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Old 01-02-2011, 03:49 PM   #1
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Default Upgrading 1968~79 VW Type 2 Westfalia campervans

Substituting a 1968~73 VW Type 2, Westfalia Continental style, 2-berth elevating-roof bed

I was interested to note, the following recent FOR SALE posting, regarding redesigned, after-market, plywood-based, two-berth, elevating-roof beds (very similar to that of my 1973 VW Type 2 Westfalia Continental), for the 1968~72 VW Type 2 Westfalia campervans, with front-hinged, wedge-shaped elevating roofs, that lack this type of bed, but which instead, have a single-berth, folding cot.

Board index For Sale & Wanted section Early Bay Parts for Sale & Wanted Westfalia / Westy Continental Roof Double Bed 68 to 72

The Late Bay Marketplace Parts For Sale, post '72 Westfalia / Westy Continental Roof Double Bed 68 to 72 and 73 to 74

Classifieds Index > Parts > Type 2/Bus - Bay Window - 1968-79 > Westfalia Continental Roof Double Bed

Another similar, retro-fit elevating-roof bed, for the 1968~73/74 VW Type 2 Westfalia campervans, with front-hinged elevating roof, is also available from Volkswagen Evolution, who offer four levels of product completeness. To access the relevant information, click on Westfalia Roof Bed, in the vertical menu listing, on the left-hand side of the webpage.

As a consequence of a recurring discussion topic on The Samba forum, I have discovered that this elevating-roof bed, appears to be unique to the British specification, 1972~73 VW Type 2 Westfalia Continental campervan. with front-hinged elevating roof. Instead, most if not all, non-British specification (certainly those in Canada, Denmark, France & USA), 1968~73 VW Type 2 Westfalia campervans, of various conversions, which feature an identical front-hinged elevating roof, are fitted with some form of single-berth, folding canvas cot. The first of the following Internet links, also includes details of an elevating-roof bed, retro-fit kit, fabricated in North America, of a similar style to that of the Westfalia Continental.

Bay Window Bus > Continental upper bed

Bay Window Bus > I saw a 71 Westfalia Helsinki with a Continental bed today

Bay Window Bus > '72 Westy: Converting from Cot to Full Bed?

Bay Window Bus > Will 74' westy upper bed fit in 73' westy replacing cot?

I have never slept in a folding cot, but if it is anything like the cab bunk, akin to an old-style casualty stretcher, with canvas and two longitudinal poles, then I imagine it would be most uncomfortable; having 'slept' in a similar stretcher bunk, in a Commer "Highwayman", coachbuilt motorcaravan, borrowed by my father, back in the late-1960s or early-1970s. As a consequence of impacting against the hard metal poles, during the night, the experience resulted in bruised knees, if not elbows as well, if I recall correctly!

If my supposition is correct, then I can appreciate why many owners of non-British specification, pre-1974 VW Type 2, Westfalia campervans, with front-hinged elevating roofs, would wish to replace the single-berth folding cot, with a two-berth, upholstered plywood, elevating-roof bed, as factory-fitted to our 1973 VW Type 2, Westfalia Continental campervan. Hence, I posted detailed information with illustrations, on The Samba forum, which should enable members to fabricate a similar bed.

The following illustration, is an excerpt, from the British specification, 1973 VW Type 2 Westfalia Continental, campervan handbook, showing the upholstered, plywood-based, elevating-roof bed (in raised & lowered positions)

My own hand-drawn, annotated illustration (worm's eye view), of the steel-roof aperture and standard, factory-fitted, elevating-roof bed (fitted at the Westfalia Werke, in Wiedenbruck, Germany, in September 1972), showing the shape, disposition & dimensions, of the various components, based upon measurements of my own British specification, 1973 model-year, VW Type 2, Westfalia Continental campervan.

The elevating-roof bed's main baseboard is 1300 mm long x 970 mm wide x 15~16 mm thick

The elevating-roof bed's pillow-section baseboard is 280 mm long x 890 mm wide x 15~16 mm thick

It might be possible to lengthen the elevating-roof bed's main baseboard, at the front end (i.e. where sleeping occupants place their feet), but for my factory-fitted elevating-roof bed, there is a separate, specially shaped, cloth-covered, foam cushion, which extends the effective length of the bed, by about 75 mm, as far as the elevating-roof's, front-section, vertical tent cloth. I suspect, it would be best to retain the factory-standard bed length, with the hinges at the front end, so that when one raises the bed during the daytime, to increase headroom for cooking & dining, the bed's plywood baseboard is almost parallel with the raised elevating roof.

