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Old 12-02-2019, 05:41 PM   #1
sourdough
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Darco/Slides

Things are a little slow and cold this evening so thought I would share some newly found insight (I guess)

I recently went RV looking with the intention of focusing on Grand Design. One of my main reasons is the elimination of the Darco on the slides. I went through the Grand Designs we were interested in and looked at other units as well. I found one thing; not one of the units I looked at had Darco under the slides - not one. I checked others (non Keystone) at another dealership and they didn't either. I will note I was not looking at entry trailers but Keystone uses it right on up to the Montana line as I recall.

Making the 2 hour return drive I kept mulling over our choices. The GD isn't a bit better than the Keystone but about 10% higher. You have to get to the top of the line Solitude before you get a MorRyde suspension...which came on my trailer. The FR products were what I expected them to be with extremely poor interior designs IMO. One of the primary drivers for a change is the elimination of the Darco and I want self leveling. I kept wondering WHY Keystone keeps using Darco. The Jaycos I've looked at didn't; Heartland no, etc. Years ago when I bought mine that was not the case but....that was 5 years ago. So,

I tried to contact Matt Zimmerman the CEO of Keystone. He had one of his senior management folks contact me. I visited with him today and here are some takeaways that may or may not be interesting;

The Darco is their current method of covering the bottom of a slide generally. The individual I talked to thought the other manufacturers were still using it as well and I advised I believe they have all moved on. This person has worked for Keystone for 10 years and previously worked for FR.

I asked about the BAL Accuslide cable system and why not rams etc. And this reply was interesting; he said they were very proud of their interior layouts, kitchens, islands etc. (of which I have been a fan for years). Those designs required that they have specific locations for tanks etc. and hydraulic systems restricted the needed versatility. He said in all their tests the 4 point suspension of the cable slides was as strong as hydraulic and provided more and better support of the slide allowing less flex.

I told him of the wear issues of the Darco due to the wear bar design and solutions using rollers, uhmw etc. that costs mucho $$ and is still not satisfactory. He said they do a "top 5" every month of warranty issues and Darco has never been on that list...or any other that he could recall. I told him it takes time for the wear bar to tear up the Darco so 12mos. was not a good timeframe, but, when it came time for the owner to repair it the cost was in the thousands.

Long story short he was unaware of issues with the Darco/wearbar/cable slides. I told him that didn't surprise me once you moved up the food chain. I asked if they couldn't have someone to just "look" at the competition and do some comparisons...and hopefully some upgrades in the near future. He advised his team had a staff meeting tomorrow morning and this would be on the agenda for discussion. Helpful? Don't know but I doubt it. I'm hoping it at least raises a flag and gets them to rethink. As I told him, I know they change units in the blink of an eye, maybe this could be in the next change they implement.

At least it's something....and my pot of stew is about done so now I'll fill up, eat my chocolate cake/milk, watch more "Chuck" and crash.
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Old 12-02-2019, 06:41 PM   #2
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Great post. Thank you. I sincerely hope Keystone starts to listen to Owners a little more. I think that will go along way towards improving their products and hopefully processes.
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Old 12-02-2019, 07:36 PM   #3
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Great post Danny. That's impressive you were able to get an ear of someone in that position in Keystone to begin with. We can only hope they actually take your comments seriously.
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Old 12-03-2019, 04:23 AM   #4
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Reading about problems encountered on this "Keystone" Forum about Keystone products would be a good start.
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Old 12-03-2019, 06:55 AM   #5
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Great Post. However, I don't buy their statement that they are unaware of any problems with the Darco. I think Keystone continues to use Darco because it is cheaper.
I plan on adding strips of the ultra-high density poly under the slides to prevent the wear damage. The bottoms of the slides are not exposed during transit so that should be good. I also plan on lining the wheel wells to protect the darco from road debris/rocks.
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Old 12-03-2019, 08:22 AM   #6
sourdough
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Originally Posted by jsmith948 View Post
Great Post. However, I don't buy their statement that they are unaware of any problems with the Darco. I think Keystone continues to use Darco because it is cheaper.
I plan on adding strips of the ultra-high density poly under the slides to prevent the wear damage. The bottoms of the slides are not exposed during transit so that should be good. I also plan on lining the wheel wells to protect the darco from road debris/rocks.

I have done as you plan with the strips and will also line the wheel wells as John did when I get back home.

I'm not so sure they are actually aware of the issue at a higher level. He was surprised at my concern about the Darco and strongly stated it had never, ever been on their "top 5" issues for warranty they discuss weekly/monthly. As I pointed out to him, I suspect that is probably right because it takes a while for the wear bar to deteriorate the Darco and unless you use the trailer a lot the damage will be out of the warranty period just as mine was and so many others, so, it actually wouldn't hit their warranty radar. I doubt anyone tabulates and categorizes repairs and mods paid for at the owner's expense.

