Good Sam Club Open Roads Forum: Adding scissor jacks for side to side leveling
Open Roads Forum Already a member? Login here.   If not, Register Today!  |  Help

Newest  |  Active  |  Popular  |  RVing FAQ Forum Rules  |  Forum Posting Help and Support  |  Contact  

Search:   Advanced Search

Search only in Travel Trailers

Open Roads Forum  >  Travel Trailers  >  Modifications and Accessories

 > Adding scissor jacks for side to side leveling

Reply to Topic  |  Subscribe  |  Print Topic  |  Post New Topic  | 
Page of 6  
Next
vtraudt

Brighton, MI

Full Member

Joined: 08/20/2010

View Profile


Offline
Posted: 08/27/21 07:55am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

My Forest River Salem has electric 'stabilizer' jacks (pivot, won't work for side/side leveling even IF they were strong enough). And the usual front A frame jack.

I do NOT like to drive onto (2x6, lego blocks, curvy plastic thingies, etc). I rather put the trailer exactly where I want it, THEN do all the leveling.

Front/back leveling with the front A frame jack is no issue.

For side to side, I would like to add scissor jacks on (or near, 3/4 points, else) the main frame at each corner. From this weeks stay, it seems that most (all?) not so new trailers have just that. I watched dozens setting up (some with hand crank, some with power drill/impact).

My trailer has a max weight of 7000 lbs.
The main rails are one piece, going from front to back (no welds, no steps).

a) is it ok to 'lift' at the ends or near the ends of the main rails?
b) with theoretically 1/2 of the weight (3500 lbs) on one jack, should I pick 3500 lbs jacks, or go even higher?

I am not sure yet if I will permanently mount (if it works, I likely will), either weld on or bolt on (only reason not to would be weight/inertia added to the rear.

Also, if it works, I would REMOVE the electric stabilizers (the jacks will level AND stabilize) and maybe use the MOTORS (2 on hand. would by 2 more) and add 2 more switches for 'electric' leveling (not AUTO leveling).

Does someone have experience with this modification?
Concerns, suggestions, ideas?

BB_TX

McKinney, Texas

Senior Member

Joined: 04/04/2005

View Profile


Offline
Posted: 08/27/21 08:27am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Stabilizers are not meant to be levelers. Putting upward force on individual points on the frame to raise it could cause some twisting of the frame. Best to stay with putting something under the wheels for side to side leveling.

The front jack is designed for leveling and connected to the frame accordingly.

JRscooby

Indepmo

Senior Member

Joined: 06/10/2019

View Profile


Offline
Posted: 08/27/21 08:37am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Main reason I could see is frame flex causing damage to house. I would think planning and education would be a simpler solution.
Find a level spot (side to side) Mount a level on front, with bubble on center. Now lay 1 of your blocks next to tires on 1 side. Put a chock behind tire on other side. Pull out so tire is just clear the ramp, slide ramp behind tire, and back up to chock. Mark where bubble is. Repeat with 2, then 3 high ramp, then same on other side.
Now you have the level marked so you know how high the ramp needs to be when you get camper where you want it, build the ramp beside low tire, chock behind high. Pull up, move ramp sideways, and put trailer back where you want it.
If you don't want to calibrate the level on front of trailer you can lay a 2 ft whiskey stick on the floor. Lift the end to center bubble, then measure from end to floor. For each half inch add a 2X10 to your stack.

Gdetrailer

PA

Senior Member

Joined: 01/05/2007

View Profile



Posted: 08/27/21 08:40am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

vtraudt wrote:

My Forest River Salem has electric 'stabilizer' jacks (pivot, won't work for side/side leveling even IF they were strong enough). And the usual front A frame jack.


Stabilizers are for "stabilization", period. Never designed or intended to "level".

They are there solely to reduce the up and down motion in the trailer when walking or moving about in said trailer unless it something like a motor home which is a whole nuther ball of wax.


vtraudt wrote:

I do NOT like to drive onto (2x6, lego blocks, curvy plastic thingies, etc). I rather put the trailer exactly where I want it, THEN do all the leveling. Front/back leveling with the front A frame jack is no issue.


WHY?

Extremely easy to setup using blocking under the wheels to level.

Park in your desired spot.

Pull forward 5 ft (or the length of your boards), place boards behind the trailer wheels.

Backup on top of the boards.

