12th Apr 2013, 09:57 AM #1
Kea Conqueror – Pop-top, Scissor Lifters, Gas Struts, Canvas, Reading Lights
Kea Conqueror – Pop-top, Scissor Lifters, Gas Struts, Canvas, Reading Lights
My ex rental 2009 Kea Conqueror is based on a 2008 Toyota VDJ78 Troop Carrier with a 4.5 litre V8 diesel. It is the model with frig in the middle of the rear space just behind the cab. I think earlier Conquerors had smaller frigs mounted on the side behind the driver, so this info might not be exactly applicable to yours, and also the model probably changed a little over time in other respects due to product improvement and factory repairs.
At purchase, I noted that the pop-top was heavy to raise, and Kea Sydney apparently changed two of the gas struts in opposite corners to help with this, but I resolved to ease the situation more when I got home.
I was lucky to have the pop-top “canvas” replaced with a new one, so that was in good condition.
I noted that my gas struts provided the lift assistance, whilst the Breha type 1200mm scissor lifters had no springs fitted and merely located and anchored the pop-top in drive mode and in raised position.
I had the idea that I would add replacement springs to the scissor lifters (canopy lifters), and actually bought some springs for trial, but discovered later that the springs provide no lift assistance until the pop-top is partially raised anyway.
It is an “F x sin theta” situation, where theta is zero when the pop-top is down.
During all this I discovered the best method of raising the pop-top, at least for me, was by standing underneath the pop-top handles, and using my shoulder and back more than my arms.
I finally decided to replace the three scissor lifters, if only because they had two years of rental use and were grubby and worn.
I contacted Kea Sydney (now not trading as an Australian company) and then Kea NZ where the vehicle was designed.
The Conqueror was apparently made up by Kea Manufacturing Company KMC in Milperra Sydney from a flat-pack of parts from NZ. I visited the Milperra site just before they shut down.
Kea NZ were actually uncertain whether lifter springs were fitted standard, and never got back with a definitive answer, but whilst waiting, I phoned Breha Industries in Victoria about it and they remembered that they had made up a special for Kea without springs, so this was probably the type fitted.
They offered to make me up three units and were apologetic that it would take four days.
Breha recommended that I deal directly with the factory to avoid confusion with such a special order. They were $90 each delivered to Brisbane.
When the lifters arrived, I commenced replacement starting with the rear unit.
Replacing The Lifters
The lifters are attached at the bottom with two M8x40 Allen head SS316 cap screws, and for the side lifters, at the top with a mix of SS 10#x25 pan head and 8#x25 PK pan head Pozidrive and Philips recess.
The rear top rails use M6x25 SS316 screws with nylock nuts.
I made up some SS316 M8 flat washers with slight filing on two sides for use under each cap screw.
This is very important to avoid “belling” and distortion of the rail mount holes.
When I unscrewed the rear bottom RHS cap screw, I heard a metallic “clunk” noise, and my heart sank.
The hidden threaded anchor must have somehow fallen off as the screw was fully unthreaded.
I had a look at the camper inside and my heart sank further as I realized that I would have to remove the internal rear upper fiberglass trim panel.
Big job. But, I wanted to do this anyway to fit more lights.
How To Remove The Internal Rear Upper Fiberglass Trim Panel.
Essentially you have to drill out any attaching rivets, unscrew any screws, and cut away any sealant and adhesive.
You have to also remove one towel rack, and the passenger side curtain track, at least in part, at the rear.
When I was in Milperra, a Kea factory technician told me that Kea uses Wurth KD Bond polyurethane adhesive sealant in a lot of situations, so that is probably what is used here.
It is very, very tough, and you have to cut away slowly and carefully.
I used a mix of an old eight inch blade serrated kitchen knife, and a couple of cheap 30mm wide paint scrapers, one with blade bent back into a “U” shape with 8 mm radius, and 25mm blade length in the backwards sense, then sharpened on both sides.
It helps to unzip the canvas at the driver’s side corner to get started on the top. The “U” shaped paint scraper is used to cut the adhesive at the panel top by first pulling it into the adhesive, then using a small hammer to cut side ways, thus avoiding the canvas. It is also helpful using this bent scraper going around the passenger side corner at the top.
Cut the adhesive at the bottom of the panel with a long knife. I used a hammer and knife at times to “assist”.
There is only one electrical cable in the panel void, which I think was used for the original back driver’s side rear door brake light? Mine was folded back into the driver’s side corner.
All this is not a five minute job; it took me a day to get that panel off, but then …
Now I could see how it is all made and assembled.
Clean out all the dust and rubbish, and clean up the panel.
With the rear panel removed, I could now hold the anchor plate up whilst I drilled and reattached the anchor panel.
At the end of all work, including some of the following, I replaced my rear panel with self tapping screws, and with no sealant or adhesive.
