Westfalia Camper Roof Overview
Of all the clever German engineering features employed in the
Volkswagen Westfalia Camper, the distinctive raised fiberglass roof is
perhaps one of its most ingenious. Providing over eight feet of
headroom, it allows for the comfortable changing of clothes, cooking
and other kitchen tasks, and reveals the two-person upper sleeping
bunk. Its canvas sides and screened front window aid in ventilation,
and it provides a dry, safe refuge from the elements. Many a time have
we pulled into a lakeside rest stop or a wayside during a pouring
rainstorm, and quickly popped the top to prepare a hot meal while the
rain pelts the roof, all while staying dry and cozy—not an easy option
for those touring by pop-up travel trailer or tent. After lunch, the
whole thing easily retracts to rack up more road miles.
If the devious previous owner of your Westy was
anything like mine, your Westfalia Camper fiberglass pop-up roof is
dingy, dirty, and sun-faded, with leaky seals that allow rain to get in
and start rotting your canvas. Fortunately, it is a fairly simple
matter to spiff it up again, and even to replace rusty hardware and
Depending on the general condition of your own
pop-up, you may or may not need to perform the full refurbishment I
outline here, so read ahead to determine whether you indeed require all
the parts, tools, and other materials listed.
The following procedures involving
washing/waxing, spray treatments, etc. are best done out of direct
sunlight, to ensure even and uniform drying.
- Complete set of Rubber Pop-Up Seals: replaces camper
pop-up, luggage rack, and flat seal in between. Also available
individually. I bought the replacement rubber edge seals from the Bus
Depot (see the Vanthology links
- Stainless Steel Hardware: mounting bolts & nuts for
hinged pop-up roof and luggage rack, and tiedown cleats for luggage
rack. My original hardware was rusted and badly repainted, so I opted
to replace it entirely with stainless steel. The roof mounting bolts
can be found at your local hardware store, while the luggage rack
mounting bolts and tiedown cleats are available from VW-specific online
vendors; mine came from GoWesty (see links page).
- Rubber washers, 1" in diameter with 1/4" holes (6), for
luggage rack mounting bolts, optional.
- Screened garden hose washers (5), for protecting luggage
rack drain holes,
- "Westfalia" decal(s), available from online vendors, vary
by year, optional.
- As with most Vanagon repair and maintenance procedures, the
Bentley and other manuals
will be indispensible.
- Phillips & Slotted Screwdrivers
- Assorted Combination wrenches
- Rubber Mallet, wood block, sidecutters, and knife; for
replacing rubber edge seals.
- Credit-card burnishing tool, for applying decals. Use an
old credit card or hotel room key to squeeze air bubbles and burnish
vinyl decals onto surfaces. Also work great for gently but assertively
scraping off stubborn bugs and tree sap, and smoothing gelcoat repair
- Black & Decker ScumBuster rechargeable scrubber; there
is something like 1/450th of an acre of fiberglass on the Vanagon Westy
pop-up roof, and if one is to thoroughly clean, polish, and wax it …
well, that's a lotta scrubbin'. The ScumBuster is a nifty tool that
makes the task a little less formidable. Powered by rechargeable
batteries, waterproof, with a variety of scrubbing brushes and pads,
it'll save you a lot of elbow grease.
Now that we've collected the necessary stuff, let's fire up the
ScumBuster and get scrubbin' …
- Fiberglass Wash, Polish, and Wax. At my local West
Marine store I found a bundled package of three
fiberglass maintenance products in Meguiar's "Mirror
Glaze" series. Included in the kit were their Boat & RV
Wash, Oxidation Remover & Polish, and Pure Wax. These do a good job
of cleaning and restoring the pop-up roof's original luster and sealing
it from future deterioration.
- West Marine Quick Fix Gelcoat Patch, for filling in small
nicks and cracks in the fiberglass roof, optional.
- RTV Silicone, for attaching the screened garden hose
washers to the luggage rack drain holes, optional.