Hydraulic struts to assist a pop-top: Any opinions?

Discussion in 'Mech Tech' started by BayWatcher, Oct 22, 2011.

  1. I know, it's lazy. Perhaps even a bit silly. But I'm running out of things to fix on my bus and I like working on my bus.
    I'm also lazy. And admit it. We're men. (mostly) We all like pimpin' our stuff out with gadgetry once in a while.
    My question is, have you or anybody you know put struts on a pop-top? If so, what do you think of the result? Do they make raising the top effortless? Is it worth the trouble?
    Also, if I were to go completely over the top, (ha! pardon the pun) do you suppose I could rig an old trunk release solenoid to the release knob? That would add a touch of James Bond to it, huh? Just roll up to your spot on the beach, push one button (insert whirring sound here) and your little van transforms itself into a two story camper? O0
    OK, maybe that's pushing it a bit.
    But seriously, if you have seen a pop-top with struts, what did you think?
    Because if I go to all the trouble of installing struts only to find they offer little or no assistance I will be rather put out.
    Thank you for your time.
  2. I haven't seen one used and i'm not sure if you're talking about building your own Heath Robinson affair (insert Thomas Edison :) ) or buying off the shelf?

    We have a number of cars over hear with automatically opening tailgates, push a button and the tailgate opens mechanically on a motor and cable system - you must have hundreds of different models over there with similar systems as Septics are much lazier than Limeys... ;)

    You could modify something from a tailgate, which would be quite simple, or something from a convertible, which I guess would be quite complex. The issue you will find is the sheer weight of the poptop.

    Just using hydraulic struts would assist I guess in opening but may make it harder when the time comes to close?
  3. Mazda bongos have an electric raised pop top
  4. There was a member on thelatebay "version 1" who did this... I think it was HighfieldHendy... I could be wrong, but someone did it..

    He bought a couple of gas strutts that are normally used used to lift a tail gate of a car..

    These made lifting the roof of his Westy very easy..

    I think his main problem was finding a suitable fixing point to the van roof and the correct angle of the strutts..

    But it has been done 8)
  5. Full length side opening Devon roofs work just on struts with no props. The roof goes up almost on it's own and you have to pull a bit to get it down. Easy. :)
    Where there's a will - those rear hinge westy roofs are heavy aren't they?
  6. When I had my Viking, with the full length side elevating roof, the gas strutts were shot. This made it heavy and unwieldy. I managed to get some new ones OK. However, when I fitted them, one of them shot straight through the fibre glass of the roof - which was designed to take the pressure. Something worth bearing in mind before you start fiddling !!! :thinking:
  7. theres a old boy on the samba english dude (nigel skeet?) who has put them on his late westy he's had from nearly new. do a search on there think there was a largish thred and how to. ;)
  8. My rear hinged Westy has some cables fitted inside the lower lifting struts. They turn around the central joint and I've assumed that they are there to assist lifting but in my case are no longer working. My guess has been that there are some coil springs inside the bars that stretch when you lower the roof and when you want to open it the springs do most of the work.

    Maybe Westfalia is already one jump ahead.
  10. ^ :lol:

    and thread pitch ;)

    very good posts though
  13. I stumbled across these photos yesterday. That's what got me thinking about it again.
    Aren't any of you familiar with this van? The U.K. is such a tiny spot after all. ;)

  15. That van was with us at viking volksfest and it was woody lubbers sisters fellas van i memory serves me correct

    The roof conversion including struts was done by oconners campers if memory again serves me correct

    Top people and they even blasted out my pendulam cd for me
  17. Here ya go dude ive found you the company website


    Remember though the more complex you make a system the more likely it is to fail
  19. More on the cable and spring mechanism



    It's the same on both sides.

    The steel cable in the second picture tightens as the roof comes down. It's quite slack with the roof up. It's attached to what appears to be a coil spring inside the strut. It seems to be compressing the spring from the opposite end rather than stretching it.

    Maybe all this is supposed to do is help hold the roof up and soften the lowering process, so it doesn't crash down on an unwary camper, but I'm convinced that my roof has got harder and harder to lift over the last 8 years. It might just be me getting feeble but this does look like it's there to help with the lifting in some way and the springs are past their best.

    However, I don't suppose anybody knows where to get new parts for these?
  20. Mmmm I too have thought about this conundrum. 8)

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