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  1. I've been wrestling with a full-wall slideout topper since I bought this 2007 Beaver Patriot Thunder. As with most things, the problems trace back to incorrect maintenance. Early in its history, the long mast (these systems are engineered for much shorter lengths) cradle became loose, and the fabric-wrapped roller tube fell onto the top of the slideout. Someone replaced it with their own hardware, long boltsets which tore at the fabric and chewed holes in the aluminum extrusion (pn 1110089-30 Slide Lead Rail) in which the spline is retained. To compound their incompetence, they lined the cradle with duct tape, which broke down over the years and formed a sticky length of rope, impeding the roller action and shattering the mounting plates on either end. All that stress loosened the mounting brackets. In attempting to clean up their mess, I'm faced with grinding out the damaged backside of the second articulating rail. It is only a $60 item, but shipping for a single 30' length is a whopping $700. By comparison, an entire new topper system is $3,800 plus about $1,000 in shipping. The $1 million question for me: did the dealer from whom I bought the rig know this cascading maintenance failure was in play? If they did a decent inspection of the rig -- they had it long enough to install a Silverleaf system and day-night shades, front to back -- it would've been apparent. I noticed small tears in the topper fabric, some chipped paint on the outer portion of the rail. Of course, there was no way to see the massive damage inside until I cut the old fabric off, today. Recommended Action: Inspect topper fabric for tears, and observe extension and retraction for smooth operation. Lift the cover on longer toppers and check for security of the cradle mounting hardware, and check to see that nothing is binding during movement. Remove end covers and carefully inspect pn 1511100-00R Side Plate Assembly with Gudgeon Support to determine that the corners of the support adjacent countersunk holes have not cracked or broken (symptoms of binding). Following Girard procedures, remove tension from the topper, detach the topper fabric, and tighten the Allen screws that hold the entire assembly on the RV. I found 20% of mine either loose or missing. Time in service: 7 years Mileage: 30,000 miles Failure to accomplish these checks can lead to the assembly coming off the RV at highway speeds, which can cause injury or death to others. [My plan is to use aircraft building/repair techniques to rivet the cradle to the extrusion. Allen bolts will be dipped in thread locker, and then have torque seal applied after installation. The rail is unusable, I'll have Girard cut three ten-foot sections for shipping. This plan passes muster with my expert on all things Girard, Kevin Waite. He can be contacted at 541 953-6162 or by email at kvn.wt.7629@gmail.com.] Followup: Girard mentioned that the articulating extrusions are stacked, i.e. the fabric can be mounted to either. I used a bungee to hold them upright and closed the slide. To my absolute horror, the extrusion did not clear the mounting brackets, bending it backwards the same way your air conditioning unit did, that time you drove under the 12' overpass with a 12'2" rig Really. This is a manufacturing error by Beaver. The poor stupid technicians who rebuilt the cradle and saw the worn fabric simply didn't see that, upon closure, the fabric was sandwiched between crushed sections, and then mauled as the rig moved down the highway. Still, check your toppers. That tube for one weighs some fifty pounds and will leave a mark if it hits anyone, catapulted off your rig at seventy feet per second. Chances are, the strip didn't bind against the roller assembly when the bus rolled off the line. At 30 feet, a small amount of sag took place, and soon the parts started binding. Inept technicians failed to see what was happening, and inadvertantly made the situation worse. You humble correspondent is simply the boy with the shovel that follows their ugly parade...
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