Truck canopy clamp tricks?

RedF

Adventurer
I figure you overlanders should have some tricks for canopy hold downs. My clamps keep working loose, I'm sure from the rough gravel road I travel to work.

I currently have 4 aluminum clamps securing my 6' midsize fiberglass canopy down, one per corner obviously. What can I do to keep them snug beyond periodically putting a wrench to them? Just give up and bolt it down? I don't fancy drilling any more holes in my truck than necessary, but I don't fancy loosing my canopy on the highway either!.
 

obscurotron

Adventurer
I don't think bolting as giving up. the clamps were from the dealer to get you home, correct?
Sounds like the OP has j-clamps, or some variation thereof. If so, they are not meant to "get you home", but meant to be the actual attachment method. I have 4 of them on my Leer which lock into the cargo rails on my Tacoma. They do work loose sometimes and I have to attack the same problem.

My choices are going to be (and what I'd recommend):

1. Lock washers
2. Lock-tite
3. A small tack weld of the bolt to the clamp, just enough to keep the bolt from moving, but small
enough to remove the weld with a cold chisel or a hand file.

If the OP is really worried, you could fashion a couple of nylon straps as backups. Bolt one end to the shell, the other to a hard point of your choice.

Or just make checking the mounts part of the monthly maintenance routine.
 

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southpier

Expedition Leader
....I have 4 of them on my Leer which lock into the cargo rails on my Tacoma. ....

exact set up I have. never touched them since day two, when I went in and made sure the dealer did his job.

I did buy 2 extra, thinking it would compress the sealing gasket more evenly if there were 3 on each rail, but in 42k miles I've never gotten around to installing them.



edit: if there's no anti-seize on the bolts, shouldn't corrosion have frozen them tight by now?
 
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RedF

Adventurer
Lock washers I could do. Thread locking compound is possible. A tack weld wouldn't really work, as they're aluminum clamps w/ steel bolt. Jamb nuts aren't possible with the style of clamp I have.

 

modernbeat

Jason McDaniel
On my '76 K25 longbed and '77 C10 shortbed the stake pockets have a 1" hole at the bottom. I'm thinking about adding long bolts or all-thread going from the below the stake pocket through a hole in the lip of the camper top. This would be in addition to the clamps.

FWIW, I haven't had as many issues with my '76 as I did with my 2003 2500 Chevy. The clamps walked all over and I'd regularly find the last two had fallen off no matter how tight I made them. The issue is that the camper would move horizontally in relation to the bed when the truck would flex.
 

RangerXLT

Adventurer
I felt like the C-clamps got in the way and looked out of place. I dropped six 1/2" bolts with fender washers and lock-tite for mine. I feel like 1) Zero chance of the canopy shifting when I'm on rough terrain 2) The eye-bolts double in purpose; they hold the canopy down and work for cargo tie down as well. Thats just my opinion though. I understand not wanting to drill through the bed.
 

obscurotron

Adventurer
I felt like the C-clamps got in the way and looked out of place. I dropped six 1/2" bolts with fender washers and lock-tite for mine. I feel like 1) Zero chance of the canopy shifting when I'm on rough terrain 2) The eye-bolts double in purpose; they hold the canopy down and work for cargo tie down as well. Thats just my opinion though. I understand not wanting to drill through the bed.
They do get in the way, but I have a newer Tacoma with that stupid composite bed. I'm not even sure I can access under those rails and if I can, I'm not sure they'd hold very well. A lower profile J-clamp would be nice, at least.
 

4x4x4doors

Explorer
Try flipping them over.
Mine look very similar to yours and the seating/clamping surface is not the same on both pieces. There is a slight angle to the surface of one of the pieces and mine has the angled (and grooved surface) on the canopy side (top) and the smoother surface under the bed edge.
(Realize those may not be the same as mine but its worth looking.)
Also do you have gasket/foam between the bed and canopy that compresses when you tighten down? Can't see it but doesn't mean its not there.
 

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Mikedoubleu

New member
Lock washers I could do. Thread locking compound is possible. A tack weld wouldn't really work, as they're aluminum clamps w/ steel bolt. Jamb nuts aren't possible with the style of clamp I have.

I had those on my truck with a small piece of rubber (like rad hose thickness) under one of the clamp's feet to kinda push back against the bolt. Also had lock washers and never had a problem.
 

RedF

Adventurer
I use 6 of those. Never had them work loose but I snug them down pretty dang tight.
I may have to source a couple more. It would add some peace of mind. The topper cost me $350 and some fuel, but would cost me at least 5X that to replace with one as nice in the correct color. I'd like to protect this one.

I felt like the C-clamps got in the way and looked out of place. I dropped six 1/2" bolts with fender washers and lock-tite for mine. I feel like 1) Zero chance of the canopy shifting when I'm on rough terrain 2) The eye-bolts double in purpose; they hold the canopy down and work for cargo tie down as well. Thats just my opinion though. I understand not wanting to drill through the bed.
Six 1/2" bolts? You must mean 5/16 bolts, or you're planning on lifting the rest of the truck from the topper.

Try flipping them over.
Mine look very similar to yours and the seating/clamping surface is not the same on both pieces. There is a slight angle to the surface of one of the pieces and mine has the angled (and grooved surface) on the canopy side (top) and the smoother surface under the bed edge.
(Realize those may not be the same as mine but its worth looking.)
Also do you have gasket/foam between the bed and canopy that compresses when you tighten down? Can't see it but doesn't mean its not there.
These ones can't be flipped over. There is a longer "arm" on the bottom to reach up past the lip on the bed rail.

The foam is intact. I sort of wonder if the plastic rail caps on the bed rail are contributing to my problem.

I had those on my truck with a small piece of rubber (like rad hose thickness) under one of the clamp's feet to kinda push back against the bolt. Also had lock washers and never had a problem.
I was thinking about a similar strategy regarding the rubber. Something that will allow a little more purchase than painted sheetmetal.

Thanks for all the help so far everyone!
 
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