Stabilizing 5th Wheel and Travel Trailers

↓ Full Transcript Episode 47 - Stablizing for 5th Wheels and Travel Trailers

Hey everybody, this is Eric Stark with the RV Maintenance And Education show at RadioArizonaRV.com, and as a reminder you can check out these podcasts or listen to them at iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, Stitcher, Deezer and any of the major podcast channels, you can connect to the RSS feed and listen to the podcast on the device of your preference. Or you can just simply go to RadioArizonaRV.com and listen to any episode you want to. They're all there. So whatever you want to do, you can connect and listen to how you want to, how you're comfortable.

So today is Episode 47, and in today's episode I'm gonna be talking about stabilizing for Fifth Wheel Trailers and Travel Trailers. And I know that a lot of RVs or I should say Trailers come with Stabilizing Jacks on them or Stabilizing Legs. And that's what we're gonna get into it and ... I bring it up because customers come into the store and bring it up. It's a conversation that probably takes place weekly. So it's not something that everybody needs to learn about, but it's a nice refresher course.

If you have some problems with your Scissor Jacks, your stabilizing legs, whatever it might be, some simple solutions to take care of some basic problems. And in the next episode I'm gonna get into leveling. Or leveling pads, blocks, things like that. So this is for stabilizing. Episode 48 will be about leveling. They work together, but there's not enough space in one show to cover both topics here.

Also, a lot of things happen every day in life, right? We all face adversity, we face problems. We face this, we face that. But there's a lot of good things that happened every day as well.

But I get a lot of phone calls from customers and this is off subject, but I want to bring out some points here. We have a lot of people that are looking for used parts. And recently, a customer called us because they found something we're selling on eBay and it was a end cap for a Carefree of Colorado Slide Out Kover and we had them on eBay for about $24 plus shipping. The shipping was $8.50 I think. These caps are not available anymore. So our price was based on our cost. It wasn't based on, they're not available anymore. It is what it is.

Our cost is this much, we mark it up and ask the price. The customer gets a hold of me, who's looking at one, we had one left, he needed a right and left and we had one or the other, but we didn't have both. So he's calling and he's looked all over the internet and he told me about a junk yard that he checked with who happened to have one. And they had the complete slide out awning on it. It had the end caps and they would sell them, an end cap for 200 bucks. And he told me the name of the junkyard.

I confirmed it by calling the junkyard and it was $200. And that's not the first time I've heard of stuff like that. Be careful and I'm not knocking them. Some of these salvage yards ... I mean there's Not a lot of them. They do have a place and needing something is one thing. But getting taken to the cleaners on, it is another, I mean $200 for this end cap, that's crazy. I would never pay that much for it. So that's just one of the things that takes place or that I here from customers quite often.

So be cautious as you purchase things, whether it's from a junk yard, an RV store, Amazon, eBay make sure you're paying the right price for something. Make sure that it has a warranty. If you're buying something used, make sure it's the right thing before you buy it. Have the person send you pictures if they don't have good pictures on their website or if you're talking to them on the phone, be certain of it, because sometimes after the sale, you won't get your money back. And there's a lot of people and businesses out there that are shady. The RV industry is an easy niche for a lot of guys to get into.

There's a lot of theft. There's a lot of things being sold on the Internet that the only way I can see they're on that website, is because they're stolen from a manufacturer or from a dealership. When you see a motor, let's say a Power Gear motor that retails for seven or $800 and someone's selling a new one for 200 bucks, and they only have one and they don't have a website and they're on eBay, is there a warranty? Is it stolen? I don't know? But it seems pretty odd that someone would have one at that price. And we hear about this all the time. So be cautious and I'm not saying everybody's a thief and stealing stuff, but be cautious on what you purchase and make sure there's a warranty.

We've been doing this stuff for a long time in a brick and mortar business. We've been selling on the Internet for 20 years, and we take care of our customers. We have a good reputation because of that.  We take care of our customers. So keep that in mind. Customer service still is important today. Price is not everything. You can buy it cheap, but are you gonna have a warranty? Or you can overpay and really regret it later on. So be cautious. And I'm not saying you have to price shop everything, just make sure the price is reasonable.  So just be cautious out there. So now getting back to what I originally started at. Leveling for fifth wheels and travel trailers.

I guess I have too much time to myself and I want to share things that I experience. But there's a lot of things that customers talk about and that's why I share some of this stuff. And I'm keeping a list here of things that maybe I feel are relevant for RVers. Maybe not life things, but RVers' little hacks to make your life a little bit easier when you're looking at parts, buying things. And this goes right along with Stabilizing your 5th Wheel Trailer or your Travel Trailer.

