Reader David England recently emailed me with some photos of his finished Toyota Hiace conversion (sadly, the Hiace is being discontinued this year) – including a genuine self-built pop-up roof. David’s a sculptor and the relaxed, warm ambiance inside the van is a testament to his creative skill – and his woodworking.
Not many self-builders attempt their own pop-up roofs or high tops, so needless to say I was very impressed – all the more so as David reports that it has been in use for a year now without any problems at all. I’ve included the story of the roof below for anyone who is interested in building their own pop-up roof.
How To Build A DIY Pop-Up Roof
Here’s the story of the roof, in David’s own words.
“The roof gave me a few sleepless nights!
I had to start from scratch here, because I couldn’t find a manufactured pop-up the size I wanted. The Hiace has three roof panel on its interior and the space I thought would be most useful for a pop-up happened to be the exact size of the middle panel.
I left the supporting bars in , which made things neater on the finish and acted as my template for the hole that I would cut in the roof.
Every surface on the Toyota seems to be curved…………………I LIKE curves, but it made the cardboard templates I used for cutting the woodwork a bit of a challenge.
Stiff grey card and masking tape was the only answer for the arc of the roof (across the van) but was worth the effort. Once the curves were cut, from 4×1 tanalised timber (wood that’s been treated to resist rot) the rest was on a flat playing field. I made a frame that sat outside the hole in the roof and this acted as base for the pop-up section, which was a combination of twin-wall polycarbon and double-glazing fascia (to keep down the weight).
This skylight sat over the frame on the van roof and was held up by four gas struts.
I used awning material ( waterproof and UV proof ) to box in the sides, which folded up when the roof was collapsed.
The underside of the twin-wall has two solid cross pieces with handles that you close/open it with and fasteners to secure it down to the inside of the van….so it doesn’t fly off when you drive away.
It’s been up and down a fair bit over the last year and doesn’t leak and hasn’t blown off………….yet!”
Find Out More
If you are planning your own pop-up roof and would like more information, I’m sure David wouldn’t mind you contacting him via his website.
I’ve included some more pictures of David’s conversion below – after completing it last year, he spent two months touring France. You can read about David’s travels here.