Camper Trailer Gas struts

Submitted: Tuesday, May 24, 2022 at 09:07
ThreadID: 143753 Views:7783 Replies:8 FollowUps:8
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G'day All

Last year I purchased a 2006 Campomatic XTC rear fold camper and looking to replace the rear struts. I had some work done on the trailer at a trailer shop and asked them to replace the struts while it's there as I don't believe they worked properly. They fitted new ones - 500N large struts and 300N small struts. I can open the camper on my own but cannot close the camper on my own so wondering if these are the wrong "Newton" struts ? There were no specs on the old struts as I believe they were the original ones which lost their markings.

I researched on this site and found an old thread where someone replaced his with 700N and said that they worked nicely. Then I found on a camper trailer site where someone replaced theirs with 1200N and that works perfectly.

Also, if 1200 N makes it easier to close would that then make it harder to open ?

I have since installed a small electric winch to replace the hand winch the camper came with (fitted by the previous owner) which works well but when these campers came out they didn't have a winch and were designed to be opened and closed by one person. This was confirmed after talking to a 65yo lady who has an identical camper and opens and closes her camper without a winch by herself.

Or would anybody know the correct spec struts ?

Hoping the great folk on here can lead me in the right direction to sort this out as I would be happy not to use the winch if possible.

And before the jolly jokers start with maybe I should visit the gym, I can say that I am fit, big and very strong lol lol

Cheers
Gazz

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Reply By: Member - Jim S1 - Tuesday, May 24, 2022 at 10:58

Tuesday, May 24, 2022 at 10:58
Hi Gazz
With our Ultimate camper , older one with a very heavy lid, the big strut has to be one that works in both directions ……… pushes up to open, lowers fairly gently once past the 90 degrees, then pulls up to close.
In other words it pushes up in both directions, and also applies the brake in lowering in both directions.
I’m wondering if you maybe need that type ….. they are pretty expensive.

Cheers
Jim
"Sometimes I sits and thinks, and sometimes I just sits." A fisherman.

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Follow Up By: Member - Jim S1 - Tuesday, May 24, 2022 at 11:10

Tuesday, May 24, 2022 at 11:10
Here’s a link to the Ultimate gas strut manufacturer. He might know about Campomatics as well.
https://gasspring.com.au/

Cheers
Jim
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Follow Up By: Member - Outback Gazz - Tuesday, May 24, 2022 at 11:41

Tuesday, May 24, 2022 at 11:41
Howdy Jim

Thanks for that - I will contact them and have a chat about what they think / recommend !

Since my post I have had a reply on another site from a Campomatic owner who said he fitted 1200N struts and still cannot close it on his own - something doesn't add up somewhere !

Appreciate your reply and help with this

Cheers
Gazz
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Follow Up By: Member - Outback Gazz - Tuesday, May 24, 2022 at 16:20

Tuesday, May 24, 2022 at 16:20
Howdy Jim

Contacted Precision Gas Struts - luckily enough to speak with the boss man who was extremely helpful - he doesn't believe the right struts have been fitted. He then asked for some pics, measurements and for me to weigh the rear floor part when set up - have just done all that and sent him the details. He will get back to me with what he thinks will be suitable.

He said if everything is set up properly then I shouldn't be lifting any more than 15 kg's during the opening and closing process - and I reckon at the point where I start to struggle closing it would be around the 60 to 70 kilo mark.

Thanks again

Cheers
Gazz
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Reply By: Gbc.. - Tuesday, May 24, 2022 at 13:46

Tuesday, May 24, 2022 at 13:46
Just confirming you are undoing the cantilever rack from the base for opening and closing? Need to start simple with problem solving. I had an m3. Never had an issue.
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Follow Up By: Member - Outback Gazz - Tuesday, May 24, 2022 at 14:08

Tuesday, May 24, 2022 at 14:08
G'day Gbc

yeah mate - undo the spring latch at the front to separate the base from the tent part - lift the base up til it stops just over centre then pull that down and the tent part follows til it hits the ground and latches back together - less than 60 seconds and it's set up.

