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Old 06-01-2016, 07:03 PM   #1
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Electric steps not retracting fully.

Every few months I have to lubricate the linkage on the electric steps. If I don't, they will only retract part way. Even when I do lubricate them, I still have to push them a little before they will retract totally the first time or two. Then they work ok for awhile. Once they retract and stop, even partially, the motor does not get hot so it appears that the 12 volt power gets removed even though the steps aren't fully retracted. If there was a position micro switch then I would expect power to remain applied until the steps reach their fully retracted position. It almost appears as if there is a timer in the steps that cuts off the power after a preset amount of elapsed time. Anyone know exactly what it is that turns off the power to the motor during a retraction cycle?

2004 National RV 35' Tropical
Three step Kwikee
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Old 06-01-2016, 07:10 PM   #2
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I've been told the step controller senses increased amps when the steps stop, and ceases the extension/retraction. No limit switches involved.
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Old 06-01-2016, 07:42 PM   #3
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I've been told the step controller senses increased amps when the steps stop, and ceases the extension/retraction. No limit switches involved.
This would make sense since lubricating them fixes it for awhile. As soon as they bind, or hit the stops, the current goes up and the controller shuts down.

Dan
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Old 06-01-2016, 08:36 PM   #4
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The high limit current switch is exactly what shuts off the power to the step motor. In my shed, I put my leg in front of the steps as they extend to stop them before they hit the side of the shed. That way they are not rubbing against the shed wall as we enter or exit the coach while in storage.
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Old 06-01-2016, 09:02 PM   #5
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Yes, the limit switch in this case is a simple auto reset circuit breaker that's been sized correctly. Power windows in some cars work the same way. When the window reaches the end of it's travel, the motor overloads and pops the breaker. As soon as the breaker cools, it's ready for another cycle.
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Old 06-01-2016, 09:04 PM   #6
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Find the ground wire from step harness attached to the FRAME of motorhome, remove ground wire, use a cordless drill with wire brush and clean to bare metal, reattach wires. Spray with rubberized undercoating. CAUTION!!! stay clear of steps when doing this, they will hurt you. Good luck.
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Old 06-02-2016, 11:12 AM   #7
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Electric Step

Thanks for the replies. The ground lug on my coach is securely fastened to the chassis. That problem showed up a couple of years ago and was fixed. I doubt that the current sensing device is a thermal breaker since the step can be operated immediately once the motor has stopped. A thermal switch takes time too cool down and reset. An electronic current monitor is easy to design and cheap to implement. Since the control unit is a totally sealed unit, there is no way to adjust the shut-down current like there is on slide controllers. So, like a number of you suggest, I'll just keep lubricating it. What was interesting was that there is a video on how to properly lubricate the mechanism. In that video they also mention some brands of steps that use actual ball bearings rather than metal shafts riding on holes in metal plates. Those steps don't require lubrication. It's sad that Kwikee even designed a step that requires frequent lubrication. Further, they know about the problem and even sell their own brand of lubricant to solve it.
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Old 06-02-2016, 11:47 AM   #8
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Consider a mechanical turn signal blinker (not one of the newer digital types)? Pretty much the same thing.

"A thermal switch takes time too cool down and reset"
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Old 06-03-2016, 10:32 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DWAlthaus View Post
Every few months I have to lubricate the linkage on the electric steps. If I don't, they will only retract part way. Even when I do lubricate them, I still have to push them a little before they will retract totally the first time or two. Then they work ok for awhile. Once they retract and stop, even partially, the motor does not get hot so it appears that the 12 volt power gets removed even though the steps aren't fully retracted. If there was a position micro switch then I would expect power to remain applied until the steps reach their fully retracted position. It almost appears as if there is a timer in the steps that cuts off the power after a preset amount of elapsed time. Anyone know exactly what it is that turns off the power to the motor during a retraction cycle?

2004 National RV 35' Tropical
Three step Kwikee
Now you know why Kwikee states in the owners manual to clean and lubricate monthly.
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