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Old 05-10-2015, 04:49 PM   #1
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Penthouse pivot bolts broken: should I have SMB fix it?

Hey Guys!
I have a 2002 E250 that has been relatively ok but has recently broken it's drivers pivot bolt and attempting to bring it down so we could get it home, we broke the other pivot bolt which in turn forced one (or booth) of the arm mounts (sorry with the improper terminology) on the top to tear and break the mounts for the poles where they cross the top.
Should I have SMB fix this or are there other places in the San Francisco Bay Area that might be recommended? I can drive it to Fresno, but that's about 3 hrs or so, but if there are any other places that are just as good please let me know.
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Old 05-10-2015, 05:21 PM   #2
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Re: Penthouse pivot bolts broken: should I have SMB fix it?

Maybe a bay area member knows something, but I'm guessing you'll have to bite the bullet and drive to Fresno. You can take the opportunity to rag on them about the bolt breaking in the first place.

There's a thread about the bolt problem on here from a couple of years ago. Use Google to search this site, the local function is nearly useless. Google "penthouse bolt site:sportsmobileforum.com" (no quotes) to read all the broken penthouse bolt misery threads.

Good luck.
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Old 05-10-2015, 06:26 PM   #3
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Re: Penthouse pivot bolts broken: should I have SMB fix it?

Thanks Viejo!
I did find some good info on this but I'm worried that I can't do the repair since all of my sons are out of the house and I'm sure the wife doesn't want to do this! I think that I can get the bolts in with a lot of effort but I think the wood that the cross bars go through where they bolt to the top are both broken so I'm not sure how to repair that. I'm thinking that you'd just about have to remove the top to do that.
I'll call the friendly folks at SMB in Fresno who I'm sure will want to charge me an arm and a leg to fix it!
-jim
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Old 05-10-2015, 07:08 PM   #4
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Re: Penthouse pivot bolts broken: should I have SMB fix it?

When the dust settles it would be nice if you could post some closeup pics of the failed bolts.

Good Luck

PS: For reference does anyone have part numbers and source for the shoulder bolts being used to replace the 1/4" SMB bolts.

Also have anyone noticed the bolt grade of the bolts that have failed. Are they just general hardware store grade 2 bolts or are they grade 5 bolts???
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Old 05-10-2015, 09:21 PM   #5
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Re: Penthouse pivot bolts broken: should I have SMB fix it?

Having never replaced them myself, it seems like a reasonably straight up job, unless the spring tension is preventing you from manually aligning the holes. Don't know if they are .25" or .375" diameter, but you can find hardened or stainless shoulder bolts at any industrial fastener supplier or at McMaster-Carr. I can't imagine them wearing out in my lifetime.
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Old 05-10-2015, 09:37 PM   #6
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Re: Penthouse pivot bolts broken: should I have SMB fix it?

Quote:
Originally Posted by LenS
Also have anyone noticed the bolt grade of the bolts that have failed. Are they just general hardware store grade 3 bolts or are they grade 5 bolts???
When I replaced mine they appeard to the same bolts you can buy at Home Depot. In other words, nothing special.
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Old 05-10-2015, 10:01 PM   #7
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Re: Penthouse pivot bolts broken: should I have SMB fix it?

Took a mirror out to the van and checked the scissor bolts on my Indiana installed penthouse top (2008). They are grade 8 bolts (have six bars stamped into the bolt head).



Anyone who has had penthouse bolts break it would be of interest which of the 3 SMB plants installed your top. Also it is important to check the failed bolt grade markings.

Also could see the bolt head on the forward scissors end and it also is a grade 8 bolt. Can't chk the chain/spring attachment bolt but will assume it is of similar quality.

Feel fairly comfortable now about the scissors lift mechanism.....unless someone who has had a scissors bolt failure reports that theirs was a grade 8 bolt that failed

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Old 05-18-2015, 08:34 AM   #8
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Re: Penthouse pivot bolts broken: should I have SMB fix it?

If you can do this yourself, consider using 5/16" shoulder screws.....available at any industrial hardware store or Mcmaster.

When I did my roof transplant, the holes in the crossbars were quite worn (egg-ed out), so I drilled them out to 5/16" which made them round again and allowed a larger bearing surface area with a 5/16" shoulder screw.

Even if you don't go bigger, use shoulder screws, the stock SMB design is clearly under designed as many pivot bolts have broken. Having the tubing bearing on 1/4-20 threads is a recipe for broken roofs.

The repair should be very straightforward if you are reasonably handy; pop the top and stick 2x4's in the corners to allow you to work with unloaded crossbars. There are a few other very cheap upgrades that you can do like much beefier nylon spacers if you want. The shoulder screws need to be either 2 1/4" long or 2 1/2" long I can't remember.

Install the screws with the nuts inboard so they don't rip your canvas.

Here are a few pages from my thread showing the new hardware:

http://sportsmobileforum.com/viewtopic. ... 4&start=15

http://sportsmobileforum.com/viewtopic. ... 4&start=45
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Old 05-18-2015, 09:48 AM   #9
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Re: Penthouse pivot bolts broken: should I have SMB fix it?

Quote:
Originally Posted by dirtbikenut
I'll call the friendly folks at SMB in Fresno who I'm sure will want to charge me an arm and a leg to fix it!
-jim
Email Peter Del Toro at Fresno SMB (p.deltoro@sportsmobile.com) and set up a time you can take it down. They are very fair with the cost of repairs in all of the dealings that I have had with them. They will want the van there at 8:00 am (at least you'll miss the commute traffic) and will have you back on the road as soon as possible. We also live in the Bay Area and I have made this drive a number of times for upgrades.
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Old 05-18-2015, 05:37 PM   #10
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Re: Penthouse pivot bolts broken: should I have SMB fix it?

Quote:
Originally Posted by dirtbikenut
Thanks Viejo!
I did find some good info on this but I'm worried that I can't do the repair since all of my sons are out of the house and I'm sure the wife doesn't want to do this! I think that I can get the bolts in with a lot of effort but I think the wood that the cross bars go through where they bolt to the top are both broken so I'm not sure how to repair that. I'm thinking that you'd just about have to remove the top to do that.
I'll call the friendly folks at SMB in Fresno who I'm sure will want to charge me an arm and a leg to fix it!
-jim
Jim

Give some feedback when you get the penthouse repaired.
Cost to repair and by who??
What did they do to fix the problem? What grade bolts were used?
Have them save the faiiled parts and post pics of the bolts and the end of the bolts showing what grade bolt SMB originally installed that failed.

Good luck on the repair.
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