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Old 08-28-2015, 12:30 AM   #1
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PH roof load - How much is too much?

We could really use some extra storage for our upcoming Seattle to Florida trip this winter. A Yakima box up top would be great, but we already have a 28 lb solar panel. Yakima crossbars would add another 16 lbs, the box is 47 lbs. So we've got 91 lbs before we put anything in the box.

I"m wondering how much I can load on the manual PH top and still be able to lift it. It's already a chore to lift, my wife has to use the cargo bar. I'm not opposed to removing a couple or 3 links if that's what it takes, though I don't want to make it too hard to lower when I don't have a load on.

My question: How much of a load have you regularly carried on your manual PH and what have you done to allow you to lift it reasonably easily? And, has anyone else tried the LenS cordless drill and threaded rod mod for lifting the PH?

Brad
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Old 08-28-2015, 09:40 AM   #2
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Re: PH roof load - How much is too much?

We put two 135 watt solar panels on the roof and took out two links. There is nothing else on the roof. The panels weigh a total of 53lbs. The top went from easy to push up to needing a cargo bar. If I remember correctly, someone correct me if I am wrong, the max recommended load on the roof is 200lbs. A number of member with heavy loads on the penthouse put supports on the four corners of the penthouse when it is up. Am planning on trying Len's method next week in preparation for an upcoming trip.
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Old 08-28-2015, 09:49 AM   #3
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Re: PH roof load - How much is too much?

We put three solar panels plus wiring and aluminum bracketry on the roof of my ex-'97 RB with manual penthouse. This totalled around 55# or so. The PH roof was slightly challenging to open prior to this, but not horrible. Before adding the panels it was on the factory (last) chain link for the main springs, and had around 3/4" blocking in the helper springs (to "help" them initiate lift).

After adding the panels it was too hard to lift (this by 6'2" new owner). As I recall, we first took up two links in the main spring chains, but it wasn't quite enough, so then we did three. With it at link three the lifting force was similar to before, but you could tell it was straining the actual bows a bit. I'm not sure I would have wanted to add any more weight for that reason (although of course there were more links in the chain to take up).

We may have added 1/2" to the helper blocking, I can't remember (you can add as much as you like but if you add too much then the top will not come all the way down, so you have a limit).

So to me it seemed like the bows/construction was the limiting factor in adding more weight due to then requiring more links to be taken up thus putting more strain on bows and etc. during lifting and lowering.

This was an RB Indiana build.
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Old 08-28-2015, 05:44 PM   #4
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Re: PH roof load - How much is too much?

I have about 36 lbs of solar on the roof plus 18 lbs of bag awning attached to our penthouse roof. The 54 lbs is liftable by me but is a very noticeable. I do not think I would want to increase that any more than it is. I could adjust and increase the scissor mechanism lifting BUT I think that would also increase the shear load the scissor bolt that many members have already had fail. If I really needed to go beyond the 54 lbs I have on the roof I think I would have to rework the scissor mechanism as "boy-wonder" did with both stronger tubes and stronger joint bolts.
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Old 08-28-2015, 05:55 PM   #5
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Re: PH roof load - How much is too much?

I probably have about #150. I usually take a few things out of the cargo box (a huge one) to lift the top, but if we're just stopping to sleep I manhandle it up and support it with 2 2x4's in opposite corners. My bows are slightly bent. I have 3 links out and helper blocks. I'm not happy with the situation but nothing has failed yet. I recently lifted a friend's EB top with nothing on it and it went up like butter. I couldn't believe it. I wonder if the longer mechanism in an EB makes them easier to lift?

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Old 08-28-2015, 11:30 PM   #6
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Re: PH roof load - How much is too much?

Between solar panels, Yakima rack, and 4 TREDs, I probably have about 100# on the roof. It's a beast to lift. I have taken 3 links out of the chains and put in 1/2" of blocks behind the starter springs, but need to add more. I also lift with the PH bed attached to the roof.

