Fibreglass V steel canopy?

Submitted: Saturday, Feb 11, 2023 at 16:05
ThreadID: 145321 Views:5278 Replies:8 FollowUps:15
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Hi!

I’m about to buy a canopy for my hilux, and was wondering about everyone’s thoughts about fibreglass Vs steel?

I’m just after your every day, run of the mill canopy with windows on the sides (not a fully decked out camping arrangement), for my dogs to go in the back while I’m travelling.

I was looking at the SMM Executive V2 steel canopy because it has a higher weight rating without the need for internal supports (I may one day install a 270 awning) BUT the big trade off is the heat aspect.

Steel:
Pro: strong, repairable if it cracks (I live on 100km dirt road), SMM is relatively cheap at $4k installed and comes with roof rails

Con: heat and a bit heavier?

Fibreglass
Pro: more availability, cooler, lighter

Con: once it cracks it’s stuffed, lower weight rating on roof racks



What are peoples opinions?
(Note either way, it will be white, I will consider putting something on the roof racks just to help shade the roof more, it will be insulated and I also have a ZeroBreeze AC unit but it can only cool it a certain amount)

Appreciate any input
Cheers

(Also appreciate any reviews on the SMM Executive V2, as that is my front runner at the moment…)
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Reply By: Peter_n_Margaret - Saturday, Feb 11, 2023 at 16:14

Saturday, Feb 11, 2023 at 16:14
$4,000 ?!
For that money I would definitely build my own and I would use fibreglass sandwich panel and get huge strength (support several people on the roof), high durability (tough gel coat finish), great finish (ditto) and superior insulation (20mm of closed cell polyurethane insulation).
Cheers,
Peter
OKA196 motorhome
AnswerID: 642835

Follow Up By: Mel2 - Saturday, Feb 11, 2023 at 16:44

Saturday, Feb 11, 2023 at 16:44
Yeah most canopies I found were at least $3500 plus instillation (looking more like $5000 for arb once its installed). Unfortunately I barely have time to scratch myself so don't have time to design and build a canopy....
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FollowupID: 922442

Reply By: Member - Core420 - Saturday, Feb 11, 2023 at 17:03

Saturday, Feb 11, 2023 at 17:03
I have an abs plastic canopy for the last 6 years to carry the dogs when we're not travelling Oz. On our travels we traversed many dirt roads no issues whatsoever. I installed an internal frame to support the roofrack which carries our rooftop tent.
As far as I know, abs plastic is easy to repair if you need to. Never had to do it though.
AnswerID: 642836

Follow Up By: Mel2 - Saturday, Feb 11, 2023 at 17:10

Saturday, Feb 11, 2023 at 17:10
Thanks for that. Ill have a look into ABS plastic and see what i can find out. Good to hear that they can travell the dirt roads no worries. A friends has an ARB canopy and its a few years old now but has just fallen appart...
cheers
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Reply By: Kazza055 - Saturday, Feb 11, 2023 at 17:11

Saturday, Feb 11, 2023 at 17:11
My recommendation is the SMM mainly because I have owned mine since 2014. I had it included in the deal and at the time it cost me $3,318.18 fully installed.

Mine comes with hood lining, interior light, central locking and as you pointed out, roof bars. I think from memory it weighed in at 85kg which is about 20kg over a fibreglass canopy

My SIL at the time had an ARB fibreglass canopy and he suffered the usual ARB problems, water leaks and shattering rear glass window.

The SMM seals very well onto the tub lip and there has never been any ingress of water.

If I had gone for a fibre glass canopy I would have needed to add an internal frame to support the roof rails, this frame weighs about 20kg so ends up the same weight as the SMM but there are no internal bar/pipes interfering with the load area.

As far as heat, I would think the insulation factor of the roof lining would make the SMM cooler that any plastic top. I have run 2 fridges in the back of mine without any overheating problems.

I damaged my rear door within 24 hours of owning the car, a local panel beater was able to fix it and match up the paint

Would I buy a SMM again, without a doubt, they are well worth paying a little more for a solid product

Sorry P&M, I wanted a canopy that looked like it was built for the car and the SMM does that and after 9 years it still looks like new.
AnswerID: 642837

Follow Up By: Mel2 - Saturday, Feb 11, 2023 at 17:55

Saturday, Feb 11, 2023 at 17:55
Thanks a heap for the review. That all sounds great and sounds the same as the one im looking at (im not sure if theyve changed much over the last 9 years...)

