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Old 12-31-2019, 12:33 PM   #1
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T21TBHW roof actuator failed again

We are on our 3rd actuator and am looking for solutions. Gas springs etc.,

I do not know the exact measurement needed for gas springs. Currently extended the actuator arm reaches out to 62 inches. Closed not sure.

Please help. I refuse to keep buying these poorly designed actuators which require whole piece replacement. Motor and arm are built in.

Very poor solutions from forest river.
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Old 12-31-2019, 03:05 PM   #2
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I don't think there is an easy solution, or Forest River would have already done it.

Beefing up the actuator would stress the hinges and roof alignment. Double actuators would cause similar issues unless there was a mechanical link between the two. Actuators have to be mounted with motor at the bottom for power feed which causes water and dirt intrusion problems.

2019 and later models have gas struts on the front to assist the lift motor. FR installed one 34in strut and one 36in strut (both 40lb) on my 2019. So the stock FR struts do almost nothing. I am trying 60lb replacement struts (both 36in - the correct measurement for stock mounting). I will report back. Looks like I may have to beef up the lower mounting points.

FR is sending me a new actuator for free as I am just a few months out of warranty.

Fred W
2019 Flagstaff T21TBHW A-frame
2008 Hyundai Entourage minivan
Camping Colorado and adjacent states one weekend at a time.
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Old 01-10-2020, 08:12 AM   #3
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replace lift motor with gas strut

I did try to replace the lift motor with two gas struts end to end.
I could not find a single gas strut to fit the original lift motor brackets.
So i installed two struts in a tube worked OK.

End results it worked but it put pressure on the side and pulled the roof to one side when Closing i had to push the roof sideways so it would go down over the door. My camper always had a close fit on the door so i am not sure if the lift strut caused it or just a little more misalignment problem.
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Old 01-10-2020, 03:54 PM   #4
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Old 01-12-2020, 02:06 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fasanchez View Post
We are on our 3rd actuator and am looking for solutions. Gas springs etc.,

I do not know the exact measurement needed for gas springs. Currently extended the actuator arm reaches out to 62 inches. Closed not sure.

Please help. I refuse to keep buying these poorly designed actuators which require whole piece replacement. Motor and arm are built in.

Very poor solutions from forest river.

Just checking to see if you have seen this thread which has tons of discussions on the actuator failures. http://www.forestriverforums.com/for...nt-156873.html

I received a new p/n actuator from Forest River late last year. I see they added some features to help keep water out. Those changes look really poor so I added some RTV around the gaps to ensure the water stays out. I plan to do some more changes to keep the water out in the spring. The big question is, if water never gets in the actuator will it last any longer than it does today? The actuators are underpowered and the assists aren't great either. Many are trying all sorts of different approaches to remove the actuator altogether. I'm watching those solutions with great interest since my actuator failed in under 3 months of use on a new camper. This forum clearly indicates everyone will have failures and have to pay for them once the warranty expires.

My short term plan is to get two telescoping rods that have some custom ends on them to grip the roof such that two people can lift it up into position and pull it back down to close it. While camping, our actuator failed in the up/open position and it was a pain to remove the ends just so we could close the roof. We'll put these two rods in the front storage as a precaution in case the actuator fails while camping. Two people can then easily open and close the roof with these devices. Or at least that is my grand plan. Again, my spring project once the camper comes out of storage.
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Old 02-25-2020, 01:15 AM   #6
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I fixed our A214HW by using 2 40 lb gas shocks on the rear roof panel and took off the actuator. One gas shock on each side. I used this pair I bought from Amazon:
https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

And these mounts: https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

I made some backing plates from wood and placed those on the inside of the trailer, drilled the holes from the metal plates through the trailer wall and the backing plates and then used screws with acorn nuts and locking washers to mount the plates, sandwiching the trailer wall between them.

I then made a handy "pole" from 1/2 inch PVC about three feet long. I glued a 90 degree union to one end to make a "pusher/puller". The idea is to use the pole to push the roof into the final, upward position and then pull it back down to close (I'm short). I added velcro to the pole and the trailer entry "wall" so I can store the pole standing up next to the lower door between the door and the stereo. I didn't care for the shovel handle idea that others are using. Once I get the roof started down it stays up about halfway so I close the upper door and pull it down using the handle on the side of the roof.