You will get within several inches of your desired spot and be level.


vtraudt wrote:

For side to side, I would like to add scissor jacks on (or near, 3/4 points, else) the main frame at each corner. From this weeks stay, it seems that most (all?) not so new trailers have just that. I watched dozens setting up (some with hand crank, some with power drill/impact).

My trailer has a max weight of 7000 lbs.
The main rails are one piece, going from front to back (no welds, no steps).

a) is it ok to 'lift' at the ends or near the ends of the main rails?
b) with theoretically 1/2 of the weight (3500 lbs) on one jack, should I pick 3500 lbs jacks, or go even higher?

I am not sure yet if I will permanently mount (if it works, I likely will), either weld on or bolt on (only reason not to would be weight/inertia added to the rear.

Also, if it works, I would REMOVE the electric stabilizers (the jacks will level AND stabilize) and maybe use the MOTORS (2 on hand. would by 2 more) and add 2 more switches for 'electric' leveling (not AUTO leveling).

Does someone have experience with this modification?
Concerns, suggestions, ideas?


A) NO, not "OK" to lift all the weight at the ends of the frame.

Frame and the box on top of the frame are designed and built for all the weight to bear down on the axles, lifting trailer at the ends will flex the frame and the box on top in ways that it shouldn't be flexed. You might not see the damage immediately but repeated extreme flexing has the potential to rip the bolts holding the box on top right through the wood framing of the floor.

B) You are on your own on this but I would think about a jack that can handle MORE than "half the load" would be a better choice because there is a good chance one jack will end up taking more weight than the other. Just way to unpredictable of a setup so erroring on the safer side should always be the rule of the day.

Something else you are missing, if you lift the trailer enough that the wheels loose contact with the ground, how are you planning to keep the trailer from moving forward and backwards????

Effectively you are removing the safety of chocking your wheels, wheel chocks are a very important safety item, only chock one side of trailer and now you have a good chance that the trailer can pivot and turn and you measly little jacks cannot stop that from happening.

If blocking under the wheels is not your cup o tea, then perhaps rethink your RV choice, perhaps a motor home with hydraulic jacks is the way you need to go.. They are designed to be able to be lifted off the ground via jacks.


Grit dog

Black Diamond, WA

Senior Member

Joined: 05/06/2013

View Profile


Offline
Posted: 08/27/21 09:06am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

First, OP understands that the stab jacks aren't levelers, so use your reading skills folks.
OP, to me, it seems the level of effort required to level with jacks or under the wheels is of a similar effort, however your idea is pretty creative and sound IMO if you want to go through that effort of installing.
The one down-side I see is stability or frame flex potentially. Currently, trailer is supported in basically 5 spots per side, tongue jack, front stab, 2 axles and rear stab.
You'd be reducing those 5 points to 3 effectively. I'd do a test manually. 1/4 and 3/4 points on the frame seem about right. I'd just crib up at those points on one side, taking weight off the wheels and see how it feels from a flex standpoint and verify your jacking points will be acceptable before diving in with a permanent solution.


2016 Ram 2500, MotorOps.ca EFIlive tuned, 5” turbo back, 6" lift on 37s
2017 Heartland Torque T29

Grit dog

Black Diamond, WA

Senior Member

Joined: 05/06/2013

View Profile


Offline
Posted: 08/27/21 09:15am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Gdetrailer wrote:

A) NO, not "OK" to lift all the weight at the ends of the frame.

Frame and the box on top of the frame are designed and built for all the weight to bear down on the axles, lifting trailer at the ends will flex the frame and the box on top in ways that it shouldn't be flexed. You might not see the damage immediately but repeated extreme flexing has the potential to rip the bolts holding the box on top right through the wood framing of the floor.


Something else you are missing, if you lift the trailer enough that the wheels loose contact with the ground, how are you planning to keep the trailer from moving forward and backwards????

Effectively you are removing the safety of chocking your wheels, wheel chocks are a very important safety item, only chock one side of trailer and now you have a good chance that the trailer can pivot and turn and you measly little jacks cannot stop that from happening.



To your first point, I don't see supporting the trailer in a static condition, with anything less than a house party with 20 people jammed in the RV rocking out to some hip hop, ever being anywhere near what the dynamic stresses are throughout the trailer while being towed. If it survives abrupt bridge approaches, humps, dips and potholes at 70mph, it will be fine with a couple people walking around. But yeah, I wouldn't put the stab jacks at the front and back. 1/4 points or 1/3 points would be more effective and appropriate.

