Answers to questions about RV Repair and Maintenance from RV expert Dave Solberg, author of the RV Handbook and the managing editor of the RV Repair Club. This column appears Monday through Saturday in the RV Travel and RV Daily Tips newsletters. (Sign up for an email reminder for each new issue if you do not already receive one.) Today Dave discusses the Schwintek RV slide out system in further detail.
We have received several comments and follow-up questions after the original Schwintek question was posted last week. I’m putting them in this post to hopefully answer those questions.
Where are those two motors located for my Schwintek slide system? —Stephen
The motors are on each side of the slide room on the top portion even with the rail accessible from the inside. You will need to pull back the outer trim and the rubber seal or flap to get to them. Newer models have a notch in the metal trim that runs along the side so there is access to the motor. Older models need to be notched with a grinder or reciprocating saw. Run the room out about 2″-3” and then you will have access to it and stabilize the room. There is a small screw that needs to be removed from the outside. Here is a diagram from the owner’s manual.
I learned a lot about the Schwintek slide out system from your articles the last two days in the RV Travel newsletter. I’m sure, even with proper lubrication and leveling before extending, a drive motor is going to fail. So, how do I retract a Schwintek slide out when a motor fails at a campsite? And then, how do I secure the slide out for travel on a road to home or repair shop? Thank you! —Edward
We have had a couple motors fail at shows during set up and wanted to show the coach with the slide room out, so four guys pushed the entire room out to full extension. We did the same thing at the end of the show pushing it in. They drove it back to the factory without the room coming out as there was resistance from the failed motor. It was a little hard and I would believe it would have been better to remove the motor and push the room in. Then you could use a 2×4 propped or wedged on the top between the sidewall and the slideroom inner trim piece. Lippert Components Inc. (LCI) has several videos on their site showing the procedure.
Here is a comment that was posted after the original article:
I would never buy an RV with Lippert/Schwintek slides and levelers based on my personal terrible experience with those products. Eight slide out failures and two jack failures in 24 months. Seven weeks spent at the Winnebago factory trying to get fixes, not to mention many more weeks stranded at various places across the country when failures occurred. Every time I went to put out/in a slide or jack, I cringed. —Clint
I understand your frustration and would like to research a little more why your rig was at Winnebago for seven weeks? I spoke with my owner relations contact there and he was not aware of anything taking that long. However, without the make, model, and serial number we can’t track what happened. He did say that they have stopped using the Schwintek mechanism – not so much because of failures but because of bigger slide rooms and better designs of the in-rail slide mechanisms that run on hydraulics rather than the electric motor. He has not seen any significant spikes in repairs. However, that might be because units are out of warranty by now and the calls would go to LCI.
So I called my LCI technical contact and he stated that the Schwintek mechanism is the most widely used model in the world – not just the U.S., but also in China, Europe, everywhere! The biggest issue with the mechanism is the motors getting out of sync. He stated it operates just like a drawer with rollers such as a mechanic’s tool chest. The room should be run with the button pushed all the way to extension and retraction and keep the button pressed until it shuts itself off. This will synchronize the motors.
What happens is in the case of a slide room having more weight on one end – such as a refrigerator or other heavy item and lighter on the other side – the heavy side motor works harder during initial start up and stops faster when the button is not on. The lighter side will “drift” slightly while the heavy side stops and this puts it out of sync. This causes excess friction when going in and out. Eventually the system will shut down and display an error code on the controller: one blink for motor one, two for motor two. All this can be fixed by overriding the controller – run the room in and out a few times leaving the button on until it shuts itself off. However, LCI is seeing a rash of simple motor swaps at dealerships without really troubleshooting the problem and it happens again.
My LCI technical contact recommends the following:
1. Always level and stabilize the rig before extending and retracting the slide rooms. The integrity of the motors can be jeopardized by a weak foundation or sidewall structure.
2. Verify 12-volt power before and during extension/retraction. A sulfated battery could show 12.6 volts initially but will drop dramatically when a load is put on it such as the slide motor.
3. Always leave the button depressed during extension and retraction even after the room hits the full cycle, and wait until the motor shuts itself down. This will ensure proper synchronization.
4. Lubricate the upper and lower gib and upper coupler with the recommended CRC lubricant.
I know this won’t solve the problems of the past. But hopefully it can shed some light on what might be causing some of the issues owners are experiencing and help reduce those issues in the future.
Yesterday’s post: Advice needed about devices that repel rodents
Read more from Dave here.
Dave Solberg worked at Winnebago for 15 years developing the dealer training program, as marketing manager, and conducting shows. As the owner of Passport Media Creations, Dave has developed several RV dealer training programs, the RV Safety Training program for The Recreation Vehicle Safety and Education Foundation, and the accredited RV Driving Safety program being conducted at rallies and shows around the country. Dave is a leading expert in the RV industry and author of the “RV Handbook” as well as the Managing Editor of the RV Repair Club.
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