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Old 08-26-2012, 06:04 PM   #1
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Newbie question #1: Jacks?

Our "new" '02 2363 has BAL leveling scissor jacks which the PO had installed when the Sunline was built. Husband and I have been discussing whether they can be used for leveling or simply stabilizing. Our 'net research has yielded with 3 different opinions:

1. Most jacks are to be used for stabilizing only;
2. Side-to-side leveling should be done with blocks and front-to-back leveling done with the jacks;
3. Jacks can be used for both leveling and stabilizing.

We have friends who have a 27' Fleetwood TT and they camp mostly at state parks and always use their jacks to level. The PO always camped in commercial campgrounds and had no leveling blocks. Our initial camping is to be at state parks, eventually we will try boondocking. What do you guys (and gals) think?
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Old 08-26-2012, 06:25 PM   #2
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The front to back leveling should always be done with the tongue jack. The side-to-side leveling should really be done, using wood. The stack-able blocks can also be used, but I don't think they are nearly as solid. The scissor jacks are not designed, or meant to be leveling jacks and should only be used for stabilizing.

I just did some searching and found the following information on BAL's website:

How To Level & Stabilize

"TRAVEL TRAILERS
Setup:
Step 1: Get your trailer as level as possible from side to side by driving your low side tire(s) up on blocks. Before disconnecting from your tow vehicle, place a "wedge" chock behind each rear tire.


Step 2: Disconnect from your tow vehicle.


Step 3: Using your tongue jack, level your trailer from front to rear.


Step 4: Extend all four of your RV jacks to the ground using the handle provided with your jacks. It is a good idea to use a hard piece of wood or other block under the jacks' foot pads to prevent them from sinking into soft surfaces. If one side of your trailer is lower than the other, start on that side cranking down your jacks. Apply enough pressure to each jack to raise the trailer frame into a stable position. Check levelness by using a BAL bubble level (model #: 25025) placed inside your trailer on your kitchen table or a counter top. Whichever side of the bubble level you need to raise to get the bubble in the center of the level, is the side of the trailer you need to raise. You want to have equal pressure on each jack leg. To accomplish this, you must "feel" the crank pressure required to turn the jack screws on each of your trailer's jacks. When each screw requires the same pressure to turn it, then you have equal pressure on each jack. If you have good side to side stability in your trailer, stop cranking, if not crank a little more.
NOTE: Do not raise any tire off the ground by using your BAL jacks. If you apply too much pressure to the jacks, your doors and windows may not close properly or you may bend the jack leg(s).

Step 5: To get good front to rear stability, place one or two (for best results) of BAL's dual or triple axle locking chocks between your tires and tighten against tires to help eliminate your trailer's front to rear rocking. BAL has two locking chock models for you to choose from, model 28000 and model 28005. Since your trailer doesn't have a parking brake, chocks are necessary to prevent this rocking movement. Your jacks will eliminate some or most rocking, but not enough to satisfy most people.



Step 6: Each day re-check jack screws for tightness as jacks may settle into soft surfaces and become less stable. Tighten jack screws as needed.


Take Down:
Step 1: Place a wedge chock behind each rear tire.
Step 2: Remove tire locking chock(s).
Step 3: Raise jack legs and secure for travel. (cinch up tightly)
Step 4: Connect to tow vehicle.
Step 5: Test tow vehicle coupler connection by starting tow vehicle's engine, putting gear shift in reverse and removing foot from brake. If vehicle disconnects from coupler, re-hitch. If hitch and coupler connection is secure, then put vehicle in "park".
Step 6: Remove wedge chocks from behind rear tires.
Step 7: Pull forward or backwards and remove leveling block(s) under trailer's low side tire(s) if you used any."
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Old 08-26-2012, 06:43 PM   #3
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I also have a 2363 and I only use the BAL jacks to stabilize the TT.

First I block under wheels to level side to side. then chock the wheels and unhook from the tow vehicle. Then level front to back with the tongue jack. Then I use the BAL to stabilize, take the bounce out of the TT. I also use screw jacks just in front of the wheels if I will be parked for any length of time. In our yard the ground is pretty level and I will leave the BAL jacks up and use screw jacks at four corners and in front of the axle, six places in all.

I have had to re-weld broken welds in the BAL jacks on my unit. I think that was from overloading them.
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Old 08-26-2012, 07:51 PM   #4
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As another 2363 owner, I agree with Jim and Gary.
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Old 08-27-2012, 08:45 AM   #5
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I like the Lynx Levelers, they are light, easy to carry, and very sturdy:

We use the Lynx Leveler blocks under the tires to level side to side, and level front to back with the tongue jack. We do have two of the wheel chocks, you can lay out your blocks and snap the wheel chock on the end. Makes it very easy to pull/back onto without over-running them.


I also use the blocks under the jacks, I 've found that the more you extend the jacks the less stable they become.