To the wheel chocks, yes, this isn't an "all conditions" type setup, but it's not an issue at all really in any "normal" conditions, maybe up to a 10% slope, idk.
Trailer parked, both sides chocked from rolling whichever way the slope runs. Jacks go down and lift one side. Other side is still planted on the wheels and chocked. The low side, as the weight comes off, the trailer is supported by a jack that is rotationally resistant. Not an issue in the least, with a bit of common sense. (which one would assume that anyone fabbing their own stabilizer system would have).

valhalla360

No paticular place.

Senior Member

Joined: 08/19/2009

View Profile



Good Sam RV Club Member


Posted: 08/27/21 09:16am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I would be hesitant to use the corners as the frame could flex. I believe this is where most of the warnings come from. That and the basic scissor stabilizers provide almost no resistance to horizontal movement.

I would look at the 5th wheel auto level systems. It shouldn't be hard to adapt those to a travel trailer. Most include a set of stabilizers near the axles.

As long as the wheels are firmly seated on the ground (with the springs extending as you lift) normal blocking of the tires should work. I've never been comfortable when I see 5th wheels with one side completely off the ground. The legs are simply not structured well to resist horizontal movement.


Tammy & Mike
Ford F250 V10
2021 Gray Wolf
Gemini Catamaran 34'
Full Time spliting time between boat and RV


dodge guy

Bartlett IL

Senior Member

Joined: 03/23/2004

View Profile


Offline
Posted: 08/27/21 12:51pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

You could put the scissor type jacks just in front of the wheels and that would lift it as if it was the weight of the axles. They do this in 5th wheels with the auto leveling system.


Wife Kim
Son Brandon 17yrs
Daughter Marissa 16yrs
Dog Bailey

12 Forest River Georgetown 350TS Hellwig sway bars, BlueOx TrueCenter stabilizer

13 Ford Explorer Roadmaster Stowmaster 5000, VIP Tow>
A bad day camping is
better than a good day at work!


Gdetrailer

PA

Senior Member

Joined: 01/05/2007

View Profile



Posted: 08/27/21 02:17pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Grit dog wrote:



To your first point, I don't see supporting the trailer in a static condition, with anything less than a house party with 20 people jammed in the RV rocking out to some hip hop, ever being anywhere near what the dynamic stresses are throughout the trailer while being towed. If it survives abrupt bridge approaches, humps, dips and potholes at 70mph, it will be fine with a couple people walking around. But yeah, I wouldn't put the stab jacks at the front and back. 1/4 points or 1/3 points would be more effective and appropriate.



Previous trailer I owned you could not open or shut the door if you cranked up the stabilizers too much or placed them too close to the end of the trailer. Granted, that trailer used cheaper box frame which does flex a lot more than a C channel or I beam frame.

Not all trailers have a substantial enough frame to fully handle this kind of loads.

Believe what you wish, but I have experienced racking of the trailer frame and box when trying to over compensate with jacks or stabilizers on a less than perfect campsite.

Granted, with my experience, it was temporary and I was able to open or close the door once I removed most of the pressure from the stabilizer. But, I suspect, over time it would be very easy to cause other collateral damage with repeated applications of racking.

Placing a board under a tire requires nearly zero effort on the part of the driver.

To make things easier and much less guessing on how much lift is needed, they do make levels which you can stick on to the side of the trailer that reads directly in inches how far off level you are.. Takes the extra guess work out of setting up.

[image]

Found HEREfor under $10.

Most likely you can even find a "APP" for that also if it too much bother for stick on levels.

Grit dog

Black Diamond, WA

Senior Member

Joined: 05/06/2013

View Profile


Offline
Posted: 08/27/21 03:02pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

^Interesting info that your trailer frames were that flexible. But understandable why you’d caution against it if the frame essentially isn’t even stiff enough to handle some pressure from a stab jack without bending.

Reply to Topic  |  Subscribe  |  Print Topic  |  Post New Topic  | 
Page of 6  
Next

Open Roads Forum  >  Travel Trailers  >  Modifications and Accessories

 > Adding scissor jacks for side to side leveling
Search:   Advanced Search

Search only in Travel Trailers


New posts No new posts
Closed, new posts Closed, no new posts
Moved, new posts Moved, no new posts

Adjust text size:




© 2022 CWI, Inc. © 2022 Good Sam Enterprises, LLC. All Rights Reserved.