Okay, going to get some pics up of our new top. This will get copied or moved later to our build thread.
We started with a super clean 2002 7.3 EB Cargo. The van was sent to Agile for a TTB 4WD conversion and alos was outfitted with a larger, transfer case friendly diesel tank from Aerotanks. Next on the list was getting the pop top chosen and installed.
We were able to actually spend a few nights in a SMB EB pop top rallypanam needed brought up from Agile. This worked out well as we dropped off our van and picked up one of rallypanam's rigs. This was an eye opener for us in a few areas. First, the SMB manual top bed was too narrow for two of us to comfortably sleep together and the with the weight, there was no way Jennifer was going to be lifting the top. So we needed wider and we needed electric. Jennifer really liked hanging out up top and reading, knitting, etc. but felt the headroom was pretty limited. Lastly, the SMB was a walk through. We had decided on an EB50 layout, but after three days of walk through, the 50 layout was ditched. There are only two of us 95% of the time and we decided it was not worth sacrificing interior access to so much storage afforded by the walk through. It was just so easy to keep things more organized with the walk through. So, walk through became a primary layout.
Back to the top - We had been on quite a few meet ups and been in many SMB's. All nice, but we had not experienced the CCV top. I did TONS of research, spoke to 86scotty, Shenrie, REF, and of course Derek at CCV to get input on what to expect and their experiences. We went to the Anzo Borrego meet up over New Year's with our trusty 2003 V10 Quadvan E350 EB (stock roof) we have camped in for ten years. Great time and we got to finally see REF's CCV Hi top in person.
REF has an RB350 that is very tricked out. It started life as an RB50 from SMB but REF wanted more space and being nearby to CCV, decided a CCV top was a solution. The space inside his and Alex's van was incredible. A CCV High Top rises about 20" above the gutter and the open space side to side is much wider than SMB. Because the top runs the entire length of the van, this allows then canvas to run from about a foot behind the windshield. This creates a very usable space above the driver and passenger seat. Okay all good, right??? Well for those that need/like the CCV 20" High Top, absolutely! But for us, we were thinking a bit longer term and further a field.
Jennifer and I are thinking about shipping the van to explore some countries - New Zealand and Australia, or Europe. Container is now in the picture and a High Cube container has a door entry limit of 101". Hmmmm, Hi Top is going to be at or above or require really small tires, etc. to get into the container. CCV has a low top but that was not attractive to us either as it drops the head room when the top is down. So what about the Styled top that CCV was using? nope, that was out as CCV had stopped using them as they were requiring to much modification to make them work as a pop top since they were designed to be securely attached to the van roof gutter every four inches. So that was out.
Okay, many calls to Derek resulted in: okay, let's build a mold for a mid size top that fills the niche between the High and Low. So the Mid Top was created at about 12" height above the gutter. Derek had the plug built which I got to see in March. Time to schedule a trip to CO !! I drove out mid May and spent a few weeks out there hanging with REF and Alex and their wonderful family and Derek and his wonderful family. Worked through a few of the teething problems of a "first of anything" which was all due to delays at the top fabrication house, and got it done!
The result is a cut out of the stock roof from just behind the cab all the way to just forward of the CHMSL at the rear. Due to our walk through design, this was mandatory. The cut out side to side and the fact that the top raising/lowering hardware is positioned at the ends of the van results in a bed area of 54" wide and 80" long and with the increased top height, we have 41 inches of headroom above the 3" foam bed cushion. Nice. With the top down and the bed stowed, there is 51 inches of floor to bed clearance and 60 inches in the space where the bed platform is not present. That extra 9 inches over stock is really nice when the top is down. Also mandatory was the ability to have the bed platform raise up/moveable to allow the length (walk through) of the van to be utilized when not sleeping. We have three bed sections: The rear is 42 inches and there are two 19" sections to make up the 80 inch length. Right now, the two 19" platforms stow over the cab and the two 19" cushions stow atop the 42" rear section. With the top down, this leaves a very nice 60" headroom space between the cab and the rear bed platform. We have not camped in the van yet
to see what, if anything, will change. The bed size is awesome, storing the bedding and bed pieces may change a little. The six opening windows and screens along with 94" of headroom with the top up provides for incredible light and ventilation. I am hoping the CRl awning and factory side and rear pop out windows will allow for a nice air flow from bottom to top when it is warm. The insulated top and three layer canvas will get tested in the cold weather. We are leaning towards an Espar D2 but I will do more research to determine if that will be sufficient for the volume of space with the top up. With the top down and driving, the factory rear heat and air will more than sufficient.
Driving from CO to San Francisco I encountered 30 mph + headwinds while doing 70 mph. The top was solid, no creaking/squeaking/whistling. The wind noise seemed the same as when the stock roof was there.
So, top is on, insulation is in, house batteries installed. Now noodling over water, heat, underfloor storage, electrical, solar, cabinets, wheels and tires, bumpers, LOL!