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Old 10-23-2012, 01:39 PM   #1
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Replaced step motor, stairs are worse

While I was at the local RV Superstore this weekend getting propane and dumping tanks, I decided to just spend the $160 and get a replacement motor for the steps on our 2005 Sea Breeze.

The problem we have with our steps is that they don't fold up all the way unless you give them a little help while they're folding up. I've cleaned and lubed the steps with kwikee step lube, taken the motor and gearbox down and cleaned and lubed the gearbox, but still could not get the steps to close all the way.

I figured, ok it has to be a motor going bad, so let's replace it. It's not a difficult job to replace the motor, only about 15 minutes. I powered up the new motor and cycled the door with the motor unattached a few times so that I was sure it was at its maximum extension before installing it. After unattatched testing, I popped the new motor in place, lubed everything all up and would you know it, the steps work WORSE with the new motor. They still do not go in all the way and don't open as far.

Grrr ... frustrating. The weather was starting to turn with some raindrops on me, so I put the old motor back in place and it works just like it always has. Steps fully extend on open and partially retract on their own on close ... a little help while closing and they tighten up.

Now what ??
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Old 10-23-2012, 02:10 PM   #2
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did you try and move the step in and out by hand with motor disconected ? It should move in and out freely .go from there if you find any binding.
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Old 10-23-2012, 07:56 PM   #3
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My money is on the controller! It works on resistance and the new motor could have change that a little. I have replaced my motor($56 @ AutoZone), reed switch, and re-grounded everything and I still have my problem of the step extending only when it wants to. Every now and then I have to close and open the door again to step to extend. I have no problems with retraction.

H
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Old 10-23-2012, 08:25 PM   #4
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this may be a longshot but here goes.
if house batteries are weak steps will do this. i know when my house batteries are down mine will do this. try running the vehicle engine to charge house batteries & retry test again after several minutes with vehicle engine still running. may need more voltage to operate correctly.
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Old 10-23-2012, 09:17 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by hdossett View Post
My money is on the controller! It works on resistance and the new motor could have change that a little. I have replaced my motor($56 @ AutoZone), reed switch, and re-grounded everything and I still have my problem of the step extending only when it wants to. Every now and then I have to close and open the door again to step to extend. I have no problems with retraction.

H
I am going to replace all the grounds. I did cut back the ground that comes out of the controller, and the wire does have corrosion pretty far in. Given that this is a 2005 and we have some rust issues on the underside, it's a fair guess that it could be the grounds.

As our batteries are in a box right above the steps, I will probably just pull a fresh ground from the chassis battery and see how that works.

My next bet is the controller ... I forget what that cost was at the Supercenter. They do have a few there, they really have a well stocked parts department. Not sure if I want to spend the money on that as we do have an "extended warranty" plan and the steps are covered - and with a $100 deductable I have already spent more than that just on the motor. The issue is with giving up the motorhome for a day or more for service as we are living in it right now - but I'm really thinking that we just need to suck it up for a day and let the Supercenter diagnose the steps and let the "warranty" company pay for it.
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Old 10-23-2012, 09:25 PM   #6
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this may be a longshot but here goes.
if house batteries are weak steps will do this. i know when my house batteries are down mine will do this. try running the vehicle engine to charge house batteries & retry test again after several minutes with vehicle engine still running. may need more voltage to operate correctly.
Thanks for that insight. Our batteries do hold a healthy charge and the steps don't retract fully whether the engine is running or not. It's easy to get the DW to nudge them in when I'm heading out solo, but once we're both loaded in ... not so easy to nudge them up
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Old 10-24-2012, 07:59 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by 2Labs View Post
Thanks for that insight. Our batteries do hold a healthy charge and the steps don't retract fully whether the engine is running or not. It's easy to get the DW to nudge them in when I'm heading out solo, but once we're both loaded in ... not so easy to nudge them up
They may be powered by the chassis battery anyway, as mine are.
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Old 10-24-2012, 01:15 PM   #8
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Just a thought. The previous owner may have used WD-40 to lube your steps. I would suggest you use a spray can of Brake Clean or rust free on all the pivot points and see if it breaks up any crud. Then apply your lube.
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Old 10-24-2012, 02:02 PM   #9
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Just a thought. The previous owner may have used WD-40 to lube your steps. I would suggest you use a spray can of Brake Clean or rust free on all the pivot points and see if it breaks up any crud. Then apply your lube.
Great idea thanks ... I have kwikee step lube and sprayed them again, with no luck.

The steps move in and out when the motor and linkage are removed, although I am not sure just how freely they should move. I mean, they are metal/steel steps so it does require a small amount of effort, and nothing appears to be binding metal on metal.
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Old 10-24-2012, 02:37 PM   #10
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You may need to use some liquid wrench and soak all the pivot points and with all the linkage disconnected work the steps by hand 15 / 20 times. Then apply your step lube, they should go in and out with one hand freely. Check for bent brackets and linkage.
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Old 10-24-2012, 02:51 PM   #11
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Since there was a differential between the old & new motor, which differential was reversed when swapping back to the old, i'm guessing also the control circuitry. If you can find corrosion wicking up the wires- that could be the case on any of the wires, ground or hot. Could also be salty spray wicking into the electronics.
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Old 10-24-2012, 03:06 PM   #12
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if house batteries are weak steps will do this. i know when my house batteries are down mine will do this.
I think you will find, most steps are powered by the chassis battery.
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Old 10-31-2012, 06:51 PM   #13
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Kwikee steps require a dedicated power supply. The manual states that no other item should be connected to the power source other than the steps. If so this can cause the controller to malfunction. Perhaps in the past someone has spliced into the power supply and this may cause a low voltage. In my case when the tow brake system was installed they spliced into the step wiring and caused problems with step operations. Had steps replaced under warranty 2 times before I took the manual and started going through trouble shooting section. Found the spliced culprit less than a foot from the controller/motor and took it back to the tow brake installer, and with the help of the Kwikee manual and Kwikee on line help got the steps replaced for the third time. You would have thought that at least one tech, during the two step replacements, would have known that Kwikee steps required dedicated circuits.
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Old 10-31-2012, 06:59 PM   #14
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The reason for the dedicated circuit requirement is that the controller stops on extend and retract by amperage draw. If more current is being drawn by something else, the controller doesn't realize it and shuts off prematurely.

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