I call them that because that's what they are. A lot of people refer to RV's as just that broad term RV or I have a camper. Conversations start out clunky when you say you have a camper. Because there was a time when there was something called the camper. It's called an overhead camper and every body referred to it as a camper. So try to be specific when you're calling around looking for parts, talking to somebody so they know exactly what you have. I have a fifth wheel, I have a travel trailer, I have pull-behind trailer. I have a cab-over camper. I have a motor home, a Class A motor home. A Class C motor home.

All right, so done with that. My little rant there. Now most Fifth Wheels. Most Travel Trailers come with some sort of stabilizer on them, and that's just what they are. They're designed for stabilizing the trailer. There's gonna be one in each corner and the usual scenario almost in the corner, it's gonna be mounted to the frame, close to the rear, close to the front on the right and left hand side. Now a fifth wheel trailer has the landing gear in the front, so you have two legs right there. Then generally in the rear you're gonna have a stabilizing leg or a Scissor Jack in the rear, right rear left rear, and you use that to stabilize it. So you'd already have your RV level.

It would be in place. Your tires, if you have to raise them up off the ground with wood or plastic blocks. Ever how you plan to do that. I'm gonna talk about that in episode 48 whether it's wood or plastic pads, whatever it might be. So you have a level or very close to level. On my trailer, most of the places I go, I've never had to use wood or putting it underneath the tires. I mean I do put something underneath the tires. I use Super Dolly RV Pads for that so the tires aren't sitting on the gravel or the dirt, this just gets them up off the whatever and easier to put tire covers on.

But anyway, so if you have to level it, get it leveled first and like, well I guess I was going with my trailer, it's not always 100% level. It's close. And I just use the stabilizing legs. I have Scissor Jacks actually to give it that fine tuning on the level, and really they can do but they're not meant to support the weight of the entire trailer or fifth wheel. They don't have a high weight rating. They're not gonna be like a jack to jack it up and or a take a tire and wheel off. That's not gonna happen. Well it might, but it would probably tear up pretty easy.

And you certainly wouldn't want to find yourself in that position. So most RVs come with them, but if they don't, they're easy. They're bolt-on items. The A frame or Scissor Jack type or the ... I think I referred to mine as an A frame. I think I meant Scissor Jack. And then just the single leg, the single stabilizer leg. Either one of those if it comes with it great, but if you have to bolt them on, go ahead. They're not hard and bolting them on is a lot easier later on if you tear one up.

Chances are you will sooner or later. And the ones that get welded on, there's a bracket welded to the RV. And each brand of these, let's say Scissor Jacks are different, they don't make them identical. So if you're gonna just try to unbolt the parts and replace the parts, without replacing that bracket, it becomes very difficult to do. And when they build the RVs, they weld everything on, which is fine. But just keep that in mind. If you have to replace when you're gonna probably cut the weld off? Or cut the bracket off? And then bolt one on.

But if you're doing it after the fact, you've already bought the RV, it didn't come with them. Bolting them on is fine. Just make sure the holes are nice, and the bolts are super tight. Grinding the holes down where you drill them through so they're smooth. So the Jack is flush against the frame. You don't want it to rock a little bit on the frame, and you should be good to go. And now these are really important to have. They're looked at as a little cheapie thing on an RV, but they're actually a pretty nice little deal to have.

Back before they made Scissor Jacks and Single Leg Jacks, everybody carried what were called stacker jacks, generally made by Camco or something similar to it. You'd have four of them, and they're like the same type of jack, you use them for supporting a vehicle after you jack it up, except these are  aluminum, lightweight and  small. In fact, they're not really that popular anymore because all of the trailers come with Scissor Jacks or Single Leg Jacks, something to stabilize. I said say jacks I meant stabilizers. So it's a lot nicer than having to walk around with the four independent jacks and set them underneath the trailer.

We have it made today, stabilizers are a little bit easier. And most of these stabilizers have a 3/4" nut for raising and lowering them. You can do it by hand or you can get a drill, a cordless drill and save some time. Or you get and adapter that goes from the drill to a socket. You just put it on there and wind them up, wind them down. And I found that sometimes, depending on your drill and so forth, it might not get them all the way cranked up to where you want it to get that fine tuning.

So you might still have to use a ratchet with a socket on it, but it's still easier to wind it up with the drill than using a ratchet the entire way up and the entire way down. And I know this is basic stuff. But these things are important. They do break from time to time, but they are not jacks, and there's different variations of them. At the end of the day, they almost all do the same thing. Some of them have a fatter foot or a bigger foot, which is great, but you can put a piece of wood or a plastic pad underneath the foot to accomplish the same thing.

