Saturday, July 27, 2013

How to remove a pick-up truck cap with one person and simple tools and hardware

  I like having a cap, or topper, on my Ford F150 truck for securing valuables and keeping them out of the elements. But sometimes I really like not having it on there. But using man-power alone requires four people. So I devised a way for one person to safely get the cap on and off, in a garage, using simple tools and hardware. In fact I did it with materials on hand, without even hitting the hardware store. Materials for this job can be had for under $50. I have included links to find these parts on Amazon.  There is also a video of the procedure at the end of this post.
  Materials needed: A garage, plumb bob, stud finder or nail, electric drill and bits, pencil, four nylon cam- buckle type straps with 150lb capacity, two 16 foot ratchet type nylon straps with 300lb capacity Four 1/4" lag-screw hanging hooks (I used bicycle style hooks), Four 3/8" lag screw eyelet type hangers, and 2 boards, preferably hardwood, 1"x 4” x 78"  long.

Everything needed to do this job

1)  Back the truck into the garage in  the exact position where the topper will be removed and stored. Mark this position on the floor with tape or paint.
2)  Locate garage ceiling joists within a foot or so of the front and back of the cap. Use a stud finder or a small nail to find the center of the joist, if not exposed. If the ceiling is finished or semi- finished,  probe for the center of the stud, if desired.
3)  Drop a plumb bob from the center of joists that are above the topper. Mark the ceiling when the plumb bob is just touching the bottom edge of the topper. Repeat this mark on each of the four corners. This will ensure that the cap goes straight up when lifted.
Using a home-made plumb bob to ensure a straight up lift

4)  Safety first!  Inspect joists for electrical wiring running near where they will be drilled. Move wiring or select different location if required. Turn off the circuit breaker while drilling into joists for an additional level of safety.
5)  Drill holes into the studs at the four marked spots. I used a 7/32” bit for the ¼” inch lag-screw hangers.
6)  Mount the hanging hooks and test with weight.
7)  Four inches outside of each hook, drill an additional hole for the ratcheting strap hangers. Turn in hangers and test with weight. I used a ¼”bit with a 3/8” hanger.

Install an additional hanger 4 inches outside the first
8)  Unclamp the truck cap and pull it back an inch or two so it overhangs the end of the truck box.
9)  While holding one of the wood boards, lift the right rear corner of the cap and slip the board underneath it and on top of the truck rail. Go to the other corner and slip the other end of the board under it and even it up so that the same amount protrudes on either side of the topper. Position it directly under the back set of hooks.
10)  Wrap one of the cam-buckle straps around the board and the hook above. Lift the cap an inch by pulling down on the strap while lifting up on the board. The buckle will hold the weight when the strap is released.  Repeat on the other side. Alternate raising the two back straps until the back of the cap is about two inches above the bed rails of the truck. The front will still rest on the truck box.

11)  Slide the other board through the opening that results from raising up the back of the cap and slide it up toward a position where it is directly under the front hanger. Alternate from one side to the other. Even it up so the same amount sticks out on each side.
12)  Using the other two straps, lift the front of the topper off the bed rails of the truck. Raise it high enough off the truck to safely drive the truck out of the garage. I found 56 1/2" off the floor is the magic height. I marked the boards with that number for future use. I set all four corners to that height, which also levels the topper.
13)  Drive the truck slowly out of the garage, watching for any contact with with cap. The rear of my truck bounced up due to the uneven surface outside my garage and made contact with the cap. I had to raise my topper another inch. Watch for this.
Get it high enough to clear the topper as the truck is driven out. 

14)  Using the second set of  hooks, run each of the two ratcheting straps under the boards. Ratchet it up just until it is just bearing some of the weight.

The ratcheting straps installed under the boards

                                                              Ratcheting straps
                    cam buckle straps              These will work
                  I have used this set            and a couple extra

Here is a video of the process:

Putting the cap back on the truck
1)  Remove the ratcheting straps and set aside.
2)  Slowly back the truck into exact position under the cap. 
3)  Lower the front straps until the cap rests on the truck with the board in between. 
4)  Slide the front board toward the rear, first from one side and then the other. It may help to raise the back up an inch or two more. 
5)  Remove the front board. 
6)  Lower the back board until it rests on the truck bed rails. 
7)  Remove the back board by lifting up on the overhanging corner of the cap. It may be easier to lift it under the roof of the cap.
8)  Push the cap into final position on the bed rail and clamp it down. Done. Well done. 


  1. Excellent idea! Thank you for taking the time to make this video/DIY. Keep up the good work!

  2. There are likewise sensors in a truck to gauge street speed or to quantify weight on the tires. TruckElectrics Ireland

  3. This is such a great resource that you are providing and you give it away for free. milwaukee truck accident attorney

  4. We always work one step ahead to give you comfort and ease even in adverse conditions. We believe that to provide the best services, it is necessary to ensure that the requirements of the customer and the team are met. So our towing vehicles are fully registered and insured.