We carry four sets of blocks (10 ea), four cap blocks, and two wheel chocks in our camper.

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Old 08-27-2012, 03:49 PM   #6
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Can't use the jacks to level because you'd be lifting the weight off the wheels on one side. We use wood to level side to side. You'll need 2 boards minimum. One a little longer than the 2 wheels, and one a foot longer than that one. We have 2x8s but I wish they were 2x10 because I'm lousy at lining them up so the wheels both end up centered within an 8" width. One end us cut at a 45 degree angle to make it easier to drive up on it. Sometimes you'll only need 1 board, sometimes 2, sometimes none. We also have 2 sets of the orange legos and a set of tops for them. We use those under the jacks and sometimes under the tongue jack.
BTW I love your title..."question #1"
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Old 08-27-2012, 08:02 PM   #7
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Hi Friends,

Husband here, posting for the first time. First, I want to thank all those on the Forum who have welcomed us into your ranks and helped us in every way from the first day. Your experience and assistance has been invaluable, and we appreciate you all so very much!

Second, I'd like to thank all those who have responded to this thread. You helped shape what we did since we received those first initial replies. Here's what we've come up with so far:

Bought two, 1 x 6 x 8 pieces of Trex. Cut one piece into eight, 12-inch sections; cut the other into six, 16-inch sections. I had some 2 x 8 pressure-treated lying around, so I cut that into 16-inch pieces [although, had I read Tweety's post in time, I would have certainly left them longer].

We hooked up the TV and checked the level on the Sunline. The little bubble levels which the PO had installed on the front and left sides showed that the TT was one full bubble off level both side-to-side and fore-aft. Set one piece of 2 x 8 pressure treated behind each of the right wheels, and wife expertly backed the TT onto those. Now the bubble in the side-to-side level showed nearly perfect center.

Stacked five of the 12-inch pieces of Trex under the tongue jack, unhooked the TT, then lowered the jack until the fore-aft level showed dead center.

Placed one of the 16-inch pieces of Trex under each stabilizer, lowered each until it just bit into the Trex. Checked levels again, found each bubble perfect.

With this set-up, the trailer is now rock-solid. It absolutely doesn't move, and I pushed on it side-to-side.

Looks like this will work for us for now. I will step up to 2 x 10's and leave them long, as Tweety recommends.

Thanks again!
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Old 08-27-2012, 09:20 PM   #8
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Hello Matthew,

Good you two work together to setup your TT. It does make everything go much easier.

One other thing I do when unhooking from the tow vehicle is I extend the foot of the jack so I do not have to handle the extra blocking especially on level ground. I may only need to use one block under the jack foot. If you will look at the bottom of your jack you may see a pin with a locking clip. Simply unlock the clip from the pin, pull it out and the foot of the jack can be moved up and down. I do have to remember to raise the foot again before hitting the road or I can waste a lot of camping money on repairing the tongue of the TT.

Your jack may be different, or not, but it is worth the effort to check.

I do use the longer boards that fit under both axles with a chock blocks at the ends and the leading edge at a angle to help driving on them easier. I did cut four boards and fastened them together with 3/4" plywood underneath with plated decking screws. I have these boards placed where I park the TT and leave them there all the time. This keeps the tires off of the ground, gravel driveway, and raises the TT about two inches which makes it easier to work underneath. But most of all having a parking spot that is about two feet wide to set the tires on makes it much easier.

Even though I do have the long and wide boards to park on I still place chocks at the wheels on both sides. I use two chocks for each side. One behind the front axle and another in front of the rear tires. We just had a tropical storm dump tons of rain pushed by high winds and the TT never budged. Holds good enough for me.

jim
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Old 08-28-2012, 08:12 PM   #9
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Lisa and Matthew,

I'll throw in some more on this. As stated, level left to right using something under the tires. The "jacks" are only stabilizers and lifting or attempting to lift the camper by using the stabilizers on one side flexes the camper a lot. Over time this creates other problems from the twisting going on.

I'll offer up what we do on the leveling. We are in the wood group.... I had some old 2 x 10's that where pressure treated and cut to length that would fit between the tires. They are progressive in length with beveled ends. And yes the 10" width does help over the 8". If your buying thess, buy the 10" as it gains a lot in forgiveness of centering the board.

I also made my own wheel chocks that I use when up on the wood or without the wood. And I use them on both sides of the camper. I have since this pic was taken, beveled both ends of the boards.



I have heard and seen the 2 length tire boards kick up when you drive off. Some who have a tank dump valve right behind the wheel have had them cracked by the flying up long board. While my dump valves have been in front of the wheel, I did try a long board once and if you roll off it very fast, it does fly up. The short board do not seem to have the same spring up effect. Many use the long boards and not had complaints. If your TT has a dump valve right behind the tire, caution when pulling off a long board to go slow.

