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Old 01-29-2018, 03:31 PM   #1
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Terrible fitting penthouse top

Just got this back from Sportsmobile West. Bummed. Would like some outside opinions. This thing fits terrible. The problem stems from the bottom edge of the top having a horrible profile cut on it. There's a big gap starting from the drivers side back corner. By big I mean insert your fingers to the third knuckle big. This gap comes from the drivers side rear actually being 3/4" shorter than that of the passenger side rear! Very easily noticed there's too much cut off the bottom edge drivers side back corner. Looks very amateur when viewing van from behind. How would you feel getting your van back like this?
And how about the upholstery/trim job? Opinions appreciated.
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Old 01-29-2018, 04:03 PM   #2
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That top looks awful! I would not be happy with that. I think a snug fit is a reasonable expectation.

The interior OTOH, while not very attractive, isn't unreasonable for a top-only build. They have to terminate their work somewhere, unless you pay extra for integration with your existing interior. It looks like the fabric was cut to fit the newer vans which have foam blocks that exist where the gaps are.

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Old 01-29-2018, 04:27 PM   #3
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I have a customer van in the shop right now with a SMB top that is new within the last year. The fit is ok (just ok, not great) against the roof line but the gasket has already been damaged due to poor assembly. The top has been up and down two times total. You'd think the gasket would last longer than a drive from CA to OR....

The trim job inside was terrible. This will be the second van where I've completely torn out all of the SMB trim/upholstery and started fresh. It's like they put the new guys on the E-series tops or they only do them at 3:30pm on Fridays.

The frame and lift mechanism is bent and no one has even been in the penthouse bed yet. There's no structure to the frame to speak of and I'll have to reinforce a lot of it so the roof doesn't cave in when two people are up there. SMB was nice enough to put a 2x4 across the back to hold things together....

Craftsmanship gets an F in my opinion. There are some welds around where the lift motors mount...the guy pulling the trigger on the MIG forgot to turn on the gas for 3/4 of the job. None of the cuts are deburred. In fact, one corner of the frame cut through the upholstery because there was a razor sharp chop saw burr along the edge of the steel.

The wiring is bad. Thankfully the only thing they wired were the motors and lights. I don't have to redo much but I'll have to redo it all in order to bring it up to our standards. The ground wire they ran for the lights in the top was about an inch short of where they wanted to run it so they spliced an extra inch into the wire instead of placing it differently or rerunning a longer wire. The dome light at the back of the van has about 20ft of extra wire just waded up in there...and it is 4 wire sizes bigger than the factory light wiring. Love the attention to detail.

What's sad is, including yours, this is the 5th recently done SMB top I've seen that in no way should have left their factory like it did. Y'all have paid some serious money for these tops, they should get their act together or stop doing them.

BTW... I've seen many CCV tops too and I couldn't say they've been flawless either.
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Old 01-29-2018, 04:42 PM   #4
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I certainly would have exception with the result.

I'm the second owner and purchased mine 9 years after the initial build so I have no idea what it looked like when picked up. Top currently fits the roof like a glove - Is it possible (because they have some weight to them and are fiberglass) they will "settle" after a short period of time and conform to your roof line?
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Old 01-29-2018, 04:42 PM   #5
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Are you sure nothing is keeping the top from coming down all the way? On mine (1998), sometimes if I'm parked on a non-level surface the top will come down crooked and I'll have to adjust it. Or, the canvas may fold in a weird way and keep the top from coming down flush to the roof, leaving it looking a lot like the gaps in your photos. (I'm not saying this is the problem, just throwing it out there.)

If you are sure that nothing like that is going on, then for SURE I'd be taking it back to get fixed under warranty.
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Old 01-29-2018, 05:16 PM   #6
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I seriously considered having Sportsmobile West install a Penthouse top on my van. While speaking with a sales rep, I asked if I could supervise the install. I was told I could not. When I asked if I could be escorted to see them perform certain aspects of the install, I was told, and I quote, “If you don’t trust us then we are not the right choice for you.”

Well, I took this salesman's advice and settled on keeping my top stock.

With that said, airing your dirty laudry in a public forum before the installer has had a chance to fix his install is chicken shit in my opinion. This is your first post and all you have to say is “hay, look how crappy my top is, what’s your opinion”?

Forgive me if you already brought this to their attention and they told you the crappy install job was normal.

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Old 01-29-2018, 05:26 PM   #7
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carringb....yeah, I can deal with the interior, but the top is totally unacceptable with the $10,000+ price tag, that's really sad

Twoxentrix...I also own a '90's Sportsmobile and the difference in craftsmanship is night and day. And settling over time, yeah maybe a bit but it's a very uneven gap so even with a bit of settling still has a horribly cut bottom profile

BrianW...Thanks for helping out with the tip. I currently own a '90's Sportsmobile, so familiar
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Old 01-29-2018, 06:09 PM   #8
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Gar....yeah, pretty much. I've heard, "but this doesn't affect the function of the top" 3-4 times. As if it's silly to want it to look good also
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Old 01-29-2018, 09:34 PM   #9
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So what does SMB say about it? If you're asking if it should go back... IMO yes. I will say that my top hits the gutter in some spots and higher up in other areas but the only place where it doesn't seal is up front because of the channels on the Ford roof.
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Old 01-29-2018, 09:53 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by GAR View Post

With that said, airing your dirty laudry in a public forum before the installer has had a chance to fix his install is chicken shit in my opinion. This is your first post and all you have to say is “hay, look how crappy my top is, what’s your opinion”?

I don't agree that its "chicken shit" to post up about how bummed he is about getting his van after spending $10k and the fit and finish isn't great. He didn't say anything negative about SMB or threaten to take legal action, etc., he's just stating his feelings about how it doesn't fit good which is pretty clear.

I haven't had any first hand experience with SMB, but I've read and seen some videos where people point out issues and they take it back to have SMB fix them, at no additional cost. Might want to take it higher up the chain if possible to try to get it fixed.

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bad fit top

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