RESTORING/REPAIRING MY NEW 1971 SKAMPER. ADVICE NEEDED!

Discussion in 'Camper Restoration Projects' started by woodsman1st, Dec 14, 2013.

  1. woodsman1st

    woodsman1st An outdoorsman of 78 years no exp w/ pop up trlrs

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    This old 71 Skamper is my first Pup, I have never even been in a Pup before; I don't have any manuals or info of any kind to help me restore this; so I am hoping to get some answers from those of you with the experience and knowledge that I lack.
    To date I have patched quite a bit of the canvas and that's about 80% completed; not much help needed there other than advice on what to use to waterproof the old canvas. Any suggestions?

    My biggest problem right now is repairing the lift system, and that's about 70% done.
    I am still having difficulty in raising the roof; in the videos of the newer models I see tiny little women raising their roofs with one hand. When I started on mine it took two men and a strong boy to raise the roof; after a lot of work it now only takes a strong man to raise the roof. The problem is that I'm 78 and disabled; so I need a few answers to make raising the roof a little easier.
    I understand (now) that my pup must be almost perfectly level in order to raise the roof; I believe I may have found one last problem related to my pup being level. Hopefully someone can advise me on this.
    My four posts to raise the roof are not all the same height; but I dont know if the difference is enough to cause a problem; here are the measurements.

    Measuring from the top of the aluminum body to the top of the posts, these are the measurements:
    The Left Front post is 45 1/2 inches from the body;
    The Left Rear post is 45 inches from the body;
    The Right Front post is 45 inches from the body;
    The Right Rear post is only 44 inches from the body.
    QUESTIONS:
    FIRST:
    Is the right rear post being a full inch lower than the other 3 posts enough to cause a problem in raising the roof; could that one inch difference be enough to make it harder to raise the roof?
    SECOND:
    The other 3 posts are 45 inches as shown but one of them is 45 1/2 inches; is that half inch difference enough to make it harder to raise the roof?
    THIRD:
    Finally; it is the Left front post that is the highest at 45 1/2 inches; and the Right Rear that is the lowest at 44 inches. That actually makes my roof slope from the Left Front to the Right Rear by an inch and a half; that does seem significant to me; but is it really.
    Being disabled i really dont want to crawl under my pup unless it is truly needed, or there is a strong suspicion that I do have a problem. In either of those cases i will start on it right away. Not being lazy; it hurts. lol

    Those differences seem small to me; but something is still making my roof too difficult to raise; could those differences be playing a part in it?

    I have checked, cleaned and lubed with a Silicone Spray every one of the pulleys and made sure that they turn freely and easily; that includes the 3 pulleys in each of the 4 posts that raise the roof; I also cleaned and sprayed each of the 4 posts with Silicone Spray.

    It has been strongly emphasized to me that my pup must be level in order to raise easily; that is why I'm wondering if the differences noted above could be causing me additional problems.

    I sure would like some advice on this; because as I said I dont know anything about Pop ups at all.
    If anyone thinks those measurements could cause a problem, using the scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being no problem at all and 10 being a severe problem; would any of you who answer please indicate the severity of the problem in your experience.

    I really have to get this roof easier to raise and lower as I normally camp alone in the boonies; and help will not be around should I need any.

    Thanks for any advice or comments.
    Ken
     
  2. Hanne

    Hanne New Member

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    A favorite and reliable waterproofing product is 303 Protectant. Starbrite Waterproofing & Fabric Treatment is also well regarded.

    As far as the lift system I have no knowledge, but cannot figure out why there would be a purposeful height difference in the posts. Instinctively I think that it would cause some problem. I don't know how much of your lift system is easily visible, but assume you have examined it for any thing that may be bent and pinching or fraying a cable. There are not many Skampers around so I wish you the best in resolving your lift system problem.
     
  3. woodsman1st

    woodsman1st An outdoorsman of 78 years no exp w/ pop up trlrs

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    Hanne;

    Thank you for your reply, and the suggestions for waterproofing my canvas.

