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Old 10-09-2019, 10:11 AM   #21
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So...today's an awesome day. I'm getting with a couple of awesome van builders here in town to fab and install 4 brackets for the pop top. They'll provide the rigidity and support needed for the top. Then on the weekend I'll install the tent down to the roof top of the van. After that it'll be trimming out the metal and sides with fabric etc. to get that finished look. Really...I'm just stoked to have the pop top done and installed. The rest will come with time.

After a lot of surfing online and talking with friends with vans, I think the buildout on the inside will consist of extruded aluminum cabinets and a bed/couch combo.

I'll put some pics of the bracket work and completed top this weekend!!!

Super pumped
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Old 10-13-2019, 11:15 AM   #22
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Structural Steel for the PopTop

When I cut off the roof of the van anticipating installing my EB top onto my RB body, I knew there would be structural issues with the roof. Cutting all those factory cross members would leave nothing to support the heavy poptop. So I started drawing designs of what I thought new cross supports would look like.

I got in touch with a friend of mine who has a van build out company in town and we figured out a plan. I dropped my van off and hoped for the best. You never know getting into a project like this what nuances will affect the outcome.

I finally picked up my van on Friday and was more than stoked at the result. What they did was simple, elegant, and very functional. Dadoing square steel to fit perfectly at the ends of both rails front and back, then welded. Then rectangular stock perfectly fit where the front B-pillar would go and in the back where the last stock cross member would go. The added benefit of this is also having the new cross members flat so that trimming it will be a lot easier.

I woke up early and started fitting the tent fabric to the roof. I've checked out several SMB installs and didn't like them very much. Shabby work, rotten wood, millions of staples, etc. kept me from following their lead. Mark from CCV showed me what they were doing and it made so much more sense. Rather than using all those staples and wood, I used 1/2" x 1/8" aluminum flat stock, drilled and counter sunk, to go along the edges. I used butyl tape on the metal, then the tent fabric, then the aluminum with sheet metal screws. I didn't put any type of rubber gasket between the butyl tape and tent fabric like SMB does. Mark at CCV says they use Lap Seal and it's a great fit. So I tried it. So far so good. I'll be applying a little more here and there yet the final product turned out great.

The bed fits perfectly and the new structural supports make this thing a tank for strength. Now it's time to buy fabric and wood to trim out the metal and elsewhere.

Super stoked on the result.
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Old 01-30-2020, 12:20 PM   #23
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I am looking at doing the same as you did. I am curious what made you weld brackets etc. I spoke with SB and they said there is no difference in the top for the EB or RB. On the EB the top just sits further back. All the installs I have read about or seen pics of have not needed brackets.
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Old 01-30-2020, 12:53 PM   #24
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Hey surferdave,
Great to hear from you. I think SMB may have not given you the correct response or perhaps they were confused with the question. Interestingly enough, I asked a well known van building company the same question and got the same response you did from SMB.

When I laid our the EB top's dimension and figured out the cut hole, it became obvious that I would be cutting through all of the roof cross supports that hold up the originally roof and in doing so, would dramatically affect the integrity and structural support of the poptop. It's heavy and when the cross members are gone, the only thing holding up the 300lb poptop would be the think sheet metal left over. On an RB top install, the cut for the hole ends at the roof cross support that links the B-Pillars together in the front. In the rear, the final roof cross support is left in place as well. The poptop's rails sit on the sheet metal support by these 2 cross supports which adds a lot of support for the overall system when tied together with bolts etc. Removing them changes the entire matrix of force. Once the hole was cut and the poptop placed, we started calculating loads and displacement of force and decided to weld in the brackets you saw in the pics. I'm very pleased with the outcome. The system is tight and very strong and I'm confident in a rollover that what we've built is far superior than the original equipment especially around the driver area. It's like a roll cage.

I hope this helps. Ask any other questions you want. It's been wicked fun figuring this thing out and getting the build going.
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Old 01-30-2020, 01:30 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by surferdave View Post
I spoke with SB and they said there is no difference in the top for the EB or RB. On the EB the top just sits further back.

