Installing Slide Toppers – By Yourself (almost)


October 11, 2014, Midland, Georgia

Bill realized the value of slide toppers when we had our Extra Lite 5th wheel. It seemed no matter where we “parked” it, the three slides were covered with leaves and/or other debris. He is a keen observer. He’d see what other people had on their RVs and what tools they used. One thing we quickly learned as new RV owners and avid travelers, you have to clean off your slide tops before you bring them in. Otherwise, you bring that debris into your RV and/or jam up the processes as they come in. We asked for an estimate to have them installed on our 5th wheel – the price was way too high. So Bill just bought a light-weight leaf blower someone else used as well as a 5′ lightweight ladder to climb up to blow the slide tops off before I brought them in. You’ll see the ladder he used to get up there in a later picture as he still uses it.

Can you see the tattered slide topper?

So fast forward to our motor home. YAY, it has slide toppers! But after a year or so, we began to notice they were looking bit tattered. They are eight years old and spent the first three years of life in Florida – where the sun is brutal. We’ve been in a number of very high wind storms – which are also brutal.

We read this blog by fellow RVers and thought, we could do that! Look half way down their post and you will see a team of three installing theirs. We didn’t know how easy it was to install them yourself until we read their post. BUT then, we never seem to be near enough friends to get them to help, nor did we have the ladders necessary.

Bill has always been very independent.  He also likes to do things his way and by himself. After I retired, he had me come work with him as he managed and did repairs at a number of our properties we owned as his post retirement job. This was actually our dream when we first married – to work together. We were just so in love and loved being together! 😃 Let’s say I lasted about a year before he decided he’d rather work alone!

The chassis battery – we have two of these. They retail for $125.00 but Bill got a little discount so only paid $116 a piece. These were made in February 2010.

While we were in Myrtle Beach this past October, he not only fought with General Motors about our TOAD (written here), he was researching the materials for the toppers and learning all he could about their installation. He was also researching new batteries. Did you know   our size motor home has 8 batteries? Six are “house batteries” (and six volt) and two are “chassis batteries” (12 volts) pictured here. They cost anywhere from $80 to $125/piece.  The GREAT news is that he finally bought two new chassis batteries after he discovered they were eight years old – so our engine now starts like a charm, and for the six house batteries that wouldn’t crank our generator. He simply cleaned all the connections, tightened them and the generator started like a charm, too! So that is another job done while we are here in Fredericksburg.

Anyway, his great find was learning how to install them from the RV Geeks – that is our great go to place for just about any repairs needed for a motor home. Not only did he learn how to install them, we were eligible for a 5% discount by mentioning RV Geeks (and their special code). We bought them from Tough Top Awnings. They were an excellent company to work with so of course, we highly recommend them. We are not getting any “kickback” for this, btw. We just got the 5%.

Now Bill just had to figure out how to do it himself.  We waited until we came to Fredericksburg where he could borrow our son-in-laws extension ladder and some tools. They are all now installed! He said he basically did it the way described in the RV Geeks video, but Bill added these comments to the video in summary. The pictures below will also tell the story from the beginning:

1. Silicon the fabric as well as the rail where it is sliding into. He said the old topper material just slid out, but the new material was so soft and supple, it didn’t want to slide easily into the track. He went through a can of silicon spray
2. Locking Filter Wrench – he preferred to use the clamp to help him to wind and unwind the old toppers and to roll up the new toppers. Like a hand crank.
3. Boards – We discovered it was so much easier to put two broom handles (boards would have been nicer) between the largest slide and the smaller one next to it – to keep the  material straight easier to slide. If he had a crew of three, they would be doing this.
4. Use the slide roller cover to hold down the fabric on the smaller slides when you “crank” or roll the fabric on. This is shown in the video below.
5. You have to be conformable looking down on the slides from the roof. He wasn’t but he could psych himself up by saying he was saving $600!

Let’s start at the beginning. Bill opened the box to check them out. We bought them from Tough Top Awnings. They were wonderful to work with. The shipping and handling was free.

This is our 5 foot “Little Giant” ladder we bought for the 5th wheel – to blow off the toppers. It has come in handy to get up on the roof.

Here is the Locking Filter Wrench. After I took the pictures, I had to look close to see what that “mark” was on the side of the slide. It’s the reflection of the wrench! Bill keeps our home washed, waxed and polished!

After Bill removed the old slide toppers, he washed and waxed the top of the slides. He said they needed it!

Before installing the new topper, he measured it over the old one. They did give us a bit less material – which makes for an easier install. The gentleman who helped us with our measurements is a PRO! All four of them were perfect!

He begins installing one of the small slide toppers, starting with rail closest to the bus. He had to borrow our son-in-laws extension ladder.

The back side is in and now for the outside rail. He’s starting to “feed” the slide topper into the rail.

Now it is a bit awkward. And of course, he said the wind gusts felt like a hurricane – well, it only seemed that way in the ladder. But it was windy. He just feed a bit in the back then a bit in the front. Then he moved the ladder to the end of the slide and finished pulling the slide through the rails.

