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Open Roads Forum  >  Do It Yourself Modifications and Upgrades (DIY)

 > Installing Glowsteps as a one person DIY job (long post)

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profdant139

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Posted: 10/22/21 05:44pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

If you are reading this, you either have a set of the Torklift Glowstep Revolution steps ("GSRs") already, or you are thinking about buying them. Years ago, I posted a "pro and con" discussion about the GSR at:

Pros and Cons

And I posted about the installation at:

Installation tips and tricks

Most of that info is still valid. But this is an update, with some new tips and tricks on the installation process as a one-person job, along with some comments (both pro and con) about some new features of the GSR.

First, the back-story – Torklift sent me a free set of GSRs in 2015. They worked great – we did a lot of boondocking in rough terrain, and these steps made it much easier to get in and out of the trailer. But in early October of 2021, I had a blowout of my right tire on my little trailer (a story for another time!), and the flapping of the ruined tire damaged the steps. (Blowout damage is an unavoidable risk on very small trailers, where the door is right behind the wheel well.)

So I called Torklift, hoping that they still had the dimensions of my original installation on file. They did, and they offered to ship me a new set, free of charge!

I was intending to pay full price, and I told them so. But they were very gracious. I also told them I would post an updated discussion of the GSR on RV.net, no holds barred, as you will see below. They understood that I would be as objective as possible.

I am impressed with their customer service – their technical staff is here in the USA (in Washington, near Tacoma), they answer their phones, and they are quite knowledgeable.

So let's talk about a one-person installation. Before getting going on the installation, you will need to remove your existing steps from the brackets. Be sure to have on hand a full set of end wrenches and/or socket wrenches.

Most of the hardware will be 7/16, 1/2, or 9/16. I found it helpful to have some ratcheting closed-end wrenches, which are handy when working in confined spaces because you don't have to reposition the wrench like you do with an ordinary open-end wrench.

The GSR comes in two main pieces – the frame, which bolts to the mounting brackets on your RV, and the steps themselves. Both pieces are shipped as one bigger piece. If you are doing a two-person installation, you are good to go – no need to separate the pieces. The strong person will hold the frame in the mounting brackets, and the wrench person will bolt the frame into place.

But if you are by yourself, you will have to unbolt the steps from the frame. In my opinion, the relevant diagram in the installation manual (Figure 3.1.B) is not very clear. In addition to the "exploded" diagram, they should have an "unexploded" version with an arrow pointing to the correct bolts to be removed, so that there is no ambiguity. There should also be some textual guidance, sort of like this: "The two bolts to be removed are the ones that join the silver aluminum steps to the black steel frame."

Now that you have gotten rid of the steps, you need a way to lift up the metal frame so that it can be bolted to the existing brackets on your RV. I solved that problem with two automotive scissor jacks (see photos below).

I first grabbed my furniture dolly and covered it with a piece of plywood. I then put the jacks onto that plywood platform and put another piece of plywood on top of the jacks. Make sure the plywood platform is a little wider than the metal frame so that it supports the edges easily.

I then put the frame of the GSR onto the top piece of plywood. I rolled the furniture dolly under the RV and slowly raised the jacks to lift the frame into place between the mounting brackets:

[image]
[image]Click For Full-Size Image.

Notice that although my driveway slants, I was able to use the jacks to align the frame to compensate for the slant.

One more tip -- instead of trying to balance the top piece of plywood on the jacks (don't do that -- it doesn't work, as I discovered), I fastened a temporary wooden extender on top of each jack:

[image]
[image]Click For Full-Size Image.

As a result, the top piece of plywood rested securely on the jacks, making it much easier to lift the frame into the proper position.

Before you bolt the frame into the brackets, check to see how closely the frame fits to your mounting brackets. If there is a lot of room, use the spacer plates that were included in your shipment from Torklift. The spacer plates are a quarter of an inch wide. They have a strip of two-sided tape, which enables you to put the spacer into place and then raise the frame, while the spacer stays put. You might only need one of the spacer plates.

If your mounting brackets are within a quarter inch of perfect, you won't need a spacer plate – just tighten the mounting bolts sufficiently, and you're done. Then re-attach the steps to the frame assembly.

The whole job took me a few hours, working slowly and carefully. I should add that I am approaching 70 years old and have a bad back. You do not have to be young and strong to do this job by yourself.