That information is incorrect. The EB top is longer than the RB top and the roof cut out is subsequently different as well.
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Old 01-30-2020, 08:47 PM   #26
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Originally Posted by DFarkas View Post
Hey surferdave,
<< in doing so, would dramatically affect the integrity and structural support of the poptop. It's heavy and when the cross members are gone, the only thing holding up the 300lb poptop would be the think sheet metal left over. I'm very pleased with the outcome. The system is tight and very strong and I'm confident in a rollover that what we've built is far superior than the original equipment especially around the driver area. It's like a roll cage.
I'm trying to figure this out, without losing too much head room. I have a hightop and a high door (former wheelchair van). When I close the barn door, the side flexes so much that the paint on the high top is even cracking. There's a reinforced brace on top of the door, but it's not near enough support.

I may have to start my own thread, but any ideas?

Thanks
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Old 01-31-2020, 11:02 AM   #27
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I think with the high doors the top side of the van is cut so it removes a lot of the structural support. My understanding on the penthouse top is that the frame for the top creates great structural support then the original crossbeams. At least that's according to SM. Guessing the wheelchair high top high door is a very different animal.
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Old 01-31-2020, 01:09 PM   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by surferdave View Post
My understanding on the penthouse top is that the frame for the top creates great structural support then the original crossbeams. At least that's according to SM.

That's a bit optimistic...SMB sales talk.



There has been a few threads over the years about rollovers with Penthouses. I'm not certain but IIRC they changed the top hold down J hooks due to legal action. Mine has the basic J hook style but I think there were some (or maybe still are some) with some sort of seatbelt buckle style latches...not sure on what the newer style looks like.


The stock Ford crossmembers are spot welded all over the place to the roof sheet metal..."unibody" style. The PH top hardware is simply bolted through the sheet metal in the 4 corners.
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Old 08-31-2020, 02:36 PM   #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DFarkas View Post
When I cut off the roof of the van anticipating installing my EB top onto my RB body, I knew there would be structural issues with the roof. Cutting all those factory cross members would leave nothing to support the heavy poptop. So I started drawing designs of what I thought new cross supports would look like.

I got in touch with a friend of mine who has a van build out company in town and we figured out a plan. I dropped my van off and hoped for the best. You never know getting into a project like this what nuances will affect the outcome.

I finally picked up my van on Friday and was more than stoked at the result. What they did was simple, elegant, and very functional. Dadoing square steel to fit perfectly at the ends of both rails front and back, then welded. Then rectangular stock perfectly fit where the front B-pillar would go and in the back where the last stock cross member would go. The added benefit of this is also having the new cross members flat so that trimming it will be a lot easier.

I woke up early and started fitting the tent fabric to the roof. I've checked out several SMB installs and didn't like them very much. Shabby work, rotten wood, millions of staples, etc. kept me from following their lead. Mark from CCV showed me what they were doing and it made so much more sense. Rather than using all those staples and wood, I used 1/2" x 1/8" aluminum flat stock, drilled and counter sunk, to go along the edges. I used butyl tape on the metal, then the tent fabric, then the aluminum with sheet metal screws. I didn't put any type of rubber gasket between the butyl tape and tent fabric like SMB does. Mark at CCV says they use Lap Seal and it's a great fit. So I tried it. So far so good. I'll be applying a little more here and there yet the final product turned out great.

The bed fits perfectly and the new structural supports make this thing a tank for strength. Now it's time to buy fabric and wood to trim out the metal and elsewhere.

Super stoked on the result.
Really like your idea for the aluminum strips. I was going to use PVC or starboard but I think you've nailed it.

Do you have any dimensions saved for your cutout or any details of the process? I'm also putting an EB top on an RB, but I think I'll shorten the frame sides like AndrewST did. I just need to know where to start that rear cut so the top sits down where it should.

Thanks!
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Old 11-06-2020, 05:12 PM   #30
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Hey DFarkas.

I might be going down the same road you did. I have a RB and have a chance to get a EB penthouse. So glad people like you are out there giving insight on these things. Wondering if and when the time comes, could I pick your brain some. Any chance your live in California?
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