Here are the fixings and fastenings for the pop top shell, which allow it to open, close and lock.
The first job was to mount some hinges, I went with 6 zinc-coated, removable pin door hinges to allow the roof to be easily separated from the rack.
The hinges are slightly cranked and wouldn’t mount flush onto the roof, so I made a spacer out of some 3mm steel.
And these had holes drilled to match the hinges.
Countersunk screws held the hinge to the plywood base, and countersunk M6 bolts were used to hold the roof on.
In a closed position there is only a 15mm gap between the roof and base. This will be filled with some EPDM foam strip for weatherproofing.
All 6 in place.
I draped a tarp over the open roof to get a sense of the space available, and the rough angle for the roof to open to..
The actual tent fabric will go straight up vertically from the plywood base for about a metre, and then bend to meet the roof, which will give a little more room. I’ll make a support out of some tubing to hold the canvas in shape.
But so far I’m pretty pleased with the dimensions.
Next I turned my attention to the other side of the roof, and a way to hold it down to stop it bouncing open when driving along. I wanted internal fastenings (rather than outside clamps) which would give greater security and also make set up easier. Don’t forget, the mission is to not have to step outside! 😛
I decided on a bonnet-style latch with a fastening bracket mounted onto the plywood base. I cut a cross section from my donor roof to mock up an example.
The roof will hinge down over the catch bracket, and the latch will be mounted to the inside of the roof in the trough section below.
I found a couple of the thinnest bonnet latches I could from a scrapyard, these were from a Citroen Picasso.
I ground off the manual release handle which was redundant, as well as the mounting bracket, return spring and a couple of other redundant protrusions on the latch.
I will attach the latch to a piece of ally angle which will be my mounting bracket – this can then be bolted through from underneath rather than having bolt heads protruding through the side of the roof.
Cut to size and shape, with a hole drilled for mounting the release mechanism – the cable-inside-a-tube pull lever (whatever its technical name is).
I’d run out of aluminium jigsaw blades, so made do with what I had to hand. Good job you won’t see this bit on the finished article.
I also realised I didn’t have any P clips to hold the release cable. Feeling in a bodge-tastic mood, I decided to make my own out of a strip of brass.
Cut to size and then bent round a center punch.
Tapered section to hold the cable tube.
Mounting holes drilled, and fitted to the release cable.
The cable could then be fixed to the latch bracket, and bolted to the inside of the roof.
Cable in place.
Next I needed a way to mount the release handles. The plan is to have them riveted to the roof directly above the sunroof/floor hatch, held in place with a bracket in this shape: ⊥⊥⊥ .
I cut some of my spare 3mm steel following my rough diagram and measurements…
The release handles will fit between the uprights.
Handles needed trimming down in places.
Threaded bar would then hold the handles to the bracket.
Measured, set and ready for welding.
Still learning to weld. Clearly.
Trial fit – looking good. Well, I say ‘looking good’, what I mean is ‘functional’.
Then in a moment of inspiration I thought why not incorporate a grab handle into the bracket as well, this will allow me to close the pop top from inside.
I had an old handle bar grip lying about from upgrading my mountain bike, I filled it with some polyurethane tubing because its bore was significantly bigger than the threaded bar. The I knocked up another bracket to support the end, and used a longer piece of threaded bar to join the two brackets.
Mounting holes drilled and brackets painted up
And riveted in place. (rear view) The bases of the brackets will be covered over with the roof lining so you won’t see these when finished.
And front view. I’ll trim down the excess on the bar later.
Now moving on to the roof latches, they needed a catch to grab on to. After experimenting with welding bolt shafts onto U-channel, I decided to try bending a piece of rod instead.
Couple of grooves where the bend will be.
Easily done in a vice.
Two more bends to weld the catch onto a base.
Test fitted. A little modification in-situ and all is well.
And one more for the back, slightly taller. These just need tidying up and painting.
Next was to look at some lifting assistance. The roof itself is about 30kgs, so to make set up easier I added a couple of gas struts.
These were sourced from my favourite scrapyard of course, and after a bit of trial and error with different lengths and strengths of strut, I settled on this pair from a Peugeot 306 estate. The mounts were taken from a Nissan Micra – having the holes and strut bracket in the correct place.
The plywood floor was routed out to allow the strut to fold flat into it, and I made a quick spreader-plate for the mount to spread some of the load now that I have weakened the floor with a huge great gap in it.
And one at the rear.
What’s left to do now is paint some of the brackets and metal work, reinforce the floor in the couple of places, and touch up the plywood with paint to protect the newly cut edges. I think that’ll be covered in a separate ‘finishing off’ blog post.