I'm actually surprised the price hasn't gone up more (since the cost of everything has gone up in the last few years) so $3450 (+500 install) really isn't bad compared to what they used to be.

I plan on putting an added layer of insulation on the inside as well so hopefully it will suffice. Unfortunately i live in NW NSW so it does get very hot here and will take quite a bit to keep cool in summer.

thanks again, apreciate your help
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FollowupID: 922444

Follow Up By: Gbc.. - Wednesday, Feb 15, 2023 at 08:51

Wednesday, Feb 15, 2023 at 08:51
Whichever way you go, get roof racks and make a tropical roof during summer - so much better than trying to insulate. Even just a sheet of ply on the racks will make all the difference for the pooches. I had ARB on my last ute and lost 2 rear windows which meant down time back at ARB. Other than that it was OK. Had flexi and a couple of other brands on other utes also. This ute I've gone to a tray and a jack off canopy from trade tools, so about the same budget as what you have (tray was actually a cheaper option from the dealer than tub). Without doubt the best setup I have ever had.
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Follow Up By: Mel2 - Wednesday, Feb 15, 2023 at 09:07

Wednesday, Feb 15, 2023 at 09:07
Thanks I’ll do that for sure ?? don’t really plan to carry a lot on the roof but plan to have roof racks just to throw a swag on occasionally, so I’ll look into something to sit up there semi-permanently to shade the roof. Great idea, thanks ??
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Follow Up By: Kazza055 - Wednesday, Feb 15, 2023 at 10:49

Wednesday, Feb 15, 2023 at 10:49
My reason for roof bars is that I have 2 x 160W solar panels up top, one over the cab and the other over the canopy and besides charging the dual battery they will help keep the sun of the roof so therefore reduce any heating.
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Follow Up By: Mel2 - Wednesday, Feb 15, 2023 at 11:10

Wednesday, Feb 15, 2023 at 11:10
Great idea! I’ll definitely keep that in mind for down the track when the sting of all the recent purchases has eased… ??
Cheers
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Follow Up By: Kazza055 - Wednesday, Feb 15, 2023 at 14:13

Wednesday, Feb 15, 2023 at 14:13
When I was planning the install I found the 160W panel would fit onto the roof bars so just cut some slots in the panel frame and used 6 stainless steel pipe clamps to fix it to the bars.

It has been there for 9 years and has never budged.

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Reply By: Member - Jim S1 - Saturday, Feb 11, 2023 at 19:28

Saturday, Feb 11, 2023 at 19:28
Hi Mel2
re "Con: once it cracks it’s stuffed"

I'm surprised at that because I thought that fibreglass was pretty easily repaired, usually by a boat builder.
My camper is fibreglass, had a tree/branch fall on it, and we had it repaired beautifully. There was a dent and a fracture, but the repairer had no worries with it. Has been fine for years .
We have a fibreglass canopy and it has been perfect ......... no water at all, and almost no dust. Very happy with it.

Cheers
Jim
"Sometimes I sits and thinks, and sometimes I just sits." A fisherman.

"No road is long with good company." Traditional

Lifetime Member
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AnswerID: 642838

Follow Up By: Mel2 - Sunday, Feb 12, 2023 at 05:43

Sunday, Feb 12, 2023 at 05:43
Thanks for that Jim. I must have misunderstood in the past, didn’t realise fibreglass was fixable but clearly I was wrong.
Thanks for your input ??
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Reply By: Member - pedro1 - Sunday, Feb 12, 2023 at 12:51

Sunday, Feb 12, 2023 at 12:51
Re repairs Fibreglass v metal - CIL insurance give a 10% discount on fibreglass built caravans compared to aluminum . I assume easier to repair as well as more options for repairers , marine as well as caravan repairers
AnswerID: 642839

Follow Up By: Mel2 - Sunday, Feb 12, 2023 at 14:02

Sunday, Feb 12, 2023 at 14:02
Cheers. That definitely gives me something to think about… my big draw to the steel was that it was easier to repair. I suppose it still has the advantage that I can repair it myself since I know how to weld but don’t know how to deal with fibreglass but it’s not as big a deal as I first thought.

Cheers
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Reply By: Member - Jim S1 - Sunday, Feb 12, 2023 at 14:21

Sunday, Feb 12, 2023 at 14:21
Whatever material you decide on, make sure you buy a well known , trusted brand which has proven itself to many long term users.
Google, as always, is your friend.

Cheers
Jim
"Sometimes I sits and thinks, and sometimes I just sits." A fisherman.

