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.)
Are slide out stabilizers a good idea? I’ve heard pros and cons, but am still uncertain whether they are really necessary. I don’t like spending money on something I don’t need. —Dennis R.
Years ago when slide outs first came out, some manufacturers offered slide room stabilizers or recommended some type of support as the support members were very weak and the sidewall was made of what we call stick and tin. This means it had wood framing and thin ribbed outside metal and the weight of the room would literally push the side of the rig out!
Today’s slide out mechanisms were introduced in the motorized market in approximately 1996, although Newmar had a few before that. HWH Corporation was one of the most popular hydraulic systems with synchronizing rams that could support the weight of the entire couch and dinette slide out. Some manufacturers like Fleetwood used Power Gear, which was a rack and pinion style mechanism.
Electric slide out mechanisms such as Schwintek, Kwikee and others started showing up on smaller rooms. Today Lippert Components Inc (LCI) owns just about everything except HWH, so it all falls under one umbrella. I talked with my “go-to” technical support contact and he said that none of the companies recommended slide out supports and LCI does not recommend them today. In fact, they have found instances where the support did damage to the support beams when a stabilizing jack retracted or an owner retracted without removing the support and the rig and slide out lowered but the stabilizer held it up.
A telltale sign to me is LCI does not make a slide out stabilizer or support and they make almost everything else! There are some out there by Camco and others, but none of those companies builds a slide out room or mechanism.
Something I believe is vitally important is to stabilize and level the coach before extending slides! When I was at Winnebago Industries we tested the HWH component 14,000 extensions and retractions, ran the unit over sine wave bumps, and tested in every manner possible. What we found was if the chassis was not level and stable, the floor will twist, which means the sidewall will twist, which means the room is going to bind and not only work against the opening like a bad drawer in a dresser but will also make the motor work harder with higher amp draw and eventually fail.
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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, a one-stop go-to online resource for RV enthusiasts.