Like 86Scotty, I put wood closet rods in diagonal corners just in case, since the top is a little saggy when up. No bending in the bows on mine that I can see.

Not sure if the EB mechanism makes it easier, since there is more roof that needs lifting.
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Old 08-30-2015, 05:18 PM   #7
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Re: PH roof load - How much is too much?

great thread. We just bought our 1st smb and was curious about this very issue. I do not know what you guys mean by removing links and adding a 1/2" block, but will figure it out soon. How are you using 2x4's or closet rods to help support?
We have nothing on the roof now, and it is easy for me and easy enough for my wife, but I am about to add tracks, towers, and bars from yakima, as well as a big yakima cargo box and a couple bike racks. I feel that if i empty the box and take the bikes off I could still lift it, but my wife would not be able to, and she needs to be able to, as she takes the kids on trips w/o me from time to time.
I have spoken with smb in austin (i have a trip coming up there) about converting it to an electric ph, but that would cost around $3500. Do you guys know the max weight the manual roof should carry when lowered vs. what the electric should carry? Does anyone know the max weight it should conservatively support while raising and lowering vs. the electric?

also- what is a cargo bar?

thx for any and all advice/ideas!
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Old 08-30-2015, 11:35 PM   #8
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Re: PH roof load - How much is too much?

A cargo bar is a ratcheting bar that extends in length as you ratchet it. It's typically used in the bed of a pickup, extending sideways between the sides of the bed in order to keep a partial load from shifting around. See:
http://www.amazon.com/Keeper-05059-Ratc ... =cargo+bar
For PH lifting, the cargo bar placed between the SMB floor and the PH roof and ratcheted upwards, you only need the first 6 inches or so before the springs kick in and the roof goes up easier. Basically you're using leverage to make the lifting easier.

In starting this thread I was hoping to hear from some of the owners who carry Yakima boxes on the roof. We see a lot of pictures of SMB's with roof boxes, surely you don't have to unload them each time you want to raise the PH. I'd like to carry some paddling gear and an inflatable kayak on the roof and I'm hoping to find out of that's a viable idea. I'd probably end up with a total roof load of 130 to 150#. Is it realistic to have that much weight and still have a fully functional PH?

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Old 08-31-2015, 01:47 AM   #9
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Re: PH roof load - How much is too much?

Closet rods are thick wood dowels that are normally used for hanging clothes hangers on in your house closet. They are about 1 3/8" or so in diameter. I got mine at Home Depot, and put rubber cane tips on them.

I raised the PH while parked on level ground in the driveway, and measured the distance between the PH ceiling and the vinyl coated trim pieces that SMB made. My front rods are longer than the rear ones, so I marked them with a Sharpie as F and R so I don't have to guess when I drag them out of their storage place.

You want them a tad on the long side, so the roof will put some pressure on them to keep them in place when the van isn't exactly level or the wind is pushing the PH around. Otherwise they fall out in the middle of the night, which can make a little pee come out the first time it happens.

I wedge mine in the corners of the canvas, pushing up on the roof a little to give me room to maneuver them, then let off and the roof pressure keeps them in place. I don't push them out against the PH bungee cords at all.

There's other solutions, too. I've seen pics of things similar to card table legs that are permanently attached to the ceiling, and you swing them down to achieve the same effect.
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Old 08-31-2015, 07:40 AM   #10
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Re: PH roof load - How much is too much?

Don't make the same stupid mistake I did when I measured for my support dowels: I popped the top and left the bed hanging from the roof when I measured, and then cut my dowels accordingly. Of course, when the bed hangs from the roof it pulls the roof down a little, so when the bed is in the lower position the roof goes up more, meaning my dowels were all too short. Grrrr. (And yes, they fell out in the middle of the night, scaring us nearly to death.)

I'm going to add some rubber cane tips to the dowels, which will hopefully take up the extra space.
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