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Old 05-21-2022, 10:52 AM   #1
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Water Damaged Penthouse

We have a 2001 SMB that we picked up in later March. As we are still uncovering its "secrets" we discovered some concerning water damage after our last outing (been a wet spring).

In the back drivers corner i noticed discoloration on the fabric and as i pulled back the panels, i found that the wood trim at the base of the fabric was pretty well rotted.


In the corner the hardware is extremely corroded.


I suspect that the intrusion is occurring at the gutter seal as it is were the ladder is located and the seal isnt making much of a seal back here. ( line x of the gutters is on the horizon to mitigate this in the future.




So now i have a few questions as i work to repair this.
1. I am assuming the wood trim is what is holding the canvas in place? I will need to re-tension it with new wood?
2. Is there an alternative to wood in this application? if its purpose is to secure the canvas, i would assume that there are other materials that can accomplish this that are moisture resistant.
3. Would it be more cost effective option to use decking stain on the wood trim before installing it?
4. I am considering cutting out the bad sections and cutting new pieces to fit and replace. i do not see a structural or sealing reason why the entire board would need replaced as one piece. Is this true?
5. Any advice is welcome. I am very concerned about the corroded hardware making this a 4 hour job into something much much longer.

Any help is greatly appreciated!

PS: the penthouse doesn't operate smooth. It kinda lurches and grunts operating up and down. Is there some lubrication I can do to smooth out the operation (and reduce wear on the motors).
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Old 05-21-2022, 11:22 AM   #2
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I suffered through this also. SMB used the crappiest plywood with no finish and the cheapest fasteners available. Their workmanship was also terrible. I would suggest using the best exterior plywood you can get. Finish all surfaces with the best marine grade finish you can get and use stainless steel fasteners.
The pain here is the labor. You don't want to do all this only to have to do it over.
In my case the water got in between the van roof and the sealant under the wood.I had to lay in a bunch of butyl rubber tape in the gaps.
https://www.sportsmobileforum.com/fo...ers-23986.html
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Old 05-22-2022, 10:02 AM   #3
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What about something akin to what industrial/restaurant style cutting boards are made of - "poly" something. Drillable for screw/bolt mounting, etc. And water proof ! Possibly even cementable with epoxy -- just a thought --
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Old 05-22-2022, 10:07 AM   #4
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What about something akin to what industrial/restaurant style cutting boards are made of - "poly" something. Drillable for screw/bolt mounting, etc. And water proof ! Possibly even cementable with epoxy -- just a thought --
That is my ideal. I just need to find a place locally to source it and have it cut to the dimensions I want. For now though I just put new wood and hardware in. It won't be too much trouble to redo it with the right material once I find it. Still am not sure I know where the water is getting in from.
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Old 05-22-2022, 10:23 AM   #5
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You can cut it with a table saw or jig-saw -- probably find a restaurant supply house in your area ? Good luck --
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Old 05-22-2022, 10:24 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by gahamby View Post
I suffered through this also. SMB used the crappiest plywood with no finish and the cheapest fasteners available. Their workmanship was also terrible. I would suggest using the best exterior plywood you can get. Finish all surfaces with the best marine grade finish you can get and use stainless steel fasteners.
The pain here is the labor. You don't want to do all this only to have to do it over.
In my case the water got in between the van roof and the sealant under the wood.I had to lay in a bunch of butyl rubber tape in the gaps.
https://www.sportsmobileforum.com/fo...ers-23986.html
I'm going to move away from wood. It's just too problematic and I'm sure used by SMB because it's easy to work with and it cheap. I just used a thick coating of clear coat in my temporary fix for now. I may jump to stainless once I redo it all, but they were 3x the price and limited quantity.
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Old 05-22-2022, 10:28 AM   #7
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You can cut it with a table saw or jig-saw -- probably find a restaurant supply house in your area ? Good luck --
I've got a place called interstate plastics that I'll have to call this week. Trying to cut those lengths with a jog saw AND making straight? That's my idea of hell
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Old 05-22-2022, 08:25 PM   #8
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Cut some thin plastic or vinyl on a table saw. You'll kill one blade. Well worth it. Find something as close to 1/4" as you can or your trim panels won't fit back in easily.

I've redone a few of these and what you see is not awful or uncommon as far as SMB's go. It was never a 4 hour job though. It'll eat a weekend at least cleaning all that up.

As Hamby said above, the hardware is junk. Pulling the rusty remains of screws out will be a chore. Then you'll want to clean up, treat and coat the metal. You'll also want to do your best to clean up the stained canvas as best you can with the bottom loose hanging from the top. Don't drop the canvas from the top! It's an absolute bitch to realign the ceiling panels and shore it all up. It's much easier with about 8 hands and one brain but that ratio can't be changed or all hell will reign down upon you, as will your ceiling.

