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HELP, My Coleman Popup Camper Roof Won't Lower






This seems to be a problem I'm hearing over and over.  I will go over the common problems I know and how to get the top lowered.  Once you understand the lift system, you should be able to understand what needs fixing.

First I want to go over how I think the lift system works.  It is a long bolt.  Think of a bolt and a nut.  The bolt is the Wiffle Tree and the nut is the carriage pulling the cables.  When you turn the crank handle you are turning the large bolt and the nut is pulling the cables.  Pretty simple.  Where mistakes seem to happen is folks don't know that if you crank a nut down on a bolt it is really hard to get off.  We have all been there.  Removing the nut from the bicycle tire.  Stripping the nut since you grabbed the pliers to fix your kids bike tire.  Well, when you raise the top and give it that extra turn to make sure it stays up.  Well, you are making sure it stays up and tightening the nut really hard.  The nut is the carriage with the cables lifting the top and it is stuck against the stop collar.  This is the point making sure you can't raise the roof too high.  It is true the top stays up, but the top is held up by a different part of the lift system.  Having the nut stuck on the stop collar just makes it that much harder to get it free to lower.  

Why does this matter?  Well, the part that holds the roof up, like I said is a different part of the lift system.  That is the extension tube, friction disc (brake pad) and drive shaft.  What happens on that side is pretty easy too.  The extension tube is a different nut.  When you tighten this nut, it puts pressure on the friction disc.  This holds the gear cog.  The clicking you hear when you raise the roof is because the gear is being held in place with the friction disc and not allowing the roof to lower. When you are ready to lower the roof, the pressure is released from the friction disc and lets the gear slip and the clicking part can't hold the roof anymore.  That is because the nut of the extension tube isn't putting pressure on the friction disc and holding the clicking part anymore.  All pretty simple.  Where the issue comes from, is the extension tube will back off until it hits the nut inside of it.  Then it is stopped and the reverse pressures you are applying is put to the wiffle tree.  The bolt I talked about earlier.  This in turn will release the carriage nut.  So if you put a lot of pressure on the carriage nut and it is stuck really good, you have to put a lot of pressure on the extension tube to free it.  What you don't think about is the extension tube is doing this with a really small amount of threads.  You can think that there may be only one or two threads that are available to apply the pressure to release the carriage.  These threads will only last so long.  They will eventually get stripped and you can't apply any pressure to the wiffle tree and get the carriage nut free.  This presents itself as the roof being stuck up and the crank spinning freely.

How can you fix this?  

First thing to check actually surprised me when I helped someone recently.  The extension tube (where you insert the crank handle) is on the lift system with a double thread.  The extension tube threads on the drive shaft and has a second set of threads to hold the retaining nut on (part #13).  When you go to lower the top it hits the retaining nut and allows the other set of threads to transfer the force to the wiffle tree.  If the retaining nut happens to fall off, then the extension tube will just back off.  So, if your extension tube seems to fall off, you may have to put the nut back on.  Luckily it should not fall out since there is a pin keeping it in.  

So, if you have your roof up and you need it down.  Now what.  If you can't fix it by reinstalling the nut.  On a bumper level crank it is usually pretty easy.  The black cover (part #11) is sometimes only screwed on.  But normally rivets are used.  If you can get this off, then use a vice grips on the driveshaft (#5) and turn this counterclockwise.  You only need to get it started usually.  This is to break the carriage free from the stop collar.  Once it is free, the crank will usually lower the roof just fine.  This is because the extension tube threads are stripped enough to not be able to break the carriage free, but they are good enough to lower the top.  If you take off your extension tube, it usually looks ok.

On a waist level or if you can't get the little cover off due to rivets.  You can remove the wiffle tree cover.  This is not the best way but it will work.  Once you remove the cover, use a vice grips on the stop collar and hold the carriage.  Again, you usually only have to get the carriage broke free and then the crank can lower the top.  WARNING, do not lower the top with the wiffle tree cover removed.  The carriage actually rides on the wiffle tree cover and can flip and bend the wiffle tree without the cover.  

BUMPER CRANK ASSEMBLY



WAIST LEVEL CRANK ASSEMBLY

There may be other issues that are not addressed here.  You can have a bad thrust bearing, wiffle tree bearings out, acme screw issues and a whole bunch of others,  This is only the basic, but should cover 90%
Here is  stripped driveshaft.
And the matching extension tube.  Replacing both is the repair.

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