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Old 10-09-2015, 05:47 PM   #1
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Electric Penthouse Issue

Hello all,

Not sure if this is the proper location to discuss...my issue isn't 'known'...at least to me, hence the following question:

Has anyone experienced an electric penthouse that would not raise on one side?

I pulled in late to a camp spot and when I raised the top I heard a loud pop on the passenger side. I stopped to investigate and there was a slight bulge along the rail under the material. I preceded with caution and the top raised, though it creaked and made some noise. Once up, I could feel the spring bulge under the material but didn't pull the material back. It was late and I was just hoping the top would lower in the morning. I was at Shadow Mountain in the Tetons and heading out on a 4 day backpacking trip in the morning so couldn't really do anything about it at the time. It did come down with another loud pop and some more moaning and groaning. I checked it as it lowered and the spring seemed to glide back into the track/rail.

When I got home I went to raise the top to check it out and only the driver's side will start to go up. The passenger side apparently is disconnected, broke or something. So... how do I get the top up to see what is going on? There must be a manual way to raise it!?

I would appreciate any insight someone may have.

Is this something most RV shops can fix? Or is it too specialized?

I have a 2006 RB and have had no issues with the top in the past.

Thanks,

Mike
Pocatello, Idaho
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Old 10-10-2015, 02:40 PM   #2
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Re: Electric Penthouse Issue

Mike, there are lots of posts on what the common issues are with the electric and non electric tops. The most likely relates to the cross members bolt where they cross (I posted a method to fix that that does not require a comealong). I have electric top on my current van and the bolts through the rear X beam where the ram pushes it both were separated, and hanging on ( viewtopic.php?f=13&t=16898 ). There have been reports of the coil spring connections wearing, but the two issues I mention I have experienced.

First step is to look at the beams where they cross. Then, regardless, manually help the top up and remove the vinyl/coverings on both sides and look at all the mechanisms. Any damage will be obvious. It may be possible for a motor failure, but this is pretty unlikely.

I would be very interested to see a picture or hear a comment from you describing your washers/bolt assembly that connect the motor ram assembly to the rear cross bars, since mine were apart on both sides and I didn't get a clear bolt washer configuration answer from sportsmobile (again I have pics in my posts of my assembly).

Cheers
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Old 10-21-2015, 09:38 PM   #3
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Re: Electric Penthouse Issue

Well, I figured out what was going on. With some advice from Floyd (moorefc) I got the top raised and discovered that the lift helper bar, located between the cross bars, busted at the weld. This is the tube within a tube that is used to help the cross bars begin to raise during the initial lift.

The bar is welded to two brackets that are pinned to the cross bars. I checked the other side and the weld looks good. The fix will be to remove the pin at the cross bar intersection and pull the brackets off. I can then weld the tube back on to the brackets. I will make sure the weld is on both sides of each bracket and is beefed up. I will then replace the pin with a new one. The existing one is a little bent. I will do the same thing to the other side as long as I'm doing the work.

All the other bolts/pins and washers look to be good.

I won't be making the repairs for a couple of weeks. Too many other things going on right now. When I do, I plan to take some pictures and I'll post them then.

I will use the advice of other posts on replacing the pin between the cross bars. I have a feeling that will provide the biggest challenge.

I see that others have a bolt between the cross bars. Mine is a 3" x 1/4" pin with a flat button head on one end and a ring keeper (cotter pin) on the other end.

Wish me luck,

Mike
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Old 10-22-2015, 06:12 AM   #4
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Re: Electric Penthouse Issue

Good luck Mike. I hate to hear of your troubles. Can you still use your van with the top down? It is a 50, right, so you have a lower bed? Hope so.

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Old 10-22-2015, 06:33 AM   #5
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Re: Electric Penthouse Issue

Good to hear you got it solved Mike. My bolt pinning the crossbars uses a jam nut and it very clean. My older sportsmobile uses a nyloc, also very clean.
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Old 10-24-2015, 10:57 AM   #6
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Re: Electric Penthouse Issue

I can still use it Eric. It is a 50 and I usually sleep below anyway. I'm hoping I get it fixed in a week. I'm not a welder but I work with about 100 of them. I showed one of our welders the issue and he is willing to help but I'll be working on his schedule.
Maybe this coming up Saturday!