Reattaching the curtain track required finding some small self tapper screws with unusually small diameter heads to reuse the original rivet holes.
I have more photos of this area if someone needs them, including photos with all the red dust and grime removed!
I have made it a rule for myself to replace most if not all Robertson square head screws as I remove them. It is just easier when working “on the road”.
Drilling and Riveting The Scissor Lifter Anchor Plates
As you will be removing the scissor lifters at times, and as these provide positional security of the pop-top, you must support the pop-top independently from the lifters.
The pop-top is heavy and can move about if not supported. Don’t risk injury and damage.
I used four 15 x 100 mm type pine fence palings sawn so as to sit in the sliding bed recesses and against the top of the pop-top.
Kea use a 2.5 mm thick 40mm wide approx zincanneal type steel strip with two 8mm nuts welded on, to use as an internal anchor plate for the scissor lifter cap metal thread screws, and mounted under the fiberglass.
Kea NZ said that this should have been glued onto the fibreglass, but I found no glue on my rear strip.
There is another smaller metal plate glued to the body fiberglass interior upper surface which is just clearance drilled.
I decided to attach each of the three metal strips by using pop rivets. I used type 73AS6-14, aluminium body, steel stems, 5mm dia, grip 21mm, (25mm long before use), obtained from a Fastener Supplier in Brendale near Brisbane, who let me buy just 20 rivets.
The rivet length is to use with the thickness of fiberglass and internal plywood bracing.
You should not normally have to remove any fiberglass panels to drill and rivet the anchor plates, but you have to drill in the correct position.
This is for my vehicle; yours may be different.
For the rear anchor plate only.
Leave the scissor lifter attached by the cap bolts; tighten up firmly.
Drill two rivet clearance holes 10 mm out from each of the ends of the lifter bottom rail.
Ensure that you “feel” the drill going through the steel panel. Insert and set the outer two rivets.
After this is successfully carried out, you can then confidently remove the cap bolts and lifter, or raise and tie up the lifter.
Insert a third rivet at the mid way point for long term insurance.
Here, you will have to very slowly and carefully drill two holes (to avoid large drillings and swarf between the steel and fiberglass).
One hole is for the rivet, and another to insert a “pull up” piece of hard wire with small hook, so as to make sure that the steel anchor plate is supported and flat up under the fiberglass before drilling and riveting.
You can countersink drill the middle rivet hole slightly as I did, but I find that this type of lifter doesn't sit flat in the middle anyway.
Seal the pull-up hole and all rivet heads with a small dab of sealant.
For the side plates only – and caution
When I attempted to use the above method for the side plates, I discovered that the plates must be just a bit different, and I have yet to actually see how they are really installed.
When I drilled 10 mm out from one lifter end, I did not feel the steel plate.
So I abandoned that concept, and the hole, and later riveted it and sealed it.
I used a new method to drill and rivet, and you can use your own method, once you can visualize how it probably is attached underneath.
I loosened each M8 cap screw and confirmed that the anchor plate must be, or should be, hard up against the underside of the fiberglass, by gently tapping downwards on the bolt head with a small rubber hammer.
The bolts did not go down (indicating a floating anchor plate), so I removed the screws on the top rail, removed one bottom M8 bolt completely, swivelled the lifter around slightly to clear the empty bolt hole, and quickly inserted and tightened an M8x40 set screw.
I then removed the other bolt, and put in another M8 set screw.
(Caution with this method, as the bolts and or holes may have some sealant which can confuse the “feel” of the bolt in the hole).
I then drilled and riveted as per the rear lifter, but placed the end rivets 30 mm on the inner side of the bolt holes.
Set a middle rivet as before.
If the anchor plate was loose, I would just have had to think of another method of safe bolt removal, without the anchor plate dropping. I was lucky.
All new lifters were cleaned with metho, and wiped with abrasive paper on the sharp edges, and installed successfully.
I keep my lifters clean and unlubricated as it just makes a mess otherwise collecting dust and insects, and if clean, they work just as well as when lubricated.
If you remove or replace your lifters, inspect them closely, as I have had one fail when only fairly new.
The scissor centre “rivet” fell out.
Most of these are proper steel rivets with heads, but the one which failed seemed to be just a small piece of one quarter inch steel crudely peened at each end. Easily fixed at home, but this is a real inconvenience on the road.
The overall quality of these lifters is not the best, but difficult to replace with other types in practice.
New LED Lights
Whilst I had that rear fiberglass panel off, I added three LED lamps, with switches. One is a bright “awning” type for external rear lighting, and pointing down over the stove area on the rear barn door.
Another is a low light level background courtesy light for the camper interior, mounted on the passenger side of the rear fiberglass panel, and facing up towards the ceiling.