It might be practical, to increase the width of both the elevating-roof bed's plywood baseboards, so that the main baseboard, has a total width of less than 1020 mm, whilst the pillow-section has a total width of less than 1000 mm, but there are a few measurements which one would need to check, to ensure the baseboards do not interfere with the elevating-roof's GRP top, elevating-roof's hinged support struts, elevating-roof's hold-down rubber toggles or any other fixtures & fittings. Consider also, how much space is needed, to fold-in the elevating roof's cloth tent material, when the elevating roof is lowered for travelling.

One would also need to take measurements, to find out the largest size of elevating-roof bed's main baseboard (< 1020 mm wide x 1300 mm long), which can be put inside the elavating roof, given that the elevating roof is already fitted to the campervan's steel roof. Note, that at the Westfalia factory, in 1972/73, the elevating-roof bed, might have been fitted first, before the elevating roof was fitted to the campervan's steel roof!

The elevating-roof bed, with a 15~16 mm thick multi-ply, plywood baseboard and 30 mm thick upholstery (cloth-covered, high-density foam polymer), has a maximum rated load capacity of 80 kilograms (i.e. 176 lbs or 12 stone).

As an adult, of 1•79 metres tall, I have commonly slept alone, on this elevating-roof bed, but I weigh much less than 80 kilograms! It might be practical to increase the thickness of the plywood baseboard, to make a bed of greater maximum load capacity, but one might be limited, by the maximum load capacity of the campervan's steel roof, which supports the elevating-roof bed.

It might also be practical, to slightly increase the thickness of the cloth & foam upholstery (normally 30 mm thick), but one would need to check how much clearance would be available, between the upper, flat surface of the elevating-roof bed's main baseboard and the underside, of the right-hand & left-hand limits, of the curved elevating roof, when the elevating roof is fastened down with the rubber toggles.

The front hinges, which support the front of the elevating-roof bed and attach it to the campervan's steel roof, are of a special type, but I think it should be possible to create a slightly different hinge system, using two or more conventional hinges and shaped wooden blocks. Unless one resorted to using self-tapping screws, one would need to temporarily remove the steel roof's, 3 mm thick plywood headlining, to gain access to the underside of the steel roof, to fix in place, the elevating-roof bed's front hinges, using machine screws and reinforcement backing plates, with captive nuts.


Nigel A. Skeet
Transporter Talk Technical Editor
Volkswagen Type 2 Owners' Club

Last edited by naskeet; 05-03-2011 at 03:54 PM. Reason: Update links
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Old 08-05-2012, 03:51 PM   #2
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Default 1968~79 VW Type Westfalia campervan upgrades

Since acquiring the vehicle in January 1975, there has been an on-going programme of improvements and modifications, to my familiy's 1973 VW Type 2 Westfalia Continental campervan. Most of these have been concerned with the base vehicle, but some have involved upgrading the campervan conversion.

Our first few months of ownership in 1975, highlighted three obvious inadequasies of the 1973 Westfalia Continental; these being the depth and rake, of the forward-facing rear bench seat, the flexible nylon cupboard stays (most of which were broken), and the cutlery drawer under the sink, which was too deep and narrow for its intended purpose and wasted the space above it.

A full-width, supplementary, triangular-section foam cushion (tapering from 100 mm at the base, to about 5 mm at the apex), similar to that of the small, side-facing seat, was made by a local upholsterer and fitted with a removeable, washable fabric cover. The nylon stay were replaced with hinged metal stays, and a supplementary full-width cutlery drawer, was designed, fabricated and fitted.

In common with the original drawer, the supplementary drawer, was made using 3 mm plywood for the base and 10 mm plywood for the front, back and sides. The drawer is divided into five equal sections, using 3 mm plywood dividers, which take up about two-thirds of the drawer's depth. The five separate sections, provide accommodation for the normal cutlery and other kitchen utensils, whilst the space above the dividers facilitates the storage of a bread / carving knife, spare pan scourer, jar/bottle-top grip mat and other large items. In addition to the cut-out hand holds to open the drawers, the supplementary drawer has a cut-out into which the cupboard-flap lock recesses, when closed. In principle, the original drawer could have been removed, but it proved to be quite useful, for the convenient storage of small containers holding preserves and condiments, etc.

