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Old 05-13-2012, 08:59 PM   #1
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1988 Ford SMB EB PH top only

Hi;

This one popped up in one of my searches today.

Strictly the PH top. Van scrapped.

http://losangeles.craigslist.org/lac/pt ... 47709.html

I've just done a top install and can confirm it is very straightforward. I would certainly help with plenty of free advice...

No affiliation.

Regards,

Gavin
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Old 05-13-2012, 09:41 PM   #2
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Re: 1988 Ford SMB EB PH top only

Looks like the van was junked for more than smog reasons but hey, if the sun has been kept out maybe the canvas and windows are still good.
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Old 06-18-2012, 09:01 PM   #3
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1988 Ford SMB EB PH top only

Hi;

This top has been re-listed on CL:

$325

http://orangecounty.craigslist.org/rvs/3079997467.html

I guess it's not too popular to install on old top...

Regards,

Gavin
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Old 06-19-2012, 01:42 AM   #4
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Re: 1988 Ford SMB EB PH top only

Hi Gavin,

I know you know a lot about installing these roofs so I thought I would ask you a few questions if I could.
How heavy or hard are these roofs to move around?
I see you built a frame to do yours, is it just 2x4s?
Any tips on installing one?

I have talked to this guy a few times and I know its beat up and needs work but I have time right now so thats fine with me. My van is the newer style so it would need work anyway to fit. I guess the old Ford vans are the same width front to back where the 1992-2012 vans taper as they go back.

I just don't really like any of the three pop tops that are currently available enough to buy one. I like the looks when open of the GTRV tee top but I have never seen one in person. My better half likes how the SMB Penthouse top looks closed and for her it has to go up on all four corners. I wanted to use a VW Eurovan Weekender roof whole using the VW metal roof welding it to my roof but I cannot seem to find one. My second choice was to build a carbon fiber, kevlar or fiberglass roof from scratch so I think for $300 plus the cost of going to get it I would be better off with this one since its complete just beat up. I want to modify the roof with a better lifting system, reverse flange with hidden seals, a front filler that starts at the windsheild and tapers back, no exposed through bolts, solar panels and possibly a hidden awning. I want new high quality in gray not tan canvas as well. I figure for a few thousand dollars or less I can have a custom Penthouse top and eliminate things I dont like about them at the same time.

...Jamie
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Old 06-19-2012, 12:29 PM   #5
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Re: 1988 Ford SMB EB PH top only

Just popular with you and me, Gavin!

Jamie, you are right about the shape of the new vans in the rear. This top would take a pretty good amount of modification to make it work. Also, the lift bars are bent pretty good and would need to be replaced or fixed and reinforced (I did this on my top install). The lift mechanism, while fairly rudimentary and not built to any sort of precision standards, is pretty effective and works well. If you had the means to build your own lightweight top (these old tops are NOT light - 250# probably?) then I could see a benefit to starting out with the channel rails and lift system that Gavin did an awesome job of documenting the install on.

The canvas looks to be in pretty good shape, and if nothing else it could be used as a template for someone to build a new one.

I'm not sure how many hours I had into restoring and installing my top, but it was more than a few. For better or worse, I had a few weeks of no work when I did the work and had more time than money and it worked out great.
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Old 06-19-2012, 01:28 PM   #6
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Re: 1988 Ford SMB EB PH top only

Rockbender,

I have followed yours and Gavins/pntyrmvr threads with great interest as I really want a pop top, as a matter of fact I just re-read both last night when I couldn't sleep. Thanks you both for all of your well documented projects and detailed pictures.

I know it will be a lot of work to make it how I want it and fit my van, but it is close in the front and just a few inches too wide in the back. It has damage in the front and at least two big holes in the top that will need work anyways. Hell I might even use it as a plug / mold for something lighter after I get it but since it is complete there is a lot there to work with. I have some lifting system ideas in mind that might make it fit my needs or maybe I will do what you did. I know in the long run it will be a labor of love but so is my van, whats another 100 plus hours of time. I have time instead of money right now so its a good time to dig in. Its easier for me to spend a few hundred dollars a week then to fork out $6,000 plus for a new top that I would still want to install, modify and or re-design.

I just e-mailed the guy with the top again to see if its still available. So far no one has wanted it and he has only has a few calls so maybe its meant to be mine. Now if I just had a nice warehouse with a large lift truck or big yard to work on it that would even be better. Sometimes we have to make due with what we have at the time.
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Old 06-19-2012, 02:06 PM   #7
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Re: 1988 Ford SMB EB PH top only

Hi;

Ultra you asked:

"How heavy or hard are these roofs to move around?
I see you built a frame to do yours, is it just 2x4s?
Any tips on installing one? "

My best guess is the top with canvas and lifting arms as one piece would be a minimum of 300 lbs. I made the frame out of 2x4's but if you look carefully I doubled them up and braced each leg in both directions. Lumber alone was $60+ and then I used 3 1/2" deck screws to hold it together. I can send you the dimensions if you like. I made it 10' tall to easily clear the opened roof on the taller 4x4 van. I never lowered it from the frame so I have no "move around" experience.

I put all the tips and hints in my write up that I could think of. One thought that came up recently is the downward bowing of the lengthwise channels with the top open. Even with no one up there, ie no 400 lbs of people as advertised, the channels droop 1" in the centre. I will add a brace from the centre vertical wall rib to the middle of the channels when I next have the welder out and nothing else to do.

Please feel free to review my gallery along with the write up as there may be more photos I didn't post. Also PM me if you need clarifications. SMB told me, and I want to make this absolutely clear, that the lift springs hold a lot of energy and their removal must be done carefully. No monkeying around with them.

Your idea of grabbing the scrap yard unit, even if it doesn't fit, appeals to me. Even if you only get the tent and lift mechanism out of it you'll have learned lots and saved some money. I imagine you could section out portions of the top to get the taper of the newer van to match. Starting from scratch might be a little too much for the first time, but kudos to you if you go that far. Fiberglass and me have a terrible past!

Best of luck and keep us posted.

Regards,

Gavin
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Old 06-19-2012, 03:33 PM   #8
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Re: 1988 Ford SMB EB PH top only

Thanks Gavin,

I just got an e-mail from him and it might be gone. I guess they maybe someone else besides you, me and Rockbender who wanted one.

I will get one yet if it is...

Thanks for your willingness to help...

...Jamie
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Old 06-22-2012, 08:39 AM   #9
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Re: 1988 Ford SMB EB PH top only

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ultrasport12
I just don't really like any of the three pop tops that are currently available enough to buy one. I like the looks when open of the GTRV tee top but I have never seen one in person. My better half likes how the SMB Penthouse top looks closed and for her it has to go up on all four corners. I wanted to use a VW Eurovan Weekender roof whole using the VW metal roof welding it to my roof but I cannot seem to find one.
Have you looked into CCV? Derek has a new low profile that looks more like the SMB top closed and he uses gray canvas. I don't know where he gets the fabric sewn, but as a small shop I think he's more apt to be flexible.

ColoradoCamperVan.com
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Old 06-22-2012, 01:44 PM   #10
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Re: 1988 Ford SMB EB PH top only

Yep - Derek's low profile top looks awesome!
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