He had told me of the pride they take in trying to make the best unit for the price paid....value. I told him what I stated above and they very well may not know of the Darco issues (along with others) due to the length of time they take to fail, but, every single person spending the amount of money it costs to by an RV should have every confidence that the basic construction (Darco) should be able to serve many years in normal service. Darco was not such a product since it is no more than plasticized paper put into service as a "wear" product for which it was never designed IMO. When the failure comes, as it probably will, 2,3,4 years down the road (depending on use) it is expensive and difficult to fix since the Darco is part of the basic construction design.

What will come of that conversation I have no idea but wish the best. I told him I was in the market for another trailer but could not find one I liked better than mine and of those that were at the top of the list were Keystones - which I would not buy again due to the Darco/wearbars. I also asked him to do his due diligence, have folks look at the competition and see if they couldn't at least compete with them. I knew they could change designs on a dime and mid season so hopefully by mid year next year they could see their way to changing their design. Maybe he will let me know, I may have to look at the lots or maybe send him an email later on. Anyway, just threw that out to them to at least get the issue on record.
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Old 12-03-2019, 09:00 AM   #7
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Danny I appreciate the post and the effort. I just have to contemplate how much of what Keystone said was "lip service". To say they don't have folks in the field "looking at the competition" is laughable. I been shocked if they didn't have people actually working in the competition's assembly plants at the minimum. With a growing market I don't think their focus will be on "customer loyalty" or repeat sales but on "how can we make more cheaper".

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Old 12-03-2019, 09:27 AM   #8
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Thanks for all the effort on your part.
Hopefully the upper management at Keystone will at least consider the suggestion.
On a related note, our small wardrobe slide has rollers while the long living area slides have the infamous wear bars. Go figure.
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Old 12-03-2019, 10:11 AM   #9
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Thanks Danny,
I will be lining my wheel wells in the spring, I liked John's post and idea.
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Old 12-03-2019, 10:13 AM   #10
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Interestingly I just received a call from a director at Keystone a few minutes ago to follow up on the exact situation and what might be the solution. VERY interested, and like the other person I talked to, not really aware of the long term issue Darco posed. He also echoed the other guy in saying that they didn't really follow "post" warranty issues because that was almost impossible to do...and he is right. Just as my repairs, when done at CW, all material was bought outside Keystone and all work performed was paid for by me so Keystone has no idea what issue I had or what was done to correct it.

I was asked to provide, in detail, what the issue with the Darco was and the problems it caused, including the wear bar. He told me my concerns and the observations made about the Darco made perfect sense and he understood the issues it could cause (had no idea prior). He said they would address it immediately but said he could make no promises at the moment. The person I talked to yesterday was the head of the design team at Keystone.

As far as doing their due diligence and monitoring the competition, I spoke to that directly with him. They know about the hard surfaces others are using, but (piecing the 2 conversations together) they have chosen the BAL Accuslide thinking it is a better solution for them vs the rams etc. I think (this was not said) that the BAL design requires the wear bar with the suspension system and not a lot of thought has been given to the material on the bottom of the slide due to that "suspension" and thinking all was good. That combined with the inability to track post warranty repairs can understandably leave upper management "in the dark" so to speak, especially when all dealerships aren't "Keystone owned" vs independent dealers leaving Keystone only able to track warranty work that has to be authorized by them.

Lots of reasons to be cynical, and I am one of the worst in the world, but these 2 folks seemed genuinely concerned and caught off guard with the Darco issue. Lying? Putting up a good front? Maybe. The willingness of the first individual to take the issue to a director level and then for them to call me tells me they didn't just blow it off....and I've done lots of this, trust me. In this case I'm not going to be cynical and give them the benefit of the doubt and hope for the best. Time will tell, and I may be in a different brand of trailer one day but for now I'm pleased they showed the interest, elevated it to the level they did and said they will take action.

Edit: Yes, our bedroom slide has rollers as well and is something I discussed with them as a possible solution.
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Old 12-03-2019, 10:19 AM   #11
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Danny the return call sounds very positive. Obviously they weren't "paying lip service" or there wouldn't be the follow up.

