I need help troubleshooting my 1997 Sun Valley Lift System

Miss Karla

Member
Jul 10, 2017
43
I have a 1997 Coleman Sun Valley pop-up by Fleetwood, and I am having problems with the lift system! Initially the problem was an occasional loud clanking sound when cranking up. I believe I diagnosed the problem correctly as too much slack in the chain, which was causing the chain to slip. I put in a few washers as spacers ( 3 on each side to be exact), and after I did that the clanking sound went away & the camper lifted ( and sounded) as it should. I did notice that the camper seemed to crank slightly harder after adding the washers, but otherwise seemed to work properly.
Next I repaired my dreaded ABS roof with the MEK\ABS pellet and Grizzly Grip method, which went great! I put the camper up and down several times after finishing the roof & everything seemed fine, though it was still a but tough to crank, but I just figured the stiffness of the crank was due to the extra washers I had put in..."maybe I should have only have put in 2 washers on each side instead of 3 ?" I said to myself.....but by this time the back panel had been riveted back on, and since the pup seemed to be working fine, I wasn't going to rip off the back panel again just to take out a couple of washers.
So I went to the campground to enjoy my "new" rig for the first time, but it would barely crank! Didn't want to snap the cables by forcing something, so I managed to get it down & left it alone over the winter....too cold to work on anymore last fall.
So fast forward to today....finally found the time to figure out why it's cranking hard...here's what I've done & found so far...what are your thoughts?

1. Took the bottom plate off under the camper. All cables seem to be under equal tension and do not look frayed. Cranked the camper up, but was still about 4-5 inches short from being able to get it all the way up. Too hard to crank and I was afraid I'd snap the cables. When I raised it, all four corners raised in unison to the same height. Upon lowering, all corners did so equally, leading me to believe the cables are at pretty equal tension.

2.Inspected all cables behind the lift arms as well as I could and everything seemed to be in order. However I did notice something when I crawled under the camper: The draw bar that encircles the wiffletree rod, (part that slides back and forth along the wiffle tree when you raise and lower the camper roof, & to which the cables are attached,) was not sitting parallel to the ground. It was at more like a 45 degree angle so that it had carved a groove in the plywood underside of the camper. I understand the wiffletree cover is supposed to keep the draw bar from twisting too much and to only raise & liwer the roof with the WT cover ON, but wondering if the etching on the plywood ( draw bar at too great an angle) could be part of what is binding and making it hard ( and later impossible) to crank the roof up?
3. Next I removed the chain and removed one of the washers on each side of the chain mechanism, leaving just 2 washers on each side.
4. I checked both the upper crank mechanism and the lower one ( the one that is attached to the wiffletree rod) to make sure they both moved freely when not under the tension of the chain, & both seemed to move as they should.


So here are my questions....
1. Do you think the problem of now not being able to crank my camper up hardly at all has something to do with the draw bar on the wiffletree rubbing on the plywood and metal plate & not being able to move freely?
2/3/4. I would expect the draw bar to have some back & forth movement as it moves along the length of the wiffletree, but shouldn't it stay ROUGHLY parallel to the ground? It doesn't seem right to me that it would be at such a steep angle that it carve a groove in the plywood....and if that is indeed the case, what is supposed to keep the draw bar level? Is it only the wiffle tree cover that keeps it level? The tension of the cables? Something else?
5. Or is the problem more likely that the camper needs a new upper crank mechanism? Maybe a nylon bushings has become worn or cracked? When cranking clockwise (up) you can feel something kind of "catching" partway though each revolution...it doesn't crank smoothly all the way around each revolution.

Any insight or thoughts you have would be greatly appreciated!! I just finished gutting the inside, redoing the cabinets, trim and hardware; reupholstering all the cushions & making new curtains; adding mini-blinds; replacing the floors; bracing the camper roof internally with unistrut to take 5 inches of sag out of the roof caused by the A/C unit and thereby eliminating the leak that was occuring, and most recently I repaired and rebuilt the outside of the roof and front & back panels using the MEK/ ABS patch method and then covering it with 3 coats of grizzley grip. In short, I have worked my frighin' fanny off, and I'm gonna be super PISSED if I can't figure out what's wrong with the lift system and end up having to junk my camper! HELP!!!!!
 

Miss Karla

Member
Jul 10, 2017
43
Yes sir! I lubed everything well last summer and haven't taken it out since the incident where it wouldn't crank.
 




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