I added a small bungee cord in a loop to one of the metal "basket hangers" on the inside of the rear roof so I can use the 90 degree end of the pole to grab the loop while pushing up on the front roof to pull the roof back down from the upper position while I'm standing in the doorway.

Works great. I can probably take some pictures and provide measurements if someone else wants to do this to an A214HW.
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Old 02-25-2020, 04:56 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by TrailerTexan View Post
I fixed our A214HW by using 2 40 lb gas shocks on the rear roof panel and took off the actuator. One gas shock on each side. I used this pair I bought from Amazon:
https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

And these mounts: https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

I made some backing plates from wood and placed those on the inside of the trailer, drilled the holes from the metal plates through the trailer wall and the backing plates and then used screws with acorn nuts and locking washers to mount the plates, sandwiching the trailer wall between them.

I then made a handy "pole" from 1/2 inch PVC about three feet long. I glued a 90 degree union to one end to make a "pusher/puller". The idea is to use the pole to push the roof into the final, upward position and then pull it back down to close (I'm short). I added velcro to the pole and the trailer entry "wall" so I can store the pole standing up next to the lower door between the door and the stereo. I didn't care for the shovel handle idea that others are using. Once I get the roof started down it stays up about halfway so I close the upper door and pull it down using the handle on the side of the roof.

I added a small bungee cord in a loop to one of the metal "basket hangers" on the inside of the rear roof so I can use the 90 degree end of the pole to grab the loop while pushing up on the front roof to pull the roof back down from the upper position while I'm standing in the doorway.

Works great. I can probably take some pictures and provide measurements if someone else wants to do this to an A214HW.
I’m on my 4th actuator and my warranty ended two weeks ago on my A214HW. Please post or send me some pictures and measurements of your modifications. I don’t expect to see this actuator last more than a few trips.
Thanks in advance.
Royboy
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Old 02-26-2020, 02:50 PM   #8
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Glad to provide some pics and data. The mounting is identical on both sides of the A214HW.

The upper brackets are mounted so that the ball is toward the ground. The ball is 1.25 inches from the roof rail top and 24.5 inches from the rear edge of the roof rail.

The lower brackets are mounted as shown in the picture with the ball located 10 inches below the side top rail edge. Note that is the "outer" edge of the rail and not 10 inches from the top of the flange on the rail.

I chose those dimensions because the gas shocks are 35.4 inches long uncompressed and 19.3 inches long fully compressed. I didn't want them fully compressed and I wanted them to provide some automatic lifting as well as some automatic closing which means the angle needed to be somewhere between 60 and 30 degrees. I think I reached a good compromise because it is easy to raise and lower. When the roof is latched the length of the gas shocks are approximately 22 inches.

Here's the process I used for installation:
1. Drill holes for the upper mounts while the roof is down but unlatched so you can see what you are doing. You may want to raise it a couple of inches with the actuator. I used the sheet metal screws that came with the mounts and coated the back of the mount with silicone sealant when I attached it to prevent water intrusion. Note the screw positions are such that at the location I chose the screws thread into both the rail and the wood behind the rail. The ball should be 1.25 inches down from the top and 24.5 inches from the rear rail edge. It probably doesn't have to be that exact but I'm an engineer so...

2. Attach the gas shocks so the extension rod is down and let them dangle. Raise the roof using the actuator (or by hand if the actuator is dead) until it is latched into place. Goes without saying that the trailer should be level for this, especially since you will need to finish the installation inside it anyway.

3. Temporarily attach the lower bracket to the gas shock and position it on the trailer side so that the ball is 10 inches down from the outer edge of the top side rail. Mark the mounting hole locations; you may remove the bracket from the gas shock if you wish. (FYI, I didn't provide a dimension to the rear of the trailer because it is curved.)

4. Drill the holes for the lower bracket where you marked them. I used #8 1.5 inch long stainless steel machine screws with acorn nuts to mount the brackets. Those are available at Home Depot. I used 1/4 inch thick MDF to make the backing plates that are on the inside of the trailer but you could use any wood you want and could even use wood screws into a thicker board; I just liked the idea of machine screws/washers/nuts. The backing plates are a little above the bed when installed. I used the bracket as a template for the screw holes in the backing plate. I used the acorn screws to prevent any sharp edges. I used silicone sealant on the brackets on the outside of the trailer when mounting them to prevent water intrusion. I didn't take a picture of the backing plates because it's a little windy today...and it's cold by Texas standards...and I didn't want to . I can take one and post it later if needed.