It depends on what you're cup of tea is, and how the RV came. Mine, I carry the Super Dolly RV Pads and I just throw one underneath, one under each jack leg or stabilizer leg when I stabilize it. If it is not on the dirt, it doesn't want to push it into the dirt or the gravel, the pad takes up that weight. These things stabilize the RV to a great stable RV. Here I had just said trailers or fifth wheels and I called it an RV. So the stabilizers help a great deal on stabilizing the Trailer or 5th Wheel.

It's not gonna be 100%, but it's gonna get it real nice. It's gonna be better than it was just sitting on two wheels, with your tongue jack or your landing gear on a fifth wheel. But really to finish it off and get the RV where it's solid, if you're gonna be out long enough where you feel it's worthwhile, I mean, I don't generally go RVing or camping for weeks at a time. It's more like a few days here, a few days there. So it's not as critical to me and don't have kids running around in the trailer, things like that. So it doesn't feel like you're on a boat at sea.

B&L products, they make a couple of different stabilizer add on items. One is called the Fulltimer, one's called the Weekender, and these are components that add onto your stabilizers and help lock them into place. They actually attach to the stabilizer and the frame of the trailer or fifth wheel. And so it keeps that from moving. So that really locks it down. And it also works with landing gear as well. And not only do they have that but Lippert components has one called JT's Strong Arm. JT's Strong Arm was actually the original one that came out, and theirs is pretty nice too.

And these things, whether it's the B&L or the JT's Strong Arm, they work very nice. They add that final touch to stabilizing the trailer or fifth wheel. Then of course there's wheel chocks. It can go between the wheels and actually tighten up between the two, or I should say tires and they tighten up between the tires, and they keep the tires from moving at all, which is pretty nice. And then there's wheel chocks. It can go on the front and rear of the tires.

Any sort of stabilizing is gonna help lock the trailer or fifth wheel in place and it's not gonna move. And it's nice when your doing certain things. Let's say someone's walking across the room, while someone else was trying to pour something in a glass, if that trailer moves a lot, it could be that difference between spilling or not spilling it. And another side of this, which you're probably not gonna have this happening very often, but I know from experience installing window covers, and it's especially window covers. You're drilling holes in the side of the RV. The people who own the RV,they're moving around and you go to drill, and the RV starts moving.

Literally your drill is moving across the top of the surface. That's how much RVs can move. It's not just a little fraction. So in these RVs typically I noticed they're usually not stabilized that well, they maybe have the stabilizers down, but they've done nothing with the tires to lock them into place. They've just gone for the basic, which I get it. But they're not worried about someone drilling on the side of the RV all the time. But I'm just telling you that because it does make a difference. There is quite a bit of movement. It can be at the top of the RV, at the roof, it could be moving two or three inches.

It's not gonna feel like that on the floor. But the higher you get, the more it moves, it becomes more visible. And so if you going to drill a hole in the side of the RV, you don't want it moving. So we'd have to ask the customer, "Hey, can you just sit down for a little bit or maybe go outside and until we get all done." And everything's fine. So that stabilizing is important. It's not the end of the world if you don't, but it definitely makes a different. And you want your RV level, you definitely want it level. And another thing I forgot to mention too is when you're leveling your RV, you're probably gonna have levels mounted on the outside.

You might buy something from a company where it's LED or some sort of laser type level you mount on the side of the RV. Hopkins make ones that's pretty cool. I talk about it briefly in the next episode. These are great and they make leveling the RV easier. Now I use my tongue jacket. It has a level on there, and I just look at that and once it's pretty close, I go inside and here's where it's important. You have to put a level in the refrigerator. They make a level called a Bulls Eye Level. They're round and they go in the in the freezer.

You just leave it in there, but your refrigerator is what you want leveled first. So that's the most important thing, because technically if the refrigerator is level, the RV will be level. You don't want the RV level if the refrigerator is out of level. It's horrible for the cooling units. It's gonna minimize the life of it. It won't work as well. An RV refrigerator is designed to work the best when it's level and will last the longest when it's level.

You don't have to have it level when you're not using it, but when you're using it, it needs to be level. So make sure your refrigerator's level before you do anything else. And when I say that, I mean if you're gonna add on levels on the outside of the RV, maybe put one on the side in the front or even the Hopkins one, you have to get the RV level first. So when you put your levels on, they're accurate, it's just like on my trailer, I said I use the levels on top of the tongue jack. Well, I calibrated that with the refrigerator being level, and then I set that because it's adjustable where it's level, when the refrigerator's level.

