09: The Great White Buffalo
We’re Fixing a Slide…

We’re Fixing a Slide…

So there’s these things on RVs called “slides”- their purpose, to grant you more real estate when you’re camped and less when you’re driving. Some RVs have slides on both sides, some on just one side. Some RVs have one giant slide on one side, some have multiple, smaller slides.

The Buffalo has two slides on her port (that’s left) side – a living room slide and a bedroom slide.


Taking its name from its function, a slide does just what you would expect it to (it slides). With the quick push of a button, your slide comes to life, pushing itself outward from the belly of your RV and increasing your footprint a good four feet or more (it doesn’t seem like much but when you live in tight quarters, every little extra square foot matters. Like, a lot).

Look at all that extra space! (and check out the reflection in the back mirror – that’s the Beartooth Mountains!)
With the living room slide extended.
Living room slide closed- BIG difference, right??

The slide’s anatomy is pretty basic – within each sleeps a hydraulic piston, awakened by the press of a single button. You press “out”, your piston pushes to extend your slide; “in”, it will pull to retract it.

That’s the piston in the center.


Slides are in integral part of our camping routine: find a camp spot, get into the camp spot (the hard part), level The Buffalo (because we’re over sleeping at weird angles, thank you very much Free Range- kisses!), then pop out the slides.

Consider yourself prepped for the real story…


After driving all day to get to south central Montana, we pull into Columbus, Montana’s lovely town park, Ich-Kep-Pe, to rest for the night. Camp spot achieved, Buffalo leveled, slides… BAM!

“What was that?”

That, my friends, is the sound of a slide coming apart; it seems our bedroom slide would neither extend nor retract after The Sound. A clean and efficient autopsy by Stéphane reveals the problem: the piston and its metal frame have detached from the wooden base, rendering it useless.

But why?

Because, it seems, try as we might, we simply cannot escape the damaging effects of water: rot follows us around like Myra does when we have treats in our pockets.


The wooden base of our bedroom slide had been turned to a pile of rotted, pulpy, sawdust, incapable of holding the metal piston and its frame. A sharp, painful case of déjà vu sends us back to Day Two on Free Range, where we discovered the very same  rot issue.

“Crap- how bad is it?”

After a more in-depth assessment, Stéphane’s diagnosis is not as bad as I had first thought (flashes of us rebuilding entire sections of Free Range’s settee): we just need to add a piece of wood to replace the rotted section, and then secure the metal frame back into the new piece of wood.


Thank you, town of Columbus, Montana, for supplying the town park with free pieces of firewood. In the pile left next to the fire ring at our camp site, Stéphane found the perfect piece – the right shape and size, the right hardness (VERY), the right price (free!).


A quick trip to Ace produces shiny brackets – these help to attach the new piece of wood to the original frame.


A generous slather of wood glue, a dash of screws, a pinch of bolts et voilà! Now We Cookin’ With Gas, Man!



Finished product! And our slide will live to slide again!


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