Products that Keep Trailers Stable and Level for a More Enjoyable RVing Experience
When we consider all the comforts of home when we’re on the road, we often think about things like a cozy living space, well-equipped kitchen and a roomy bath area. However, there is another unsung hero of RV living that often receives very little limelight: That of the humble leveling/stabilizing jack. These jacks, hiding away in the shadowy recesses underneath your RV, help create a solid foundation for your rig whether you’re roughing it in the desert or luxuriating in an RV resort. If you’ve ever tried RVing without them, you know that your home on wheels can quickly become a bouncy house once residents start moving around.
There’s a common misconception that stabilizing jacks and leveling jacks are one and the same, but this is not the case. Their actual intended use is right in the name; stabilizing jacks are typically used on travel trailers to keep the rig stable once it is parked for a solid, residential feel when you’re inside. Although they are indeed capable of limited leveling of the RV by lifting it an inch or two on one side, they’re really only designed to make contact with the ground enough to prevent unwanted movement, and not much more. Leveling jacks, on the other hand, are typically used on motorhomes and fifth-wheels and are engineered to lift the RV as much as reasonably necessary (side-to-side and front-to-back) in order to make the unit level when parked. In fact, some can even lift the tires off the ground completely if necessary (not suggested for leveling). Because of their intended use, leveling jacks are more robust than stabilizing jacks, and not surprisingly, function as stabilizing jacks as well.
As you probably already know, not all trailers come with stabilizing jacks, and not all motorhomes/fifth-wheels are equipped with leveling jacks. The good news is, both are available through the aftermarket in a variety of designs. Many of these can be installed by the DIY mechanic, while the more complex heavy-duty and/or automatic leveling systems will likely require a professional’s help. To give you an idea of what’s out there, we’ve compiled this handy guide to help keep you and your family on an even keel this coming travel season. Keep in mind that many of these companies offer similar products and we can’t feature all of them in the space we have here — so be sure to visit each company’s website for its full range of offerings.
Leveling and stabilization products may not be as glamorous as a flat screen TV or electric fireplace, but they can go a long way toward making your RV a more comfortable place to spend time.
Located in the RV hotbed of Elkhart, Indiana, BAL offers leveling and stabilizing products/accessories for motorhomes, travel trailers and fifth-wheels. The company is also an OEM supplier to the RV industry, so you can get the same quality product used on today’s trailers.
Classic Scissors Jack 5
BAL’s Classic scissors jack line consists of two models: One that extends from 4 to 233/4 inches, and another that extends all the way to 30 inches — a good choice for trailers with raised suspensions. The Deluxe scissors jack includes a patented roller bearing assembly for smooth operation, while the Standard jack provides a sandwich construction. Rust-inhibitive E-coating on the jack and shiny zinc coating on the crank handle ensure long life, and mounting hardware is included. May also be welded to the trailer frame. Also available is a LoPro Scissors Jack that extends 31/4-24 inches.
3Power Pak 12-volt DC Motor Kit
Cranking your jacks up and down manually is a hassle, particularly if you travel often. BAL now offers an optional Power Pak 12-volt DC motor kit, providing jack actuation at the push of a button. Light weight, high rpm and easily installed, according to the company, the sealed motor offers easy access to manual over ride and is packaged in a box of two with motor control.
Light Trailer Tire Leveler 5
Designed for single axle trailers only, this product eliminates the need for moving the trailer onto blocks or ramps in order to level it. The ratchet wrench (Model 841025, included) can be used to turn the drive screw, elevating or lowering the tire lifting pads to the level position. Made from heavy-duty tubular steel, the Light Trailer Leveler features a corrosion-resistant finish and fits 13, 14 and most 15-inch wheels.
Even with stabilizing jacks deployed, there can still be some side-to-side movement caused by lateral or fore/aft flex. The Lock-Arm stabilizing bar ties the jack feet to the trailer frame, eliminating most trailer movement, according to BAL. The system adapts to most crank down leveling/stabilizing jacks, and the Lock-Arm travels up and down with the jack for easy set up and storage. Two Lock-Arms and complete mounting hardware included.
