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Old 03-25-2008, 08:53 AM   #1
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Bent Penthouse Top Bows

Anyone with a powered PH lift probably has already experienced bent bows, or more than likely will some day. It is too easy to run the top up with a latch stll hooked up, too much weight, or some other unforseen blockage. If you own a Hi-lift jack there is a fairly easy way to straighten the bows. Remove the jack's mast (I-beam with all the climbing holes), Place it on top of the bent bow with holes facing you. Using three U-bolts secure the mast to the bow at the center and each end. A 2x2 block of hardwood goes between mast and bow at the center, over the bolt though the bows center. Begin tightening the end U-bolts alternating each one. The middle U-bolt is there to hold all in place. These bows are chrome-moly steel with a hardened insert near the middle so they don't straighten easily, so be carefull as there is a lot of tension involved. I won't go into details here because a simple photo will explain it easily.

I can provide a photo if you email me at acebrown@vci.net.
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Old 03-28-2008, 05:01 PM   #2
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Old 07-31-2008, 01:55 PM   #3
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Simple. Brilliant. I've been pushing mine up the old fashioned way with too many boards on top and have seen minimal but noticible bending already. I"ll use this method for sure when it comes time.
cheers,
james
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Old 08-02-2008, 12:30 PM   #4
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I bent my bars when the back hook caught on the way up using my electric PH. I soon found that it’s a good idea to turn the hook around so it can’t catch before attempting to power lift the top. SMB has a jig that bends the bars and they re-curved them. Later I noticed some marks on the tubes that kind of bothered me as it was a brand new rig. Also it seemed the top never looked quite the same. If SMB does the repair on your rig ask them or make them aware of this. Have them add some tape or cloth around the tubes so they don’t get marred. Because I felt my top was still sagging a bit, I finally asked SMB to re-curve them again. While discussing this with SMB I noticed many vans coming off the line that had a sagging rear tops when fully extended similar to mine. We measured and found more than an inch of sag on a couple new vans. It was subtle but I could see it. This was not a real problem but re-curving helped. SMB is looking into why some tops sit higher than others. As far as what Ace did, fantastic! Why spend the time and fuel when you can do it at home.
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Old 08-08-2008, 11:06 AM   #5
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SMB will loan you the tool too, I havent decided whether to take them up on it or try Ace's solution, but I have the Xtreme High-Lift Jack and it appears too long to get up in there. I had one minor incident several years ago, caught it in time, but 7yr old was raising it for me last weekend and (I) forgot to unhook front and bent the bars pretty good.
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Old 08-17-2008, 02:19 PM   #6
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bent bars

i actually have the tool right now...and probably should return it soon :-) . they sent it to me after failing to straighten the bars when i left my van with them to do so (long story, not entirely happy ending). i like Ace's idea of using something longer like that jack bar. my experience with the tool has been negative. the SMB tool is too short therefore does not provide a wide enough curve for bending. with a short bar the tool has to work harder.

(i can't tell you how angry i was after bending the bars in the first place. lasted for days. now i set up camp BEFORE cracking the beer.)
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Old 08-17-2008, 03:04 PM   #7
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(i can't tell you how angry i was after bending the bars in the first place. lasted for days. now i set up camp BEFORE cracking the beer.)
Funny, a few beers were involved when I bent mine too. Perhaps they need a big sign by the switch (DO NOT DRINK AND RAISE TOP).

Phil
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Old 08-25-2008, 01:01 AM   #8
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Lobo, would be interested to know how it went. I finally had them send me the tool and agree it looked too short initially. But after messing around with it and getting placement right, I was able to get mine back very close to original. My bars were pretty tweaked too. The top in the back came off the roof a good 5-6 inches before left the roof in front. It took a lot of tension and cranking but it came back, worked pretty well I thought.
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Old 10-08-2008, 10:30 PM   #9
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Lobo, would be interested to know how it went.
BC-
mine are still bent but i am planning to crank on them harder. i have a 6-8 inch difference as the PH lifts up but it nearly flattens out when fully lifted.

did you crank on them while the PH was fully lifted?

thx!
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Old 10-13-2008, 10:48 AM   #10
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lobo,

6-8" difference when first coming up off the roof?

even if it seems to straighten out when all the way up, that sounds to me like you still have some cranking to do. I was close to that and after I was done it was very close to equal, with perhaps an inch or so up in the rear.

What do the sides look like when it's all the way up? Can you see any sag? Should be fairly straight and tight, with windows easy to open, etc.
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