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Old 12-31-2014, 01:26 PM   #1
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New to the forum, looking for members in Alberta

Hi everyone, I recently upsized from my Jeep XJ to a 2002 Ford E350 7.3 4x4... Hoping this vehicle will prove to have enough space for my family

I'm looking to add a top to it, but I'm debating wether to go with a pop top or a fixed high top. I have never seen a sportsmobile soft top in person but I have driven high top vans... I'm hoping someone here can weigh in on the pro's and con's of each. Actually... I'm hoping there's a member in Alberta that is willing to let me come visit and check out their pop top sometime!

I've done endless hours of research on the internet, but as always, hands on experience is worth way more than internet browsing.

Are there any members in AB that would be willing to spend an hour with me and let me check out their van?

Here's my van currently:


I also have a thread going over at ExPo:
http://www.expeditionportal.com/forum/t ... ome-advice
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Old 12-31-2014, 04:55 PM   #2
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Re: New to the forum, looking for members in Alberta

Welcome to the site. Nice looking van you have there. I think if I frequented very cold weather I'd rather have a hard top with a good Espar diesel heater. But I live in California & I do enjoy the open feeling of the pop top as well as the low profile. Guess that depends on where you plan to travel and many with hard tops don't seem to complain. I do like the air flow my PH top has even in cooler weather. Even though the hard tops have upper cabinets that the pop top doesn't, the Voyager type top SMB offers doesn't have as much clearance at the upper bed and I really do like sleeping up top more than below. There are bigger hard tops out there. My roof rack also gets used a lot when taking trips with friends. It would be more difficult to reach a rack on a voyager and it would just make it too tall if I had a cargo pod on top but again it probably depends on where you plan to off road. But there is always a way around any kind of build IMO.
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Old 12-31-2014, 07:28 PM   #3
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Re: New to the forum, looking for members in Alberta

I really enjoy being able to look out the windows of the pop top. The fixed tops seem to claustrophobic for me. Colorado Camper Van, http://www.coloradocampervan.com, makes a pop top with insulated sides. IIRC some members have them. Hopefully they will chime in.
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Old 01-01-2015, 01:29 PM   #4
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Re: New to the forum, looking for members in Alberta

ert01: OK, I am not an Albertan. Heck, I am not even Canadian. So I know this post is nonresponsive. But here goes anway.

You got some snow up dere, eh?* ***

Well, we got some snow down here too. In fact the primary use of my van is in snow country. So, I went with the Smortsmobile fiberglass fixed Voyager top** and here's why:

1. Even though the Penthouse top can be insulated, it still has to be raised.
And there are times when the doors on my van have to be fiddled with to get them to open without pulling the door handles off because they have frozen shut. I didn't want to fight that arriving at a ski resort at 11:00 at night and wanting just to go to sleep so my wife and I can get the value out of our expensive lift ticket the next morning.

2. Even though the Penthouse top can be insulated, it still has to be lowered.
So to close it properly will mean at least a broom and a ladder brushing out the 2"- 4" of powder snow caked up against the canvas before you can lower it after a night's storm. And my guess (and it is only a guess from years in snow country) that warmth in the van interior will melt the new powder against the canvas and on the surfaces which must mate for the top to properly close for driving. And I can't image what it would take to clear that ice out. (Heck, I always carry an adjustable bic lighter to heat my door key to get the door lock cylinders to turn. And for the cylinders in Masterlock padlocks to turn, etc.)

3. I am a minimalist as far as cabnetry is concerned. I have a passenger van because I like windows unobscured by cabnetry. My main downstairs "cabinet" is a metal frame version of what Crobins937 recently posted:

viewtopic.php?f=24&t=15215

Of course there is also additional storage below the downstairs bench seat and rear bed bench extension for stuff less often used.

IMHO a Penthouse top requires cabnetry downstairs to put stuff in because it doesn't have the upstairs storage a fixed top has. A fixed top comes with huge storage space above the cab and above the back and along the siderails (they leave about 6" of space between the outside gutters and the interior when they do the roof cut out - that is where my microwave is bolted down and the coffee maker sits when not in use, and alot of other stuff.)

4. Kayak racks. Maximum solar panels, etc.

5. I am stupid.
And I need to keep every brain cell I have, so I don't want to wonder everytime when I stand up whether or not the top is up.

Hope it helps.

I like your country. But I am still pissed off about the 2010 Olympics... "The final score was a 32 win for Team Canada. Sidney Crosby scored the game-winning goal off a pass from Jarome Iginla, seven minutes and forty seconds into overtime for Canada, gaining victory over the United States." However, who cannot like Sidney Crosby? My wife and I had the unfortunate experience of watching the games from the Clock Tower in Whistler where my cheers and groans were out of sync with the rest of the Village and I got no sympathy from the locals...

And Happy New Year!

* You have some big balls to park that heavy thing on a lake.

** If you went with the Sportsmobile Cruiser Top, you could easily sleep upstairs because it is 5" taller in the interior.

*** Language assistance provided by Instructables:
http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to- ... -Canadian/
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Old 01-01-2015, 07:31 PM   #5
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Re: New to the forum, looking for members in Alberta

Haha thanks for the good laugh!

Yeah we have a bit of snow... though this winter has been a bit odd since it was melting here yesterday.

And no, I don't think my balls are any larger or smaller than average. If someone had a ball comparison contest, I'd expect to be right smack in the middle. But I haven't had the opportunity to compare lately so it's really up in the air... haha. Driving on the lakes up here isn't usually an issue at this time of year. But we do always check the thickness first... A thick snowfall early in the season can insulate the ice and slow the ice development drastically. But we've had a few good -20C snaps and little snow so it was a good 14"+ thick. That day that we were out (that was taken on Christmas morning actually), we were doing ice carvings on the lake. My 18" chainsaw bar was barely able to get through it... I was not worried at all about driving on it.



Thanks for all your input on the tops. I think I am leaning towards the hard top myself because I would like to get out more frequently in the winter and it seems like it would be the obvious choice for cold weather camping. I personally LOVE winter camping and I prefer it over summer camping. My wife though, as adventerous as she is, doesn't like the idea of being cold and wet all day and having to deal with being cold at night also. I want the hardtop because it might motivate her to come out with me in the winter more. She wants the soft top because she thinks the hard top will be a bit too claustrophobic in the summertime. And she thinks the pop top is "cuter".


The high top I am looking at is not a sportsmobile top, but a Tufport 28"... I can buy it and get it installed locally.

The soft top I am looking at is a used early 2000 era Sportsmobile manual pop top... I'd have to travel to get it and I'd have to install it myself.

Purchase price for both tops is the same (or very close).


The plan would be for myself and my wife to sleep up top, and for our two daughters to share a bed "downstairs". I plan to make a dinette at the rear of the van for them to sleep on because they can sleep sideways across the van. I'm 6'1" and I can't fit sleeping sideways across the van and I would rather not use up all the space in the van for a long bed for myself...
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Old 01-02-2015, 09:51 AM   #6
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Re: New to the forum, looking for members in Alberta

Nice looking van , did you figure out what 4x4 conversion you have? im thinking since it an alberat van it would be Clydesdale Conversion, the main Canadian 4x4 converster..http://www.sportsman4x4.com/clydesdale/
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Old 01-02-2015, 12:10 PM   #7
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Re: New to the forum, looking for members in Alberta

Thanks! I think it's going to be a good base to start from.

Yeah it is a quigley van. The Farmbro guys have been very helpful and have sent me all the build info on my van.
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