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Old 01-16-2020, 04:41 PM   #1
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Pop top gas lift support struts

So I own a van with a pop top and the support struts suddenly stop holding the top up. The struts measure 35.5 inches fully extended and support is 150lbs each. The 35.5in length seems to be unusual as I don't find it on most sites I have looked at. I was able to contact the company they came from who had newer replacement models with the same specs but they want 35$ to ship, which is more than the cost one one strut.
I have been able to find struts with similar specs but not exact, with free shipping on other sites.
My questions are: would a 3/4-1in longer strut work, and would a stronger lift, say 185lbs, also work without any problems. While the 150lbs struts do assist with the lift I wouldn't mind a little more umph when first starting to lift the top. I'm just concerned the extra strength might be bad for the mounting points.
And last, does anyone have a method to compress the struts for installation?
I appreciate any feedback.
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Old 01-16-2020, 06:28 PM   #2
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Pay the shipping and directly support a small business. Free shipping from wholesalers has spoiled us. Margins are thin in the real world.
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Old 01-17-2020, 06:06 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by simplesez View Post
Pay the shipping and directly support a small business. Free shipping from wholesalers has spoiled us. Margins are thin in the real world.
I agree with supporting smaller companies BUT when they're charging exuberant shipping costs its a tough choice. Not for me because I will only accept fair shipping costs---there's too many sellers of any one product so shopping around can save money.

I can't speak to how stronger or longer gas struts would work in your application however there are quite a few suppliers and manufacturers with parts close to your existing specs. Doing a Google search for gas struts should find these.

I offer this having searched for gas struts to fit Snap On tool boxes. Those are probably purposely built to a certain size differing from "stock" struts making them almost proprietary to Snap On's boxes---they do carry a higher price due their limited need for any other application.

Other than those you should be able to find something suitable for your use. If nothing else call the OEM and ask about shipping, ask if they're at all flexible with those costs.
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Old 01-17-2020, 10:24 AM   #4
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Pop top struts

I have no issue supporting small businesses, though I'm not sure this company would be described as that. Maybe I have become spoiled with so many retailers offering free shipping but I just don't want to pay more for shipping than the cost of the thing I'm buying.
And I understand that they need to make money, but I also need money as i am not rich and these vehicles are not cheap to buy, maintain or run, as I'm sure most of you know.
I have reached out to the company to inquire about reduced shipping but have not gotten a reply as yet.
I have done searches online for struts and can find many offered that are nearly the same but I was concerned about whether they need to be exact as I don't want to cause any issues down the road that will require more repairs. My thinking is that they do not and a slightly longer or stronger strut would work just fine but I figured with all the knowledge and experience of people on this site someone has dealt with this before.
I was also hoping someone would have a better solution to compressing the struts for installation. I have been trying a ratchet strap but it keeps slipping off before I can compress it enough. But so far that seems like my best option.
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Old 01-17-2020, 01:46 PM   #5
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Can they be installed in the extended position? Use a prop to hold the top up?
I think a longer strut would would cause issues over stressing the top fabric.
A little bit higher rate would probably be a better choice if you can find that in the correct length.
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Old 01-17-2020, 02:46 PM   #6
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If the top has struts, I’m assuming it’s a GTRV or Pleasure-Way?
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Old 01-17-2020, 05:47 PM   #7
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Pleasureway pop top

Right you are. 2005 F250 Pleasureway.
The recommended strut size is 35.5 inches and they are several inches longer than the mounting points with the top fully extended. I have been unable to compress them enough to fit them. I assume they used the longer length for a reason but maybe not. So would a longer or stronger one be detrimental to the fabric? Would a shorter one work just as well?These are the questions I'm pondering.
I'm pretty sure I can get them to compress with the ratchet straps but I gave up after the first hour and went to this forum for help.
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Old 01-17-2020, 08:01 PM   #8
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I sold my Traverse last fall so unfortunately don’t have it at hand to look at. I do know some people have upgraded to “heavier” lift struts if they carry items on the roof or have heavy solar panels, etc. I wouldn’t put shorter struts on as you want the canvas top to be tight.

My guess is that the OEM struts were installed before the canvas was secured, allowing the roof to extend higher and making the struts able to be installed.

Have you removed the old struts yet? If not, here’s an untested thought: put the top up, support the front corners with braces, and remove the existing struts. Maybe there will be enough extra play in the canvas to allow the top to go up a bit more so you can install the new struts. Or you may have to loosen the canvas where it attaches to the van roof if you don’t want to mess with pre-compressing the struts. (There are videos online how to do this.)
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Old 01-18-2020, 01:14 AM   #9
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Pop top struts

I have removed one strut. That is how I found out it is longer than the length of the fully extended mounting points. I have the top supported with some PVC pipe but i wanted to put the strut back on and close the top while awaiting the purchase of the new struts.
One method is saw and plan on trying tomorrow is to attach one end of the strut to the mounting point then use the ratchet strap to compress it. Having one end attached is supposed to help to keep the strut from moving and slipping out of the strap.
If that works I've found a pair of struts that are just 3/4 inch longer and 185 lbs vs 150lbs that I think I'll try.
I appreciate all the responses and advice. If anyone has other ideas please let me know.
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Old 01-18-2020, 01:57 PM   #10
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Pop top struts

Just fyi- mounting one end of the strut then compressing it with the ratchet straps worked. Much easier than trying to do it with both ends loose.
Now onto ordering replacements.
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