Skylight (Westy); sliding sun roof (non-Westy)


onelovebriggs

New member
I wanted to inquire about the repair and restoration/parts for a moonroof for a '70 bus.I have tried to look for anything related in repair manuals and other books but to no avail..
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
What is commonly called "moonroofs" are the plastic sliding or hinged panels. VW did not have a moonroof as standard equipment so a plexiglass moonroof would be an aftermarket installation.

They did have a sliding roof or sun roof. It was a hand crank panel that slid back via cables. Full description, removal and adjustment instructions are given in the Bentley, Section 1-8 through 1-8.5.
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
One of the nice things about a Vanagon is their skylight for much improved ventilation and moisture escape. The downside is the design, which lifts the skylight at a 45° angle, is on a roof that also lifts at a 45° angle. So now you have the rain hitting the roof and bouncing at an angle into the gap that no longer has it's 45° angle splash protection. Meaning you can't use the skylight if it's raining! Brilliant VW!

To reduce this, you can put a simple piece of weatherstripping circa the '40s Ford windshields, along that leading (hinge) edge.

The weatherstripping has the profile of a small letter "h". The channel can be glued to the front edge of the skylight and the lip adds enough extra coverage of the gap to prevent rain splash in most cases. I used silicone seal. The lip is soft enough it doesn't interfere with the operation or damage the roof or mechanism.

You can get the weatherstripping by the foot from Restoration Specialties & Supply. See the post under SUPPLIERS. The part number was 4581 and my last catalog shows $1.25 a foot!

[It also makes a good extender for the drip rail over the sliding door to prevent overflow and force water to flow front or rear.]
 

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Capt. Mike

Moderator
Transferred from another post to consolidate same subjects.

Bill Scholz, Junior Member, 02-01-2001 01:03 PM

I replaced the crazed, cracked, and leaking sunroof on my '85 Westy with one from the Bus Depot about a month ago. Though they offer a cheaper, aftermarket unit, I popped for the OEM dual pane - worth the difference, at least to me. We'll see how well this one stands up to southern summers.
When I got into it, I was glad I'd decided to replace the gasket (OEM again) at the same time, as the old one was almost as hard as the fiberglass roof.

Total cost was $125 and 15-20 minutes ... well worth it, in my book, and I can actually SEE out the sunroof now!
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
REPLACEMENT SKYLIGHT ALTERNATIVE

SKI2BHI, Junior Member, 05-23-2001 06:50 PM

Does anyone out there in Westyland have an alternative to spending $260 with either GoWesty or BusDepot to replace a sticky, leaking skylight? Thanks in advance.
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
If you have a skylight already, you don't need a complete retrofit new kit; just the repair kit, which is less than $100, and includes a new skylight, seal and even the major hardware.

That sure seem preferable to some jury rig to fill the original rectangular hole and install the 14" square RV standard. Yes, they're cheaper but by the time you custom build a half-decent roof adaptor, I'm not sure you'd save anything.
 

JT

New member
I'm planning on replacing the skylight with a solar powered vent that would continously circulate the air inside whether the van is moving or not. I'm looking at the Nicro PowerVent 3000, you can get them through marine supply stores, they're designed for boats, so no worries from rain. /infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif And they seem to fit the hole that's left by the skylight.
 

Dave Hampshire

New member
In the early 90's, I had the immense joy of driving (slowly!) all over Europe in my German-spec '78 Westy, that had a 1600 Dual Port. I'm finally back in the Westy biz here in Canada with my recently purchased '79. Lots more power. The pop top of my German-spec had a very cool (pardon the pun) vent in the same place as a Vanagon sunroof. The vent worked as follows: 45 degree opening to the front, to the rear, or straight up. There was no handle or crank to open,you just had to push up on the particular side or in the center to open. Somehow it was spring loaded. The material was opaque fiberglass when I had it, but may have been clear when new. For those of us with Type 2's, I'm sure we've all cursed VW for not putting some form of vent in the roof. Does anyone know where I can get a vent of this type? I'm sure I have lost atleast 5 lbs from sleeping in the upstairs "sauna" due to lack of venting. Thanks all,

Dave Hampshire
Vancouver Island,
Canada
 

Mitzy

New member
I have probably asked this question in several places, would really like some advice or input. I have a 1980 Westfalia Vanagon L. It has no roof vent. What I would like to know is if it is possible to safely put a roof vent in. The indentation on the roof that is where you would normaly find a roof vent is about 11 by 15". Most vents I see require an opening about 14 by 14. Can anyone help me on this. thanks, Ken
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
Don't ask a question in more than one place. It WON'T get you a quicker answer and may get you none at all.

