September 30, 2016

When the Slide-Outs Don't Move!

By: Rob Lowe

Featured Picture

Many RVer’s occasionally experience a slideout that fails to move when the switch is depressed. We had this situation occur on our last major trip and just as many before have experienced, the slideout worked perfectly before that. In our case, we had deployed all three slideouts, two at the front on opposite sides of the coach and one bedroom slide. When we were preparing to leave, we brought the bedroom slide in, then the front passenger side slideout. When attempting to bring in the driver’s side slideout, it moved for a split second and then would not move. As we’ll see later this provided a hint as to the problem which initially I ignored.

Bedroom Slide ControlOn our coach the bedroom slideout control has a single "In – Out” switch which controls the movement direction of the slideout. (See left Photo)
At the front control, there is a toggle switch for "Passenger Side” or "Driver Side” which must be moved to select which side we want to move, then an "In – Out” switch. (See right Photo) Since we typically deploy all slides when stopped the front "In – Out” switch gets used almost twice as often as the rear bedroom slide switch. I checked power fuses and all were OK, my assumption was that the "In – Out” switch was defective.  Swapping the front and rear control panels and selecting the correct set of wires brought in the wayward slideout.  When we arrived at our new destination, all slideouts operated using the "good” switch after selecting the proper wires to connect to get the desired slide to move out. While I was at this park, I swapped the rear individual switch for the front one and when we left, all worked as expect. I smiled to myself and committed to ordering a new switch to replace the "defective” one.

At the next park, at which we stayed for 4 days, the slideouts performed as expected when we set up after arrival, however upon departure, the wayward slide failed to move. This time switching the panels as before did not correct the problem. Before deciding to power the offending slide motor directly, I located the slideout control board in the compartment under the slideout by finding the wire marked ‘Front SO’. There was a white plastic multi-pin connector plugged into a circuit board (circled in Yellow in the photo to the left). I removed it and sprayed Corrosion Block® on each pin and reinserted the connector into its mating location on the circuit board. Everything went back to full operation and has continued as I write this blog posting a month afterwards. While I was in that compartment I also sprayed Corrosion Block® on the three connectors controlling the jack/leveling system. Preventative maintenance against future issues with that system as well. I then located the other slideout control board under the opposing slideout and sprayed that connector with Corrosion Block® as well. The Bedroom Slideout control happens to be in the same under the bed area as my Transfer Switch so while I was working on that system I had sprayed Corrosion Block® on it as well (to the right in this photo).
So, what was the real issue? Corrosion between the male and female connectors was not allowing the board to ‘know” where the slideout was and it shutdown as designed. If I had paid attention to the initial problem wherein the slide began to move, then stopped, I would have clued in to the fact that the motor had power, but the controller was not getting the information it needed to operate correctly, thus it shut down the operation. Electronic control systems are great provided they receive the correct information. The control switch did not miraculously revive itself, it was good all along, the controller "lost its way” electrically.

So, the upshot of this experience is to apply Corrosion Block® to the control board connections every 2-3 years to prevent recurring corrosion from impeding the slide operation. While I’m at it I’ll treat the control board and connections for the gas furnaces, gas water heater, refrigerator, the leveling system and the generator connector to the coach connection. These connections and circuit boards are critical to the proper operation of the various systems.  Before condemning the mechanical component (the switch), it is probably a good idea to check the electrical connections since they are more likely to be the source of the "no operation” problem.


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