When I bought this RV, back in July of ’04, my neighbor came over and admired it and gave me a hint or two. One of the things he noticed was the loose wiring dangling down from the electric steps. So I took care of that and except for the occasional lubing that was typically needed, never really had an issue with the steps.
Until early June of 2013. At that time, I stayed at a park where it was difficult to level my RV as the park is pretty old and the RV pad is kind of broken up (picture above is a different park). So I had this extra high first step from the ground. One time when I’m pulling myself up a little unbalanced on the step using the grab handle, and I hear this ‘PING’. Hmm. Sounded like something metal breaking. What was that? So I look inside, outside the RV but don’t find anything. Next day, I hear it again, and like last time, when I’m climbing the steps. WTH is that?
The third day, the first time in the day I step outside and the step goes all loosey goosey. It just swings in and out when I step on it. After using it several times, I decide I can adjust. And then early the next day, suddenly the steps let loose and swing around. I frantically grab hold of the handle and save myself a tumble to the ground. Crawl under the RV and find the step motor drive assembly is dangling while the attachment plate that supports the entire step assembly is hanging by one bolt out of the 4 that were suppose to be there. Since I’d been hearing bolts breaking, mystery solved.
I got lucky in that the throw arm didn’t break or the actuation rod didn’t bend. I grabbed some heavy duty zip ties and lashed the steps up into place so I could continue driving west. As it was, the steps would be swinging loose had I not zip tied them in place. I always carry several different sizes of zip ties just because of this kind of thing. Not a good idea to drive with the steps swinging in and out on every corner. Hah! It could have been difficult to get out of the RV, but I carry one of those collapsible steps so not too much of a problem.
Back in Rosamond, I pull the last unbroken bolt out, cut the zip ties and bring the entire step assembly into the garage to work on it. There’s a plate that the assembly attaches to and that was in good condition. I just needed four new bolts with nuts and lockwashers and it would mount just like at the factory.
But the motor and gear assembly was a different matter. It had gotten torqued out of position and I wanted to do some preventative maintenance on it while I had it out. Cleaned up the road grime from the outside of the assembly, and then took it apart. Not in too bad of condition. I didn’t find anything broken. There was a bent actuator arm and one stripped bolt hole in the gearbox which required that I use a thread chaser, tap, and slightly larger bolt so it’s good as new now. Fixing that brought the gearcase back into alignment so there isn’t a gap around it now. All that excess torquing had done was spring the case a little when it stripped that bolt, and bent the actuator arm a little. Nothing in the gearing & motor assembly was damaged, no broken or damaged gears. Yea.
Removed the 18 year old gear grease, replaced with new, put it all back together and it’s now back in operation.
Update – Nov. 2015: Still working great…