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Old 11-26-2023, 02:41 PM   #1
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Sportsmobile Penthouse splayed - what are the design-dimensions?

Hi,

I have a ~2000 manual penthouse top on a 1992 Ford E250.

The penthouse has some crazing in its gelcoat and the sides seem to have splayed outward so that they hang over the edges of the van's rain gutters.

The top also has some damage/deflection where it has gotten caught on one of the mounting brackets for the awning. Also, some of the holes for the gasket rivets have torn out.

See photos below

I'm going to get the gelcoat restored by a marine fiberglass shop. I'd like them to add some fiberglass to the interior of the sides to pull them in/back to their original shape, plus new fiberglass to repair the blown-out rivet holes.

Does anyone know the design width of the pop top or the correct angle of the side walls?

Alternatively, how much inset from the edge of the roof should a penthouse have on a Ford van?

If I can get a ballpark, I'll make some jigs that to hold the sides at the correct angle/spacing for the shop to use while laying up the new fiberglass.

Second question:

After the reglaze, we'll also add yakima tracks and/or solar racking for future solar panels and limited cargo carrying.

Has anyone replaced the through-bolts and washers (ours are rusty) with stainless through bolts and racking?

It seems like twin racks running the length of the top, secured by the through bolts, would make the top stronger and straighter will providing a far more secure anchor point for solar panels and/or yakima/thule cross bars.

Any thoughts and advice would be hugely appreciated :-)

And, yes--I need to pull and reseal the windows.
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Old 11-27-2023, 09:08 AM   #2
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Any chance that you can post more descriptive pictures? The awning pic is difficult to see what's going on and the front corner pic is snow covered. Perhaps pop the top and snap a few.

The front corner hanging off the rain gutter is common.....you can easily shift the roof left or right a little when lowering....are you sure that's not an alignment issue? This happens frequently when the van is parked and tilted to one side or the other when pulling the roof down.

Replacing the crap rusty SMB hardware is straightforward; I would use 18-8 stainless fasteners (they are common 1/4-20) and 18-8 fender washers all readily available at McMaster Carr or a good industrial hardware supplier. You can buy a roll of butyl tape (it's like chewing gum) and remake the little pancakes that the washers are embedded in. You can also buy stainless sealing washers with rubber bonded on them.
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Old 12-03-2023, 11:25 AM   #3
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Thanks Boy Wonder

I’ll get better photos when i get a break in the weather (and work

On alignment, both sides hang over. It hangs further on the driver’s side, so it may be 1/2 an inch off, but i think sides have spread out an inch maybe two.

The passenger side catches on the middle awning bracket. The gasket rides over-around the bracket and the fiberglass inside the top has some damage.

Better pics, soon (it’s snowing in sunny Colorado)
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Old 12-03-2023, 11:30 AM   #4
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Penthouse catching on awning brackets is common....when I pull mine down I bias the pulling to driver's side to miss the awning bracket then wiggle the roof back towards center after it's down to eliminate the driver's side hangover.
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Old 12-05-2023, 01:02 PM   #5
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Where was the van made? Different locations have some top differences. Fresno older tops fit great and are more rigid on top. Texas build circa 2008 top is flatter, lighter, and the sides are somewhat splayed relative to the roof gutters.
If making jigs exaggerate the correction....As WB said alignment is important and the pics are hard to judge. If top is tightly clamped, the center on the texas build, is "sagged/pulled down", so the sidewalls can spread more.
For dimensions, why not use your van?
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Old 12-05-2023, 08:58 PM   #6
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I had a pop-top that did the samething, what I realized is the top leaked and all the wood support in the sides of the top rotted and the top delaminated and spread out.

I removed the top, flipped it upside down, cut all the rotten wood out, cut and fiberglasses new wood in the top. I measured the top in 10 places to the rain gutter and reformed the top to those dimensions when rebuilding.
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Old 12-06-2023, 06:34 PM   #7
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I had a Westfalia top that did something like that. The wood supports fiberglassed into the top warped and deformed the top.
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Old 12-07-2023, 08:38 PM   #8
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Wowser. That’s a job.
I don’t see any signs of leaks or support failure. The top of the roof is flat.

The holes where the plastic rivets for the rubber seal penetrate the edge are blown out in spots, and they seem a bit splayed/spread.

The van was converted in ~2000. I’m not sure if it was a fresno build or texas. Probably Fresno, because the van was in Oregon then New Mexico (how’s that for ligic ;-).

Thanks for all the posts. I’ll get better photos up this weekend.
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Old 12-13-2023, 09:17 AM   #9
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[QUOTE= You can buy a roll of butyl tape (it's like chewing gum) and remake the little pancakes that the washers are embedded in. [/QUOTE]


Not to hijack, but, Boywonder, can you direct me to a thread/pictures that shows me how to make these butyl "pancakes"?


Thanks,


Todd
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Old 12-13-2023, 08:11 PM   #10
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Here is a Mcmaster Carr P/N for the tape...random width 1/2.....

https://www.mcmaster.com/76385A33/

Any width will work. It's un-vulcanized rubber so it's like chewing gum or taffy.....tear off a piece and form a pancake with your fingers.
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