"No road is long with good company." Traditional

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AnswerID: 642840

Follow Up By: Mel2 - Monday, Feb 13, 2023 at 11:56

Monday, Feb 13, 2023 at 11:56
Good advice ?? I had never heard of SMM but the reviews online and here seam good. Cheers
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FollowupID: 922448

Reply By: Member - PhilD_NT - Sunday, Feb 12, 2023 at 15:02

Sunday, Feb 12, 2023 at 15:02
I had an SSM fitted as a part of buying out Ranger in 2013. I would have preferred a full body job but time and availability won out. It was bought via Razorback but is badged SSM. This was optioned with 2 lift up side windows.

Since then, there has been mentions of cracking of tubs at the front corners, but not necessarily SSM related as it seems others have had similar issues. There is now an added kit from SSM that braces the front corners, but as far as I can see this isn't on ours and no cracking evident, so far. Maybe more rugged offroad usage may bring it on.

The original advertising gave a similar weight as a fibreglass/plastic type when the latter is optioned for internal bracing for greater roof loading. Also, they stated that damage to the metal structure is a job that is in line with similar work done by vehicle Crash Repairers and so there is probably plenty of business's that can do the work.

The only issue that I've had is a lock failure on a side window that not even a Lock Smith could fix or replace where we were at the time. A call to Razorback had a replacement set, at cost, sent to me promptly. This is an issue that may influence others to get a canopy with a supplier that is better represented around the country for this or replacement glass.

I did have another issue, but that wasn't manufacturer caused. The fitting Company, a big one, wired it up by ignoring the Manufacturers instructions. Not only didn't they wire up the top mounted brake light from the correct source, but they also managed to have 2 extra changes in wire colours to get to the fuse box, and they also didn't use extra insulation inside the door sills getting there. At some time, a sharp edge cut through the insulation and burnt out about a metre of wiring. It all made wire tracing a time wasting nightmare.

Overall, I'm happy with the canopy and its appearance. The higher rear of the canopy doesn't intrude on rear vision and the rounded drip bottom edge to me looks far better than many for stopping water seepage possibilities.

EDITED: One other reason why I got this canopy was that it could be colour matched to the vehicle, which also means that if damaged it could be similarly repaired by normal vehicle crash repairer's.
AnswerID: 642841

Follow Up By: Mel2 - Monday, Feb 13, 2023 at 12:01

Monday, Feb 13, 2023 at 12:01
Thanks a heap for the great review. I think I will keep going with the idea is SMM. Reviews seam good and I’m happy with the price. It’s not the prettiest but it’s not too bad and unfortunately my hilux came with a J-Deck tub so no canopy looks seamless on one of those.

Appreciate the input! The locking windows aren’t really a huge concern to me to be honest, as it will mostly be for keeping my dogs in and I will often leave the windows wide open when stopped so they can have more airflow. Hopefully the people installing mine will be a bit more diligent with theirs wiring than your people were!

Cheers
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FollowupID: 922449

Follow Up By: Member - PhilD_NT - Monday, Feb 13, 2023 at 14:13

Monday, Feb 13, 2023 at 14:13
When 1 of the 4 side window locks failed the window was closed and locked at the time. I had to crawl over all in the tub to get to the offending lock and dismantle it. Locksmith couldn't do it from the outside. As the side windows and rear hatch were all keyed alike, I needed to buy multiple replacements.
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FollowupID: 922450

Follow Up By: Mel2 - Monday, Feb 13, 2023 at 22:08

Monday, Feb 13, 2023 at 22:08
Oh yeah that sounds like a major pain in the butt! Thanks for the advice I’ll keep it in mind ??
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FollowupID: 922454

Reply By: Nomadic Navara - Monday, Feb 13, 2023 at 19:03

Monday, Feb 13, 2023 at 19:03
After having problems with my ARB canopy I went for one from Caddy. It was finished much better and the rear window is framed. Have a look at Fibreglass Alpha Ute Canopies for Toyota Hilux Dual Cab. I believe the prices are installed. If the tub tail gate is part of the central locking then you can get models with central locking windows.


PeterD
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AnswerID: 642847

Follow Up By: Mel2 - Monday, Feb 13, 2023 at 22:07

Monday, Feb 13, 2023 at 22:07
Cheers I’ll give them a look, thanks!
My tub isn’t part of the central locking but I’m not too concerned about having central locking. I’d like to be able to leave the windows open for the dogs and still lock the car :)
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