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Old 05-15-2022, 08:10 AM   #1
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YouTube Video-adding roof gas struts

Given the ongoing failures of the electric actuators under normal, non protected use, several of you have been highly successful in modifying the system by adding twin gas struts to either replace or complement the actuator. Might you be willing to make a thorough YouTube video of your successful design, showing specific products, measured/identified mounting locations and securing devices? This is particularly of interest for those with the heavy 21series, HW, which have no secondary support lifting…just the actuator. While we all may make our own additional modifications, your proven model would be so helpful to all.
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Old 05-16-2022, 08:45 AM   #2
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According to my Amazon purchases, I used Suspa C16-15952 gas struts @ $38.42 for the pair. 40# per strut rating, 35.43" length. I took a few photos, no video. Just focused on doing the job, and solving any issues as I went. I did write up what I did in one of the threads here.

Based on my experiences, and reading the write-ups of others, the exact location of the struts is not that critical, nor is the specific strut. When I realized I had to have rear struts to make the system work properly, I started with the measurements worked out by Big Tex. But those put the lower mounting point above the bed. Since we use the twin bed configuration, having a backing plate and nuts above the mattress is/was unacceptable. I wanted the lower mount point low enough to be behind the mattress.

I was limited by the length of struts commonly available on Amazon. The longest 40# struts were about 36" extended and 23" retracted. I didn't want to go to unusual sizes, as eventually gas struts need replacement. Ordered the struts and mounts so I had them before starting.

Mounting the top of the strut about 24.5" in from the roof rear edge with the roof open gave me a starting point. I simply swung the strut along the bottom panel until I came to a lower mount point I could live with. I had to avoid obstructing he port and starboard hatches, the mount rail for the prep tables (we have 2 prep tables on the rail), and the grill for the Cool Cat. But the bottom mount had to be below the mattress line. I thought about mounting into the wood framing piece along the wall, but I couldn't get struts that long/short. And using that framing piece would have interfered with the grill/table rail on the starboard side. After picking the point, the lower mount point was moved about an inch closer to the upper point so the strut would never quite reach full extension.

I lowered the roof to check that in the lowered position, the strut length would be just a little more than its minimum dimension.

Nervously, I drilled the 3/16" holes for the #10 x 1.5" machine screws. I cut a piece of 1/4" plywood for a backing plate, and drilled it, using the mount as a template for the holes in both the wall and backing point. I used stainless steel mounts and screws just because they are compatible with aluminum and won't rust. I caulked the mount and bolted it on the lower wall. I used acorn nuts on the inside on top of the backing plate.

Duplicated the measurements on the other side. Tried it out, results were better than expected. I surprised myself, that with the mount points I picked, the electric lift is still usable. I took it off because pushing/pulling the roof up/down with a boat hook is much faster and easier than listening to the motor grind, and wondering if it's going to crap out again.

I notice that many are contorting themselves into the doorway when lifting the roof. I prefer not to go inside the door until I am ready to lift the walls. At 5ft 8, I use an extendable boat hook with rubber tips to push/pull the roof sections into place from the outside. I usually use the boat hook in conjunction with the roof lifting handles on the starboard side, but will occasionally push on the peak interior to latch, or pull on the outside angle to unlatch. Boat hook is shown in one photo.

Fred W
2019 Flagstaff T21TBHW A-frame
2022 Hyundai Palisade
last trip: Charleston, SC (April 2022)
now if I could just photos not to rotate when uploading....
Click image for larger version

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Name:	rear gas strut install.jpg
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Old 05-16-2022, 10:34 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pgandw View Post
According to my Amazon purchases, I used Suspa C16-15952 gas struts @ $38.42 for the pair. 40# per strut rating, 35.43" length. I took a few photos, no video. Just focused on doing the job, and solving any issues as I went. I did write up what I did in one of the threads here.

Based on my experiences, and reading the write-ups of others, the exact location of the struts is not that critical, nor is the specific strut. When I realized I had to have rear struts to make the system work properly, I started with the measurements worked out by Big Tex. But those put the lower mounting point above the bed. Since we use the twin bed configuration, having a backing plate and nuts above the mattress is/was unacceptable. I wanted the lower mount point low enough to be behind the mattress.

I was limited by the length of struts commonly available on Amazon. The longest 40# struts were about 36" extended and 23" retracted. I didn't want to go to unusual sizes, as eventually gas struts need replacement. Ordered the struts and mounts so I had them before starting.

