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Sunnyday 01-29-2018 03:31 PM

Terrible fitting penthouse top
 
9 Attachment(s)
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.

carringb 01-29-2018 04:03 PM

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.

mgmetalworks 01-29-2018 04:27 PM

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.... :rolleyes:

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.

Twoxentrix 01-29-2018 04:42 PM

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?

BrianW 01-29-2018 04:42 PM

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.

GAR 01-29-2018 05:16 PM

Sunnyday,

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.

Gar

Sunnyday 01-29-2018 05:26 PM

carringb....yeah, I can deal with the interior, but the top is totally unacceptable with the $10,000+ price tag

mgmetalworks....wow, 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

Sunnyday 01-29-2018 06:09 PM

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

daveb 01-29-2018 09:34 PM

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.

mikracer 01-29-2018 09:53 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by GAR (Post 220679)

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”?

Gar

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.

GAR 01-30-2018 07:03 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by mikracer (Post 220700)
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.

Sorry, it’s still chicken shit if the first people to hear of the problem (on the first post ever), are the folks on this forum.

Posting on product quality control speaks volumes of a company and can really effect their business. If that is not speaking “negatively about SMB”, than you’re not interested in being honest.

But apparently that was not the case here, as the OP stated SMB told him it was normal. In this case, going public for “opinions” is fair and he should have mentioned that in his first “ever” post.

Gar

bet on black 01-30-2018 10:11 AM

i think it is still valuable info to know of issues. hopefully the OP contacts SMBW and they fix the issue and he posts about being taken care of.

i would like to know if there are QC issues, and if they get resolved.

rockbender 01-30-2018 12:01 PM

Was the bedliner paint on the roof before hand, or is that something that SMB is doing now? How thick is it, and would it affect the way the top sits? Also, does the top actually sit down/bear on the roof, or is it kind of floating? I know you've got experience with the tops, but is it possible it could be bottoming on the helper springs? Perhaps the electric top doesn't have helper springs. I agree something doesn't look right. I surely wouldn't want to try to put the advertised 10 people on a top that wasn't bearing in the gutters.

gbail 01-30-2018 12:10 PM

I don’t understand why you’d double down on rudeness?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by GAR (Post 220704)
Sorry, it’s still chicken shit..... In this case, going public for “opinions” is fair and he should have mentioned that in his first “ever” post.
Gar

“Would like some outside opinions.... How would you feel getting your van back like this?.....And how about the upholstery/trim job? Opinions appreciated.”

So what, are you saying....that the OP edited his first post and then added this language? If he didn’t, and this was the original post, it sure seems clear to me that he’s just asking for others’ opinions here, as to whether—as a person new to SMB builds—he’s being unreasonable in his expectations or not.

Isn’t asking for and getting that kind of feedback what this Forum is also about?

In any event, as a long time Forum member I’m embarrassed to see the rude, unwelcoming language you chose to use to a brand new member. I’d really have hoped that, once you “slept” on your comment and revisited it after cooling off, that you realize it was unnecessarily harsh. Instead you just doubled down on it.

Too much commentary following online news and opinion articles these days devolves so quickly into abusive responses....let’s try to do better than that here.

86Scotty 01-30-2018 12:31 PM

OP, I had a 95 SMB pop top I bought in about 2010 or so, so 15 years old when I got it. It had this issue on one side occasionally. I added a box, rack and solar which helped push it down but I was never satisfied with it either. Being old when I got it and me living nowhere near an SMB location I just removed the trim and checked everything (springs, blocks, etc.) Occasionally I could wiggle it as it came down and get everything to fall into place perfectly. You should NOT have to deal with this on a new product, especially a $10k one. It should've never passed quality control, if there is such a thing, at SMB.

daveb 01-30-2018 01:06 PM

Usually it's a good idea to see some kind of introduction for the first post but this forum is kind of a think tank as far as Sportsmobiles go. There are a lot of SMB owners who are lurkers and this forum is the logical place to get answers. IMO the way the OP put it together with proper pictures was OK. If it was more of a rant, well that might be a different story.
Just remember that one of the main rules on this forum is to be nice to each other. Keep it civil.

