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Old 02-25-2014, 03:42 PM   #41
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Re: Popping my top

Thanks mucho. I've learned my 1999.5 doesn't have any airbag sensors in the seat and the pretensioner is on the B pillar. All this allows me to buy any universal seat w/o confronting the "gottcha" laws regarding monkeying around w/ airbag and seat mods.

Once I find the seats I want, I need swivel bases and floor pedestals that match up w/o putting new bolt holes for the seats. I need to find a pedestal that works with 8" x 11" like you did and that allows attachment of a swivel base to that pedestal.
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Old 03-03-2014, 06:42 PM   #42
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Re: Popping my top

A little more progress.....

I'm using brass sex bolts (also called binder bolts) to fasten the rubber edge seal around the penthouse.

I got them from Mcmaster Carr; Mcmaster also sells black plastic and black anodized aluminum sex bolts.

Once the brass weathers a bit I'm hoping I'll lose the shiny "bling" factor. These allow fastening the rubber with a single punched hole on the outboard side of the rubber, or a punched hole through both rubber flanges.

Here is a pic showing the SMB plastic fasteners and the brass binder bolts:



......and a few pics of the installation. I'm using a paper hole punch to punch the holes in the rubber.

I'll probably go back and locktite all of these once the rubber is completely installed.





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Old 03-10-2014, 05:53 PM   #43
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Re: Popping my top

Since I'm about ready to pop the top onto my new (used) van, I laid out the cut pattern for the van roof today.

For future reference, if anyone is putting and SMB PH top on an RB van body, the hole cut-out starts at the rear face of the B pillar cross member. In other words, you will need to cut the rear flange off of the B pillar cross member when cutting the hole, that's where the cut out starts. If you begin the hole cut out where the B Pillar flange meets the roof sheet metal, the hole will be too far rearward by about 3/4" or so. THIS INFO DOES NOT APPLY TO INSTALLING A EB PH ON AN EB BODY. Those require a transplant of one of the cut out cross members directly behind the B pillar cross member....at least that's the way SMB west does it.

After removing the headliner (passenger van), we laid out the hole cut-out with a sharpie and a pencil, then I drilled small holes at every corner so that in a few days when the top is ready for transplant all I will need to do is connect the holes from the topside of the roof.

I heavily documented the hole cut-out from the donor van; that's what we are using for the cut-out in the new van, and it's pretty much dead-on. The donor van was a 2003 and my van is a 2008.

The critical dimensions are from the rear of the roof to the cut-out so that the rear of the PH roof lands in the gutter properly, but you are somewhat limited by the position of the B pillar cross member and the length of the cut-out.

Here are a few pics of the layout holes......

The first pic shows a layout hole in the rear flange of the B pillar cross member; that's the flange that will get removed with the hole cut out.



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Old 03-17-2014, 07:16 PM   #44
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Re: Popping my top

More progress.....the top transplant is about 90% completed. I need way more butyl tape than I first thought to seal the canvas to the van top, so more is on order from McMaster.

I used a pneumatic chisel to cut the top, it's the cat's pajamas for cutting the sheet metal. The cross members were cut with a metal-blade jig saw.

Here are a few shots of the chisel in action, think can opener mated with a baby jack-hammer. I did a few squiggles in the third picture to show the control. The edge finish is great with no sharp edges. On the van top, I pulled the coiled chip away from the paint to keep from scratching it....worked great.








A pair of sunroof sized holes were rough cut between the B-C and C-D pillars to allow the final cut to be made while standing in the back of the van, this also allowed a little warm up with the tool. The cross members were also cut a bit inboard to get the feel of the saw.





Once the hole was cut, the cross members were pop riveted to the top sheet metal with .040" thick VHB tape sandwiched between them. Here are two good shots comparing the way SMB does it to our home brew way...sort of chainsaw vs air chisel..looks like I don't have a pic of the trimmed cross member but hopefully you get the idea. The small holes on either side of the cross member are landmarks/datums from the layout lines that were done inside the van. The holes allowed easy transfer of the layout to the top/outside.