A short time after fitting the supplementary drawer, the sink-unit's lever-handle type, water hand-pump failed, owing to fracture of the nylon connecting rod inside, of which I was unable to obtain a spare (North American manufacture!). I therefore made a new connecting rod from a block of duralumin (a tough, corrosion resistant, aluminium alloy), together with a brass location key (akin to the Woodruff key, used for the vehicle's dynamo pulley), of rectangular cross-section.

The pump continued to function satisfactorily for several years, but during the early 1980s, the O-ring seals on the lever and swivelling outlet pipe, started to leak, of which spares were then unobtainable. Alas, this was one type of component I couldn't make! Consequently, the original pump was replaced with a Jupiter "Starlift" hand pump (up-and-down handle); fitted together with a 90 mm diameter, circular aluminium plate, which occupied the vacated space in the sink unit.

Several years later (circa 1988/89), the water system was upgraded, using a Denton Greenwood "Evenflow" self priming 12V electric pump. This pump is almost identical to the Whale "Evenflow 500 Non-Automatic", self priming electric pump, manufactured by Munster Simms Engineering. I regarded the fitment of an electric pump, beneath the vehicle (i.e. beneath the water tank), to be impractical, so a self priming pump was considered to be desirable; thus avoiding the need to prime it, using the hand pump. A momentary on/off switch and bulkhead fuse holder, were fitted just above the cupboard flap.

Ideally, the inlet to the electric pump, would be connected via a hose, to the bottom of the water-storage tank. However, owing to restricted spece in the sink cabinet, I chose to use the existing dip-tube, passing through the top of the tank; transition being made to the -inch I.D. plastic hose, using a 3/8-inch to 1/2-inch in-line connector and sealing the entry point into the tank, with silicone sealant. Despite the bends and the greater length of hose used, this installation has proved satisfactory, suffering neither loss of prime, nor spluttering due to air locks.

Originally, the electrical wiring was routed through the steel bulkhead, over the front, nearside wheelarch (i.e. beneath the front-cab passenger seat) and beneath the rubber floor-mat, to the main fuse & relay box (accessory fuse - No. 7, for the 1973 model-year), but this was not entirely satisfactory. I intend to reroute the wiring beneath the vehicle, to a supplementary fuse & relay box (ex Lancia Delta), where the electrical supply may be automatically switched to an auxilliary battery, when the engine is not running (i.e. the alternator or dynamo, is not supplying the electrical load).

To cater for camping electrical appliances, I have also retro-fitted a 12V accessory socket (for cigar-lighter socket type plugs), with rubber splash-proof covers, next to the pump-switch and fuse holder. This cocket (Swedish manufacture; obtained from Camping & General), is particularly useful for the "backseat driver" cum navigator, who needs to read route maps and campsite guide books, etc. I have a clip-on 12V Map Visi-Lite (205 mm x 115 mm, illuminated perspex lens, with magnifier), for this purpose, which avoids the need for three hands. I might also retro-fit another socket, on the lower side of the sink cabinet, adjacent to the cenrtal aisle, to serve a 12V, portable cooler.

When the electric water pump was first fitted, I retained the sink's original 1-inch, rigid waste-pipe assembly, with U-trap. However, this system is somewhat oversided, for one small sink and makes it difficult to remove the sink from the cabinet, or remove the cabinet from the vehicle, in order to undertake maintenance or further modification. I have since replaced the original 1-inch rigid waste-pipe assembly, with a -inch flexible, ribbed hose and matching sink-drain fitting (manufactured by Direct Leisure Supplies; obtained from Camping & General), as commonly used on UK manuafactured caravans.

The sheet-steel trim plates (shrouding the waste pipe and water-tank drain pipe), beneath the vehicle, have been replaced with home-made GRP covers (moulded to the contours of the corrugated steel floor), sealed with closed-cell foam sheet and secured in place with stainless steel, self-tapping screws.

