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Old 06-17-2020, 05:52 PM   #1
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Question Retractable Step stutters and delay in extending

Over the winter my step has developed some bizarre behavior. I first noticed that it would take anywhere from 10 seconds to ten minutes to extend. It always retracted properly.

I also have heard a relay clicking (stutter) when it is extended. Nothing happens and it is not constant. It might do 3 or 4 clicks at a time and then be quiet. Other times a couple of clicks every few minutes.

Step Hold is off. Does it with fully charged batteries, plugged in as well as when it is running.

Has anyone experienced anything similar
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Old 06-17-2020, 06:04 PM   #2
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If I understand the way they work the motors are similar to power window regulator motors and they have resetting thermal relays in them to protect them if the steps bind. I'd say the relay is weak or more likely the steps are binding up. They may need to be cleaned and lubricated.
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Old 06-17-2020, 06:17 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by BayouBiker View Post
If I understand the way they work the motors are similar to power window regulator motors and they have resetting thermal relays in them to protect them if the steps bind. I'd say the relay is weak or more likely the steps are binding up. They may need to be cleaned and lubricated.
I will work on cleaning and lubricating to start. It did go all the way to the Arctic Circle in Alaska last summer -- so it might have gotten just a tad bid dusty.

If that doesn't resolve the problem I will have to explore the relay.
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Old 06-17-2020, 06:36 PM   #4
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Unfortunately the relay is built into the motor. I could not find a parts diagram but there may be an easy way to disconnect the motor and verify the mechanical aspect is not binding and moves reasonably well before you replace the motor.
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Old 06-17-2020, 09:00 PM   #5
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Before our step stopped working completely it acted flakey just as the OP described. Over time the erratic operation became less predictable and ultimately we had to disconnect the step for further evaluation. Our problem was the step controller and I wouldn't be surprised if that's the OP's problem too. Here's a link to the thread describing our situation with some pictures, diagrams, part number and price. YMMV.

https://www.airforums.com/forums/f24...er-202532.html
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Old 06-18-2020, 08:03 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nvestysly View Post
... Our problem was the step controller and I wouldn't be surprised if that's the OP's problem too. Here's a link to the thread describing our situation with some pictures, diagrams, part number and price. YMMV.

https://www.airforums.com/forums/f24...er-202532.html
Thanks for the link. In the picture, is the step controller both of those pieces or just the one on the left? If it is that I will need to find out where its located since My AI model doesn't seem to have that access panel.
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Old 06-18-2020, 08:59 AM   #7
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Sounds like the controller may be the more likely issue, it makes more sense than a motor problem. Hopefully one of these ideas solve your problem, good luck.
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Old 06-18-2020, 11:10 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by sheakev View Post
Thanks for the link. In the picture, is the step controller both of those pieces or just the one on the left? If it is that I will need to find out where its located since My AI model doesn't seem to have that access panel.
Just the one on the left - about the size of a pack of cigarettes/deck of cards. The other item is the relay that turns the power on and off to the steps.

I suspect the relay and the controller are near each other but who knows. The relay will "click" as it opens and closes attempting to send power to the step. Activate the door closure device (might be a push switch or maybe a magnetic switch) to listen for the click noise. Find the click and you may have located the controller.

On ours the wires to the controller are individual connections and all the wires were white. If yours is like that be sure to keep track of which wire goes to which terminal.

Use the wiring diagram to do some troubleshooting. I determined the correct voltage was not being applied to the step - should have been 12V but was something much less than that so it wouldn't activate the motor consistently. Positive voltage makes the step go one way and negative voltage makes it go the other way.