@Sunnyday, I'd like to hear what SMB does for you. Please post back what happens. I've got some of the best service with SMB compared to other companies I've dealt with. Give them a chance and maybe mention that several members on the forum think it needs to go back to the shop for some tweaking.


Flux 01-30-2018 01:10 PM

My top fit great, but yeah, some less than desirable interior stuff and wiring, but I knew that going in. Guess I was lucky.

Take it back and make them fit it right or put a new one on. No way that should be going down the highway.

shenrie 01-30-2018 01:41 PM

with the money spent and the end result, i would not be a satisfied customer. plain and simple.

GAR 01-30-2018 02:15 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by gbail (Post 220720)
“Would like some outside opinions.... How would you feel getting your van back like this?.....And how about the upholstery/trim job? Opinions appreciated.”

So what, are you saying....that the OP edited his first post and then added this language? If he didn’t, and this was the original post, it sure seems clear to me that he’s just asking for others’ opinions here, as to whether—as a person new to SMB builds—he’s being unreasonable in his expectations or not.

Isn’t asking for and getting that kind of feedback what this Forum is also about?

In any event, as a long time Forum member I’m embarrassed to see the rude, unwelcoming language you chose to use to a brand new member. I’d really have hoped that, once you “slept” on your comment and revisited it after cooling off, that you realize it was unnecessarily harsh. Instead you just doubled down on it.

Too much commentary following online news and opinion articles these days devolves so quickly into abusive responses....let’s try to do better than that here.

The original poster stated in a follow up post that he talked to SMB prior to posting here and was told the imperfections were normal. -That was the part I was referring to in my “doubling down on rudeness post”, when I said "he should have mentioned that SMB said it was normal in his first post."

Many here earn a living building American made products for others. If something is not right, it’s a common curtesy to first bring it up with the builder, and not post a bunch of pictures asking for opinions in an open forum. The OP likely already had a good idea it was not right, or he would not have asked us for our opinions. My response was not meant to be gentle.

Thank you for your opinion, I’ll continue to keep my comments civil.

Gar

BroncoHauler 01-30-2018 02:30 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by 86Scotty (Post 220723)
... Being old when I got it and me living nowhere near an SMB location I just removed the trim and checked everything ....

Come on Eric, you're not that old yet.

86Scotty 01-30-2018 05:26 PM

IT being old! I feel older now having had two rusty vans.

:b5:

Kunz 01-30-2018 09:24 PM

Is it all locations doing bad work?

Sunnyday 01-30-2018 10:53 PM

A update...not trying to put anyone on blast, or be negative, but to share my honest experience.
They receive the tops straight out of the mold from the manufacturer. They've addressed this issue to them before and they say there's no easy fix (my thought at this statement is "so you know there's a issue, but don't address and keep throwing them on your customers vans?!!")
What they're looking at doing now on their end is removing material from the passenger side rear and side to match that of the drivers, then replacing the trim edge piece with a wider one to accommodate whatever gap. Thankful they acknowledged an issue, however, what this means for me is another 16 hour drive, time away from work, gas and hotel, with my fingers crossed it comes out better the second time. Not a dick, entitled, complainer type. Don't expect things to be perfect. Just a bummer to finally get the chance to build the dream van and a funky top gets put on. Anyways, thanks for the opinions. I'll update after fix is done

GAR 01-31-2018 06:48 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Sunnyday (Post 220758)
A update...not trying to put anyone on blast, or be negative, but to share my honest experience.
They receive the tops straight out of the mold from the manufacturer. They've addressed this issue to them before and they say there's no easy fix (my thought at this statement is "so you know there's a issue, but don't address and keep throwing them on your customers vans?!!")
What they're looking at doing now on their end is removing material from the passenger side rear and side to match that of the drivers, then replacing the trim edge piece with a wider one to accommodate whatever gap. Thankful they acknowledged an issue, however, what this means for me is another 16 hour drive, time away from work, gas and hotel, with my fingers crossed it comes out better the second time. Not a dick, entitled, complainer type. Don't expect things to be perfect. Just a bummer to finally get the chance to build the dream van and a funky top gets put on. Anyways, thanks for the opinions. I'll update after fix is done

Sunnyday,

Fair enough brother. I sincerely hope you receive the quality you paid for.

