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Old 08-26-2014, 08:25 AM   #1
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PH separating from fiberglass top

Just recently purchased an E350 SMB/Quad van. Love it. I have been lusting after the SMBs for a long time. Finally pulled the trigger and couldn't be happier (as are my wife and two boys). For now, we call it the Surf Bus (even though we live in Utah and none of us surf ... long story).

We just returned from a weekend camping trip and I noticed the top of the PH appears to be pulling away from the fiberglass top. (It has the electric lift.)



Tough to get an exterior pic but it is as you would guess: exposed holes and bare screws. I can easily fit a finger between the canvas and the fiberglass. I assume at one point it was raised too high. Can that even happen? I notice there is a stop at the bottom but not at the top. In other words, the motor stops at the bottom even if the button is still pushed. It appears to be happening at all four corners but this one is the worst. I pulled one of the screws last night and it is not an easy area to access. In fact, it looks like a few of the screws may have been accidentally toe-nailed in.

I *think* I could get away with longer screws and attempt to rescrew it. However, the canvas is very tight in these corners. Anyone know how high the top is when fully extended?

Anyone else seen this? I tried doing a search but had no idea what this problem as even called.

As an aside: I can crawl around on the PH top, right?
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Old 08-26-2014, 11:11 AM   #2
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Re: PH separating from fiberglass top

Really the problem is SMB poor design.

Ours is a manual top and had similar condition as new. We always use roof support columns when using the penthouse and bed. My support columns support the corners. We also de-tensioned the bungee cords by de-attaching them at the ends and attaching the ends at the rear windows d-ring. Takes out about 4 feet of stretch. We always use our roof vent when lowering the top w the re-tensioned bungees just acting as an assist. Works better for us. Lower tension on the bungees also maximizes our roof lift and head room when using the penthouse bed. You can compare our pics and see the difference in side canvas bungee "pinch" between your roof and mine.

You should be able to use longer and bigger diameter screws..... But you need to ascertain the thickness of the plywood the screws go into. Don't want to punch through the exterior fiberglass skin. There are several (at least 3) SMB roof designs in production. I haven't seen where SMB uses consistent parts on builds either. So there could be several different screw designs attaching the ceiling liner to the roof. I show just what was used on mine.

My van:







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Old 08-27-2014, 08:10 AM   #3
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Re: PH separating from fiberglass top

Looks like the screw I pulled out is a self tapping sheet metal screw 1" measured from the top of the head or about .85" excluding the washer. It is a size 8.

I think I am going to go with the 10. I will get the 1" and the 1.25" and see which one works best.
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