The Four Wheel Camper lift mechanism system consists of two sets of black composite folding panels and a black guide beam.
In the photograph above you can see the two black composite folding panels in the raised roof position. The panels are secured with a black guide beam that’s snapped to the ceiling.
Identical black composite panels hold the rear soft wall in the raised camping position. The roof is also held in place by the four gas struts located on the exterior front nose and rear wall of the unit.
Exterior Mounted Lift-Assisting Gas Struts
For the better part of thirty years, the majority of Four Wheel Campers were built without lift-assisting gas struts. The owner had to walk inside the unit and physically lift and push up the roof. While this was not difficult for most Four Wheel Camper customers, it wasn’t easy or comfortable for everyone.
With lift-assisting gas struts installed, the roof lift still requires an initial lift and push. However, once the roof lift is initiated, the gas struts begin to take over.
If you’ve ever opened the rear hatch on a minivan or hatchback on a car, you know that initial pull needed to initiate process, and then the gas struts take over and lift the door. The Four Wheel Camper roof lift experience is similar to that, only you continue the push as the struts take over, and gently guide the roof into the raised camping position.
Four Wheel Campers wrestled with lift-assisting gas struts for a number of years installing them both inside and outside as they fine-tuned the solution. Interior gas struts worked beautifully, but interfered with the living space. The exterior mounted struts were out of the way, but were exposed to the elements.
After long-term testing, the Four Wheel Camper team found that the exterior mounted struts not only worked better than the interior struts, but survived the elements. Even with the positive long-term reports, FWC owners should expect to replace these struts at some point for optimum performance. The good news is that the struts are not hard to access, and replacing them should be a quick job.
Stan Kennedy Shows Us How To Use The Pop-Up Mechanism
To showcase how the pop-up mechanism works, I asked Stan Kennedy, Sales and Marketing for Four Wheel Campers, to help me out.
Stan was the very first person at Four Wheel Campers that I contacted when we launched Truck Camper Magazine in 2007. Ever since, he’s been our go-to guy for anything we could ever hope to ask about Four Wheel Campers. Stan truly lives and breathes Four Wheel Campers. He loves the community, loves the lifestyle, and loves the product. Around here we often refer to him as Mr. FWC.
Stan (along with Four Wheel Camper’s previous Owner, Tom Hanagan) taught Angela and I how to raise and lower a Four Wheel Camper roof. For this review, I asked him to go through the motions once more, with gusto. As always, Stan was a pro.
How To Raise and Lower a Four Wheel Camper Roof
Before you can raise the roof, you need to release the six latches that secure the pop-up roof during travel.
For obvious reasons, it’s very important to release all six latches before raising the roof.
With all six exterior latches released, open the entry door, crawl in, and unlatch the rear barrel bolt. That bolt holds the rear lift mechanism in place during travel. Tom recommended pushing up a little on the lift mechanism to release the tension when unlatching the barrel bolt.
With the barrel bolt unlatched, place your hand on the rear lift panels and gently but firmly lift upwards. As you push and guide the roof up, the exterior gas struts will begin to assist your lift.
When the rear roof is completely in the up position, the lift mechanism is secured with a black strap. That wraps around a knob and snaps into place.
For the next step, you turn towards the front of the camper and put one hand on the roof and one hand on the forward guide beam. With one smooth motion, push up on the roof and push forward with the guide beam.
When the roof is fully in the up, the guide beam is secured to the roof with another black strap and snap.
The last step is to unhook the two bungee cords that pull in the soft walls while the roof comes down. Put the bungee cords somewhere you’ll remember as they’re vital to the roof raising and lowering process.
When you have removed the front and rear bungees, you have completed the roof lift. Lowering the roof is exactly the same procedure in reverse. Thank you, Stan!