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Old 09-06-2007, 12:49 AM   #1
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Anyone experiencing the same?

I've had my SMB for about 2 weeks now and was wondering if anyone is experiencing the same issues.
1. There's a lingering smell in the van; a faint smell, like fumes of some sort...I've taken off the doghouse, cleaned the seal and re-installed it, but I still smell it. After a few hours of driving the SMB, my clothes smell like fumes.
2. The penthouse top is lower in the middle and gathers water after a rain or a wash with no way to drain, except for when you drive off, then it's either running down the front or rear of the van.

please let me know if you have experienced any of the above and how you fixed it.
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Old 09-06-2007, 09:01 AM   #2
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My 05 is previously owned and the PH is shaped like that. I've had it at SMB twice for roof leaks and they never said anything about it being abnormally shaped.
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Old 09-06-2007, 10:31 AM   #3
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Roger,

My van is one month old. I have often smelled a sort of light oil or warm paint smell while driving. I don't now if it is fuel (I don't know if I could distinguish between diesel and other lubes or oils). I thought it was new car smell of the grease kind. I still hope that's true, for that will eventually go away. It's not very nice, but not too strong, at least.

As far as the top, mine is fairly flat, perhaps a bit bowed under from all the weight attached. If a little H2O settles there, I don't think it will matter.
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Old 09-06-2007, 11:01 AM   #4
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Re: Anyone experiencing the same?

Quote:
Originally Posted by r1rogster
I've had my SMB for about 2 weeks now and was wondering if anyone is experiencing the same issues.
1. There's a lingering smell in the van; a faint smell, like fumes of some sort...I've taken off the doghouse, cleaned the seal and re-installed it, but I still smell it. After a few hours of driving the SMB, my clothes smell like fumes.

please let me know if you have experienced any of the above and how you fixed it. :c8:
There's one possible explaination. The Badgers experienced something like this, and so did I, although for slightly different reasons. However, the source is the same. If you go under the side of the van where the water line fill (from the outside hook-up is), on the inside of that (where the water line low point drain is), there's a large square section of sheet metal that's been cut out to accomodate this plumbing. This was the source of our problems. For the Badgers (see their site, www.badgertrek.com), they found their insulation and internal compartment wasn't good, and they'd get diesel fumes coming in. For me, I found that if I tilted my head back while driving, I could hear the road noise really well coming up through column behind my head to the left. When I hit about 55mph, I'd get a jet of air coming out, from BEHIND me from that column that was more powerful than any of the regular air vents when put on full blast.

After screwing around, I duct taped some cardboard over that cut out opening mentioned earlier and... voila. Road noise went down, and no jet of air at 55+. Below 55mph, I'm assuming there wasn't enough force to blow it all the way up by my head, but the air was still probably coming in somewhere.

There is SUPPOSED to be no opening / connection between that outer wall pocket where the sheet metal is cut and the interior metal van wall, but SMB cuts holes in that interior wall to get the plumbing and electrical work through. You'd expect them to patch all the holes and seal the gaps when they're done cutting through the integrity of that wall. You'd expect it, but you'd be wrong.

Summary: IMO, at least on some van, SMB does a really really REALLY crappy job on sealing the internal break-throughs and connections. This is not the only place I've found leaks and missing insulation. The interior facade of the van is gorgeous, but when you dig under it a bit, the quality is only so-so.

I'd recommend covering up that large hole and seeing if that helps. If not, let us know, and perhaps there's another source. Either way, what you have is a path from the outside to the inside, and it's linked to something that SMB ran from the outside of the van to the inside.

