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Old 07-24-2017, 12:00 PM   #1
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Penthouse Wet Climate Survey

In considering a future SMB or CCV penthouse top, I've noted that some folks have had trouble with mold, mildew, or leaks.

When I was down in San Diego visiting Agile, I took a look at a few poptops and, given their sunny climate, it makes sense to me why the penthouse works so well there. Since we're in the rainy PNW, I keep wondering if cutting a hole in my perfectly good roof is a foolhardy idea. My van lives outside with no protection from the elements, so I worry that I'd be battling mold on the canvas, at the very least. And, once that hole gets cut...

Would really like to hear some honest feedback from people about their experiences with this to help me decide if I should save up my money and dive in or keep my (rainproof/snowproof) roof and go another route.



.
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Old 07-24-2017, 12:15 PM   #2
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Move south?
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Old 07-24-2017, 12:53 PM   #3
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I wonder if you could buy a rooftop tent first, and see if you have any issues with mold/mildew/leaks since those are most likely canvas or some other regularly used tent fabric. If you find that you don't mind hiking up to the roof and climbing in maybe stick with it, or if you don't have any mold/mildew/leaks then you could entertain taking the plunge and installing the pop top? Rooftop tents aren't cheap, but can be sold to recoup most of your money I would think.
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Old 07-24-2017, 01:03 PM   #4
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I have not had any issues with my pop top. It works well rain or shine. My van also lives outside in the PNW. My old VW Westfalia's did have some molding problems but the tent was just raw canvas and not the heavyweight treated canvas that SMB uses.
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Old 07-24-2017, 01:30 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by rallypanam View Post
Move south?
Ha! I love your sun and your beaches, but I wouldn't give up my beautiful Oregon fer nuthin!


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Originally Posted by Ben10281 View Post
I wonder if you could buy a rooftop tent first, and see if you have any issues with mold/mildew/leaks since those are most likely canvas or some other regularly used tent fabric. If you find that you don't mind hiking up to the roof and climbing in maybe stick with it, or if you don't have any mold/mildew/leaks then you could entertain taking the plunge and installing the pop top? Rooftop tents aren't cheap, but can be sold to recoup most of your money I would think.
Ben, that's one of the ideas I'm taking a look at. The two issues I don't like: no inside height addition and getting that darn weight on and off. Leaving it up there (semi)permanently would be an option, I guess.


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I have not had any issues with my pop top. It works well rain or shine. My van also lives outside in the PNW. My old VW Westfalia's did have some molding problems but the tent was just raw canvas and not the heavyweight treated canvas that SMB uses.
Dokaman, that's really good to know! I didn't realize that treated canvas was that good. And, since you're in Washington, I know you get even more rain than we do!

Seriously, tho, how does it do for you in our winters? Do you use the upstairs much in the cold?

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Old 07-24-2017, 01:51 PM   #6
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Why not a fixed hightop? Install, use and forget about it lol
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Old 07-24-2017, 02:21 PM   #7
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I think a little maintenance is all you need. People have had SMB or similar tops in all climates for 50 years or so now. The key, to me, owning anything like a pop top van, pop up camper, or anything else with canvas is to air it out as often as you can. If it rains for a week and the sun shines for a day pop the top! I realize people's schedules, lifestyles and storage arrangements might not work out for this but my practice is just to air it out frequently. I do this with awnings too.
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Old 07-24-2017, 02:56 PM   #8
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Why not a fixed hightop? Install, use and forget about it lol
Yep, that's on my alternative list too. I sure like the ease of it all, but I use my roof rack a lot (for kayaks and such), so would have to think long and hard about putting that out of reach. I sure have enjoyed all the postings about how much people like theirs, tho.



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Originally Posted by 86Scotty View Post
I think a little maintenance is all you need. People have had SMB or similar tops in all climates for 50 years or so now. The key, to me, owning anything like a pop top van, pop up camper, or anything else with canvas is to air it out as often as you can. If it rains for a week and the sun shines for a day pop the top! I realize people's schedules, lifestyles and storage arrangements might not work out for this but my practice is just to air it out frequently. I do this with awnings too.
I'm sure you're right about that "Scotty". The thing about Oregon, you can wait for weeks (months in the winter, it seems) for that sunny day. I wish to heck I had a tall garage opening and that problem would be solved. Maybe I should get a loan for a garage remodel!

Another thing I've wondered is what happens to that beautiful passenger van ceiling with the rear air, etc. Does the air get rerouted so it's still usable? And are you staring up into something ugly when the top is down? Wish I had asked the Fresno guy if he would lower the penthouse so I could see what it would look like inside most of the time. Anybody got some pretty pictures?

.
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Old 07-24-2017, 03:00 PM   #9
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We live a little East of Justin in the Columbia River Gorge and we pretty much get all the rain. We've had no problems with our pop top whatsoever.
Its gotta get pretty darn cold for us to not pop the top when camping in the winter. We did install an Espar D2 last Fall before a trip to Glacier, Waterton and Banff and we slept well with the top up the entire trip. Go for it.

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Old 07-24-2017, 03:39 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Otter View Post

Does the air get rerouted so it's still usable? And are you staring up into something ugly when the top is down? Wish I had asked the Fresno guy if he would lower the penthouse so I could see what it would look like inside most of the time. Anybody got some pretty pictures?

.
The typical rework is to mount the rear air vents/grilles in the rear corner "D" pillar, although they have been put in other places as well. I used 3 of the stock ceiling vents and mounted them in my rear corner cabinet.

Things looks trimmed/finished when the top is down...there is a little canvas showing inside but not much. I installed an automotive headliner and re-covered the vinyl parts on my transplant top but the SMB setup looks finished.

I used the stock headliner (well maybe 15% if it ) to trim the perimeter of the original van ceiling; SMB typically uses fabric covered trim boards that hold the interior lights.
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