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Old 08-29-2019, 03:48 PM   #1
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Question Pop-Top Power-Lift Package

Hello SMB-ers

Question: Is there an electric power-lift package that I could attach to SMB classic pop-top? I would prefer to installed locally in Seattle than driving 1000 miles to service at SMB West Factory in Fresno.

Before we bought our current Ford E250 SMB RB50, a previous owner added roof rack improperly. Roof rack attachment points caused rain to leak into the pop-top component, severely damaging with water rot. Fix details posted in 2010: How my Pop-Top Leak was Amended

So, after the fixing the pop-top which required a sheet of marine plywood, the pop top was heavier. Thereby, harder for my spouse to physically lift and she prefers not to because she injured her back in a climbing fall.

I started a similar thread in 2015: Pop-top assist for spouse

My spouse has been using for the past 4 years a cargo bar like this one: Keeper Ratcheting Cargo Bar. This carbo bar lifts the top the initial six to eight inches, and then the top easily pushes up from there.

My spouse now would prefer adding if possible a power-lift for the pop-top. At writing of this thread, I just contacted SMB West and the cost for this service is $3,854 and installation is preferred in their Fresno factory.

Thank you, much appreciate any and all suggestions!
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Old 08-29-2019, 04:31 PM   #2
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Will SMB not ship the power lift to you?

Are you asking if there is another company that makes power lifts? Or are you asking if there is a way to get the SMB power lift installed in Seattle?

The only other company I have ever seen that makes something similar is Exclusive Outfitters, but I doubt they would ship to you.

You can also buy a compressed air assisted lift that is about $400 from SMB that is much cheaper.
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Old 08-29-2019, 04:38 PM   #3
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Aluminess sells a penthouse Pop-Top lift:
https://www.aluminess.com/accessorie...r-accessories/

This thread was pretty eye opening - member Larry Dog included a video which shows actual results
http://www.sportsmobileforum.com/for...ers-24054.html
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Old 08-29-2019, 06:28 PM   #4
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Don’t know how I missed Larry Dogs post. Cool idea. But I would definitely need a bigger compressor to speed that up.

Member Boywonder also greatly improved the manual top with gas struts. Sill have to push it, but goes with ease.
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Old 08-30-2019, 07:55 AM   #5
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Have you adjusted the PH springs? They should be adjusted same as garage door springs (which is basically what they are).....reasonably equal force to raise and lower.


There are lots of friction points in this (rather primitive) design so "reasonably equal force" is relative.


It's very possible to adjust the springs "too tight" and have the top raise easier but then you need to hang from the handles to get it to come down.


My experience playing with other's tops are that most could use more spring tension as they are much harder to raise than lower.


Yes, as mentioned I have a thread here about replacing the helper springs with gas struts and die springs. It's works better than the stock setup in a few different ways and it's been going fine for a while now....but it's still not a power top.


The basic issue with the SMB PH design is that the first few inches of lift requires 1000's of lbs of spring load to help in any meaningful way...which if difficult to achieve....it's a trigonometry problem. I think my struts/die springs apply about 550lbs when the top is down...I was hesitant to go higher as this load is reacted by the PH frame and roof sheet metal and is present 99% of the time (ie when the roof is down).


If I remember correctly the stock PH helper springs (there are several variations of these over the years) on my van apply maybe 120lbs when then roof is down.
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Old 08-30-2019, 09:59 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Grampswrx View Post
Will SMB not ship the power lift to you?

Are you asking if there is another company that makes power lifts? Or are you asking if there is a way to get the SMB power lift installed in Seattle?

The only other company I have ever seen that makes something similar is Exclusive Outfitters, but I doubt they would ship to you.

You can also buy a compressed air assisted lift that is about $400 from SMB that is much cheaper.
All great questions and solutions!

Thank you for the information about Exclusive Outfitters. Their website contact page for Exclusive Outfitters | It€™s not a van. It€™s an ADVENTURE! | Life is waiting. Get out and Live! has issues, so I will try to call them as soon as I am able.

SMB West did not inform me about the $400 compressed air assisted lift. Did you get one and install it? If so, then how big is it and explain how it works? Can I still perform a manual lift if the compress air assisted lift is installed?

I was putting in the power-lift for my spouse, but SMB West said that they installed the $3800 lift, I would not have the option to assist manually. This is because the pop-top crossbars and spring boxes on the pop-top's ceiling would be removed.

Yes, $400 is a more attractive price. However, my SMB does not have an air compressor. Based on my type of SMB, where could I place a compressor?

Thank you, I appreciate your response greatly!
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Old 08-30-2019, 10:33 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by boywonder View Post
Have you adjusted the PH springs? They should be adjusted same as garage door springs (which is basically what they are).....reasonably equal force to raise and lower.

Yes, as mentioned I have a thread here about replacing the helper springs with gas struts and die springs. It's works better than the stock setup in a few different ways and it's been going fine for a while now....but it's still not a power top.
Thank you for the reply.

As mentioned, the pop-top is heaver than stock because the repair replace its internal layering with a single sheet of marine plywood. A more solid pop-top but heavier to lift manually.

Thank you for the reminder, in 2011 post repair of pop-top, I did adjust PH springs. I should check them again.

Please provide link to thread about replacing the helper springs with gas struts and die springs.

Appreciate the response.
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Old 08-30-2019, 10:50 PM   #8
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For me, my van's refurbishing includes:
1. Pop-top assist for my spouse
2. Cabinetry fixing and securing
3. Awning

Today, I have contacted SMB West sales and the cost is very high to service this list: ~$7000, plus 2 weeks to service, plus 1000 miles each way to drop off van for service, and plush round-trip airfair from Fresno and Seattle. in other words, costly. The most expensive cost is for the power-lift for pop-top, ~$3800.

So, several on this forum presented much cheaper solutions for power-lift for pop-top costing about $400. This is great, except, this recommended solution requires an air compressor. Where does one store this air-compressor? Is permanently stored as a static fixture like the water pump? Or is the water pump pulled out? This is for my spouse, and convenience is a priority.

Working this through, thanks for all the replies and support!
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Old 08-30-2019, 10:57 PM   #9
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Hello again,
Before I put a cent into purchasing a costly servicing of $3800 into a power-assist provided by SMB West to a pop-top for my spouse, can anybody vouch as to its reliability? This is an important question for me, because if this power-assist fails to lift pop-top, a manual lift of pop-top is no longer available because PH cross-bars and spring housing will no longer be available, because they are remove during power-assist installation.
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Old 08-31-2019, 06:54 AM   #10
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Can mount a compressor under you Rig or have one in the Van that is portable - they always come in handy - need to get one that will handle the load though.
PowerTank (and I believe ARB) offer compressed air tanks (or make one yourself) - you’ll need a regulator to protect from over inflating. .
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