Our Heartland Cyclone 4250 comes with two decks – both of which come with easy to install handrails that simply fold out into place. We use the side deck all the time as it is an extension of our living space with access through a sliding glass door. It is simply the best thing since sliced bread. Since we are full time RV folks we leave it open all the time rain or shine.
Much to my dismay after a little over a year of use, I noticed that the top of the deck was starting to become mushy with bubbles in the surface covering. I looked at the owners manual and of course it said nothing about care and maintenance of the decks. I emailed Heartland and they told me the deck should not be left open in the rain? WHAT?
Now we have a problem. The warranty period was up and now we have a side deck that we can’t use. I lobbied Heartland for a replacement and they eventually told me that I could get a new one shipped to me for around $900.00. I called them back and got them to give me a new one free as long as I drove to Indiana to pick it up.
We happened to be about 2 hours from the factory so I rented a flat bed trailer and took some tie down straps and headed over to the factory. So far the total cost was $100.00 for the trailer and $50.00 for fuel. Not great but better than $900.00. The new deck came with new railing and what they called a ‘veneer kit’ and new decals for the outside wall of the deck. I had to rob the old handles, support bar and retaining clips off the old deck.
First thing I needed to do was install the decals to match the old deck. The new decals did not come with instructions so I got on YouTube and watched videos on how to install them. On one of the videos they used soapy water so when applying the decals you could move them around. This took me about 4 hours to complete. Besides the fact they shorted me one decal that wouldn’t be noticed anyway it went well.
Now with the decals complete I’m ready to remove the old deck. I forgot to mention the deck weighs in around 350 pounds so it’s no easy task. I removed an existing bolt on the bottom of both sides of the deck and put eye bolts in their place. I hooked a ‘come along’ strap wrench to the retaining bars on the side of the trailer and cranked them up tight. I removed the 18 – 3/8″ star bolts on the bottom hinges and slowly lowered the old deck to the ground. At one point a strap slipped some giving me a cut on my thumb, but my brother and I got it to the ground.
On the ground I removed all the hardware and framing and began cutting the old deck up into about 3′ square pieces for disposal. This took about 4 more hours and I was surprised to see how the deck was constructed. Its merely 1/4″ plywood, 1″ of styrofoam and 1/4″ of fiberglass on the outside. Much of the plywood was wet and had delaminated.
Now about the veneer kit. The new deck hinges do not match the old hinge locations for some reason, so they sent me three 3″ x 48″ x 1/16″ steel plates to cover the old holes, Again no instructions so I bought some sheetmetal screws and construction adhesive and installed two of the plates over the existing 3/8″ tapped holes taking care not to put screws in the areas of the new hinges. I tossed the extra plate in the recycle bin.
It was time to install the new deck. Three of us carefully moved the new deck into position and using the same eyebolts for deck removal we slowly cranked the new deck into the door cavity. Once in place, I partially closed the retaining bars on each side of the door and checked the door to see if it was lined up correctly. With the door in place I was able to drill and tap the 18 – 3/8″ holes for the hinges. One of the hinges was installed wrong at the factory, so in lieu of taking the entire door down and apart I cut part of the hinge so it would lay flat against the frame. Another four hours of work and the deck is installed!
We love the deck but since we don’t want to put it up every time it rains, I purchased a truck bed liner kit (Herculiner) and covered the entire top of the deck with it. It cost about $60.00 bucks and after reading the reviews I decided to go for it.
If you have any side decks on your rig I highly recommend either keeping them up during rain events or coating them with some kind of moisture repelling product. If you notice any delaminating on your deck get the factory to replace it before the warranty is up. As you can see we had roughly 30 hours and about $250.00 spent just replacing this deck provided by the factory.