Some other comments:

This version of the GSR has much better legs than the older model. The portion of the legs that come into contact with the ground are made of high-density rubber and look to be very durable. The foot assembly pivots more easily than the old one did. And the length adjustment for the legs is better than it used to be.

Torklift redesigned the locking lanyard pin that secures the steps. It is safer than the former pin, but it is slightly harder to use. I think that the lanyard pin is a little too short -- it is hard to get a grasp on it to pull it out, particularly if you have arthritic fingers. Also, it might make sense to have pins on both sides of the GSR, rather than only on the left side, for extra security.

I hope this discussion helps future GSR customers through the DIY installation process.


2012 Fun Finder X-139 "Boondock Style" (axle-flipped and extra insulation)
2013 Toyota Tacoma Off-Road (semi-beefy tires and components)
Our trips -- pix and text
About our trailer
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opnspaces

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Posted: 10/23/21 08:33am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Thanks for the writeup it's very informative and well written.

But an even bigger thanks is for the idea of the furniture dolly and scissors jacks. I recently struggled through a wobbly unsafe setup of my floor jack on top of blocks of wood to lower the rear tank on my Suburban to replace the fuel pump. In the end I had to have my neighbor help steady things while I attached hoses and wires and such. With your idea (which I already have all the parts to make) I could have more safely raised. lowered and tilted the tank. I think the only thing I would add to your setup would be to also bolt the scissors jacks to the bottom piece of wood so they can't tilt and fall sideways.


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Cummins12V98

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Posted: 10/23/21 09:03am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I used a Motorcycle lift to RnR my steps.


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profdant139

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Posted: 10/23/21 10:41am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

opnspaces, I did think about fastening the jacks to the bottom platform on the furniture dolly, and I would have done so if it felt unstable.

But that would have meant drilling holes in the base of the jacks -- not impossible, but a bit of a chore.

If I were lifting anything really heavy or bulky, I would certainly bolt the jacks!!

cougar28

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Posted: 10/31/21 07:45pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I installed mine by myself-no jacks or anything. Didn't even take any part of the steps loose. I just removed the old steps-expended the TL steps out fully and put them in position under the opening. Laid under the rv lifted into place-put the back bolts in on each side then the front. Took me all of 30 mins max to install.


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time2roll

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Posted: 10/31/21 08:29pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

These steps glow up? Is there a final picture taken at night?


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Lantley

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Posted: 11/01/21 08:04am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

cougar28 wrote:

I installed mine by myself-no jacks or anything. Didn't even take any part of the steps loose. I just removed the old steps-expended the TL steps out fully and put them in position under the opening. Laid under the rv lifted into place-put the back bolts in on each side then the front. Took me all of 30 mins max to install.

Ultimately each installation is a bit different.
My installation wass almost as easy as yours, but mounting the steps was not as simple because I required a 2nd set of hands to insert bolt.
I was almost able to do it by myself, but a 2nd person made it easy vs. a 1 man struggle.
I can see were the OP had to improvise in order to do it solo.


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profdant139

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Posted: 11/01/21 09:56am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Yes, the steps glow. There are little glow-in-the-dark pads attached to the steps. They work fine, especially if you are going outside at night when it is pitch dark without a flashlight.

If you have a flashlight, or if you are in a lighted RV park, the glow-pads are less necessary.

Frankly, if the glow were the only feature of these steps, they would not be worth the money. But the steps make it much easier and safer to climb in and out of your rig, especially when carrying stuff. To me, that is the biggest justification for this upgrade.

And cougar, you must be a lot younger and stronger than I am -- I could not safely lay on my back and support the metal frame with one hand while installing the bolts with my other two hands. [emoticon]

So that is why I used the jacks -- I cranked the frame into position and fastened the bolts.

Cummins12V98

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Posted: 11/01/21 10:28am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

"I could not safely lay on my back and support the metal frame with one hand while installing the bolts with my other two hands."

HMMMMMM, what other appendage do you consider a "HAND" ???

profdant139

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Posted: 11/01/21 02:02pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Exactly. I've only got two hands, and my feet are not very dextrous.

I'm not doubting cougar's account of how he installed the steps. I'm just saying that I physically could not do it his way.

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 > Installing Glowsteps as a one person DIY job (long post)
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