Hydraulic leveling systems are typically only reserved for higher-end fifth-wheels … but if you’ve always wanted the convenience of one of these systems, Quadra Manufacturing may have what you’ve been looking for. The second generation Big Foot system offers heavy-duty hydraulic jacks front and rear, and fits almost all fifth-wheels built today, according to the company. The system allows the user to operate the jacks with a wireless key fob to unhook from the tow vehicle and auto level the trailer. Then, when you’re ready to hook up again, the “Quick Connect” feature automatically retracts the rear jacks, and the front landing gear will lift back to your original hitch height, according to Quadra. Of course, there’s also a fully manual mode when you want control. The USA-made system includes all necessary hydraulic pumps, cylinders, hoses, wiring harnesses, controls and hardware. A six-point system is also available.
It’s fairly common to find automatic leveling systems on most late model Class A motorhomes. But if you’ve got an older gas coach that you’d like to upgrade to full automatic hydraulic leveling, Quadra Manufacturing can help. The company’s Bigfoot Series fully automatic leveling system for gas Class A motorhomes (the company makes systems for other coach styles as well) offers features like a manual mode that allows the user to run each jack individually, an “all up” light that indicates all jacks have been retracted and an emergency retract button. The system includes everything needed for installation, including hydraulic pumps, cylinders, hoses, wiring harnesses, controls and hardware.
Camco is an industry giant that manufacturers just about anything you could want for an RV — so it’s no surprise that the company has its own products for stabilizing an RV.
Maybe your trailer doesn’t have leveling jacks, and maybe you don’t want to install permanent models. If this describes you, then Camco’s Telescopic Stabilizing Jacks are a good solution. Similar to automotive style jacks, simply adjust them to the approximate height, insert the quick release pin, then use the screw assembly to eliminate slack. They’re adjustable from 16-30 inches and are certified to a 6,000-pound load capacity. Featuring a zinc-plated inner tube and screw assembly and a powder-coated body to prevent corrosion, these jacks come in a set of two.
Leveling Scissor Jacks 4
Camco’s leveling scissor jacks are designed for both pop ups and trailers, and are available in sizes from 20 to 30 inches rated at 5,000 or 7,500 pounds. Powder coated for maximum rust protection, these jacks can be bolted or welded in place, and come with mounting hardware.
Slideouts come in a range of sizes, and can be operated by a number of different mechanisms–some better than others. Husky’s adjustable slideout stabilizer helps support the weight of a rig’s slideout to prevent sag over time, and at the same time adds more stability to the coach/trailer by preventing rocking motions. Made from heavy duty steel and powder coated/zinc finished, these stabilizers are available in 16-28-inch, 21-37-inch and 26-47-inch sizes, and include a 6-square-inch footpad. Packaged two per box.
Whether your rig has no stabilizing jacks or just needs new ones, Husky’s Stabilizing Scissor Jacks can fill the bill. Featuring sturdy steel construction and power coated to resist corrosion, these jacks have a 6,500-pound lifting capacity (each) and are designed to fit most RVs. Each pair includes mounting hardware (can also be welded on) instructions and swivel handle, and the product is backed by a two-year manufacturer warranty.
Automatic leveling systems are quickly becoming standard equipment on many of today’s trailers — and now the GroundControl wireless RV Leveling System from Lippert Components can allow you to upfit your rig without the need for hydraulics. GroundControl is an electric system offered in a four-point leveling configuration (fifth-wheels with gvwr less than 20,000 pounds) and offers a “re-hitch” memory function that remembers the original hitch height. The system levels in less than two minutes, according to the company, and is more affordable than hydraulic systems.
JT’s Strong Arm Jack Stabilizers
Factory-supplied stabilizing jacks are certainly better than no jacks at all, but they do have one liability: deflection. Even with the stabilizing jacks down, you’ve likely noticed that your rig can still rock and roll when you and/or your passengers walk, sit and otherwise move around. That’s because there’s a lot of weight and leverage on those jacks, and they simply don’t have the rigidity to arrest all movement. JT’s Strong Arm Jack Stabilizers are designed to virtually eliminate excessive movement through the power of triangulation: One end of the Strong Arm attaches to the leveling jack, the other end to the trailer frame, much like a Panhard bar layout used in race cars. An easy twist of the Strong Arm’s handle locks it in place. Using a unique system of brackets, the Strong Arm can be attached to the most popular types of stabilizing jacks, including scissor, electric and telescoping.