The moldings of Westy pop-tops include the indent for fitting of the skylights. The skylights were installed by Westfalia after the top was manufactured depending on option level, so installing a VW OE style should also be possible. The Westy skylight is available as a full kit from GoWesty and would be the appropriate size. Do NOT try the 14" square RV units; the molding indent and lip are not for that style.
 

RichardBulis

New member
My '87 Westy didn't come with a skylight and I got the complete kit from GoWesty ($260...gulp, but then I wasted hours and hours searching for an alternative to no avail. What's your spare time worth?)and installed it myself. It came with a nice paper template for the holes big and small, and all the little parts and nut caps etc. The only complaint was the trim pieces were only available in the tan color scheme and the proper color for my bus was grey, which at the time I was told will never be available. I consider myself lucky to have gotten the complete kit at all. It wasn't hard to put in, but took me awhile to figure out how the lifter assembly goes together. If you can, take a good long look and maybe some photos of another westy before you start. You'll love having a skylight after not having one.
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
I recently replaced my skylight pane with the reproduction unit from GoWesty. So here's my feedback to Gary on it.

I got a chance to clear out the shop a bit and put the new skylight in. Probably a good thing. The OEM had developed quite a network of stress cracks, though mostly in one layer. However, my luck says it would break in the middle of a typhoon.

Removal was a piece of cake, though the instructions didn't really point out all the nuts to remove. Maybe the next edition would have an arrow for each and the arrows be numbered to correspond to the various steps.

The OEM weather-strip came out clean, but naturally left a mess of silicone seal on the top. That was the worst part of the whole thing -- getting it off without damage. I'm trying to work through the hole and these old eyes don't like to focus that close up.

Installing the new weather-strip presents a problem. It's plenty long, so normally, you trim oversize as it will shrink with age. Can't do with this because of the metal clip groove and the sharp turns around the corner won't let you 'slide' it so you're forced to cut off the last couple inches by eye. You don't dare trim ahead of time so have to trim when you reach the last overlap. Naturally it's probably not going to end up 100% flush so you can't glue the ends together (Super glue works wonders there, but the ends have to butt flush.)

I took the old skylight to the bench to change hardware. There I discovered the hardware kit was SAE sizes and didn't match the OEM. I'm a metric freak so I cleaned and reused the existing hardware. I keep 5mm nylock nuts on hand; everything else is reusable.

Installation back on the roof gets tricky. If you put the whole assembly through so you can fold it back to make the hinge attachment smooth and straight, then you can't get the arm assembly back through. At this point I'd recommend you change the instructions to do what I did. I removed the 2 screws that hold the plate to the scissors arms and it dropped right through the hole. Then I could reattach underneath. You don't need to do that during removal -- it's easier to do on the bench when changing hardware. It also reduces weight & mass when you're reinstalling.

All installed, I discovered the final problem. It won't close fully because of the change in weather-strip style. The OEM has the clip groove for the roof edge and then has a single soft flap that the skylight rests on. The GoWesty version has a soft hollow tube. That wouldn't be a problem if the skylight was a straight vertical lift, but it closes at an angle so hits the section near the hinges first and then won't compress enough to seal at the back. The scissors arm assembly is too fragile to force it closed. I used some downward pressure on the skylight and tightened the knob so it was as close as possible but still could run a .01 gauge through across the back and up the sides about 2". That's not the side that would get water driven in by driving, but is a potential leak. I'm hoping the tube type weather-strip does what most do and collapses along the front so the rear will finish sealing. In the meantime, it leaves a risk of damaging the scissors arms because they are so weak.

