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Hydraulic lift system Hydraulic, mechanical and electrical components of the lift system
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Old 02-05-2024, 01:25 PM   #1
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Default Hydraulic lift replacement

We were raising our camper and heard a large bang. We looked underneath and the guide rod and hydraulic lift have been bent and the guide rod popped out of place. We are now stuck in the up position.

Wondering if anyone have tips on replacing, I have read a lot of forums but most have outdated information. We are located in Austin Texas.

If we force the guide rod back into the block, should we be able to lower the trailer?

The guidbar seems to be welded to the frame, should we just bend it back to shape or how do we replace it?

We will also need information on replacing the hydraulic lift since it is severely bent.

Adding that we have a 22’ 2003 Hilo towlite
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Old 02-05-2024, 11:58 PM   #2
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Hi and welcome! I haven't had your problem but others have and I'm hoping one of them can give you better advice. I suspect the damage was caused by the buildup of rust on the parts that slide against each other. HiLo suggests that you clean these areas yearly and apply a long-lasting grease to them to prevent rusting. I've used both axle grease and lithium grease and both have worked well.

It certainly would not hurt anything to try to bend those parts back straight. And, if you do, you may be able to lower the top. I don't have any suggestions for replacement parts though, perhaps others do. I suspect they can be found or made at a metal shop however - I can't believe they are unique to HiLo.

- Jack
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Old 02-06-2024, 12:39 AM   #3
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Default Do a search.

I haven't had to do this repair. Do a search as others have had to do this repair/fix. Welcome to the forum.
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Old 02-06-2024, 09:03 AM   #4
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Thank you. We have now gotten the guide rod back into place but the plate is not sliding on the rod to lower it. Still working on getting everything straightened out but looking like we will need to replace the guide rod. Still need tips on where to purchase if anyone has any! I was not able to contact j and r, if they are still in business?
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Old 02-06-2024, 09:32 AM   #5
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Sadly, J & R has retired and closed shop. I don't know where you could find an actual guide rod to replace yours except maybe at a trailer salvage somewhere.

- Jack
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Old 02-06-2024, 09:47 AM   #6
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That’s what I figured, thank you for the insight. We will see what we can find to fit.
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Old 02-06-2024, 12:09 PM   #7
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Good Morning,

Sorry to hear about the damaged lift system. Did a cable break during the lifting? I ask because I had a similar situation happen to me many years ago with a cable that broke which bent the cylinder and guide bar. If a cable did not break, you may want to check the external guide rails to see if a screw may have backed out which jammed the top when raising.

I would be very careful bending items while the cylinder is extended since the entire weight of the roof is on the cylinder and cables.

Please let us know if you find the cause of the damage as we will want to ensure we all add this to our preventative maintenance list of things to check.

Thanks
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Old 02-06-2024, 12:15 PM   #8
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All of the cables appear to be taut. How do you best recommend to find where the cable would have snapped? Did you end up needing to replace the rod and cylinder when this happened to you or were you able to get it back into position to run smooth?
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Old 02-06-2024, 12:32 PM   #9
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We seem to be able to crank up, but you can see the guide plate pulling against the guide rod as it’s extending and creating the back of the rod to bend where it’s attached to the frame, when going down we move about 3 inches along the guide rod and it stops. All the tracks around the camper seem to be tight, clean and free of loose screws. The pulleys are tight. All we can figure out is that the alignment of the guide rod and piston going into the ram are causing the plate to not glide down.
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Old 02-06-2024, 12:36 PM   #10
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All of the cables appear to be taut. How do you best recommend to find where the cable would have snapped? Did you end up needing to replace the rod and cylinder when this happened to you or were you able to get it back into position to run smooth?
If a cable snapped, there would be no tension on it. I doubt if you have a snapped cable. But, crawl under the trailer and check the cables all the way to each corner and then check outside underneath the lower edge of the top to see if any cable is "loose".

- Jack
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Old 02-06-2024, 12:43 PM   #11
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If a cable snapped, there would be no tension on it. I doubt if you have a snapped cable. But, crawl under the trailer and check the cables all the way to each corner and then check outside underneath the lower edge of the top to see if any cable is "loose".

- Jack
Thank you, I wanted to make sure we weren’t missing anything but yes, all the cables are connected and tight on all four corners.
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Old 02-06-2024, 01:51 PM   #12
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Call Jay Simon in parts at Mantelli trailer. 716-625-8877. See if he has a guide rod. Can one be made up at a machine shop? Only call him if you plan to purchase the part.
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Old 02-06-2024, 01:54 PM   #13
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I should have brought this up sooner, but.... (blame it on my advanced old age.)