This courtesy light is also parallel wired to another similar courtesy light mounted at an angle of approx 45 deg down, on the rear side fixed panel near the locker door, so as to illuminate the step tread at night, if required.
These are marine type two LED light fittings which draw very low current.
Switches are located as per photo.
I also added some small gauge twin wiring fed from the Rear Area “Lights” CB and tucked it into the space between the passenger side canvas and the side panel top, just above the passenger side rear windows, down to the front passenger side pop-top corner where Kea has cabled up to the pop-top ceiling, to feed two LED reading lights.
These lights must be low profile so as to allow the pop-top to come down fully and in correct position without fouling.
I used Velcro style tape to fix these reading light fittings, to avoid drilling the fiberglass, and small self adhesive plastic cable mounts for the cable.
At purchase my struts were a mix -
Driver Front - Stabilus 400 N, 041/10, BE1/BE1, and Driver rear - McNaughton 250 N, 900x10/22
Passenger Front - McNaughton 250 N, 900x10/22, and Passenger rear Stabilus 400 N, 041/10, BE1/BE1.
I have left them for now and will consider replacement later.
The pop-top is two piece fiberglass at the front, back to the start of the “top pipe rails”, and one piece at the rear.
It has two pipe rails at the rear, and I am told by Kea that this is really for panel reinforcement, not for decoration or functional use of carrying heavy items, but I intend to carry my future (light) recovery plastic “TREDZ” on them.
The hold downs are Southco types.
Adjustment of the overall position of the canopy in the horizontal plane when it is in the down position can be achieved to a degree, by elongating the mounting holes on the lifter bottom rail.
The “fit” here is never going to be perfect.
A positional shift of 5 -10mm is all that is required to achieve some benefit, although caution that your canopy doesn't snag on the lifter arms when the canopy is down.
There is minimal clearance all around the top in this regard.
Probably like most people, I clean my pop-top externally with a mix of mild detergent and a small amount of laundry bleach, using a car brush to fully wash into nooks and crannies, and the top weather sealing strip of KD Bond(?) between the Land Cruise metal body top perimeter lip and the pop-top fixed fiberglass.
Adding the bleach is important to control mould, but go easy on the quantity.
The pinch weld rubber sealing strip can be easily removed for cleaning, using the same mix, then by hosing out the small pinch weld channel. Sunlight and oxygen in the fresh air are my best friends here.
Before a trip, I sometimes wipe a small amount of INOX or similar all over the front of the pop-top fixed “hump” (over the windscreen) to allow insects to “impact” then slide off. Some insects behave better than Araldite in adhering.
My canvas was being pinched in the middle of the front, at the bottom of the canvas, when the pop-top was pulled down.
I have added an extra piece of 3mm stretch cord from the “D” rings on each canvas mid side position around the front, ie around the front half of the canvas, with a length adjusted on site so that the front of the canvas pulls in fully when the pop-top is nearly fully down.
The smaller stretch cord gives a sequential pull-in action, and does not interfere with the fully up canvas.
I unzip the insect screen zippers fully and wipe the teeth with a small cloth wetted with with silicone. This makes them work well.
As is I think typical with ex rental vehicles which only have a “surface” cleanup during rental life, I had to give my vehicle an extensive cleanup after all work to get rid of old grime and the “Australian red dust” which gets into every nook and cranny. See photos for evidence!
Hopefully all this is useful info for someone.
Parts List -
Canopy Scissor Lifters - Breha specials 1200mm long, no springs, for Kea, cat "7-1200KEA" $90 each
Canopy lifter positions - Drv side - roller to front, Pass side - roller to rear, Rear - roller to Drv
Canopy lifter rail rivets - type 73AS6-14 (5mm dia, grip 21mm, 25mm long before use)
Lights awning (new) - Awning 12V 250mm LED - $39.70, Springers
Lights rear courtesy (new) - 2 LED, angled, Bias Boating #6819, RWB type 982 (RW Basham) $14.95
Lights reading (new) - 12 LED swivel 150mm, Dreamlighting PN0013106c white, Bias Boating #7267 $19,
Rear light switches (new) - Narva 62055BL Rocker Switch Round $6
Canopy clamps - Southco C7-20 Draw latch, large
Adhesive sealant - Wurth KD Bond polyurethane, or Sikaflex 227, white.
1 safety supports DSCN5516 4600 lo.jpg1a poptop P1000075 lo.jpg2 drv side internal DSCN5501 4600 lo.jpg3 drv side internal 2 DSCN5503 4600 lo.jpg4 drv side external DSCN5512 4600 lo.jpg4 removing sealant drv side DSCN5499 4600 lo.jpg5 rear internal DSCN5506 4600 lo.jpg7 awning and step lights P1000040 lo.jpg6 pullup rod on side lifter DSCN5521 4600 lo.jpg
12th Apr 2013 09:57 AM # ADSGoogle Adsense Advertisement
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8th Jun 2013, 10:09 AM #2New Member
- Join Date
- Jun 2013
i see you did a great job at your Conqueror. I am Stefano, initially working for KRA as Fleet Operations Manager. Then Conqueror you have is my babe I designed. It makes me happy to see that there are proud owners out there too.
when KEA closed down, I was able to buy out the Manufacturing tools and parts. So in case you need any parts or to know any particular, please let me know.
