Most camper lift systems employ a winch connected to a cable that is guided under the camper and around a series of pulleys and transfers the force generated by the winch to raise the camper's roof. The winch is equipped with a clutch and brake assembly that keeps the weight of the roof from pushing the winch backwards during raising and allows it to be lowered under control with minimal force required from the operator.
Some companies offer an automated system that employs a battery-powered electric motor to provide the force instead of the operator. However, the primary mechanical functions of the lifting process are the same as the manual version. Most lift-top campers use one of three different styles of lift systems, including the Coleman, the Jayco or the Goshen.
In the Goshen system, the cable from the winch is connected to pulleys in a distribution case located underneath the camper in the middle. A tube runs from the distribution case to each corner of the camper. Inside of each tube is a spring that is compressed as the winch is cranked. This compression force is transferred to telescoping poles that are forced upwards to lift the roof.
With the Coleman system, the winch is attached to a chain that drives a threaded screw. The screw applies pressure to the distribution block, which is connected by cables to the telescoping corner poles. Jayco's is similar in design to the Goshen system, but it uses pushrods instead of springs to drive the roof's movement.