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Old 02-23-2010, 01:35 PM   #1
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Some basic penthouse questions

Hi,

My wife and I have a few basic questions about a penthouse top that we're hoping the knowledgeable folks on this forum can help us answer. We're hoping we are not the first people to ever have asked these questions before

• If we provide an extended length Ford van does it matter if its a cargo van vs a passenger van? For us the passenger van would have all of the factory seatbelt/shoulder belts and a finished interior, cargo vans do not. Are there technical/mechanical reasons for favoring one over the other?

• Extended length Ford passenger vans also have rear A/C and heat. Would they be jeopardized or rendered inoperable once the penthouse is installed? I guess the answer would be yes if the duct work goes by way of the ceiling/roof but I'm not familiar with Ford's A/C, heat duct work so I simply don't know.

• What are the dimensions of the penthouse bed?

• I've already email the folks at Sportsmobile but I thought I also ask them here.

Thank you,
Ray
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Old 02-23-2010, 08:26 PM   #2
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Re: Some basic penthouse questions

With regard to rear A/C:

1. You can get a cargo van with rear A/C. Mine has it.

2. If you start with a passenger van all of the overhead ducting comes out.

3. Either passenger or cargo with a penthouse top and factory A/C ends up the same - ducts on the driver side rear pillar. There is a post on here somewhere with pictures.

Finally, if you want factory like seating, but don't want the factory interior, be prepared to spend like it's cool. My guess is I'm going to shell out from $16-20 thousand by the time all is said and done on the interior (not including penthouse).

Seats are going in as we speak. PH top is next. Rest of interior at the end of March. Pics to follow after I pick it up next week...
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Old 02-23-2010, 09:07 PM   #3
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Re: Some basic penthouse questions

Quote:
Originally Posted by jessenej
Finally, if you want factory like seating, but don't want the factory interior, be prepared to spend like it's cool.
To be fair, not everybody is putting Sprinter factory seating in their Ford van...

The 50 layout provides forward seating for 3 with 2 lap only belts and one shoulder belt. You can also get captains chairs, although I can't speak to the shoulder/lap belt on rear captains chairs, it give an alternative (and possibly more pleasant than trying to seat 3 on the 50 bench above the age of, say nine. I've also seen the 50 layout in an EB with a 3rd captains chairs, which seatbelts notwithstanding at least gets the kids sitting not shoulder to shoulder.

I'm sure that only begins to brush the surface of layouts and seating, where putting in or taking out Ford factory seating are options. I'd reckon taking out extra seats is easier for the DIY interior (or if you're like me and will procrastinate for years).

As far as the PH bed, I don't have dimensions but it's worth noting that you essentially have the whole length of the top for PH bed pieces, which can come in any size. Mine is (very roughly) about 5 ½ feet long, with one 2ft setion and one 4ft section.

Some people have a one piece PH bed, and some have indicated that their EB PH bed is longer than an RB PH bed, while others might just have extra open space at the head, although you can put the pieces all the way forward if you choose. The gist is that if you want SMB to cover the entire PH bed rail front to back with 2ft sections, they can probably accommodate you. An extra few inches shouldn't be a problem.

There is an area at the back of the van that provides some extra PH bed space, although not greatly padded and the sides include the PH rails, so the width including the rail sides is not quite the same.

Also there is a bed.. if you can call it that, which fits over the front seats and goes around the engine housing (around, over, who can say?) I'm not sure what SMBs current offering is, or which consoles it fits precisely, but with 3 kids it might be something to look into.
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Old 02-23-2010, 11:00 PM   #4
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Re: Some basic penthouse questions

Valid. ;-)

The good news is that won't have to wonder about how insane I am for much longer...
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Old 02-24-2010, 08:18 AM   #5
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Re: Some basic penthouse questions

Thank you all for your insights.

The Sportsmobile folks got back to me to say it doesn't matter to them if the van is cargo or passenger. If passenger they requested I removed the 4 rows of benches (3, 3, 3, 4) before dropping it off for the PH work.

Sportsmobile said the A/C and heat duct would be re-routed, probably just to the door pillars for a nominal cost. Can't really use the ceiling/roof anymore since there won't be much of it available to use.

They can make up a longer PH bed extension so we'll probably do that. I think they said the standard PH bed is 41in by 76in. The 41in width is the mattress, the overall width is about 12in more because of the PH rail.

We haven't decided on what the various seating arrangements could be but wanted the flexibility of being able to remove benches as desired. However we configure this we wanted the OEM shoulder/seat belt locations and anchors.

As for our seating situation (my kids are 7, 7, and 3) we've scoured through the existing floorplans and looked at rolling our own and still didn't like what was available so we're pretty sure we're sticking with the factory benches. My kids are still young/small enough so I still need boosters for my 7 yr olds and a carseat for my 3 yr old. We can't place all three on a 50 plan bench. I know it has 3 belts but at 43-44in in overall width its just not wide enough. I could also get a single bucket but that would eat up too much space.

Yes, we noticed there's a foldout mattress thingy for the front buckets. It might just work for a few years for one of my kids.

Ray
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Old 02-24-2010, 09:12 AM   #6
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Re: Some basic penthouse questions

Though it sounds like you are planning to stay 2WD, be aware that all new Ford passenger vans come standard with the AdvanceTrac Roll Stability Control. It was explained to me that this system is not desirable in a van that will be converted to 4WD. Just something to keep in mind. See this post for more info.
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Old 02-24-2010, 06:28 PM   #7
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Re: Some basic penthouse questions

Ray,

As I type this, Sprinter seats are being installed into my cargo van. If they work as planned, they will provide significant flexability for seating kids, cargo, etc. My wife and I did significant research on the various options. Hopefully it will pay off for us and others with young kids looking for more flexability then the stock benches provide.

I pick it up next week and will follow up on my post about it shortly.
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Old 02-28-2010, 08:04 AM   #8
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Re: Some basic penthouse questions

Quote:
Originally Posted by jessenej
With regard to rear A/C:

3. Either passenger or cargo with a penthouse top and factory A/C ends up the same - ducts on the driver side rear pillar. There is a post on here somewhere with pictures.
I have a 2006 E350 RB passenger van, which I'm home-brewing. I may or may not have SMB-TX add a roof in the future, but to preserve that possibility, when adding a roof fan, they rerouted the factory rear air exactly the way they would do it if I were having a new roof installed:

Before:



After:



The roof ducting is still there, but sealed off. Four louvered AC vents were added to the pillar (with a fair amount of black silicon sealer to make them conform to the curved pillar trim). If/when I have a roof added, we'll pull out the fantastic fan and reuse it; all the AC plumbing work will be done.

Regards,
Meredith
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Old 03-04-2010, 07:53 AM   #9
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Re: Some basic penthouse questions

Thank you Meredith for showing the before and after pictures. Its a lot clearer to me what has to be done and how. There's also vents on the driver's side near the floor, I guess they wouldn't be affected since only the roof vents were capped.

What about the rear seat controls? They're mounted on the ceiling so the 2nd row bench passengers can fiddle with them as needed. If we get a PH top installed what happens to the controls? They get removed and the wires capped? They get remounted on the ceiling still but further forward toward the front? (I have no ideas, just asking.)

Thank you again for your insights,
Ray
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Old 03-08-2010, 09:37 AM   #10
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Re: Some basic penthouse questions

Does anyone have pictures of sprinter seats installed in a sportsmobile? Thanks, I have a standard ford rear seat and am looking for something a little better....... thanks
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