View Full Version : Lift Assist
01-30-2010, 07:47 PM
I had been a member of the WTW forum but either I have been deleted as a user or there is some problem with the site not recognizing me. Anyway, there has been some interest in supplemental lift assists for FWC type campers because the factory spring loaded end panel lifts are not adequate for some owners with or without stuff on the roof of the camper. This is a spring ‘04 photo that I just scanned in from when I had just completed my camper and was using it before even cutting an upper top window for it. The original top was just thrown together, the next year I replaced it and located the gas springs inside, paired in the center of the roof. Someone on WTW was going to sell their camper because of inadequacy of the factory lift. They bought the inside gas spring lift assist that FWC sells but apparently that didn’t help evenly lift the roof. I would imagine that springs could be added like this to a FWC or ATC and provide even lift assist for the entire roof, at least that was the experience with my camper.
01-30-2010, 09:19 PM
I haven't had any problems with my roof but do you have a picture of that setup with the roof down?
01-30-2010, 09:35 PM
Do you have any pictures of the springs once you put them inside too? My Northstar pop top is pretty easy to crank up with nothing on the roof but once I get a couple of canoe up there, the first few inches of the cranking are difficult without someone else pushing up on the roof. I'd like to put some gas lifts like yours. How many lbs lift are they and where did you purchase them? How are they mounted? How hard is it for the roof to come back down? I was thinking with the gas lifts attached and no load on the roof it might actually be difficult to get the pop top to drop back down into place. Does the inside mount cause the fabric to bunch up and get trapped under the roof?
I don't particularly care for the way FWC mounted their interior lift springs, side to side rather than back to front as you have them.. I'd prefer to see them as you have them but inside the camper.
01-30-2010, 10:29 PM
Northern Explorer - I think that is the only picture I took of the camper with the outside gas springs. With the roof closed they were completely compressed.
Kerry - the springs are 60# force each and they can completely support the roof on their own but it is also supported in the up position by folding end panels. The roof lowers easily but I suppose if you had too much support it could be difficult. I got them at an online austin hardware web site which has changed over the years and no longer seems very user friendly. You can find sites to buy Atwood springs that look better including stainless steel ones that are for exposed conditions including marine use, I think. You would just have to do some simple geometry to figure what length you would need and for mounting the attachment hardware which is all easily available online. E-bay usually has gas springs and hardware listed also. They come in various # of force, I suppose you would have to estimate the force you want but you can use geometry again to calculate the force based on the angle of your mounted strut plan. Inside the camper struts wouldn’t work very well oriented front to back because it wouldn’t allow the fabric to fold in.
01-30-2010, 10:53 PM
Thanks. Yes, I was wondering how the fabric could fold in. Does your spring location interfere at all with entering and exiting the bed?
Why did you switch from the exterior mount? On mine, the easiest place to get solid mounting locations would be on the outside like your original system. It would widen and camper and make the springs vulnerable to tree branches etc.
Do you have to pull your roof down to overcome the springs? If so, how do you hold it down until it is latched?
Hmmm?? Wonder if I could put them on the front and back instead of on the sides?
01-30-2010, 11:09 PM
The springs are in the way some. I do have to pull on the folding end panels to bring the roof down but once down it stays down and is easily latched down. I put the struts inside because I wasn’t sure how they would last being exposed to the elements, I suppose stainless steel marine ones would be more weather resistant. Another reason to mount outside front to back is that mounted inside, especially with the roof down, there is a lot of force that would want to bow the sides of the camper out. That definitely is not a problem with my steel frame camper but might be with others. If your problem is initial lift keep in mind that with the top down most of the force is lateral rather than vertical, vertical force is maximum at full extension due to the geometry, looking at the pics I included makes this pretty obvious. It definitely is not a perfect solution but it works for me. I have put a canoe on the top of my camper but I took it off before trying to lift the top. There have been pictures on WTW of struts located at the front outside of a FWC camper so it is also possible, I like having the lifting force more central and less at the far ends of the roof.
01-30-2010, 11:30 PM
01-31-2010, 12:04 AM
WTW is Wander the West. A very nice site, but has been getting less and less use.
Homemade's lift is very similar to the FourWheelCamper factorys lift, which I have seen in action and do a great job. With the factory installation, it is about a 30 second operation to remove the lifts with the top open if they get in your way. If I hadn't gone to an Alaskan I would have gotten those lifts in a heartbeat.
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