Replacing old Westfalia window by big new skylight

The poptop that I fitted on top of my van had the window fitted as an option. Before I have seen several Westfalia poptops without that window. The window seems to be a positive addition to the poptop but to us it has been a bit of a heartache. Because of its age the hinges and the closing system was completely worn out, and the glassfibre around the opening was cracked, therefore we always park our van of level to keep the roof from leaking. Regardless to that the top was always leaking and created mold in our reupholstered poptop.


Newer fancy windows are expensive and therefor this job has been postponed for way to long! But finding a good second hander the leaking old windows days were almost up. Online I snatched a 90x60cm window for 50,- and I couldn’t wait to fit it to the van.


Weakening the already weak fibreglass by cutting a huge hole in it would surely break it by the pressure of sitting on top of the poptop while cutting. To make sure that wouldn’t happen I made a quick structure to support my weight and not to stress the poptop at all. This made it much easier for measuring and drawing on the right shape to cut.



The inside of the poptop has been upholstered about a year and a half before when I was building the van, not wanting to ruin the whole fabric I decided to pull down on it so it would not get caught on the jigsaw.


At that point we were ready to start cutting. Cutting in the structure of the van always makes me tense and nervous, it all took so much effort to get it done some time ago that I am afraid of putting my earlier work to ruins. After measuring way to many times I drilled holes on the 4 corners and cut out the desired shape.


Franticly fitting the window frame after cutting out the shape reassured me in my little skills, after that I could relax. To be able to make this window watertight I planned to drill a hole through the aluminium every 12cm and copy these holes on the fibreglass, in between the frame and the roof I planned to squeeze a 10mm thick moss rubber strip that will be compressed to 1mm in between the frame and the roof.


But before fitting the window in the fabric needed to be glued back as it was 1 and a half year before. The size of the window was big enough to cover the mold and dirt that grew because of the leaking old window, SCORE!

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A hole with a 30mm M6 bold every 12cm ended up to be a lot of bolds and nuts, and after tightening these 30mm bolts I had to replace than 1 by 1 by a 20mm bolts to make them stick out less after compressing the rubber strip. With a shaking arm from crewing all these nuts the roof was finally reinforced by the window frame and I could take of the wooden frame. In the end the clear window was almost impossible to install after the frame was connected to the roof, and I kind of lost some small parts to finish the job but I will spare you all that part of the story!

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In the end the whole installation took around 4 hours, and besides having some trouble fitting the clear top everything was smooth sailing.  It is a real good feeling when everything ends up as planned, all the ideas that were made up in my mind worked out pretty well but in the end I could not have done it without my friend and fellow vanlifer Bart!



We did our first trip sinds the install of the new window. Everything about this window is so much better than the old one. the size and the clearnes of this window brings in much more light during the day. It does not fibrate in the wind and much less sounds comes in. It opens and closes like a charm abd above all, it doesn’t leak!