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Old 10-01-2010, 05:14 PM   #1
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Penthouse support bolt broke, van roof collapsed...

Hello All,

Bummer news on my van! I was getting ready for a trip and when I pulled the penthouse down the connector bolt that holds the penthouse support/spring system broke. That side of penthouse fell and I cannot even push it back up.

Also where the supports connect into the roof, something happened in there, the wood support is sticking out the side. It also is not aligned and close to impossible to close the top.

Anyone had anything like this happen and any advice on how to fix.

Major Cluster! Help!

ReidT
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Old 10-01-2010, 05:20 PM   #2
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Re: Penthouse support bolt broke, van roof collapsed...

You should be able to raise the top with a jack and a piece of 2x4. When you raise the top a little, place support blocks in the corners to hold the top up. You may have to cut pieces of 2x4 to size to get the top up and to make the support blocks. And you may have to repeat to get the top all the way up.

Good luck,

Mike
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Old 10-01-2010, 05:59 PM   #3
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Re: Penthouse support bolt broke, van roof collapsed...

Thanks Mike, That is what I was thinking as I was sitting in the van pondering the predicament...
The penthouse tops are amazingly ackward and heavy w/o the spring mechnism.

I think I will need some recruits to help with the lifting.
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Old 10-01-2010, 09:39 PM   #4
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Re: Penthouse support bolt broke, van roof collapsed...

Sorry for your troubles. Please post back to let us know more about the cause. Is the bolt the original? Did it shear like a brittle fracture? Was the bolt rusty? Did a nut come loose? I know, lots of questions. Very interested in learning and understanding how best to inspect my van for signs of future trouble. Thanks and good luck with the work. Stay safe - 300 pounds is a heavy load to move around.
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Old 10-31-2010, 08:31 AM   #5
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Re: Penthouse support bolt broke, van roof collapsed...

I have had to repair SMB tops with broken bolts before yes they are crazy heavy and awkward. Like 6l_350 said use a jack and 2x4 but put a sheet of plywood or a long 2x4 under the jack to help spread out the weight on the bed when jacking it up. Have a second person prop up the 2x4s so you can keep your eyes and hands on the jack because if it falls of the jack it will crush you. It is kind of funny (not really because someone could get seriously hurt) but SMB claims on their website
Quote
What is the life expectancy of a Penthouse? We really don't know. Since we introduced our third generation model in 1974, we have never replaced a part because of wear. The top itself is made of reinforced fiberglass, like a boat hull. The metal parts are all heavy duty construction. The counter balancing tension and compression springs are over-engineered. This means they will never fatigue and lose their strength.

In my opinion the hardware for these tops are way under engineered and the claim may be true (maybe everyone fixes it themselves and Smb does not have to) The bars they use are to thin and most used SMBs I have seen come with 4 2x4s to prop up the top because the owners do not trust the SMB hardware.
Back to the point of the thread you will need two people (strong adults) and a couple of rachet straps to pull the hardware back in place and aline the bolt holes. When you buy new bolts I advise you drill out the holes to the next size bolt and use grade 8 hardware. Good luck.
Derek
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Old 10-31-2010, 12:20 PM   #6
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Re: Penthouse support bolt broke, van roof collapsed...

Hey!!

It has been a month since first post. Is it fixed? Do you have pics of failed parts? Did it fall and crush you and no one have found you yet? Should we call EMS?
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Old 10-31-2010, 01:56 PM   #7
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Re: Penthouse support bolt broke, van roof collapsed...

Hope it worked out. I agree that the springs are oversized but the related hardware aint. I have replaced the "s" hooks with much larger stainless and doubled. Grade 8 bolts and chrome moly tubing inserts. Be careful with that big spring, it can hurt you. I use a come along rather than a rachet strap.

I'd like to replace the "j" hooks with something stronger and with more length to get a better bite on the threads but haven't found anything yet. Last time I was at SMB, the replacements looked the same as what I have.
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Old 10-31-2010, 10:19 PM   #8
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Re: Penthouse support bolt broke, van roof collapsed...

Hey All, Sorry for the late reply on my penthouse debacale. I am still alive... no need to call EMS! Thanks for the responses. It was epic to figure out the how to jack the penthouse up. A friend and I used two different jacks to try and get the crossbars to match. No such luck. We had the canvas and plastic on the windows totally maxed... I thought we were going to put a jack through the roof. We finally figured out that we needed to put the jack with a cut piece of 4x4 under the area where the 2 cross bars meet. As we jacked it up we kept our eye on the bolt whole and with some "gentle" forcing of the two bars we were able to line up the holes and push through the new bolt.

So sorry for no pics, but I was too concerned that everything would blow out like it did the day before when it crashed on my head....

All good and cruising the great roads of America!

I can walk anyone through this repair, I will not forget it...
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Old 11-01-2010, 09:15 AM   #9
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Re: Penthouse support bolt broke, van roof collapsed...

How old is your SMB? Is it a manual or auto top? If auto do you carry stuff (2-3 hundred pounds) on the roof? Sounds like a bolt "just snapped? No other damage just had to slide in a new bolt?
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Old 12-23-2010, 12:04 AM   #10
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Re: Penthouse support bolt broke, van roof collapsed...

Hi,
I'm planning on getting a PH top this summer (2011) and would like to know how old yours was when this happened and were there any problems before this? Also, was it manual or electric? Did it cave in completely and was a PH bed part of the collapse too? Please respond if you've ever had a problem with a PH roof, and tell if it was manual or electric? Thanks!
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