For starters, I was noodling down US 97 near Madras yesterday when suddenly the top half of the camper jumped straight up, pulled the right front hydraulic tube apart, and got stuck in an upright position. I presume this is not normal behavior, but I haven't found much documentation on why it happens or how to stop it. I opened the main hydraulics valve and lifted up the front of the camper so it was level with the fully-extended tubes in the rear (did this by lying on the front bench seat with my feet on the bulkhead and pushing up) and jostled it a good bit and finally the remaining hydraulic tubes let the top settle back into place. A slow drive back to Madras let me buy some ratchet straps to tie the top of the camper to the bottom of it, and that got me home.
First question: why did this happen and why doesn't it happen to everyone? Haven't found it documented in the manual. The previous owner told me the camper could sometimes ride up but I could avoid that by closing the hydraulic valve when traveling. Obviously not a working solution.
Then I got home and inspected the damage. The loose hydraulic tube got a bit bent. It doesn't look like a part I can replace easily, so I straightened it out by setting it on some hardwood blocks, rolling it back and forth, and tapping on the high spots with a deadblow hammer until it's pretty true. It works with motorcycle fork tubes, I figured it ought to work here. So the next question is, was that sensible as a short-term fix and where does one find a replacement tube? (This is a 1990 camper, BTW). The top tube just yanked out and appears to be a simple press fit into a brass bushing at the top, that's tapped for a bolt that attaches it to the upper bulkhead. Is this as it should be? Someone drilled a hole in the bushing and the tube, a very sloppy hole (clearly not OEM work), maybe it once held a screw to attach the bushing to the tube, screw now gone, is this necessary or even wise? (Attached photos show bushing and tube).
Given all that, it seems that now I just pop the bushing into the tube, bolt and screw it all back together, and the hydraulic system should work after a fashion. It's possible I've also bent one or more other tubes, which I'll find out when I get the top pumped up again (which is why advice on straightening them would be good). But AT BEST I'll be back to where I was before all this happened, which was:
Rear tubes seem to run more efficiently than front tubes. So when raising the top, I have to nearly close the rear-tubes valve in order for the front tubes to match the raise rate, and when lowering the top, I have to nearly close the front-tubes valve in order for the rear tubes to match the lowering rate. There is no fluid leakage except a little bit (like 2 drops per cycle) at the right rear tube, so replacing the O-rings shouldn't fix this problem. How do I fix it so all tubes raise and lower at the same rate?
Thanks in advance for your insights.