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Old 09-24-2020, 07:15 PM   #1
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It's electric/auto POP top time.

I can still do it but have noticed the top is much heavier than 17 years ago or more likely age is catching up with me.
So what's the deal on going auto, electric lift on my 2003 E350 4X4 SMB?
Anyone converted to auto lift? Pro's/con's etc.
Is there other choices other than SMB West (or whatever it will be know as in the future).
2003, E350, 7.3, SMB, 280,000+ and looking for more
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Old 09-25-2020, 07:24 AM   #2
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I did so. I had my conversion done by SMB Texas, and when I first did things, I went with a manual lift - faster, more reliable (I thought...), simpler, cheaper.
However, due to the specifics of my van, the space for the springs was tight, and the springs just couldn't really handle it. After a couple of years, they started to relax to the point that the top could crash down if the bed were secured to the top.
Not good.
So I went in to get a lift put in. And now all is good - although it obviously takes a bit more time to lift and lower.
The other advantage of the lift is that you can stop part-way down, and tuck the top in before lowering all the way.
If you do this: no matter what they tell you, plan on 2 full days of work. Plan on staying the night in a hotel, not the rig. If things go smoothly and they get it done in a day, great! But they have to really dig to put the system into place; having the extra time will make your life and theirs a whole lot better.
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Old 09-25-2020, 07:56 AM   #3
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Any ballpark on what it costs to convert a manual top to a power one?
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Old 09-25-2020, 08:32 AM   #4
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SMB charges $3500-5k for the conversion of their top to power. Slightly more than the upcharge to do it at install. The alternative is to go with the superior power Colorado campervan top at $11.5k.
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Old 09-25-2020, 08:45 AM   #5
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Wow, yikes! I guess I can live with the manual.
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Old 09-25-2020, 09:03 AM   #6
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You can also adjust the spring tension and put in slightly larger preload blocks on your pop top to get it working properly again. Itís not the easiest job, and takes a bit of nerves and some good strong ratchet straps and a come a long. Throw a winch line safety weight, dampener or heavy blanket on everything while youíre working for good measure.
I think thereís a few threads on the subject, pop the top, unscrew and peel back the fabric on both sides to expose the lift springs and chain, the idea is to pull the spring to hook a few links further up on the chain at a time to test the results. The smaller spring at the rear is a preload spring, it provides the initial lift before the main springs take over, thereís a wooden block behind it, start by cutting one thatís 1/2Ē longer and go from there.
The idea is to get a balance between opening and closing, too much tension will pop it up quickly, but you wonít be able to pull it down.
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Old 09-25-2020, 10:02 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HIGHCOUNTRYMIKE View Post
I can still do it but have noticed the top is much heavier than 17 years ago or more likely age is catching up with me.
So what's the deal on going auto, electric lift on my 2003 E350 4X4 SMB?
Anyone converted to auto lift? Pro's/con's etc.
Is there other choices other than SMB West (or whatever it will be know as in the future).
2003, E350, 7.3, SMB, 280,000+ and looking for more

HIGHCOUNTRYMIKE -

PM Sent.
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Old 10-01-2020, 01:21 PM   #8
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Check out this solution: https://www.rvairlifters.com.au/air_lifters.htm
The look easy to install, I can't image they would cost close to 3500 to 5k. If you already have on board air it would be even easier.
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Old 10-01-2020, 01:32 PM   #9
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We purchased our old EB350 with a manual popup, and the guy had included a jack setup which made it easy to push the top up until the springs engaged. It works enough for this old lady.
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Old 10-01-2020, 04:55 PM   #10
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HighcountryMike: If you are willing to make the drive to Orange County I'd be happy to adjust your springs....both the main springs and the helper springs.


I highly recommend that you do this before shelling out the cash for power...since there's no downside......
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