Slides Refuse to Retract Occasionally…March ’16
The 3rd or 4th time I tried to retract the slides was back in late March of 2016, just 7 weeks after I bought the Journey, and they wouldn’t retract. Being new to slides, I had no idea what the problem was and assumed that it was due to something I was doing wrong. The symptom was that the slides just wouldn’t retract when pushing the buttons. With my hearing being as bad as it is, and the fact that the control assembly is under the living room slide, I couldn’t hear whether any solenoids were clicking when I operated the push buttons or not.
The LR slide control switch is on the dash and fairly obvious but I have to say that the first several times I went looking for it, I had a hell of a time spotting it.
Back in the bedroom, the slide switch is on the wall just above the built in chest of drawers. I’d been parked for nearly two months after I bought the RV, with just one trip in those 7 weeks and I had a hell of a time finding the BR slide switch then too. And I made the mistake of waiting to try and find it the morning I was suppose to leave.
In any event, after I found both switches and attempted to retract the slides on moving day, I was met with silence. I figured that maybe it was a safety lockout switch or something that was preventing them from retracting so I wandered around looking for something that might cause that. Nothing I could find. So I grabbed the operator’s manual and read through that. Hmm, didn’t see anything there.
Getting desperate, I thought maybe I was suppose to retract the jacks first? So that’s what I did. I switched the ignition key on to ACC, and pushed the ‘Store’ button on the jacks controller. One of them was reluctant to fully retract so I used the controller to jog it up/down several times. Trying to exercise it, loosen it up a bit.
And the slides fixed themselves…I have no idea what happened, but perhaps jogging the jacks had something to do with it. The slides weren’t working, I messed around with some stuff, not really knowing what to do, and suddenly they started working on their own after I’d retracted the jacks. Huh. OK, after I get settled at my destination park, I’ll look into it more carefully.
And when I got settled at a park outside of Phoenix, I checked the ATF level in the tank, and found it was a couple of quarts low. Finding the right ATF near where I was staying was an adventure but I found it at one of the three fueling stations near the freeway. The aluminum cap shown below on top of the black tank is where the ATF level is topped off.
While I was working here under the LR slide, I thought I should lube the hydraulic solenoids. Those round black things over the tank with the wires going to them. They all have handles on the back end of each solenoid you can use to relieve pressure on jacks or slides if they stop working automatically. Doing so would allow you to get back on the road and travel.
And I tried to lube them since they didn’t want to turn. When I tried to turn one of the relief handles with a tool, it broke off. Wouldn’t budge. I probably shouldn’t have used a tool. Well, at least it’s not leaking and hasn’t affected operation since that happened.
In any event, it’s now 11 months later and the problem of the slides not retracting has happened 3 times. Each time it occurred the morning I was attempting to leave a RV park and move on. And each time I had retracted the BR slide the night before so I could dump the holding tanks and it has always worked.
The length of time between times I’d try to operate the slide was so great the first year of ownership that I’d forget what I’d done the time before to get them working, each time it’s seemed to be slightly different. Like the 2nd time, I crawled under and inspected the controller under the driver’s side of the dash. And found a 2 wire connector that wasn’t connected properly, though I could have bumped it crawling around down there. There was printing on the controller, “Slide Switch”. Reconnected that loose connector, and the slides start working.
The next time, checked that connector right off and it was fine. Went out to the controller under the slide shown above, and whacked things with a rubber mallet. And the slides worked again. Hmmm. Seems that I’ll have to check the solenoid that operates the slides soon, once I figure out which one it is.
But as of yet, I haven’t figured out what’s wrong with the slides…I just know that sometimes, vibration will get them to work. So until I have removed and cleaned or replaced the solenoid, I’ll have to whack things with my rubber mallet. I do so enjoy doing that.
Update – Oct. 2017
After the last time I had a balky slide where it wouldn’t retract, I checked and wiggled all the connectors I could find underneath on the Slide/Jack assembly. And got into the habit of holding the ‘Retract’ and ‘Extend’ switches for several seconds after the slides were fully extended or retracted. Reason for do so is twofold. HWH instructions tell you to do that for 3 seconds for one, and the 2nd reason is that electrical contacts tend to stay clean when they have current run through them that is slightly higher than normal. And holding the slide switch on a few seconds after a slide has stopped moving causes and qualifies as increased current.
But…I’ve pretty much only operated my slides recently when the ambient temps were up in the 60’s or 70’s and really didn’t have much of a problem. But it’s now October and I’m in Burns Oregon. We had a cold front pass through and the morning temps have fallen into the 30’s. And the slides not operating issue cropped back up. I’ve found that the problem definitely is temp related. And as you know, metal shrinks when it’s cold, and expands when it’s warm, so that points to an electrical contact. Most likely cause, and should be easy to fix. I’ll crawl under the rig and work on that when I’m further south in a couple weeks.
