Interior panels Part 8 – Installation – Pop top opening trim and side panels

After finishing with the ceiling, the remaining panels seemed like a breeze, going in both quickly and easily sans help; though I did take some time to address some minor details as I went along. They weren’t special in themselves, but, along with the new curtains and panels, helped improve the overall aesthetics and, in some cases function, of the interior.  I will outline a couple in this post, but the others will make it to the blog in the future.

Entire panel thread.

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The aluminum sleeves which fit between the front, rear, and side ceiling panels needed a little help to match the glamor of the new baltic birch.

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A little aluminum polish and 000 steel wool (for the tough spots) brightened them up nicely.

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These are the panels which fit along the sides of the pop top opening. Old in the middle, new on the outside. The driver side (with holes for the camping light) is on the right.

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These panels lack any screws or tension clips and simply slide in between the aluminum sleeves and into the channel bracket. The tracing method I used to replicate the original patterns creates new panels that are slightly larger making the fit, at first, too tight. I ended up sanding the front and rear edges with an electric sander and 80 grit sandpaper until they slid in without requiring any force, but were still snug enough to keep from vibrating while driving.

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The vinyl above the sliding door needs to be pulled down to allow the panel to slip into place. One in, one to go.

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Before the driver side panel was installed, I affixed the camping light. Above are the two tension clips that receive the light’s screws. To remove these from the old panels, I used a pair of pliers to squeeze the back of the clip (left) and wiggled them through their holes.

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They simply snapped into the new panel, though I had to be careful not to splinter the plywood in the back.

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Backside view.

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Camping light ground wire inserted through the center hole.

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Camping light screwed on to the panel (switches face the floor).

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After setting the panel in place, I fed the power wire through the same hole as the ground wire and then attached the latter to the bus.

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Power wire attached.

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Testing before buttoning up the cover.

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With the cover back on (be careful not to over tighten or the plastic may crack), I slid the panel into place. Then I waited a few months and took this picture in July.

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The pop top opening trim shrank on every bus I’ve owned, causing it to pull out of the corners and create a large gap between the ends. Moby was no exception and came with a reproduction trim gasket purchased by the PO. However, before using the repro, I wanted to give a couple of rejuvenating methods a try on the old one. I’ve read that these gaskets (and the T-molding used elsewhere) can be put in boiling water and stretched back to their original length. After a good scrubbing with soap and water, I left the trim to dry in the warm April sun in the middle of the blacktop driveway. Why I wanted it dry before I put it in boiling water I can’t recall now, but it turned out that warming in the sun was enough to get the old vinyl soft and pliable.

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Without letting the trim piece cool too much, I put it in place – covering both panel and metal frame – around the opening. As I pushed it on, I simultaneously stretched the gasket, trying to evenly stretch the entire length. It took three tries to get the appropriate length, but the sun method worked very well and I didn’t have to deal with hot water dripping everywhere.

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I finally have a bus with trim tucked neatly into all four corners.

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I’m not sure where VW originally placed the ends, but I put them where the pop top cot bracket will go and, hopefully, hold them in place.

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