RV Slideout Operation

posted on 01/07/2008 05:01 in RV Doctor - Gary Bunzer

Dear RV Doc, I have a Holiday Rambler with a 12-foot slideout. It uses a rack and pinion drive but the bottom of the frame is covered so it’s hard to see or get to. Many times the unit just clicks after deploying the switch when trying to extend out or retract in. Using the manual crank to move the slide a few inches will then enable the electric motor to drive the slide in or out the rest of the way. It almost sounds like a paw or some part not engaging correctly. It’s the same sound as when the motor drives the slide all the way in or out, like a mechanical overrun stop device clicking. Is this adjustable to solve the problem or is this a wear problem?
--Bud Carlson, Jamestown, NY


Bud, let’s consider three possible causes to your symptoms. The first is that the transmission on the slideout motor is set too loosely. The second is that the motor itself is wearing out, and the third is that the slideout is jamming somewhere along its travel length. Since you are able to move the slide using the hand crank, we can likely rule out binding. If the slide were binding, the hand crank would be very difficult or impossible to turn, at least in places. Just as a check, use the crank to extend and retract the slideout fully a few times. Verify that the cranking action is even throughout the entire length of the travel. Since the hand crank uses the same transport system as the motor, this will tell you if there is a problem with any of the slide mechanisms. If there are any points during cranking where the slide skips, jams, or binds, or the tension on the crank becomes uneven, there is a problem with the mechanism or an obstruction and you’ll need to get it checked. The problem could also be related to the slideout topper awning. The awning torsional springs could be sticking or damaged at one or both ends of the slideout’s travel. Once again, the hand crank test should be able to rule this one out. Do a quick visual check of the slideout and surrounding area to make sure nothing obvious is obstructing the travel. Have someone watch the slideout and awning when you activate the switch to see if there are any obvious sources of binding that might cause the motor to stall. If the slide travel seems fine, then I suspect the motor/transmission assembly is the problem. Either the clutch in the transmission is set a little too loosely or the torque on the motor is weak. If it is either, replace the entire assembly. The motor and transmission assembly should have an electrical plug attached and that should be unplugged before attempting to remove the motor. The motor will be secured with two or four screws and will likely have a pin that locks the motor to the slideout shaft. Remove this pin and the screws and the entire assembly should easily drop out.

-Gary Bunzer
Send your troubleshooting questions to Gary at gbunzer@cox.net and be sure to visit the RV Doctor on the web at www.rvdoctor.com to find other articles and pertinent information.
Questions of general interest may appear in a future issue. Due to the heavy volume of mail received, personal replies are not possible. All effort is made to ensure the correctness of Gary’s responses; however, not all answers will apply in every instance. Some situations may mandate a visual inspection and further hands-on testing. If you choose to follow these instructions, make sure that neither personal nor product safety will be compromised. If you do not feel comfortable performing a procedure, call your local RV service facility and schedule an appointment or visit Camping World Supercenters nationwide.

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