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Old 08-05-2014, 10:24 AM   #1
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We struck gold... while re-doing our penthouse hardware

We wanted to re-cover the Penthouse bumpers, or whatever they are called, and figured we should go ahead and replace all of the penthouse hardware while we were at it. We read Jage's write-up (viewtopic.php?p=41598#p41598) over ten times so we felt pretty good going into this. We had some concerns taking all of the bumper bolts out at once but we didn't have any issues with that at all.

The way our top bolts are positioned we decided to go predominantly with 3 inch washers instead of 4 inch or the 2.5 inch ones that were installed. That would prevent them from hanging off any of the ridges. We did use 2.5 inch washers for the bolts in the depressions since anything larger would not fit. There's a second bolt behind the rear latch, doesn't seem to do anything, that was slightly off center in a depression that required a 2 inch washer. All bolts are .25 inch in varying lengths from 4inches to a single 1.5 inch for behind the rear latch.

As in Jage's case, our washers were not correctly sized so some cracking and chipping was apparent. Replacing the hardware with the correct size is essential, in our opinion, so we are glad we decided to go ahead and do this. Our local Ace only carried flat washers for .25 bolts up to 2 inches so we had to order the 2.5 and 3 inch sizes from Grainger. They had all of the other washers and bolts we needed. We ordered the butyl roll from McMaster-Carr as recommended in Jage's topic, took about a week to be delivered which allowed the rest of the planning.

Total time was about 8 hours. This should have been shorter but we guessed wrong about some bolt lengths and had to stop to go buy some more. That happened twice. We did pull a test bolt before starting but our rear bumper requires bolts longer than our front so we didn't expect that, same for the super short one for the one behind the rear latch. We also had to remove and re-cover the bumpers so that time would not be necessary if you are just planning on replacing the hardware.

Before starting we washed the roof and used a chamois to dry any areas that was holding water. While it dried completely we gathered all of the tools we would be using.

What we did:

Removed the existing hardware and the solar panel track we will not be using.

Cleaned all of the butyl off by using a plastic scraper and a little acetone. Notice the triangle shaped hole, probably from the incorrectly paired washer.

New washers prepared with butyl tape. We just stuck the washer to the tape and trimmed it with a pair of old kitchen scissors. We then peeled the paper off and used one of the old bolts to poke through and make the hole. You could probably just squish the butyl out when placing the washer and clean off the bolt as needed.

To be continued...
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Old 08-05-2014, 10:31 AM   #2
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Re: We struck gold... while re-doing our penthouse hardware


Bottom washer in place. We decided to not use caps since our roof will be coated and we are worried that cutting the bolts might prevent us from re-using them in the future. Since we will be traveling for 4-5 years, acquiring hardware on the road could become difficult. We will carry a few spares but this might just save our butts. We'll see if it gets in the way of adding a solar panel. Without the caps, we added 1.5 inch washers to the top of each large washer.

An example, hard to see, why a second washer is useful. When we realized our rear bumper bolts were too short I wanted to get something in place since rain was threatening. Using just a nut it was too easy to over tighten and slightly bend the 3 inch washer. The second washer, or cap washer, helps distribute the pressure to the larger washer.

A shot of the new hardware.

To be concluded.
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Old 08-05-2014, 10:43 AM   #3
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Re: We struck gold... while re-doing our penthouse hardware

Basically, we followed Jage's tutorial and made a couple changes to suit our situation. His topic has many more pictures. On the interior we used the 3 inch washers under the latches and 1.5 inch ones in most places. We like the look of the hardware on the bumpers over the caps, we did keep the caps for the penthouse bed clips.

Yup, we added some bright yellowish green marine vinyl!

Here's what was left over. We have a good deal of butyl so we'll be keeping some for our trip and will be bringing the rest to Expo East if someone wants/needs some. We'll also be keeping the spare hardware just in case we experience a failure at some point.

This was a fairly easy project and something any forum member can do. We took our time but we failed pretty miserably at taking pictures.

Pro Tip:
If you are going to re-cover the rear bumper it doesn't drop straight off. There is a piece of wood between the roof and the support pole so you have to slide the bumper to the rear until the support pole pops out. To replace, we used a pry bar to get one corner started, we worked the rest of wood under the bar then slid it forward into place. Sounds harder than what it was. This is where a photo or two would have been nice, whoops.

Many thanks to those who did this before us.

-John
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Old 08-08-2014, 09:20 AM   #4
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Re: We struck gold... while re-doing our penthouse hardware

Ah yes.. Gold. Here's the donor van pre donation:



I like the green! Going with something a little different!
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Old 08-08-2014, 12:32 PM   #5
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Re: We struck gold... while re-doing our penthouse hardware

Thanks. That green is just the start. We did find about 30ish cents under the front mat but the only gold was the top.

-John
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Old 08-09-2014, 06:33 AM   #6
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Re: We struck gold... while re-doing our penthouse hardware

When I cleaned up my new-used van, I found a 10-year old Hershey bar, maps for Acadia Nat Park and Valdez, Alaska, and a nice collapsible fishing rod. And a few quarters here and there :-) Nice write up, BTW. This is on my to-do list.
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Old 08-11-2014, 06:46 AM   #7
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Re: We struck gold... while re-doing our penthouse hardware

The good stuff was all gone! We only found those things that scurried into the darkest hardest to reach places such as the door crevices and under the vinyl front mat. If we hadn't decided to gut the entire van, don't really know why we decided that, those things would still be tucked away there. There's a screw in one of the rear doors I just can't seem to budge so it will remain, oh the joys of being slightly anal retentive and a bit obsessive compulsive.

Thanks for the kind words on the write-up. We've been working rather feverishly to get everything we can done before driving the van to the shop. One thing we need to do a better job at is documenting our process, photos especially. Once we solved the rear penthouse bumper issue we should have grabbed the camera. We think that's due to me mostly using either an iPhone or our DSLR. The DSLR only comes out when I want to take a photo and iPhone pics normally leave a lot to be desired. We have a waterproof/shockproof camera so that is being charged right now so it can become one of the tools at our job site.

Everything aside, we are having a lot of fun!
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