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Old 01-31-2020, 10:32 AM   #1
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pop top load question

Hi All
so I am getting the penthouse top. I currently have a custom made but same as aluminess roof rack. I spoke w SM and the lift weight limit of the pop top is 200 pounds. While its down it can have a lot more weight on it. Aluminess makes a full rack. I am wondering if there are any issues with that rack on the poptop. Our plan is to modify the mounts on our custom made (aluminess clone) rack to fit the pop top. When we travel we keep a thule box on top and mostly just surfboards and wetsuits in there. Any one beef up the lift to work with more weight? It will be a manual top.

thanks
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Old 01-31-2020, 01:06 PM   #2
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That will be a lot of weight on your top. I was in the same boat with an RB and a manual pop top. Do you know how much your aluminess clone rack weighs?

You can definitely muscle way more than 200lbs up, but you need to support the corners of the top with dowels once it is up, and also when you drop the top its more of a hold on for dear life than "lowering the top" situation.

I am a surfer as well and found that the best setup for me with the manual top was no large rack on top. Instead, just 2 or 3 yakima/thule cross bars. Then a Thule/Yakima box attached to the cross bars on one side of the bars and the other side of the bars strap your surfboards down (ie...the surfboards and the box are side by side).

Inside our roof box we had surf wetsuits, freedive wetsuits, spear guns, etc...all in waterproof duffle bags. When we would stop to camp we would just need to open up the storage box and throw down 4 waterproof bags to lessen the weight. If you have a swing out tire carrier/aluminum box like we do you can just set your waterproof duffles right on top of those.

We went through a ton of iterations on surf craft (ie...6 boards, 4 boards, etc...) when finally I found the magic sauce is (2) EPS/epoxy boards. Light and durable. Something like a Stretch IT and a CJ Nelson Music is a nice combo. Something for good waves and something for small waves. If you go that route and then use a super lightweight travel bag you should have no problem leaving your boards on the roof when you pop the top.

If you do go with your Aluminess clone rack, I would get rid of the thule box you have and just use waterproof duffles to keep your wetsuits in. Will make it super easy to take them off the roof before popping top. You can get cheap ones on ebay.

I think most people on here will agree that the full-size aluminess roof rack on a manual penthouse top is no bueno. Great for fixed top van or for CCV electric top, but not ideal with a SMB manual top. You can pretty easily bend/bow the scissor arms with too much weight going up and down.

More than that, it just becomes a major pain in the ass. I was hoisting way too much weight up and down for far too long. Save your back and your frustration and keep it light up there!
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Old 01-31-2020, 01:14 PM   #3
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Thanks for the advice, Might have to come up with some sort of hybrid. I love the thule box as its lockable and keeps the shortboards safe. Also breaths so wetsuits actually dry up there.
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Old 01-31-2020, 01:18 PM   #4
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Hybrid sounds like the winner. I had (2) yakima cases side by side for a while. Boards in one case and wetsuits etc in the other, with a 160 watt solar panel in front of the cases mounted to the roof. It was a good setup, just ended up being so heavy! Pros and cons to each choice with these vans hahaha.
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Old 01-31-2020, 01:45 PM   #5
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so for shits and giggles called Aluminess. They say their penthouse rack weighs in at 50-75# depending on options. They do not offer the slats for the penthouse rack. The flooring is the mesh. I am going to explore modifying our rack once we get it off and see. Maybe removing most of the slat flooring. Especially under the thule box.

If anyone has pics of their penthouse rack set ups I would love to see them.
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Old 01-31-2020, 02:02 PM   #6
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Either aluminess or agile makes a pneumatic riser for manual pop tops. You could get that.

The problem with the manual top is balance. It is spring loaded. So either you set the springs really tight to compensate for a lot of weight on top, but you wonít be able to get it down when itís empty. Or you set them loose and you canít raise it with a bunch of weight on it. But you have to choose and you have to set the springs. Itís not hard, but itís a pain, so you wonít be wanting to do it for every trip when you pick different boards to take.

My suggestion would be get the pneumatic helper or plan to keep you rack and box up there but empty. Then you have to empty the roof each time you want to raise it. Depending on your use case, that might not be bad. I tend to pick a camping spot and stay in it for a few days straight. Some people are popping the top 3-5 times a day.
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Old 01-31-2020, 02:04 PM   #7
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All in I'm at the 200# limit with nothing in the box. I have the electric lift. When I raise the top I have to empty the box first.

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Old 02-07-2020, 08:36 AM   #8
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You don't have to put everything on top. Two ladders on the side make good surfboard mounts like a SMB that is for sale on this forum. A combination gutter and window blank mount would work as well.You have probably seen the aluminum window blank replacements here that can have all kinds of attachments added to them like E-trac ect... I personally would not want to load the blank with a lot of weight so that is why I suggested the gutter blank combo. This was my set up but when and if I decide to go to a clamshell or pop up I will do a window blank gutter combo and suffice my extra cargo carrying abilities with a small rack on top in front or back. If I go clamshell GTRV/Westfalia style I will put the rack forward for a combo light bar mount and for misc. bags!
Back to the boards... on my motorhome I made a rack for my long boards where I stood the boards straight up pointing to the sky like books on a library shelf. The motorhome is tall enough to accomodate the long boards so if you just have shredders then you should be ok although I think 8' to 9's will be ok as well!
While this pick is over 10 years old, there are much better attachment setups available today. The pic of the drivers side shows how a window blank with a gutter mount would be ideal!
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Old 02-07-2020, 09:11 AM   #9
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Thanks vanimal. Fortunately I have the cargo van with no windows other then the one I cut opposite of the barn door. Side surfboard racks are an options for some trips but not all. Already have dual ladders.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BzgPMGil..._web_copy_link
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Old 02-07-2020, 09:30 AM   #10
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That makes it much easier to attach an E-trac or quick release trac to the side thru the inside ribbing/skeleton of the van sidewall!
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