It's not 100%, but I always go back inside, look at the refrigerator. But it gives you a nice little barometer, get your bearings when you're setting up the RV or your trailer and fifth wheel, so you're not chasing your tail, if you will. You have a couple levels to really indicate how close you are, then you will need to go inside, look at the refrigerator and that's the final say. Or you can have someone inside shouting out right, left front rear, how to level it

So that's the take on stabilizers and there's several different brands. One brand being better than the other. BAL is probably the best. Their stuff seems to be a little heavier duty, but a lot of RVs come with the cheaper stabilizers on them. I want to change mine. "Oh, look at this one don't looks so good. I'm gonna go out and buy new ones." I want to do that. Maybe if you ever tear some off or you have to replace them, maybe then look at upgrading going to a better quality one.

But I think at the end of the day, any brand is probably gonna be good because Husky is a brand out there. It's not a high end brand, but it's a good brand. There's Camco they make some, Lippert Components make some, BAL makes some. There's some other off name brands that aren't all that popular. Ultra-Fab. They make ... So just by what works, look at the weight rating of them and base it on the that. Don't look at the steel, how thin it is or thick it is. They're all gonna work about the same. And like I said, I'm not real particular about them. BAL's probably is the best though.

Oh, and Stromberg Carlson makes some. They all are different choices there. And you're not gonna find all those choices in most RV stores, they might carry one or two of them, but they're not gonna carry all of them. So even trying to match one up if you tear one up might become a little bit of a chore. So I don't even worry about that. Just replace it. Get another one in there so you can enjoy your Rving. These are things that are important, but they shouldn't be keeping you up at night. They certainly don't keep me up at night. Only when I'm thinking about the podcast, but you want to make sure it works.

It's there. If you tear one up, don't spend days trying to shop around and find the exact same replacement, because you're gonna have to drag that around if they don't have it stocked, they are not gonna be able to help you. So you're gonna have to know all the brands, see what stores have the brands. So just make it work. As long as there's something there, that's what's important, because these things really do make life easier, make life a whole lot easier. And JT's Strong Arm, the BAL stabilizers, the Fulltimer and the Weekender, they add to that stabilization, the tire chocks that go in between the two tires.

And those again, I'd recommend BAL on that. They are really good ones. So with that being said, enjoy your RV. Look at these things as tools to make the weekend better. It shouldn't take you hours to level or to stabilize and level your RV. It should take minutes. It shouldn't be a long process. You're doing that. Your spouse can be doing something else, getting ready to just enjoy the weekend or whatever it is. The week, maybe you're doing a month, but just enjoy it. And that's really what the RV lifestyle is about. Man, there's a lot of work that goes into this, but enjoy it while you're there.

Don't be working on the weekends fussing and struggling with things that you can prepare yourself for, before you ever leave town. You know you have a bad stabilizer, fix it before you go. Don't screw around while you're there. Frustrating for you, frustrating for the family and you ruin the trip. So, hey this episode as always is brought to you by RadioArizonaRV. I am the sponsor of the show and also the host. This is Eric Stark. So you've been listening to the RV Maintenance and Education show for the do it yourselfer.

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Or in this case there's a lot of stabilizers, I will probably have links to all the manufacturers, but I'll list their name at least. But there's things there that give you a little more information. It helps you to become better acquainted with it. It saves you time to doing research when you can just go to the website, RadioArizonaRv and find the links to the products you need. And in a lot of cases, it's not even links to our own website for selling them to you. It's just links to the manufacturer website so you can get the information that you want. Then if you would decide you want to order them, if you don't find them on one of our websites, you can always call us any of this stuff we can do over the phone.

