(For a great set of pages on slide-outs, see the RV Slide Out How to Page on RV52.com)
RV52.com got a great question about RV slide out and RV slide out maintenance. I could NEVER articulate the question as well as the reader, so here is the original text (name removed of course):
I have a 34 foot 5th wheel Arctic Fox, 2003, and have been living in it full time for one month and love it.
1. I was wondering if the super slide out is supposed to be level. When it is out, which is all the time, it is obviously hanging down around 3 to 5 inches from level. While sitting at the kitchen table, one can easily see and feel the lean outwards. It was originally in PA, and the underneath is very, very rusty; but it slides in and out with no problem. The bedroom slide doesn’t lean down; however, it does have a slight, very slight angle down which is good I guess owing that the awnings are missing. Both awnings for the slide outs are gone. The aluminum rods and everything else is there but the cloth material. I can see where the cloth material was there but only strings are left.
2. I was wondering where the best and least expensive place is to get that stuff. I know that the RV place I shop at think I’m rich just because I mention RV.
Thanks for your help.
Here is what Fitty says on the subject (ok me, but I like using the pseudonym Fitty). I've also sent a request to Arctic Fox, which I'll update here, if, when I received it.
I'm not surprised that a slide out would sag. It seems that most are extended on rails and staying level would depend on the rails not flexing. It would also depend on the structure to which the rails are fastened would not sag as well.
Furthermore, I think slide-outs all rely somewhat on a true full extension causing the TOP of the slide to mechanically touch and provide a small extra push at the bottom that removes some of the weight bearing from the rails and transfer some of that force to the entire slide out frame.. I'm sure my terminology is incorrect, but I think my engineering here is solid.
What I'm trying to say is that between the eventual flex of the materials AND the chance that the slide out might not be fully extended it is completely believable that it would sag. To lack the full extension to reduce your sag, the shortfall of slide extension might be as small as 1-2 inches of extension.
The second thing you mentioned is that the floor is rusting. I think the slide out is a metal box with a wooden floor, but the important supporting bits are probably metal. That does encourage my thinking that the metal has fatigued and allows the slide out to sag.
My guess is that repairing the WOOD bits of the floor is pretty easy – just pull everything out, and replace some plywood into the metal box. Seal it up well of course – but it would be very straightforward. For the metal box that makes the slide out, that sounds more difficult.
There are numerous slide out supports on Amazon, so I think you could find something there that would take the sag out AND take out any bounce. I think you'd be happy with these. I don't personally use a support, but sure one is in my future. Would love to hear about how it goes if you get one.
For slide out awnings, many RVs do not have these. The slide outs are designed to shed water without the awnings. I don't think you should panic about them. However, I have noticed that the slide out awnings can look very nice. I'm thinking the Florida sun will run through them like a hot knife though butter – probably messing with them every 3-4 years.
For low cost repairs, I would pay close attention to ebay and Amazon. Both are amazing and have most of what you want. If you use MY links, it does give me a little “spiff”, but not enough for me to retire just yet. I'll list some links to get you started.
Also, the “roaming” RV repair guys can be pretty economical compared to a dealer. They want to be paid by the hour, but don't have RV dealer real estate to pay for either. They'll want a “showing up fee” even if they don't do much, so make sure you inform them about what you need to make sure that when they come out, they will really do a repair and that will wash out the “showing up fee”.
- How To Page for Awnings for Slide out: These cost a little money and this one may be expensive, but by using Amazon and shopping around I think you'll be a very educated buyer.