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Old 10-29-2012, 09:18 PM   #1
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Penthouse Install - Fresno SMB (not optimal)

Last week SMB Fresno installed a manual penthouse in my 2012 E250 RB. The short version is I really wish I would have gotten the electric version as the effort required to raise and lower the top is far too great for my pregnant wife.

Out the door the total cost was $6,664 for the manual top. Had I chosen the electric version it would have been an additional $1,234. At the end of the day of the install and when I realized the effort to raise/lower the top was unacceptable I was told it would be $3,500 to convert it.

At the time I didn't argue as I had left my house that morning at 4am to make the 4 hr. drive up to Fresno from LA. I was also pretty exhausted by 5pm and dreading my drive home. However, after thinking about it, the cost they quoted is unreasonable. I said if the electric is $1,234 more than manual, the upgrade price normally obviously covers the additional parts and hardware. Therefore shouldn't my 'swap out' just be the $1,234 plus the labor to remove my manual and then start all over? I went through my sales guy to whom I believe is the sales manager and he 'ran it all the way to the top' of SMB. They still say it will be $3,500.

It's totally my fault for not choosing electric in the first place. I (wrongly) presumed the electric was just for convenience rather than the effort involved. As I said in another thread, I'm far from frail and even though SMB added a link to the chain that drives the springs, the effort force to raise and lower is quite large.

Anyway, I'm very disappointed with a few smaller issues regarding my service with them but I'm trying to keep this thread on topic. Also, apparently I'm not the first to install a manual top and then realize should have gotten electric. I suppose that's why CCV and GTRV now only offer electric versions. Anyway, the $3,500 SMB wants to convert it makes no sense and the only explanation provided is the 'labor involved'. It just doesn't add up though. I'm hypothecating that if I were dropping $80k with them rather than another converter things would be going a bit different.
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Old 10-29-2012, 09:32 PM   #2
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Re: Penthouse Install - Fresno SMB (not optimal)

Quote:
Originally Posted by JimHefner
Last week SMB Fresno installed a manual penthouse in my 2012 E250 RB. The short version is I really wish I would have gotten the electric version as the effort required to raise and lower the top is far too great for my pregnant wife.

Out the door the total cost was $6,664 for the manual top. Had I chosen the electric version it would have been an additional $1,234. At the end of the day of the install and when I realized the effort to raise/lower the top was unacceptable I was told it would be $3,500 to convert it.

At the time I didn't argue as I had left my house that morning at 4am to make the 4 hr. drive up to Fresno from LA. I was also pretty exhausted by 5pm and dreading my drive home. However, after thinking about it, the cost they quoted is unreasonable. I said if the electric is $1,234 more than manual, the upgrade price normally obviously covers the additional parts and hardware. Therefore shouldn't my 'swap out' just be the $1,234 plus the labor to remove my manual and then start all over? I went through my sales guy to whom I believe is the sales manager and he 'ran it all the way to the top' of SMB. They still say it will be $3,500.

It's totally my fault for not choosing electric in the first place. I (wrongly) presumed the electric was just for convenience rather than the effort involved. As I said in another thread, I'm far from frail and even though SMB added a link to the chain that drives the springs, the effort force to raise and lower is quite large.

Anyway, I'm very disappointed with a few smaller issues regarding my service with them but I'm trying to keep this thread on topic. Also, apparently I'm not the first to install a manual top and then realize should have gotten electric. I suppose that's why CCV and GTRV now only offer electric versions. Anyway, the $3,500 SMB wants to convert it makes no sense and the only explanation provided is the 'labor involved'. It just doesn't add up though. I'm hypothecating that if I were dropping $80k with them rather than another converter things would be going a bit different.
Probably not :a6:
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Old 10-29-2012, 09:46 PM   #3
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Re: Penthouse Install - Fresno SMB (not optimal)

I know it sounds high, but break it down -- they spent all day installing your manual top -- don't know how many man-hours, but all day.

Based on the numbers you quote, if it took them another whole day to do the conversion, that's about $140 an hour for 2 guys for a day. Since at some point there was likely more than one guy working on the top to install it, what they have quoted you for labor doesn't really sound unreasonable, since they have to take your manual top off first and then do the whole thing over.

