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Ask Dave: My cable slide motor won’t start unless I push it manually. Why?

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Dear Dave,
Our bedroom BAL Accu-Slide bump-out occasionally sticks, either in or out. To get it to move I have to manually turn the motor. It takes only a turn or less to get it to run. A few times I have got it to move by pushing on the slideout. I do not find any limit switches. What stops the motor when the slideout is all the way out or in? Is there something I can adjust or is it an electronic problem? Thank You. —Greg, 2018 Raptor 352

Dear Greg,
We did videos for the RV Repair Club on a 2016 Keystone Raptor and several were on the BAL® Accu-Slide cable slide. One thing I noticed is that the motor is a pretty lightweight motor and the slightest resistance seemed to put it into a lock-out mode. Most smaller 12-volt motors like this one have an internal shutoff switch that shuts down the motor when the amp draw gets higher. That is what happens when there is resistance such as a pulley not turning freely or a cable is snagged or twisted.

First thing to ask

The first thing I would ask is: Does the motor try to start but then stops? If this is happening, have someone hit the switch and watch the motor. If it starts to turn or even bumps a little and stops, then it is most likely a high amp draw and we can look at resistance issues. But if it does not move at all, it is most likely a weak motor with what we called a “flat spot” on the armature or low battery voltage.

You could also tell the motor was dragging and the room was harder to bring in or out when the unit was not level. I know that I sound like a scratched record on leveling and stabilizing, but these rooms are designed to sit on the roller with all the weight placed on them and should be able to be literally pushed in and out by hand. If there is any twist in the chassis and sidewall it creates resistance and the motor is not designed to handle the extra resistance, especially a cable slide. Check out the comments on the recent article about how to manually retract a cable slide here.

Battery condition

And one more scratch in the record… battery condition. If this happens when you are level and stable and plugged into shoreline power, then your motor is getting adequate power at 13.2 volts. However, if you are pulling into the campground or getting ready to leave and are not connected to shoreline power, your battery could be sulfated. Even if it shows 12.6 volts, the minute you hit the switch it drops like me finding a brownie on the floor! OK, maybe not that fast, but you get the picture. Next time it does not start to go in or out, try connecting to the shoreline power if it isn’t already connected.

Are there any motor adjustments?

There are no adjustments on the motor as it is simply amp draw and an internal limit switch that cannot be replaced. However, there are some things you can inspect and adjust on the room and cables. The motor sits on top of the room just behind the front wood fascia, which you might need to remove to access it and the block, cables, and pulleys.

The motor turns a shaft that has two gears turning link chains attached to blocks.

These blocks have cables attached labeled “in” and “out” as well as “A” and “B”. Over time, these cables can stretch and both the cable and chains can sag and need to be adjusted. This typically would not cause the motor to not start operation. But if the motor is not working, I would suggest watching the gears and chains when you push the switch to see if it starts to turn but then stops at the jolt of an improper tension.

Inspect the pulleys

Also, inspect the pulleys at each corner of the room to make sure they are not damaged and are turning freely. You should be able to pull the cable away from the pulley and see if it binds or not. A pulley that is hard to turn can also cause resistance enough for the motor to shut down. You might want to spray a little CRC silicone at the pulleys and make sure the rubber molding is conditioned so it is not creating resistance.

Since it is an intermittent issue, you will need to document the conditions in which this happens. What is the temperature? Are you connected to shoreline or running off house battery? Any additional weight in the slide room? Even weather conditions can play a role, as high humidity or rainy days can have an effect.

The ultimate test

When it is not working, use a multimeter to verify 12-volt power to the motor, which I would assume is good since it works after pushing (you never say never when it comes to RVs!). I would also check the amp draw of the motor as it tries to work. However, checking to verify if the motor actually tries to turn when it does not work is critical.


 You might also enjoy this from Dave 

Ask Dave: How often should I lubricate my RV’s slideout mechanism and with what?


Dave Solberg is a leading expert in the RV industry and the author of the “RV Handbook.”

Read more from Dave here

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Jeff A
2 months ago

Oddly enough 3 gearbox replacements but motors all good? Gearbox tears out at bearing point of the gear that allows gear to pivot away from other gear . Mine never failed to go in its always out .

Thomas D
2 months ago

Maybe manufacturer should up the ante and go with the $2 motor rather than the $1.25 motor.
Looks very small to PROPERLY do the job

Jeff B
2 months ago
Reply to  Thomas D

Not the actual problem, it’s the gearbox

Crowman
2 months ago

The cable slide out system is JUNK. Wouldn’t buy a trailer with it seen too many new units fail with it.

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