    Regarding my lift system; first my Pup was owned by an elderly woman, who I beleive hasn't used it for several years since her husband passed away. However, her grandsons have been using it; but apparantly haven't maintained anything on it; other than a very few quick fixes so they could take it out once more.
    Almost 90% of the lift system is visable; with only the pulleys in the four arms hidden from view; and the bottom of the winch where the clutch is located.
    I have taken everything apart with the exception of the winch and clutch.
    While apart, I cleaned everything and lubed it with Silicone Spray so that all the pulleys, which were all frozen and unable to turn, and one cable wedged tightly between the pully wheel and the frame are now turning freely. I not only used the Silicone Spray on the pulleys, but cleaned and sprayed all four posts with the Silicone Lube. (That seems to be controversial, with some posters agreeing, and others opposing lubing the posts.) They all now turn freely, including the pulleys in the four posts, which were also dismantled, cleaned and lubed. In each of the four corners there is a roller, or bushing, where the cable makes an abrupt turn upwards; all four of these "rollers" were frozen in place with grooves cut into them from the cables. A member from the other Forum has kindly started to make me four new "rollers" that sound like they will do a much better job of turning as the cable moves over them; I expect them to be here any day now. Meanwhile I have a fresh side without grooves facing the cables; so while they still refuse to turn, at least they have a smooth side to them to allow the cables to move easier.
    The cleaning and lubricating I have done so far has made a good improvement on the ease of raising the roof; but it is still nothing like the demo videos showing a small woman raiseing the roof easily with one hand. I feel certain the new "rollars" will also be a big help; but feel almost positive that it will continue to be very difficult to raise the roof.
    Because of that feeling, I looked elsewhere for possible problems and found the differences in the post height.
    I'm not at all sure of my next comment, but it seems logical.

    I was extremely careful to measure from the exact same points and came up with the differences in the height of the posts that I mentioned in my last post here.
    Since posting those differences in height, i have done a lot of searching in this Forum and found a member who stated in another thread, that; "All four posts to raise the roof should be within 1/4" of each other". However, he was talking about another brand of Pup.
    Now I have your comment that "Instinctively I think that it would cause some problem".
    I have some 4 or 5 PM's out to other Skamper owners regarding this, but so far no replies. I don't think this is a topic that many Pup owners are familiar with due to the lack of, or difficulty in finding, information.

    However, based upon my measurements, your comment, and the comment stating the difference should be no more than 1/4", I now think that I simply cannot ignore the differences ih height of the four posts. I certainly dont think that adjusting the cables until they are all within 1/4" is going to hurt anything...other than me. lol I am pretty disabled and based upon previous work under my Pup, feel certain this will hurt some; oh well, that's what my pain pills are for.lol

    One last opinion from you if you don't mind. With the left front post being 1 1/2" taller than the right rear post, and the remaining two posts being the exact same height as each other, and only a 1/2" lower than the left front post, I feel that its possible that only 3 posts are raising the roof instead of all 4 posts raising it equally; and that could be causing a "bind" when raising the roof; thus making it more difficult.
    Would you agree?

    I really don't want to crawl under my Pup and spend 3 or 4 hours or more fixing something "that ain't broke"; because it really will hurt me; but I don't believe I can ignore this. Would you agree? I just cannot think of anything else to "fix".

    Thank you again for your reply Hanne; I really do appreciate it.

    Oh one last thing; after describing my lift system in detail, a couple of experienced posters told me my lift system is very simular to the Coleman; only instead of a "whiffle tree", I have a bar going across the bottom of my Pup just forward of the single axle. That may help you figure out what my lift system looks like.
    Thanks again and a Merry Christmas to you and yours.
    Ken
     
  4. George Rose

    George Rose Member

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    Let me start by saying I know nothing about a Skamper. [8D] I am pretty mechanically talented though. I am fairly certain that there should not be that big of a difference in the height of the lifting posts. Something is out of whack. I am also concerned that the rollers you mentioned do not roll. It may not seem like it by looking at it, but that friction multiplied by four corners will add up to a lot of added force.
    So far I have done nothing to help you but reinforce what you have already figured out. I apologize for not being more helpful.
     
  5. Grn Mtn

    Grn Mtn New Member

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    I camped last year next to a couple that owned a Skamper (1974, I think). He is somewhat of a genious at making things work and finding deals on old camping stuff. He owns literally TONS of old campers and equipment and is very resourceful. If you can't resolve your problem with the resources here, PM me and I will try to reach him on your behalf. Good luck, we love the old campers!
     