I have canvases, struts, lifters ect....
8th Jun 2013, 07:56 PM #3GOLD MEMBER
- Join Date
- Oct 2004
- Melbourne, Australia.
Two very interesting pieces of information here.
The first is an excellent DIY on the pop-top arrangement.
The second is some information regarding KEA stuff and/or repairs.
Stefano, love that slide-on on the Mercedes, looks like a Unimog.
9th Jun 2013, 10:32 AM #4New Member
- Join Date
- Jun 2013
It is an Unimog U20
yes you are right, it's an Unimog U20.
the beauty of the slide-on camper MUSICA from MondoPickup is that you can fit it almost everywhere and it still looks flash. But the main point is not the looks, that slide on boasts with innovation, quality and design. It's very comfy to travel with and has loads of space.
7th Jul 2013, 11:39 AM #5
I have just returned from a 12,000 klm trip in the Conqueror to Central Australia, and away from most internet, and have just read your post.
I will try to contact you on the phone to have a chat about those canopy lifters, as I have had a newly installed lifter fail at the end of the trip, and I need to exchange ideas please.
9th Jul 2013, 04:12 PM #6New Member
- Join Date
- Jun 2013
i will be at the Lismore show and the show end of the month on the Gold Coast , give me a buzz, so I might can take some stuff with me. Call 0401914496 or see my website Bonetti Campers PTY LTD
6th Nov 2013, 05:27 PM #7
Replacing a Canopy Lifter when the Pivot Has Failed
Replacing a Breha Canopy Lifter on a Kea Conqueror, when a Pivot Has Failed.
I was travelling up north when this happened.
This type of failure is very inconvenient, as you cannot raise the canopy because it slides and wobbles, and is too unstable.
Worse when you are away on travels.
I think that the small sheet steel reinforcing panel (25mm x 25mm) which is tack welded onto the main rail (channel), broke first, then the bottom left pivot (which is just a 5/16 countersunk head metal thread screw) broke.
I wonder if the original pivot (screw) was faulty, as to break a pivot in this fashion would take some considerable force, and time, or both.
I have since checked my vehicle to see if there are any unnatural forces involved in raising or lowering my canopy, which may have provoked this failure, and have slightly repositioned the lifter bottom rail mounting (by elongating the lifter bottom rail mount holes).
To replace the lifter in this failed condition is tricky.
I raised the canopy 60mm and rested it on some scrap 50x25mm wood at four corners of the vehicle, ie placing the wood between the canopy corners and the fiberglass roof of the vehicle.
I removed the broken screw in the scissor arm with an “easy out”.
I then used cable ties to make a temporary pivot point, using the arm hole and an existing hole in the lifter bottom rail, so the scissor arm end was roughly positioned and allowed the canopy to be raised.
(I placed some thick plastic flexible sheet from an ice cream container under the scissor arm pivot end to stop the arm scratching the fiberglass).
I then used four cut to size wood fence paling security props place inside the vehicle (in an ”X” pattern), to hold the canopy up and to stop any movement.
See photos in my original post on the Woodworking Forum.
The lifter can then be replaced.
Stefano has original replacement lifters for sale at Bonnetti Campers.
Thank you Stefano.
Before installing, remove all sharp edges on the top and bottom channel rails, and thoroughly clean the lifter.
I do not use any lubricant at all on my lifters so as to keep them clean of dust.
Just wipe them down when you clean the vehicle.
I believe that a similar replacement method could be used in the field, but it would not be a five minute job.
I am actually considering taking a spare lifter with me on travels, as these Breha lifters have a low MTBF.
Hopefully of interest to someone.
8th Dec 2014, 09:58 AM #8
Kea Conqueror Poptop and Gas Strut Problems, and Some Resolution
Kea Conqueror Poptop and Gas Strut Problems, and Some Resolution
Abstract – Gas Struts used for Van poptops require symmetry of lifting force.
I had a second (partial) failure of a Breha scissor lifter on a recent trip with my Kea Conqueror, and I resolved to do three things –
A – investigate the real reason for failures
B - optimise the raising and lowering of the poptop, with best position of the lifters and best “strength” of the gas struts.
C – re-build the Breha lifters for increased strength and for "on the road" maintenance ability
This process took many weeks with considerable frustration and experimentation, and I am now reasonably happy with the result.
This is just my experience, not an exhaustive study.
