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Old 09-17-2008, 11:33 PM   #1
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Pop Top Option

Couple questions for you guys with the pop-top roof. I'm still wondering if I want to go this route or not. Can somebody tell me how wide it is between the two lips that hold the upper bed in place? I know SMB says the bed is 41", but it's gotta be less than that to hold it up. Is this wide enough to not feel cramped when moving about the vehicle?

Also, how do you feel about the strength of the canvas material. Could you rip a whole in it easily while sleeping up there? Is safety an issue?

Thanks for your help
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Old 09-18-2008, 08:13 AM   #2
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It's plenty wide enough to not feel cramped.

It's about 2" narrower than the bed. But, anything along the walls (cabinets, sofa, sink) will move you to the center. The only time it has ever been in the way is sitting on the sofa.

Mike
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Old 09-18-2008, 08:24 AM   #3
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Trek - the distance between the rails that support the penthouse bed is 36 1/2 inches. We don't find that to be confining in any way. We have the RB 50 floor plan and the cabinets keep you from getting too close to the side anyway. We use the edge where the bed sits, when the top and bed are up, as a shelf to put all sorts of things while we're inside. We also like the penthouse top while driving because of the reduced wind resistance, and hopefully, better fuel mileage. Also, with all the places we go, we'd never get under some overhangs or trees with a fixed top.
The canvas sides are pretty tough, and you're not going to tear them without a knife or something sharp. I wouldn't worry about that part. The mattress itself is about 41 in, but there are several inches on each side where feet, knees and elbows can stick out when you're sleeping. The wife and I have no problems with it. We don't have any safety concerns, but I guess a fixed top would be better in case of a bear attack. Personally, we wouldn't be without the pop top.
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Old 09-18-2008, 11:15 AM   #4
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Hi Trek,

Every person on this forum will have an opinion, but it boils down to what your needs are and will be.

If you are winter camping alot, the fixed top is a better option, mainly because it is insulated.

Any other seasons, the pop-top is a good choice, but again that is a personal choice.

I am selling my SMB van with the Voyager top, so PM me if you want more details, advice and (or) pics.

Good luck!

Zugg
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Old 09-18-2008, 12:11 PM   #5
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Hey Trek,

How exciting it must be to be designing your first SMB. We were just in your shoes and are now so stoked with everything that we selected / designed.

For what its worth, we have the Voyager fixed top on our EB SMB. We have the EB50 floor plan. We absolutely love the light and ventilation that we get from the upper windows and the open feeling the higher ceiling provides. We really like having the ability to stand and walk around while moving and as soon as we stop, if even for a couple of minutes.



In an effort to keep the center of gravity as low as possible, we designed it so that with minimal cabinetry in the above roof area. We selected 18 wheels and are running E-rated tires. These two elements, in combination with the awesome suspension, keep the rig stable in head winds, cross winds and in off-road situations. I am cognizant of the height of the van when driving off-camber slopes, as I would be in an SMB with the penthouse.

The upper bed area is not as open as it is with the penthouse option. We knew this going in. It is really just the two of us and we plan to use the upper bed only on an occasional basis. In terms of mileage, weve been seeing +/- 13 mpg. I expect that this will get better with more mileage. I dont baby it either. I could run a little more conservative and improve the mpg.

The fixed top does require watching your head-clearance when negotiating low trees.

Enjoy the design-build process. Ask a lot of questions and try to think about how you will use your rig. Use this forum to gather information. There are some incredible folks on this forum.

I hope that this helps.

Thanks,

Blackeye
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Old 09-18-2008, 01:46 PM   #6
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Hi Trek. At about 300lbs the PH bed has worked well for me. I carry a lot of astronomy equipment in the back of my EB-50 and very rarely use the lower bed, but I’m usually alone so the upper bed is the best solution for me. I carry a small folding step ladder to get up to the bed.
I also travel to spots where overhead obstructions are fairly common and difficult to get under so the PH was a good choice for me. I have stayed in 8* weather with the top up using a cheap 40* bag running the Espar heater about full. The canvas can be lined to help keep the inside warmer, but I really like to open all the windows to keep it cool inside when it’s warm outside. The ventilation is nice. The inside of my van with the top up seems slightly larger than the voyager models but that can be because of the layout. It’s a trade off and much might depend on the layout you choose.
Hope this helps.
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Old 09-18-2008, 05:00 PM   #7
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Penthouse

Trek,
We also have the Penthouse and have enjoyed it probably more than any single addition that we made to our build and we have slept up there on at least six 0 degree night's without a heater ! it affords ample head room even when collapsed into it's running position . The only minor problem that I have encountered is getting it level in the dark of night when you arrive later than planned at your destination .
Greggde
One more thing that I forgot to mention is that we purchased the power option and it average's 1 1/2 minutes to raise up even withe the full custom Aluminess Rack .
Greggde
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Old 09-18-2008, 05:24 PM   #8
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In addition to the other good comments, I can add that my wife and I usually sleep in the downstairs bed. We pop up the top, and push the front section of the upper bed cushion to the rear, on top of the rear section of the cushion. This creates an attic for day packs, lap tops, bicycle helmets, jackets, or whatever. Makes great storage. To answer your other question, the canvas sides are very rugged. We purchased our van used and the canvas had no rips or tears. All the zippers work great, and it is 5 years old. The clear vinyl "windows" are in perfect shape. oclv
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Old 09-18-2008, 05:46 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by oclv
We purchased our van used and the canvas had no rips or tears. All the zippers work great, and it is 5 years old. The clear vinyl "windows" are in perfect shape. oclv
I will echo this also. We just bought a 2003 and the top still functions and looks perfect.
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Old 09-18-2008, 10:32 PM   #10
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I forgot one concern which is high winds. I have stayed in 60 MPH winds but was worried and that kept me up. I lowered the top and slept better but sleeping next to a 10" telescope in a plastic case was not great. Another high wind problem occured when the tree branches started whipping the top...Had to move during the night. The windows can be damaged.
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