  6. woodsman1st

    woodsman1st An outdoorsman of 78 years no exp w/ pop up trlrs

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    Grn Mtn & George Rose;

    Thank you both for your replies.

    George,
    Your reply is more helpful than you may realize; first, you confirm my suspicions that that seemingly small difference in the height of the posts could be significant. Then you point out that the "...friction multiplied by four corners could add up to a lot of added force". I hadn't even considered the possibility of adding the resistance of the four corners would, or could, be more detrimental than just a single corner. Now that you have pointed that out, it makes absolute sense to me.
    Just for your information, the rollers (for want of a better name) are extremely poorly designed and manufactured. I find it very hard to believe that they came this way from the manufacturer; but due to any lack of evidence, such as old welds, or anything else indicating a change in the design, I must believe that is exactly how they were made. Plus as another poster pointed out to me; pups were designed as an entry in the camping world, and a low price was everything; so quality and corners were cut to keep the price low.
    Now as to why they do not turn, that is actually very simple, and either the Mfg. or whoever may have modified it, they were almost criminal in the design.
    The Rollers are 1 1/8 inches tall, they fit into a square tube that is 1 1/8 inches tall; the bottom of the rollers is unfinished with tool marks across the bottom and top; plus they are not even level. The square tube they go into is also unfinished with tool marks.
    At the very least I would think they could have made the rollers an 1/8 shorter, and placed SMOOTH washers on the top and bottom of the rollers to help the rollers turn as pressure from the cables was applied. But none of that was done.
    Along with other faults in this Pup it's really easy to see why they went out of business. My beds for example, it is just the wooden bed sliding over a 1"X1" hardwood block attached to the side of the camper; no wheels, and nothing to help them slide...just brute force. At 78 and disabled, I lost my brute force a decade or so ago. lol That will be my next "repair".
    Fortunately while seeking answers to a few of the problems I'm having with my Skamper, a member of another Forum on Pups has volunteered to make me some new rollers; and they should probably be here in this coming week.
    I am going to have to crawl under my pup (again) to install the new rollers and try to make all four posts the same height.
    I am not looking forward to this because it will hurt me some. But thanks to your confirming the thoughts i have, i don't mind doing that now, where before I wasn't sure if I would really accomplish anything; I now feel better about that.
    So your reply really did turn out to be benificial by reinforcing what I was thinking.

    Grn Mtn;

    Thank you for your offer to PM you. I am going to try the repairs/modifications that I talked about above. If I do not see any improvement in the force it takes to raise the roof when I'm through, i will certainly take you up on your kind offer.

    Related to this post I have a question for the two of you, or anyone else reading this that may have the knowledge I'm seeking.
    First I have been told that my lift system is very simular to the Coleman; coming from the bar that goes across the pup from side to side, like a wiffle tree I'm told, I have a cable going to each post.
    When I loosen the cable clamps and try to adjust the cables, would you think that if I adjust a cable by one inch (as an example only), will that one inch be reflected in how much the post raises or lowers, or will that one inch be somehow multiplied to an inch and a quarter, or diminished to say a half inch, or will I end up with an inch of movement at the top ofthe post?
    I ask this so as to hopefully minimize the time spent under my Pup. I really dont want to go "popping" up and down any more than I need to.
    I would think an inch under the pup would result in an inch of movement on the top of the post; but I don't know that for sure.

    So my thanks to each of you again for your replies; they were indeed helpful.
    And if you have an opinion on how much the posts will move, when the cable is either shortened or lengthened, that will be greatly appreciated as well.

    Take care and stay safe;
    Ken
     
  7. eprovenzano

    eprovenzano Member

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    I was thinking about the heights of the posts... Can you see the bottom of the posts? I'm wondering if over time the posts have worked their way into or through the floor. If your floors are a little weak from water damage or just time... I'm wondering if the posts have cut through the floor a little, causing the height difference. I'm just speculating, but its worth a look.
     