Thanks,
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Old 12-03-2019, 10:48 AM   #12
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Ill try to get a picture of the Darco starting to fray on the bottom of my living room slide in my 2019 Alpine. I believe most of the wear is actually coming from towing down the road. The Darco leaves marks on my floor. Im going to try the UMHW strips to see if this eliminates the wear and black mark problems.
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Old 12-03-2019, 12:04 PM   #13
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To think using Darco as a long term major slide wear component is laughable. Like the early cars built with bare metal inside doors - meant to last until the next model or two. The comment re positioning of tanks doesn't hold water either (excuse the pun!). - what did they do before! We travel knowing that every journey could cost an extra $10,000 to repair the weak Lippert pin box frame. It is a CHEAP & NASTY built product - Buyer Beware!
If Keystone management doesn't know of these common long term problems the company is not being well run as it has certainly paid out a lot to repair them and it's reputation (read long term viability) is going down the gurgler.
My friend's 2004 Cougar has a big worm gear driven slide that still works with no problems whereas our 2011 has Darco almost ripping up. Despite all advice from Norco the BAL wire driven main slide cannot be adjusted to be upright against the inside seals. Not much fun sitting on a slope all the time! I'm convinced the 'wear bar is in the wrong place (too far in) and the Darco never going to last long - 3 trips over 3 years for us.
So have spent over $200 & a lot of uncomfortable time installing UHMW strips - useless Darco problem fixed. Next even worse - remove slide to fit rollers. Would I buy again? - you already know the answer! Keystone / agents have probably read this already - care factor.....
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Old 12-03-2019, 01:36 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Sulphur1 View Post
To think using Darco as a long term major slide wear component is laughable. Like the early cars built with bare metal inside doors - meant to last until the next model or two. The comment re positioning of tanks doesn't hold water either (excuse the pun!). - what did they do before! We travel knowing that every journey could cost an extra $10,000 to repair the weak Lippert pin box frame. It is a CHEAP & NASTY built product - Buyer Beware!
If Keystone management doesn't know of these common long term problems the company is not being well run as it has certainly paid out a lot to repair them and it's reputation (read long term viability) is going down the gurgler.
My friend's 2004 Cougar has a big worm gear driven slide that still works with no problems whereas our 2011 has Darco almost ripping up. Despite all advice from Norco the BAL wire driven main slide cannot be adjusted to be upright against the inside seals. Not much fun sitting on a slope all the time! I'm convinced the 'wear bar is in the wrong place (too far in) and the Darco never going to last long - 3 trips over 3 years for us.
So have spent over $200 & a lot of uncomfortable time installing UHMW strips - useless Darco problem fixed. Next even worse - remove slide to fit rollers. Would I buy again? - you already know the answer! Keystone / agents have probably read this already - care factor.....


I spent quite a bit if time determining if I wanted to post what was going on with my efforts due to the realization I would get responses like this. I decided to do it because there are many here that have issues with the Darco and their reasoning could make sense plus it seemed like it might be a ray of hope going forward. Yes, you can poke holes in it and deride them all you want, and you are entitled to your opinion, but, the folks I talked to were very sincere in their conversations with me and I was uplifted by their interest (and hopefully their willingness to pursue).

As far as your problems with your slides, mine cost around $2400 all said and done to repair so yes, I know that pain and irritation. Unless you have designed RVs I'm not sure how you know the positioning of the rams for the hydraulic slides doesn't affect tank placement - it appears to me it would, and as our conversation went, it is one of the reasons Keystone has some of the best floorplans apparently (and they do). As far as the worm drive rams I've seen several (2 sitting in this park right now) that droop to the outside due to no way to support the slide. If you can't adjust your slide to fit the seals and be level....you need to try again (or have it done), ours are tight and square after 6 years of use. To each his own.
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Old 12-03-2019, 05:33 PM   #15
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Can someone point me to a thread with pictures of this wear bar/Darco issue?
Is this an issue in the Hideouts as well?
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Old 12-03-2019, 05:55 PM   #16
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At the moment I don't know where the pics of darco issues are but just look under your slide(s). If it is covered with a mesh looking plastic stuff that is Darco. If it's darco and is a cable slide it has a wear bar a few inches inside the bottom seal under the slide.
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Old 12-03-2019, 06:24 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sourdough View Post
At the moment I don't know where the pics of darco issues are but just look under your slide(s). If it is covered with a mesh looking plastic stuff that is Darco. If it's darco and is a cable slide it has a wear bar a few inches inside the bottom seal under the slide.
Well this is going to eat at me all night until I get to work tomorrow. I suppose I have to extend the slide to see?
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Old 12-03-2019, 06:30 PM   #18
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Darco/Slides

My 2019 Alpine 5th wheel is exhibiting some signs of wear in the Darco. It was new in Apr 2018. Here is a picture under the passenger side. I have washed it off, so its not dirty. Normal Darco is black with no sign of wear. Click image for larger version

Name:	IMG_3200.jpg
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ID:	24499. The second picture is the drivers side slide. It has the beginning of wear on it too. Click image for larger version

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ID:	24500 Feel free to pass these to Keystone if it might help the effort.
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Old 12-03-2019, 07:12 PM   #19
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Mine is a 2002. Darco was pretty worn on both ends of the kitchen slide. Then one of the screws holding down the umhw slide bar backed out and the exposed screw head tore the darco.

I purchased 1 inch wide by 1/8 thick adhesive backed umhw tape. Installed it on both ends of slide under slide frame after fixing screw. I left darco in place and taped it up with mobile home flex mend tape. Darco no longer rides on slide bar, it's umhw to umhw and it slides great.

IMHO, they engineer them to outlast the warranty and that's it!
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Old 12-03-2019, 07:18 PM   #20
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Any thoughts on modifying the wear bar with slide-out rollers?


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