Re: Penthouse Roof Information
The following Penthouse Top information is from Nancy at SMB North in Indiana. She has been at SMB North since 1981 and reports they have changed the penthouse tops several times over the years.
ďMany years ago, all the penthouse tops had grooves in them. The grooves were designed so rain water would run off either to the front or the back.
Back in 2003 the Dodge Ram van was discontinued. It was the only van low enough to fit into a 7 foot garage with a standard penthouse top on it. When the Dodge Ram van was discontinued, we had to design a top that was a little shorter to go on the Ford E250 so we would still have a garagable penthouse top available. So our president designed the Garagable top and made it bolt from the inside which made it lower and smoother. That is why the garagable top was designed differently. He also designed the garagable top to go all the way to the top of the windshield instead of stopping at the cab where all the other tops did. However, by designing the garagable top this way (longer), we discovered because of the length of the top, the extra outside latches were needed to secure the front of the top so when you were driving it wouldn't come up at the front. The low top was a good idea, but because of the extra latches, people didn't like having to go outside to unlatch them before putting up the top.
--Note from Jeff: Both of the front outside latches can be unlatched and latched from inside by opening the driver and passenger door windows but I guess people hadnít figured this out.--
SMB West decided they didn't want to install the Garagable top because most of their vans have 4WD and it didn't make any difference whether their vans were garagable or not. Thatís why SMB West didn't install garagable tops. They also have their own mold out there so they donít need to ship their penthouse tops from the fiberglass shop here in Indiana.
SMB West never changed their mold to the smooth top. SMB Texas also installed the garagable tops for a while. However, a lot of garages now being built have either 7 1/2 foot doors or 8 foot doors. We always ask customers if they need the top to fit in a 7 foot garage. If they donít, we always put the standard penthouse top on.
Since molds only last so many years, when it came time to make a new standard penthouse top mold, the president decided he liked the look of the smooth top instead of the grooved top. So when he designed the next round of standard tops for the Ford RB and EB, he took out the grooves. Thatís how that came about. So any top thatís installed by SMB West always has the grooves.
In about 2009-2010, Ford came out with their E150 that has the same GVWR as the E250 vans. Since the E150 is a lower van than the E250 was, the garagable top was no longer necessary to fit in a 7 foot garage. So by just adjusting the standard penthouse top on the E150 van a little, we could install the standard penthouse top and it measured about 83 1/2 inches so we didn't need the longer garagable top anymore. Not having to stock two different tops worked fine for us.
I know this is a long story but thatís the reason why there are so many tops.
All the tops are good tops, it is just a matter of where they were installed and what the need of the customer was.Ē
Jeff and Janna
2014 Brilliant Silver MB Sprinter 3.0L V-6 High-Top 144 WB Modified RB-153S Espar D-5 SC Hydronic 200W Zamp Solar
SOLD 2006 White Ford E250 5.4L V8 4X2 RB-31 Modified, PH Full Length Garageable