Tuesday, June 05, 2007

A Top for the Schwimmy

Yesterday at the thrift store I spotted one of these Land-Rover-like Bratz "Safari Cruiser" vehicles. It was missing some key parts (most notably the doors and windshield) but I didn't complain because it was only a $1.99! I figured that at this price I could scavenge a few parts and throw the rest away if I wanted. I was especially intrigued by the soft-top, and wondered if possibly I could adapt it to some other vehicle.

Once I got it hope, I carefully separated the top, which somebody at the store had helpfully attached with several complete wraps of clear packing tape. Looking around the room, my eye happened to fall on my AT-converted 21st Century Schwimmenwagen. I plopped the top on there, and to my amazement, it was a near perfect fit!

In these front views, it may look like the top hangs off the side, and in the back it does a bit, since the top is straight-sided and the side rails o the schwimmenwagen curve a bit, but I don't find it objectionable. Though it may appear to hang out a bit in the front too, the bottom rails of the top-frame are almost exactly the width and size of the schwimmy's side-rails at that point.

It sticks out a bit farther in the front than it really needs to (though having a sunshade over the windshield in the tropics is logical) and it looks wide, but that's mainly because the schwimmy windshield is so darned narrow. It isn't the width of the interior cabin space, which in turn is much narrower than the vehicle itself.

The top has a rigid plastic frame over which is stretched a removable fabric top with clear plastic windows. It is quite nicely done. The side and rear flaps are held down with plastic snaps, and can individually be opened and rolled up. Three tie-back straps with their own snaps are provided to hold the retracted flap.

The only real issue is how to attach it to the vehicle. Actually, it sits there pretty well, but it's easy to knock off. At the very least, some kind of positioning pins or tabs would be nice. I'm also planing to paint the frame black (it's currently dark green).

Of course, as you can see, the AT Schwimmy still doesn't have headlights or tail-lights. I plan to add operational ones with a slightly more modern look than the original, but I haven't worked out the best way to do that yet. I plan to use high brightness LEDs, but it's the housings that I can't quite work out. One of these days.

As for the Safari Cruiser, fear not that it will end up on the scrap-heap. Though it would certainly provide a load of cool parts, once I got the top off, I realized that without the doors it reminded me of the Mini Mokes that were used as Village taxis in the classic TV series, The Prisoner. That caused me to take a liking to it, and I decided that it may become yet another Minions at Work vehicle to go with the two golf-cart-style Minionmobiles.

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