December 2, 2000

TT #14 Misc #1 Electric Step with Mind of its own

By: Rob Lowe

Technical Tips #14 


Miscellaneous # 1

With the onset of spring and summer many Chapter members attending the Rallies have time to discuss some quirks or problems that have developed with their Bounder that have stymied them. The expected solutions did not work. The next Tech articles will highlight two of them. Please write me with your unusual problem, or if you have time at a Rally, drop by our rig and discuss it with me. That is how we gain experience that others benefit from.

The Electric Step with a Mind of it's Own: One of our members mentioned that his Bounder's electric step would unexpectedly come out or retract, whether or not the control switch was on or off. It was also very stiff and would not always retract, even though he had regularly lubricated it.

Our first repair procedure was lubricating and trying to determine why the step was so stiff. With great difficulty, we discovered that the step pivot bushing was rusted onto the support rod. When the step moved, the bushing that was pressed into the step mounting assembly was "moving" allowing the step to go partially in or out. Since the bushing should be secured to the step support and that bushing should have been rotating on the rod, we "lubricated" with WD40 and manually worked the step. Contrary to popular opinion WD40 is a petroleum-based cleaner, not a long-lasting lubricant. WD40 penetrated the rust and provide a cleaning action that worked the rust out of the frozen bushing. After a long period of time we were able to free the bushing and get it rotating on the support rod. Them we lubricated all step pivot points and bushings with Kwikee Step lubricant which sprays on like WD40 but quickly evaporates leaving a lubricating grease that resists dirt and water infiltration.

With the step now operating we were ready to tackle the "Mind of its Own" problem. We checked all fuses, switches and wires for cuts, or loose connections at all terminals and found none. We decided to remove the electrical tape from the connectors that Fleetwood use to connect the step electrical connections to the Kwikee control box. With the tape off we inspected every crimp-on connector and discovered one that appeared to have some corrosion. When carefully examined, we found that the wire carrying power to the step's control box had corroded to the point that it was disconnected from the step wire. Thus, even though power was getting to the step motor (through another heavier gauge wire) the control box was not always receiving power and did not know that the step was to be retracted or extended according to the door switch or power switch. It truly had a mind of its own due to the programming built into the control box by Kwikee.

What puzzles me is why there was corrosion on just one wire, with no visible evidence on two other connections in the same bundle of connections and even more puzzling, the wire was well taped, and out of the way of road salt and water spray.

This experience provides me with the potential solution to problems a couple of other Bounder owners have had with erratic and unexplained action of the electric step, that dealer service personnel have been unable to fix. If you have had problems similar to this one follow the lubrication instructions for the step (see Technical tip #1) and check the Chassis to step electrical connections carefully. For a Step Lubrication Video Click Here



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