|Fleetwood Motorhome Power Gear
Salon Slide-Out Modification
|Many Fleetwood Class A motorhomes built roughly in the 2000-2005 time frame were supplied with
an under-powered motor/gear assembly on the driver's side main salon slide-out. This means that
when the slide-out is retracted, the motor can stall initially upon trying to lift up the inner edge of the
slide-out. If the motor is allowed to stall, the current draw goes up dramatically as does generated heat,
and the motor may burn out. Also at risk is the slide-out controller relay board. Many of us have tried
lightening the load in a vain attempt to cure this. The following describes an analysis of why this
happens, and how it can be avoided successfully.
The affected design is a Power Gear-supplied dual "rack and pinion" drive, with a center-located
motor/gear drive assembly showing p/n 523432. This design was changed for model year 2005 or
2006, with a higher-powered assembly showing p/n 522176 (now discontinued), and then the 523900.
A number of Fleetwood owners had the new assembly installed for free either under warranty, by
special consideration, or during rallies. But most of us have been denied the fix unless we could have
demonstrated to the dealer that the motor completely stalled, while still under warranty. The new
assembly, if bought directly from Power Gear, costs around $400 including shipping.
You might be noticing increasingly sluggish operation of slide-out retraction, as motor armature and
bearing wear take its toll, and rollers require more effort to turn. As a side note, until the motor can
retract the slide without slowing way down, you may want to start the lift then move to another slide
to allow some time for the motor armature to distribute the heat, and finish the retraction after that.
Some owners with the more powerful motors are reporting stripped gears, which implies that the
stronger motor is too much for the same light-duty gears.
It is possible to open up the motor/gear assembly, but unless you're proficient at microsurgery you'd
best not attempt it, and the performance gain might be marginal anyway.
With the assembly disconnected (fairly straightforward removal), after removing a half-dozen
already-loose screws, separating the two aluminum halves is easy enough. But upon doing so, you will
allow two small roller bearing races to drop their bearings haphazardly, especially if the lubrication is
minimal as it was with ours. Successful reassembly would require packing the races with grease and
lining up the bearings around the race walls to allow unobstructed reinsertion of the shafts. There is
plenty of grease in the housing, but most of it where it can't do any good, so you can push some into
the gear teeth where it will be greatly appreciated.
At this point you can remove the motor armature from the back end after sliding off the rubber boot
and removing the motor brake. The armature will undoubtedly show signs of distress such as grooves
worn into the commutator or discoloration due to heat. Using 600 grit sandpaper or a fine flat file, you
can spin the armature and resurface the commutator. The brushes will probably still be okay, but will
have to be carefully pulled back to allow insertion of the armature back into the motor housing.
After successful reassembly, you may notice little improvement in operation, but the re-greasing of the
gears will be helpful to minimize future wear.
One of the chores in bringing in a slide-out is to separate the rubber bulb seal on the inside edge of the
slide-out from the aluminum surface it mates with. This can take some effort, especially on a slide that
has been pushed down into firm contact, and when the rubber has some age to it. Using 303
Aerospace Protectant spray liberally on both mating surfaces reduces the effort to separate these parts,
in addition to presumably protecting the rubber.