Fifth Wheelin\’: Properly using your fifth wheel or travel trailer stabilizer jacks

Properly using your fifth wheel or travel trailer stabilizer jacks

I said shake, rattle, and roll
Well you never do nothing
To save your doggone soul

As RVers, we may easily identify with those old Charles Calhoun lyrics. Our rigs are built to travel light and easy, but even in camp, they do tend to do a bit of shaking and rocking. And the bigger they are, the more they rock. Enter stabilizer jacks.

On a fifth wheel, the “landing gear” acts as a stabilizer up front, but additional stabilizers are typically found at the rear. Travel trailer fans, if you unhitch from your tow vehicle and rest the trailer on the jack foot, you’ll certainly know the lack of stability. Many travel trailers have at least four stabilizer jacks, some have more.

How can you safely and effectively use your stabilizer jacks? First, try and park on level ground as much as possible. That saves you from having to a lot of wheel blocking. Prior to unhitching either a 5er or travel trailer, chock your wheels to prevent any rolling.

Stabilizer jacks are just that: They’re for stability, and many jack manufacturers warn their product aren’t intended for leveling, so you’ll need to handle that leveling process before deploying the stabilizers. Hopefully you’ll have the jack manufacturer’s instruction manual available to you. If not, we provide some general guidelines.

First, on the subject of jack pads. It’s not a bad idea to slip a piece of wood between the bottom of the jack and the ground. It can protect asphalt from damage, and on mooshy ground, prevent the jack from digging into the terra not-so-firma. HOWEVER, there is a danger of using too much blocking.

Here’s a position we’ve had to repent on: Scissor style stabilizer jacks have their rated strength ONLY after being extended out so far. Here’s a quote from one jack manual: “This jack’s weight capacity is 5,000 lb. only between 13-3/4” and 23-1/2”; the weight capacity dras­tically reduces as the height drops below this level. Do not apply a load to this jack below 13-3/4” in height.”

R&T De Maris

We confess, in the past we’ve used “high level” blocks under our jacks, in part because there was less work involved–don’t have to run the jack out so far. But with this information in hand, we now use much less in the way of blocking. Yes, scissor jacks can get “wobbly” if extended w-a-y out. Therefore, a higher stack of blocking might be in order if you have a long way to crank out the jack.

So crank out the scissor jack until you hit resistance. Then turn the crank another rotation or so and call it good. Don’t try to crank the trailer up, and NEVER use a stabilizer jack to raise your trailer for tire changing. If it “lets go” at the wrong time, serious damage to the jack (not to mention the jack’s owner) can occur.

We also have a few “stacker” jacks that we stash away in our storage area. These critters are portable units that use a screw type device for assisting with stabilizing. Here, place the head of the jack directly under the trailer frame, NOT under an axle. Crank the jack to the resistance point, and then add another turn or two.


About smokeycamping

Well let's see have lived in NY for my whole life, have always loved the outdoors (as long as it is warm out) have always hated the cold, and like a dummy have stayed in NY. But now with my second try my wife, we have been camping now for well over 25 yrs. We currently own a 2010 Cedar creek silverback 35TS and can not wait to get out on the highways and see this great country we all call home. Hope to see every National park before my medical issue becomes too bad to travel. I love my African gray parrot (she is my baby) and have two dogs at the time brother and sister mutts, but love them all the same. Have always been a big Nascar fan, love computers (have a number of certificates to build and work on them) am trying to learn photography, enjoy light hiking, being with good friends and folks. country music, pop music and just being outdoors. So I hope someday to meet some of the great people who like what I like and post out there in some great campground somewhere in the country, till then I will keep posting and I hope you keep liking.

Posted on August 20, 2014, in The world as i see it as a camper and who loves his country and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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