1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Sopru Campmobile Re-Registration & Engineering Reports

Discussion in ''How To' & 'Handy Hints'' started by Doob, Sep 27, 2020.

  1. Doob

    Doob Member

    Messages:
    52
    Location:
    Perth
    I am seeking forum comments on re-registering a Sopru ‘Campmobile ‘ and issues raised with engineering reports .

    We are nearing the end of a long restoration project of our 1971 low light Kombi campervan. I believe the original campervan conversion was done by Sopru in the early 1970’s probably in NSW. While we have the original Australian compliance plate behind driver’s seat, unfortunately there is no ‘E . Sopru & Co Pty Ltd’ name plate behind the passenger seat. Nor do we have any documentation from the time of the conversion. But the roof and old furnishings are consistent with Sopru’s ‘VW CAMPMOBILE’ style conversions.

    Our Bus looked very similar to this one, before our restoration work began.

    https://gramho.com/media/2002312776374495783

    The vehicle has been out of registration for a few years now. I am expecting that when we go to re-register it (here in WA) , there may be questions raised about the pop-top campervan modification. Given the lack of documentation, I am guessing we may be required to get an engineering report in order to get it re-registered.

    Has anyone else been down this track recently, with re-registering a Kombi campervan? Has an engineering report been required? If so, what types of issues have been raised – and what modification has been required by the engineer?

    For our vehicle, the conversion company simply cut a hole in the metal roof, which included removing the central roof cross beam – as required to accept the lower fixed fibreglass section of the pop-top assembly. No additional metal support or stiffening structure was added to compensate for the loss of the metal roof section and central cross beam.

    Is this typical?

    Given that our campervan conversion was done in the early 1970’s (almost 50 years ago) and the vehicle has suffered no adverse structural effects in that time, one might argue the loss of roof metal is not a structural issue! But I’m not sure if an automotive engineer would take this view?

    I have tried to do some internet research on E . Sopru & Co Pty Ltd. There are a number of posts within this KC forum that mention Sopru Campmobiles (see links below). I found a PDF copy of a 1976 Campmobile owner’s manual on ‘thesamba’ forum. Also a good article in the November 2012 issue of the Club VeeDub Sydney magazine – see pages 30 to 33. (link below)

    I would greatly appreciate any comments on more recent engineering reports done on Sopru Campmobiles, the need for any additional structural stiffening (or other engineer requirements), and any addition history on early Campmobiles by E . Sopru & Co Pty Ltd.

    See below a list of links I have come across so far.

    https://forums.kombiclub.com/threads/vw-campervan-conversion-types.21797/

    https://forums.kombiclub.com/thread...r-conversion-engineers-report-required.55663/

    http://forums.kombiclub.com/threads/76-sopru-resto.54261/page-3

    http://forums.kombiclub.com/threads/73-sopru-arrives.3822/

    https://forums.kombiclub.com/threads/sopru.2755/

    http://www.clubvw.org.au/assets/pdf/Zeitschrift/2012/2012-11_November.pdf

    http://www.clubvw.org.au/history005

    https://camperagent.com.au/

    http://forums.kombiclub.com/threads/campmobile-tailgate-sticker.49246/page-4

    https://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=246083

    https://www.thesamba.com/vw/archives/manuals/3_76_campmobile_australia.php

    https://thelatebay.com/index.php?threads/anyone-know-much-about-australian-built-ckd-late-bays.6520/

    https://camperagent.com.au/
     
  2. oldman

    oldman Super Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    10,988
    Location:
    Avalon Beach NSW
    As you have read, a Sopru that has not run out of rego. may be reregistered as is, without further modifications.
    However, once a vehicles rego expires and remains unregistered for a while, the vehicle will be inspected as if it is the first time.......this will mean that it will have to comply with current ADR requirements.......that’s where the engineering comes in. Typical requirements that have been discussed on KC by different members include requirements to stiffen the roof cut out, seatbelt replacements, rnr bed upgrade/anchor points and how the cupboards are secured.....
    It can be a minefield and you are really at the mercy of whomever does the roadworthy inspection.
    Good luck.
    Cheers,
    Mark
     
    David H and KahunaKombi like this.
  3. Doob

    Doob Member

    Messages:
    52
    Location:
    Perth
  4. Barry

    Barry Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    6,181
    Location:
    Abbotsford NSW
    it is how they should have need done in the first place.
    Then again - if they did do the camper conversion properly there would be a lot of restorers out of a job these days
     
    oldman likes this.
  5. KahunaKombi

    KahunaKombi Super Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    22,285
    Location:
    Bracken Ridge, Qld
    Saw some restos a few years back and they just cut the tin top roof section out for a poptop and no structural integrity added :eek: ..... even when advised to do so :rolleyes:.
     