Use good quality stainless hardware to do the job. Have some polyurethane sealant (caulk tube style) and a big roll of butyl tape on hand. I prefer to sandwich the canvas and firring (furring?...hmmmm...) strips in butyl tape. It's great stuff. It's about the only thing used on the tops when built new that you will want to re-use.

Be VERY careful screwing the strips and canvas down when you are ready to bring it all back together. You are working on a curved roof and starting self-tapping screws is quite a chore. Predrilling is not much easier because if anything shifts at all, and it will, you'll never find the hole again while trying to keep the canvas tensioned and in the right place. I have never gotten a top back together without at least one puncture in the canvas.

You're probably now thinking about just paying someone like myself to do the job. Sorry, I don't do them anymore. I'm not an expert, just a novice at best but there's a reason I'm not interested in fooling with SMB pop tops anymore. If you get a price from any SMB location you'll probably want to just get through it yourself, which I recommend, because they'd use subpar parts again.

Best of luck! The finished product is mostly worth the headache.
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Old 05-22-2022, 08:50 PM   #9
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Cut some thin plastic or vinyl on a table saw. You'll kill one blade. Well worth it. Find something as close to 1/4" as you can or your trim panels won't fit back in easily.

I've redone a few of these and what you see is not awful or uncommon as far as SMB's go. It was never a 4 hour job though. It'll eat a weekend at least cleaning all that up.

As Hamby said above, the hardware is junk. Pulling the rusty remains of screws out will be a chore. Then you'll want to clean up, treat and coat the metal. You'll also want to do your best to clean up the stained canvas as best you can with the bottom loose hanging from the top. Don't drop the canvas from the top! It's an absolute bitch to realign the ceiling panels and shore it all up. It's much easier with about 8 hands and one brain but that ratio can't be changed or all hell will reign down upon you, as will your ceiling.

Use good quality stainless hardware to do the job. Have some polyurethane sealant (caulk tube style) and a big roll of butyl tape on hand. I prefer to sandwich the canvas and firring (furring?...hmmmm...) strips in butyl tape. It's great stuff. It's about the only thing used on the tops when built new that you will want to re-use.

Be VERY careful screwing the strips and canvas down when you are ready to bring it all back together. You are working on a curved roof and starting self-tapping screws is quite a chore. Predrilling is not much easier because if anything shifts at all, and it will, you'll never find the hole again while trying to keep the canvas tensioned and in the right place. I have never gotten a top back together without at least one puncture in the canvas.

You're probably now thinking about just paying someone like myself to do the job. Sorry, I don't do them anymore. I'm not an expert, just a novice at best but there's a reason I'm not interested in fooling with SMB pop tops anymore. If you get a price from any SMB location you'll probably want to just get through it yourself, which I recommend, because they'd use subpar parts again.

Best of luck! The finished product is mostly worth the headache.
4 hours wasnt a great estimate but i think i got it done in 8. I went back to how it was temporarily as i source new material in place of the wood. The canvas stayed planted to whatever was below it as i didnt have to deal with that. New wood and hardware was easy enough and i refinished the large corner washer. The self drilling screws went in straight; i used a bit thicker wood than the original which makes it hard for the screw to wander/drift. I then used silicon between the canvas and seal on the exterior, and more butyl between the seal and the van body.


I think for now this is a good temporary fix. I did actually find the source of my leak by chance which was extremely satisfying to now know. The yakima rack runners had inadequate/worn out silicone sealant for all the fasteners. So off came 22 feet of roof rack and new sealant of the hardware and back together it all came. Not bad for a weekend of work in the nice weather. Even managed to strip and reinstall my pickups interior at the same time!

Thanks for the advice though, once i get the proper material in ill be tearing everything apart and fixing it up proper. Stainless hardware is a bit hard to come by with lath screws (McMaster doesnt even carry them). What metal did you recommend treating and coating? the cross member is galvanized and shows little corrosion if any. The big corner washer i did wire wheel and paint. But otherwise, i dont know what else needed coated.
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Old 05-24-2022, 06:26 AM   #10
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Stainless hardware is a bit hard to come by with lath screws (McMaster doesnt even carry them).

The screws holding the strips down are self-tapping sheet metal screws.....


If you want stainless McMaster has lots of choices:


https://www.mcmaster.com/self-tapping-screws/


FWIW, my top is about 20 years old and the plywood looks new since it's never had a leak around the bottom of the canvas. I get that other materials like HDPE would work and not rot but if your wood is rotting you have other issues (leaks!!).


The gooey black stuff under the canvas is butyl tape and McMaster sells that as well.


https://www.mcmaster.com/tape/materi...~butyl-rubber/
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