3 weeks, 3 roofs: Week 3 – SCA

This is our third and final blog on “Which pop-top roof is the best?” and this week it’s the turn of the SCA roof.

SCA
We fitted an SCA pop-top roof to a SWB VW T6.

SCA are a German company who have been making pop top roofs since 1980.

How did it arrive?

SCA roofs are available only in white, so for most owners the first job is to send the roof off for painting before it is fitted. To be really well painted the canvas needs to be removed or alternatively only the upper roof and front pod section are painted after very careful masking.

The installation

The first thing you notice about an SCA roof is its weight. The roof itself is a heavy lump and there is a fairly heavy galvanised frame that fits into the roof opening as well. Compared to the Reimo roof featured in the last blog, it’s more time consuming to install. Not difficult, just a bit more of a faff. The metal frame is fitted to the vehicle first, using rivets and bonding and then the upper frame is bonded down.

Fit and finish

The SCA roof looks to be good quality and with a very good overall finish. As with the Reimo roof, there is no extra trimming needed inside the van, although to tie it into our interior we did trim the lower section which can be seen when the roof is down. The bed itself is a very smart thing on sprung lats, making it very comfortable, although it may feel a little flimsy to some.

What does it look like?

Once installed it looks good and unlike the Reimo roof there are no obtrusive screws showing on the outside of the vehicle. It is still taller than an Austops roof though and this means that on our van the resulting overall height was over 2 metres with the SCA roof. So low barriers beware!

How does it operate?

To put the roof up you unclip a couple of safety straps and then turn two large turnbuckles. These are quite stiff to operate, so those with arthritic fingers may find it a struggle. Then, as with other roofs you simply push up and the 4 gas struts do the rest.

To pull the roof down, you grab hold of the 2 handles in the roof unless you’re short, when you need to use the 2 straps instead. You have to pull quite hard to offset the action of the 4 gas struts and this may be a problem. For me it’s easy, however a featherweight may find it more challenging and I have visions of an energetic pensioner doing pull ups rather than actually getting the roof down.

As with the Reimo roof it’s not really possible to pull the roof down in stages, making it hard to get the front window folded neatly and there isn’t much space in which to fold the window either. Dropping the roof is very quick, but then you have to turn the two fairly stiff turn buckles and clip in the safety straps too.

What’s it like to live with?

The canvas is good quality and everything looks nice. The bed is very comfortable and the lat design really helps here. Whether children would notice how good the bed is I’m not sure, but for those of us of more mature years, it’s nice. I do wonder what its maximum weight rating is however, as the lats seem very thin and then there is just a very thin layer of ply underneath before you are downstairs.

Cost

Just like the Reimo roof, it’s an expensive option and costs about £4000 plus vat once fitted.  The roof carries a 2 year manufacturer’s warranty.

Warranty

This SCA roof comes with a 2 year manufacturer’s warranty.

Pros:

You can fit a roof rack to it with a maximum weight of 70kg.
It needs very little trimming after installation.
Nice bed.

Cons:

Costly.
Relatively high profile makes the van tall when the roof is lowered.
4 gas struts make it quite demanding to lower.

So which of the three is best?

I was expecting it to be a close thing and a real struggle to find choose the best. However once I’d put them up and down a few times my decision was made for me. In all honesty I’d opt for the Austops roof. It’s less expensive, easier to pull down and it’s slimmer than the others, so you can use more car parks. The fact that it’s made in the UK is an added bonus too.

Don’t get me wrong, both the Reimo and SCA roofs are very good and perhaps on close inspection some people may see why they cost more. The fact that they cost so much more however seems unwarranted. I’d spend the difference on more options for my conversion and then buy a few crates of wine with the rest of the money I’d saved.

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