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Old 09-19-2010, 06:53 PM   #11
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Re: Electric PH Top

Yes, get the electric top. They were not available when we bought our 2001 but spent the bucks to convert it last year.

As for the weight question, here is what Alan Feld told me:

"We are advising with the manual lift PH top, 40 lbs max load when lifting, and with the electric 150 lbs. [During] testing we had one of upholstery guys, 200 plus lbs sitting on the top, but 150 should be the max."
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Old 09-20-2010, 09:02 AM   #12
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Re: Electric PH Top

We have a manual roof w a 25lb awning attached to one side. I am 66 years old and do not find it a problem to raise or lower. Maybe I will change my mind in 10 years. The only advantage I see in paying $1000 for the electric lift is: 1. if you are going to store stuff on the roof (~ 400# max. I believe) the lift will raise it and then keep it from falling down or 2. it is sexy to just push a button and see it go up or down or 3. if one has health issues.
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Old 09-21-2010, 08:13 AM   #13
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Re: Electric PH Top

You've accurately summarized most of the advantages of the electric top. The manual top works fine for most owners if there is little or nothing on top of the penthouse roof. With nothing or just something light-weight on the roof, the springs can be adjusted so that it takes little effort to raise or lower it. But after we added solar panels (old style which might be heavier than current ones) and even had the springs adjusted, it was difficult to raise our penthouse. Without the solar panels, I'd raise the top whenever we stopped for lunch. Afterward, I didn't. My wife couldn't raise it at all.

We also carry a kayak or a pair of float tubes on the racks on the roof occasionally and there was no way to raise the top with them up there.

There is nothing sexy about pushing a button to raise or lower the top. Regardless of the cost, I wish we could raise it manually...it takes much longer to hold the button in to raise or drop it...
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Old 09-21-2010, 08:41 AM   #14
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Re: Electric PH Top

If you camp where there is the possibility of snow or ice and the thought of a manual top coming down on you when you are sound asleep is not a fun one I would go with electric. A while back we had an 2000 chevy smb with a manual top and the previous owner supplied us with 4 2x4s to wedge in at each corner to keep the top from coming down and to keep the bars from bending. I am not sure why they use such light bars for the lifting hardware. They must use beefier ones on the electric top because there is no way a 200 pound man can be on the roof of a manual top with out bending the bars or breaking the hardware.
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Old 09-21-2010, 04:12 PM   #15
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Re: Electric PH Top

First thing a added to my manual top was 4 corner supports. Used 3/4" electrical thin wall conduit and colored it black. Put black plastic caps on the ends. They each stow right next to where they are used below the windows. Putting them in place is part of our top raising ritual and takes place prior to hanging the bed (w all its sheets and blanks and pillows and cat in place.

Never have seen a auto penthouse. ASSUMED they went up fairly fast. 10 seconds or so????
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Old 09-21-2010, 05:30 PM   #16
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Re: Electric PH Top

My 2-year old manual top (SMB-West) came with supports in each corner. Round tubing that hinges down from the ceiling, or sits in clips when not being used. I've only used them once, when I had 10 gallons of water on the roof (solar showers). The top was staying up, but sagging at the back with that much weight.
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Old 09-22-2010, 09:12 AM   #17
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Re: Electric PH Top

Quote:
Originally Posted by LenS
Never have seen a auto penthouse. ASSUMED they went up fairly fast. 10 seconds or so????
More like 30 seconds or more...
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Old 09-22-2010, 10:36 AM   #18
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Re: Electric PH Top

Quote:
Originally Posted by mjeffrey
My 2-year old manual top (SMB-West) came with supports in each corner. Round tubing that hinges down from the ceiling, or sits in clips when not being used. I've only used them once, when I had 10 gallons of water on the roof (solar showers). The top was staying up, but sagging at the back with that much weight.
I have them too and they came with mine a late 06 build. I use them every time the top is up just for support. I am fairly certain my springs need to be adjusted as it takes a fare amount of strength just to get the top started up initially (yes I keep a door open) with nothing on top. I have to use my legs and sometimes push with myback with full strength to get it moving. As mentioned before my wife cannot get it to move with all her strength.
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Old 09-22-2010, 11:27 AM   #19
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Re: Electric PH Top

I use mine so that the canvas side walls look "crisp" when the top is up. Having the 25# awning attached to ONE SIDE of the top (equivalent to having a 50# in the center of the top) does sag the top some but not really a stay up issue.

Wonder why SMB-W, SMB-T, and SMB-I have different penthouse top implementations? Having self stowing roof supports is a nice feather and mine is also just two years old installed at SMB-I)..
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Old 09-22-2010, 06:17 PM   #20
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Re: Electric PH Top

Here is what these extra support legs look like stowed:



...what they look like dropped down:



We had our electric top retro-fitted and asked for a set of these. I never did find out if they are standard or what...
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