The shorter boards have worked well for us and are easier to store.

Good luck

John
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Old 08-29-2012, 06:51 AM   #10
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JohnB, I have not used the lock between axles because I felt they added extra stress to the tire tread area. I'm probably wrong about that but it still sticks in my mind. I feel safer with chocks since they do not add so much pressure to the tread area. Also, since our 2363 hasn't had the axle flip we are closer to the ground and jack sway is at a minimum anyway and not such a big issue for us.



I just remembered the reason I had to reweld our BAL jack. I unhooked from the TV, lowered the front on the TT. Looking at the bubble level on the front of our TT I saw it had to be raised on one side. I went to the rear jacks, cranked down one jack more than the other. this should have caused that one side to rise until the TT became level and supported by both jacks. I went back to the jack and raised the tongue. Sure enough the one jack took the weight, shifted the TT until it rested on both rear jacks and was almost level with just a turn on one side. Seemed so easy. I then finished jacking all jacks to stabilize the unit. After our trip was over and I was setting up in our driveway I noticed the jack was not like the others. The threaded crank had shifted and no matter how I turned it would not firm to support any weight. The extra weight, perhaps with the side shifting when raising the TT, had busted the weld on the BAL jack. Now I only use jacks after TT is in place, level in all directions.
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Old 08-29-2012, 11:09 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim-Bev-2363 View Post
JohnB, I have not used the lock between axles because I felt they added extra stress to the tire tread area. I'm probably wrong about that but it still sticks in my mind. I feel safer with chocks since they do not add so much pressure to the tread area. Also, since our 2363 hasn't had the axle flip we are closer to the ground and jack sway is at a minimum anyway and not such a big issue for us.
Hi Jim,

I too originally thought about the wedge pressure by the chocks on the tires. Then after using them the pressure is not as much as one would think. Granted anyone can get carried away… However the friction grip I get is plenty to hold the TT from rolling and not overdo it. Again, from what I have seen.

The axle weight of the camper pushing down on the tread to the ground is applying more push that I am with the wedge chocks. I can tell by the side bulge is not very much at the wedges as compared the side budge at the ground with the camper pushing down.

The question of how tight does tight need to be comes up often. If you go to the extreme, you are starting to spread the axles apart until they move no more then you may get a lot of compression of the tire. However, still not as much as the ground. Naturally I do not go that far and do not need to. You sort of get a feel for how much is, enough. A full rev more or less of the tightening nut is not that critical. Remember you are tightening into a chunk of rubber air spring. When the tires cool overnight they shrink in OD and the wedges will be looser. I use to go around and give them a few more cranks the next day but that has faded into the sunset and I do not bother with that anymore.

The wedge chocks help on the camper stability. On a smaller TT, taking up the play in the suspension by the wedge action does help. On a very small camper, the wiggle can almost be eliminated. The longer and heavy the camper gets the less effective in removing the wiggle but it still is better then not using them.
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Old 08-29-2012, 08:56 PM   #12
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I guess I just use my judgement on this one, but it isn't necessarily the right way to do it. For a number of years, we never traveled with any kind of leveling blocks and just used the jacks. Now I carry 3 sets of Lynx levelers, but I rarely use them. If it's unlevel within some degree on my graduated levels stuck on the outside (maybe at the 3 mark or under), I will level it with the jacks no problem. If it's over that, I pull out the blocks. I only had to do that once though, and it was on just one particular site at Buttonwood.
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Old 08-30-2012, 05:21 AM   #13
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Jon, I think I might be saying jack when I should be saying what kind of jack. For instance your jacks are probably a different style from mine. My jacks are for light duty "stabilizing". From the BAL website: "For use on tent trailers, lightweight travel trailers and fifth wheels with up to 16" of frame-to-ground clearance. Includes crank handle (Model 23033). Ideal replacement for Atwood, Fulton and other non-screw design corner stands. Bolt-on application; mounting hardware included. 700 lb. lifting capacity and 1,000 lb. load capacity per jack. Rust-inhibiting E-coating for long life.". Note the limits for this style jack.

Your jacks are probably the heavier duty, "leveling" scissors BAL jacks. The leveling scissors jacks have capacities of from 5000# to 7500#. Quite a difference in usage between the two styles of "jacks".

Not knowing which style of jack the OP has maybe confused my posts. They did say scissors jack so maybe they do have the heavier duty style and actual "leveling" with the jacks would be OK, within limits.

Maybe?
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Old 08-30-2012, 10:33 PM   #14
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Ah Jim, I think I know the kind you have now. They used to be optional on Sunlines, but rare. I think they were rare because many dealers installed the leveling ones on themselves. Then Sunline started putting those on (or should I say the frame manufacturer) standard in the early 2000s.

I've only had the leveling kind of jacks, except the 1550 I had which didn't have any jacks at all except the tongue jack.
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