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show at RadioArizonaRV.com, and as a reminder you can check out these podcasts or listen to them at iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, Stitcher, Deezer, any of the major podcast channels, you can connect to the RSS feed and listen to the podcast on the device of your preference. Or you can just simply go to radioarizonaRV.com and listen to any episode you want to. They're all there. So whatever you want to do, you can connect and listen to how you want to, how you're comfortable.
So today is episode number 47, and in today's episode I'm gonna be talking about stabilizing for fifth wheel trailers and travel trailers. And I know a lot of RVs or I should say trailers come with stabilizing jacks on them, stabilizing legs whenever you want to call that. And that's what we're gonna get into it and ... I bring it up because customers come into the store, bring it up. It's a conversation that probably takes place weekly. So it's not something that everybody needs to learn about, but it's a nice refresher course.
Even if you have problems with your Scissor Jacks, your stabilizing legs, whatever it might be, some simple solutions to take care of some problems. And then the next episode I'm gonna get into leveling. Or leveling pads, blocks, things like that. So this is for stabilizing. Episode 48 will be about leveling. So they're tied together, but there's not enough space in one show to cover both topics here. Also, a lot of things happen every day in life, right? We all face adversity, we face problems. We face this, we face that. But there's a lot of good things that happened every day as well.
But I get a lot of phone calls from customers and this is off subject, but I want to bring out some points here. We have a lot of people that are looking for used parts. And recently, a customer called us because they found something we're selling on eBay and it was a end cap for a carefree flight [inaudible 00:02:25] and we had them on eBay for about $24 plus shipping. The shipping was 850 I think. So these caps are not available anymore. So our price was based on our cost. It wasn't based on, they're not available anymore. It is what it is.
That's ... Our cost is this much, we mark it up and ask the price. The customer gets a hold of me, who's looking at one, we had one left, he needed a right and left and we had one or the other, but we didn't have both. So he's calling and he's looked all over the internet and he told me about a junk yard that he checked with who happened to have one. And they had the complete slide [inaudible 00:03:05]out on it. It had the end caps and they would sell them an end cap for 200 bucks. And he told me the name of the junkyard.
I confirmed it $200. And that's not the first time I've heard of stuff like that. Sometimes these junk yards, you go and call in around and you're looking for something used. Be careful and I'm not knocking them. Some of these salvage yards ... I mean there's not a lot of them. They do have a place and needing something is one thing. But getting taken to the cleaners on, it is another, I mean $200 for this end cap, that's crazy. I would never pay that much for it. So that's just one of the things that takes place or I here from customers quite often.
So be cautious as you purchase things, whether it's from a junk yard, an RV store, it's Amazon, eBay make sure you're paying the right price for something. Make sure that it has a warranty. If you're buying something used, make sure it's the right thing before you buy it. Have the person send you pictures if they don't have good pictures on their website or if you're talking to them on the phone, be certain of it, because sometimes after the sale, you won't get your money back. And there's a lot of people, businesses out there that are shady. The RV industry is an easy niche for a lot of guys to get into.
There's a lot of theft. There's a lot of things being sold on the Internet that the only way I can see they're on that website, is because they're stolen from a manufacturer or from a dealership. When you see a motor, let's say a power gear motor that is retails for seven or $800 and someone's selling a new one for 200 bucks, and they only have one and they don't have a website and they're on eBay, is there a warranty? Is it stolen? I don't know? But it seems pretty odd that someone would have one at that price. And that we hear about this all the time. So be cautious and I'm not saying everybody's a thief and stealing stuff, but be cautious on what you purchase and make sure there's a warranty.
We've been doing this stuff for a long time in a brick and mortar business. We've been selling on the Internet for 20 years, and we take care of our customers. We have a good reputation because of that.

