I have been researching slide construction methods off and on for a few months. My studies came to a sudden conclusion after reading a forum post by a trusted author who wrote; Do not give slide technology a lot of thought because one does not select an RV based upon what slide technology they are using. I paused to give this comment a little thought.
Although the foundation or structure the RV is built upon is arguably the most important element, do we really find ourselves saying no to a particular RV brand because we don’t trust their slide technology? For me, the answer seems to be no. I find myself paying more attention to price, floor plan and perhaps popularity among the fulltime RV ranks.
If you are interested in viewing my notes on the subject they can be found on the Construction Methods page. Karen and I are not ready to select a floor plan, however, here are a few slide examples I find myself attracted to:
For the purposes of this research I took a look at what some “fulltime rigs” are using rather than questions such as:
- How much weight to place on the slide to include if it’s a good idea to put the refrigerator on a slide?
- What moving parts are involved such as plumbing and electrical lines within the slide?
- We may want access to at least the bathroom, frig and bed with the slides in.
- Maybe you would like to avoid having a slide under the main awning?
- Would it be true if there are fewer slides then there would be less to go wrong?
- Fewer slides, especially if consolidated on one side of the rig, might make it easier to find a spot to park?
I’m going to preface the next portion of this article with “I may never be done asking questions about slide technology until we buy a rig!” There is just too much to learn and not enough sources of data.
I’ve not studied the engineering for any one slide technology. Right or wrong, here are a few conclusions I’ve come up with:
- Hydraulic slides appear to be more popular for larger slides. And many use a separate system for the slides and rig leveling.
- Hydraulic slides are more powerful, like system used for levelers, compared to electric. They may work faster and smoother. Then again how fast do they really need to operate?
- I’ll look for a system with easy access to manual overrides as failure, such as a bad battery, could prevent movement.
- Insulation against weather conditions and sound reduction are considerations.
- I’ll continue to pay attention when reading about problems others are having and especially how they fixed those problems.
- Slides can be/or not be independently operated for times there is not room to put out one of the slides such for a tree that is in the way. I’d like to have that alternative.
- I’ll try to note where heating or cooling vents are located with the slides out and in.
- When we get down to our final few fifth wheel selections, I’ll be interested in how well the slides move and especially if they are square when moving in and out. In other words, they are not prone to closing at an angle.
- Of course the slide seal must be well built to keep out water and bugs.
- What new technologies are out there and who is using them? Such as tracks on all four corners vs two corners.
- And what maintenance needs to be performed!
- I’m leaning towards having slide toppers especially for those times when moisture might have frozen on top of a slide.
Here are a few sources if you want to do your own study:
- Article on slides by funtimesguide.com.
- Good article from RV Doctor
- Tons of video here and links to owner manuals
- Electric vs Hydraulic
I’m avoiding adding more specific details in this blog post that are already covered in my RV Construction page for slides. Near the bottom of that page you will find several pros and cons listed for various methods.
If you have more technical knowledge about slide construction or just a few good points to consider, I’d appreciate hearing about them.
(Update 8/20/15) Talked to a 25 year veteran RV owner at a rest stop while on a trip. He prefers the screw type electric slides. Says they are easier to work on and more dependable.
(Update 10/3/15) Read the below information in a forum post. Looks like the poster has done some research:
“It appears there is 4 different slides systems on the market 2 from the past and still current >> Power Gear electric and HWH hydraulic slide systems, and now 2 newer systems on the market >> Bal Accu-Slide cable and Schwintek slide systems. As I read post on here seems the 2 systems from the past have the least of all issues and the 2 newer systems have the most issues especially the Schwintek system, so my question is why are most all newer RV’s going the newer slides when they are having all the issues, why not stick with the old tried and trued systems, as for me I have the Power Gear and very happy with it and after 7 years of use no issues.” Others posted the slide technology has changed to reduce the weight.