Honest-to-goodness tall roofs for Astro/Safari

Honest-to-goodness tall roofs for Astro/Safari

Postby pat [OP] » April 23rd 2014, 5:05am

Hey forum,

Glad to see this resource here! I have a question that's a little outlandish, but if anyone can solve it I'm sure you guys can!!

After having pickups for years, I'm looking to downsize a bit. The trick is, due to the climate here I still want to have an AWD vehicle... and due to some of the cargo I haul, I'd really like to have a 6' ceiling -- whether permanent (tall, unsightly camper top) or better still something temporary (canvas or fold-up metal pop-top of some sort that could survive a 60MPH breeze), that I could pop down when I need to park in a ramp or get better mileage.

It's occurred to me that an AWD Express/Savana might be an easier choice, but I don't need that much space or that much engine, plus the AWD G-vans are difficult and expensive to find used, and really no more convenient around town than pickups. It's also occurred to me that people survived for a hundred years before AWD vans were popular, so maybe I should just look at 2wd domestic vans or Sprinters but... it's nice peace of mind to have AWD when you get 8" of snow overnight and nobody bothers to plow.

Has anyone tried anything like this before? Any advice? Other than give up? ;)

I'm not a body guy, but I used to be a professional auto mechanic, have some machine shop and fiberglass experience, and am not afraid of some experimenting.

Thanks for any thoughts!
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Re: Honest-to-goodness tall roofs for Astro/Safari

Postby Astrofarian » April 24th 2014, 5:09am

Sounds like you should reverse-engineer the VW Westfalia roof. I know how to CHOP one but no experience RAISING the roof (That I'll ADMIT to anyway). Google VW Westfalia...see if you like.
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Re: Honest-to-goodness tall roofs for Astro/Safari

Postby gavio » April 24th 2014, 5:59am

Don't know what kind of budget you have, but several companies still make fiberglass raised roofs for the Astrofaris... They are available in several different heights and reasonably aerodynamic shapes - prices from $900 - $2000 .... google up "Astro raised roof" and you'll find some possibilities (Discount Van and Truck is one I remember)... I plan to get one for my Safari when budget permits....

Anyway, maybe a possibility...

Problem with poptops for your situation is that the conventional types such as on VWs, GTRV and Sportsmobiles are only for use while parked and not while driving....
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Re: Honest-to-goodness tall roofs for Astro/Safari

Postby pat [OP] » April 25th 2014, 5:02pm

gavio wrote:Problem with poptops for your situation is that the conventional types such as on VWs, GTRV and Sportsmobiles are only for use while parked and not while driving....

Yeah, this is exactly the difficulty. I keep thinking I could get fancy with some kind of wind deflector (like the pickup truck cab deflectors for towing fifth wheels) and rework a pop top with beefier tubing and/or a positive raise/lower system like a rack and pinion kind of thing. But that sounds like work. ;)

For the sake of contributing to my own post, I did discover a 74" total height roof at:
http://www.icecreamtruck.co/index.php?route=product/product&product_id=99
... although I wouldn't brag about the fitment on their example photo.

The more I think about it I really am tempted by the pop top thing... a van that's tall when you need it to be and short when you need it to be... if I can find enough engineer brains to make it work. Maybe put in a roll-up door in the back so it can roll down 6 feet when the top's up, and down 4 feet when the top's down. Hmm. But I don't want to completely butcher it either. ;)

I'm aware of the westfalia roofs, will have to look and see if there's info here on how close of a dimensional fit those are as-is.

Thanks... if anyone else has links I'd love to hear... else I'll try and report back when I know more!
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Re: Honest-to-goodness tall roofs for Astro/Safari

Postby gavio » April 25th 2014, 5:21pm

a van that's tall when you need it to be and short when you need it to be...


Yeah, and I'd like it fold up into a briefcase when I get to my destination :D

I'm aware of the westfalia roofs, will have to look and see if there's info here on how close of a dimensional fit those are as-is.


I don't remember where it was, but I did read a post describing someone's install of a Westy roof on an Astro... Also saw one of a Westy roof onto a full size Chevy van... More googling is in order.... I think I may have come up with it when I was searching for "DIY poptop on a van"..... Seriously...
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Re: Honest-to-goodness tall roofs for Astro/Safari

Postby grond » April 25th 2014, 5:55pm

You may want to check out his site:

http://www.fiberglassme.com/lightbox2.02/van.tops.html

Looks like they have what you may be interested in.
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Re: Honest-to-goodness tall roofs for Astro/Safari

Postby gavio » April 25th 2014, 6:33pm

ALso, these guys sell a full height top for Astros... One of the forum members got one installed recently, pics are in the gallery somewhere....

http://www.fiberine.com/GVMR/Home.html
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Re: Honest-to-goodness tall roofs for Astro/Safari

Postby Corsemoto » April 25th 2014, 7:36pm

Colorado Camper Vans do Astro poptop conversions as does GTRV. I like the look of the GTRV poptop more than the CCV but I like that the CCV is a full raised roof when open and not angled like the GTRV.