Good Luck.
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Old 06-23-2020, 11:59 AM   #9
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I have the same issue. I tried looking for the controller on my 2017 but it is not located under the floor as shown in nvestysky's 2010 model. There's a long bundle of wire leading up between the shower wall and van. I assume the control module is located there, I could not reach it and pulling on the bundle of wire did not seem to work. Anyone know how to access it?
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Old 06-24-2020, 07:43 AM   #10
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Have you looked at the little black door (open/close) sender at the rear bottom of the sliding door past the screen bottom? Sometime I just hold my finger over it and the step extends. Usually on cold mornings.
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Old 06-25-2020, 09:23 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pez Vela View Post
Have you looked at the little black door (open/close) sender at the rear bottom of the sliding door past the screen bottom? Sometime I just hold my finger over it and the step extends. Usually on cold mornings.
Took me a little while to find the sensor. I used a magnet to find it and could hear the relay click when the magnet was brought close to it. The door was open and the step had not extended. I wonder if this sensor is triggered to retract the step.
To test that theory, I waited for the step to extend (this is the heart of my problem it can take from seconds to minutes for the step to extend after the door is open) I then placed the magnet near the sensor. I heard a relay click and then the step retracted with the door open.
I don't want to start replacing parts until I know what is happening. I may see if I can contact the manufacturer of the step now that I understand what is and is not happening.

Picture of the sensor attached.
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Old 06-25-2020, 02:07 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sheakev View Post
Took me a little while to find the sensor. I used a magnet to find it and could hear the relay click when the magnet was brought close to it. The door was open and the step had not extended. I wonder if this sensor is triggered to retract the step.
To test that theory, I waited for the step to extend (this is the heart of my problem it can take from seconds to minutes for the step to extend after the door is open) I then placed the magnet near the sensor. I heard a relay click and then the step retracted with the door open.
I don't want to start replacing parts until I know what is happening. I may see if I can contact the manufacturer of the step now that I understand what is and is not happening.

Picture of the sensor attached.
Locate the "click" - it's the relay - and you'll probably find the controller. I realize your problem may be different than ours but it sure sounds familiar... We started with the step acting a bit erratic from time to time - wouldn't open when expected or wouldn't close when expected. We heard the click every time so it wasn't obvious why it didn't operate correctly. I removed the step expecting to find dirt/debris or some other problem but none was found. I spoke to the manufacturer and they clued me into how to troubleshoot the problem. I'll reiterate below but there is more detail in the thread I referenced previously.

By the way our step is a Project 2000. I presume yours is too. The product is sold in the United States by Lippert Components.

You'll probably have to cut the positive and negative wires to the step because Airstream typically does not put a connector in the wires to the steps. Then measure the voltage at the wires going from the van to the step (the wires you just cut). When the controller sends the open signal or the close signal it's putting out +/- 12V depending and it should be a full 12V. Not 11.5, not 10, not 8. It should also be "on" not intermittent, meaning it's providing 12V for several seconds. If it's not a full +/- 12V and not on for several seconds then the controller is not working properly.

If you decide to replace the controller be sure to contact Out of Doors Mart in Colfax, North Carolina. They offered us the best price and delivery of the several suppliers we identified.
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Old 06-25-2020, 08:31 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nvestysly View Post
Locate the "click" - it's the relay - and you'll probably find the controller.

By the way our step is a Project 2000. I presume yours is too. The product is sold in the United States by Lippert Components.

You'll probably have to cut the positive and negative wires to the step because Airstream typically does not put a connector in the wires to the steps. Then measure the voltage at the wires going from the van to the step (the wires you just cut). When the controller sends the open signal or the close signal it's putting out +/- 12V depending and it should be a full 12V. Not 11.5, not 10, not 8. It should also be "on" not intermittent, meaning it's providing 12V for several seconds. If it's not a full +/- 12V and not on for several seconds then the controller is not working properly.

If you decide to replace the controller be sure to contact Out of Doors Mart in Colfax, North Carolina. They offered us the best price and delivery of the several suppliers we identified.
Now that I know how to make it click (magnet near the reed sensor) I can now focus on tracking down its location. I believe you are right on the controller, mechanically and electrically everything works well. It is this unpredictable intermittent issue that leads one to believe it is the controller.
Thanks!
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Old 06-26-2020, 12:42 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pez Vela View Post
Have you looked at the little black door (open/close) sender at the rear bottom of the sliding door past the screen bottom? Sometime I just hold my finger over it and the step extends. Usually on cold mornings.

Yes. I used to tap the magnetic switch bottom left corner of the sliding door to make the step extend out. But now it has stopped working all together. I can sometimes toggle the step hold button and it may extend, but not always.
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Old 06-26-2020, 08:31 AM   #15
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Nvestysly, I have the same problem and have put off further diagnosis for quite some time. Felt I was at a dead end. Your comments about voltage is the next place I'll look. What did you find was the reason for 12v one way and much less the other? How did you correct that?