Customer service still is important today. Price is not everything. You can buy it cheap, but are you gonna have a warranty? Or you can overpay and really regret it later on. So be cautious. And I'm not saying you have to price shop everything, just make sure the price is reasonable. There's just a reasonable price. So that's one of the things that came up this week.
I guess I have too much time to myself and I want to share things that I experienced. But there's a lot of things that customers talk about and that's why I share some of this stuff. And I'm keeping a list here of things that maybe I feel are relevant for RVers. Maybe not life things, but RVers' little hacks to make your life a little bit easier when you're looking at parts, buying things.
A lot of people refer to RV's as just that broad term RV or I have a camper. Conversations start out clunky when you say you have a camper. Because there was a time when there was something called the camper. It's called an overhead camper and every body referred to it as a camper. So try to be specific when you're calling around looking for parts, talking to somebody so they know exactly what you have. I have a fifth wheel, I have a travel trailer, I will pull-behind trailer. I have a cab-over camper. I have a motor home, a Class A motor home. A Class C motor home.
All right, so done with that. My little rant there. Now most fifth wheels. Most travel trailers come with some sort of stabilizer on them, and that's just what they are. They're designed for stabilizing the trailer. There's gonna be one in each corner and the usual scenario almost in the corner, it's gonna be mounted to the frame, close to the rear, close to the front on the right and left hand side. Now a fifth wheel trailer has the landing gear in the front, so you have two legs right there. Then generally in the rear you're gonna have a stabilizing leg or a Scissor Jack in the rear, right rear left rear, and you use that to stabilize it. So you'd already have your RV level.
It would be in place. Your tires, if you have to raise them up off the ground with ... Ever how you do that. I'm gonna talk about that in episode 48 whether it's wood or plastic pads, whatever it might be. So you have a level or very close to level. On my trailer, most of the places I go, I've never had to use wood or putting it underneath the tires. I mean I do put something underneath the tires. I use Super Dolly RV Pads for that so the tires aren't sitting on the gravel or the dirt just gets them up off the whatever and easier to put tire covers on.
But anyway, so if you have to level it, get it leveled first and like, well I guess I was going with my trailer is, it's not always 100% level. It's close. And I just use the stabilizing legs. I have Scissor Jacks actually to give it that fine tuning on the level, and really they can do but they're not meant to support the weight of the entire trailer or fifth wheel. They don't have a high weight rating. They're not gonna be like a jack to jack it up and or a take a tire and wheel off. That's not gonna happen. Well it might, but it would probably tear up pretty easy.
And you were certainly wouldn't want to be ... Find yourself in that position. So most RVs come with them, but if they don't, they're easy. They're bolt-on items. The A frame or Scissor Jack type or the ... I think I referred to mine as an A frame. I think I meant Scissor Jack. And then just the single leg, the single stabilize her leg. Either one of those if it comes with it great, but if you have to bolt them on, go ahead. They're not hard and bolting them on is a lot easier later on to take them off If you tear one up.
Chances are you will sooner or later. And the ones that get welded on, there's a bracket welded to the RV. And each brand of these, let's say Scissor Jacks are different, they don't make them identical. So if you're gonna just try to unbolt the parts and replace the parts, without replacing that bracket, it becomes very difficult to do. And when they build the RVs, they weld everything on, which is fine. But just keep that in mind. If you have to replace when you're gonna probably cut the weld off? Or cut the bracket off? And then bolt one on.
But if you're doing it after the fact, you've already bought the RV, it didn't come with them. Bolting them on is fine. Just make sure the holes are nice, and the bolts are super tight. Drying the holes down where you drill them through so they're smooth. So the Jack is flush against the frame. You don't want it to rock a little bit on the frame, and you should be good to go. And now these are really important to have. They're looked at as a little cheapie thing on an RV, but they're actually a pretty nice little deal to have.
Back before they made Scissor Jacks and Single Leg Jacks, everybody carried what were called stacker jacks, generally made by Camco or something similar to it. You'd have four of them, and they're like the same type of jack, you use them for supporting a vehicle after you jack it up, set the aluminum lightweights small. In fact, they're not really that popular anymore because all the trailers come with Scissor Jacks or Single Leg Jacks, something to stable or a jack stabilizer. I said say jacks I meant stabilizers. So it's a lot nicer than having to walk around with the four independent jacks and set them underneath the trailer.
Or putting them on blocks of wood, and screwing them up. What a pain.

