The Roots - Jeep Cherokee Pop-Top Conversion
Part I — Jeep Pop-Top Builder Series
An original conversion vlog, covering the concepts behind the initial Westfalia platform.
The "Jeepagon" first became a part of my jeep's livable van-life styled build in the late months of 2017.
Originally a donor camper top from a 1970's era split-window Volkswagen bus, the top was trimmed and adapted to the rough specifications of the 2000 Jeep Cherokee roof profile.
It has since been redesigned as a two-part fiberglass mold setup with a far more precise-to-vehicle fitment, as detailed in further Pop-Top builder series.
Long before I jumped head first into this camper XJ idea myself, a JeepForum member by the handle of @arbslikewhoa mustered up a similar concept.
I exchanged a few email words with Mike, the mind behind this original conversion. Apparently not long after its completion the jeep-a-gon cherokee was sold, never to be seen by him again. He since moved on to other truck projects and the likes.
Prowling craigslist, a daily addiction near all jeep-owners fall into — on a quest for second hand parts, dream rigs that'll never surface, and clunkers that tempt with their what-ifs and I-totally-could's.
As such, the golden ad appeared. A Split-Window VW owner with just the listing I awaited.
$500. Some Damage. Functions. Posted: Mere Hours Ago.
Text Delivered: Hi, I'm serious, I have cash and will be up within the hour.
The original top came with countless flaws. No surprise — this fiberglass shell was nearing five-decades of service. Hairline cracks, wood-rotted supports, mis-drilled roof rack holes galore.
It served its function for the time.
Initial modifications merely adapted the original Westfalia top to fit the Jeep XJ Platform.
The pop-top height was trimmed near 3" shorter. The top's sides angle outwards near 10 degrees. This provides a narrower footprint to sit atop the Jeep rain-gutters.
The initial two-part Westfalia design consists of a luggage rack that seats with the major pop-up portion. Volkswagen Buses and Vanagons, with their rear engine placement, have no hood and therefore a much longer roof than the majority of factory vehicles.
To shorten this for a Jeep Cherokee both the luggage rack was removed, and the pop-up portion was shortened near two-feet. The rearward side is flipped to face forward on the Jeep. This allows for the highest pop-top section to sit in the rear of the XJ. The previously luggage-rack seated lip is open and was sealed with a wooden/fiberglass edge as pictured above.
The Westfalia original hinges and push-bar provide the structure of the lifting mechanism and were adapted to fit along the Jeep XJ's factory roofrack rails.
Prior to receiving the 8-point roll-cage a minimal access hole was cut rearwards of the vehicles roof skin. Near all of the roof was chopped upon structural fabrication. The XJ is built around a unibody frame construction — similar to that which any Vanagon features.
Factory Canvas is upcycled into a trimmed reincarnation to fit the new top profile. This is a Sunbrella type material that can easily be replicated with moderate know-how.
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