Update for today. My 8 yr old daughter has been helping me every step of the way, every day. what a trooper she is. Loving every minute of it and she never wants to stop.
Today I had several conversations with Forrest River parts, and Steph was great at getting back to me almost instantly. I've ordered all new lift springs, telescoping tubes, chain connectors and a new crank handle. All should be enroute to me tomorrow. A lot of work to install it I'm sure, but it should
be popping up like new after that. Surprisingly, parts weren't very expensive.
Last night I finished up the lap joint on the sides, added 6 wooden 3/8 dowels to each for rigidity. Looks good I think. Splice joint is about 18 inches back from the end to avoid landing directly where the uprights bolt to the roof.
Couldn't locate and blue Formica in stock anywhere, so I settled on a tan marble. Blends in fine with the existing roof material and the counters/floor etc. In reality you won't be able to see much of it when the pup is raised as the canvas and tracks cover most of it, but at least I know its there. Makes be feel better knowing there will be less exposed wood. Used best quality contact cement I could find, and then routed the edges to finish it off.
Being over 8ft long, this has a butt joint as well.