at the wrecking yard and form the sides down for a flange. You would get a top with a nice compound curve.
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Old 05-05-2015, 11:54 PM   #3
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Temp cover- needs to have a way to attach and remove it easily. I can't work on the mechanism now so something I have to attach to the poptop mechanism isn't going to work. I think I may just make the temp cover out of wood with the tarp material under the wood (protected from wind but keeping water out even if the plywood gets wet) and use tie-downs to keep it on so I can remove it easily. (Sort of easily as that's still a good size piece.) Or even just paint the plywood for now.

Lexan is a lot stronger than plexiglass so should work fine if I go with that for a top.
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Old 05-05-2015, 11:56 PM   #4
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I also could direct you on an easy way to make a fiberglass replacement similar to the original...it would be lighter and longer lasting that the alternatives, I think......Fiberglass Dave
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Old 05-06-2015, 09:29 AM   #5
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Dave, I'd like to know how to do the fiberglass. That's an option.

Right now the problem is temporary cover but I think a frame with tarp top should work. Just not sure how to tie it down but fitting over the existing poptop frame should help hold it in place.

And then there is the door. It now scrapes on the bottom and won't close completely (won't latch at all). My guess is hinges bent somewhat but I can't see any bend. Maybe just replace the top one- hope I can find a replacement- and see if that fixes it.
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Old 05-06-2015, 09:34 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Bobbie Mayer View Post
Dave, I'd like to know how to do the fiberglass. That's an option.

Right now the problem is temporary cover but I think a frame with tarp top should work. Just not sure how to tie it down but fitting over the existing poptop frame should help hold it in place.

And then there is the door. It now scrapes on the bottom and won't close completely (won't latch at all). My guess is hinges bent somewhat but I can't see any bend. Maybe just replace the top one- hope I can find a replacement- and see if that fixes it.

Having dealt with many of these campers, I felt from the beginning that you may have had a frame failure...I would look at it for peace of mind, at least, before proceeding any further....Fiberglass Dave
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Old 05-06-2015, 10:10 AM   #7
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By frame failure, what do you mean? I'm still not sure what the construction of the top part was- what's left is both sides and the top wood frame (which looks perfectly intact) but one side of the mechanism had jumped the track so I had to remove both springs to get it to lower again. Lower wooden frame (attached to the camper roof) is also still in good shape.

What I'm unsure of is what was attached to that top wood frame- between that and the top. After the top left (whenever that was) the wood veneer trim that had lined the top was waving around and breaking up (that's what I saw first once I was aware of any problem) so it must have been attached to the wood rather than the top itself. Something is missing but I don't know what.
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Old 05-07-2015, 07:40 PM   #8
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Hi Bobbie,

The wood frame is bolted directly to the fiberglass shell on mine. The attachment spring thingies that hold it down are also bolted through also. I just reattached the top of mine as it was leaking slightly through the bolts so I replaced them.

I would take a picture but can't as I just had rotator cuff surgery and can't lift stuff. I have to adjust the springs and won't be able to till July.

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Here is a picture of the inside with the attachment from some previous work. The inside wood frame is bolted with the latch.

Hope this helps.
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Old 05-07-2015, 11:03 PM   #9
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That must have been how it looked- the clamps had let go so they left, the wood frame stayed attached to the popup mechanism so it ripped out of the top. I had that wood veneer stuff covering the inside of the top but it must have been attached to the wood frame as it ripped up later.

I figured out Dave meant trailer frame, based on door frame warp. Possible and I'll have to check. I'm going to go get it tomorrow and get a temporary top up.
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Old 06-17-2016, 10:44 AM   #10
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Trailer frame appears fine with no sign of loose bolts though without removing the floor I can't be sure of that. I think the hinges on the door bent when the wind came through the top and tried to blow the door open. Best guess, anyway.

FINALLY got a new top done. Ended up with ABS plastic ( 1/8 inch) over a piece of marine plywood. It's watertight (at least for now and since I store in the garage now shouldn't get tested too much) and light and the Trim Lok I'd already bought works fine and I'm getting a better seal than I did with the old fiberglass top and old trim. It seems very secure with the clamps hooked up and vinyl snapped around the top. I think the ABS would have done better with short sides of wood, too, as it tends to warp, but it works fine.

The spring mechanism turned out to be in good shape (I wasn't sure it would be). I replaced one spring and lubricated it so it runs smoothly.

Also added a bungee to the outside of the tent so that it collapses inside when closed. Still working on the tent which attaches with Velcro so not all the screen windows have covers yet but going camping so have to stop for now. I just put the top down when I don't want breeze though eventually I may switch to clear vinyl covers.
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Campster new top - 1.jpg   P1000210.jpg  

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Old 06-17-2016, 06:38 PM   #11
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You could pretty easily make a new, lightweight poptop out of the pink or blue insulating foam panels. Easy to cut, form, and glue together, and then just cover the whole thing with lightweight canvas, using Tightbond 3 to glue it to the foam. After it dries, paint it with several layers of a good quality exterior latex paint until you fill the grain of the canvas. It's easy, it's cheap, it's weatherproof, and it's durable. Plus, it will be a lot lighter than the original roof.

I'm seriously considering doing this with my Compact Jr when I get it home.
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Old 06-17-2016, 07:26 PM   #12
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Bobbie, your solution really looks good!
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Old 06-17-2016, 07:31 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Talia View Post
You could pretty easily make a new, lightweight poptop out of the pink or blue insulating foam panels. Easy to cut, form, and glue together, and then just cover the whole thing with lightweight canvas, using Tightbond 3 to glue it to the foam. After it dries, paint it with several layers of a good quality exterior latex paint until you fill the grain of the canvas. It's easy, it's cheap, it's weatherproof, and it's durable. Plus, it will be a lot lighter than the original roof.

I'm seriously considering doing this with my Compact Jr when I get it home.
Talia, that's an interesting idea. The only issue is that you need a certain amount of weight to keep it from popping up by itself . But that might be enough weight, hard to tell.
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Old 06-17-2016, 07:33 PM   #14
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Bobbie, your solution really looks good!
Thanks. I hope it holds up half as long as the original's 45 years.
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