The one other difference that drove me crazy can't be called a defect -- the thickness and width of the edge lip. I attach a piece of "h" shaped weather-stripping along the front edge to make a flap. The VW roof raises at a 45° angle so rain bounces at that same angle. If the skylight is open, the gap near the hinge allows the rain to bounce right in. By extending the lip, it prevents that and I can keep my skylight open in rain. The OEM has a longer and thinner flange, thus the weather-strip will fit all the way home in the 'h' groove and there is no pressure from being too thick. A simple bead of silicone seal holds it well. The GoWesty lip is so thick it's a real chore to get it on, and then the lip isn't long enough to bed deep to the bottom of the weather-strip. By the time I finally got it on, I was frustrated, sore and had silicone seal all over everything. Even so, I'm not sure it will stay. I know that's my homemade modification but the change in thickness and lip width created a problem for me. I'd guess the shorter lip also makes that original ricochet of rain worse.

But overall, very pleased. Arrived on time, with parts as described. The quality of the pane iteself looks very good and superior to OEM. I take at heart your comments that the OEM is Lexan and thus not UV resistent. My OE showed the years of exposure. I'll let you know if the weather-strip doesn't bed down; I may have to slit it.
 

toot

New member
When we first got our 85 Westy, the skylight was one of the first things to repair and replace.The retainers that hold the skylight lift arms to the skylight were both missing or broken.
To fix them,I used 2 8-32x1/2" pan head screws and the plastic knurled knobs off an O-Cedar mop head.Put the screw through the lift arm from the back, screw on the knob through the skylight bracket and tighten.You can get a philips screwdriver in from behind with the skylight lifted.It's a cheap repair thats lasted 6 yrs.
 

KeithHay

New member
Had the Westie in Yosemite for Thanksgiving.

We had over 3 inches of rain in the three days that I was there, a Noah type storm.

My vent leaked. No, I did not have it open. I had realized the deisgn flaw. And no,it did not leak around the seal from buildup. It seemed that the rain was leaking in the bolts that held the hinge to the plastic. Does anyone have experience with this happening? Short of drastic steps like silicon on the outside and inside, does anyone know of a fix for this.

Cheers-
Keith
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
Your Westy originally came with a sealant on those attachment bolts. Over time and the inevitable sun baking, the sealant will harden and dry out.

You can replicate the original pretty good by removing each bolt, cleaning them of all previous sealer & rust, and then just putting a small dab of silicone seal under each bolt head -- both sides of the washer if there is one. Don't overtighten; it can distort the seal surface adding to leaks or damage the fiberglass.

[ 11-30-2001: Message edited by: Capt. Mike ]
 

jerepowers

New member
I live in Minnesota so any vent into a Westy that doesn't have an insect screen means you wake up to 100 mosquito bites.

I see the screens offered by GoWesty, etc., but I don't understand how they can fit. Below, it doesn't look like anything would stick to the velveteen finish on the inside of the pop-top. Plus, you'd have to take it off to operate it. On the outside, it looks like it would interfere with the opening mechanism and therefore you would still leave gaps. Having half a screen just means you get bit by the smart ones and they breed more smart ones.
 

michaelmaxp

New member
I'm assuming you're speaking of the skylight opening. The inside edge around the skylight has a velcro strip on three sides that correspond to the velcroed adges of the screening ( I assume the Gowesty product has velcro). The weak link is the side that has the closing hardware. The stock screening is designed to stretch across the opening underneath the crank mechanism. Tape or velcro or some other trick could be designed to handle it in bug season.

michael p

MichaelMaxP
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
The OE skylight screens have a reinforced rib along the crank side. That rib is meant to hold the screen from sagging and fits ABOVE the skylight handle assembly so it does not interfere with operations. You are right in that there is Velcro on the other 3 sides. The rib even has a channel to help hold it and with the handle assembly providing support in the middle, it's quite effective. I've use it without any modifications in the Arctic tundra's notorious mosquito clouds.
 

jerepowers

New member
OK, the Velcro is missing, which is probably the reason none of this was making any sense.

Is the Velcro supposed to be attached to the molding around the skylight opening or someplace else? I see the aftermarket version at Go Westy says something about replacement Velcro. So I replace these Velcro strips and then the screen attaches to them.
 

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