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Old 05-05-2015, 11:22 PM   #1
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Question about lowering penthouse in Sprinter

The two times we have lowered the top since we picked it up last Tuesday the top will not settle into the grooves on the body of the van's top. The driver side always sits outside the groove and won't seat properly--it sits about 1-2 inches off the top on outer ridge of the groove. This is being done on totally flat ground. We have to raise and lower several times and jiggle the top around in order to get it to seat properly-then get on a ladder to make sure it sits flat on the top of the van in the grooves. Is this how these things work and do we need to carry a ladder to get up there every time to check if it is seated?
Also anyone have any tips on how to make the cabinet latches stop rattling? Just the driver side cabinets rattle even on fairly good roads. Thanks for any ideas
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Old 05-06-2015, 01:58 AM   #2
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Re: Question about lowering penthouse in Sprinter

The only suggestion I can offer for the pop-top is to push the canvas sides out as it's coming down. I haven't had any problems with mine not seating properly, although I am getting a hole worn in a spot where it's rubbing when it's down.

For the rattling cabinets, I stuck some felt circles (available at home depot) on the inside of the door to hold it out from the frame. My port-a-potty was also banging around something fierce in its cabinet, so I stuck in a piece of foam about 3x3x12" to hold it tight against the inside walls.

- Steve
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Old 07-13-2015, 10:21 PM   #3
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Re: Question about lowering penthouse in Sprinter

Our top still (5Kmiles) does not center properly I would say 90% of the time. Also, the fabric gets pinched between the scissors pretty much no matter how careful we are when it goes down on both of the sides. It also has several leaks--some are distinct damp spots that you can see but mostly it is a general wetness along the back bottom part after it rains (not even that hard) that you can wipe off with a rag. Not stoked about having to baby this thing so much and STILL have it mess up.
Thanks for the tip about the felt dots and the cabinets--that helped a tremendous amount.
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Old 08-03-2015, 05:26 PM   #4
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Re: Question about lowering penthouse in Sprinter

My Ford PH top can do the same if not on even ground. I pull the top in the direction it needs to go as it makes the final touchdown. As for the fabric getting under the top, I'm assuming the sprinter top has the same elastic shock cord which pulls it in as the top lowers. Sometimes that has to be adjusted. You don't want the top to ride on the canvas. I've also found that any sharp hardware on the inside of the top & outside the canvas needs to be covered or smoothed out to keep from rubbing a hole in it but keeping the shock cord tight enough usually keeps the canvas from being damaged.
As for the water, I've never had that problem unless there was water coming in through the top. The one time I did it was where SMB routed the solar panel wires. I'm guessing you get water whether the top is up or down? I'd take that back to SMB ASAP. That is not right and can cause other damage down the road. I've also heard of water coming through the tops brake light but not sure about the Sprinters.
I do make sure all the zippers are closed because water can get in there while driving in rain. Yours sounds like a bad seal on the bottom boot.
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Old 08-03-2015, 05:52 PM   #5
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Re: Question about lowering penthouse in Sprinter

Ditto, I'm not sure where you're located or if it's remotely close to one of the 3 SMB locations but I'd be talking to someone there, and soon. You shouldn't be having leaks or a top that seats off center. As for the rattles, it's an RV. They all have some rattles that have to be worked out. Felt pads, etc. will help. Sometimes you just have to get creative.

FYI, my top favors the driver's side and I've always had to pull towards the right when lowering, but it's 20 years old. I wouldn't be happy about this issue on a new one. Good luck!

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Old 08-24-2015, 12:54 PM   #6
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Re: Question about lowering penthouse in Sprinter

The top still favors one side when it is lowered. The bungees seem tight and pull the fabric in evenly. The fabric still gets pinched somewhere near the scissors no matter what we do or how we fold/mess with the fabric when the top is lowered. Haven't been out in the rain again so not sure about leaking but there are definite areas where it is sewn that are holes like the stitching is too tight and pulls apart and this is definitely a potential for leaks. We love the van but feel that the build quality is not top standard. Have been putting off getting in touch with SMBW since Fresno is not a convenient drive for us. I did write to them about all our issues right after we got it home and were able to look at it more closely and they said to get in touch. Kind of think they would have been a bit more proactive than telling us to "get in touch" after spending over $50K with them but they are busy and ours is paid for and gone. You can see some of the things I consider issues in my gallery. Love the van, love the fact that we can live outside, but just don't have a real great feeling about SMBW. In all fairness, we have not re-contacted them to see what if anything they can or will do to remedy some of the issues.
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Old 08-25-2015, 08:37 AM   #7
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Re: Question about lowering penthouse in Sprinter

Send them the pictures and ask them if they will address it. Yeah you might need to leave it with them for an extended time and that can be difficult for you. Tell them you expected a little better quality control than a typical RV manufacture and you're willing to work with them. There is a reason why I've told some people to expect issues with custom builds and why a lengthy shake down close to the shop before heading home is important.
My van had a number of things that I'd wished were done a little better. Some don't bother me like slight dents and scratches here & there but I suggest you do something with that roof solar connection unless you've sealed it up. I had that happen to me and water got into the roof something best avoided. SMB fixed it and no more problems.
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Old 08-25-2015, 08:55 PM   #8
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Re: Question about lowering penthouse in Sprinter

Appreciate this. I did send them a lengthy email and included all the pictures in my gallery and more and got a reply to call them. I sent a followup email with even more pictures and issues and then got so frustrated with everything that we have let it slide. Never got the "report card" from them either that we were supposed to get according to their website.
I felt all along that my first letter explained things in enough detail that they could have presented some solutions and it certainly made us think quite a bit less of SMBW and their customer service. I truly believe that once you leave the facility and the check is cashed that you are pretty much on your own.
Case in point--the leaking Esbar picture--we immediately called SMBW and they did not know what to do and suggested we call Rixen who puts together the systems. The first thing Rixen asked was where we had it installed. We were told to tighten all of the hose clamps--we got home and did this (taking apart cupboards and the gaucho) and every single one was loose. There was also fluid inside the van under the unit inside. This was a $6500 option. Our layout was not a hard one--open garage behind the wheel wells with cupboards on both sides, a gaucho and penthouse. We got a box that sticks out 5" into the garage area that was never shown on any work order or drawing and were told "that is the way we always do this". Our bikes no longer fit inside which was the entire point of the open back area. I could go on but I have been trying to figure out the best way to get things done and I guess it boils down to calling them and trusting them to fix things. That is a big leap given what they have done
to date.
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Old 08-25-2015, 10:09 PM   #9
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Re: Question about lowering penthouse in Sprinter

One of my best mechanics did a job for me on my truck. It was a routine maintenance job. A couple months later I opened the hood and there was a huge oil can sitting there. If it had got into the S-belt while I was off road I would have been stranded. The fact is places FU and you have to expect it. It's easy to nitpick but on the other hand I understand quality control. Places like SMB go through workers on a regular basis...just the way it is just like every other RV manufacture. Where companies excel is how they handle the return issue(s). Poor workmanship why they let people go but it's too bad when a customer has to take the brunt of it. Hopefully they can make it good for you. In my experience SMB has bent over backwards for me more than any other company has. I hope you get the same service.
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