November 5, 2019

TT #115 Often Ignored Maintenance Items

By: Rob Lowe

Featured Picture

Maintenance Products


Kwik Lube (Step), H.D. (6.6%) Silicone, Corrosion Block (2 Sizes), Slide-Out Rubber Seal & Slide-Out Dry Lube

I am frequently asked by RVers for methods or hints about how to maintain components on a RV for which the makers and suppliers have specified certain maintenance requirements. These items include slide out tracks and rubber seals, entry door automatic steps, chassis and engine items and so on. The questions range from what products do I recommend, to how to carry out routine maintenance on their major components (heating and water heating, slideout, levelling systems, refrigerators and so on) however they rarely drill down on the smaller items.


It is notable that RV makers have set out maintenance requirements for major components however they usually do not specify specific maintenance procedures for items that are part of their body structure. Examples include cargo bin door handles, latches/catches and hinges. One only needs to find that they cannot access the storage area for a ‘must have’ item, to realize that there are some maintenance procedures that should be routinely completed. Cargo door handles, given time and exposure to the environment, will start to corrode, becoming stiff to operate and may break off. The catches on cargo bin doors also become stiff to operate, failing to fully retract when opening or fully extend into the body retainer, leaving the door unlatched and ultimately allowing the door to swing open at unexpected times. Occasionally the failure to operate can lead to stress on the rods that connect the operating handle to the catch and if there is a plastic retainer, it can break, causing door opening or closing failure.


The third item on these cargo bin doors are the door hinges themselves. Some top hinged doors just require simple maintenance, while those that those that are side opening or bus style require more extensive maintenance. All maintenance procedures which follow should be undertaken annually or at least biennially. Metal to metal corrosion occurs all the time, whether the RV is in daily use, such as a full-time RVer would give it, or in seasonal or part-time use. This corrosion continues although it may be delayed somewhat in full time use, on doors that are frequently used. All RVs have cargo bins that are rarely accessed and others that are entered virtually every time the RV is used. Routine maintenance following a regular schedule eliminates the need to remember when the last time maintenance was completed. Let the calendar guide the routine.     


Recommended Maintenance Procedures:


 Cargo Bin Door Handles:

Cargo Bin Door HandleThe photo shows a common style of metal door handle. The yellow arrows on the photo show the areas where the operating handle is attached to the door handle support structure. The arrows note where the handle flap should be maintained. The flap is pulled outward to release the latch, then pulled away from the door to open the door, allowing access to the cargo bin. A simple spray of Corrosion Block® (using the plastic tube) to the sides of the handle mounting areas and pivoting points (highlighted by the yellow arrows) will ensure that the handle continues to operate. This spray will keep corrosion in abeyance and provide lubrication for the handle flap. While spraying the sides of the handle, spray the same product into the door lock (orange arrow) to reduce the corrosion that regularly occurs in the four or five metals that are part of the key lock mechanism.




Cargo Bin Door Catches:

Cargo Bin Door CatchesOnce the handles are lubricated, then it is wise to lubricate the catches/latches which ensure that  the doors stay securely shut and retained against the RV body. Lubrication should not retain the dust and dirt that is always present as the RV travels down the road or blows around in campgrounds. Dirt will cause the latches/catches to stick so that one presumes the door is latched, it may not be fully extended into the clip on the RV body. As the body flexes while traveling down the road, if one or both catches/latches are not fully engaged, the door will ‘pop’ open, potentially into another vehicle.

The recommended lubricant is Protect-All Slideout Dry Lube. This lubricant sprays out as a liquid, then dries and provides lubrication. It does not attract dust and dirt. Do each latch if there are more than one on each door. Move the handle with the door open and ensure that each of the catches/latches fully      release and extend.


Cargo Bin Door Hinges:

Cargo Bin Door Upper HingesThe remaining area that should be lubricated depends upon the way the cargo bin door opens. If it is a top hinged door that opens outward at the botton, then the hinge may be a long ‘piano hinge’ style or it may be that the door has a lip that fits into a groove in a molding mounted on the RV body. These two hinges are lubricated by first wiping the hinge area to remove any dust and dirt that may be present. Then raise the door so that it is parallel to the ground or slightly higher and spray Heavy Duty Silicone spray on the hinge or into the area where the door and body meet. Leave the door fully open for a few minutes to allow the silicone to run into the hinge area. This silicone is a 6.6% formulation which greatly exceeds the typical 2 to 2.5% formulation ot typical silicone sprays. 




Heavy Duty Cargo Bin Door HingesThe structurally, more robust hinges found on more upscale coaches require lubrication on all of the moving areas. The yellow arrows in the photo of a typical hinge highlights most of them. These hinges are multi-action ones that have various moving parts supporting a relatively heavy door assembly from one side. Proper lubrication using Protect-All Slideout Dry Lube will make it much easier to move the door, when opening or closing it. While there are many that suggest it is best to close these doors gently, (that is bringing the door almost closed, then pushing it to latch), if the door hardware is properly lubricated in all mechanical areas and the surrounding rubbers are also routinely lubricated, a firm push on the door will allow it to close and securely latch every time. To my way of thinking that is a sign of complete and proper door maintenance.


There are other ‘hidden’ maintenance areas in our RVs and I’ll continue to provide information on them in future articles. 


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