Originally Posted by cmpr4
The rivets on my steps got so rusty no amount of lube would free them up so I bought new shoulder bolts and lock nuts not nylok nylok are to tall bought online from bolt depot 1/2 x3/8 I then ground off all the rivets and had the parts sandblasted and powder coated then reassembled with sim washers as needed (bought from local hardware store)
Holy deja vu, Batman. That's almost exactly what I just got done doing two weeks ago.
My motorhome's steps had always had a retraction/extension problem since I bought it two years ago, and the bottom linkage arms and step arms got bent when the steps hit a curb at night in 2017. That summer I disassembled and re-lubed the gearbox, bent the arms back into position as good as possible while still assembled and mounted, lubricated all the joints, and it helped some, but not completely.
This year, after removing the steps from the motorhome, disassembling and re-lubing the gearbox, bending the arms some more, sandblasting and repainting, reinstalling the steps on the motorhome, and lubing all of the lube points, it still didn't retract and extend reliably. So I decided to take drastic action.
Without removing the steps unit from the MH again, I drilled out the head of four rivets so I could remove the bottom two steps. The top step was left in place on the motorhome, and its rivets left untouched.
I used an angle grinder to grind off the heads of the remaining rivets in the bottom two steps. I straightened all of the linkage arms and the arms of the steps themselves.
I ordered shoulder bolts, nylon spacers, and nuts with nylon inserts from Bolt Depot. I had read of them on a "Making" website, but had no prior experience with them. I ordered on a Friday afternoon, selected the standard USPS shipping, and received the shipment on Monday afternoon. I was very pleased with their service.
The stair's existing rivets were 1/2" diameter with 3/8" ends. So rather than have to drill out the existing 3/8" holes in the steps, I used shoulder bolts with a 3/8" diameter shoulder. The nylon spacers were used in the 1/2" holes, and allow the shoulder to rotate smoothly. When I ordered the bolts, spacers and nuts, I wasn't sure what size or quantity of washers I would, need, so I bought the stainless steel washers (5/16", 3/8" and 1/2") that I used at Tractor Supply. After reassembling the steps and being satisfied with the operation and assembly, I removed each nut and used a drop of blue Loctite in each, and retightened them.
The end result is that the stairs work great now, I can still lubricate them as needed, and I can easily disassemble the steps in the future if there are problems. The extra parts are in the motorhome, just in case!