Still working on the intermittent slide problem and it’s definitely temp related. The colder it is, the more likely it is to quit working. So I’m apprehensive when it’s been a cold night if I have to leave the next day due to travel plans. I stayed in Narrows, Oregon for several days after I left Burns, Oregon and was determined to get a handle on testing. I monitored the temps with my on dash temp display, and if it was quiet inside the RV, I could hear the pump motor run when I’d press ‘Extend’. Since the slide had been extended when I arrived during the warmth of midday, I wouldn’t get a failure with the slide in an awkward place, say half retracted if I only pressed extend while it was already extended. And I’d only jog the switch so it wouldn’t run so long as to damage anything. Besides, the HWH instructions tell you to hold the switch for 3 seconds after a slide has completely extended or retracted so this test method shouldn’t cause any harm. The temps then got down to the teens at night, and for a couple days, shortly after breakfast I’d go out and try to wiggle things trying to find the loose connection, trying to narrow down the problem to one spot or component. Sometimes whacked things with the rubber mallet trying to isolate the problem.
The really low temps in Narrows seemed to affect the system more than usual because nothing I did seemed to really help much. I’d always notice the air temp warmed up to over 50F before the system came back to life. But at least I had a reliable test method. Get it quiet in the living room and press the slide switch for ‘Extend’ when it was already extended or ‘Retract’ if it was retracted. I could than hear the motor running if the system was working, without moving the slide.
I finally decided that the problem must be a corroded connector, connection, or bad solenoid. It just seems too quiet to be a bad component. But I didn’t like working on the underneath assembly in the cold with the strong winds we had so I started moving south. First went east (but lost altitude) and it was slightly warmer the next morning…still didn’t work. Waited until 9:45 am, then wiggled wires and pounded with the mallet (W&P) until it worked. Next stop was in Winnemucca. Stayed 3 nights, down in the 20’s. W&P each morning until the system would come back trying to localize the problem, didn’t. Moved to Tonopah. Much warmer now, in the 50’s at night. But, damn, didn’t work the next AM. W&P to no avail. Just sat and waited until it got up to the 70’s (though the manifold was in the shade so quite a bit cooler under there) before it would work. And my final move to Pahrump, NV. Night time temps are mild, high 50’s to high 60’s but still, the next morning the slides didn’t work.
Now that I was where it was comfortable to work outside, I climbed under the rig and started by removing, inspecting, and polishing all the wire connectors I could find down there. Although there was evidence of rust, once I rotary wire brushed things, things didn’t look half bad.
The white sock covers the battery cable, preventing a short to ground. Here’s some photos of the underneath hydraulic manifold…
Note the copper stud on the solenoid. Doesn’t look that bad. But I wire brushed and sprayed on contact cleaner everywhere anyway.
The bolt doesn’t look good, but the copper studs are clean. I’ll get stainless nuts soon to replace the rusty nuts. I wire brushed all the ring connectors while working and gave each a ‘tug’ test of 20 lbs or so. Everything was good. I knew from reading the HWH manual and viewing the wiring diagrams that there was a stud somewhere with several ground wires going to it. I needed to find that. I did find the two inline fuse holders so I wire brushed the fuse contacts and sprayed the sockets.
After I’d cleaned and reconnected all the wiring, went inside and DOH, still doesn’t work. And it was nearly 70F! Thinking for a minute, realized I still hadn’t found the ground stud so went out, grabbed my piece of cardboard I use to crawl under the RV and scooted under the area where the manifold is.
And found this, the system ground stud:
The ground stud was under the manifold assembly towards the front of the RV so not very easy to see when working from the rear of the extended slide a foot or so back. I took the rubber mallet and whacked it a good one, then went upstairs and tried to extend…and yeah! The slides worked! So it seems that there’s a poor ground connection that open circuits there when it gets cold. It’s likely that the wire is a low current circuit because it behaves like a control issue, not a heavy duty component issue.
I tried to loosen the nut but it’s really on there tight. Sprayed it with P-B Blaster and let it soak. Still wouldn’t budge. Couldn’t get the leverage on it with just my ratchet. But I did reef on the nut and wiggle and tug test all the wires (no wires came loose). And the slides have worked ever since. Including in the cool of this morning.
So I’m calling it a corroded ground connection. Seems OK now that it’s been tightened a bit more (which mechanically ‘wiped’ the connector improving connection) but soon I’ll crawl under there and with the proper leverage tool, bust that nut loose and clean all the ring connectors and the stud. It isn’t in bad condition now so I have confidence that will take care of the issue.