Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Fix Those Squeaky RV Extending Stairs


    SCREEECH! Don't you hate it when your automatic extending stairs squeal at you every time they move? Me too! Especially after a long cold winter, they can get rather cranky. Just like me! After a lot of experimentation, I found the perfect stuff to lubricate the step assembly with. Drum roll please... White Lithium grease! This is some tenaciously sticky lubricant. It's good through all kinds of temperature ranges and, so far, seems to stick through all kinds of wet weather. I first lubricated the stairs 4 years ago when I first bought my RV and haven't had a squeak since today. I'd say that's a pretty good track record.

Motor/Gearbox Looking Upwards
I bought the White Lithium grease in a handy aerosol (spray can) package that came with a tiny plastic straw that inserts into the nozzle to get into very tight places. Most automatically extending stairs require periodic lubrication. There are a LOT of hing points that could bind up. It's a pretty complicated system. When I first picked up my RV, it was seized up and the motor was fried. Probably wasn't lubricated properly and the motor worked overtime to get them to move and then overheated and quit working. The best solution is simply to maintain the system and that's mostly cleaning and lubrication. There is also a light bulb down there that can burn out. I replaced mine with an LED bulb that should last a LONG time.

How do you lubricate this contraption? Start with the steps extended. And look for each and every point that moves. It should be fairly obvious where most of these hinge points are, but some of them are well hidden. Up and under the stairs. Be CAREFUL you do not cycle the stairs when your hand and arm are inside where they fold. This will HURT a great deal. Believe me the combination of electric motor and reduction gears create a huge amount of force. I wouldn't be surprised if you could lose a finger this way! Be Careful!!

So, back to lubricating every point on the stairs that moves, swivels or rubs against another piece. Don't use a massive amount, just enough to get into the joint. Once you've done that... you didn't forget the ones up under the steps near the motor did you? I did... kept squeaking... figured it out! Now run the stairs in and out a few times. Then re-lube. After a couple of times, you should have smoothly operating steps. If not, listen closely, figure out where the noise is actually coming from and re-lube that part. Also, a good time to check for anything bent or smashed. I've seen people lock their stairs in the out position and bash them against curbs. This really won't help them function at all!

Treat your steps well and they will work for a LONG time. Replacement motors and parts are available, so if something is really broken it can be fixed. I had to replace the motor/gearbox assembly when I first bought my RV. I like the stairs ... besides, everyone who sees them work (who isn't exposed to RVs all the time) thinks they're ... "COOL." I do, too.

Be Seeing You...Down The Road,

Rich "The Wanderman"
www.thewanderman.com