Anyone make a DIY slide out?

Norwest

New member
Hi,

I am going to be purchasing a 4WD Sprinter and plan to do the camper mods myself. I want to get the shortest length Sprinter for easier parking and better rough road driving but the wife wants more space and amenities. I have seen several Sprinter outfitters who have side or rear slideouts and this seems to be a good way to gain some space. Anyone done a DIY slideout? I would think the easiest option would be to do a rear slideout out the back doors as this would not involve cutting, welding or otherwise removing body panels. I have found several slide assemblies from online RV parts suppliers and they have capacity up to 350 lbs. It would seem straightforward to make a metal, wood or fiberglass box and mount it on a slide. Am I deluded or is this a reasonable DIY project?

Thanks,

Thomas
 

NeverEnough

Adventurer
I made three slide-outs for my rig: two identical side slides that use the Schwintek slide hardware http://lci1.com/schwintek-in-wall-slideout, and a very large slide "room" (84"x106") that telescopes out the back 104" using a custom drive system.

The weight capacity for most RV slide-out hardware is much higher than 350lbs., so not sure which one you were looking at. The biggest limitation is on the how far they'll slide, with 30-36" being pretty standard and a few able to cantilever around 48". All of the commercial units are designed to be used with specific slide room shapes and openings in mind. If you want to move a slide room that does not have perpendicular walls, like out the back of a Sprinter, a floor drive unit will be required. Here's one: http://www.barkermfg.com/slideouts.html

In the case of a sprinter, you could certainly build a room that fits through the rear opening and simply open the doors before moving it out. It wouldn't be very wide, so you'd have to think about the best use of the extended space. And if you don't want the complexity of an electric or hydraulic actuated system, there are several companies that can build you drawer-type slides that can support extremely heavy loads.http://www.slim-track.com/ball-bearing.html. Again, the distance of the cantilever is always the issue. But if you're parked on level ground and have a good mechanism, you can push or pull pretty heavy room manually.

I experimented a lot with various approaches and systems, and I definitely prefer a powered extension and retraction method that also helps secure the room while in transit over bumpy roads. Not all slide out systems do well in that situation, BTW.

Once the room is extended, I recommend drop down legs to stabilize it. It's cheap and easy and will make the whole rig more stable and prolong the life of your slide mechanism.

Finally, as for DIY, that all depends on the type of "Y" you are! I'm pretty handy, and doing the slide-outs, especially the big room, was about the trickiest part of my build. Have fun, and good luck!
 

spencyg

This Space For Rent
I've had thoughts of a rear slide-out section for my van as well. The biggest issue for me is whether the size of the room warrants the complexity, weight, and cost. The rear door opening on the Econoline platform I've got is only 52" wide x 48" tall. I suspect sprinters are about as wide and possibly a bit taller, but still, for a bed you'll only end up with something maybe 42" wide after all the structure and bearing supports are accounted for. It just doesn't seem like enough extra space.

I haven't thrown out the idea fully yet and I'm interested to see where this thread goes.

SG
 

Norwest

New member
NeverEnough,

Thanks for the info. The slideout hardware I was referring to is intended for storage rather than for a true slideout. I checked out your build thread and am in awe! How is the honeycomb paneling holding up on your build so far? I have used used Baltex core material for some boat modification layups. I have found that punctures and edge damage can be an issue if one goes too thin with fiberglass/kevlar or skimping on resin. I was thinking that a core material with glass and epoxy would be the ideal combination of strength and light weight for a slide out.

Cheers,

Thomas
 

MotoDave

Explorer
Simplest I guess would be to bolt one of these in the back and build n top of it. You loose some height, but its a pretty tall van, right? :) Bedlises are rated for 1000+ lbs centered on the slide at full extension, but they don't extend the full length of the truck bed i.e. a bedslide for a 6' bed maybe only extends 5' or less.
http://www.bedslide.com/

I checked one out and it wouldn't be hard to fabricate something every similar. Its basically a roller on the frame at the back of the bed, and a roller on the slide that runs in a channel. TruckVault uses something similar too for their drawers.

I drew up an idea for how to make it using some cam follower bearings and channel:
 

NeverEnough

Adventurer
NeverEnough,

Thanks for the info. The slideout hardware I was referring to is intended for storage rather than for a true slideout. I checked out your build thread and am in awe! How is the honeycomb paneling holding up on your build so far? I have used used Baltex core material for some boat modification layups. I have found that punctures and edge damage can be an issue if one goes too thin with fiberglass/kevlar or skimping on resin. I was thinking that a core material with glass and epoxy would be the ideal combination of strength and light weight for a slide out.

Cheers,

Thomas
The PPE panels have performed very well. The core was factory skinned with PPE and thermally embedded random strand glass. I coated that with truck bed liner, and it's pretty tough. It's great for right angle construction, tricky for any radius work. Marine applications typically just use the core, which can be formed to a curved surface, then glass it. The factory applies a polyester vail to allow resin bonding. I wouldn't scrimp in the skin thickness, and you'd need to adhere or embed something wherever there's an attached component, like slide hardware. Point loads, like fasteners, are a problem.
 

spunyad

New member
I was thinking the same thing. Weld the sliding door in, then cut out the red square - on both sides ;) - and put it on runners. You might have to reinforce the shell to stop it twisting, but you'd get quite a bit of space that way from a MWB van. The interior could even be designed so that it was usable when the sliders were in, but gave extra space (bigger bed etc) when out. Can anyone think of a reason this can't be done?
maxresdefault.jpg
 

Ambulando

New member
You'd have to been extremely careful taking that amount of strength from a unibody shell like that. It could be reinforced but it's no small task.
Better would be to do this to a box truck bodied version of your preferred van. No structural issues to worry about so long as the frame remains intact.
A good source of motors and mechanisms for the DIYer is a tail lift from a delivery truck. The motors are plenty strong enough, the sliders and rollers are all designed to be working together and do so even when mounted horizontally. You can often pick the whole assembly up quite cheap from an ex-delivery truck.
 

spunyad

New member
Thanks for the tip re: using the parts of a tail lift. I agree, slide-outs would be far simpler to make with a box truck, but panel vans look better and can be kept more stealth. Plus I like the idea of making something different :) I'm sure it would have to be reinforced, but perhaps not as much you'd think. Then again, over rough terrain it would have a fair bit of torsional force on it. Hmmm... food for thought :)
 
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