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Old 05-07-2010, 01:56 PM   #1
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Neal and Bev's Avatar
Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: Nashville, Tn
Posts: 392
Default Replacing the Hydraulic Ram

Replacing the Hydraulic Ram and Guidebar
Written by Alex Lopez, and reprinted on HTF with his permission.


Disclaimer: The following is personel experience, it is given only as reference, and any use of this information is done at your own risk.
************************************************** ******************************

This is one project that I am VERY familiar with. I got up on the roof of my Hilo as
it was halfway up and a bent the ram and guidebar.

The parts are available from HiLo, they may not be specialized but, they WILL fit
and that is worth the money. I spent about $300.00 for a brand new piston and glide

There are a few tools that you should get, it will save you the trouble of having to
run out.

1. Ty-wraps
2. Socket wench set
3. Vice-Grips
4. Cotter pins, (I used two stainless steel bolts instead)

First if the top is up measure from the the A-Frame to the bottom lip of the top
portion. Subtract about an inch and cut four 4x4 or 2x4 to support the top. (It
helps if you have slack in the lift cables)

After you have secured the top in the 'up' position, release the manual valve on the
pump to allow the ram to retract. (If you cant make the ram go back in thats OK, as
long as there is slack in the cables.)

Remove the cotter pins on the guide bar and on the piston base. Give them to someone
and have them get you replacements or nuts. lock nuts, and bolts that will do the

Find the two pulleys that attach to the head of the piston, use a socket wrench and
loosen them, I used ty-wraps to hold the cables taunt on the other pullys so as not
to have them fall off of the other pullys and cause more work later.

Pull the ends cables out the side of the trailer, do not remove the nuts or change
them, just pull them out to allow for you to access the cotter pin and large pin
that holds the piston.

I would now disconnect the lines that go to the pump. I used a two liter soda bottle
with the top cut to allow the fluid to drain. ( I wouldn't reuse the fluid, its
transmission fluid so it is eazy to get.)

NOW comes the fun part.

The guide rail is held on one end by the frame and by a pin that stops it from
comming out. Loosen the guide rail (it should be able to move as the pin was removed
and you should have a replacemnt by now. (The pin is usually rusted and over time
seams like it is one with the rail, I had to break the head of mine off to get it
out) You may need to drill the pin out of the guide rod. I would break it off and
drill out on a bench but definatly remove it from the trailer to do so.

If you can get the Rail out do so now, if it is too tight you may need to release
the piston from the frame to allow it to move into the right angle.

Once the rail is out, look for the safety bar that sits ON TOP of the piston. If you
have a helper, make sure they hold it as you move the piston out. (It is heavy and
leaves a large bump on your forehead, everyone knew I worked on the trailer for two
weeks after it fell on my head!!!)

If the pin is still holding the piston against the frame remove the the pin now,
Twist the piston so that the fluid drains into a container. After the piston has
drained, slowly (watch out for the safety bar) move the piston out, you may have to
twist it as the fluid connections have to go through a notch on the center support.
Look out for the safety bar!!

Set the piston down, look up at the empty space and smile, if you did not watch out
for the safety bar, you wife will be asking if you are OK as you are in pain and
wonder if you cracked your head open.

I used the vice grips to hold the ram and remove the head, I was told that there are
two types of heads one that screws right onto the ram (the head has a treaded hole)
and one that has just a hold and use use a nut to hold it on.

Attach the head to the new piston. I used a rubber strap and held it with the vice
grips very close to the head (outside of the range of travel into the piston when
top is down, this may be hard for you to tell as your rod is pitted and has been up
for a while it may not have a marking to help you) This allowed my to spin the head
onto the shaft.

Put the Guide rood into the slot on the head and put both the base of the piston and
the guide rod into the center supports. Once the rod has traveled far enough to have
the other end in go ahead and put both ends of the guide rod in. Use a trywrap to
temporarly stop the rod from coming out.

Make sure that the safety bar is set correctly. Attach the piston to the frame, put
the pin back in and hold it in place with the cotter pin or bolt. Reattach the
cables to the head. Push the rod out to remove slack. Replace pin on the the guide
bar, remove tywraps that were used to hold cables tight, make sure all cables are in
pulleys and that they are lined up, add fulid to the pump if needed.

Raise top remove 2x4 supports. Lower top, Raise top, Marvel and the wonderfull work
you did, Call wife over and say LOOK at what I did!!!

Take a shower!!

I hope this helps..

Alex Lopez
************************************************** *****

2001 Hi-Lo 22TL
2010 F150
Neal and Bev is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-17-2010, 09:51 AM   #2
Join Date: Aug 2010
Posts: 3
Default Guide rail

Nice article, but a question.

Can the guide rail be removed without removing the hydraulic ram or removing the pulley assembly at the end of the ram?

Mine is bent.


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Old 08-19-2010, 02:55 AM   #3
Join Date: May 2010
Location: rio grande valley, TX
Posts: 44
Default Guide rail

It can be replaced but you may have to hack-saw it to remove. I used a recip saw with metal blade (SawzAll) The rod is mild steel and saws easily. You will have to extend cylinder rod all the way out to get the rod in place. It is a puzzle but can be done. If you get stuck it is not too hard to remove cylinder. A hassle but it can be done. See my recent thread under " hydraulic cylinder "
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Old 02-02-2023, 03:25 PM   #4
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Location: Baton Rouge LA
Posts: 1
Default Reinstall rebuilt hydraulic cylinder

I’m having the hydraulic cylinder from my 17 ft Hilo rebuilt. Do I need to purge the air out of it on installation or will it self purge.
Douglas Sherwin is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-07-2023, 05:00 PM   #5
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Location: Far West Texas
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Send a message via Yahoo to RCREYES

Originally Posted by Douglas Sherwin View Post
I’m having the hydraulic cylinder from my 17 ft Hilo rebuilt. Do I need to purge the air out of it on installation or will it self purge.
Welcome to the forum! It is self-purging. You will probably have to cycle it a few times.
2404T, 2003 2500HD 4X4 GMC Sierra SLT Crew Cab w/Astro camper shell and 2003 Chevy Tahoe LE 4X2
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