Useful Addresses

Camping & General
The Camping & Caravan Centre
Charfleets Insustrial Estate
Canvey Island

Tel. 01268 - 692141

Denton Greenwood Ltd.
Kingsditch Trading Estate
GL51 9NX

Tel. 01242 - 514711

Direct Leisure Supplies

Tel. 01476 - 64549

Jupiter Pump Company Ltd.
Bitterne Park

Tel. 01703 - 29021

Munster Simms Engineering
Old Belfast Road
BT19 1LT
Northern Ireland

Tel. 01247 - 270531

Last edited by naskeet; 09-05-2012 at 04:13 PM.
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Old 09-05-2012, 04:11 PM   #3
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Default Upgrading 1968~73/74 VW Type 2 Westfalia roofrack

During our maiden European touring holiday, we came to appreciate the value of the large standard roof rack, but found the need for a proper roofrack cover. Before the next major trip, I made a waterproof, stretch-cover, using a surplus, butyl rubber, garden pond liner; buying the eyelets, bungee cord, cleats and turn-button fasteners, from Camping & General, on Canvey Island. Initially, I used a length of washing line to tie down the load, but later obtained two one-inch, nylon webbing, ratchet-action, luggage straps, which was more secure, plus being quicker and easier to use. Ideally, I would like to supplement the roofrack's twelve existing luggage-strap bridges, with an additional eight, to better secure the luggage, but I have yet to obtain any.

The roof rack was mainly used for large, bulky items, such as the annexe tent & poles, two soft suitcases for our spare clothes, folding stools and picnic chairs (those made by Andrews McClaren - who also make baby-buggies - were found to be the lightest and most easily stowed), plus a few other small articles, which later included a five litre (i.e. 109 gallons), 'Explosafe' petrol can. For our purposes, the roof rack was larger than we needed, necessitating the storage of other smaller items (which might otherwise have been more conveniently stored within the van) on the roof rack, to stabilise the main luggage). The smaller, front-mounted roofrack of the 1975~79 Westfalia, would probably have been sufficient for our needs.

Paddy Hopkirk, 'Explosafe' petrol cans (steel can, filled with porous, foamed aluminium, which is reputed to inhibit explosions!) of both 5 and 10 litre capacities were (and might still be) available, but the larger size was too tall, to conveniently fit on our roof rack. It was also possible to obtain a matching anchor tray, to secure either of the petrol cans, which could be bolted to the floor of a car boot or other appropriate location. These days, in some countries such as Germany, one is prohibited from carrying a spare can, filled with petrol, which seems pointless, if the can is of an approved pattern and properly stowed.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Although the 1968~73/74 VW Type 2 Westfalia campervans, come with a large, rear-mounted GRP roof rack, as standard, this is of limited use without a waterproof roof-rack cover and a means of securing it to the aforementioned roof rack. During the mid-1970s, prior to our first major touring holiday, in my family's 1973 VW Type 2 Westfalia Continental campervan, I contrived to remedy this deficiency. At that time, we had a large offcut of black, butyl, synthetic rubber sheet, left over from constructing our ornamental garden fish pond. This material, which is very durable, highly elastic and exceedingly waterproof (as one might expect from a pond liner!), was well suited to the function of a roof-rack cover.

The roof rack, which is mounted at the rear of the vehicle, has approximate horizontal dimensions (measured across the top), of 1220 mm length and 1160 mm width. To ensure adequate coverage of bulky loads, the rubber sheet was cut into a rectangle (with two adjecent rounded corners, at the rear), 300 mm longer and wider than than the roof rack (i.e. 1520 mm x 1460 mm or 60 inches x 57 inches). When carrying a low-profile load (i.e. no higher than the GRP roof-rack moulding), these cover dimensions provide 150 mm around the rear and sides of the roof rack, plus a 150 mm overlap to tuck under the trailing edge of the elevating roof. With this degree of overlap, it would still be possible to neatly tie down the cover, when carrying low-profile loads, but also provide sufficient weather protection, when carrying bulky loads.

To secure the cover, a total of 24 cord hooks or cleats (as used for baggage trailer or boat covers), were fitted to the rear and sides of the roof-rack moulding, just above the lower lip. The cover was fitted with 23 large brass eyelets, in locations corresponding to the mid-way positions between the cord hooks., which may be secured using conventioal nylon cord or elastic bungee cord. The eyelet holes in the cover, were reinforced with glued leather patches, to inhibit stretching of the cover material, in the region of the eyelets, which would have caused the eyelets, to pull out of the enlarged holes. Although the cover's front overlap under the elevating roof, usually proved adequate (tended to ruck and gradually pull out, during long, high-speed journeys), better security was achieved, by fitting 6 turn-button fasteners, to the front of the roof-rack mounding and cover.
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