Closing - unlatch the tent part from the base and lift up the tent part but once that gets to shoulder height it becomes impossible for one person to lift over to the point where it falls back down on it's own accord. With two people it's still a little bit hard but easily done.

Am I missing something ?

Appreciate your reply

Cheers
Gazz
Ps - the missus wants to buy an $800,000 Winnebago but after 40 years of swagging it THIS IS my Winnebago lol lol

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Reply By: Gbc.. - Tuesday, May 24, 2022 at 14:32

Tuesday, May 24, 2022 at 14:32
Sounds spot on mate. Yes, that one point is the hard bit for sure. Hopefully the right struts will sort you out.
AnswerID: 640654

Reply By: Genny - Tuesday, May 24, 2022 at 15:33

Tuesday, May 24, 2022 at 15:33
Be wary of using an electric winch. If some faux pas has been made, expensive damage could be done before anyone realises it's taking more force than normal.
AnswerID: 640656

Follow Up By: Member - Outback Gazz - Tuesday, May 24, 2022 at 15:47

Tuesday, May 24, 2022 at 15:47
G'day Genny

Yep - that's another reason I would like to close the camper by hand if possible and or put less strain on the tent cross bars at the top when the winch strap pulls the floor over !

Thanks for the reply

Cheers
Gazz
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Reply By: 1392 - Wednesday, May 25, 2022 at 14:36

Wednesday, May 25, 2022 at 14:36
Hi Gazz,
Let me add my bit. The gas struts act as 'constant force springs', in other words, they apply the same force across the entire stroke. This differs to coil springs which increase or decrease force with extension or contraction.
In your case, when the camper is closed, the main gas struts are applying force in the direction to open the camper. They are acting to balance the mass of the camper floor and canvas thereby assisting you to open up. If the gas struts are selected appropriately, you should not expect to see the floor start opening by itself when you release the locking clips!
When you start opening the camper and the floor starts rotating to the vertical position, the mass of the floor/canvas transfers more to the floor hinge and away from the gas struts, so the actual opening force you need to apply manually reduces and the gas struts (still applying constant force) start to take over the load.
As the floor rotates past vertical and reaches the point where the gas strut pivots align with the floor hinge pivot point, the gas struts are not doing anything in the way of opening the floor as all the force is applied to the hinge and the floor is basically in free fall. However, once the floor goes beyond the point where the pivot points are aligned, the gas struts are now going into compression, and therefore start to apply a retarding force to the floor, slowing it down.
Once the floor is on the ground, the opposite scenario is true - the gas struts are now attempting to close the floor!
If 2 x 500N struts do not provide sufficient force to assist you to close the floor, then higher rated struts are probably needed. I would look at the condition of the floor hinge point - are they corroded? Need lube? Ditto for the strut attachment points. Extra friction will detract from the gas struts performance.
1200N gas struts will not make it harder to open, but may make it harder to close. If you know who supplied the gas struts, it may be possible to have extra gas pressure applied (extra force) rather than buy new gas struts. McNaughtin's do this for free if the gas struts are purchased from them. The danger is that if you go too high, the gas strut attachments point may not have sufficient strength to handle the added load.
AnswerID: 640667

Follow Up By: Member - Outback Gazz - Wednesday, May 25, 2022 at 19:45

Wednesday, May 25, 2022 at 19:45
Thanks 1392 for your detailed reply - much appreciated !

"1200N gas struts will not make it harder to open, but may make it harder to close."

With the current struts of 2 x 500 N it is pretty easy to open but it could be just that little bit easier but I'm happy with the way it opens now. The problem is closing - I cannot get the tent part past half way up to the perfect balance point of perpendicular to the ground.

"I would look at the condition of the floor hinge point - are they corroded? Need lube? Ditto for the strut attachment points."

I have checked all that and all good and extra lube already added !

Big thanks for your reply !!

Cheers
Gazz
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FollowupID: 919749

Reply By: Rangiephil - Wednesday, May 25, 2022 at 15:24

Wednesday, May 25, 2022 at 15:24
AFAIK from my 1997 Camp'o'matic 2000 the correct large strut is 700NM. The smaller struts are about 300 NM from memory also.

