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Old 07-28-2010, 12:07 AM   #1
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Loose Penthouse Roof Latch

Has anyone else had problems with their SMB West penthouse roof latches? I recently found the rear latch is not as snug as the day it was purchased. The SMB Owner's Manual indicates this is normal, but it provides a solution that has not been enough to fix my problem, i.e., tighten the latch screw one or two turns, leaving atleast two thread turns exposed. After two months the rear latch became loose enough to prompt a request for help under warranty from SMB West. They sent a new j bolt which is supposed to be shorter than the original one (I haven't had time to install it yet, and I'll repost when I do).

The photos below show my roof latch configuration and I was wondering if this is standard. Notice the plastic washer (about 1/4" thick) screwed in just off center of the metal base plate. This appears to be a work-around for an over-sized j bolt that has bottomed out at the latch pin and thus can not be screwed in (i.e., tightened) any further. The plastic washer seems to be intended to keep the chain taught by keeping it from spinning. Problem is the strain was sufficient to pull the chain link right past this plastic piece, allowing the chain to stretch out more, further loosening the latch tension. The chain connects the latch to the anchor plate and it provides less tension in one position over the opposite rotated 180 degree position.

[photo][/photo]

[photo][/photo]
Attached Thumbnails
Rear Penthouse J Bolt Anchor Point.JPG   Rear Penthouse J Bolt Anchor Point Close-up.JPG  
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Old 07-28-2010, 08:13 AM   #2
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Re: Loose Penthouse Roof Latch

Put the new J bolt in and solve your problem.
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Old 07-28-2010, 09:31 AM   #3
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Re: Loose Penthouse Roof Latch

I found that, over time, the rear J bolt tended to loosen only because it it easy to unintentionally unscrew it a little when twisting it around to line it up with the anchor. I little blue Loctite on the threads solved the problem...
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Old 07-28-2010, 10:52 AM   #4
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Re: Loose Penthouse Roof Latch

My 2004 does not have the additional plastic washer. My chain connection is tight and the chain does not spin either. I have found that the angle the van is sitting when bringing the top down has a effect on the tightness. As my driveway has a slight downward slope the top will come down slightly forward when closing in the driveway. On flatter ground this will cause the back to be to tight and the front loose. Also another thing that I found that greatly has an effect is the electric pop top. The way mine is set up it will continue to suck the top down a good inch after making contact with outside edges. I now have my latches adjusted so they are slightly loose when the top is all the way down, I think put the top up to tighten the latches, usually no more then a 1/4 inch.

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Old 08-02-2010, 08:54 PM   #5
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Re: Loose Penthouse Roof Latch

Shorter j bolt installed. It came with some plumbers tape on the threads. It's a tighter fit and it won't inadvertantly screw loose. So far so good.

Ran into another SMB West van owner this weekend and his 2006 van penthouse rear latch does not have the plastic washer either. One other thing noticed was his chain is not a twisted s type - it's a regular link. I think the twist adds unwanted torsion to the screw...
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Old 08-03-2010, 07:44 AM   #6
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Re: Loose Penthouse Roof Latch

I had the same problem with J-hook bottoming out on all three latches, resulting in loose-fitting penthouse. The guys at SMB Indiana just cut off a bit of the threaded end and result was tight-fitting penthouse.

Mike
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