Last Updated on September 10, 2022 by Jessica Lauren Vine
Slide toppers are one of the most common RV accessories which people add to their rigs.
They help keep the tops of your slides free of dirt and debris and they can help prevent water intrusion from the top of your slide outs. These benefits make setup and take down of your RV faster while extending the overall life of the RV. There are a few downsides to slide toppers as well. The most common complaint is the noise created when they flap in the wind.
While this is normal and controllable with a few simple tricks, it can become excessive as the slide toppers age. Here we’ll take a look at why this happens and how you can adjust your slide toppers to minimize this problem.
How do slide toppers work?
Slide toppers are designed similar to a typical window blind.
They consist of a sheet of fabric that is attached to the side of the RV at one end. The other end is attached to a tube that has an internal torsion spring.
That spring is tensioned when the tube surrounding it is turned relative to the axle running through the center. When the slide topper is set up, the center axle is fixed to the brackets which attach to the side of the slide out.
This prevents the axle from rotating as the slide moves in and out.
Instead, the outer tube rotates as the slide moves out and the slide topper fabric unrolls from the outer tube to cover the top of the slide. As this happens, the internal torsion spring winds up and increases in tension which keeps the slide topper fabric taught between the side of the RV and the slide topper roller.
When you bring the slide in, that tension allows the roller to automatically roll the topper material back up. For all this to work properly, the roller tube and spring are pre-tensioned when the fabric is rolled onto the tube.
This pretension is needed for the slide topper to keep the fabric properly tensioned through the full movement of the slide out.
Why would you need to adjust your slide toppers?
Over time, two things will happen to your slide toppers.
First, the fabric will relax and stretch. This stretching will be taken up by the pre-tensioning of the slide topper spring. This reduces the amount of pretension in the spring which results in less tension on the fabric.
Also, the repeated winding and unwinding of the spring as you move the slides in and out will reduce the strength of the spring over time.
A weaker spring equals less tension on the topper material. With less tension on the material, your slide toppers will flap in the wind easier and with greater movement.
In severe cases, you may even see your slide toppers start to sag when fully extended.
How do you adjust your slide toppers?
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Adjusting the tension in your slide toppers involves winding that internal spring tighter, or adding additional pretension to that spring.
The actual process for doing this will vary depending on your slide topper model and manufacturer and it will be detailed in your owner’s manual.
It is important to understand that the torsion spring in your slide topper bar is very powerful and under significant tension, even if your slide toppers are sagging or flapping excessively in the wind.
Working with springs of this type can be very dangerous so it is critical that you carefully follow the manufacturer’s recommended procedure for adjusting them.
If you’re not comfortable doing that then take your RV to a qualified specialist for the adjustment.
Before you head off, make sure you check out these other RV-related articles to help you with your RV life.
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