There has been the discussion of thermal breakers to stop the motor. However there is a limit switch on your step for retraction. There doesn't seem to be a limit switch for extension. Does it rely on the thermal breaker to stop running on extension?
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Old 06-26-2020, 08:52 AM   #16
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I don't recall all the details about extension and retraction. I do recall a limit switch for retraction (I think). So I think that means there are three wires going to the step: positive, negative, limit switch.

Keep in mind that using the words positive and negative are relative because the controller sends one polarity to extend the step and the reverse polarity to retract the step. So in some ways it's not the normal red or black wire installation. I'm probably making this too confusing!

There may be a thermal breaker but I don't recall. Look at the other thread where I've posted the circuit for our 2010 van. Yours is probably similar, maybe the same.

On ours, the controller was bad so when it switched on the voltage to the step, the relay clicked on but the voltage sent from the controller was not the full voltage.

When I used a battery to directly apply +12V and -12V to the step everything worked fine. That's when I checked the voltage from the controller and realized it was something less than 12V and it was only active intermittently.
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Old 07-19-2020, 01:04 PM   #17
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Bad magnetic sensor is likely problem

After some effort to find the best way to get to where the sensor wires were going, I did get the fixed screen off and got behind the sensor. The controller was not there. Someone suggested that it might be back under the passenger jump seat.

Regardless, the sensor has three wires coming out of it and they are spliced into three wires in a loom which I assume runs toward the back.

I was able to retract and extend the step by jumping the white wire to the red wire (extends) and white wire to the green wire (retracts). Thus, I suspect the sensor is bad.

Does anyone have a part number for that three wire magnetic sensor?
Does anyone have a source for ordering a replacement?


I have looked in several electronic catalogues but haven't found it. I have contacted Airstream and I'm hopeful they will have a source or a part number.

Thanks!
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Old 07-19-2020, 01:38 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sheakev View Post
After some effort to find the best way to get to where the sensor wires were going, I did get the fixed screen off and got behind the sensor. The controller was not there. Someone suggested that it might be back under the passenger jump seat.

Regardless, the sensor has three wires coming out of it and they are spliced into three wires in a loom which I assume runs toward the back.

I was able to retract and extend the step by jumping the white wire to the red wire (extends) and white wire to the green wire (retracts). Thus, I suspect the sensor is bad.

Does anyone have a part number for that three wire magnetic sensor?
Does anyone have a source for ordering a replacement?


I have looked in several electronic catalogues but haven't found it. I have contacted Airstream and I'm hopeful they will have a source or a part number.

Thanks!
I looked up the parts book for a 2017 Interstate on airstream.com. Here's the link:

https://www.airstream.com/wp-content...s-book-377.pdf

On page II-11 there is a part 512849 listed as "switch, magnetic" and it used for the step and for the overhead locker. Is that the part? I don't know, but a call to Out of Doors Mart will probably get you a quick answer on Monday.
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Old 07-19-2020, 05:05 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nvestysly View Post
I looked up the parts book for a 2017 Interstate on airstream.com. Here's the link:

https://www.airstream.com/wp-content...s-book-377.pdf

On page II-11 there is a part 512849 listed as "switch, magnetic" and it used for the step and for the overhead locker. Is that the part? I don't know, but a call to Out of Doors Mart will probably get you a quick answer on Monday.
I'm sure it is.
Thanks for the parts list PDF, that is something I didn't have. I did have the following year's electrical schematic which I just found and it has that same part number. I will give them a call tomorrow.
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Old 07-19-2020, 05:46 PM   #20
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I referred to Out of Doors Mart because I've used them in the past and it's surprising how many parts they stock. If they don't have it in their parts room they may be willing to tell you the name of the manufacturer and the mfr. part number so you can consider buying it elsewhere.

Noticing your location as Wisconsin, there may very well be Airstream dealers in your locale that stock the part. Woodland RV in Grand Rapids, MI is just across the lake but at least they are in the region.
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