5. Repeat the installation for the other side of the trailer.

6. Attach the gas shocks to the lower mounts. Disconnect the wiring for the actuator, loosen the nut at the bottom actuator bracket and slide the actuator off the bracket and let it dangle. At this point you can lower the roof; you will need to make the rear roof drop off of the front roof to do this and I use my pole to do this because I'm short. If you are tall enough you can probably pull down on the roof side handle to disengage it and the roof will slowly drop down. If you are short like me then the easiest way I've found is to stand inside the door and push up on the front roof while using a pole to pull down on the rear roof. I took a picture showing the small bungee cord I attached to one of the brackets on the inside roof that I use with my pole to pull it down. Takes very little effort and is MUCH faster than the actuator. Once the roof is down, finish removing the actuator and put it away somewhere. I left the actuator brackets on the trailer just in case I ever need it again; plus, I often hang a flat TV antenna from the upper one if reception is good where we are.

Note that this installation would allow you to still use the actuator if you desire; I don't because it works so well without it and I hate when the actuator fails. Also, I did some testing (and a little math) before I installed these and determined that 40 lb gas shocks would be about right. My math made me think 60 lb gas shocks might work but be much harder to close. So far the 40s have worked great on several trips including one just last week.
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Old 02-26-2020, 03:40 PM   #9
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This thread has a photo of a block:

https://www.forestriverforums.com/fo...er-182535.html

I chose to mount to the front section. I did this mod in 2018 and it works fantastic. I estimate it's been up and down ~80 times without issue---in <1 minute.
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Old 02-26-2020, 05:17 PM   #10
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Craig,
I've seen your mod previously on the forum and I admit that's what first sent me down that path. I like your approach.

I kind of hijacked this thread (and your idea) because my trailer is an A214HW which has the front dormer with factory installed gas shocks. The front mounting isn't really an option on it so they have to be on the rear. At least I couldn't think of a good way to do it on the front without interfering with the existing shocks. The existing shocks do a good job on the dormer top. (Although FR missed the internal wood bracing on the passenger side and the bracket pulled off of the trailer; I had to reattach it with longer screws and a backing plate on the inside...but that's another story.)

I didn't think it was worth starting another thread for the A214HW since I knew so many people would just look for "actuator failures" . Seemed a good idea to add it here.
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Old 02-26-2020, 06:55 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by TrailerTexan View Post
Craig,
I've seen your mod previously on the forum and I admit that's what first sent me down that path. I like your approach.

I kind of hijacked this thread (and your idea) because my trailer is an A214HW which has the front dormer with factory installed gas shocks. The front mounting isn't really an option on it so they have to be on the rear. At least I couldn't think of a good way to do it on the front without interfering with the existing shocks. The existing shocks do a good job on the dormer top. (Although FR missed the internal wood bracing on the passenger side and the bracket pulled off of the trailer; I had to reattach it with longer screws and a backing plate on the inside...but that's another story.)

I didn't think it was worth starting another thread for the A214HW since I knew so many people would just look for "actuator failures" . Seemed a good idea to add it here.

Not a problem at all, glad it worked out. Your setup looks great.

I was just trying to show the blocking and the option of attaching to the front.
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Old 05-23-2020, 04:42 PM   #12
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Did you ever fabricate the telescoping rods to help lift the Aframe roof? I'm only 5-3 & can't do it so my husband has to always do it which means I can't take the camper by myself. We have the regular struts that come with the a frame not the motorized actuator kind. On a side note, we did have to put a metal plate inside behind each of the struts and re-bolt them both as one was pulling out after we had only had the camper a week.
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Old 05-23-2020, 08:29 PM   #13
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OYO
I have a 2019 214HW with the front strut assistance. My 3rd actuator has failed so I’m wondering if it wouldn’t be Better or just as good as yours to replace the front struts with 60# struts using the same position as the present struts. Opinion please.
Roy
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Old 05-23-2020, 08:43 PM   #14
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Heftier struts

