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Slide Seal Alternative - cmillsap - 03-31-2015 15:33

I’d be interested in a discussion on the viability (or not) of abandoning the inflatable rubber seal that surrounds the slide on my LXi. My inflatable seal is in good working order presently but I’m sure that sometime in the future it will need to be replaced. This is a fairly large and expensive job.

The HWH slide is fitted with a brush wiper attached to the walls of the slide opening. It is located about an inch inside the slide opening behind the corner trim piece. This brush wiper circumnavigates the slide and is designed to clear debris off the outer walls of the slide particularly during the retraction process.

There is also a hard vinyl trim piece that is fitted to the corner of the slide opening. It also circumnavigates the entire slide opening.

Since I have not had the opportunity to view these two parts without the slide being present, it’s difficult to determine if they are attached to each other, one complete piece or are two separate pieces. At any rate, why could not the brush portion be replaced with a solid silicone rubber wiper/seal? This wiper/seal would be attached in the same manner as the current brush seal and sized so the leading edge or edges would contact the slide walls and act as a seal. Made of soft silicone rubber, it shouldn’t damage the painted surface of the slide during movement.

This may not provide an absolute water seal as well as the current inflatable seal but designed correctly it should suffice to keep water out and air noise to a minimum due to it being located so close to the outside vertical sidewalls of the bus.

Comments welcome………….

RE: Slide Seal Alternative - davidbrady - 03-31-2015 16:16

Hi Chuck,

Here's what it looks like:


I think you can get the DRI seal for around $500 or $12.50 per foot. I imagine if you shop around you can probably find a bulb-style seal for around $5 to $10 per foot depending upon the quality of the material. If it's silicon it'll probably be closer to $10 making the cost delta hard to justify. I'm also thinking that the constant abrasion will eventually do a number to your paint job. This is the case with the factory Prevost slides. Prevost uses a rubber wiper to remove debris as you describe and the slide body paint really shows it.

On the other hand, it'd be a fun technical challenge. Throwing a far-out idea into the mix; I like the approach of a flexible skin that on one end is attached to the outer edge of the slide body and on the inner end is attached to the bus body. This new and fantastic material would waterproof, paintable, and have the ability to stretch maybe 200x it's original size. Think of it as a prophylactic for the slide body. LOL!

Another sometimes overlooked function of the inflatable seal is dampening of the slide body within its opening. I once had the fun of driving from upper Michigan to Moscow Iowa with a torn seal. The slide made a lot of rattling noise without the seal to hold it in place.

RE: Slide Seal Alternative - cmillsap - 03-31-2015 17:45

The real benefit of a mechanical seal is to get rid of all the paraphernalia associated with an air bladder seal such as compressors, air lines and the electro/pneumatic valves and wiring control and interface problems. Most slides with a mechanical seal have a collar around them with a rubber seal attached which mates with a rubber seal on the wall of the bus. The collar-less slide looks much nicer.
Something similar could be affected by adding two small lines around the slide circumference of mating rubber to the seal I proposed above. One located to mate up with the seal in the open position and one to mate up with it in the closed position. The solid rubber seal replacement of the wiper/brush could then be made shorter so as not to touch the slide wall during movement.
Maybe I could get a job at Disneyland. Ha.

RE: Slide Seal Alternative - davidbrady - 03-31-2015 18:46

IIt's all good Chuck; you keep us thinking! lol!

I couldn't agree more about the benefit of removing the air compressor, regulators, air dryers, electronics, hoses, etc. As you know, my bus has a bulb style seal, non-pressurized, and only containing atmospheric pressure! Smile I don't have hydraulic jacks either, only air leveling. The absence of these two systems makes arrivals and departures quite a bit easier. I pull in, check the level, if it needs leveling I hit a switch and it auto-levels or I can choose to do so manually. I then reach for the slide controls. A twist of the knob retracts the locking pins followed by slide extension. I hold the knob until the LED changes from red to green. That's it! Leaving is as simple as turning the knob to bring the slide in, starting the engine and going - the bus is already up on its suspension. Simple.

Here's the bulb seal used on my Vantare:

It's a fairly large cross-section seal, approximately 1.5"x1.5". The seal for retraction is mounted to the exterior body. The seal for extension is mounted to the interior slide flange. The pics above are the seals for extension taken from inside the coach. They don't get fully compressed. There are bump stops at the top of the slide that allow for partial compression of the seal. I think this gives a better seal and allows for a longer lifetime (no pancaking of the seal).

I agree that the flangeless slide bodies look better, but I think function overrides form here. We don't hear too much about M450 slide seal issues. Replacing a set of air seals on a factory Prevost slide is about $4K per seal. I have to confess, I'm a convert.

I like your idea. I think you'd want to simulate a flange of sorts, and few things seal better than rubber on rubber. There's actually a metal trim strip that's screwed to the outer and inner circumference of the LXi slide body. Maybe with some ingenuity it can be converted to a small flange.