Truck Topper Lift with 12v Linear Actuators

A topper lift system is what is used when people decide to extend their truck cap up into the air. It uses linear actuators to allow for the top of the lift to be raised up as far as is necessary, for whatever the car owner wants to do. A truck topper lift can be used for anything from turning your truck into a camper van to making more room for equipment and supplies if you do a lot of DIY work, or even just to make things easier for you when you open your back door to remove things. There is a lot that goes into a lift system, but this article covers the basics, and hopefully will interest people in the process so that they go and find out more about making a topper lift with using of linear actuators for their own vehicle.

Advantages of a truck topper lift

  • You will have more space – this is a fairly basic advantage, but having a truck topper lift means that you will have more space available to you for whatever you need to do, whether that is transport things, have more room to manoeuvre tools, or anything else;
  • It is more convenient – rather than needing to sort out how to get everything in and out of your truck or car when you don’t need to figure out how to load everything from the back;
  • You can get things out from the side of your car – most people are limited to getting things out of the back of their cars and trucks, but having a topper lift system will allow you to retrieve items from the sides of the truck, as well as from the back;
  • You can turn your truck into a camper shell – with a truck topper lift giving you more space, you can easily turn what is a fairly normal car into a camper, just by the addition of extra space.

truck camper shell

What is Needed for a DIY Topper Lift

A DIY truck topper lifting kid is fairly simple, and only has a few piece of equipment in it:

  • Linear Actuators – these 12 volt linear actuators will normally be rated at one hundred and fifty pounds each, but if you can use lower force units, that can be changed to fifty pounds each. The stroke distance is highly dependent on how high you want the lift to go;
  • A wireless 12VDC remote control kit – the remote control allows the pickup topper lift to be controlled remotely, rather than anybody needs in contact with the truck or car. This can also mean that people can take the remote control, and use the truck lift without needing the owner of the car to be there at all times;
  • Mounting Brackets – the mounting brackets are what the actuators are fixed to, allowing the movement of the truck topper lift to happen smoothly. The mounting brackets can change in strength depending on the linear actuators used, and the weight of the truck cap itself.

truck topper lift kit

How to Build a Truck Topper Lift

When you make the decision to build a truck topper lift, you should make sure that you have thought everything through, because it is a very involved process, and can go wrong in a number of ways if you are not careful. When working on such a project, you need to take special care because if it doesn’t work, then you are left with a car which has effectively been sawn in half; it may still work, but not as effectively as you would want it.

Knowing what you are doing is key to this project – and so is knowing what you want the end result to be as well.

First Step – Measure

Before you pick up any tools, or make any permanent changes, pick up the measuring tape. Make sure that you know the exact dimensions of your truck bed\back of your car, so that you can be completely sure of where you want everything to go. Measurements will mean that you can plan where the linear actuators will go, and where you will cut and fit to create the homemade topper lift in the first place.

Measure all the spaces necessary, and remember that what you are using the space for will affect the size of the overall topper lift project. Take into account the size of the linear actuators in the truck topper lift and mounting brackets as well – they will need to fit into space even when the topper is not extended, so be sure to remember and include them in the measurements.

Second Step – Make a Topper

Most cars and trucks do not come with a removable topper right off the bat, so it is up to the owner to make one. The work done to remove a truck cap can, of course, be easily done by a mechanic, or somebody else who works on cars, but it is a job which can be done at home, with the proper tools.

The measurements done should have given a clear idea of where exactly the topper was going to be – sometimes this decision is made easier by the truck having windows which reach down to a certain level (obviously the topper needs to be below them), but this is not always the case. When trying to decide where the topper should go, bear in mind what you will be using it for. Turning your truck into a camper will require more space than simply having extra space to reach in and grab some tools from the back of your van.

When cutting the topper, remember that it needs to be kept in a straight line throughout, to make sure that your end project works in the proper manner. The 12v linear actuators that come in a normal topper kit are all the same size, so they will be unable to work properly if you don’t have a straight line for them to attach to.

Third Step – Attach the Equipment

The linear actuators and mounting brackets should be installed at this stage. Before you attach them, make sure that both the actuators and the brackets are the correct size and weight for your project – the mounting brackets in particular have to be able to withstand both the actuators moving up and down periodically over the course of however many years you are using the car, and also the weight of the topper. The linear actuators need to be strong enough to be able to lift up the topper, and hold it in position for as long as needed, as well as be able to lower it effectively into position without causing any damage to either it or the actual car.

In Summary

12-volt linear actuators are perfectly suited for such jobs as raising and lowering car toppers because of their unique structure. While there are other pieces of equipment which can offer the same motions as linear actuators, actuators have been designed specifically so as to allow for increased strength of materials, dexterity in operation, and longevity. Actuators are the seminal choice because they are much better at what they do than other equipment.

For a car topper, there are several considerations to take into account: one is the need for care – since the topper will likely be heavy, a lifter will need to ensure that it does not cause any damage when being lowered down onto its base, and actuators can provide the assurance that this will not happen. Similarly, they also need to be able to work over a long period of time, and actuators can provide this assurance as well.

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