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Old 11-03-2013, 10:45 AM   #1
Dia
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Who did your pop top? Are you happy with it?

Hi, all!

Given how booked up some of these places get, I may have to put a deposit on a pop top installation before we buy our van.

So, who did yours, and are you happy with it? What are the advantages and disadvantages of each? Is there anyone out there besides CCV, SMB and GTRV? Does anyone have the smaller Vanagon-style GTRV top that angles up instead of lifting all the way?

Leaks and longevity are my biggest concerns. Who's got a leaker? How old is your top, and how well has it aged?

If you could start over, would you go with the same top / company?

We're 98% sure our van will be a Chevy 3500 EB passenger. Any ramifications we should know about on the install?

SMB West in Fresno is the closest installer. How are they to work with? Do they stand by their product? I'm also pretty interested in CCV. Any good / bad news there?

Many, many thanks!

Dia
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Old 11-03-2013, 05:35 PM   #2
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Re: Who did your pop top? Are you happy with it?

They all work great and most likely last longer than the period of time you own the VAN.

So the real question is after your research with them which one's seem to better fit your needs
and usage?
Make a list of what is important to you.
Space - electric lift - sleeping for 1,2,3,4
The Penthouse top is the least of your worries as the build out is what really matters in my mind.
Who does that is what matters as you have selected the best of breed for the penthouse choices it seems.

I would think the best starting point is for you to decide what features you like in each setup andthen go from there. CCV is a great company with larger tops if that is of interest. SMB is also great and been doing them since the 1960's so hard to go wrong.
just my 2 cents.
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Old 11-03-2013, 05:57 PM   #3
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Re: Who did your pop top? Are you happy with it?

Well some owners have had more issues than I have. I've heard of instances where any design top has leaked but there is usually a reason besides the type or make of the top. My SMB PH leak came through the solar wire going through the top. SMB fixed it and there was N/C...no more issues since. I've never had the sides leak even in driving rain. Any time you add a roof vent or window in a hard top, there is a chance of a leak but they seem to be rare. Fixed tops are more prone to sweating and why ventilation is worth having. One thing I suggest is having the roof coating installed no matter which one you go with. I do think the electric top is worth the price. Also SMB's new cutaway version with the PH will be quite a bit wider but is still in the build stage.


Here are a few threads from the past that might help (or not )

viewtopic.php?f=2&t=10712

viewtopic.php?f=2&t=6976

viewtopic.php?f=2&t=8372

viewtopic.php?f=13&t=4790

viewtopic.php?f=2&t=3772

viewtopic.php?f=2&t=3246

viewtopic.php?f=2&t=2243
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Old 11-03-2013, 05:58 PM   #4
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Re: Who did your pop top? Are you happy with it?

GTRV does both the Vanagon-style "triangle" pop-up as well as the SMB-style staight-up top (at least they used to...).

I'm sure any of the pop-up "brands" can have problems, depending on various factors. But if you want tried-and-true, SMB is probably the way to go. Their top has remained basically unchanged since the 1960s, and you still see a lot of older SMBs around that are going strong after 20-30 years. Plus, I believe they offer a "lifetime" warranty for the PH to the original owner.

GTRV has been around for a while, too, but I doubt has anywhere near the number of converted vans as SMB has. CCV's product looks pretty cool, but it's relatively new and there is no long-term track record like the other two companies.
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Old 11-03-2013, 09:26 PM   #5
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Re: Who did your pop top? Are you happy with it?

CCV makes a great looking top and I think the largest. I read that its the equivalent to a queen size bed. If you were to get one installed, I would consider the location of the shop that is to install it. CCV is in Colorado and SMB is in Fresno. Seeing that you're in the Central Coast, Fresno would be an easier drive in the event that the top needed some attention.
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Old 11-03-2013, 11:26 PM   #6
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Re: Who did your pop top? Are you happy with it?

I had a penthouse top put in at SMB Fresno on my way to Baja. Pulled in at 8 AM, drove away at 4:30. They even helped me load my boards and kayak back up on the rack they installed. They gave me a tour of the shop, it's an impressive operation, and the guys who did the installation were great.

