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Roof rack with high top??

2909 Views 12 Replies 9 Participants Last post by  tenantny
Hey folks, my local junkyard has one of those fiberglass high top roofs on an Astro and I'm tempted to pick it up and use it on my camper van build (2000 Astro cargo). I would like to have a roof rack though, which would not be possible the way most roof racks are attached... on top of the roof itself. My question is, has anyone added a roof rack over a high top, via some sort of side mount? That is the roof rack is attached to the van along the vertical reinforcements alone the sides of the van instead of the roof?
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Edited. We missed that you meant the side of the actual VAN - haha. :D
Markmitch has a point about not to putting loads on fiberglass tops and there are a lot of old warnings about that.
Like many warnings, those came about because of people just doing whatever with no thought of the long run.
Hi-Top Manufactures and aftermarket pop-top builders fiberglass wood blocks inside the tops where strength is wanted.
With weight and forces distributed out onto an appropriate sized backer board or framing - anything is possible.
Mounted racks would not only be better supported and braced/backed on the sides, it also reduces chances of leaks.
*Biggest question you need to ask : How long will the donor van be there :?:
Most LKQ locations crush after one month, they strive for that now.
A Mom and Pop yard has it's own schedule and may work with you to get the top.
Explorer's priorities for sure aren't about saving any old tops- time is money - their money is in installing/selling the new top.
Now we as a group are tightwads (at least I am) and we're all about helping you get this top off - If you want to do it.
Some people will cut the whole van top off at junkyards because they'd rather remove all the BS at home.
*Will the yard charge more if you cut off the whole van top :?:
You'd be taking metal, that's worth money to them - fiberglass by itself has no scrap value.
*Will they charge more if you don't remove everything from the top :?:
LKQ can charge for anything left on the top, every light, speaker Etc.
Some of their employees will let you slide, hard to say until you get ready to pay.
The plus side of that is they only charge $50ish if you strip it down to (fiberglass van top) the official part name.
A Mom and Pop yard would probably never care about stupid things attached to the top.
You can remove it at the yard, do it in increments if there's no deadline.
Remove all the upholstered trim/woodwork from around the top's sides.
Flat head to pop off any screw covers, Phillips for screws and may be a few Square drive. Most of the square drive didn't have to be unscrewed.
You're also going to have to remove the front sun visors to take down the front headliner.
The visors have the weird screws that need a star shaped ''Torx'' bit, may can get away with just the right sized flathead.
Take down any overhead console, bring wire cutters.
The big headliner on the actual high top can have a BUNCH of a air venting, and wiring hidden under it.
I unscrewed all the face frames for lighting, speakers, also air vents but can't remember if I really had to remove the vents.
Wire cutters and a knife will come in handy, do know that I cut the main air vent line to pull the headliner out.
Once you get it gutted that's a good time to take a break or call it a day.
Now you're ready for the actual top removal.
Most screws were standard Philllip's and even had a raised head that fit perfectly inside the standard bit holder.
Some screws were easier to reach with the Phillips, some were better to take out by their head depending on angle of access.
By ANGLE I mean a few screws moved a little when they were tightened down long ago.
6 or 7 moved A LOT on mine and made it hard to get the proper angle to remove the screw without stripping the head of them.
Don't get mad at it or you will strip them, relax and skip them for last.
If needed, bend a little metal with a small pry bar or vice grips above or below these screws to get a better angle.
Needle nosed vice grips came in handy on some screws at different points.
Get all of those screws out and call your friends, the top is HEAVY.
Gavio gifted us a wire trick - bring some kind of strong wire, I used # 9 construction wire.
You'll probably see daylight coming through somewhere under the Hi-top's seal.
Poke wire through there and tie to a handle outside and a handle inside.
Work it around the perimeter to break the Butyl tape seal, you may also find you forgot to remove a screw.
The butyl gets pretty old and doesn't put up much of a fight at all.
Except there were some places on mine where it had squeezed out and overlapped edges when originally installed.
Those were thick, stubborn spots - used an old wood chisel to remove the bulk of those spots.
Yes it is pretty straight forward, easy and you won't damage the top.
Don't let Explorer make it sound hard, likely that they rarely remove a top.
If it's a good top and you like the style of it - get it.
It may be many years before you see another one.
Sportsboy painted his and I know many others have.
Sportsmobile owners were repainting with Lizard skin years ago - cheaper than bed liner back then.
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