So we have it a little bit easier today. And most of these jacks have a 3/4" nut  that you you use to raise or lower it. You can do it by hand or you can get a drill, a cordless drill and do it with a drill. Just get an adapter that goes from the drill to a socket. You just put it on there and wind them up, wind them down. And I found that sometimes, depending on your drill and so forth, it might not get them all the way cranked up to where you want it to get that fine tuning.
So you might still have to use a ratchet with a socket on it, but it's still easier to wind it up with the drill than using a ratchet the entire way up and the entire way down. And I know this is basic stuff. A lot ... how do you guys already know this? But these things are important. They do break from time to time, but they are not jacks, and there's different variations of them. At the end of the day, they almost all do the same thing. Some of them have a fatter foot or a bigger foot, which is great, but you can put a piece of wood or plastic pad underneath the foot to accomplish the same thing.
It depends on what you're cup of tea is, and how the RV came. Mine, I carry the Super Dolly RV Pads and I just throw one underneath, one under each jack leg or stabilizer leg when I stabilize it. If is not on the dirt, doesn't want to push into the dirt or the gravel, the pad takes up that weight. And the other is some cool additions to these though. This is where it gets nice. These things stabilize the RV to a great [inaudible 00:15:23] RV. Here I had just said trailers or fifth wheels and I called it an RV. So the stabilizers help a great deal on stabilizing the trailer or fifth wheel.
It's not gonna be 100%, but it's gonna get it real nice. It's gonna be better than it was just sitting on two wheels, with your tongue jack or your landing gear on a fifth wheel. But really to finish it off and get the RV where it's solid, if you're gonna be out long enough where you feel it's worthwhile, I mean, I don't generally go RVing or camping for weeks at a time. It's more like a few days here, a few days there. So it's not as critical to me and don't have kids running around in the trailer, things like that. So it doesn't feel like you're on a boat at sea.
But BAL products, they make a couple of different items. One is called the Fulltimer, one's called the Weekender, and these are components that add onto your stabilizers and help lock them into place. They actually attach to the stabilizer in the frame of the trailer or fifth wheel. And so it keeps that from moving. So that really locks it down. And it also works with landing gear as well. And not only do they have that but Lippert components has one called JT's Strong Arm. JT's Strong Arm. JT's Strong Arm was actually the original one that came out, and theirs is pretty nice too.
And these things, whether it's the BAL or the JT's Strong Arm, they work very nice. They add that final touch to stabilizing the trailer or fifth wheel. Then of course there's wheel chocks. It can go between the wheels and actually tighten up between the two, or I should say tires and they tighten up between the tires, and they keep the tires from moving at all, which is pretty nice. And then there's wheel chocks. It can go on the front and rear of the tires. If you [inaudible 00:17:16] haven't had them, actually you might be inclined to put one in front and rear of each tire, or just the front and rear of the two tires, if that made sense.
But sort of stabilizing it's gonna help lock the trailer or fifth wheel in place and it's not gonna move. And it's nice doing certain things, someone's walking across the room, while someone was trying to pour something in a glass, if that trailer moves a lot, it could be that difference between spilling or not spilling it. And another side of this, which you're probably not gonna have this happening very often, but I know from experience out installing window covers, and it's especially window covers. You're drilling holes in the side of the RV. The people who own the RV, you're inside of it, they're moving around and you go to drill, and the RV starts moving.
Literally your drill is moving across the top of the surface. That's how much RVs can move. It's not just a little fraction. So in these RVs typically I noticed they're usually not stabilized that well, they maybe have the stabilizers down, but they've done nothing with the tires to lock them into place. They've just gone for the basic, which I get it. But they're not worried about someone drilling on the side of the RV all the time. But I'm just telling you that because it does make a difference. There is quite a bit of movement. It can be at the top of the RV, at the ruff, it could be moving two or three inches.
It's not gonna feel like that on the floor. But the higher you get, the more it moves, it becomes more visible. And so if you going to drill a hole in the side of the RV, you don't want it moving. So we'd have to ask the customer, "Hey, can you just sit down for a little bit or maybe go outside and then we get all done." And everything's fine.So that stabilizing is important. It's not the end of the world if you don't, but it definitely makes a different. And you want your RV level, you definitely want it level. And another thing I forgot to mention too is when you're leveling your RV, you're probably gonna have levels mounted on the outside.
You might buy something from a company where it's LED or some sort of laser type level you mount on the side of the RV. Hopkins make ones that's pretty cool. Talk about it briefly in the next episode. These are great and they make leveling the RV easier. Now I use my tongue jacket. It has a level on there, and I just look at that and once it's pretty close, I go inside and here's where it's important. You have to put a level in the refrigerator. They make bullseye levels is what they're called. They're round and they go and tell you put them in the freezer.
You just leave it in there, but your refrigerator is what you want leveled first. So that's the most important thing, because technically if the refrigerator is level, the RV will be level. You don't want the RV level in the refrigerator out of level. It's horrible for the cooling units. It's gonna minimize the life of it. It won't work as well. An RV refrigerator is designed to work the best when it's level and last the longest when it's level.
You don't have to have a level when you're not using it, but when you're using it, it needs to be level. So make sure your refrigerator's level before you do anything else. And when I say that, I mean if you're gonna add on levels on the outside of the RV, maybe put one on the side in the front or even the Hopkins one, you have to get the RV level first. So when you put your levels on, they're accurate, it's just like on my trailer, I said I use the levels on top of the tongue jack. Well, I calibrated that with the refrigerator being level, and then I set that because it's adjustable where it's level, when the refrigerator's level.
