RV Q&A: Trailer Levelers

 

Q:

I have always used blocks of wood, 2x4s and 2x6s to level and chock my 26-foot dual-axle trailer, but it’s a pain carrying all those chunks of wood. I’ve recently seen ads for the Andersen Camper Leveler. It seems like a product that could simplify my life, but the trailer tires in the pictures look kind of precarious sitting on those smallish blocks. Have you had any feedback on this type of leveler and chock?

I also see dual-axle trailers leveled with only one wheel. The other just hangs down. The axles are torsion-bar type. My trailer, an Evergreen Element STRK26, is fairly light, but I’ve always lifted it using both wheels on each side.

Michael Morin | Los Osos, California

A:

Michael, keep supporting both tires, regardless of which type of leveling device you use, because that equalizes the loading on the trailer suspension components and prevents overloading of one tire.

The Andersen Camper Leveler seems well designed, and although we haven’t done an in-depth product evaluation, it probably works as advertised. Seeming precarious might just be your perception. I’d be more concerned about the load-bearing-surface width relative to the tire-tread width. The tire-tread width should be fully supported, without a portion of the tread hanging over and bulging down past the leveling device surface. Use of a support that is too narrow can damage the tire tread or sidewall. Measure your trailer’s tires and compare them to the levelers to be sure it’s OK in that regard.


 

Toilet Replacement

I have a 1995 32-foot Jayco travel trailer that is in good shape. The potty, an old Thetford Aqua-Magic IV, started giving me problems and really has never been satisfactory, mainly
because it’s too darn low and the seal always needed attention. And it would not hold water in the bowl. I can’t believe I put up with it this long.

State Trailer, a major trailer-supply dealer in Salt Lake City, advised me that a Dometic 310 would be compatible and fit right in. I liked the Dometic because it has a porcelain bowl and a foot flush, it’s supposed to be easy to change the bowl seal, and it had decent reviews. I had no problem with the installation except that the bottom of the toilet did not seal well. Later, I discovered water leaking around the base of the toilet. There was not a good seal around the flange. If I keep tightening the bolts, I am sure I will crack the base, and still the base will not be flush with the floor.

I am not experienced enough to change the flange and worry about messing it up. I had the impression that flanges were flanges and standard in the industry. I have thought about putting a wax ring on the flange, but I’ve never heard of anyone trying one.

Bill James | Tooele, Utah

A:

You’re right, Bill, “flanges are flanges” and they’re a fairly universal-fit component. The sealing gasket, base flange and hold-down bolts are commonly sized parts across several manufacturer product lines.

If the old gasket you removed looks about the same as the new one, and the hold-down bolts fit the base on the new toilet, you should be able to bolt the new toilet in place. If it’s not sealing, it indicates there must be something wrong with the way the gasket was installed, or perhaps there’s some type of obstruction that snuck in there and is
preventing a tight seal. You’ll probably need to remove the new toilet, recheck the seal and flange area, and try again.

Wax seals shouldn’t be used in a mobile environment because of temperature swings (high heat will melt the wax), and the movement can cause the wax to lose its seal eventually. Stick with the foam seals.


Foul Water Smell

We have a foul smell in the hot-water line in the bathroom sink. In the past two weeks, I have run a bleach-and-water solution through the water system twice. The smell is eliminated briefly but soon returns. We don’t detect the odor anywhere else but the bathroom sink and only in the hot water. Can you give me some guidance to solve the issue? I did install a filter on the hose, but I have noticed no change.

Monte Bender | Kalamazoo, Michigan

A:

AIt seems that you may not have put enough of the bleach disinfectant solution in the water heater, Monte, or that you didn’t leave it in the heater long enough. The water heater is the main source of that sulfur smell in the water, as conditions inside the tank are just right for producing the stinky but harmless bacteria that makes the smell.
Start by adding the bleach solution to the water system, then run every hot-water faucet in the RV until the water starts to smell like bleach. That indicates the bleach solution has circulated through the water heater. Leave it there overnight, then drain and flush the system as before. That should eliminate the smell you’ve been encountering.


Fifth-Wheel Hitch Questions

I just purchased a 2017 Ford F-350 4×4 and 2017 Grand Design Reflection 337RLS fifth-wheel, and am contemplating using the Andersen hitch.

I have two concerns: First, lining up of the truck and trailer will have to be more exact to allow the ball to drop into the socket versus the standard hitch, which helps guide the pin into the hitch. Second, because of the lightness/shape of the Andersen hitch, it would appear to me that it would buckle during a frontal collision of the tow vehicle with a vehicle in front of it. Is there any third party testing of this hitch?

Rick Lightheart | New Westminster, British Columbia

A:

We aren’t aware of any third-party testing on this product, Rick, and it’s on our radar. Yes, the coupling design is such that it may require a somewhat more precise lineup for hitching, but that’s just one common characteristic of that type of hitch. Each hitch design has advantages and drawbacks, and that’s just one of them.

As for the hitch performance in a crash situation, we are not certified mechanical engineers with chassis and collision experience, so you’d need to glean that kind of information directly from the manufacturer. The manufacturer designs, tests and certifies a hitch for a given load under a given set of operating conditions to make sure it will do the job as advertised, but the crashworthiness is another matter altogether. Contact the manufacturer for more information along those lines.


 

2 COMMENTS

  1. To Monte Bender. The smell in the hot water may not be corrected using the bleach sanitizing method. Check your owner’s manual. Our Atwood water heater needed a vinegar rinse very soon after we bought it new. After trying the bleach solution it still smelled bad. I did the vinegar wash as described in the manual and it has been over 4 years with no smell.

  2. “Foul Water Smell”, If the unit has a washer/dryer prep kit in it, the smell could be coming from those water lines. A lot of them are tee’ed from the bathroom water supply. Tr, if no washer/dryer installed, to remember to flush those lines also, and winterize them. Just saying!!!!

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