On the other forum, Mathis from GTRV mentioned he would consider selling all the parts to do the conversion yourself but the freight is expensive.

Last I inquired, the CCV was in the 5k-6k range for complete install with GTRV a bit more expensive.

http://www.coloradocampervan.com/

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http://www.gtrv.com/

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Re: Honest-to-goodness tall roofs for Astro/Safari

Postby Corsemoto » April 26th 2014, 7:51pm

Correction, his name is username is Mathil, here's the thread: http://alturl.com/8bkd2

Mathil wrote:I'll come out of the closet, and say that I'm Bryan Wiesendahl, owner/operator of GTRV.

I joined this site because I'm currently building my own 4WD conversion camping/hunting rig based on an Astro. I chose the astro because of the easy 4WD conversion, the nice size, availability of affordable chassis, and the fact that we've had a pop-top mould kicking around the shop for the past 15 years or so... We've gotten rid of our other "older" moulds because of lack of demand, but I wouldn't think of getting rid of the Astro because of its practicability and it's popularity. We've stopped doing full conversions on Astros (mainly because the cabinetry was 'out of date', and most people don't want to pour 20,000$ into a 5,000$ van) but still do quite a few pop-tops and "weekenders".

I can offer a "kit" based on the parts you can't make yourself, economized for those who are handy enough to do some installation/fabrication. This could include, or exclude if you choose to make certain parts yourself, the fibreglass top, the hinges, the tent, the struts, the reinforcing ring for the roof cutout, etc.

With kits I require some kind of guarantee that you won't make copies of my pop-top fibreglass, and thus by extension my mould. If you look at the time we came out with our Ford conversion, and then see when PleasureWay came out with their "traverse" model, you'll see that they acquired one of our vans and took copies of our roof. Been there done that, don't want something similar to happen again.

As it stands, our installed pop-top runs around 5000$. The amount you save in a kit would depend on the parts you build yourself, and the labour I don't have to spend to install it.

I'm also a dealer for Reimo, and could order in official Reimo roof hinges (the ones I make copies of) if sufficient interest was shown. I don't believe any other company, like the bus depot, brings them in. I started making them because the hassles of paying for, and shipping them from Germany became more than the hassle of making them myself.

I've experienced sticker shock dealing with other communities who were trying to organize group buys and part development, namely the Delica van owners. I know it's like trying to herd a group of cats trying to get a group buy together. I'm not here to organize such, but am here to consult and help people get what they need at the best price they can. I've benefited from the likes of T.Low and other customers who have forged the path in other areas, and I'm sure I have some knowledge/capabilities that I could extend to the community.

I tried to find a thread dealing with vendors and sellers on this forum, but couldn't find one. I know some boards are very strict with what they allow, so if I've crossed any lines a mod can contact me and let me know what I should do. Just trying to help!

FYI, last time I used a LTL shipper for an astro roof, going from Vancouver to San Francisco, it was around 500$. It's a big, heavy package that either needs 2 burly men or a forklift, so it's a bit harder to ship than, say, half a truck full of 12"x12"x12" boxes.
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Re: Honest-to-goodness tall roofs for Astro/Safari

Postby pat [OP] » April 26th 2014, 9:29pm

Thanks for the extra links -- will check 'em out! As a reminder, being up while driving (obviously a no-brainer in the case of fixed roof) is a necessity for me. If the pop-up guys are already talking $5000 for just a tent on the usual frame, I doubt I can afford improving their design to be more like what I'm after.
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Re: Honest-to-goodness tall roofs for Astro/Safari

Postby 94 Van Guy » April 26th 2014, 11:31pm

Check out this member's build. He put a high-top on his.

viewtopic.php?f=127&t=12844&p=170247&hilit=kirk#p136258

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Re: Honest-to-goodness tall roofs for Astro/Safari

Postby dhanson928 » June 21st 2014, 4:47am

I've had a lot of pop tops...mostly pick up campers. They are great for traveling when down and OK for camping but they have drawbacks. In windy areas, they flap and sand blows in. When It's cold out, if you have a heater, it cycles on all the time. If you are anywhere around other campers you can hear them just like you were outside...worse late at night when you are trying to get to sleep and someone has their Moody Blues tape playing on endless repeat or a Prevost motorcoach pull in nearby and starts their generator....
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