The 700Nm when in good shape should just raise the front a bit when the bolt is undone and also pop the rear up a bit when the rear bolt is undone when erected..
AFAIR the role of the struts is minimised as the tent reaches vertical due to the geometry of the mounts and the weight of the floor sticking out the back.
I used to grab the side wall then and pull the tent forward while stuffing the canvas and once the floor grid goes over vertical it will want to fall down and the struts slow it down to enable final stuffing.

I fitted a manual hand winch to use when single handedly closing when on a slope to help with stuffing as I could wind then go around stuffing and then wind a bit more.etc.
AnswerID: 640668

Follow Up By: Member - Outback Gazz - Wednesday, May 25, 2022 at 20:09

Wednesday, May 25, 2022 at 20:09
G'day Rangiephil

You are on the money with this !

"AFAIK from my 1997 Camp'o'matic 2000 the correct large strut is 700NM. The smaller struts are about 300 NM from memory also."

The guy from Precision Struts told me yesterday that most rear fold campers require between 1500N and 1700N so this tells me my 2 x 500 ones aren't the right ones. So 2 x 700N would seem much more suitable.

"The 700Nm when in good shape should just raise the front a bit when the bolt is undone and also pop the rear up a bit when the rear bolt is undone when erected.."

This does not happen with mine at the moment with the current struts !

"I used to grab the side wall then and pull the tent forward while stuffing the canvas and once the floor grid goes over vertical it will want to fall down and the struts slow it down to enable final stuffing."

Today I watched a video of a Kimberley Rear Fold camper which is very similar to mine open and close and the person doing the demo did exactly that with so much ease !!

"I fitted a manual hand winch to use when single handedly closing when on a slope to help with stuffing as I could wind then go around stuffing and then wind a bit more.etc."

I replaced the hand winch that came with the camper with a small electric one with a remote and boy does that make tucking in the canvas sides so easy !

Thanks to your and all the other great replies I will get this sorted !

Giving the camper it's third decent workout since purchase leaving tomorrow for three days - still learning all about it and so far so good !

All the best
Gazz


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FollowupID: 919750

Reply By: Peter_n_Margaret - Wednesday, May 25, 2022 at 19:21

Wednesday, May 25, 2022 at 19:21
It is pointless considering gas strut pressure/force without also considering the mounting geometry (and stroke).
When I built the OKA pop top, I calculated the forces approximately, then ordered struts that were a tad longer than I anticipated and mounted them on adjustable points so that the opening and closing forces can be adjusted easily. I recently added some weight to the pop top. It easy easy to adjust the mounting positions to compensate by simply changing the mounting points.

The gas strut is visible at the front.
Cheer,
Peter
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AnswerID: 640670

Follow Up By: 1392 - Thursday, May 26, 2022 at 12:17

Thursday, May 26, 2022 at 12:17
Peter,
You are right in respect of geometry. But that is just one part of the calculation. The mass to be shifted is also critical, as is the range of movement.
In Gazz's case and for all hard floor campers, the range of movement is 180 degrees. The mass to be moved is variable across the movement range as the canvas tent, arches and anything else attached to the floor, start to rise (or lower, dependent on direction); and, the struts transition from a 'hoisting' motion to a 'retarding' motion.
In Gazz's case, and that for all owners of campers, caravans or other non-custom built equipment, the OEM has done the calculations and trial-and-error experiments and have come up with the optimum (we hope) set-up. What Gazz didn't know was the rating of the gas struts for his existing OEM design that had worked adequately for many years. Changing the geometry is not an option for most.
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FollowupID: 919753

Reply By: Member - nickb boab - Friday, May 27, 2022 at 21:06

Friday, May 27, 2022 at 21:06
You need to go back to the original Newtons & the original mounting, presumably that it is still at the original weight ??
If you need to up the pressure don't over do it ..
If you go to a good strut shop :Australia built : they can work it out for you but you will have to know the exact weight ...you can send them back to up the pressure but not reduced ..
If you change the mounting position then it will change the force on lifting and clothing
This was my experience.. good luck .
Cheers Nick b

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