Mounting the top of the strut about 24.5" in from the roof rear edge with the roof open gave me a starting point. I simply swung the strut along the bottom panel until I came to a lower mount point I could live with. I had to avoid obstructing he port and starboard hatches, the mount rail for the prep tables (we have 2 prep tables on the rail), and the grill for the Cool Cat. But the bottom mount had to be below the mattress line. I thought about mounting into the wood framing piece along the wall, but I couldn't get struts that long/short. And using that framing piece would have interfered with the grill/table rail on the starboard side. After picking the point, the lower mount point was moved about an inch closer to the upper point so the strut would never quite reach full extension.

I lowered the roof to check that in the lowered position, the strut length would be just a little more than its minimum dimension.

Nervously, I drilled the 3/16" holes for the #10 x 1.5" machine screws. I cut a piece of 1/4" plywood for a backing plate, and drilled it, using the mount as a template for the holes in both the wall and backing point. I used stainless steel mounts and screws just because they are compatible with aluminum and won't rust. I caulked the mount and bolted it on the lower wall. I used acorn nuts on the inside on top of the backing plate.

Duplicated the measurements on the other side. Tried it out, results were better than expected. I surprised myself, that with the mount points I picked, the electric lift is still usable. I took it off because pushing/pulling the roof up/down with a boat hook is much faster and easier than listening to the motor grind, and wondering if it's going to crap out again.

I notice that many are contorting themselves into the doorway when lifting the roof. I prefer not to go inside the door until I am ready to lift the walls. At 5ft 8, I use an extendable boat hook with rubber tips to push/pull the roof sections into place from the outside. I usually use the boat hook in conjunction with the roof lifting handles on the starboard side, but will occasionally push on the peak interior to latch, or pull on the outside angle to unlatch. Boat hook is shown in one photo.

Fred W
2019 Flagstaff T21TBHW A-frame
2022 Hyundai Palisade
last trip: Charleston, SC (April 2022)
now if I could just photos not to rotate when uploading....
Attachment 273345Attachment 273344


As usual, thank you Fred W for your ongoing substantive contributions to this page! Did this modification result in two or four total gas struts on the camper? I have zero struts now as my model came with none…just the single actuator. Would I also need to add front roof struts as well?
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Old 05-16-2022, 03:56 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Northwoods Bob View Post
As usual, thank you Fred W for your ongoing substantive contributions to this page! Did this modification result in two or four total gas struts on the camper? I have zero struts now as my model came with none…just the single actuator. Would I also need to add front roof struts as well?
My early 2019 came OEM with 2 roof panel struts on the front panel. I don't think they did anything, and they weren't a matched pair - 2 slightly different lengths with different model numbers. I didn't realize it at the time, but the front roof struts weren't quite parallel either.

I also have a dormer which very successfully uses 2 pairs of struts to open up the dormer from its folded position. Push on the dormer roof, and the dormer roof goes up by itself, push on the window panel, and it springs to the open position by itself.

At the time, somebody (Craig?) reported success in ditching the electric lift with 60# front struts. Although my electric lift motors were lasting longer than anybody else's because of being stored in a garage in Colorado, I was approaching end of life on the first after 15 months. I was given a replacement free when I called the factory, but when we moved to North Carolina the rain when camping, and the humidity when not, along with a few months of outside storage, took its toll on the lift motor.

While in Colorado, I did install new 60# front roof lifts because I had to redo the lower mounts from OEM screws to through-bolting with a backing plate on the port side - the screws were ripping out. On the starboard side, the screws were replaced with the same machine screws as port side, but the holes went through the upper flange of the toilet compartment cover hinge. The 60# front gas struts didn't improve much - I still used the electric lift because the roof came down in a hurry if I didn't have the electric lift. But the 60# front struts did take plenty of the load when lifting the roof. The heavier duty struts created a slight curve in the forward end of the metal, and put enough twist in the roof that it no longer automatically latches on the port side.

In studying things with the forward struts, I realized the rear roof was being suspended by the bungee cords when lowering without the lift motor - it ended up breaking one of my bungees when my 2nd lift motor quit during a trip. I also realized that the struts should be on the rear roof, not the front roof since the rear roof supports the front during raising and lowering.

