This was way more complicated than it should have been. My fiberglass was brittle and had been patched (badly). Before I started throwing cargo in the bucket, I wanted to make sure it wouldn’t shatter. I also wanted to add the foam seal available from BusDepot to the edge. First I tried to find another cargo carrier, but all the ones I found were far away and shipping was unreasonable. That left the idea of rejuvenating the old one. All I had to do was undo the five bolts and pry the top off, take it to a fiberglass place, and pop it back on. Piece of cake.
Problem 1: While the bolts easily came out, the fiberglass was still stuck to the roof by a shit ton of caulk. I used all manner of long, flat, skinny tools to work the roof loose (a metal yardstick was my favorite).
Tip: If you have caulking issues like I had, park the bus in the sunlight. This will help loosen the glue (every little bit helps) and the fiberglass will have a little more flex. I took my time and worked the cargo carrier back and forth slowly.
Problem 2: No one wants to work on fiberglass—at least not around Dayton, Ohio. Except Corvette places—and they want to charge Corvette prices…
I called boat places and no one wanted to touch it. Either the project was too small or they didn’t… work on boats. For real. I called a place with the words “boat repair” in the company name. The guy who answered (whose name also appeared in the company name) said he wasn’t sure why all these people called him for boat repair; he hadn’t done boat repair in years. “Maybe,” I suggested, “because it’s in your company name.” No one pays attention to that he assured me. “If they did, they wouldn’t have to ask who they were speaking to. My name’s right there on the sign.”
So I eventually found a guy named Roger—a wiry younger guy who had broken just about every bone in his body at one time or another. He would refiberglass the whole thing for $350. Deal.
Problem 3: It wasn’t $350. At this point in my bus ownership, I have resigned to the idea that all estimate ranges will come in at the high end. Roger called me late one night and asked if I would beat him up too bad if he charged me another $50. “Your front edge of the fiberglass is all split to pieces and bondoed back together,” he said. “It’s a gawdamned mess if I ever seen one.”
So I paid Roger. When I picked up the new top, I was elated. It looked brand new. Roger is a miracle worker.
Problem 4: I should have gotten a helper for installation. This is not a one-person job. I installed the seal from Bus Depot (and it went on in a snap). Then I had to heft this thing up to the roof, caulk it, and bolt it. Somehow I got it done, though not without struggle.
Tips: In addition to having a friend with you for installation, I would recommend using rubber washers around the bolt heads and a liberal amount of waterproof caulk. Since my next step was to add insulation, wires, and a tongue-in-groove wooden ceiling, I needed to make sure this wouldn’t leak. Also, use the appropriate length bolt, folks. The previous owners used bolts that were way too long. Nothing like throwing a tent or a gas can up into the cargo carrier only to have it impaled on a bolt that some dude apparently sold you because he got commission by the inch.