Technical Tips #51
By Bob Lowe firstname.lastname@example.org
Slide-Out's That Don't
I have received a few requests for information about Slide-out rooms (slides) that do not slide out or come back in when the control switch is operated. Slides need maintenance and occasional adjustment. A prudent owner will learn just a little about their operation just in case they have a "stuck" slide.
The early versions of slides were hydraulically operated and their operating mechanisms required quite a bit of space so that the bin areas under the slides were often very small or un-usable. This type of slide-out cannot be pushed back in manually without releasing the hydraulic pressure. The operating motor and pump are usually located under the slide-out. Between the coach battery and the control solenoid mounted on the pump motor, there is a heavy duty battery cable. A fusible link is located near the pump in series with this battery cable. This is a smaller gauge wire that will self destruct should the pump motor be overloaded, rather than allowing the motor to overheat. Electrical problems top the list of reasons these units fail to operate. The fusible link may have burned out or there may be a lot of corrosion at the battery or the solenoid terminals, reducing the power available for operation. Clean the cables and connections annually and you should not experience any problems. It is also a good idea to lubricate the extended shiny hydraulic ram with a heavy duty SILICONE spray lubricant. If the unit fails when fully out, I have had success using a portable battery booster box to provide temporary power to bring the slide in. You will need to have someone crawl under the slide-out and locate the pump motor. Connect the Red (+) booster box cable to the cable connection on the solenoid connected to the cable leading to the battery. Connect the Black (-) clamp to a clean frame mount. Ensure that the cables will not bind as the slide is pulled in and that the red clamp will not hit any metal. Have someone operate the switch to bring the slide in and once it is moving do not release the switch until the slide is in completely. Have someone on the outside watch to ensure the cables are not in the way of the operation. Disconnect the booster box and head to your dealer for repairs.
Electrically Operated Slide-Outs
Newer slides are electrically operated using a gear track or screw mechanism of some form or another. Most gear driven units have a single electric motor operating a mechanism and many have a mechanical disconnect allowing the drive to be disengaged, so that the slide-out can be pushed back in. With the slide extended crawl under the slide and locate the operating motor and the disconnect lever. If these units fail the culprit is usually a fuse or a circuit/overload protector. The fuse should be marked in the coach fuse panel (not the one near your 120 Volt circuit breakers) often found under the hood on gas units or in the bin area near your batteries on diesel coaches. The circuit overload protector is more difficult to find. This is something you want to find BEFORE you are sitting in a campground with the slide stuck out. Contact the Coach maker or your dealer and ask where it is on your coach. On my 2002 39Z Bounder Diesel the protector is behind the drop out panel where the 120V circuit breakers and 12V inside system fuses are located. It is in different locations on every year and model of coach I have looked at, so you will have to seek assistance. Once you have located it, you can check if it has "popped" when the slide fails to operate and there is no power to the motor. Some self reset after cooling, most require manually resetting and some require replacement. Check with your dealer for information on the one found on your coach.
Slides require two types of lubrication. All slides require regular treatment of the rubber sealing gaskets and wipers. I recommend and use Protect-All Slide-Out Rubber Seal Treatment. This foam lube makes it easy to apply and spread on all rubber components. I recommend doing this every 60 days during regular use and before you store and after you re-activate your rig. This will reduce the damage caused by UV and also keep the rubber supple. The tracks and gear slide mechanism should be lubricated with Protect-All Dry Lube. This lubricant goes on as an orange liquid for visibility and dries completely leaving a lubricant that will not hold or attract dust and dirt. It also is a heavy duty rust inhibitor which will maintain the integrity of the track surfaces. With the increased size and length of slide-outs you do not want the slide to bind on one track and skip one tooth on the track. Proper maintenance is very important to ensuring long term dependability together with water and dust tightness.