BTW, my van is <1 year old, so this is still an ongoing quality problem IMO.
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Old 09-06-2007, 11:15 AM   #5
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Good find, Ken. I've seen that jigsawed opening underneath, and will be closing it off real soon. Sure hope that stops the smell. I'll be looking at the entire underside, as well. Every van is different depending on the options.
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Old 09-06-2007, 11:19 AM   #6
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after reviewing and inquiring, i am still of the conclusion that some of the technicans/installers are better than other,
re: the shoddy work on some of the smb..i am curious as to what is the common denominator, (if the tech./installer) bingo,
re: that bow roof, i wouldn't want water puddling up there, for one thing, it can ruin the finish/create mold spot, etc......
also, if the roof are moded, shouldn't they all come out the same?

also, there is the issue of integrity (strengthwise), no engineer here, but i would prefer to see it more concave....so if downward pressure is applied, the pressure is distributed evenly on the rim/edge that sits on the steel van roof...(similar to the concept of the hardshell egg)..again, no engineer here, just IMHO...
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Old 09-06-2007, 11:19 AM   #7
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Quote:
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Good find, Ken. I've seen that jigsawed opening underneath, and will be closing it off real soon. Sure hope that stops the smell. I'll be looking at the entire underside, as well. Every van is different depending on the options.
No prob. For others' reference, it's the Badgers' plumbing page that has their particular interior hole:

http://s94153639.onlinehome.us/sportsmo ... mbing.html

The real problem isn't just the large exterior hole(s), it's the holes that SMB doesn't patch when they cut through the inside panel. That outside area, if you look closely along the bottom, has lots of little holes to let condensation/moisture escape. Moisture will build up inside that space between the interior metal van wall and the exterior van skin due to temp differences. For this reason, there HAVE to be small holes in this area to let the water out. So we can patch the large holes all we want, but if there are holes in the interior skin, then there's a path for exterior air to get in. Which, for me winter camping at 10F with a 30MPH wind, I can feel drafts and cold streams coming in from all over. It's really, really irritating. With insulation like that... no wonder they need Starcool!

One can do the best to patch the large holes which will solve the immediately noticable differences, but unless you want to rip your new van down the studs, you'll never really fix the root of the problem.

Sometimes I feel bad about being so hard on SMB; they really do try hard and mean well. Other times, I think "I spent $80,000 on THIS?"
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Old 09-06-2007, 04:12 PM   #8
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The most annoying experience I've had with the bowed top is collecting a pool of water and wanting to put the top up without moving the van- there really aren't a lot of good ways to get the water off without moving the van.

I made the mistake of trying to put the top up with water on it... it goes up uneven enough to spill everywhere, and then there is still water up there. I wound up putting it back down and then driving around the driveway until it was mostly gone- something I wouldn't want to do if I'd been unpacked for camping inside the van.
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Old 09-06-2007, 05:16 PM   #9
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I had a similar issue that I finally solved on my older 96 Gas Sportsmobile. It turned out to be the fuel vapor return hose that had a microscopic crack. But the fume vapor seemed to get worse after a few years.. it always seems like it was coming in from the windows and fuel cap area but it really wasn't.

Long story short, we took apart the gas tank and propane tank just to discover the microscopic vapor leak hole. After replacing the fuel tank hoses with real fuel hoses I wanted to see why the fumes got in the cabin from underneath and noticed the cut out/ wood work.
After noticing some critter tracks on the gas tank near the cut out and wood work that sportsmobile did right above were the gas tank sits and decided to patch it up with Hilti Epoxy Seal and then sprayed down the whole area with Dupli- Bed Liner Spray. Didn't want any critters camping out underneath in the future.. If they do, they werent getting in the cabin hopefully.

Happy Camper now.. No more fuel fumes!
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Old 09-06-2007, 06:04 PM   #10
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With the sunken roof problem do you also have the power top? I have found that when bringing the top down, that it sits nicely around the outside edges but if I continue to hold the button down it will pull the top down at least a good inch. I am now very careful when I bring down the top. I adjusted the latches, and have not had any problems on the highway. I did not see where I could set limits on the actuators

I would also agree that there are different capabilities of the installers that work there. I have reported before of having some Starcool wiring issues. While I am a technically competent person, when I pulled up gaucho to look at the wiring, it kind of stuck out like a sore thumb. There was a big difference in the quality of the wiring for the rest of the van compared to the wiring for the Starcool relay panel. It did not surprise me that was where my problems was.
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