Mike
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Old 10-26-2015, 03:16 PM   #7
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Re: Electric Penthouse Issue

Looking forward to your fix it job. I've always feared PH top issues and having to do a field repair.
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Old 11-07-2015, 02:51 PM   #8
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Re: Electric Penthouse Issue

The YURT is fixed!

Took the SMB into the shop this morning and our shop supervisor and I made the repair to the busted weld and replaced both cross bar pins. In full disclosure, I helped with the pins and gave Dave, our shop supervisor, moral support while he did the critical work of welding the tube to the brackets.

Here are a couple of pictures of the passenger side lift bar where the weld broke.






A picture of the driverís side. Not broken, but we reinforced the welds between the tube and brackets and the backside between the tube and the brackets.



The drives and connections were all good so we were able to raise the top electrically, with a little manual help on the passenger side, until the cross bars were doing all the work. We then supported the top with 2 x 4s on both sides of the SMB. We removed the pins from the cross bars which released the brackets and lift tube. Of course, the passenger side lift tube was already free from the pins due to the busted weld.
We were able to pull the driverís side pin fairly easily by using a little muscle to make sure the cross bars had the tension taken off. The passenger side pin was bent so it took a little more work, but not bad.

Here are both lift tubes removed. The weld doesnít look too bad on the good one, but we added additional weld all the way around the tube/bracket interface and reinforced it. The lift tube on the left, from the passenger side, was slightly bent so it needed to be straightened. You want to make sure the lift tubes do not bind in the larger tube. They should fit loose enough that they slide easily within the larger, outer tube. The passenger side inner tube was sticking, due to it being bent, and Iím sure that contributed to the weld fatigue over time.





Dave welding one of the tubes to the brackets.



Here are the two pins that came out of the cross bars and one of the new pins. The one on the right with the dog leg came out of the passenger side cross bar. Not sure if the pin was that badly bent prior to the lift tube weld breaking or the result of it breaking. I only had the top up once since it broke, so Iím assuming the pin was previously bent, at least some. The driverís side pin doesnít look too bad. The pins are 5/16Ē x 3Ē with a cotter pin hole on one end and a flat head on the other.



When putting the new pins through the cross bars and brackets, you had to pull the bars a little to get the proper alignment. Small taps on the hammer helped get the pins all the way in.

This is the passenger side finished.



The driverís side finished.



The repair took about 2 hours from the time I pulled into the shop to the time I backed the SMB out. No real issues. It was pretty straight forward. The hardest part was getting the bent pin out of the passenger side cross bars. The welding was outside of my expertise so the repair couldnít have happened without a welder who knew what he was doing.

Here are some pictures of the connections down in the rails of the lift mechanism. This first one is the connection from the drive shaft to the rail assembly and the rear cross bar attachment. The drive is attached to the rail by a pin and cotter pin. The cross bar is attached to the rail with a bolt. You can see the arrangement of the nut and washers.



This is the attachment point of the lift tube to the rail. The pin is welded to the sides of the rail.



This is the attachment point of the spring to the rail. Also a bolt with nut and washers.



All the connections appeared to be good so I didnít replace any of the hardware.

Thank you Floyd (moorefc) for the initial help and phone call.

I was worried I had a major repair on my hands, but it turned out not so bad after all.

Mike
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Old 11-07-2015, 08:53 PM   #9
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Re: Electric Penthouse Issue

Great. Thanks for following up and posting the pics and your experience doing the repair.
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Old 11-07-2015, 09:46 PM   #10
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Re: Electric Penthouse Issue

Looks like a nice repair, and with the cotter pinned pieces, you don't have the issue some have been concerned with regarding threads exposed to friction from the cross bars! It is interesting how the variations exist in different vehicle builds.
Thanks for the washer ram mount pics!
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