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Girard 5000 Topper Service Alert

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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 :wacko:
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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07' was the beginning of the end! Beaver, dropped off the map in 09', along with Country Coach! CC tried to buy Beaver in 07' but lost to Safari and Safari moved Beaver from Bend, OR.

I might add that Beaver filed for Chapter 11 in 07'! Don't be too harsh on the few tech's that were not laid off!


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I just got done "flipping" the right slideout toppers whose threads had rotted due to time and UV exposure. It should be noted that this rig has been garaged since 2013.

This is a wonderful benefit of having symmetrical toppers: Let one third of the fabric do open-air duty, and then retire it to the roller side, doubling the life of your toppers! On a 4-slide rig, this technique can save up to $4K during a period of ownership.

A standard 7/32" RV/patio awning spline will suffice. Lessons learned:

  • Marine 303 UV blocker should be sprayed onto fabric at least biennially. Thanks to Ingrid at StoneVos for this suggestion.
  • Much effort can be waved by removing the plastic end caps first, releasing spring tension, and then simply sliding the roller-end spline and the outer extrusion with the spline remaining inside the extrusion. The outer spline is easiest to remove on the floor/bench.
  • Sew worn toppers, wash the fabric, and treat with UV shield. Allow to dry on flat surface.
  • Splines can be fed into their respective channels, on the floor/bench.
  • The best way to install spline is to line up two work tables end-to-end against a wall, have someone "feed" the fabric and spline at the far end, and pull the splined fabric in the groove, towards the wall.
  • When tightening the topper spring, start counting to 14 half-turns after taking up slack with the aluminum cover raised.
  • A standard Phillips screwdriver pointed straight up inserted between the endplate and roller allows for speedy tensioning.
  • After three half-turns, "pin" the assembly with the Phillips thru the endplate and run to the other end. Make sure fabric is centered on the roller, and not binding against the over magnet.
  • The endplates are prone to corrode, even in dry climates. Bathe them with a corrosion preventer before installing plastic endcaps. I use Boeshield T-9.

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