I mentioned back in August while we were in Ukiah, California that our exterior steps started to lose a few teeth on the toothed gear that retracts them (see photo top right above). As a result the steps would slip a bit and needed assistance to be fully retracted. At first we used our 5 foot long awning hook to pull them in as they just needed a little assistance but later it became so difficult, Sharon did not have enough strength to push them all the way in. What started out as a nuisance finally became a pain in the butt that just had to be addressed immediately.
We were hoping to make it down to the Rio Grande Valley where we would have time to take care of our steps issue. Alas, I think we just barely made it as the last few times I had to have Sharon turn the key while I stood outside to forcefully push them into the locking position and then I would come around to get back in through the driver side door. I honestly don’t think they would have retracted many more times even with assistance. Even after being forced in, if we went over any rough road at all, passengers in cars going past us would point and do charades trying to tell us the steps had come part way out. Annoying to say the least.
I outlined in a previous blog that once we settled in the Valley I took the steps apart and had time to evaluate the problem it became apparent the problem was bigger than I originally thought. Researching our Kwickee retractable steps online revealed that this part was very expensive, $500-$800 since I had to basically buy everything but the steps themselves. The total assembly was $1100 to $1350… YIKES!!!
I sent emails to every parts place I could find and had just about decided that we would likely just replace these really expensive triple steps with a much cheaper two step unit and save about $500 or more.
Then one morning I thought I would check on EBAY and lo and behold I found a part that looked just like mine! I followed up with an email to see if the seller knew what model steps the part came out of and he didn’t. So I had him take several additional photos with a tape measure in various positions to ensure the bolt patterns were exactly the same (one of his photos above). All the photos seemed to verify the part was what I needed and was amazingly only $125.00 which included shipping! The no refund policy had me a bit worried but with the additional photos I was 99.5 % sure this was the part I needed.
When the part arrived I compared it to mine and they looked identical. I installed the part on Abbey and then asked Sharon to turn on the key to see if they retracted. After testing it several times it appeared to be working perfectly EXCEPT BACKWARDS! When it should have come in it went out and visa versa. I double checked everything and couldn’t see what the issue was with the polarity. Then I noticed a little “pigtail” piece (above photo) plugged into the one I took out and after I took it off and plugged it into the end of my steps Voila!!! it switched polarity and the steps now work perfectly once again.
Thanks to EBAY we may have saved a $1000.00 and at the very least we saved $400.00… Now, as luck would have it, we have a few extra dollars to spend doing something fun…