Hindsight is 20-20, of course, but did you try to put up and take down a manual penthouse on one of their units before installing one on your van?
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Old 10-29-2012, 10:08 PM   #4
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Re: Penthouse Install - Fresno SMB (not optimal)

I may be remembering incorrectly, but did I read that a manual can't "simply" be converted to an electric because the opening (in the roof) is a different size? If that's the case, then I could see why it would cost more than if you had selected it to begin with (because rather than just "adding it on," they would have to take the manual one out and re-size or etc. before then making it electric).

That said, if what I'm thinking is correct, then it sounds as though they could have done a better job of explaining to you why it was more than "just" doing the electric top from the start. I know I would understand/accept something like that more than I would just a vague "labor" explanation.

(Again, I may be wrong in concept though; I just thought I had read something like that.)
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Old 10-29-2012, 10:36 PM   #5
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Re: Penthouse Install - Fresno SMB (not optimal)

I appreciate the responses.

Chromis, I've never used a penthouse top before and had no idea the effort required. Like I mentioned, I thought the electric was merely for convenience. Certainly, their pre-sales info could have included some mention of the force required. It's still my fault but based on the fact it's happened before...

Last, Chromis, I understand your math but I really doubt there are 2 guys and 3 days worth of work.

Viva, the cut out opening in the roof is the same size.
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Old 10-29-2012, 11:18 PM   #6
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Re: Penthouse Install - Fresno SMB (not optimal)

Quote:
Originally Posted by JimHefner
Viva, the cut out opening in the roof is the same size.
Thanks for the correction. I looked and I think I got my idea from a thread about loaded roof racks on PH tops, and this post in particular:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Roonie
I also have the manual PH and I have been seriously considering having SMB west put the motor in to convert it to electric. Having talked to them it is a process. They take off the entire top. Cut the hole a little bigger. Install different supports and the motor etc. Then wire it in. Usually takes a week. Hence the high price tag for the electric conversion.
That said, maybe that person misunderstood, or maybe they have changed their methods now.

I empathize with you on the top. I can't open my manual PH top. (That said, I'm not very tall, nor very strong.) For myself, I would prefer a permanent "bubble top" over a PH, since as it stands I virtually never raise it (unless I happen to have someone to help me do it).
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Old 10-29-2012, 11:44 PM   #7
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Re: Penthouse Install - Fresno SMB (not optimal)

A lot of people use a small jack of some sort to assist them in raising the top. Do a search and see if there isn't a lot of advice on getting it up
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Old 10-29-2012, 11:47 PM   #8
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Re: Penthouse Install - Fresno SMB (not optimal)

Not that I'm supporting SMB but the electric unit is a completely different piece of equipment. I wonder what the cost of a repair to a broken standard top converted to the electric top would be? They would probably be slightly higher in cost to what they're quoting you. Having to pull the roof, cleaning the seal, and adapting to the new top might be more of a job than you think. I'd just ask why so much...see what they say and make em justify it. Maybe it won't make you feel so bad... at least I hope so.

Second, I'm surprised you didn't try one out first. Even though I wanted the electric top from the start, I did try to lift one with my bad back and knew it wasn't for me. Still I don't know why they didn't offer to have you try to lift one other than it was an add on compared to a new SMB build. The electric top hasen't been around too long and because the original top has, not too many folks with them complain. They used to make a portable electric assist at one time for the few who had problems. I've seen posts of people using one of those ratchet bars for pickup beds to help lift the manual top but pulling it down is another issue.

I wish you luck
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Old 10-30-2012, 08:15 AM   #9
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Re: Penthouse Install - Fresno SMB (not optimal)

We have an extended van w manual top. I put it up and down, my wife does not. I don't see a problem and she really doesn't. I also stow the bed on the ceiling. She doesn't do that but does lower it w/o difficulty. She probably could raise the top if really required to. I am hard headed and use the head method. Squat, put my head on the roof padded section, keep my back straight, and use my legs to raise the top. I'm 68 years young.
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Old 10-30-2012, 08:20 AM   #10
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Re: Penthouse Install - Fresno SMB (not optimal)

My manual top is a little bit of a load to "start" upwards with the bed on it. I leave my bed on the rails in front, still hooked in back, and the top "pops" really easy, so much so, that is harder to pull back down than to push up. Maybe that'll help you.
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