Dear RV Doctor,
I own an RV with three slides. The large slide in the living area just stopped working. When you try to open the unit all the other slides open but the large one gets about half way out and gets stuck on the side the hydraulic cylinder is on. It is trying to open but the other side will jam. I have done everything I can think of. Can you give me any advice?
–Jerry Griffin, (Moody, AL)
Jerry, always begin by checking for any items that may be preventing the slideout from physical movement. This can include items jammed between the inner RV wall and the slideout fascia or between the slideout and main floor. Look also for a possible damaged spring on the slideout awning resulting in excessive tension at one end of the slide. Choose a troubleshooting tact once you have eliminated any physical obstruction, but realize that troubleshooting slide mechanisms typically mandates detailed, visual inspections and is truly dependent on the brand and model of the slide mechanism employed. That was a big mouthful that basically states there are so many variables involved with slideout mechanisms.
Without a visual reference, I’m just guessing, but in some shops, that in itself is called troubleshooting! In your case, however, I’d first suspect the mechanism that keeps the slideout tracking on a straight path. Something is either causing it to canter or jam part way out. It could be a matter of a simple adjustment to get the alignment back in place.
A basic hydraulic system may include a hydraulic cylinder at one end of the slide and two steel tubes, one at each end, keeping the slideout running straight while supporting the weight of the room. In some designs, these tubes have geared teeth on them that are synchronized together by two small pinion gears coupled together by a long shaft. These gears may be hidden under the main underbelly of the coach. I suspect that either the shaft that connects the two gears has failed. Possibly the pins locking them to the gears have sheared off. It is also possible, but less likely, that one of the gears is broken. This assembly may not be visible without removing some components for inspection. If this is the cause, it may also have resulted in the slideout being out of alignment or crooked when it is fully retracted.
It is highly recommended that you seek assistance from a qualified RV repair facility to find the source of this problem. The steps required to properly repair and adjust a slideout are highly specialized and any incorrect or excessive adjustments could easily result in severe slideout damage, jamming or binding.
(Please feel free to comment, however, please also note that due to the volume of communications I receive from multiple channels I cannot guarantee a personal response in every instance. However, questions of an overall general interest may be considered and published in an upcoming RV Doctor column.)