The top "lowers" by gravity. If the lowering valve is open, either electrically or manually, and nothing is binding, the top will come down. So, I'd say something is binding and is holding the top up now. It COULD be something bent, or if the safety bar is not retracted properly, that will keep it up. It's also possible the guide blocks are stuck or broken on the guide tracks (on the sides of the lower half) and they are holding it up.

Can you lift the top at all, using the "UP" switch? Have you cleaned the rust off the mechanisms and greased them so that things will slide smoothly?

- Jack
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Old 02-06-2024, 02:11 PM   #14
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Call Jay Simon in parts at Mantelli trailer. 716-625-8877. See if he has a guide rod. Can one be made up at a machine shop? Only call him if you plan to purchase the part.
Thank you, we will try a local metal shop first
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Old 02-06-2024, 02:17 PM   #15
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I should have brought this up sooner, but.... (blame it on my advanced old age.)

The top "lowers" by gravity. If the lowering valve is open, either electrically or manually, and nothing is binding, the top will come down. So, I'd say something is binding and is holding the top up now. It COULD be something bent, or if the safety bar is not retracted properly, that will keep it up. It's also possible the guide blocks are stuck or broken on the guide tracks (on the sides of the lower half) and they are holding it up.

Can you lift the top at all, using the "UP" switch? Have you cleaned the rust off the mechanisms and greased them so that things will slide smoothly?

- Jack
Yes we can lift the top, when we raise and lower we are stuck within the top 4 inches. Raising sounds normal, lowering just sounds stuck. You can hear the release and then it stops. We can see the lock disengage. Upon visual inspection all guide rails on the outside, Lower side of the camper are clean and in good working order. The guide blocks could be stuck but nothing appears broken or out of place.

We did grease and clean the rod but today we will clean better and then Attempt to remove the guide rod and have a replacement made. We are trying to avoid replacing the hydraulics if we can.
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Old 02-06-2024, 03:34 PM   #16
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Can anyone show me where our manual release would be that releases the solenoid?
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Old 02-06-2024, 05:09 PM   #17
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I'm pretty sure it's the little knob that's under the positive battery cable where it passes in front of the manual raising pump. Yours appears to be one that you turn to open. This opens the return line from the hydraulic ram to the reservoir and it will allow the fluid that is holding the top up to run back into the reservoir. This must be closed, naturally, to raise the top. It's really only there as a backup in case the battery doesn't have enough power to open the valve electrically. From your post above the one with the picture, it appears the hydraulic system is functioning normally (it raises and lowers within about a 4" span). So, my guess is there's something, maybe along the guide rod path, that is stopping movement back down. I suspect you might be able to determine that problem if you crawl under and look up at all moving parts while someone else operates the lift and lowering function.

- Jack
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Old 02-06-2024, 05:15 PM   #18
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I'm pretty sure it's the little knob that's under the positive battery cable where it passes in front of the manual raising pump. Yours appears to be one that you turn to open. This opens the return line from the hydraulic ram to the reservoir and it will allow the fluid that is holding the top up to run back into the reservoir. This must be closed, naturally, to raise the top. It's really only there as a backup in case the battery doesn't have enough power to open the valve electrically. From your post above the one with the picture, it appears the hydraulic system is functioning normally (it raises and lowers within about a 4" span). So, my guess is there's something, maybe along the guide rod path, that is stopping movement back down. I suspect you might be able to determine that problem if you crawl under and look up at all moving parts while someone else operates the lift and lowering function.

- Jack
Thank you, my husband has been living under it for the past two days. The guide rod is completely clean and greased and the plate is running smooth along it. Our only guess at this point is the piston is too bent to go into the ram to allow it to go down.
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Old 02-06-2024, 10:50 PM   #19
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Thank you, my husband has been living under it for the past two days. The guide rod is completely clean and greased and the plate is running smooth along it. Our only guess at this point is the piston is too bent to go into the ram to allow it to go down.
That sounds a good possibility. I imagine that would be hard to straighten.

I've discovered that even without the kinds of problem you are experiencing, a travel trailer can become a full-time "hobby". I've spent a lot of time and money on ours over the years, improving/replacing things or just modifying things to better suit our needs.

- Jack
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Old 02-06-2024, 11:30 PM   #20
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That sounds a good possibility. I imagine that would be hard to straighten.

I've discovered that even without the kinds of problem you are experiencing, a travel trailer can become a full-time "hobby". I've spent a lot of time and money on ours over the years, improving/replacing things or just modifying things to better suit our needs.

- Jack
Definitely, we’ve done a lot to our Hilo over the past 6 years and it’s treated us well. But my next post may be for a Hilo for sale in Austin.
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