Thursday, February 23, 2017

Is It Level??? Is It Stable???

Is It Level??

How many times have I heard that phrase at a campground?  I can't even count them or remember them for that matter.  How do you know when your rig is level and what can you do if your rig is not?
Let's look at some of the possibilities.

The first thing you need to do is eyeball the site that you will back into or pull forward into.
Does the site appear flat?  There could be a drainage crown to the site, meaning that the center is higher than either side so that the rainwater will drain off quickly if it does rain.
Maybe there is a slope in the site toward the right or left.
All of this needs to be taken into consideration when looking at the site.
Ok, you are pulling or backing into the site and you have the support of a ground crew so getting into the site is not the problem.  The door side of the rig appears lower that the street side or is it?   How do you know? Well at some point in the life of your rig someone should have put bubble levels on it.
(For you guys with money we will discuss auto leveling equipment at the end.)

They should look like theses RV Bubble Levels
RV Bubble Levels 
If you have nothing, or what you have is so small as not to be readable then an up-grade is in order.  You should mount one of these in the front of the rig where the level can be easily seen, after taking the rig to a Walmart type parking lot and using a construction level, checking that the rig is sitting truly level before you mount the above levels to the rig.  The second level is mounted on the street side of the rig at the same height that you mounted the front of the rig level.  Be sure you have confirmed that construction level and the RV level agree that the rig is level.
Why you ask?  Because if you are more that 5 degrees out of level your RV refrigerator may not work or will not work efficiently.
But you may not have a TT maybe you have a 5th wheel and need something a bit bigger.  Enter the 5th wheel bubble level.  This is mounted on the pin box so you can see the level from the driver's seat.
Even if you have auto-leveling on your fiver you want to start out as close to level as you can so as to not put to much stress on the self-leveling system.

Ok, you have found that the door side of the rig is low and needs to be raised up to bring that side into level.
Now the fun begins.  You will need to put something under the wheels to raise that side of the rig.  You will need what is called an RV Tire Leveling Block,
RV Tire Leveling Block
RV Tire Leveling Block
These blocks interlock so they will stay put if more than one is used and they are designed not to sink into soft soil or blacktop.  Just how many you will need to level up the low side is often just simple trial and error.
I always start with one above ground level under each tire on the low side and go from there.  Let's say that you needed two under each tire on the low side to get level.

Did you remember to pull up on them and not try to back up on them?
Better for the tires if you pull up on the leveling block rather than backing up on them.

Also, did you make sure all tires were centered on the blocks, not on an edge?
The axle of the tire or the hub in the middle of the tire should be centered on the leveling block.
Why? Because it puts less stress on the tires, that really do not like being off the ground in space.

Here is yet another way to level your Rig.  This one is a bit different that the square block used above, this one is a Ramp Style Leveling System and will help you level your rig from any increment between 1/2 inch and 4 inches.  This ramp style will hold up to 30,000 pounds.  If you have two axles then you will require two ramps per side.

The smaller ramp is used to chock the RV from moving once the RV is level.  The ramp with the holes in it, is the adjusting ramp. 

You have checked the levels on both the front and side of the rig right?  So now what?  You need to check that the fridge is level. On way to do that is to use a Torpedo Level
 Torpedo Level
This small 8" level can be used inside the fridge or on the nearest counter next to the fridge to check to be sure that the fridge is level. (Level - not more that five degrees out of level, is very important to the good, safe, and efficient operation of an RV fridge)

You are now level so what is next? Unhooking and stabilizing the rig.
Once you are unhooked you need to put down the corner stabilizer jacks.  Most travel trailers use Scissor Jacks
Scissor Jacks
This type of jack is NOT for leveling your rig.  It is to keep the rig from moving back and forth as you move around inside.  If one of the jacks does not meet the ground you can use one or more of the tire leveling blocks to help stabilize that corner of the rig.  As shown in the above photo a hand crank is the normal method of deploying this type of jack and can be a real pain.  There are two fixes for the hand crank used on these jacks.  One is the Stabilize Scissor Jack Socket for an electric or battery operated drill.
stabilizing Scissor Jack Socket
The second but more expensive way is to motorize RV scissor stabilizing jacks
Bearing Protectors-1.78" Hub Diameter, Stainless S
motorized RV scissor stabilizing jack
This jack is remote controlled and is powered off the rig so it makes the stabilizing fast and easy.

Many of the newer 5th wheels will have will have powered corner jacks and landing jacks.  Some will have auto leveling that will level and stabilize the fiver.  But what happens when you are still getting sea sick from someone walking inside the fifth wheel or travel trailer?
For the 5th wheel, there are several things that can be used and have had success.
First is the Stabilizer Jack
I use these back at the bumper, where the bumper joins the frame of the fifth wheel.  The use of these has really made a difference in the movement of the trailer.

Next is the expandable wheel chock or X-chock.
This chock does double duty if you use a paddle lock to lock the chock from being removed it will stop someone from being able to steal your RV with-out a lot of work.

Your rig is now level and corner supported but, when someone walks around the inside of the rig it still does the shimmy, shimmy, shake.  Now what?  There are many suggested solutions out there to solve this problem but here is the simplest one that works.  The RV Stabilizer         

RV Stabilizer   
One of these can be added to the rear of the rig to stop side to side motion and or one can be added to the side of the rig to stop the front to back motion.  This looks simple and it is but, it does work.

The X-Chock from above will also work on Travel Trailers to help stop motion and help to prevent theft as well.

OK, now for the guys with money.  If you would like to add remote control automatic power leveling jacks to your TT or 5er, the following is a company that has received good reviews for their lift systems; Big Foot Leveling System
Big Foot Flip Down Leveling Jack for TT

The type of DIY that is required to install this system is not in the scope of this blog.  But this type of wireless remote control system is out there and for those who would like to add automatic power leveling to their rig here is a place to start.

Until Next Time

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