RV Rebuild Retrospectives: Slide

If this is the first RV Rebuild Retrospective post you’re reading – check out the RV Rebuild Retrospectives: Kitchen post first to get background information about the series and why we rebuilt the Toaster the way we did.

RV Rebuild Retrospective Series:


The slide is where our “living room” is located. By living room I mean a couch that jackknifes out into a bed. For those that aren’t familiar with RVs, a slide is a section of an RV that extends outwards from the rest of the trailer, increasing the interior depth by a certain amount. The slide stays closed, making the outside of the trailer totally flush, when we are traveling. But the slide opens when we’re staying in the Toaster.

When we rebuilt the RV, the slide had to be removed so we could take off the siding. But aside from that, very minimal work was done to it: interior walls and cabinets were painted, and the couch reupholstered. Since we didn’t do a lot of work on the slide, I’m going to talk about the pros and cons to our slide and slides in general rather than specifically the rebuild aspect of it.

Removing the RV slide.

SLIDE

Our slide.

PROS

  • The slide is actually my favorite space inside the Toaster. I’m surround by windows on three sides, it’s cozy, and I love curling up on the couch with a blanket to read or work on the computer.
  • The windows let a lot of welcomed sunshine in along with a view of the outdoors.
Windows in our slide.
  • I love the color of our reupholstered couch. It cheers me up.
  • LeeAnn, who reupholstered our couch, also suggested to making the back of our couch a straight line instead of keeping it its original curved shape. I can’t thank her enough for that recommendation because it gives the couch a modern look.
  • Unlike the dinette cushions, I chose an outdoor fabric for the couch, so it's really durable and has held up well.
What the couch (and slide) used to look like.

What the couch (and slide) used to look like.

  • It’s really nice to be able to fully stretch out somewhere inside the Toaster that’s not the bed.
  • Our couch turns into a double size guest bed
  • The space underneath the whole length of the couch is storage.
  • Having a slide makes the inside of the Toaster feel so much bigger. It extends the space outward by about 4 feet deep by 6 feet wide.
 
Our slide.
 
  • We added indirect lighting (purchased from Ikea) above the valances and the replaced the previous stark lighting.

CONS

  • The slide is the coldest space inside the Toaster. Even though we added new insulation inside all the walls, it’s obviously colder sitting on the couch on chilly days. Perhaps it’s the windows on all three sides that let in cold air.
  • The slide is the part of the RV that we have the most trouble with since living in the rig. When we ripped out the carpeting inside the Toaster and replaced it with hardwood, we had to figure out what to do with the bottom of the slide so that when it was brought inside the RV, it wasn’t sliding wood on wood. Initially we had glued and stapled a piece of residential rug to the bottom of the slide. Six months in we learned that was causing too much friction and making the slide come inside the RV crooked along with shearing the pin in the slide mechanism. That meant the metal pin had to be replaced every time we used the slide. We replaced the fuzzy carpet with a thin piece of outdoor carpet and sprayed Liquid Rollers on it to make it slide easier. That fixed the problem. Until recently. Our drive to and in Yukon has been hard on the slide, with the loose gravel, bumpy, and pothole-filled roads. We’re once again having problems with it. The causes of these problems are still up in the air. But having an older RV (2001) means the mechanical parts that operate the slide have seen a lot of wear and tear. Perhaps it’s starting to fail? I really hope not because fixing that would be a pain in the butt.
 
Spraying Liquid Rollers on the new outdoor carpet.

Spraying Liquid Rollers on the new outdoor carpet.

 
  • Another downside of the slide is that despite having gasket around the edges where it meets the interior RV walls, it’s not airtight. This means it will always let some heat from inside the Toaster escape and let the cold air from outside in.
  • The bottom corners of our slide were very poorly designed. When our slide is retracted, there is a gap leading directly to the outside in each of the bottom two corners. Since the slide is over the wheels, this means dirt and water that the tires kick up from driving gets splashed into the RV. We actually met a couple that was having the same issues with their slide – their tires were splashing water through the slide into their rig. Unlike us, they couldn’t totally get to their splashes to dry them out. This could eventually cause the wood to rot from water damage for them. I assume newer rigs with slides don’t have this problem and it’s only an issue with older RVs. Jerud and I are currently trying to devise something that can cover up those gaps.
 
The gap in our slide when it's retracted in and all the crud that comes in because of it.

The gap in our slide when it's retracted in and all the crud that comes in because of it.

 
  • When an RV slide is retracted, it takes up a lot of space inside the rig. We made sure that whatever RV we got, we would be able to get to the kitchen without having to put a slide out. This is important on travel days when we want to stop and make lunch or dinner. When the slide is in, there is just enough of an opening to the bedroom that we can squeeze through if we turn sideways (although Tybee can’t get through that space). So we can reach the bedroom or toilet if we have to, but it’s not easy. But we’re not able to use the dinette and couch. This means we have to put the slide out to fully use the rig and this is a hassle when we’re moving frequently. While it’s not hard to move the slide in and out, it still becomes a hassle when it has to be retracted every day.
The slide when it's retracted in.

The slide when it's retracted in.

  • You can’t be as stealthy in a rig that has its slide out. And we like to be as stealthy as we possibly can in a 25-foot long silver RV. People automatically think we’ve spent the night or are planning to when we are parked somewhere with our slide out. Yes, sometimes we have, but we don’t want anyone to know that!

When we were initially shopping for an RV, Jerud and I decided that we wanted a rig with only one slide: more moving parts means more things that can break. So far this has been true. Knowing what I know now, I would have chosen an RV without any slides. As much as I enjoy the extra space the slide gives us, it’s also caused us a lot of headaches. Besides, we’ve now been in plenty of rigs that don’t have a slide and have found them to be comfortable.


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RV RebuildChingSlide, DIY