  8. woodsman1st

    woodsman1st An outdoorsman of 78 years no exp w/ pop up trlrs

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    Hi Eprovenzano;

    Your idea is a good one; but my posts are located differently than many other brands, different even than newer models of the Skamper than i have.
    My posts are located completely on the outside of the pipe; so I can see top, bottom, and actually reach inbetween the body and the posts and feel where each post is as the roof is on it's way up or down. They have a rather heavy duty U shaped bar that clamps them to the side of the roof and the body of the pup.
    However, while I have looked closely at the top, I have not looked at the bottom at all; and while I dont think there is any way they could drop down; thats only what I "think" and that's not good.
    So even you were thinking of a different way the post could sink; the same thought still holds true; and perhaps some kind of barrier is bent or missing. It sure is worth checking out; and that I will do as soon as I finish lunch. Man, on my Pup that would be a pretty easy fix since its all exposed, and unbolts with only 4 bolts top and bottom.
    Your suggestion, as well as the two I received previously today, while not exactly "on the money" so to speak, give me other things to check and other ideas that may help.
    So thank you my friend for taking the time to respond with your thoughts.

    Returning to a post I made earlier this morning, regarding the relationship between how much I move the cable under the pup and if that "movement" would be equal at the top, or more or less movement on the cable; I found the answer....kind of.
    In reviewing all the posts on repairs, I believe I'm on page 41 or so, and there are some 380 pages; a wealth of information. Someone asked if there was a "book on repairing Pop Ups", and one of the replies said; "Yes, this thread is the book". Are those words ever true! As I said "there is a wealth of information"; and the good part is that is is problems that owners are facing and the solutions are in there somewhere and written by others who had that same problem and fixed it; they frequently give step by step solutions and post Pics of what and how they did it.
    Well in that thread I found a possible answer; one I'm not too happy about due to the work that may be involved; but it is an answer with an excellent chance that it applies to my Pup.
    It was around pages 36 to 38, and it was for a Starcraft and/or a Coleman; but I think it was Starcraft.
    Depending on the year there are two possibilities. On the earlier year I believe it stated that if you move the cable an inch under the floor, it will move the top of the post 2 inches; and if it was the newer model, if you move the cable an inch, it will move the top of the post an inch and a half.
    It didn't say why the difference; but that doesn't really matter. At least I now know that when I move the cable an inch, chances are the top of the post is going to move more than an inch. Granted that information was for a different model, but at least I now know the possibility exists for mine to do the same thing.
    I also found a thread that gives the height in inches between the top of the camper body and the lowest point on the roof where the posts hold the roof up; different measurements for different makes of Pups; but one of them was for 45". Two of mine measure 45"; one 45 1/2"; and one for 44". So now I will be a little more comfortable in making all of mine 45".
    Now add in info I found that states "all 4 posts should be within 1/4" of each other; and I have quite a bit of information with which to begin my adjustments of my posts; when I started I had no idea what to do. But thanks to replies from the members to my thread and to info found in other posts, I now have an idea of how to go about attacking this problem.

    So thanks for your interest and your reply; you gave me something else to check.
    Take care.
    Ken
     
  9. Hanne

    Hanne New Member

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    Ken, I'm glad you are finding bits of information to help you resolve the puzzle of your lift system. Sometimes we can't help directly, but just by discussing it like this, an idea sparks on how to get one step closer to a fix.
    How are you with posting photos? Photos would make it easier to see what's going on with your lift. And there's not much we enjoy more than seeing a vintage pup get a new lease on life!
     
  10. woodsman1st

    woodsman1st An outdoorsman of 78 years no exp w/ pop up trlrs

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    Morning Hanne;

    Regarding photos; during the rebuilding of my Trooper, the Trooper Forum was always asking for photos, and I would get them done, but always with great difficulty; I am not the swiftest when it comes to computers; thus the difficulty. I used photo bucket I believe.
    I tried early on to post some pics in another Pup Forum and my camera had a problem, the photos all came out way too dark. But I have it working once again and will post some in the next few days; once I get into the lift system again.

    Today I should finish up on the tent patching; then the other day when flipping the stove over, as in preperation for lowering the roof, "something" gave way under it. So I'm going to repair that "something"; also one of the 1"X1" hardwood supports that the bed slides in and out on, and rests on when the beds are pushed in, just fell off; so that will also be done, then check the other 3 to make sure they don't just "fall off"; then I will start on the lift system and take photos.

