Broken Slide Gears
Account Thousand Trails Parks
The rod on the left-hand side of this picture snapped where the pin was inserted to hold the gear assembly together. This of course rendered the slide inoperable. Our first thought is that since the slide room rides on the gear was that this rod snapped while were bouncing down these pot holed California freeways. When we pried the slide up off the gear assembly we found a makeup case had become lodged between the floor and the bottom of the slide room. The case rutted the fiberglass in the floor of the slide room, and caused enough torque to snap this 1/2″ shaft. Pretty impressive that a piece of plastic could break a steel shaft. Sounds like a modern-day David and Goliath story. None the less this assembly had to come out. So here is how we did it.
We were lucky and the slide gear that broke is directly behind this door, and the holiday rambler came with a key that looks a lot like a key used to wind a Grandfather clock, and it fit perfectly.
We just stuck the key in and turned it, like we were unlocking a door, but the turn is longer. We lifted the door straight up. It is hinged at the top,
There is now a radiator visible. It has what looks like hydraulic fluid lines running to it. We don’t know what it is for, but I am sure it will break some day and we will find out. On the right of the picture is a shiny circle it is another lock the key fits in here too. So we unlocked the radiator. The radiator is hinged at the side and opens straight out. We rested the door we opened in the last step on the radiator after we opened it. This saved us the step of holding the overhead door up while we worked. We were grateful for both these doors, and the fact that they hold each other open.
If those doors did not open we would have to work on the gears from this angle. We tried it, and we can assure you it is not fun, and very greasy.
With the door open the assembly looks like this. There are two wires to the right, they connect to the motor. The shaft coming out of the motor connects to the larger diameter shaft which is a barrel. The motor connects to the barrel with one bolt. The other end of the barrel has a bolt that connects to the drive shaft of the gear assembly. The Gear rides in the slide track, and the shaft extends out the other end and connects to a square shaft that drives the gear assembly on the other slide of the slide. The square shaft is connected with one bolt as well.
This project will require the following tools. Chanel lock pliers, 1 really long screw driver, 2 – 7/16 end wrenches, 1-3/8″ socket driver, 1- 7/16″ socket, 1 – 9/16″ socket, 1- 9/16″ end wrench, and 1- burly buddy to lift and adjust the slide, or two petite young girls.
Before we get started, we have to stabilize the slide out. It is hard to see, but we are above the side door we opened, and under the slide. The screw driver is jammed in under the gear track, we put a second screw driver under it to help lift the slide up just slightly. Jam these in tight, we do not want the slide to fall when removing the gear assembly, the slide, actually has all its weight on the gear pack. This is normally a good thing, but in this case, we need the weight removed, so we can get the gear pack out without the slide falling down. If the slide falls, you will have to lift it back into position in order to install the new gear pack.
Take a 9/16 socket and a 9/16″ end wrench place the claw end of the end wrench around either nut (The shiny things on the bolt just below the gear in this picture.) Place the socket on the black bold just opposite of the nut, then while holding the end wrench in position, break the bolt loose, then remove the bolt and the nut. Do the same for the other side. At the top of the picture, right above the gear, you will see a black tube. On each end of the tube, there is a bolt, these bolts are 9/16″ place the end wrench over the bolt that is on the side with the square shaft, use the end of the wrench that looks like a circle with teeth. (The right side of this picture.) Place the 9/16″ Socket over the opposite bolt and break it loose. Do not remove the bolt! Now Place the 9/16″ socket on the bolt where the end wrench is, (remove the end wrench first) set the socket wrench to the tighten position, and break this bolt loose. This bolt is reverse threaded. You may have to hold the tube in place with your channel lock pliers, but it is time to loosen and remove both bolts. (Please do not lose the bolts, the nuts, or the barrel, these are not included with the new gear assembly. Now the gear is held in place by only the square shaft. Use your two 7/16″ end wrenches to remove the nut and the bolt that are holding this shaft in place. Once the bolt is off, you should find the shaft has a lot of play. push it away from the gear shaft and let it rest in the air. There will be a black plastic piece shaped like a box with holes in it. Do not lose it, it needs to set in the end of the square shaft to help take up the slop that comes from a round shaft being fastened to a square one. The shaft on the other side has two bolts, one on the motor shaft and one on the gear shaft remove these and put them in a safe place.
Now that you have removed the gear assembly, you will see the teeth on the gear track, have left behind a square shaft hopefully the black tube stayed in place like ours did, and the motor and shaft are left undisturbed in the right-hand side of the picture.
We now have our broken gear pack out where we can see it. The larger diameter shaft will not be included with the new gear pack. For some reason, this shaft is fused to the larger diameter shaft that we call a coupler. We must remove the coupler. Since we are working out in the field, we must make a press to push that shaft out of the coupler. So we will look around our campsite and see what is available.
The barb q grill will work extraordinary well for this task. The small shaft pit perfectly and the larger coupler will not fit between the bars, we now have a super strong surface to hold the coupler, but allow the shaft to fall once we apply extraordinary pressure.
We took a long screw driver, set it inside the coupler while holding coupler upright we hit it with a good size hammer as hard as we could. The shaft shot right out of the coupler. Now we have the coupler ready to go when the new shaft arrives.
Well, off to town to order a gear pack, and the girls decide to go clothes shopping. The Rue 21 was loaded with stinky perfume, I am allergic, so I sat outside on the side walk in Indio, Ca. while they shopped. 80 degrees the last few days of November, guess one can’t complain. That is why Wife brings me south for the winter I guess. I can sit outside without getting soaked. Indio is a a really nice place to hang out in the winter. The only strange thing, was My family was the only family not of South American descent. I am used to being in the minority, but never this much. Most everyone that walked by was friendly. There were exceptions of course, but I left them alone.
