WATCH YOUR STEP!
Most people don’t think about the steps they use to get in and out of their specialty vehicle, but it’s important! There are many different types of step systems available on the market today, so let’s review some of the options.
AUTOMATIC ELECTRIC STEP:
The most common step is an automatic electric step. These steps open and close when you open your entry door. These steps are convenient and don’t require any set-up. The most popular brand for this style step is built by Kwikee.
We use the Kwikee step system as our standard step, but as you will see, we offer many other options. The Kwikee step comes with an interior switch that can be turned on and the step will stay out even when you open and close the door. Be careful, and don’t forget to turn the switch off before you drive away. (This applies to all step system options) If you forget, this will probably result in damage to the step and a costly repair.
Also, you should be careful you don’t park to close to a curb, because the step can hit it and cause damage to the motor, or bend the step frame. Again, this will lead to a costly repair. As with any step system, you must be aware of your surroundings. The automatic electric step is the most convenient and affordable step option, which is why it is used most often.
HYDRAULIC HEAVY-DUTY STEPS:
There are a few different types of hydraulic steps available that can be used in place of the automatic electric step. Some of these steps are designed specifically for specialty vehicle applications.
CASCADING EXTERIOR ENTRY STEPS:
These steps come in either a 2 or 3 step option. These steps cascade from under the coach door. This step has a clean appearance and the mechanism is hidden from view. The nice part about this step is that one hydraulic power unit can control all components. (steps, slide-out, and jacks)
EXTERIOR ENTRY STEPS:
This step comes in either a 4 or 5 step option. These steps fold-out from under the coach door. This step also has a clean appearance, and the hydraulic power provides strength and durability. The step comes with heavy-duty handrails, which provides stability. This step is one of the most expensive steps we offer, but if you can afford it, I recommend it for high traffic use.
EXTERIOR STAIRWAY WITH PLATFORM:
This is a 5-step design that slides out from under the coach door. The platform slides out away from the side of the vehicle, and the stairs extend parallel to the side of the coach. Heavy-duty hand rails provide support going up the steps and then into the coach. This step is ideal for heavy traffic use and was designed for specialty vehicle use. Again, this step is more expensive, but I recommend it for very high traffic use.
MANUAL STEP OPTIONS:
Manual steps are usually used on a trailer or 5th wheel, but they can be used on a motorized vehicle as well. The cost of these steps is much less than an electric or hydraulic step. There are several types of manual step options on the market today.
Standard manual steps fold up underneath the coach door and require the user to manually deploy the steps. They usually come in 3 or 4 step versions. There are other manual steps that fold up and stow inside the door frame. This step also requires the user to manually deploy the step. You open the door, reach in and pull the steps down.
There are removable entry steps that attach to the outside of your coach. These steps come with an optional handrail.
CUSTOM MADE STEPS:
After many years of building all types of specialty vehicles, USV (Universal Specialty Vehicles, Inc.) has engineered and designed some custom step options.
Our heavy-duty aluminum manual steps with handrails is an excellent choice for high traffic use. This step system does require set-up and take down. The steps can be stored in an exterior compartment, or inside the vehicle. These steps are custom made, so they are more expensive than an electric step, but less than the hydraulic model.
USV also offers a heavy-duty pull-out step system that attaches to the door threshold and stores inside the door jamb. These steps are easy to deploy and don’t require a step well at the entry door. These steps are also custom made and cost about the same as the USV heavy-duty aluminum manual steps.
As you can see there are many step options available out there, so do your homework. For example, a Mobile Clinic or Mobile Dental Clinic will have patients coming on an off the vehicle all day, so you may want to invest in a heavy-duty step option. A Mobile Command vehicle will have personnel coming in an out during an emergency incident, so you may choose to spend the money on a heavy-duty step option. Whatever you choose, make sure you get the step that will meet your specific requirements.