tips for one guy removing/re-installing a camper shell (bed topper)
i really want to take this thing on and off. it's fiberglass. on a long bed pickup. how heavy are we talking here? is it something i should attempt on my own? i've got some 2x4's i can use as 'ramps' next to the bed rails... herc' it up, easy it down, do some minor swearing and light grunting... should be good to go right?
any one have any advice or tips from past experiences trying to man-handle a snug top on their own?
any and all advice/words of wisdom are appreciated in advance!
The previous owner of my topper built a giant U shaped frame that the truck could drive into. Hard to describe, but if you were holding a soft tortilla in your hand and filling it with fajita stuff, your hand would be the frame and the fajita stuffing would be your truck. There are two pipes that span across the frame holding the topper just above the bed. I drop the tail gate, lift open the topper rear window, back the truck just about all the way under it. Then I crawl inside the bed, hunched over, and like a giant turtle lift one end of the topper just enough to spin one pipe off of the frame and set it in the bed. I do the same for the other pipe. I push it to it's final location and tighten down the clamps.
Removal is the exact opposite, just remember to pick up a pipe before you lift so you can spin the pipe under the topper and on top of the frame.
It was welded out of about 1" galv pipe but it could be made so many different ways. If you have the room you could sink tall fence posts for uprights and make the front to back rails out of pipe, or 2x4, or what have you.
My topper is only on the truck a few days a year. The rest of the time is is giving shade to my push mower and keeps the rain out of my wheelbarrow.
I'll posts pics when I get back home this weekend.
Last edited by LeoJr; 03-11-2014 at 11:52 AM.
Funny with the fajita analogy! I lived in California where they call them 'shells.' I now live in Oregon and they call them 'Canopies.' And now I see you call them 'Toppers.' It's just funny to me that different areas call them different names.
I hear them called camper shells also, which always confuses me, because it makes me think of a slide-in camper.
I had a fiberglass 8' shell that wasn't too bad to move with two people, but I could not do it myself without some kind of lift. I later got an aluminum shell that I could lift up on my own by standing in the bed, but even then it was awkward enough to not be something I'd want to do on a truck with a good paint job.
Funny, I didn't mean to refer to the topper (what I call them)as a taco, just trying to describe how the stand works.
It's hard to make out the details in the pic, but all the pieces you see are welded together, except the two that run under the topper. I have them zip tied to the frame thinking it make be a little more wind tolerant.
when i had a cap on my old pickup, i had brackets with eyebolts in them. i used to back into the garage, un clamp the cap, get inside and lift the cap a bit so i could slip a bracket under, and hook ropes to the eyebolts. the ropes were then hooked to a block and tackle setup mounted in the rafters. 2-3 tugs on the rope tied to the side wall would lift the cap 3-4 inches off the truck. then i would tie off the pull rope and drive out.
my neighbor used his engine hoist because he did not have a garage, only a shed.
i built a steel "H" frame for him that went on the end of the hoist.
roll it in, and lift the cap off.
Tom, I like the pulley idea. I suppose it could be pulled up to the ceiling still making that part of the garage usefull?
I put mine on today. I lifted the truck slightly so it no longer fits under it like it used to. I picked up some old school camper jacks for cheap and will use them when I am ready to take it back of. The jacks will let me drop it down closer to the ground so it is not a falling hazard.
Depends on your resources, I've manhandled a few on my day though, including a very heavy carpeted fiberglass one. So if you're not going to setup something like they suggested above I have some tips, which is what I think you're after.
First issue is bed protection, something to keep you from scratching the bed if that's important to you. Boards can work well for this.
Remove the tailgate, so much easier not to have to work around it.
Start by turning it sideways on the truck.
Put long boards as ramps on the back of the trucks bed floor.
Wet the boards so the canopy slides easier and shimmy it back and down on the boards.
These are pretty general, but a lot depends on where you want the shell to end up?