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Old 01-29-2020, 03:02 PM   #11
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I'd also throw this out there:

Some of the "bad stuff" I came across in my research was due to people having set deadlines for the finished project and it seemed like at least some of the problems arose from either a rushed job, or not having enough time to deal with issues that popped up.

When I planned to drop the van off I made it clear that they could take all the time they needed. I did not bother them with trying to get regular updates on the progress and I did not buy a round trip plane ticket. Ultimately, they needed a little extra time to finish things up and I was perfectly Ok with that. Once they gave me a final completion date, I still gave them a couple of days before I flew out to pick it up.

I scheduled my flight so that I would get there mid-day and mid-week. This gave me plenty of time to have them go over everything with me, which they did. They also offered to give me a complete tour of their facility, which was very cool.

I drove the van straight to a local DIY car wash and spent a couple of rinse cycles making sure there were no leaks. I then stayed in a campground just a few miles away and tested everything out. I raised & lowered the top a bunch of times, I unzipped & zipped up every single window and I disassembled and reassembled the bed a handful of times. I drove it on the highway, on a mountain road and on the freeway. I even did a little 4 wheeling. Once I was confident everything was Ok, and it was, I began the journey home.

It did help that I'm retired and could take the time to do this, but honestly, I would have done it anyway.
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Old 01-29-2020, 04:50 PM   #12
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Much appreciated, Glen. I like the idea of going to a car wash to test for leaks, and since the tops all that we'll be having done, I think between that and putting it up and down, and making sure the locks do their thing, I should be good.

Plan to hang around TX for awhile then camping in it too, so that should give me a good chunk of time to make sure we're golden before heading too far down the road.
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Old 02-04-2020, 01:27 PM   #13
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I like my SMB and my pop top is plenty tall for me. That being said I don't use the upstairs for sleeping but it's great for storage when I stop and have "stuff" on the bed.
I don't have children and no longer have my best friend "COOKIE" as a navigator. I looked at the CCV (on-line) from my perspective I don't get the 8 feet as I have 6 feet 10 inches in my factory STOCK SMB built in 2003 at Fresno. Just in passing my top was $7,765 in 03.
I do like all the options for people interested in remodeling and doing their own build-outs. The idea of a custom "as you want" interior is great. My reality is I sleep in my SMB and live outside. By the way the factory bed is a combination of a fold down bench seat and foam pads is outstanding...I sleep like a baby (could be from all the activities during the day).
Keep your remodel and build out reports coming.
Planning my next trip.....most likely ANZA BORREGO S.P.
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Old 02-04-2020, 04:04 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HIGHCOUNTRYMIKE View Post
My reality is I sleep in my SMB and live outside.
Love that, as life should be!
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Old 02-05-2020, 06:21 AM   #15
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I *strongly* advise you to get the power lift. I initially went manual, but due to the nature of my build, the springs weren't really enough to help lift the top and keep it up. Having the top suddenly come down without warning is a bad thing.


Yes, the power lift takes a bit longer than manual does, but it is much nicer to be able to raise the top with the bed in place, rather than unhooking the bed, raising the top, then raising the bed and re-securing it. And being able to stop part way down to pull the canvas into storage is also nice.
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Old 02-05-2020, 05:53 PM   #16
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Wowbagger, would you mind sharing what the "nature of my build" aspect was that caused your roof to just drop suddenly? I definitely wouldn't want that, since my kids will be sleeping up top.

How long ago did you have your manual put in?

Anyone else have an issue with a manual top just dropping out of nowhere?
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Old 02-05-2020, 06:35 PM   #17
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Tops drop out of nowhere when the load on the roof gets too heavy or the springs wear out. It is really hard to get the right balance for the roof. If the springs are too tight, you can't get it down. Too loose and it won't sty up. But you have to adjust them depending on how much you are loading on the roof regularly. Very tricky. Some use dowels as supports at all 4 corners.
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Old 02-06-2020, 10:49 AM   #18
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That's understandable for sure. Since we've spent years in our VW with it's Riviera pop top (40 years old now) with nothing on the roof but solar panels (flexible, they weigh around nothing) hopefully it won't be an issue.

The $2k or so saved on the electric top is pretty significant for us, and I don't think I'll mind needing to do some (hopefully not too regular) adjustments as you'd mentioned.

Even if the money wasn't an issue, I'm concerned that with little ones (7,8 and one on the way) they'll push the button to raise the roof when I'm not around and break the whole thing on a daily basis.
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Old 02-06-2020, 11:20 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HIGHCOUNTRYMIKE View Post
I like my SMB and my pop top is plenty tall for me. That being said I don't use the upstairs for sleeping but it's great for storage when I stop and have "stuff" on the bed.
I don't have children and no longer have my best friend "COOKIE" as a navigator. I looked at the CCV (on-line) from my perspective I don't get the 8 feet as I have 6 feet 10 inches in my factory STOCK SMB built in 2003 at Fresno. Just in passing......
For your type of usage the SMB top is functional. You are only looking for headroom to walk around so the 6’10” is fine.

You do not get the “reason” for the CCV 8ft of height because you do not use the upper area for sleeping. The CCV tops provide 38” of height above the 3” cushion. They also provide 54” wide cushion and 60” of canvas to canvas usable width. There is lots of room to move around and you can actually sit up fully and not have to be hunched over. Under the penthouse bed clearance is ~ 52” which is very usable for walkthrough layouts. Plus with the canvas extending over the cab there is a very usable 24” deep x 60” wide shelf when the top is up (with the CCV high top this space is still pretty accessible when the top is down).

I have owned and slept in both SMB and CCV pop tops - for sleeping comfort CCV, and functionally with ability to store bedding and additional usable space - CCV.

Oh, and it is far more sturdy in cross winds and snow loads (We are in ours right now in Heber, UT and it is snowing!!). .
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Old 02-06-2020, 11:33 AM   #20
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wandrly-

The SMB manual tops are spring loaded. They have an X support mechanism that uses garage door type springs to counterbalance the weight of the top (and any attachments like solar panels, racks, etc). Too much tension and it makes the top difficult to lower. Too little tension and the top wants to lower by itself. So it is a range (pretty narrow) to adjust it so it goes up and down with minimal effort.

This range does not accommodate variable roof loads very well - eg. gear that has been placed on a rack, then removed. It also does not accommodate snow loads. What happens is the extra water weight of the snow (or rain in gear, or ???) overcomes the spring tension and the top “collapses”. The typical “safety” measure is a length of 2x2 cut for each corner (or SMB’s fold down metal tube legs) to prevent the top from unexpectedly coming down (unimaginable when sleeping .) While this prevents a very bad situation, it also means the top is now supported by the 2x2’s and then they are difficult to remove as they under load.

As to the risk of kids pressing buttons - a keyed lock out switch would prevent that.
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