Here is a video of him finishing up this one slide topper. I didn’t realize you can’t see him using the wrench as a crank. But hopefully, you will get the idea. He also has the slide roller cover helping hold the fabric down, in the hurricane gale force winds – they felt that way anyway, as he finished this one slide:

For the bigger slides, he needed a little help. Since I don’t have a selfie stick or anyone around to take my picture, this is me on the ladder ready to help a little! YIKES, I was a nervous wreck on the first one. He needed me as high as I could go on the ladder. I was better one the second one – and took pics!

This picture shows how we have the slide topper fabric draped over to the smaller slide. We used two broom handles to help hold the fabric up. You can also see where the slide topper has to be fed into the roller. This was where I ended up being his “helper.”

We are almost done, so you can now see the broom sticks we had stretched between the two slides to drape the fabric. My main job was to help push the fabric into the roller. We kept it well lubricated. If you see a bandage on my finger, that was where I got pinched on the other slide topper I helped him install. I learned to be more careful! LOL

This shows the view from where I was feeding the slide into the rail down to where Bill has pulled the fabric down about 4 feet on the slide so far.

Bill helped work the slide topper into the back rail from the roof while I helped push the fabric into the outside rails. When the fabric was just about 4 feet from the end, he had to get off the roof and borrowed a neighbor’s ladder to finish up on this end.

This is supposed to show the job done! I thought I took a picture of the front of our home to show the newly installed toppers. But this only shows the new ones on the passenger side slide and then the old tattered one on the driver’s side slide. Once I can get another picture, I will replace this.

We have now been in Fredericksburg 2 1/2 weeks, since Thanksgiving Day. Bill felt the stress of replacing the car lights on our TOAD (see last post), ordering and replacing our slide toppers and figuring out our battery issues on him during our stay in Myrtle Beach. We are happy to report, all three jobs have now been done so we can focus more on our grandsons as well as begin to think about our upcoming winter travels. We can’t wait to get into warmer weather – but then we don’t want to wish our time away as we sure are enjoying our grandsons and spending time with our daughter and son-in-law!

We have learned a few things about how to not let your tanks freeze and how to keep our home warm in these temperatures. Hopefully, we will be able to share this in a future post.

Next up, we have an anniversary celebration to share in our next post. And we hope and pray this will conclude RV repairs for a while. Right now, we are trying to stay warm and not freeze at night this week. We don’t want to complain about the weather as we think of those in California who have lost their homes to the fires, and to all the other natural disasters that occur around the world. We just know those of us who live in RVs (Recreational Vehicles) are more subject to the effects of the weather. So we do watch it and really try to avoid being in bad weather! Oh well…..

1 Praise the LORD! Praise the LORD from the heavens; Praise Him in the heights!Praise Him, all His angels; Praise Him, all His hosts! Praise Him, sun and moon; Praise Him, all stars of light!Praise Him, highest heavens, And the waters that are above the heavens!Let them praise the name of the LORD, For He commanded and they were created.He has also established them forever and ever; He has made a decree which will not pass away.  7 Praise the LORD from the earth, Sea monsters and all deeps;Fire and hail, snow and clouds; Stormy wind, fulfilling His word…Psalms 148:1-8

8 thoughts on “Installing Slide Toppers – By Yourself (almost)

  1. John was impressed that Bill did this all alone. He liked his helping items. Glad all worked out. John planned our topper replacement for a time when we were with other very handy friends that do their own repairs (if they can). The new toppers are nice and quiet, aren’t they:) Sure feels good to have those projects behind you doesn’t it. Enjoy the grandchildren and that white stuff!!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yes the new toppers are really nice and quiet! We hope we don’t get much more white stuff but the grandsons sure loved it! Bill is so relieved. He had to do the toppers while he had use of the extension ladder here. There was a lot of planning for sure! Things always seem to work out though!
      Glad he could impress John! Lol


  2. This repair is in our future too. Based on your post, it looks doable. We’re still missing a topper from this last spring in Texas when the wind caught it.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Sure hope it helps! And of course Bill will be happy to provide telephonic assistance if needed! But I’m sure Jerry can figure it out! Bill watched a few videos then used his own ideas.


  3. Whew! I know it feels good to have those projects behind you. We’ve been working on a few ourselves. Hope the weather warms up for you and you continue to enjoy lots of time with family.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Absolutely! So Bill started to look at our possible winter route….and he discovered he’s “lost” it with his easy ability to do travel planning. It’s been almost six months! We do have a month already booked – on the Gulf Coast near my mom on the Florida Panhandle. So we are locked in a bit and therein lies his constraints – or troubles! But he’ll figure it out….

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Momma Martha

    Just read the blog of 12/11. Now know where you plan to be next. Fl. Panhandle definitely a lot warmer than Va.! Temp is actually 70 this afternoon. First time in almost a week! Feels like winter here in central Florida too. But my Buckeye blood loves it!! Will now read Psalm 148 and Isaiah 40 and be comforted. Thanks!!! Now my burdens will seem lighter–God is soooo good!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for stopping by and commenting! Deb gave me an update a few days ago. Isn’t there so much peace and comfort in God’s Word!?!
      We are freezing, literally up here in Virginia. If not for the grandsons, we’d be south, far south as it sounds like it’s not that warm there in Central Florida.


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