I saw Craig's and Tex's research with the rear roof struts, and decided to go for it rather than spring for another $200+ lift motor. Because I needed the lower mount below the mattress line, I do not have as much fold action with the rear 40# struts as the others do. But it works anyway.

The front roof struts are still there, don't know how much impact they have. Leaving well enough alone. In your case, I would try with just rear struts, and not add forwards unless absolutely needed. You could even go up to 60# on the rear if needed - I would not go higher anywhere on an A-frame. The weight (or not) of the dormer could be the determining factor.

Gas struts are so much cheaper to replace than the electric lift. Someday(???), I may get around to repairing my electric lifts and trying them again. But the rear struts make it so easy and fast, I just can't be bothered right now.

Fred W
2019 Flagstaff T21TBHW A-frame
2022 Hyundai Palisade
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Old 05-16-2022, 05:19 PM   #5
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I started out with two on the front, based on Fred's dealer (?) fix. It worked OK, but lowering was more difficult than raising.

Once I saw Tex's rear mount it seemed more practical, so I switched.

Since then (having a plethora of gas springs and brackets) I experimented with both front and rear. My conclusion was that front and rear might be the way to go, but the springs I have are too strong and made closing difficult.

With that I decided that the two rear springs were sufficient and quit "messing" with it.

Zero regrets ditching the 12v actuator. Setup is way faster and stress free.

Thanks to Fred, Tex and others for input!
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Old 05-23-2022, 09:56 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pgandw View Post
My early 2019 came OEM with 2 roof panel struts on the front panel. I don't think they did anything, and they weren't a matched pair - 2 slightly different lengths with different model numbers. I didn't realize it at the time, but the front roof struts weren't quite parallel either.

I also have a dormer which very successfully uses 2 pairs of struts to open up the dormer from its folded position. Push on the dormer roof, and the dormer roof goes up by itself, push on the window panel, and it springs to the open position by itself.

At the time, somebody (Craig?) reported success in ditching the electric lift with 60# front struts. Although my electric lift motors were lasting longer than anybody else's because of being stored in a garage in Colorado, I was approaching end of life on the first after 15 months. I was given a replacement free when I called the factory, but when we moved to North Carolina the rain when camping, and the humidity when not, along with a few months of outside storage, took its toll on the lift motor.

While in Colorado, I did install new 60# front roof lifts because I had to redo the lower mounts from OEM screws to through-bolting with a backing plate on the port side - the screws were ripping out. On the starboard side, the screws were replaced with the same machine screws as port side, but the holes went through the upper flange of the toilet compartment cover hinge. The 60# front gas struts didn't improve much - I still used the electric lift because the roof came down in a hurry if I didn't have the electric lift. But the 60# front struts did take plenty of the load when lifting the roof. The heavier duty struts created a slight curve in the forward end of the metal, and put enough twist in the roof that it no longer automatically latches on the port side.

In studying things with the forward struts, I realized the rear roof was being suspended by the bungee cords when lowering without the lift motor - it ended up breaking one of my bungees when my 2nd lift motor quit during a trip. I also realized that the struts should be on the rear roof, not the front roof since the rear roof supports the front during raising and lowering.

I saw Craig's and Tex's research with the rear roof struts, and decided to go for it rather than spring for another $200+ lift motor. Because I needed the lower mount below the mattress line, I do not have as much fold action with the rear 40# struts as the others do. But it works anyway.

The front roof struts are still there, don't know how much impact they have. Leaving well enough alone. In your case, I would try with just rear struts, and not add forwards unless absolutely needed. You could even go up to 60# on the rear if needed - I would not go higher anywhere on an A-frame. The weight (or not) of the dormer could be the determining factor.

Gas struts are so much cheaper to replace than the electric lift. Someday(???), I may get around to repairing my electric lifts and trying them again. But the rear struts make it so easy and fast, I just can't be bothered right now.

Fred W
2019 Flagstaff T21TBHW A-frame
2022 Hyundai Palisade


When you do a take-down, do you push up on the forward panel to decouple, or pull down on the rear panel?
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Old 05-24-2022, 04:09 AM   #7
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When you do a take-down, do you push up on the forward panel to decouple, or pull down on the rear panel?
Down on the rear.
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Old 05-24-2022, 04:42 AM   #8
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When you do a take-down, do you push up on the forward panel to decouple, or pull down on the rear panel?
What Craig said. I have done both. Pulling down on the rear panel is easier and more consistently successful. Same for going up, pushing on the rear panel to latch in up position works best.