  6. dougandvivskombi

    dougandvivskombi Member

    Messages:
    48
    Location:
    Collingwood Park, Queensland
    HI, everyone, will be embarking on QLD rego in coming months. has anyone found best way to stiffen up roof line for rego. has sopru pop top but no tag even though appears to have a nice set of holes in passanger seat back that match photos on here and no tag. bought 7 years ago as unreg'd project, previous owner stripped out interior so blank canvas. from this thread it appears i will need a blue plate for roof and just asking if anyone has good suggestions on sorting that rough roof hole thinking 20x20 rhs around perimiter with spot welds through existing roof tin every 25mm and bolt to remains of centre brace. have sent request to nsw transport for info on previous rego hoping was as camper and might turn up missing tag, sigh.
     
  7. Doob

    Doob Member

    Messages:
    52
    Location:
    Perth
    Sorry I have been a bit slow in updating this post. It only took us 12 years to do our restoration but we finally got our 'Campmobile' re-registered a few weeks ago.
    As discussed above, my major concern was a lack of engineering paper work and lacking the additional compliance plate for the Sopru conversion of the roof structure. After much discussion with various folks the general opinion was that Kombi pop top campers are a fairly common well established iconic vehicle and that the inspector was unlikely to pay the roof much attention (unless the pop-top looked in poor condition). As such I did not seek any engineering report on the roof structure.
    From a mechanical point, the vehicle was in very good condition. I had replaced any suspect parts, and I had a VW mechanic go over it to check my work. Minor rust section had been repaired and the vehicle repainted. I had contemplated leaving the internal restoration until after registration. However I was strongly advised that the front cab seats (including the covers), door cards, and the roof headliner (including the cargo bay headliner) should all be in good condition before taking it for inspection. So I had the original seats repaired (broken springs replaced) and recovered. Replaced the seat belts. Had new door cards made up & covered (old ones not reusable). And replaced the headliner throughout the vehicle. Thus the rough cut hole in the roof is not visible.
    For the pop top I replaced the rubber seals and canvas skirt.
    Other than headliner and new door cards, the cargo bay was left as a vacant open space - i.e. no fridge, cupboards, beds..etc.. installed.
    I had printed off a copy of a standard 1971 Kombi owners manual and a copy of the VW/Sopru Campmobile manual.
    I had tried to keep everything as original as I could (as much as I could with availability of parts) and no significant vehicle modification (or so I thought!).
    So off to the WA Dept of Transport inspection we go....
    As suspected, this inspector did not pay much attention to the pop-top roof other than a brief look at the rubber weather seal.
    [That is not to say other individual inspectors may not be more interested in the roof structural aspects! Might be just the luck of the draw on who does the inspection?]
    However he did come up with a few issues that caught me by surprise.
    Such as, the inspector was not happy with the way the front cab seats were mounted - particularly the passenger seat. However I was able demonstrate, with the aid of the 1971 Kombi owners manual, that this was stock standard, without modification or damage. The seats were then accepted.
    One of the biggest and most unexpected issues I had was with the new seat belts. The original non-retractable seat belts were 50 years old and looked in poor condition, with no indication of what standard they had been manufactured to. So I had bought & fitted new retractable seat belts that complied to the current Australian standard. These came from a local VW parts supplier. A very straight forward job using the same original anchor points.
    However .... the fact that I had gone from the original non-retractable to new retractable seat belts was regarded as a vehicle modification, and initial indications were that I would require a full engineering inspection & report for this modification. It took a couple weeks of chasing around but we eventually got the seat belts accepted without a full engineering inspection & report, just a note from approved seatbelt specialist and payment of a modification fee.