Defining the problems –
Broken Breha lifter failures
Difficult poptop lift
Suspiciously noisy and grinding Breha lifters when lowering,
Random positioning of the poptop in the lowered position, (about 15mm).
I started investigations with visual alignment of the poptop position reference to the vehicle, both when lowered and when raised, and soon realized that it was a little difficult to assess, because the gas struts appeared slightly haphazard in operation, and the raised position of the poptop in the horizontal plane was dependent on the Breha lifters, the struts, and how the lifting person manhandled the poptop handles in the raising action.
Also, all investigative and repair work has to be done whilst standing on chairs and sawhorses etc, and there are some considerable safety issues when you remove lifters and or gas struts (the whole poptop is liable to slide off the vehicle, possibly taking you with it).
The scissor lifters pose a real hazard if you have fingers or arms in the way should a gas strut fail or loses its mounting.
I spent countless hours, days, fiddling with everything.
Eventually I made up jigs to provide a resting platform for investigation and work, in what I thought would be an “optimally aligned position”.
Made from scrap timber bolted and screwed together, the front jig allows the poptop to rest in a position about 200mm vertically from the vehicle FG top plane (this height allows visual inspection, and screwdrivers and small socket drive to be used).
The jig has alignment holes so the jig itself sits midship horizontally, and also has holes in the top so the poptop rests midship horizontally as well.
There are also two rear support jigs matched in height to the front.
Temporary “midship” visual marker pieces of black PVC tape on poptop front and vehicle front allow jig alignment by sight, looking backwards from in front of the vehicle.
I use a ratchet strap clamp over the top of the poptop roof, through the vehicle front cabin, so as to hold the poptop down, or else the gas struts may push the poptop up.
The above resting jig setup was absolutely invaluable, and repaid the few hours construction work many times over.
Realisation, and Pennies from Heaven.
When I was trying (in vain) to hold down my poptop in the above “resting position 220mm above the vehicle”, I suddenly realized that my poptop was always attempting to skew horizontally off to the passenger side.
This was particularly so after I had removed the two side Breha scissor lifters, and the poptop then had only one pivot point, the passenger side rear bottom scissor lifter anchor point.
All of a sudden pennies started to drop all over me and my front garden. It is amazing that I hadn’t realised this situation and cause of my problem before.
Going back in history.
When I bought my vehicle from Kea Sales Sydney (just before they folded as a rental company), I commented that the poptop lift was heavy and difficult.
Kea replaced two gas struts with stronger units, and it was better, but not ideal.
The original lift situation is this (I believe).
The scissor “lifters” are Kea specials, 1200 mm long, and with no springs, and are use as positional locators only.
The gas struts were all 250 Newton units, providing four 25 Kg force lift to the (my estimation) 80-90 Kg mass of the poptop. The poptop roof mass is also asymmetrical, in that the front is heavier than then rear.
Before delivery, Kea replaced two diagonally positioned gas struts with higher force 400N units to ease my lift problem.
This diagonal asymmetry of the strut lifting force was skewing my poptop when lowering, and was stressing my scissor lifters on lowering, especially stressing the driver’s side scissor lifter, as it attempted to correctly “locate” the poptop when nearly at the fully lowered position.
The 400N gas strut over the driver was pushing the poptop anticlockwise (in plan view), and with increasing effect as the poptop was lowered. Very difficult to see and feel this when you are inside and lowering the poptop.
It never occurred to me that this was a problem, until I made the jig and attempted to use it, and then I saw how the poptop was positioning itself (due to the gas struts) when lowering.
No wonder the scissor lifters made grinding noises.
I attempted to rearrange the struts so there were two 400N units at front, and two 250 units at the rear, but this caused the front canvas to be too stressed, and the rear canvas to be a bit loose.
I tried four 400N struts, but could not easily lower the poptop.
I tested all the gas struts and then found the front 400N units OK, but the rear 250N units at about 200N, ie a bit weak.
I replaced the two rear 250N units.
I tried four 250N units, and the rear was OK, but this arrangement would not raise the front and hold it.
I replaced the front 250N struts with 350N units.
I now have 250N struts on the rear and 350N struts on the front, and I feel that this is optimal for my situation.
Removing and Replacing Gas Struts
Firstly I made another rough jig from pine fence palings to hold the poptop stable and fully raised.
The front jig is a bolted “X” shape, (vertical paling dimension of about 725mm), and the rear is two pieces of paling about 725mm long held in place by cord.
The lengths of paling are sawn so as to be a firm vertical fit before struts are removed, so as to support the full weight of the poptop, when the gas struts are removed.
Removing the struts is OK, a mite fiddly and “sproingy” (technical term), but replacement can be quite difficult.
I used a 300Kg ratchet poly strap clamp with “S” hooks to help with this operation.
