RE: Canvas Top
I took the old top to a boat canvas shop, and had them copy it. It didn't work, the old piece was stretched out in some areas, shrunk up in others, and the new piece just didn't fit. Fortunately, the shop used the wrong fabric, and was agreeable to re-do the job at a much reduced rate. Total cost was about $400, including the re-do ($100) - we've got a lot of boat canvas shops here, I shopped until I found a good price.
On the re-do, I abandoned the old pattern and fastening scheme, and came up with one that was "simplier". It actually worked pretty well, and made the task of measuring the new top, and relating the measurements to the boat shop easier. But it took the better part of a day to install.
I decided to run the top of the new boot (the inside mount) "level" around the top, in lieu of the original custom fit that was a constant distance from the bottom edge of the fiberglass hood. I scribed a level line around the inside of the top, and carefully measured the corner to corner distances for all four sides.
On the bottom (the outside mount), I did a similar thing, measuring down a fixed distance (so the fabricated canvas had parallel top and bottom plains), and measured the corner to corner distances again. I drew it up, and the boat shop had no trouble understanding it and producing a good fit. I had the flexibility to raise or lower the top edge to make it fit.
I had the boat shop use a heavy rubberized canvas (their mistake on the first try was using a lower grade, thinner, fabric than was clearly stated, and quoted, on the work order). I also had them install four zippered, screened windows
. I've read other Compact posts about the windows
, some saying that they felt they weren't necessary - obviously I disagee. The view through the windows
is at eye level from the inside makes the camper seem less small, and camping in this part of the east coast in the summer requires mucho ventilation.
To mount the new canvas, I cut an interior "frame" for the top of 1 by 3/4 oak, that fit corner to corner as close as I could get it. I left the four pieces of the frame unconnected, and stapled the canvas (stainless steel staples) to the outside of the frame pieces, forming a flexible 'hoop skirt' type of top edge. I secured the top 'hoop' to the fiberglass by screwing through the fiberglass from the outside, into the frame pieces.
(The 'view' through the clear plastic windows is blocked in these pics by my winter cover)
This left the bottom edge of the canvas hanging, outside of the raised lip on the lower part of the roof. In between the four 'woodies' for the lift hinges I stapled more of the 1 by 3/4 to the bottom edge of the canvas, pulled them down tight, and secured them with screws through the fiberglass lip from the inside. I did the same for the front and back faces. Then, one by one, I replaced the four woodies that the hinges secure to, pulling the canvas down tight, and letting the screws for the hinges hold the fabric in place.
I left out several non-related steps that I did in the process, like body work and paint
, the fact that I had the fiberglass top off when I made the measurements, etc.
The end product is a much tighter 'boot' than the way the fabric was originally attached. Very watertight, wind proof. This winter I plan to replace all of the lower 'woodies', to form a continuous 'hoop' like on the top, of 1 by 3 wood - to make it look better and to provide some support for the lower roof that I lost when I deleted the kitchen surround and the bulkhead that had held up that side.
While I'm obviously biased that my solution has merits, the real message I'd share is that the old top was too complicated to reproduce with accuracy - at least my old worn-out one was. I also just didn't like the way it was hung, single points spaced as much as 24 inches apart seemed like a good blow would push cold air and water in.