To you and everyone else:
Never settle for “there is no easy fix.” What a salesman is saying when he tells a customer this is, “this will cut into the company profit margins,” which it does, but happy customers beget future customers and on it goes.

If SMB has identified a problem with the fiberglass tops, then they should suspend future production until said problem is eliminated.

Quality work will sell itself. People who buy these vans/ tops expect quality and are willing to pay for it “the first time.” SMB should be willing to compensate you in some way for your gas and time on this one. Shame on them if they don’t.

And personally, I would not settle for a quick fix, but in this case I’d insist on a new top that fits. My guess is they rushed the trim job on this top after it left the mold and now they want you to eat it. Let them put this top on one of their personal vans and supply you with one that fits without extra trimming and a larger gasket.

Please keep us updated on how they resolve this and if they make good on your time and expense.

Kind regards,
Gar

JoeH 01-31-2018 07:00 AM

SMB charges a premium. As a consumer I expect it to be a premium product. For the most part it is but it's certainly not the first complaint I've heard regarding SMB west. This forum is the place for feedback and the discourse is civil. Where else would you go for an educated and informed opinion from well-reasoned enthusiasts?

Welcome to the forum Sunnyday and good luck with your issues. I recall a similar thread wrt Colorado Camper Van and it eventually go settled. We're not throwing around chump change here and the buyer has rights too.

Jsweezy 02-01-2018 05:37 PM

Well almost sorted...

Colorado Camper Van Review (CCV)- Buyer Beware - Expedition Portal

JoeH 02-01-2018 07:21 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Jsweezy (Post 220860)

Ouch. That's a hard read. The older thread is pretty similar. COLORADO CAMPER VAN LLC-**Do business at your own risk** - Expedition Portal**

LosAngeles 02-01-2018 08:13 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Jsweezy (Post 220860)

Oh man - that makes me so sad to read all that. :eek:

:confused:

john

GAR 02-01-2018 10:57 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Jsweezy (Post 220860)

Ya read something like that and it makes ya glad you never purchased one! Time for this guy to contact an attorney.

Gar

rallypanam 02-02-2018 08:22 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by GAR (Post 220888)
Ya read something like that and it makes ya glad you never purchased one! Time for this guy to contact an attorney.

Gar

Well, except that after all that he says he’d still do it.

GAR 02-02-2018 09:53 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by rallypanam (Post 220914)
Well, except that after all that he says he’d still do it.

True, good point, and i do remember reading that. My take away is this: “Burn me once, shame on you, burn me twice, shame on me.” But in all fairness, the guy also infered that if the job was not rushed, it likely would have turned out differently.

Gar

JoeH 02-02-2018 09:56 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by rallypanam (Post 220914)
Well, except that after all that he says he’d still do it.

Seemed like the reasoning was more from a safety factor standpoint than anything else. I didn't realize the SMB penthouse top was that inferior or dangerous:b1:

BroncoHauler 02-02-2018 09:59 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by GAR (Post 220924)
... But in all fairness, the guy also infered that if the job was not rushed, it likely would have turned out differently.

Gar

True, but it was CCV that caused the rush after failing to meet the agreed upon timeline.

The instances of SMB quality control issues and CCV quality control issues, just show you that both small and large outfits can have problems. I'm willing to work with companies when I have problems with their product, but if there's a lack of support after that sale, that's when I get really pissed off.

Just like buying parts online. I can usually find a cheaper, similar parts online made in China, but if ever expect there to be support after the sale, I'll pay more for a US-based company that will provide a level of expectation for returns or exchanges if there's a problem.


Herb

rallypanam 02-02-2018 11:16 AM

I think the main takeaway (on anything) but in particular with these two instances of sub-par work from both SMB and CCV is.. don't leave with your van if it's not done correctly.

It's a pain, but you're much better off getting a motel for a few days or flying home and coming back in a week or two than having to either go back, or try and have them compensate you for doing the work on your own.