Fred W
2019 T21TBHW A-frame
2022 Hyundai Palisade
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Old 05-25-2022, 11:30 AM   #9
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What Craig said. I have done both. Pulling down on the rear panel is easier and more consistently successful. Same for going up, pushing on the rear panel to latch in up position works best.

Fred W
2019 T21TBHW A-frame
2022 Hyundai Palisade

Thanks, both!
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Old 05-25-2022, 02:28 PM   #10
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When you do a take-down, do you push up on the forward panel to decouple, or pull down on the rear panel?

Both. The front panel needs to be lifted to allow the rear to clear it and come down. The rear panel needs to be pulled down manually because it does not drop down on the port side (more on this later). Once the rear clears the front, both panels come down in a highly civilized fashion, needing just a nudge to go up or down.

This is a A122S that never had an electric actuator or struts. After reading the work of Craig and Tex, and the ongoing reporting by OYO and Fred W, I decided to install rear struts. I installed 60# 36" struts (Suspa C16-10198) 24.5" from the rear edge of the roof. And 10" down from the bottom the the hinge trim.

Before the installation it was barely possible for me to raise the roof. It took pushing up on the rear panel as far forward on the panel frame as possible, then on the front panel. Nowhere near enough leverage at the either handle.

Lowering it was a little easier. Lift on the rear handle until the panels decoupled, let go, and jump back. Both panels plummeted into the folded position.

After the installation, raising became easier. It is still not possible to raise the roof using the rear panel handle. I can raise the rear by pushing up on it further forward on the frame from the handle. Once it is about 1 foot up, the front panel is following it and the strut kicks in. Both can be nudged up into the full open position easily. The port side still needs a nudge from inside (using a boat hook) to get it to engage the front.

As mentioned, the port side does not decouple when the front panel is pushed up. Worse yet, the roof flexes and the front and rear come off track. In order to do both steps needed, I stand on the door step. I push up on the front panel handle with my right hand. With my left I reach up to the rear panel and push it up until the port side decouples. When pushed there, the panel does not flex so much. This works for me as I am 6'2" with long arms. Not a solution for my wife.

Once decoupled, lightly tugging on the front panel brings them both down. All good, except I have to be careful not to get a finger caught between the descending panels again. Another reason to get it working using just the handles and not having to push and pull in the middle.

In the current configuration, 60# struts are pretty much needed for the rear panel to pull up the front panel. The front panel does not pop up at all when the rear starts going up. There are drawbacks to the 60# struts. It puts a lot of stress on the panels and sidewalls. And the 60# struts may be keeping the rear panel from decoupling when the front panel handle is pushed up.

I think a set of 20# or 40# struts on the front panel would make it pop like it should, by lifting the rear panel handle. And then the rear struts could be changed to 40# to help with the decoupling issue.

Ultimately we want it working like new, so that either my wife or I can raise and lower it using the handles as designed. We'll settle for something both of us can do solo.

Thank you Craig, Tex, OYO, and pgandw for all the research and reporting on your installations.


Randy
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Old 06-08-2022, 05:18 PM   #11
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So I've got a 2022 A213HWOR and it already has a gas strut on the passenger side. If I got in a pinch and the electric lift died, could I just pull the lift and still get the roof up?

I think I'm going to go ahead and do the mod but I'm taking the camper out this weekend before I'll get a chance to it and the lift has acting a little slow lately. I help lift and close the roof everytime with a boat hook I bought so the motor doesn't have to work as hard, but I guess these things are notoriously problematic. I just don't want to get stuck in the campground when it decides to die.
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Old 06-08-2022, 07:18 PM   #12
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So I've got a 2022 A213HWOR and it already has a gas strut on the passenger side. If I got in a pinch and the electric lift died, could I just pull the lift and still get the roof up?

I think I'm going to go ahead and do the mod but I'm taking the camper out this weekend before I'll get a chance to it and the lift has acting a little slow lately. I help lift and close the roof everytime with a boat hook I bought so the motor doesn't have to work as hard, but I guess these things are notoriously problematic. I just don't want to get stuck in the campground when it decides to die.
If the motor dies just remove the push rod. You'll be able to lift or close manually. Might need a broom handle etc.
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