JT’s Strong Arm Elephant Foot Jack Pads 5
Anyone who’s ever camped on soft or damp ground knows how quickly the factory stabilizing jacks will sink, creating an uneven, unstable condition in a matter of hours. JT’s Elephant Foot Jack Pads replace the small metal landing pads on a fifth-wheel trailer’s front electric landing gear, and can be added to either scissor or single arm telescoping jacks found on the rear of fifth-wheels or for all jacks on travel trailers. Like the feet of their namesake, JT’s large, stable feet are 10 inches in diameter and made of thick, rugged composite to withstand the harshest environments. The pads provide 78 square inches of support– more than twice the footing of standard equipment, and a huge improvement in the trailer stability. Also included are custom-molded JT’s Elephant Shoes, which fit over the Elephant Foot jack pads and prevent skidding on hard, smooth surfaces.
Level Up aluminum leveling jacks from Lippert Components are 10 times faster than their electric counterparts, according to the company. The patented, six-point system adds a pair of aluminum leveling jacks before the front axles, which dramatically reduces the rocking motions RVers face. The one-touch auto level function will level the rig in less than a minute — and the auto re-hitch memory puts the trailer in the position it was when you unhooked, speeding up departure time.
A trailer can’t be completely stable unless both fore/aft and side-to-side movement is arrested, and the STEADYfast system from Hanscom Enterprises LLC does both. The STEADYfast system anchors the trailer frame to the ground using three rigid bars that are attached to high performance self-leveling footplates. The footplates attach to existing jacks, and conveniently located locking clamps and brackets allow a fifth wheel or travel trailer to be stabilized quickly and easily, according to the company. Once the mounting brackets are installed on the trailer frame via attachment hardware or welding, the braces remain in place and raise/lower with the trailer’s jacks. The system requires no set-up, and can be engaged/disengaged in just a few minutes.
Winfield RV Products
Many of us don’t think of the wheels as having much to do with stabilization, but they do. Trailers don’t have parking brakes, so even with the jacks down, you can still experience significant fore/aft movement. To solve this problem, the Winfield RV Products Stabilizing Wheel Chock is inserted in between the trailer tires and the molded handle tightened to substantially reduce fore/aft movement, according to the company. The chocks are designed to work on trailers with 15 or 16-inch wheels and they adjust from 1-1/4-inch to 6-1/2 inches to fit trailer tire spacing. Made from durable, rustproof aluminum bar and galvanized steel, these chocks work on all terrains and do not interfere with leveling blocks.
The Winfield RV Products Fifth Wheel Landing Gear Cross Brace Stabilizer utilizes two expandable heavy gauge steel tubes to create a box truss between the fifth wheel landing gear legs. The tubes are easily tensioned by merely twisting the tubes until they are hand tight. Using the Cross Brace Stabilizer in conjunction with the company’s locking wheel chocks will reportedly eliminate nearly all of the trailer’s unwanted movement. The Cross Brace Stabilizer can usually be installed in minutes using the supplied hardware and basic hand tools, according to the company, and usually does not require drilling or frame modifications.
BAL/Norco Industries, Inc.
800-347-2232 | www.norcoind.com
Bigfoot Hydraulic Leveling Systems/ Quadra Manufacturing
800-752-9815 | www.thebigfootleveler.com
Camco Manufacturing, Inc.
800-334-2004 | www.camco.net
Hanscom Enterprises (STEADYfast)
866-498-8754 | www.steadyfast.com
Husky Towing Products
877-544-4449 | www.huskytow.com
Lippert Components, Inc.
574-535-1125 | www.lci1.com
Winfield RV Products
858-435-0720 | www.winfieldrvproducts.com