Since the donor van had cracked corners, I pop riveted and epoxied small corner brackets (Stanley/national-bought at Lowes) in each corner. The rear corners got an epoxy-bracket sandwich top and bottom.





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Old 03-17-2014, 07:37 PM   #45
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Re: Popping my top

Forgot the installation details......no pictures of this unforch.

Since we didn't have access to a lift, the top got installed using a rather "pedestrian" method. We parked pickup trucks very close to the van on both sides (think feeler gauge) and with a person carrying each corner of the top we simply lifted the top over our heads and climbed into the pickup truck beds from the rear and placed the top on the van with the PH lift mechanism in the down position with the springs disconnected.

The short people were assigned the F150 bed and the tall people got the Toyota Tacoma bed and everyone was checked for hernias when the top was in place

We then installed the padded lift blocks on the crossbars and had two people (well 3 actually-that sucker gets heavy) lift the top and we stuck some 2X4's in place of the helper springs to hold the top up while the 2 remaining folks used a come-along to connect the chains to the springs.

This install incorporates a handful of changes/improvements over the typical SMB parts; I will hopefully post some pics of these changes shortly.
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Old 03-17-2014, 08:00 PM   #46
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Re: Popping my top

Nice work with the air chisel, I wish I had one, or even a compressor big enough to drive one.

How big of a nibble does it remove, about 1/4"?


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Old 03-18-2014, 12:05 AM   #47
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Re: Popping my top

Wait...is that your matching color element behind the van?
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Old 03-18-2014, 08:10 AM   #48
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Re: Popping my top

Putting the 'L' brackets at each corner was a very nice touch. Have seen several posts about cracked corners. Good detail.
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Old 03-18-2014, 08:23 AM   #49
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Re: Popping my top

Herb: The air chisel removes about 1/8" and leaves a nice clean edge.

REF: The Element is Orange; apparently my camera makes everything look purple.

I installed the dome lights last night. Here are a few pics.





They have both been modified with LED strips from superbriteleds.com. The center strips are red 1W and the outer strips are warm white 3W. One of the dome lights retains the stock cover and plastic ends, this one has a SPDT black switch (thanks Herb!) and a 100R pot for dimming. The other light retains the original aluminum extrusion, but I made it low profile by fabricating some new ends and an acrylic lens that has been bead blasted. This one does not have a dimmer pot but uses a small SPDT toggle switch for red/white selection.

I also added grommets to the wire holes in both lights (very surprised that they do not include this from the factory) and Molex mini-fit connectors.

My present plan is to try them both and modify one of them to whichever style works better.

These LED strips are very convenient, however I believe that there are more efficient ways to incorporate LEDs using constant current boost or buck power supplies. These strip lights can be snapped apart and any sub-chunk can be powered with 12VDC, so they are wasting power with dropping resistors (the resistors drop voltage by producing heat).

Superbriteleds.com sells small "buck puck" and "flex puck" modules but these need to be used with component level LEDs as an integrated system. I bought some of these components but the strips packaged mechanically so well that I figured that I would try them first.

If I get motivated enough I'll start a thread on this in the electrical sub-forum.
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Old 03-18-2014, 08:34 AM   #50
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Re: Popping my top

Quote:
Originally Posted by LenS
Putting the 'L' brackets at each corner was a very nice touch. Have seen several posts about cracked corners. Good detail.
The corners locations were also drilled before cutting so that there is a radius in each corner. This will also (hopefully) reduce the chances of cracks.

When installing the rear cross member (which is straight, ie not curved like the roof), it pulled up on the roof sheet metal quite a bit on each end (also an easy way to start cracks) so I used a stack of the old fender washers from the top to take up this space under each end of the cross member. I'm curious if SMB does anything for this since 2003 when the top was originally installed on the donor van.

I'll hopefully snap some pictures of this and a few other changes/mods as well today.
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