Finally, a few days pass, the RV dealer has delivered our much needed gear pack. It looks like it may have been used, we are not sure, it set us back $59 for the part, and $8.00 for shipping. We are grateful to have received it, so now it is time to get it up.
First thing we do today, is open the doors to expose the gear track, and measure the distance the slide is from the wall of the RV.
It is critical that the distance the slide is from the wall, is the same at each of the bottom corners of the slide. If they are not, this is where the petite girls come in. Have them push or pull the slide on the end that is not jammed in place with the screw driver until the distance match. This may slip right into place, or be like our case, and turn into a tedious session of pushing pulling and measuring until the job is done right. Once the slide is set perfectly, lets install the gear assembly.
This is critical! Before you do anything else, put shaft of the gear pack into the square shaft, and bolt it in. (Had We done this, we would have saved an hour of aggravation). Now slip the coupler we took off at the BBQ grill over the motor shaft. Slip the gear shaft on to the coupler. Now replace the 4 bolts in the gear pack on to the frame. When you put the gear assembly back in, you need to put in the four 9/16″ bolts that hold it in place, but only hand tight. If the slide is held up properly by the screw drivers, this will be easy, if it is not, you will need to get a friend to lift the slide slightly until the bolt holes on the gear line up with the frame. One other thing is the gear needs the teeth to set inside the gear track on the slide. So if the holes do not line up, first make sure the sprocket gear teeth are messed in with the slide gear track teeth, that might be all it takes to line up the bolts. If the bolts still do not line up, the slide needs to be raised up more.
Now, the square shaft should be in place and bolted. The gear pack bolted in, and the coupler in place over the motor shaft and the gear shaft, but not yet bolted in place. The coupler has lots of holes in the end by the gear pack, leaving lots of options for where to replace that bolt. Twist the coupler so a hole shows up that you can insert a bolt through. The side of the coupler by my thumb has a slot in it. The slot is so the coupler on the motor side can be slid around a bit to find the hole on the motor shaft. When you bolt the end of the coupler will all the holes to the gear pack shaft, try to get the slot as close as you can to the hole on the motor shaft. We can turn the motor by hand, to line up the motor shaft hole.
Once the coupler is bolted into place, take the channel locks, and twist the nut on the front of the motor until the motor shaft hole lines up with the slot on the coupler. Place your final 7/19″ bolt through the hole and tighten it into place. Once everything is bolted down, remove the screw drivers holding the slide up. The last step is optional, but after Athena got in there and replaced the gear pack and put all these pieces back together I used the channel clocks and twisted that nut until the slide ran all the way in, then all the way out. I did this because I could look at and listen to it while it very slowly creeps in and out. What I was looking for was anything that felt like it was binding up the slide, and listening for any unusual sounds. Doing this by hand, would allow me to detect a problem and stop the movement before something would break, the motor is fast and powerful, the slide would be broken in an instant, and we would be back to square one, if something were to be in there still binding the mechanism. In checking for the objects binding the slide, we found and removed a wayward makeup case lid. We found it by running our fingers under slide before I cranked it in.
One last note about the Holiday Rambler Ambassador slides, the owner’s manual says if the slides ever get stuck out, go outside and push them in and lock them in place with a stick wedged against the wall and the slide trim. Unless your 6’8′ and 700 pounds of solid man meat, you are not pushing these slides in to travel position. First, try cranking the nut on the end of the motor, that will bring your slide in if the failure is in the motor, or electrical. If the problem is the gears inside the motor, right behind that nut, disconnect the bolt in the coupler so it can spin free of the motor. If the problem is like ours, and you need to move the rig, your best bet is what we have seem others do, get a friend with a pickup truck to drive up to the slide, and gently push the slide in place and lock it down with a stick on the inside. These slides need a vehicle, or a team of humans to move them back in when they are broken. The owner’s manual makes it much easier than it is. One guy I spoke with, took his jack from his car, placed it against the wall inside his RV, and against the inside slide trim and moved it that way, but I do not recommend it, it seems the RV wall could be at risk. If repairing the slide on site, or humans and Vehicles are not a choice, it is time to call road side assistance to get you to a repair center.
Now that we have run the slide in and out both via the motor, and by hand, Athena does one last check of the bolts to make sure they are all snug tight before putting her tools away. As you can tell, I have an awesome wife, and unless we buy an extended warranty, I might also be married to an awesome holiday rambler mechanic.
Keep in mind with these rigs, slide gears and rails break, and rough roads can be a cause. When the rig is 6 to 10 years old, the gears get to be near impossible to get outside of wrecking yards. The slides are heavy and will take a big person to put them in, which you might have to find if you are not booked in to a park for a enough time to get the part installed. I wish we could carry a spare gear and rail set for each slide for this reason. As one can see we got this slide fixed by sheer determination. I we can do it, you can do it. Stop sweating it and go outside and start sweating!
If you love your ships mechanic you will want the following tools on board for this project:
Impact driver (Electric, if air is unavailable you probably have 110 available. Will work on inverter in short burst)
Screw Drivers – high quality so they can be used as chisels as well
You may or may not use all these tools on this project, you bolts might be fresh, or other problems may arise. It is just the nature of these things. We have all the above tools on board plus a lot more. Should you need a starter set of tools for every day RV issues the above list is a good start. If you don’t have have them we would appreciate it if you could white-list us in your ad-blocker. If you purchase them on these links, it helps us keep the site up for you and others. – Thanks, in advance.