    There doesn't seem to be very many Skampers around, particularly as old as my 71; but it is possible that at sometime someone will be looking for information on adjusting the height of the posts; plus my lift system is apparently simular to the Coleman lift system; so I will take some pics and post what I do with the thought that it may help others facing the same problems. I believe that generally, from what I've been able to gather, that much of the info in adjusting the height of the posts can be applied to other brands. So the basic info and pics I post may help others.

    When I ordered the canvas for patching, what I received was far too light in color; rather than wait another two weeks I used what they sent to me. So my patches really stand out in contrast. I really should have waited and gotten the right color.
    But they seem to be holding up real well through the rains and winds (3 1/2 inches to date, plus winds of 35 MPH) I have had here in AZ, and that's what's important; my pup stayed as dry as a bone.

    My only regret to date is that I didnt take any photos before starting work, so that I would have a record of just how badly my canvas had rotted in places.
    The extent of the rotted canvas and the tears can readily be seen by the patches; and in one way the sharply contrasting colors are of a benifit; it really shows how much patching I have done. I have noticed a hesitancy in different posts for others to do what may seem like a great deal of patching. But seeing the amount of patching I have done, may encourage others to undertake a large patching job, as opposed to just not getting a pup because of the cost of a new tent; $800 to $900 dollars for a new tent could easily keep newcomers from getting a pup; and that would be a shame.

    My main goal is to have a dependable pup that will keep me warm, dry, and comfortable. Plus some personal changes I will make to compliment my hobby of wood carving, and easy storage of fishing rods etc while camping. I'm sure my daughters will insist upon making changes so that it's "pretty". We have slightly different priorities. lol

    And you are 100% right when you say that just having discussions can spark ideas; they cerainly have helped me; not only in the actual repairs, but in understanding how pups should work. One example would be the frames; I had no idea how fragile the frames actually are; or the damage I could do to one simply by trying to level a pup and doing so incorrectly.

    But the end is now in sight; and that is particularly gratifying to me. Without the work I'm doing, and the help and advice I get here, i wouldnt be able to have a pup. Its because of the repairs, advice and work i could find a pup that my Social Security can afford.

    Take care and stay safe;
    Ken
     
  11. woodsman1st

    woodsman1st An outdoorsman of 78 years no exp w/ pop up trlrs

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    Soon (hopefully) I will be checking out the electrical on my pup; and I don't know anything about it.

    Here is all that I do know.
    I can plug my pup into a shore line for 110 volts, and I do have at least one outlet that will work. I plugged it in and used a drill.
    My pup has a 12 volt battery that must be replaced.
    It has a converter.
    It seems to have wires going to the TV for external lights.
    I downloaded a color layout for the wireing; but I don't know if all pups use the same colors for the same thing. And I havn't even checked yet to see if what I downloaded matches my pup.

    That is everything that I know; I am positive that what I don't know is ten times longer than that short list of what I do know.

    What can I download, or what can I read, so that I can understand how my electrical system should work; and so I can find out if my electrical system actually is working, and if it's not working (something I fully expect) how I can go about repairing it?
    Is everything I just asked regarding the electrical system covered in owners manuals, and are they all basically the same if they have 110, battery and a converter?

    Which owners manual should I try to download for this information?

    I sure hope this turns out to be easy and not a huge can of worms.

    Ken
     
  12. woodsman1st

    woodsman1st An outdoorsman of 78 years no exp w/ pop up trlrs

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    Regarding my above post on my electrical system;
    does anyone have anything at all to help me figure this out.
    Especially a schematic of some type telling me what plugs into what, what wires go where, same with fuses.

    My system is partially disassembled and I have no idea what goes where.
    Any factory owners manuals I can download that may have this info?

    I think that they are probably all basically wired the same, if they have the same basic equipment; 110, 12 volt, battery and converter; with wires going to the tow vehicle; but that's just a guess on my part.

    Any suggestions at all will be greatly appreciated.

    Ken
     
  13. Dubbya

    Dubbya Wherever you go, there you are...

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    Hi Ken,

    As far as "what goes where" inside the camper, it'll depend somewhat on the brand and model of converter you're hooking up. If you can tell us that, we should be able to help you figure it all out or provide a link to a manual that might be of help.