After I removed the struts, I used 1.6mm steel tie wire to make a double “pull loop” around each end of the strut, and left in place after the struts are installed, so as to provide easy removal next time.
Make the loop big enough to engage the strap clamp hook, but small enough to be left in situ.
This method makes strut change so easy. Not my idea; I saw it on YouTube, or somewhere.
Two of my struts had McNaughtons labels so I went back to them in Hendra Brisbane.
Amazingly, new struts were only $27 each, and the service was very, very good.
(No associations whatsoever with this company).
Note that, although I am no expert, different brand struts may have a slightly different force profile per unit length, especially at initial compression, and different “preload” or resting force, so brands may differ slightly.
The texture and stiffness of your canvass may also affect the action and force requirement of your struts. There are a few canvas variations, and mine is lightweight poly material.
Gas Struts on this vehicle are industry type “10/22”, (defines the two diameters of body and rod), 900mm long, 250 or 350 Newton force, with 10mm ball ends on standard ISO M8 threads, and the screw mount ball fittings are “inside” right angles with 40mm screw spacing.
I used a smidgen of medium Thread Lock on my ball ends, and some HTB grease in the cups.
Strut force required will vary according to poptop size. I believe, not sure, that the OEM struts were all 250N.
Gas struts can be easily re-gassed up, but re-gassing down is difficult or not viable (I think).
Test your strut force by depressing to 75% of the overall length whilst holding vertically down on bathroom type scales.
10N is about 1.0 Kg force.
On my vehicle the front bottom screw mount ball centres are installed 570mm from the back of the vehicle front fibre glass “hump”, and the rears are installed 615mm from the FG rear edge.
With poptop up, the front struts rest with 20mm rod compression, the rears have 40mm resting compression.
I will add a separate post or thread about the Breha scissor lifters and their problem, and my fix.
Hopefully of use to someone.
26th Dec 2014, 05:02 PM #9
Breha Scissor Lifter Rebuild - Kea Conqueror
Breha Scissor Lifter Rebuild
Summary – My experience in re-building Breha 1200mm (no spring) scissor lifters as used for the poptop on a Kea Conqueror campervan vehicle.
I had a second (partial) failure of a Breha scissor lifter on a recent trip with my Kea Conqueror, and I resolved to re-build my three lifters to be more durable “on the road” and to be “field serviceable”.
There is a longer story to all this; if you are interested, please read my “Poptop Problems” in this forum.
This article does not cover the rebuild of a lifter with spring fitted, although it should be possible to rebuild the lifter first, then to fit the spring during final assembly of a rebuilt unit.
Defining the problem
Breha lifter bracket strength is less than ideal, especially at pivot and attachment areas.
Quality of manufacture is variable, and design questionable in some areas.
Failure can occur at weld points at the fixed pivot bracket ends, and to the pivot itself.
The centre “X” pivot pin can fail if not “peened” or set correctly. I had one of these pins almost fall out.
The rollers can go sloppy or cease rolling.
I consider the lifter to be of reasonable “commercial” quality, and can function well in an ideal situation, and they certainly are a very “slim” design with minimal protrusions.
However, when installed on my “less than ideal situation” Kea Conqueror, where the poptop positioning is variable when raised and lowered, I have had two failures.
I have since improved my poptop situation where it was stressing the lifters, and improved all three Breha lifters.
This is not a five minute job; allow a day per lifter.
01 Original new, and original failed, bracket ends, P1150577lo.jpg
I had an old broken lifter from my first failure, and so I tried a few ideas out on a prototype. I also had a brand new lifter for comparison.
I then rebuilt all lifters on my vehicle to my final ideas.
02 Original new and Rebuilt bracket ends P1150567lo.jpg
Removing Lifters From Vehicle
I strongly recommend removing only one lifter at a time, and then only with temporary support bracing installed. Safety issues here
See my other posts for ideas and details of bracing and supporting the poptop whilst service is carried out.
Original Pivots and Disassembly
The original pivot pins at the lifter fixed pivot ends are just M8 CSK head ZP screws, “press peened”, (or engine “end roll peened”?) for retention, and most of my screws have shown axial bending ex factory. The “bearing” aspects of the original “pivot pin” design are questionable.
Drill out the “pins” from the fixed ends and discard the screws and washers.
Drill out the cross arm “X” pivot pin.
Take the lifter fully apart and roughly clean, and check for obvious problems (bent arms, sharp edges, “belled” holes) and fix these, and clean up again.
Mark each arm and each bracket (with removable marker ink), so as to avoid “senior moments”.
At this stage I drilled some new M8 clearance holes in my arms to take a separate “hold-up” strut. See photo later.
Assess the rollers and their pins, and replace as required.
New Fixed Pivot End Bracket Plate
Grind off the welds holding the original (1.0 mm thick) small sheet metal brace pieces at the fixed ends.
