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Old 08-21-2013, 10:36 PM   #1
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Salvaging a Penthouse top

I salvaged this top from a 97' Dodge. Since I didn't have any machines to help me and I was working alone, it had to come apart on the spot.

Undid the tent from the inside bottom, removing a few hundred screws, then ground off the nuts protruding through the top. Then flipped the top on its back, that sucker is heavy.


Then removed the lifting mechanism. I was surprised that the whole frame was just bolted to the roof sheet metal and not even always to a cross rib.


I found out too late why it's best to use a come- along instead of a ratchet strap to undo the lifting springs.....no one or anything got hurt.

Now I have a winter project waiting for me.
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Old 08-21-2013, 11:34 PM   #2
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Re: Salvaging a Penthouse top

Whatcha putting it on?
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Old 08-22-2013, 05:59 AM   #3
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Re: Salvaging a Penthouse top

You should put it on your rig! You could make the present bunk in to a kitchen/bath and sleep up top!

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Old 08-22-2013, 09:40 AM   #4
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Re: Salvaging a Penthouse top

You'll want to consider straightening your lift arms

and then reinforcing them with some tubing on the inside


Fun project! I hope the Dodge top comes close to fitting whatever it is going on!
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Old 08-22-2013, 09:54 AM   #5
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Re: Salvaging a Penthouse top

It's gonna need some work for sure. The front arms/hoop have quite a bend in them but the rest of the mechanism seems fine.

I'm leaning towards installing it on my 2008 E350. The roof cap profile was my main concern at first but that seems easily surmountable now.

The front to back curvature of the Ford roof and the straightness of the framework has me thinking though. Bolting it to the sheet metal must surely change the roof profile somewhat. Spacing the ends would require a lot more work and likely come with its own issues.
I've never seen one of these up close before to study it.
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Old 08-22-2013, 03:57 PM   #6
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Re: Salvaging a Penthouse top

Quote:
Originally Posted by Silver350
I've never seen one of these up close before to study it.
Me neither. Thanks for posting the pics; keep 'em coming when you start the transplant.
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Old 08-22-2013, 06:30 PM   #7
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Re: Salvaging a Penthouse top

Glad to see someones shop looking like mine. Keep us updated on the install.
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Old 09-05-2013, 08:29 PM   #8
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Re: Salvaging a Penthouse top

Quote:
Originally Posted by Silver350
The front to back curvature of the Ford roof and the straightness of the framework has me thinking though. Bolting it to the sheet metal must surely change the roof profile somewhat. Spacing the ends would require a lot more work and likely come with its own issues.
I've never seen one of these up close before to study it.
Silver350: I just removed a penthouse from a 2003 E150 last week. Here are a couple of pics of the ends of the rails mounted to the roof. The small piece of OSB blocking takes care of the roof curvature.

Also note the cracks in the roof sheetmetal at the rear corners. The donor van roof sheet metal was cracked on both sides.

Front channel mounting



Rear channel mounting

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Old 09-24-2013, 09:12 AM   #9
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Re: Salvaging a Penthouse top

Thanks, that's really helpful. So was the front cut just behind the roof now that is in line with the "B" pillars?

Did you happen to note the thickness of the OSB block?
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Old 09-24-2013, 09:34 AM   #10
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Re: Salvaging a Penthouse top

Thickness of OSB block is 1/2".....please note this info is for a Ford RB van.

Interestingly, I was up in Fresno last week and stopped in at the Sportsmobile factory. Jonathan was very helpful answering lots of my questions when I mentioned that I have a PH and would be installing it in a van. We went on a tour of the plant floor and checked out a few vans with holes in the roof being prepped for the PH.

One useful bit is that the butyl sealant tape SMB uses to seal the canvas to the roof is from McMaster-Carr (looks like it's P/N 76385A16).

On the ford RB body, the front edge where the canvas attaches to the roof has roof corrugations under it. The valleys just have a double layer of the gooey butyl tape (at least on the PH that I removed from a 2003 RB).

One thing from the factory tour threw me a bit of a curve ball......One new vans, and according to Jonathan and the worker building the van on the production line, they remove a roof cross-member support from the roof before making the cut and they epoxy and screw it behind the roof cross member at the B pillar, so the cutout is one cross-member width behind the welded in cross-member at the B pillar (the cut out starts at the rear edge of the epoxied in cross member). I asked how long they have been "doubling up" the roof cross-member at the B pillar and the answer was "forever".

Well, "forever" apparently doesn't go back to 2003.......

Yesterday I drove down to San Diego and carefully re-measured the roof-hole in the van that my top came from and it does not have a doubled-up cross-member at the B pillar. I'm pretty sure that if I did it the new way ie doubling up the roof support, then cutting the hole, the top would be about 4" or so too far rearward. I'm assuming that SMB either relocated the holes in the top or the rails to correct for the more rearward hole cutout.

FWIW: I have a thread going about refreshing my PH viewtopic.php?f=24&t=11764
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