It takes about ten seconds to pop the top. Twenty if you include undoing the security features that hold the pop top in place. The security features being a bent bolt with wing nut and a twig. We go through a lot of twigs.
The confined space of the bus becomes a tardis once the top is popped. If only it didn’t smell like an old person’s shreddies.
Our pop top is brilliant. Once you’ve undone the wing nut/bolt combo and removed the twig, which lock the pop top down on the outside, all you need do is grab the two handles on the inside, push up and up she pops. Once that’s done you have good clear standing room height from the back of the driver’s seat to the back of the bus. There’s also a bed platform at bus roof level that can be unfolded giving you another sleeping space inside the pop top itself. How you get up there is a different matter. Designed for ankle biters I reckon.
The canvas material that made up the pop top wall was in a poor state. A few rips, a few stains and a stinky smell. It needed to go. We (Sarah, as head of procurement) found a website that deals in pop tops for all types of VW buses (http://www.proudtopop.co.uk/). You can choose your design from many, including your colours, and they do the rest, i.e. make it and post it. I think you can even choose your own design. They will fit it, but they’re based in Lancashire, so a bit out of our way. But we could fit ourselves. They said so on the phone. It would be easy. All you needed to do was take notes on how the existing one is fitted when you take it apart and then install the new one in reverse order. Simples.
We (Sarah) chose the colours and the material. I agreed it was a good pattern and the combination of colours matched the bus exterior very well. Much better than any of the other patterns and colour combos. I was sure of this. Make no mistake! The material was waterproof – very sensible for the UK climate. I can’t remember how much we paid (I’m not in charge of budget and accounts). It wasn’t cheap, but then our options weren’t many, so you pay what you pay at the end of the day.
It arrived in the post in a tube. We were excited. This was our first real big thing that was going to change the bus’ look. I’d done my planning; in this order I would go through the following emotions. Prepared, scared, nighmared, couldn’t have cared.
We had fun ripping out the old one. I’d made mental notes on the order things came out so that the new one would go in all simple like. And as I remember it the dismantling order was like this. Long metal thing, another long metal thing, screws, some rivets, more long metal things, rip…. some of the material, rip…. Some more of the material…… more screws, hammer bang hammer… another screw… drill drill drill, some pieces of rivet, a long piece of wood, hammer bang rip drill swear drill ouch bang hammer rip, some piece of rivet with bits of flesh on it, my flesh, stuck to it, swear, more swear and finally one big swear. But I did remember the order. So long as I could put the new one back in place in the reverse order I’d be OK.
So the replacement began like this.
YA BASTARD! Ya absolute bugger. Pop-feckin-top-my-arse , I’ll just stick that bit of flesh in there, where’s my son of a rivet gun….. you get the picture.
My morale was boosted by Sarah’s assuring enquiring tones. I thought you said it would be easy?
We fitted it in two shifts – first securing it to the top of the pop top frame, then, on another day, many days later, securing it to the bus roof. Sarah helped. Couldn’t have done it without her.
It was a right royal pain in the arse. Waterproof the material might be, but that made it fold proof too. Getting the corners right? – well that idea was abandoned pretty quick. We settled for the “that’ll do” look. From a distance though, in the dark evening light, it didn’t look too bad.
The top was secured by wrapping the lining around a wooden baton, and then screwing this to the inside of the bus pop top lid. A simple instruction. A nightmare to do. New swear words were invented and put to use.
The bottom bit was even simpler because the weight of the lining was already secured to the pop top lid. All I need to do was rivet the material in place using the long metal bits through the same holes the old rivets had come out of. Except a lot of these holes were big big holes now. In total I think I had just one solitary rivet that actually stayed in place. I have a rivet gun for sale if anyone’s interested
The end result was a dramatic improvement. All we needed to do was trim off the excess material from around the bus roof and the job was done. A Proper Job.
What about the colours and patterns? Of course. I haven’t mentioned the colours and patterns. Well it’s a polka dot number. The background is a brown colour matching the go brown faster stripe down the side of the bus and the dots alternate between cream and purple. Cream and purple are going to feature quite heavily in the bus. That’s already been decided.
So the pop top was done. Ruddy Rilliant. The first big thing that really felt we were doing something that would make the bus feel like ours. Tip Top.
 Pop-feckin-top-my-arse is not an invitation. Just so you know.