After spending a wonderful weekend at Frog-toberfest, my buddy Mike (No Handle) had cleaned out his camper and was closing the slide when he heard a loud bang and the slide stopped, despite hearing the motor running.
Turns out the bracket for the moving end of the actuator broke clean off with the slide half-way in. Upon examination, it appears that the bracket was poorly welded. It is a u-shaped channel and they only welded the vertical (back) part, and one horizontal (top) part of the bracket. The 'top' weld was particularly poor, gloppy, and showed very little penetration.
The end 'tab' where the threaded rod goes is supposed to be straight with the 'back' of the bracket. It is clear that as the slide was opening, the top weld broke, which bent the bracket when the slide got fully open. Upon closing, the bracket bent back, further weakening the sole remaining weld till it failed completely.
The sticky part was that the slide needed to be fully in, in order to move the camper out of its hole and over to the garage for welding. There is a cross-shaft going front-to-back with a pinion gear on each end. This shaft and gear setup makes sure the slide extends and retracts evenly. Its a square shaft about 3/4 x 3/4 inch. We put a crescent wrench on the shaft and we found that we could use the shaft to crank the slide all the way in by hand (For the record: I did not make the clank-clank-clank noise when it was fully in, however
A quick 15 minutes work with grinder and welder got everything put back together with good solid welds this time.
Nice thing about having a welder (and the skills to use it) is that what would have been a major headache of towing it to the dealer, waiting probably weeks for them to fix it, then towing it back wound up being nothing more than a minor inconvenience.
I have the same camper as Mike, and I am sure that this bracket is a common part on almost every FR slide. I will be taking a good look at mine tonight to see if the welds look as sketchy as his did. If you have a slide, you might want to take a look at your, and maybe lay in a 12" crescent wrench for your camper. You may think, "but I have an emergency crank handle for the slide". True. But that goes through the actuator gear box, if the actuator becomes disconnected from the slide, or the actuator gears strip out, you are SOL. With a big crescent wrench, you still have a way to reef in the slide so you can get home. (Just make sure you strap, block or use some other means of keeping the slide in during travel if this happens to you and you have to get home with a busted actuator or bracket)