One of the challenges of writing any technical content for RVers is being able to provide information that is specific to the individual type of RV one has. Since there have been over 100 different RV companies over the years and even more models within those individual companies, it becomes difficult to provide information on every individual scenario without being to generic or to specific to one type which means the information does not pertain to a wide majority.
And so it is with slide room maintenance. Slide rooms were introduced in travel trailers and 5th Wheels as far back as the 1970s and the “Power Slide” was invented and introduced in 1990 by Newmar. Most other companies joined the slide-out craze a few years later with a variety of new mechanisms such as HWH, Power Gear, and others. Since then there have been both hydraulic and electric mechanisms from companies such as Kwikee, RBW Industries, and more recently, Lippert Components Inc (LCI) which has purchased Power Gear, Kwikee, BAL Accu-Slide, and others.
Typically a hydraulic slide-out mechanism uses a pump that that is often shared with the hydraulic leveling jacks if equipped. It has a fluid reservoir and pumps the fluid through the lines and cylinders to move the room in and out. There is little maintenance required of the pump other than making sure the fluid level is checked and topped off with the recommended hydraulic fluid.
The actual mechanisms vary between manufacturers, HWH uses two telescoping rams with a synchronizing rod. HWH recommends periodically cleaning the rams with WD 40 and wiping off the excess. They also recommend extending and retracting the room twice a month to keep the seals lubricated. One note: run the room all the way to the extended and retracted position, do not stop part way!
Lippert Components Inc (LCI) uses an inner and outer assembly with a drive tube. They also recommend extending and retracting the room twice a month to keep the seals lubricated and to visually inspect all components for debris, dirt build up, and bent parts. If you experience a squeaking noise during operation apply a coat of lightweight oil and wipe off the excess and DO NOT USE GREASE!
Several manufacturers have used the RWB Industries motor (owned by Dexter) and a proprietary gear driven mechanism such as Newmar, National RV and others. Since there are so many different mechanisms used, it’s a safe bet to run the unit a couple of time a year, visually inspect the components, and verify what lubricant your manufacturer recommends to clean and lubricate the gears and arms.
Smaller, lightweight rooms use a more inexpensive electric motor, especially models that do not have hydraulic leveling jacks that could utilize the jack motor. Once again there are several options such as the cable slides (BAL Acu-slide), Schwintek with small motors in the sidewall and a gear driven track, or a standard mechanism with an electric motor.
The electric motor requires no maintenance other than having 12-volt power to the unit. The cable systems do require a periodic visual inspection to make sure the cable is not sagging, loose, or frayed.
It is also a good idea to visually inspect all components for debris or obstructions and clean out any tracks with fluid film, a spray product available at O’Reiley Auto Parts. This is a rust inhibitor and will not damage rubber seals. Make sure to wipe off any excess spray.
The Schwintek slideout mechanism can develop a grinding or squeaking noise and it is recommended to spray CRC Power Lube with PTFE on the rails as well as the gibbs and motor coupler. These can be found by pulling back the rubber seal outside at the rails.
Slide Room and Seal Maintenance
Most slide rooms or the “Box” are fairly similar, the outer wall cut out of or built from the same material as the sidewall, laminated side/top/bottom panels. These do not require much maintenance other than making sure there is no debris on the top of the slide room when you bring it back in! Some manufacturers have an awning over the slide room to keep sticks and other debris from falling on the top which would tear the bulb seal during retraction. If you do not have an awning cover, you need to clean off the top every time you retract the room!
LEVEL THE COACH BEFORE RETRACTING THE SLIDE! I’m amazed at how many companies do not have this as a standard operating procedure? RV chassis are not rock solid, they will bend and twist in an unlevel situation which causes the sidewall to twist which creates addition pressure or binding as the square box is trying to go out of an unsquared opening.
All slideout rooms have a weather strip or seal around the opening of the sidewall. Some use a two part rubber gasket or seal applying both inside the rig and outside. Others use a two sided bulb seal that is applied to the flange of the sidewall. In either case, it’s a good idea to condition the seal with an approved product such as the ProtectAll SlideOut Rubber Seal Treatment or ProtectAll All Surface Care.
Both products have UV protection that will help keep the rubber seal from weather checking and reduce friction.
Visually inspect the underside of the slide room both inside and out. Look for obstructions or any sign of wear and tear. Most use a roller or glide underneath, make sure there is no damage to the mechanism or the floor.
And finally, make sure you look for items around the side of the room inside such as lawn chairs or other items that might have been placed or stored when packing up the camper. You can not believe what a mess a boxed wine container makes when the room is extended!
About the author:
Dave Solberg: Managing Editor, RV Repair Club
For the last 25 years, Dave has conducted RV maintenance and safety seminars, developed dealer and owner training programs, written RV safety and handyman articles, authored an RV handbook reference guide and logged over 100,000 miles on the road in an RV.
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