    Where the marker lights, brakes and brake lights are concerned, it depends on the style of plug you're connecting to your tow vehicle. They're pretty standard but the wire colors might differ, especially if repairs have been made or a previous owner has Jerry rigged and piecemealed it together.

    I found the diagrams at etrailer.com to be a pretty good resource where trailer wiring was concerned.
    Check it out here: http://www.etrailer.com/faq-wiring.aspx
     
  14. woodsman1st

    woodsman1st An outdoorsman of 78 years no exp w/ pop up trlrs

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    That link you posted for me is absolutely great! Exactly what I was hoping for; now with a test light and the schematics from that link I should be able to understand everything and figure out what goes where. I still may have a few questions later; but this link is really going to be a huge help. Thank you for taking the time to post it for me.

    More good news to report.
    I recieved an extremely detailed email from Grover Taylor explaining exactly how to repair and/or adjust lift systems on almost every type of Pop up. It is so lengthy and detailed that I haven't even absorbed it all yet; and I want to stress that the instructions he sent to me will apply to almost, if not all, Pups ever made. His email is easy to follow and understand, it''s just that it encludes so much information I have to keep referring to it in order to comprehend it all.
    When I'm done and have a little more time, i will find out from someone here how to cut and paste so that I can post it in it's entirety.
    After all the searching I have had to do to find info on repairing and adjusting my lift system, I really think that the email from him should be made a sticky because the concepts apply to all Pups. I will post it later as I said and let those in control make the decision if it should be a sticky or not.
    The best part for me is that it confirms that what I have done so far is 100% correct; self doubts over what I have done have been eliminated.
    Just prior to getting a tad under the weather, with just 6 half turns of the wrench on my loosest cable, I was able to bring all four post within 1/8" of each other. All that I "think" I have left to do on my lift system now, is to raise and lower it 3 or 4 times to equalize the tension on each of the cables to each of the four posts; then perhaps a minor adjustment if needed. But my biggest problem, my lift system, now seems to be repaird/adjusted. And i knock on wood as I state that. lol
    So my friends, the end is really in sight now and not far away.
    But don't run away yet; I'm sure to have a few more questions. lol
    My thanks to all who have helped me get this far.
    Stay safe and have a Happy New Year everyone.
    Ken
     
  15. Dubbya

    Dubbya Wherever you go, there you are...

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    Great news, Ken!

    Oh, if you're willing to email the information you received from Grover/Taylor, I'd be happy to post it for you. If you have an actual guide or manual in Adobe PDF format, it's a cinch!

    Regards,

    W.


    1996 Viking 2060ST / 1997 F150
     
  16. woodsman1st

    woodsman1st An outdoorsman of 78 years no exp w/ pop up trlrs

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    You bet I'd be willing to email it; anything that would make it easier to post this information for all to see.
    All of the info that I gathered from different sources over the past few months is here in that one email; plus so much more it is almost unbelievable. According to Grovers email to me all Pups should be adjusted by the guidelines he has listed. The name of Grovers company escapes me now; but I found it after days of searching and it was highly reccomended as the most informative.
    I almost gave up on it, because after 3 emails from me and no reply, i felt I wasn't going to get a reply. Then out of the blue comes this detailed informative email from his company; the best part is that it's not some type of "form letter" sent out to everyone. This is a detailed and personal email where he took the time to sit down and explain EVERYTHING to me; even asking me for more info so he could tailor his reply to me a little more specific.
    Due to my being ill I haven't answered his questions yet; but believe me I will; right along with expressing my gratitude for all the time he took to answer one individual who is not even a customer of his firm....yet!
    I am never shy about giving credit where it is due, nor expressing my appreciation to someone who takes the time to answer me or try to help me in some way. Grover did all of that in spades; emailing me an exceptional response to my quesions and much more.

    As a side note I reviewed all 300 plus posts and answers in the Lift System section on this Forum; and all 300 plus posts do not contain what he sent to me in one email; plus most of those questions asked were not answered fully, and in many it was misinformation supplied to the questioner. People tried to help; but knowledge such as in this email was sadly lacking. That is why I think this email would make a great sticky.
    So just send me a PM with your email, or tell me how I should best send it to you, and I will reply by tomorrow morning.
    Ken
     

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