Linear Actuators - Anyone replace the Torsion with them?

jrod420

Observer
I have an old 1990 Starcraft with the heco torsion lift and It is really hard on the old roof. I would like to install 4 linear actuators in place of the Heco. My heco is slightly tweaked from an accident a previous owner had. Amazon has the actuators for just over 120 each, 12v, 24" stroke, 120lb, clutched/intermittent. Just looking for a reason to not do this change, it seems like a no brainer to me.
 

jrod420

Observer
I couldn't believe the lack of any info on this type of conversion/repair. When I saw the actuators I thought for sure someone had done this. Perhaps there is a drawback that I am overlooking. Is there any new production units that use actuators besides the uber pricey custom things?
 

ripperj

Explorer
It's been done, there are at least two scratch built lift up roof campers here that use them. I have an Alaskan camper hard side popup that I ordered actuators /control box and remotes to replace the original hydraulic system. I ended up sending everything back, the actuators didn't seem that robust to me, I forget their rating, but it's was way over actual roof load. The remotes were junk too imho.
I spent about $800 for the four actuators, controller and remotes from Progressive Automation. I will admit their customer service was great, they returned my order without any issues, but the controller had arrived with one actuator smashed thru the side, so maybe that was part of the reason.
I ended up buying a new hydraulic system. I'm sure if I was willing to spend more money on the actuators and controls I would have been happy

Sent from my Passport using Tapatalk 2
 

jrod420

Observer
The wiring and controls won't be an issue. The actuators I found have no rev count, just resistance clutching and intermittent up/down, like a three way toggle would accomplish.
I would mount the top fastening points to a hem-joint attached at the factory roof mounting points. I appreciate the what if something goes wrong aspect such as an actuator failure and the other three continue without the fourth and carnage may insue. Not as foolproof as the torsion setup, i get that. However a working setup would sure be slick! If you have any links to the custom popups you mentioned could you post em up for me to check out?
 

ripperj

Explorer
I'm drawing a blank on the thread titles, but one was slick, it had an upper section that lifted up exposing the windows, this was done for security I recall because he was going on some epic trip with it.

Sent from my Passport using Tapatalk 2
 

javajoe79

Fabricator
I am building my own actuators. Just mounted the gear motors. You can follow progress in my build thread. The motors are overkill but also known to be bulletproof and I got them for super cheap. Attaching acme thread and welding nuts into some tube that will ride up the acme rod.
 

Maninga

Adventurer
There's a couple of threads around Linear Actuators or builds using them, mine included. Couple of links

http://www.expeditionportal.com/forum/threads/124471-FG84-Camper-Build

http://www.expeditionportal.com/forum/threads/48351-out-with-the-old-in-with-the-new (westyss)

http://www.expeditionportal.com/forum/threads/147186-Pop-Roof-Actuators (general discussion)

If you're thinking of using the 120lb ones, suggest you don't. Really don't want to run them approaching their limit, go for the biggest you can find. I'm running them at around 15% of their capacity (1200kg), easier to keep synchronised and won't think about a load on the roof. Depending on who you buy from, limit switches, hall sensors and potentiometers are all available along with control boxes to keep them all synchronised. I bought mine as a package, would change the attachment to the roof next time but they work well enough.

Are you thinking of using them inside or out?
 
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jrod420

Observer
I would use them on the inside in almost the exact same vertical position as the factory mounting points. I really like the spring suspension that westyss used to cushion the closing gap, or slack takeup device. Ingenious westyss, simple yet effective.

I think the roof only weighs ~150lbs overall, on the high side. Just going off my, "I lifted it on and off the camper myself" weigh system. It is just unwieldy but I think 4 120lb should do the trick even with solar panel on the roof. I have no AC on the roof here as it is not needed, nor is there a boat or other heavy additions.

Westyss also has a great controller for operation of all or individual actuators at once.

I have to put this on hold for the moment as the truck now needs a new clutch, steering shaft install, clutch pedal lever and slave cylinder. Good times. Just when I wanna do some fun actuator project....Ah well. More time to plan!
 

javajoe79

Fabricator
The synchronizing thing interests me but I wonder how necessary it really is. I ran one of my lift motors yesterday to time how long it takes to travel the needed height. It takes 1:50 to move 16". I am thinking it would be simple and cheap to just have 2 momentary toggle switches, one for each motor. Then just manually switch them to lift the roof and if one motor gets ahead or falls behind, I just stop one briefly to let the other catch up. I can give up 2 minutes of my life each time I raise or lower the roof in exchange for less complexity and expense. Although I will admit it would be real nice to be able to hit a switch and walk away as the roof lifts.
 
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jrod420

Observer
The synchronizing thing interests me but I wonder how necessary it really is. I ran one of my lift motors yesterday to time how long it takes to travel the needed height. It takes 1:50 to move 16". I am thinking it would be simple and cheap to just have 2 momentary toggle switches, one for each motor. Then just manually switch them to lift the roof and if one motor gets ahead or falls behind, I just stop one briefly to let the other catch up. I can give up 2 minutes of my life each time I raise or lower the roof in exchange for less complexity and expense. Although I will admit it would be real nice to be able to hit a switch and walk away as the roof lifts.
My thoughts exactly. I was going to use a three way toggle switch for all 4 and then toggle cut off's on each one individually in case of huge speed differences. However another user found a controller that can wireless operate 4 12v dc motors all at once or individually, essentially doing what you describe. The controller is only 130 bucks, very reasonable. I don't have the link right now but I will post it up later.
 

totoro

New member
My thoughts exactly. I was going to use a three way toggle switch for all 4 and then toggle cut off's on each one individually in case of huge speed differences. However another user found a controller that can wireless operate 4 12v dc motors all at once or individually, essentially doing what you describe. The controller is only 130 bucks, very reasonable. I don't have the link right now but I will post it up later.
How about that link?
 

jrod420

Observer
actuator link

I cannot remember the amazon link. My apologies. I have since been distracted with many other things on the rig. The HECO works well enough for now, properly adjusted it goes up and down with two fingers on the crank.
 

Waverider969

New member
Does anyone know if I have to remove any gears on the HECO system before using any actuators or anything that will manualy or automatically raise the roof on my TC? Also another cheap option is to get a telescopic speaker stand (saw it in some thread) and use a drill to raise and lower it against the roof for lift. I am close to going that route but not sure if one will lift the roof of my 2000 Sun Lite Eagle SB. Also still not sure if I can do it without modifying the current HECO system to allow movement with out using crank. I'm getting very annoyed winding the handle just to have it slip out of hole and have the roof come crashing down on me. Having a stripped tooth on gear of handle probably doesn't help. That's what I got from previous owner so I have no idea how things work with a good crank handle. Ordered a replacement crank , maybe it will solve some issue.
 
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