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Old 03-07-2012, 02:41 PM   #15
Winnebago Owner
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: Fulltime- On the Road
Posts: 125
I have a 2003 Ultimate which I believe has the older type plastic/nylon slides that DO NOT have the bolt on the top allowing easy removal and replacement. The factory would need to remove my slide to replace the shims, I explain this below. I made my own shims and replacement took about 30 minutes and did not involve removing the slide. I made replacement lower nylon shims from a 1/2 thick sheet of HDPE, or High Density Polyethylene. I found a piece of the HDPE that was about 6 inches square and 1/2 inch thick in the scrap box at a local plastic supply company a paid $4 for it. HDPE is strong, very slippery, and very easy to work with. It cuts and machines like butter. In the lengthy narration below I explain below how I made the shims. I had access to a friends "mill", which made the job very easy, but this could be done with simple hand tools.. a drill, dremmel, and sander.

EXPLANATION of OLDER STYLE BUSHINGS and SHIMS

The top bushing is about 2 1/2 inches square and is molded, or machined, with two 1/2 inch dowel pins that are fitted snuggly upwards into two corresponding holes drilled in the approximate 3" by 6" slide channel. These dowel pins hold the top bushing in place and keep the bushing from moving while the slide moves in and out. This older version upper nylon bushing does NOT, I repeat, DOES NOT, have the 5/16inch bolt holding them in place which would allow for easy removal and replacement. There is a stack of very thin aluminum shims placed above the nylon shims and these shims provide for proper alignment of the slide, which ensures the slide will be vertically aligned with the coach wall as it travels in and out.

The lower nylon bushings are two pieces about 3/4inch by 2 1/2 inches each and each has two 1/2 diameter dowel pins that protrude downwards into the slide channel. Likewise these dowel pins fit snuggly into the lower portion of the slide tube and hold the nylon bushings in place while the slide moves in and out. There is a stack of very thin aluminum shims placed under the lower nylon shims and like the top bushing, these shims provide for vertical alignment.

The 1/2inch dowel pins in the upper and lower nylon bushings fit snuggly into matching holes in the slide tube and thus the nylon shims can NOT be removed or replaced without removing the inner slide tube from the outer slide tube. This means disconnecting the hydraulic rams, removing slides, ect.... Very difficult and very costly.

In summary, there are three bushings. One upper, almost square with two 1/2inch dowel pins. There are two lower 3/4", by 2 1/2" shims with two dowel pins each. Each of these nylon bushings is about (0.325) 325 thousands inch" thick, or about 5/16 inch thick. Each bushing has a set of shims to exactly position the slide and maintain the slide vertical while it moves.

HOW I PROCEEDED....
My lower bushings were shattered with only a small amount of nylon remaining around one or two of the lower dowel pins. I was able to jack the slide up, allowing a small amount of clearance and "dig" out the lower nylon bushings. With the lower bushings gone the slide could be dropped down which would allow removal of the upper bushings, if required.

After looking at how the lower nylon bushings fit into the slide, and how they failed I elected to try to make a single “one piece” bushing that could be installed without removing the slide. First I cut blocks from the HDPE I had purchased. These blocks were 2 and ¾ inch square, which just fit into the slide tube and provided a good length. I then used a mill to reduce the 1/2inch thick material down to 0.350 thousands thick, or just under 3/8inch. My goal was to make the shim as thick as possible to provide maximum material for the drilled and tapped holes I describe below, and not use the aluminum shims.

Once the material was at the proper thickness I then used the mill to drill and tap 4 holes for ¼ inch national course thread bolts. These holes were centered at the location of the 4 dowel pins, which on my slide these four holes are 1.75 inch On Center from each other and I positioned them ¾ inch from the edge of the blocks I had cut. Look at the picture.

On my slide there is a bolt attached to the moving part of the slide that holds the frame around the storage compartment. You can see this bolt in the picture of the installed shim. This bolt travels in and out with the slide and it the reason the original lower bushings are made in two pieces, which makes them WEAK and subject to failure. When the slide is fully extended this bolt is about 1 and ¼ inch from the end of the fixed portion of the slide, so I drilled a ½ inch hole in my bushing and then from the hole cut a slot to the rear of the HDPE bushing. Thus the moving bolt would slide in/out of the bushing. I used a dremmel to cut the slot. Look at the picture.

I then went to the hardware store and for each HDPE bushing (left and right) I bought 4 round nylon bushings that were ½ inch long, 1/2inch OD, and ¼ inch ID. I also bought 4 – ¼ inch bolts 1 inch long, and a supply of washers for shims. The bolts, washer shims, and round bushings were then screwed into my home made HDPE bushing and washer shims were added to ensure the bolts did not protrude thru the bushing I had made. My home made bushings were then disassembled.

Then, with the slide jacked up, I put the home made bushings into place centered over the holes and inserted the round nylon bushings and screws. So as to not strip the threads in the HDPE the bolts were just snuggly tightened. Moving the slide in and out a few times revealed the shims were most likely a few thousands to thick… but I was happy. Thick is better than thin, so long as it wasn’t excessive..

Then, I took my friend that allowed me to use his mill to lunch. The shims have been in place for about 6 months and are working perfectly. I full time and my slides go in and out a lot, but my bushings reveal no wear. Because the bushings I made are the full width of the slide channel and are made from HDPE I believe they will outlast the rig.

As I stated earlier, I used a mill to cut the material to proper thickness and to drill & tap the holes, but a mill is not required. A dremmel will cut this material like butter and a small sander will finish the material nicely. A standard tap can be used but be careful when tapping so you don’t tear the threads out of the HDPE. I know this long and may not be exactly clear, but for the DO IT YOUR self---eeer, you should be able to improve upon what I have done.

Attached is a picture of my HDPE bushing, and an installed bushing showing the dowels that hold it in place.

Bottom line… I’m surprised the brilliant engineers at HWH haven’t offered a retro-repair kit that would enable easy replacement of these bushings. Perchance they could improve on my design. I guess an easy repair would eliminate the $$$ from huge repair bills resulting from slide removal and replacement.


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Roadking - Homeless, full time, wandering gypsies
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Old 03-07-2012, 02:43 PM   #16
Winnie-Wise
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: Michigan
Posts: 286
Thanks Red. I had missed that thread. Good info!
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Old 03-07-2012, 11:06 PM   #17
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Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Northern Oklahoma
Posts: 871
Roadking - What a terrific explanation. I followed it word for word since it sounds precisely like what would work exactly on my 2004 Meridian. You should patent your idea and go into business making them. I bet they'd sell like hotcakes on these forums.

I especially like your idea about using bolts to hold the nylon bushing on the bottom of the ram that runs in/out with the room. I ordered a set of the glides from HWH several years ago when I first noticed one of mine had partially broken and turned sideways but still supporting the ram. I think I could cut the dowels off the factory rectangular glides, drill and tap threads where the dowels were located, raise the ram very little, dig the broken glide out, slip the nylon glide that I cut the dowels off and tapped threads in it into that space, use only two bolts in each glide, then let the jack down.

The way these slide-outs were engineered you'd think someone thought they would last for 40 years, instead of the 3-6 years most of them seem to be lasting. Course that means the service departments couldn't be sticking us RVers with thousands of dollars worth of repairs each year. Isn't that kind of like the auto industry and their planned obsolesence?

Again, terrific write-up and precise explanation.

Wagonmaster2
2004 Meridian 36G
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