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September 14

Campervan RV pop-top roof clamps for Jayco Expanda: Genuine Bolec roof clamps vs overseas counterfeits

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Not all campervan RV pop-top roof clamps are created equal.  

 

Bolec Electronics has been making pop top roof clamps for RV’s and caravans since the 1960’s.  We created the original design and used to employ several guys full time to just make clamps.   Then around 2012, copy-cat roof clamps from overseas flooded the market.  We lost our largest customer, and had to restructure our clamp business.  We still manufacture these clamps at our factory in Heidelberg West the old fashioned way.  Everything is sourced, stamped, cut, plated, powder coated and assembled in Australia. 

Out of curiosity, we decided to order a knock-off RV roof clamp on ebay.  We paid $29 AUD.   We were shocked by what we received. 

Roof clamps fake vs original Bolec

The roof clamp on the left is suss.   The roof clamp on the right is a genuine Bolec Products clamp.

At first glance, the lever and body of the pop-top clamp looks exactly like ours.   

This is frustrating, because it looks like an exact copy with no additional innovation.  They even use our drawings in their marketing materials.  However, upon closer inspection you can see the differences. 

Copy-cat RV Roof Clamp Problem #1 - J hook improperly stamped

Look at this J-hook.  There is an issue in the stamping process.   It isn’t straight!   We would never let a J-hook like this leave our factory.

If you used this on your caravan or pop-top, all the clamping force is applied on the high side.  With the thinner steel these pirates use you could bend the J-hook and the clamp could release while driving at high speed.  Catastrophe.

Roof top clamp j-hook is crooked

This roof clamp J-hook is crooked. 

But wait.   It gets worse!

Copy-cat RV Roof Clamp Problem #2 - Weak welds on the tongue

It looks like the parts were tack welded together with a MIG welder. If this light, small weld were to break while driving, the top could be released, catch the wind, and end up on the road somewhere behind you.

Roof clamp - bad weld

Counterfeit clamp - tack weld.  Material blown away

roof top clamp - spot weld

Bolec clamp - spot welded with more surface area and penetration

Spot welder we use to make the roof top clamps

This is the spot welder that we use to make parts for the roof clamps

In the counterfeit version, there are two small tack welds on the side of the threaded shaft to the tongue.  Some of the metal has been blown off.  At Bolec, we use a large area spot welder to fuse the two parts together.   Our weld is 4mm in diameter and penetrates the two parts for maximum strength. 

Copy-cat RV Roof Clamp Problem #3 - Weak welds on the U

In the counterfeit version, the U is also tack welded on with a MIG welder.  This looks dangerous, and we would never every let something like this leave our factory.   This part should not be installed on a caravan. 

Not only does this weld look weak, it isn’t even straight. 

The middle photo is one of our clamps.   We used to use a spot welder with a custom jig to weld both ends of the U to the center pin at the same time.   From experience, we can tell the strength of the weld based on the color.   The goal is always to melt the steel enough so that it would flow around the round pin.

Poor welds on counterfeit clamp = uneven stress on the joints

Bolec clamp - weld flows around the round stock

Bolec new design using stamped stainless steel

At Bolec, we recently improved on this design by using a stamped stainless steel part.   When spot welding the U to the pin, there were so many variables – the alignment, power, weld duration, humidity and surface preparation all had to be perfect for the perfect, strong weld.   This new design eliminates the complexity of manufacturing and is a superior design and product. 

Copy-cat RV Roof Clamp Problem #4 -  Wrong thread.   

On the counterfeit clamp, the threaded tongue is the wrong size for the threaded hole in the swivel.  It is loose and moves around.  Only the top portion of the thread is holding the tongue to the swivel, which would weaken the clamp's holding power.

Copy-cat RV Roof Clamp Problem #5 -  Enamel paint instead of powder coating   

You can twist in the threaded part where there is a white coating.  The counterfeit version of the pop-top roof clamp appears to use enamel paint.  This will peel off easily after repeated use.  Bolec clamps are powder coated at Hi Lustre Coatings in Thomastown, Victoria.   After the powder coating is applied, it is baked in a kiln for several hours to create a super hard and strong finish.    Powder coating is super tough.   If a screw thread has powder coating on it, it would not be able to screwed in. 

 

Solution:  How to tell the difference between a counterfeit roof clamp and a genuine Bolec roof clamp? 

Quality issues aside, there is one other way to determine if you have a genuine Bolec Products caravan roof clamp.  On the lever, our product says “BOLEC PRODUCTS MELB-AUST” on it.   Thankfully our competitor did not copy that… 

genuine bolec clamps

Genuine Bolec clamps have "BOLEC PRODUCTS MELB-AUST" stamped on it

Bolec caravan clamp in front of  Heine Press

Genuine Bolec clamp in front of our Heine press (from the Victorian Era).   The adages "An oldie but goodie" and "they don't make them like they used to" applies here.

So how do I order my own genuine Bolec pop-top roof clamps? 

You can purchase genuine Bolec roof clamps by clicking on this link.   Even though we changed and improved the U swivel design, it is still a direct replacement to your old clamps.   No need to change the location of holes.

You can purchase genuine Bolec roof clamps by clicking on the button below

Treat your expensive RV to the real thing.

Bolec Set Of 4 White Roof Clamps & J Hooks | Bolec Electronics

Bolec Set Of 4 White Roof Clamps & J Hooks | Bolec Electronics


Tags

Caravan roof clamps, Jayco Expanda, Pop-top caravans, RV roof clamps


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