Innovations in Generator Slides

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May 18, 2008

 Front generator slide outs were a great innovation and made maintenance to the genset and surrounding components much easier.  The first one I remember seeing was on an early ‘90’s Newmar, London Aire.  It was a manually slid unit slightly larger than the generator set.  These have become more popular and are now used on a number of makes and models.          

Like all innovative ideas, design changes take place through the years, with the goal to make a better mouse trap.  One of these changes, mainly on mid and upper price point rigs, was to make the slide power.   This could be accomplished by a mechanical drive mechanism or by using a hydraulic ram(s) and pump assembly.  The hydraulic unit can utilize a feed off a HWH hydraulic leveling system or similar. 

Well, now that it is power controlled it can be considerably larger.   What was once a drawer not much bigger than the genset itself, could now be a full 101″ wide.  With size and weight not being a factor anymore, the slide could be the entire lower front cap right up to the bottom of the windshield.


Having a movable section of the front cap that is that large, can present some new challenges.   If it is the entire piece from the windshield down, mirrors must be relocated as the movable section would prove unusable due to vibration issues.  This would mean going to the inverted upper mounted units.  That could raise all kinds of new issues.   See January 27th article “New Innovations Are Not Always Better”  LINK HERE

The height of the slide face also can make it awkward.   If it is to the windshield bottom, it will make it necessary to go behind the slide face to even check the oil, as you can not access anything from over the top. 


So what about the power thing?  Was this really a good idea?  Well, if you are going to move these large slides and generators, you probably will need it powered.  But what happens when there is a failure of the pump or related components?   In as much as this equipment is within the slide, it certainly will not be easy to work on. 

And that does happen.  I experienced a failure of the pump and had to crawl under the rig and only got very awkward limited access, at best.  About then I was questioning why they made it power.  My last motor home was equipped with a manual slide and was easy to operate, at least on level ground. 

So are these changes a benefit, or would smaller manual slides be better in the long run?  Well, for my way of thinking, I would opt for a lower face to allow simple service tasks to be performed right in front over the face panel.  This would also allow one to retain the conventional lower mounted mirrors, a big bonus.  Full width is kind of handy allowing access to so many other components located up front.  This would however require it be powered to make opening and closing an easy one person job.  But, could it have a manual release in case of a failure of the power device?  This would be good even if it required two people to open it.  At least it could be repaired or adjusted easier if needed.

So, could the high faced power generator slide be added to the “New Innovations Are Not Always Better” list?  Maybe, what do you think?

Something to ponder    –     Lug_Nut   –   Peter Mercer

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  474. Curt, I would take a look at what JoeyBed has to offer. They are one of the more sucessful companies marketing this type of accessory. The 4000 Onan would only require a small slide. Thank you for your input on this topic.

  475. Curt

    Hey Lug_nut–got an Onan 4000–what would be the best brand of slide to get for this puppy. Thanks

  476. John

    Really enjoy your articles! I also noticed the air horns under the slide face.
    Good way to keep dust from accumulating around the genset!

    I agree that there should be some kind of override system in the event that a hydraulic pump or other slide mechanism fails. A manual ratchet style crank may be the safest backup.

    Be interested to see how you set them up.

  477. Geezer34nh, Yes they certainly are train horns. They are set up to blast with or with the roof air horns. They can be manually cancelled with a dash switch for travelling in cities and such. They are LOUD!

  478. Geezer34nh

    Lug nut good column as usual, but is that a three note chime (horn set from a locomotive) that I see there?