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Old 10-24-2011, 12:05 AM   #21
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Re: Still under construction

First off, I don't think that SMB would sell you a top to install yourself. For the same reasons of the one or two instances that got out of their quality control, I can understand why they would want to keep everything in house too. I'm guessing that you'd be just fine to get a top installed by SMB.

Depending on your needs and wants, I wouldn't rule out the Colorado Campervan top either. While I haven't seen one up close, I really like what I've seen from the pictures of Derek's work.

If it is in your budget to do so right now, I wouldn't hesitate to put a top on. The ability to stand up and move about is priceless, not to mention the extra sleeping space, added summer ventilation, use of 1/3 of the bed as a storage shelf to put extra gear out of the way during the day, etc. Obviously your actual requirements may be different based upon your needs, but we probably wouldn't own a van without one.

2009 Express AWD, CCV Top & 50-ish home build. Daily driver/camper/kid hauler
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Old 10-24-2011, 12:11 AM   #22
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Still under construction

I agree with rockbender. Having spent a lot of time living in a van that I could not stand up in was a problematic. Not enough storage, no ventilation and an aching back. Doing simple things like getting dressed was challenging. If you can afford it, get the penthouse now.

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Old 10-24-2011, 08:49 AM   #23
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Re: Still under construction

Thanks for the advice, as long as SMB knows that if it's not perfect I won't accept, nor pay for a half A$$ job.
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Old 10-24-2011, 10:23 AM   #24
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Re: Still under construction

Ask them to take pics of the install
$30 digital cameras have abilty to time and date stamp in photo

1) prep to protect interior prior to cut
2) shot showing cut
3) installed WITHOUT HEADLINER/TRIM (that covers up stuff)
4) finished shot

would go a long way here and on expo

it aint a how to deal, it is a proof of improved QC
would show that they actually respond to customer reviews/concerns
i have not read anything that indicates they do :(
oh, and if they refuse.....
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Old 10-24-2011, 11:51 AM   #25
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Re: Still under construction

You could make a visit to inspect the install part way through the process and make any corrections at that time, before it's covered up. I made several trips to Portland during my build but it was "only" 200 miles.

My builder used a lot of self-tapping screws as well. I have thought about this and the only way to get everything mounted solid would be to use steel framing for all the cabinets bolted or welded to the body. If you bolt down fiberglass or plywood the material itself will wear and start loosening anyhow.
2009 E250 RB 5.4L "SilVan"
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Old 10-24-2011, 10:24 PM   #26
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Re: Still under construction

Can't speak for SMB West but at SMB East it took less than four hours to install my PH from start to finish. I was also free to wonder around the shop. Ask them if you could watch while they work or be allowed to check periodically.
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Old 10-24-2011, 11:08 PM   #27
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Re: Still under construction

SMB west says they install the pop top in a day. Just hang around.
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Old 10-25-2011, 03:32 AM   #28
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Re: Still under construction

If you make an issue of how the top is cut and explain that others have had problems, chances are they'll assign it to an experianced worker. I think most problems have been with workers in the training phase...they all have to learn during some point of time, usually on those vans coming off the line. Get the journeyman, not the apprentice!
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Old 10-25-2011, 08:37 PM   #29
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Re: Still under construction

I spoke with SMB and they said I could come and check out their facility and watch a top being installed.
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Old 10-25-2011, 09:13 PM   #30
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Re: Still under construction

Jage has a roof vent (Fantastic fan?) installed in the forward cabin portion of the remaining roof. not sure if this was SMB installed, or by the previous owner of Jage's SMB. I also don't see why a fan couldn't be put in a vertical configuration, either through the van body, or by placing in a window opening.


SMB-less as of 02/04/2012. Our savings account is richer, but our adventures are poorer.
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