    Back to the issue of structural stiffness of the roof. If I had my time over again, prior to painting, I would do a roof mod similar to that done by 'rstucke' - see post 59636 reply #20
    https://forums.kombiclub.com/threads/pop-top-restoration-for-my-75.59636/
    Apart from any registration issues, as Barry indicated above, this is just the way it should have been done by Sopru in the first place.
     
    David H, melissa, Grantus and 4 others like this.
  8. Barry

    Barry Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    6,181
    Location:
    Abbotsford NSW
    Congrats Doob and great write up

    Some valuable information there - most importantly "never assume registering a VW is a straight forward process"

    Enjoy the drive now
     
    melissa likes this.
  9. dougandvivskombi

    dougandvivskombi Member

    Messages:
    48
    Location:
    Collingwood Park, Queensland
    thanks for your information and update, i am going to use the 25x25 around rim as suggested and when ready offer for rego without any camping interior and go back after to get camping electrical done with appropriate certificate for install. need an engineer as changed out front seats but should pass easily have plate welded to underside of floor with nuts attached and using 10mm ht bolts to hold the new ones down. have new adr seat belts to go in as well retractable ones and fitted rear disc brakes. guess time will tell but with everything renewed for steering, suspension, wiring harness, paint, trim and brakes might give the inspector some hope its not a danger ,
     
  10. Doob

    Doob Member

    Messages:
    52
    Location:
    Perth
    I have not had any dealing with motor vehicle certification engineers, and not sure how they operate. But I wonder if it would be worth trying to discuss your completed & planned modifications with the engineer, before submitting the vehicle for a formal engineering inspection? Try to get a feel of what they are looking for in regard to seats, seat belt, brakes, and roof modifications ..etc...so you can come prepared with all required supporting evidence for the engineering inspection.
    Particularly if your submitting your proposed RHS roof stiffening mod for formal engineering review. I am not a motor vehicle engineer, but I suspect an engineer may be concerned in the way that Sopru hacked out the central roof brace and provide no replacement strengthening. [e.g such as providing additional roof cross bracing at either end of the roof hole & structurally welding these into the 2 longitudinal roof beams, to compensate for the loss of the central cross brace].
    I guess the old 1970's Supro modification was accepted at the time - and motor registration authorities have continued to honour this previous acceptance. However, if modifications are made to Sopru's work, I guess they could potentially withdraw the historic acceptance and insist on a full structural refurbishment. Not sure ?? I do not know how this works?

    In my case, I thought upgrading the seat belts to current adr specs was a 'no-brainer' tick to help get it through registration inspection - but such was not the case!

    Other things to be aware of.
    They may require proof of the Tare weight of the vehicle. Our compliance plate had the GVW, but not the Tare weight. We needed to go to a certified weighbridge and get a tare weight ticket.
    For registration they will require proof of vehicle ownership. In our case the vehicle was an inheritance from a deceased estate. We had no ownership transfer paper work, so needed to prepare a Statutory Declaration explaining how we came to have/own the vehicle, along with supporting documents..
    Having the old previous registration papers may not be essential, but it was a big help.

    Anyway - would be very keen to hear what you end up doing with the roof - pictures would be great. And updates on how you get on with the engineering report and vehicle registration.
     
    Wiz likes this.
  11. dougandvivskombi

    dougandvivskombi Member

    Messages:
    48
    Location:
    Collingwood Park, Queensland
    have done the reinforcing to what i think should be ok and is much better than the jagged hole that was there before. i have a friend who has an engineer who is happy to approve based on the original design so may have overshot but roof is nice and strong again. ran 25x25 down both sides and bent a piece to bow across the rear. welded to front cross brace and center cross braces and made a rear brace to side of bus then plug welded a few spots on top to make rigid again. going to be a few months anyway but if roof lining in guess nothing to see anyway. will try and add photos but says too large, rookie at uploads
     
  12. Barry

    Barry Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    6,181
    Location:
    Abbotsford NSW
    Do you have a lip running all the way around?
    The big benefit of Rick’s design, beside being stronger, is it gets rid of the base. The lip stops any water getting in.
    But no base means no chance of future rust.
     
  13. dougandvivskombi

    dougandvivskombi Member

    Messages:
    48
    Location:
    Collingwood Park, Queensland
    hope photo not too small here, yes has the lip looks like someone took an old style can opener to the roof but much better now
     

    Attached Files:

Share This Page