Vanagon – cutting the big hole in the roof

After all my dithering, I finally did it, I cut the big hole in the roof of my ’86 syncro. But before we get to that I had to finish the plywood headliner for the front section of the van. Yesterday I gave it one coat of Sikkens Cetol 1, an oil/varnish finish. Today I traced out and cut it to shape. Then I rubbed it down with fine steel wool and applied another coat of Sikken (this time with a rag, as if applying tung oil). Sorry about the pics, they don’t show the colour right. Notice I cut out holes for lights on both sides.

Change to a metal cutting blade and put some tape on the shoe of the saw to protect the roof paint.

Then drill a hole in the roof.

And start cutting.

“There is a crack in everything that’s how the sun gets in”

Onward and around and hey presto!

Phew! The cut was pretty good, even distances to the box sections on each side and looking good front and rear.

I can get the rest of that degraded sticky foam out now. In the westy roof, the box section (which double as air ducts) is welded to the roof between the cross members, in the passenger van it is not, and the gap is “sealed” with that foam.



Detail of the rear transverse cut.

And the front transverse cut. The pop top latch placed there just to see what was what.

Then I pop riveted in place the ledger strips that holds the front headliner in place. You can see how it sits over the welded in fabric headliner attachment strip. It’s a short one on the passenger side and stops partway along and above the door upper track. It lies at a slight angle.

And on the driver’s side the strip is longer. In the westy, the strip holds up a narrow bit of headliner between the kitchen trough and the downturned edge of the roof opening.

You can see I trapped the remaining headliner up behind the strip. I’ll probably trim it to the upper edge of the strip. Directly below that strip is another one which helps hold in the kitchen trough. That one goes on tomorrow. Looking at the pics now makes me think I should use some strips of headliner to cover the old strip up front (if that makes any sense).





  1. #1 by Simon on July 24, 2011 - 5:39 pm

    Wow – you did it! Looks pretty damn smooth too…

    Congratulations 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: