I’ve been meaning to do an update re this thread, as I now have a fully manual roof! I picked up the van last week.
I’ve not posted anything up until now as I’m still getting used to it to be honest and I wanted to be fully comfortable with it before writing a review, so to speak.
The parts took quite a while to arrive at the workshop, and this in part was due to the supplier waiting for a price for one of the parts.
Anyway once all the parts had arrived Whambamcampervan set about the conversion. Martin at Whambam was up front and said he couldn‘t give me an idea of price as he was totally unsure of how long it would take.
A week later I had the call to say it had been done. Martin said that the install had gone really well and the roof was perfect. He said it is so much better then any aftermarket roof that he has ever fitted. All of the hydraulics have been removed, including the pump, as have the front scissors mechanisms and rams. They have been replaced with the genuine VW parts for a Beach manual elevating roof. All former hydraulic routing has been sealed as have any other holes from the previous rams etc.
What’s it like?
The roof sits how it did previously with no obvious signs its been converted, except for the fixture/fitting domed bolt heads being visible on the roof.
The two internal locking latches on either side fit really nicely and snug the roof down when they are locked into position. (I’m still waiting for the two safety clips to arrive from VW. These will be retrofitted in the next few days as they are due any day now. In all honesty I don’t think they are required as the locking mechanisms are very secure however I want it to be as ‘original’ as possible)
A firm upwards push is required on the pull down bar and up goes the roof. It certainly feels secure and it does require a firm even push to get it to disengage from the rear locking mechanisms that are located behind the rams. Once a few inches up the rams kick in and the roof slowly extends to its full height.
To drop the roof I face backwards between the two seats, take a hold of the pull down bar either side and pull the roof down. It gets to around 4-6 inches from being closed and you can leave it balanced there and if need be check outside that you’re not trapping the bellows. I have a bellows bungee so that takes care of that issue. A slight pull on the bar and the roof closes on its own. It almost sucks itself closed if that makes. The only slight pain is tucking the bellows behind the two locking latches, which then enables you to lock them. Having the pull down bar attached to the inside of the roof means that the bellows now sit proud of the roof, meaning less space between the roof and sliding roof door. This has had an added bonus of stopping the sliding door rattling about and sliding open on its own. Previously it was very noisy but now its nice and quiet. There is still plenty of room to flatten the bellows into the space and the door slides closed without an issue.
The cost? More than I expected. However it was the first conversion of this type (Cali electric to manual) they had done and they took their time making sure it was done properly. 24 hours labour at £72 an hour. Martin at Whambamcampervan has said that now they have done one it would take them far less time to do another, now they know what they are doing.
I‘ve questioned whether or not I should have just replaced the sensors and be done with it. Or whether or not that would have worked and then something else would go wrong. £3k is a lot of money to spend. However its done and I’ve got a manual roof conversion.
Overall I’m pleased with the result. It has taken me a little while to get used to it. There is no getting away from the fact that it isn’t as convenient as pushing a button. However, I now have a roof that shouldn’t let me down and should be a hell of a lot more reliable. And its brought me peace of mind. The thought of being abroad and having roof issues is a thing of the past. My van is a keeper. Its 10 years old. Like me its not getting any younger. The less that can go wrong the better.
I’m sure there’ll be lots of differing opinions whether or not it‘s a good idea, what else I could have spent the money on etc….
Here’s to a great summer and getting out and enjoying our vans, be them electric or manual roofs!
All the best,