Making the rear roof headliner

Heading to the back

With the front two flexible ply pieces for the cab headliner all cut to size and fitting nicely, time to make a start on the rear sections of the bus. In theory, some of these should be a bit easier. Let’s see how that theory works out!

drivers seat overhead view of the ply headliner
drivers seat overhead view of the ply headliner

When making headliner pieces for the roof, you soon discover that it is never a one size fits all solution. In many ways, buses were very much hand made. As such, dimensions can vary from vehicle to vehicle.

Bespoke fitting headliner

I used my base dimensions as a rough guide, then checked and double-checked what the actual dimensions were on my bus. This way it becomes quite a bespoke fit. Time-consuming, but always better to measure twice, cut once!

back to refining the test piece for a perfect fit
back to refining the test piece for a perfect fit

Coronavirus (Covid-19) changes

Things change quickly! I was away on work when everything suddenly the world goes crazy! This whole Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has taken hold of the UK (and pretty much the whole world!) at the moment. Things have really changed. Social distancing is going to be the new normal for the foreseeable future. I hope people stay as safe as they can at this time. I’m lucky that I still have some work to get on with to finish off the headliner project!

notched clearance for the front overhead roof vent
notched clearance for the front overhead roof vent

Flexible headliner template

With the flexible plywood sheets, I always work out the most economical way to cut the sheets into the required sizes. I try and make sure nothing gets wasted. With this part of the project, I laid the sections out so as to leave a full-width strip I could then use for template work and full-size testing across the width of the bus. Back to the template making times again! This should make things a bit easier in terms of getting the final sizes right. Plus I can use it to mark out and check the fit for any required cutouts around the interior lights and cab overhead roof vent.

notched recess for the front roof vent
notched recess for the front roof vent

One roof, many shapes

The middle section of the roof above the rear passenger area is the widest section of the bus. It should also be an easier section to do. First I needed to get the width of the ply just right so it will fit nice and tightly between the internal gutter sections of the roof. Get this right and the flexible ply will naturally form a nice smooth curve arching towards the middle of the roof from each side.

testing the cargo area roof light clearance
testing the cargo area roof light clearance

Once I’ve got the overall width right, I can use the full-width template strip to help position and test cutouts for different obstructions. I needed to make notches to allow for the overhead roof vent in the cab on the front edge. On the back edge, I had to allow for the rear interior roof light. This was a lot easier to mark and test with the flexible ply template.

Double curvature rear roof

Having established the overall sizes and cutouts for the middle section, it was getting a bit late. The last section over the rear cargo area at the back of the bus was going to be more tricky. This is where the double curvature of the roof comes into play. The roof curves in both directions. Across the width of the bus, as well as from front to back. It dips down most noticeably at the front and rear ends of the roof.

the double curvature roof profile
the double curvature roof profile

Headliner geometry

As you can see, the rear of the roof curves down quite dramatically. I won’t be taking the ply headlining all the way to the very back. Most of this rear section is actually hidden by the special Anthony Burrill letterpress poster finished rear overhead locker I made. The ply headliner will provide a new inside roof finish for the locker space when finished.

front and shelf of the overhead locker complete ready for final fittings
front and shelf of the overhead locker complete ready for final fittings

There is a rear support bar that spans the roof at the back. This makes a good natural stopping point for the ply headliner. Having used my full-width strip to get the middle section dimensions and cutouts, time for it to come into its own a second time. The overall width of the final rear section of the headliner needed to taper down to allow for the shallower curve at the rear of the roof.

double curvature roof tapers towards the rear
double curvature roof tapers towards the rear

Adjustable headliner template

So by trimming small amounts off at a time, I can repurpose the template to work in the back as well. Adjusting the overall width of the middle section template helped me establish the size needed to get a good fit by the rear support bar. Having the start and finish widths for the rear section will give me the amount of taper required.

flush fit with the rear roof support bar
flush fit with the rear roof support bar

After adjusting the width little by little, I finally got a good fit that I was happy with. It allowed the flexible ply to fit snugly against the rear support bar whilst following the shallower curvature of the rear roof. This gives me all the dimensions I should need to get the final headliner sections cut out.

the rear roof stops here
the rear roof stops here

Insulated camper roof

Having added all the thermal insulation to the roof, fitting the flexible ply headliner below it now feels like the finishing stages of having a fully insulated roof space in the camper. It proved to be pretty effective before when we were camping in Glencoe in the Highlands of Scotland last year! This plus the sound insulation I installed has given a certain thickness to the newly formed ‘roof space’. Once completed with the plywood headliner, I’m sure this will only help in terms of both the overall thermal and sound insulation of the roof.

waking up to snow on the roof of the camper was a bit of a shock first thing
waking up to snow on the roof of the camper was a bit of a shock first thing

Plus it will be a whole new interior finish and feel when it’s all done. Can’t wait to get it completed! Onwards to the next stages of the headliner then…

In these crazy times of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, stay safe people!

 

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