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Craftec Vinyl Tonneau Cover for Short-Bed Pickups Review

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Review of a Craftec Vinyl Tonneau Cover for Short-Bed Pickups

Today we are going to install part number 352730SC from Craftec. What this is, is a vinyl tonneau cover, and we are going to install this on a 2007 Dodge Dakota short-bed pickup. There are a lot of components to this install, but it is not too bad if you break it down into simple little sub-assemblies, as the instructions describe. We will cover some of the parts first to give you an idea of what is going on. First off, we have got these corner pieces here. These corner pieces cover the actual metal corners on the tonneau cover frame itself. We have hardware that threads into the aluminum pieces that actually make their own threads as they go in. We have our latch assemblies right here these work inside the tonneau cover. When you close it and you twist it, it catches underneath the edge of the bed itself. A pull strap to pull it down when the cover is above your head. And these are the clamps that go into the frame and on the bed that your gas shocks mount into. And these are attaching points that go into the track into the frame. You have got the bows to go into that create the bow effect on your tonneau cover, and the the bows are located right here. These are the rails themselves. These are the parts that go longways on the truck, and this part and this part are the ones that go across the truck. Some bed lengths require an extension. In this situation, the bed is so short you do not even have to worry about that. These are the metal corner pieces right here that actually get the frame bolted together and locked into place. And these little angle brackets here will eventually hold the hinge part of the tonneau cover, and also one-half of that will get clamped into place onto the bed itself. Lastly, we have the tonneau cover itself. One good tip about this is if you keep it warm overnight so it stays nice and pliable, that makes it a lot easier to work with.

To start off our assembly we will actually pull out our two rails we need to use. First we will mount the bow receiver, and it is going to go in just like this. And then you are going to add these little T-nuts, and then you are going to thread in one of your bolts. And you are going to take this whole assembly and slide it down the rail. Next we will install a shock mount this is two pieces with a little ball joint on top. And that is going to slide into the channel as well. You need to leave this loose so it slides in as easily as possible. And then we will attach another one of the bow receivers onto it next. Repeat these same steps for the identical side of the vehicle. Next we will install our latches. And it is the same thing as the other parts that you installed into the rail. Just start a little nut on here, just about a couple of threads, and slide it into place. And see these washers inside of here? You are going to make this adjustment when you finally have the tonneau cover on there. And do the same thing for the other rail. Next, we are going to install the corner pieces that go on the side rails up to the front rail up by the cab. This is simply going to slide into this channel here, and then this corner is going to slide into this channel here. This is the one without the threaded handles that were already installed in the factory. And what we are going to do is slide these in, and the bolts are going to cut their own threads as they go in. And maybe add a little bit of soap in there to make it a little bit easier to slide together, if you have to. And you will repeat this same thing for the other side. We will go ahead and run our bolts in this side for now, and show you how that works. OK, we are going to do the same thing for the other side.

All right, the next step involved is going to be the installation of our bows. To give you a frame of reference, remember - all this is sitting upside down. So this all will be facing the bed of the truck. So to install our bows, we actually are going to install it with the bow pointing down. Before we start our bows, go ahead and take a few seconds and just even out the spacing roughly in thirds on your bow mounts. Then we will go ahead and install our bows, and then we will snug them down. It is going to be a loose fit at first, which is fine. We will start on our sub-assembly on our back rails here. We will install our pull strap, which is going to sit on top of here. This nut and washer are going to sit on top of that. This little nut here will go inside and thread it all together. Put that in the approximate center and then you can go ahead and tighten that down. Next, we will do our corner pieces. It is going to be similar to the front except we have got the bolt with the handle on it. And that is going to go toward the outside rails, and the part that you cut your threads in is going to go on the back rail. And we are going to do the same thing for the other side. Slide our back rail into the side rails here. Next, we will install the hinge, and you can see how it will work when it is all together, assembled. Basically, after that hook catches in there. Again, this is upside down, so that is how the hinge works. When you test your tonneau cover, go ahead and get it as square as possible and check for any obstructions so it can go down. Generally, you want this hinge section as close to this front rail as possible. All right, we have got our frame on our truck. We are going to center it from left to right and make sure we have it the way we want it. Then we will mark our position on the truck.

Also, this truck originally had a bed liner that came over this front rail here. Well, the adhesive on this rail here had set directly to the bed, so we had to lose that top rail of the bed liner itself. Once you have both sides marked, take it off, and we will clean off the rail. All right, next we are going to take our hinge back off, and we are going to install our L-brackets right here. And all we are going to do is just slide it into position. And we will just temporarily put this back just to give you a better idea of what is going on. And once you have the hinge centered the way you had it originally, marked on there, then these will come out and this will have a clamp going to the bar and also to the bed itself. That is what is going to hold the whole assembly in place, as well as the adhesive underneath here. To clean up all the dirt that was underneath here, I am just going to go back over it with an alcohol swab to get rid of anything else that could be in there. All right, go ahead and put our clamp on here. We will install our clamps and covers. Now, two of them have a notch on the outside corner. That gives it room for this part of the front rail right here, the front hinge. And we will do the same thing for all four corners. Now let us go ahead and tighten down our bows.

Next what we are going to do is install our tonneau cover itself. This little bead right here that is sticking out from underneath this flap - right here, this little edge - is going to go inside of this track right here. Not this one, but the inside track here. We are going to start at one end and then slide it all the way through. Pull all the way across until you have got about a quarter-inch of the bead on each side of the edge of plastic, somewhere in there. And that gives you a pretty good setup for now. Next what we are going to do is this plastic edge right here. We are going to flip this out, go back over the frame, and back into this notch right here. OK, if there are any gaps between the bed and this rail here, go ahead and fill it up with some of this supplied weatherstrip to help keep out some of the dust and rain. It is not waterproof, but it will slow it down. We will go ahead and find our measurement for our shock mount on the tonneau cover itself. And that is going to be 31 inches from the center of the hinge. And we will go ahead and just tighten it down. All right, next we will install our shock mount on the bed of the truck, as per the instructions - about 45 inches, in this case. Next we will install our gas shocks. The pressurized section is going to fit on the fitting on the tonneau cover itself. OK, next we are going to install the tonneau cover itself. Put the hinge into the pocket there. Firmly engage and then just go ahead and let it rotate down. We will pop on our shocks on the bottom half. Let us give it a test flip and push it down and make sure the shocks do not bottom out. All right, next we are going to adjust our latch. This vinyl has got to come out underneath this rail right here, so you have got to take out some spacers and put them on top. And do the same thing for the other side. Give it a couple of test tries and make sure everything is the way you want it, nice and straight, and then you are pretty much finished your install. All right, and that will cover it for part number 352730SC.

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