Making a De Tensioning Tool and Changing fabric on a Girard Slide Topper


Until now I have avoided customers that would say the name Girard, when it came to slide out toppers. Basically, it was a small tool that I have never seen and the only way to get one is to either buy a fabric from Girard and get a free one or make your own.

Since I’m not in the business of buying someone else’s fabric I opted for make my own. It’s not too bad and since I am in the business of helping customers save money here is the how to make your own tool and replace a Girard Slide topper.

Start with a hand-held grinder with a metal cutting blade, a pair of glasses, (Safety First) and one 3/8” socket driver. Also, some good gloves to save on the cost of band aids.


 Securing your socket driver on the edge of a work bench and start cutting in the tip straight up and down. You will need to cut down to past the secure spring ball on the end of the driver.

 Now you are ready and the tool goes into this small hole in the center.

 Now with your new de tensioning tool and socket driver in place to hold the spring tension. Remove the 2 screws below. This is where the spring tension will need to be released, by letting the unit unwind with the socket.

 Now with the tension out of the spring. Remove the 4 screws that secure the end cap. 3 on the outside and one on the bottom.

 Now you are ready to remove the roller tube and the fabrics by sliding the roller tube out of the cradle.


 The fabric on the flexible guard on the end of the slide can be secured with a screw underneath or the guard could be crimped causing it not to slide out. You will have to use a flat blade screw drive to un crimp it.


 After removing the old fabric and installing the new fabric. It is ready to put it back together.

 After sliding the tube and the fabric in the guard at the same time. Secure the side of the roller tube without the spring in the center hole.

 Now secure your end cap on the side with the spring with the 4 screws.

 Now you are ready to reload your spring tension with your new de tensioning tool. Take it 13 full rotations and while holding the tension. Re install your tension screws.

 Replace the decorative end caps and enjoy your new water proof fabric from Tough Top Awnings.

Now that was easy, right? : )

If anyone has questions or comments, please let me know..... And pass this along to folks who might need it.

CLICK HERE (coming still) to view photo gallery of the Girard install we just did

Happy RVing!



  • by Craig reevee on

    Great tutorial!!!
    I need to do a repair to the top of a slide out and was wondering if by removing the tension from the topper while the slide out was open would be a problem. I’m a skinny guy but believe the extra room while the topper material was loose would allow me to shimmy between the topper fabric and the slide roof. Any comment on this??
    Tough Top Awnings replied:
    Hi It might give you a little more room. But if you are removing the spring tension, you might as well remove the fabric depending on what you need to do to the slide out.

  • by rick oberreuter on

    Hi Bill
    Hope this helps

    Remove the plastic end cap on the side you will be tensioning.
    Right hand side tightens « counter clockwise »
    Left hand side « clockwise »
    Be sure your tool is in place and remove the 2 screws that secure the spring and add tension. Make it very tight and don’t loose the grip on the tool or you will loose tension.

  • by Bill Terry on

    I read your blog on replacing a Girard slide topper after I had one replaced by my insurance carrier here in Texas. The shop was recommended by my carrier and they assured me they had replaced many slide toppers. I was concerned because they didn’t have the tensioning tool. They wouldn’t let me watch the repair. When we got back to our rv park (an 80 mile round trip,) the awning is not tight on both ends. I declined their offer to let them re do the work because of the trip back t their shop. I ordered the special tool from Girard and after talking to them ,hope I can adjust the awning myself. Which way unloads the spring clockwise or counter clockwise? Any tips or help would be much appreciated. Thanks in advance.

  • by Tough Top Awnings on

    Hi Kenneth Spaeth “Chuck”
    Thanks for much for taking the time to write…We are glad the how-to videos made your experience nice and easy!
    Happy RVing

  • by Kenneth Spaeth "Chuck" on

    I have just replaced my awnings on the slides of our motor home, (2) a large 14 foot & a small 8 foot, I watched the youtube videos carefully. AWESOME help. I am an able body 80 year old & my daughter more able, did the work very careful & it went very well. It was on a 40’ Monaco Dynasty. The products & info. from TOUGH TOP AWNINGS were ABOVE & BEYOND!!! Thanks for the support. This was a first time project for us.

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