It's not 100%, but I always go back inside, look at the refrigerator. But it gives you a nice little barometer, get your bearings when you're setting up the RV or your trailer and fifth wheel, so you're not chasing your tail, if you will. You have a couple levels to really indicate how close you are, then need go inside, look at the refrigerator and that's the final say. Or you can have someone inside shouting out right, left front rear, how to level it
[inaudible 00:21:27]someone inside, probably be your wife or your spouse and maybe that won't work out so good. That might turn into a big giant argument a divorce, next thing you're fighting over who gets the RV. They used to say when walkie talkies first came out, people started to use RV. They just caused divorces. I remember, a RV story I heard in San Bernardino, California. Husband and wife out there backing up to use the dump station, they have walkie talkies. He's screaming at her, she screamed at him and no one's paying attention. Next thing they run into a sign or hit the fence then they're fighting about that, who's fault it was.
So be cautious. You don't want to get a divorce over leveling your RV or backing it up or whatever it might be. So that's the take on stabilizers and there's several different brands. One brand being better than the other. BAL is probably the best. Their stuff seems to be a little heavier duty, but a lot of RVs come with the cheaper stabilizers on them. I want to change mine. "Oh, look at this one don't looks so good. I'm gonna go out and buy new ones." I want to do that. Maybe if you ever tear some off or you have to replace them [inaudible 00:22:41] maybe then look at upgrading going to a better quality one.
But I think at the end of the day, any brand is probably gonna be good because Husky is a brand out there. It's not a high end brand, but it's a good brand. There's ... Camco make some, Lippert Components make some, BAL makes some. There's some other off name brands that aren't all that popular. Ultra-Fab. They make ... So just by what works, look at the weight rating of them and base it on the that. Don't look at the steel, how thin it is or thick it is. They're all gonna work about the same. And like I said, I'm not real particular about them. BAL's probably the best though.
Oh, and Stromberg Carlson makes some. They all are different choices there. And you're not gonna find all those choices in most RV stores, they might carry one or two of them, but they're not gonna carry all of them. So even trying to match one up if you tear one up might become a little bit of a chore. So I don't even worry about that. Just replace it. Get another one in there so you can enjoy your Rving. These are things that are important, but they shouldn't be keeping you up at night. They certainly don't keep me up at night. Only when I'm thinking about the podcast, but you want to make sure it works.
It's there. If you tear one up, don't spend days trying to shop around and find the exact same replacement, because you're gonna have to drag that around if they don't have it stocked, they are not gonna be able to help you. So you're gonna have to know all the brands, see what stores have the brands. So just make it work. As long as there's something there, that's what's important, because these things really do make life easier, make life a whole lot easier. And the JT's Strong Arm, the BAL stabilizers, the Fulltimer and the Weekender, they add to that stabilization, the tire chocks that go in between the two tires.
And those again, I'd recommend BAL on that. They are really good ones. So with that being said, enjoy your RV. Look at these things as tools to make the weekend better. It shouldn't take you hours to level or to stabilize and level your RV. It should take minutes. It shouldn't be a long process. You're doing that. Your spouse can be doing something else, getting ready to just enjoy the weekend or whatever it is. The week you're doing a month, but just enjoy it. And that's really what the RV lifestyle is about. Man, there's a lot of work that goes into this, but enjoy it while you're there.
Don't be working on the weekends fussing and struggling with things that you can prepare yourself for, before you ever leave town. You know you have a bad stabilizer, fix it before you go. Don't screw around while you're there. Frustrating for you, frustrating for the family and you ruin the trip. So, hey this episode as always is brought to you by RadioArizonaRV. I am the sponsor of the show and also the host. This is Eric Stark. So you've been listening to the RV maintenance and education show for the do it yourself you're on RadioArizonaRV.
And as I said earlier, you can listen to it on either major podcast channels, iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify, Google play, all of the above. Or you can just go to RadioArizonaRV.com. And of course when you go to our website to listen to the episodes and maybe just go there periodically, because there's a lot more in the show notes than there is when you listen just to the podcast on let's say iTunes. You're hearing stuff. But when I write up the show notes, I add things and in some cases it's not gonna be as in depth as the episode, but I might throw in some other stuff that I didn't mention, and there's always links to the products I'm talking about.
Or in this case there's a lot of stabilizers, I probably have links to all the manufacturers, but I'll list their name at least. But there's things there that give you a little more information. It helps you to become better acquainted with it. It saves you time to doing research when you can just go to the website, RadioArizonaRV and find the links to the products you need. And in a lot of cases, it's not even links to our own website for selling them to you. It's just links to the manufacturer website so you can get the information that you want. Then if you would decide you want to order them, if you don't find them on one of our websites, you can always call us any of this stuff we can do over the phone.
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About the author, Eric

I have been a hands on DIY'er since childhood, yeah since childhood with the idea that the job has to get done. My job (not a career) history is not the typical job history. I have run successful multi-million dollar companies, I have started RV related businesses from ground up. Over the years I have acquired many skills, some self taught and taught by others in a hands on environment. Today everything I have learned over the decades has come together and now I love to help others and keep myself involved in my favorite industry, Recreational Vehicles! This is not even close to being finished......