Upgraded gas spring for higher load rating on the tent

TLDR: Has anyone replaced the 100 lb gas springs that lift the tent with a higher rated 150 lb version?

Full background info:
When I purchased the GFC two years ago it was stated to support a load of 100 lbs (now it looks like updated numbers say 75 - 100 lbs). I built my solar setup based on the idea that I had 100 lbs to work with so I bought four 100 watt panels, mounted them to three sets of beef racks, and have recently added two Baja Design Squadron S2 Pro lights and a Weebost OTR antenna. I went with four panels for maximum power availability since I often spend multiple weeks off the grid on climbing trips and still need to power laptops, fridge, lights, wifi, cameras, etc.

My calculations for weight are below.

4 panels @ 15 lbs each = 60 lbs
2 BD Squadron S2 Pro lights @ 8 oz each = 1 lb
1 Weebost OTR antenna @ 3 lbs = 3lbs
1 Misc connection/hardware no more than 2 lbs = 2 lbs
3 Beef racks @ weight unknown

Estimated total weight = 66 lbs plus 3x beef rack weight

Based on those measurements I thought I was in the clear with at least 15 lbs (15%) of wiggle room to be safe. My weight is pretty much split 50/50 front/back on top of the GFC.

When I setup camp the GFC tent opens fully before sagging and settling a couple of inches just below fully open. It didn’t cause any inconvenience so I accepted the change. However I’ve recently had multiple occasions where higher winds (25 mph+) cause enough additional force to close the tent.

I spoke with GFC support while getting my embassy hinge upgrade and via email hoping to find the best solution. They have been great at identifying possible solutions:

  1. Removing or reorienting weight to redistribute the loading predominately to the cab side of the GFC
  2. Replacing the current 100 lb gas springs with 150 lb variant (not warrantied because of untested configuration)
  3. Adding a second set of gas springs (not warrantied because of untested configuration)

I don’t have the ability to redistribute or reorient the weight without permanently removing two solar panels and I would like to keep my current setup as is, so I am planning to upgrade to the 150 lb springs. If winds pick up during the night my temporary solution has been to wake up, slightly pack up camp, and reorient my truck to lower the pressure from the winds.

With that being said, I figured I’d see if any other owners have upgraded the gas springs yet or have come up with any other solutions?

Picture of the top of my GFC in the next post below:

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Not the most elegant solution but you could just cut a dowel to the fully open dimension inside the tent at its tallest point to cover you for the rare times it is that windy. Otherwise I think the stiffer struts seems like the ticket, but no firsthand experience with any of this.

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Probably a dumb suggestion but how long have you had the existing ones? Any chance they have developed a leak or something? Could you just replace like for like and maybe things will be fine?

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I’ve had my camper for two years. I asked GFC about them possibly being worn down and they said not likely. They believe the contributing factor is that I have 40 lbs (give or take) above and below the gas spring. I assume the 40 lbs above the gas spring has more force than supported do to the length of the arm acting like a lever, thus creating a mechanical advantage or “disadvantage” in my case lol.

I’m sure if I was able to move all of the weight to below the spring it would work fine. My assumption that the tent would support 100lbs in normal weight distribution instead of mainly below the lever was wishful thinking I guess. Without weight I don’t notice any sagging.

Something to consider is whether 150 lb gas springs will make it difficult to close under normal circumstances.

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Yeah, figured I’d spend the $45 for the pair then see how it goes. If it’s too difficult to close I’m not out much. Last resort is using a dowel or something to prop it up on windy nights.

To back up @owennoll

Gas struts do wear out surprisingly quickly while under frequent use. The bins on the side of the line truck I use at work have gas struts to hold the doors open and we have to replace them almost annually.

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Within 2 weeks of receiving my GFC I was in the same position with solar and rack on top and feeling that the wind could shut the top if the conditions were bad enough. I replaced my struts with the next weight rating up and the problem was solved. The problem I encountered during install was that I had to unfasten the tent from the frame to allow the top to go a bit higher because I could not compress the strut to get it on, be careful with the snaps if they still use them, I messed one up trying to get it unsnapped and had to replace it. I no longer have the truck but I managed to find the invoice from purchase. Here are the part numbers from the invoice at Mcmaster-Carr where I purchased them. 4138T63 Gas Spring, 35.43" Extended Length, 150 lbs.
Extension Force, 9512K98 Corrosion-Resistant Ball Stud for Gas Spring, 10
mm, 9416K79 End Fitting for Gas Spring, Ball Socket with Safety
Clip, M8 Thread Size, 10 mm ID.

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Awesome! This is exactly the information I was looking for, I was planning on getting those exact struts ordered today. To make sure I’m following, you had to undo the lower snaps that attach the tent to the lower part of the frame so that you could mount the new struts correct?

Did you see any problems with the extra strength struts like it being more difficult to close up the tent or too much pressure on the tent/snaps?

Thanks again!

Sorry for the late response, I don’t frequent this board much since I no longer have a GFC.
To answer your question, yes I had to undo the lower snaps on the rear half or so to gain another couple of inches in height on the roof to allow me to get the old strut off and the new one on. I could not configure a way to get any compression on the strut while on top of a rickety ladder. Once the new struts were in the camper behaved just like it did without anything on the roof. I only had one big trip in the camper prior to losing the vehicle in a fire, it was a lot a serious 4wd and the camper behaved perfectly for me. I posted a pic below which was the best I could find of the rack and panels installed.

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Thanks for the info, I really appreciate it. My struts should be arriving today and hopefully I can get them installed this weekend.