Fully clean up this area, and take out some of the “pressed CSK” in the sheet metal arm with a tightened bolt and nut and suitable washers, without distorting the area.
03 Reducing the original CSK P1150549lo.jpg
In their place, silver braze a substitute 50 x 30mm piece of 2.0mm thick zinc plated steel, after drilling a 10.0mm (tight) clearance hole for my new pivot pin.
Clean up and square off the bracket ends before attaching this plate.
Remove any zinc plating on the bracket, and on the new plate, before brazing.
Drill or ream out the bracket rear 8mm hole to a tight 10mm, or Dynabolt clearance.
Spray paint the bracket ends inside and outside. Australian Dulux spray can “Bright Chrome” is an almost perfect match to the original.
04 New pivot plates brazed to bracket ends P1150589lo.jpg
Strengthening the Bracket ends.
Caution that this improvement raises the poptop by twice the thickness (4mm total) of the end strengthening piece, and this height increase might be critical in your situation, eg reduced poptop weather sealing.
I strengthened my bracket ends with 2.0mm thick “angles” made from a 75 x 75 x 2mm galvanised steel “post bracket” hand sawn in half.
05 New Stregthening Pieces P1150588lo.jpg
Match shape this to your bracket ends, and drill out to match the existing 5mm hole. You may need this 5mm hole later.
Drill the fixed pivot end bracket and strengthening piece to take a blind rivet.
Only one rivet is required as the new piece is held firmly by the pivot bolt and the M8 cap screw hold down bolts.
Drill or ream out to accommodate the Dynabolt with a tight 10mm clearance hole on the fixed pivot ends.
Make strengthening pieces for all four bracket ends.
Drill and set two rivets on the bracket roller end new pieces , with the rivet head inside the bracket, so you can take the roller arm out and repair your lifters ”on the road”.
08 Roller end rebuilt P1150636lo.jpg
As the ends of the bracket now sit vertically off the vehicle by 2mm, you might think that some stability is lost along the bracket length, but in practice, the weight of the poptop is projected to the lifter bracket arm ends anyway (allowing for that dreaded sin theta action).
The bases of my strengthening pieces protrude sideways from the bracket by about 15mm deliberately for increased lifter stability.
In my vehicle I had to saw this protrusion off for my rear uppers because of space restrictions. Photos tell the story.
New Pivot Pins
The new pivot pin for the fixed ends is a CSK Flat Head Dynabolt, 10mm shank with M8 thread, with expanding pieces discarded, and cut to about 42.0mm (length for thin bar arm) and about 44.0mm (length for thick bar arm) overall length, ie from end of thread to the plane of the flat top of the CSK head.
Countersink the drilled ends of the fixed arms to 80% CSK depth or so.
The Dynabolts are a 90 deg CSK form.
Try to use a real 90 deg CSK bit on the arm ends if you can, or grind an old large HSS twist drill to a 90 deg end point.
This is important for the pivot point wear surfaces.
Use a normal large HSS drill (at 118deg) if you don’t have a CSK bit.
Using one washer under the arm and a largish diameter thick washer at the bracket rear, and a nylock M8 nut, firmly fit and measure your pins, then hacksaw cut your Dynabolts to your pivot pin thread length requirement.
This means that 1 to 1 and 1/2 threads visible on the nylock nut, but with the threaded portion of the Dynabolt end not interfering with, nor cutting your poptop canvas.
Round off the threaded bolt cut end.
Using the Dynabolt and nylock nut in this orientation, ie with head outside, and nut inside, allows adjustment and maintenance on the road, using a spanner and cross point screwdriver. See photos.
06 Rebuilt pivot end P1150592lo.jpg
07 Rebuilt pivot end, rear P1150595lo.jpg
Drill out the X centre pivot holes to a tight 8.0mm clearance, and countersink drill the “inside” of the inside arm to a 90% CSK head depth, so as to fit a CSK head 8mm Dynabolt cut down and used as a pivot pin.
Cross drill the end of your cut Dynabolt to take an end split pin with washer for pin retention.
I used the same spacing dimension as factory for arm to arm standoff spacing, about 3.0mm, using new washers between the arms.
Keep this pivot “fit” reasonably tight, as it has to clear the top and bottom brackets when the lifter is fully down.
10 Arm centre X pivot P1150637lo.jpg
Attaching to the Vehicle
Use the original SS316 M8x40mm cap screws with a new rectangular “washer” under the screw heads made from 2 or 3mm thick steel, 30mm long and 14mm wide, with 8mm hole drilled offset to suit the bracket end.
Use a small dab of grease (eg white Lithium etc) on the cap screw threads before use.
You may need to use SS P.K. screws one size larger in diameter for attaching the lifter top ends, even up to 14 gauge, if the holes in the poptop have enlarged.