Essentially, once you've paid the vendor for a half assed job, and they don't have your van anymore, you have a lot less leverage.

rallypanam 02-02-2018 11:18 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by JoeH (Post 220925)
Seemed like the reasoning was more from a safety factor standpoint than anything else. I didn't realize the SMB penthouse top was that inferior or dangerous:b1:

SMB top is definitely inferior. CCV top is much stronger both up and down. And a lot bigger.

Not that the SMB top is bad (at least when properly installed!).

Vanimal 03-24-2018 11:14 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by gbail (Post 220720)
“Would like some outside opinions.... How would you feel getting your van back like this?.....And how about the upholstery/trim job? Opinions appreciated.”

So what, are you saying....that the OP edited his first post and then added this language? If he didn’t, and this was the original post, it sure seems clear to me that he’s just asking for others’ opinions here, as to whether—as a person new to SMB builds—he’s being unreasonable in his expectations or not.

Isn’t asking for and getting that kind of feedback what this Forum is also about?

In any event, as a long time Forum member I’m embarrassed to see the rude, unwelcoming language you chose to use to a brand new member. I’d really have hoped that, once you “slept” on your comment and revisited it after cooling off, that you realize it was unnecessarily harsh. Instead you just doubled down on it.

Too much commentary following online news and opinion articles these days devolves so quickly into abusive responses....let’s try to do better than that here.


WELL said! I for one have been contemplating a penthouse, because I am not a big fan of the bubble having owned a 1973 Ford Bubble, and I just prefer the low profile. I have considered the Colorado company but they are all tooo expensive, and I am cheap, especially if the quality will be as such. I despise arrogance, and sometimes confidence can be misunderstood as such but on occasion I feel that SMB does come off a little too "confident" when I have spoken with them regarding a top install! I have considered this conversion since 2005 and have seen the price rise from $7000.00 to what it is today and honestly, a camper shell prices are $1700.00, how difficult is it to cut the top off the van with a plasma or cut off wheel mount and install the canvas, wire the motors and trim itI think $7000.00 was a fair price but $10,000.00 and to receive a finish product as such is unacceptable.
Several questions are in order. Traveling to have this done to their location and waiting the 2 days to have this done is already adding cost, fuel, hotel, food ect... To have them keep it longer when you come in for final inspection is again unacceptable even if he had brought it to their attention on pick up and did not have time to wait for repair. Why was this released without Q.C. I understand about the upholstery and tying it into existing trim but the fit and seal is my issue. I just may settle on bubble from Fiberine they are in my back yard! Thanks for this post it confirms my thoughts.

86Scotty 03-24-2018 11:23 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Vanimal (Post 224263)
I just may settle on bubble from Fiberine they are in my back yard! Thanks for this post it confirms my thoughts.

Bingo!!! I did a CCV top living in Tennessee. I had to go back once to have it fixed. I didn't count the cost but these days I would. No way I'd have them do a top UNLESS I lived right there or I was retired and also had a lot of money to waste.

:b5:

BrianW 03-24-2018 04:00 PM

Terrible fitting penthouse top
 
Safari Condo in Quebec makes a very nice product from what I’ve seen. I recently checked with them and they will do a pop top from 7000-10000 CAD $$, depending which model (they have three). I believe they only do them on GMC/Chevy vans. Said it would take 2-3 days. With the Canadian dollar price against the US dollar, that’s not a bad deal.

It’s a shame they don’t have any US dealers. They will do a full conversion for US customers, but it’s “bring your own van” only due to export rules I guess.

86Scotty 03-25-2018 07:32 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by BrianW (Post 224275)
Safari Condo in Quebec makes a very nice product from what I’ve seen.....

I agree. That may be the best deal going, especially if they can honor that 2-3 day turn around.

Vanimal 03-29-2018 03:17 PM

Safari Condo in Quebec makes a very nice product from what I’ve seen. I recently checked with them they have three.

Yes I called to confirm. They do not do Frogs, I mean Fords.

Brian which style and manufacturer do you have and can we get inside pics?


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