We asked Flagstaff customer service about installing heftier struts to help me a 5'3 woman to lift the roof. However they advised against upgrading much as they set the structure of the wall might not support that and it would be harder to lower the A-frame rough back down. If you do up for 60 lb struts, you should consider putting a metal plate or some other structure on the other side of the wall and bolting through that. Good luck. I've attached a picture of our repair.
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Old 05-24-2020, 01:33 PM   #15
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Our original failed on our 2017 T21QBHW and it was replaced by the dealer with the upgraded actuator at no cost. So far so good. Our "solution" has been for me to "assist" the acutuator by pushing up on the handle as the roof is going up, while my wife pushed the button. Though not ideal, you can definitely hear the strain coming off the motor. I do the same lowering it.
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Old 05-24-2020, 04:15 PM   #16
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OYO
I have a 2019 214HW with the front strut assistance. My 3rd actuator has failed so Iím wondering if it wouldnít be Better or just as good as yours to replace the front struts with 60# struts using the same position as the present struts. Opinion please.
Roy
Hello Roy. I don't have A214, but TrailerTexan does and starting in post #6 of this thread he has some nice detail on his front gas spring replacement solution.

If you have need more you might PM him.
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Old 05-25-2020, 11:09 AM   #17
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Craig,
I've seen your mod previously on the forum and I admit that's what first sent me down that path. I like your approach.

I kind of hijacked this thread (and your idea) because my trailer is an A214HW which has the front dormer with factory installed gas shocks. The front mounting isn't really an option on it so they have to be on the rear. At least I couldn't think of a good way to do it on the front without interfering with the existing shocks. The existing shocks do a good job on the dormer top. (Although FR missed the internal wood bracing on the passenger side and the bracket pulled off of the trailer; I had to reattach it with longer screws and a backing plate on the inside...but that's another story.)

I didn't think it was worth starting another thread for the A214HW since I knew so many people would just look for "actuator failures" . Seemed a good idea to add it here.
Texan,
I’m ready to bite the bullet and forget the actuator (3x in one year). I’d like a little more info about your installation if you would be so kind. The lower bracket is 10 inches from the top side rail when fully closed and latched? Could you measure horizontally from the curved rear of the camper please? Where did you get your struts? Do you have a model number ?
I apologize for so many questions but I am very hesitant to drill holes in the side of my camper.
Roy
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Old 05-25-2020, 12:05 PM   #18
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Does your model have the front dormer? How are the 60 lb struts working?
Roy
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Old 05-25-2020, 12:15 PM   #19
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Judy
Does your model have the front dormer? How are the 60 lb struts working?
Roy
IMO: Try the 60s. If you need more or less LBs, order them. They're around $30 apiece, swapping them out takes less than a minute apiece.

Gambeling on an additional $60 and 5 minutes work is worth getting rid of the frustration.
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Old 05-25-2020, 02:18 PM   #20
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Judy
Does your model have the front dormer? How are the 60 lb struts working?
Roy
Roy
I have an early 2019 (same as a 2018) T21TBHW (same as A213HW) with the front dormer (with its 4 struts) and factory installed 40# roof struts. The 40# roof struts did nothing that I could detect, and were mismatched in length.

I tried replacing the 40# struts with matched 60# struts. Issues I have run into are detailed in another thread. The 60# forward struts, although workable, didn't work as well as I had hoped.
  • the roof doesn't go up as evenly without the electric lift as it does with it. A couple of possible causes - 1) the factory installed mounts for the 2 struts are in different places on each side so the struts are not parallel, even though they are the same length open and closed. 2) When the forward roof is raised by the struts, it must lift the rear roof by the bungy cords.
  • neither the electric lift nor the struts with a push get the starboard end of the roof ridge into the ridge slot properly. I have to manually push the ridge into place using the rear roof handle.
  • 60# struts are sufficient, but they do bend the aluminum side on the roof between the strut mount and the hinge. I need to reinforce if I leave the 60# struts on.
So I put the electric lift back on. It definitely does not work as hard with the 60# front gas struts. I intend to take my first lift motor apart - never quit completely - and see if I can clean up the gears and bearings to make it usable again. Also see if I can improve the seal at the top where the strut goes into the drive.

I didn't think of rear mounted lift struts. If you can mount them further from the hinge than the front factory mounts, I think they will work a lot better than front mounted ones. The rear roof pushes up the front roof, so it should be better and more even. I'm just reluctant to drill more holes to be the beta tester.

Fred W
2019 Flagstaff T21TBHW A-frame
2008 Hyundai Entourage minivan
camping Colorado and adjacent sites one weekend at a time
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