The rear tops are fixed with SS M6 screws and SS nylock nuts.
09 Rebuilt pivot end, installed P1150614lo.jpg
Do not use grease or lubricant on the PK screws, as it weakens the fibreglass and wood surrounding the hole.
I used two pieces of 100 x 20 x 1.5 mm aluminium flat, one for each bottom bracket, under the sideways protruding horizontal part of the bracket end strengthening pieces, for improved vertical stability of the lifter, as the lifter is screw mounted on the “rounded” part of the aluminium canvas holder strip.
Held in place by the bracket clamping action; no fasteners required.
The original arrangement for my vehicle was that the rear lifter was installed with bottom fixed end to the passenger side, (roller to the driver’s side), the driver’s side lifter installed with fixed end to the vehicle rear, and passenger side lifter with fixed end to the vehicle front.
I thought that the poptop would have more stability when raised if the driver’s side lifter was installed with fixed end to the vehicle front, and that is how mine are presently installed.
Positional Adjustment of Poptop
It is possible to shift the overall poptop position by moving the side lifter bottom bracket.
It isn’t possible to move the mounting cap screw holes in the vehicle, but you can elongate the bottom bracket mount holes, or drill new ones.
About 1cm adjustment is easily possible.
It is also possible to shift the top bracket mount holes in the poptop top fibreglass.
I have done a little work in this area, but I am now back in original holes. My poptop needs to be moved forward slightly; a job for later.
After a fellow traveller in a similar vehicle told me that he had a poptop descend on him when he was half asleep in bed (he said he inadvertently pulled the poptop down), I made two holding struts to avoid this.
Photo will reveal all; nothing critical here.
The top fixing is made from a long carriage bolt with bent shank, so I can insert it into the top hole easily from below.
11 Lifter and Strut P1150757lo.jpg
Lightly coat all sawn or cut edges (only) with a wipe of your favourite corrosion preventative, then wipe off. Do not lubricate the lifter rollers and bracket channel insides, as it just attracts dust and debris.
No project like this is ever perfect, but I am pleased with my improved lifters.
A bit more road and travel debris can gather under the lifter, but you get used to this, and clean it out.
Time will tell.
Hopefully of interest to someone.
Technical Data and Material
Silver braze – CIG SBA245 or similar (can be brazed with a handheld propane torch).
Use CIG Sliver Brazing Flux No 2, or equivalent, for a good braze job with adequate wicking.
Fixed end pivot pin – Dynabolt DP10075F, “Flathead” (CSK), available at larger hardware stores.
Centre “X” pivot pin - Dynabolt DP8085F, “Flathead” (CSK), available at larger hardware stores.
I recommend Dynabolts over other brands eg Bremick, as the CSK heads are slightly smaller and this preserves more strength in the arms without bending at the drilled out holes. No associations etc.
New Breha rollers, with pin – available CaravansPlus .
Fixed end, steel strengthening right angles – “Internal Post Bracket” 75 x 75 mm, 2.0mm, (cut in two) Bunnings
Fixed end, steel pivot plate, 50 x 30mm – cut from “Internal Post Bracket” 50 x 50 mm, 2.0mm, Bunnings
Blind rivets – 73AS 6-4 Open end, Aluminium, steel stems, 3/16 dia (or to suit your strengthening pieces)
Holding Strut – made from 20 x 10 x 2mm square aluminium tube and various bolts; not critical.
Aluminium flat – 20 x 1.5 mm available in 1m lengths
4th Dec 2015, 12:24 AM #10GOLD MEMBER
- Join Date
- Mar 2003
This is a great thread. Wonderful how all this knowledge is now safely stored in the ether for anybody to learn from.
22nd Jul 2016, 03:37 PM #11
I have been asked about the easiest method to physically raise the pop-top from inside the rear compartment.
The pop-top weighs an estimated 75-80 Kgm, and does have gas strut assist, BUT only after the initial raising.
This is my method.
Release the four pop-top catches.
In the rear compartment.
Sit on the driver's side front corner of the rear LHS liftup compartment lid.
Grab the rear plastic handle with your right hand.
Half stand under the rear pop-top plastic handle and face the front of the vehicle.
Place your shoulder under the front edge of the pop-top rear roof section which is lower than the front handle area.
Using your legs and shoulder, stand and raise the pop-top, using your arms only for the last part of the pushup.
If you use your arms only, the process may be quite difficult.
22nd Jul 2018, 04:42 PM #12
2018 Update .
Rebuilt Breha lifters are still rock solid, with just a little "scissor wear", which is normal
Rebuild some more in 2022 if required.
All the rest OK.
Now, where's that map of Western NSW?
Regards to you all.
22nd Jul 2018, 04:53 PM #13GOLD MEMBER
- Join Date
- Oct 2004
- Melbourne, Australia.
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