That was 2 years ago. All in all I think its's awesome. There are a few things I think they could improve. The bolts that hold the top on are not stainless, and mine are already pretty rusted: I live on the coast.

The flourescent lights are pretty harsh, I replaced them with LEDs from superbrightleds.com. That was an easy fix.

I had a leak, I think it was through the original third brake light (not the one on the penthouse top) . Where the frame bolts down goes right across it. Seems like they should remove the lens and have some sort of cap to put over it. I siliconed the crap out of it and it hasn't leaked since.

Hope this helps,
Al
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Old 11-04-2013, 02:36 AM   #7
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Re: Who did your pop top? Are you happy with it?

Quote:
Originally Posted by almathison
I had a leak, I think it was through the original third brake light (not the one on the penthouse top) . Where the frame bolts down goes right across it. Seems like they should remove the lens and have some sort of cap to put over it. I siliconed the crap out of it and it hasn't leaked since.
I had them delete the 3rd brake light hole entirely when they redid my PH top. I don't understand why they don't put an LED brakelight on instead of that upside down 3rd brake light. Must have a warehouse full of those or something. Ditto the fluorescents, I can't imagine how they are still putting those in except "it's what we've always done".

The other option is the junkyard retrofit, bettyford has done a few and there are others.

Over again? Sportsmobile Electric PH and home built interior.
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Old 11-04-2013, 07:06 AM   #8
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Re: Who did your pop top? Are you happy with it?

Thanks, everyone!

I did searches before I asked, so I'd read a few of the leak threads, and they scare me. I hadn't read all of them on that list, though, so that was helpful.

Yes, SMB West is the most convenient, and I like that there's lots of experience and a warranty. I don't like some of the problems some people have had, and it's hard to tell how prevalent they are in a statistical sense.

I'd want LEDs, stainless steel hardware and pet proof mesh, so we'll see if anyone will play ball. Electric is a given for me.

I like CCV's top for the size, and I admit that the leak threads steered me that way, too. Thing is, that doesn't mean CCV's top is better - just means I haven't seen as many problem threads. And yes, both the initial trip for the install and any possible return trips will be a lot more difficult.

I haven't heard (read) much about GTRV.
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Old 11-04-2013, 07:44 AM   #9
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Re: Who did your pop top? Are you happy with it?

If I were to do it again I'd purchase some of the top bolts being sold here on the site and give them to SMB to use. I'd also shoot for an external LED rear brake light. I'd ask about using the interior lighting like what is being used in the all terrain warriors vehicle, it's really nice. Like I mentioned, the top coating is a protectant as well as being easier to clean and worth the price. I think overall the amount of PH tops out there that have never had leaks you'll stand a good chance of not having problems. If I planned to do more cold weather sub zero type camping I'd probably be looking at a hard top. Another feature of the all terrain warrior vehicle is it has panels on the PH that can be zipped out if necessary. For piece of mind I wish SMB would go that way with their tops. Although I have the ability to fully open zippers on the 3 screens up front, I'd like all of them to open and wish they would at least be able to be completely zipped out and replaceable. I have seen some vans with rear windows on the van which is another plus in my book. Pre wire for solar is important is you plan to wait on that and if you're wanting any lighting up top, it would be wise to prewire for that as well. That would have saved me a few bucks dealing with my lighting I had installed down the road.

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Old 11-04-2013, 11:07 AM   #10
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Re: Who did your pop top? Are you happy with it?

SMB does a LOT of pop-tops. THey would probably be my first choice for me since they have a good track record, and are a much closer drive to OR. But CCV does stuff that SMB won't do, and I really like their raised-roof pop-tops. There's a lot of times I wish I had a pop-top, but there's more times I'm hauling lots of gear up on the roof, up to 2,000 pounds, so I'm way out of pop-top territory with the stuff I carry up top. Still thinking about a Cascadia Roof Top Tent though....
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