Saturday, March 15, 2008

RV Leveling Solutions


Sponsored by Jody's RV in Greenwood, SC


Visit us at www.jodysrv.com1425 Hwy 72/221 East,  Greenwood, SC  29649 Call us at (864) 227-6500 or email me at barry@jodysrv.com

Leveling the Camper

We've all been there ... you back into the campsite ... disconnect the unit from the tow vehicle ... level things up front to back, using the front jack(s) and drop the stabilizers ... only to discover that the unit is two bubbles out of level from side to side. Common sense (and your user's manual) tells you that your RV will function better and last longer if it is set up nice and level in both directions. Therein lies the rub. Unless you own one of the more expensive motor coaches, your unit came with no built in method of establishing a level East to West set up. Furthermore, and contrary to popular belief, the scissor jacks positioned at the four corners of the unit are NOT intended for use in leveling the camper!!! I wish I had a dime for every bent screw jack we've seen in our shop. 

There are many commercial products designed to address this need, some great ... some not so much. Recently, however, a solution has entered the marketplace that is far superior in my opinion to all other methods. I used to tout the virtues of the home-made 3-tiered ramps that I posted earlier. After seeing the levelers introduced by Andersen Hitches late last year, I have to say that they beat the tar out of my little home-made ramp. They are much lighter and much easier to use than even my old standbys and they take up so much less valuable space. I'll leave the instructions for the home built ramps but you really should take a look at the new Andersen levelers and their tire changing solution, the Rapid Jack, which is the best emergency jack for tandem axles I've ever seen. At just under $40 per leveler and around $60 for the Rapid Jack, they are cost effective and easier to use than anything I've seen. Here's a picture of the levelers.                                                     
You can see their products in more detail at their website here  ...  http://www.andersenhitches.com/ along with demonstration videos, etc. Naturally, we have them in stock at our store so come on in, say hello to us and get a set for your camper.

For those of you who prefer the more traditional ramps, here are the construction details:

Materials List
1 - 10 foot, untreated (I'll explain later) 2" x 10"
12 - 1-1/2" Dry Wall Screws
Good Quality Waterproof Paint



Construction

Cut the first piece to 3 1/2 feet long, with a 45 degree bevel at one end. Cut the second piece to 2 1/2 feet long, again with a 45 degree bevel at one end and cut the third piece to 1 1/2 feet long and bevel one end to 45 degrees.
Stack the 2 1/2 foot piece on top of the 3 1/2 foot base, line up the sides and the butt ends and attach using 8 drywall screws spaced two across and evenly distributed (make sure the screws are countersunk into the piece to avoid tire damage). Stack the 1 1/2 foot top ramp at the top of the stack, line up the sides and the butt ends and attach with 4 drywall screws, again, countersunk. Sand thoroughly to remove any splintered surfaces and protect with a good quality waterproof paint. Properly constructed and with reasonable care, this ramp will last a lifetime.

Note: I do not recommend using treated lumber to build your ramp. Treated lumber is soaked in arsenic or other hazardous preservatives to slow decay and/or discourage infestation by termites and carpenter ants. These preservatives are poisonous and are not safe for use around small children or pets. Also, treated lumber tends to be heavier than untreated stocks and does not provide a good surface for the adherance of paint. Also, many RV'ers build these ramps out of 2" x 6" stock. While this works OK and is a bit lighter, the 10" stock provides a more stable base and allows for support across the entire width of the tire. Refer to your owner's manual, but most manufacturers recommend that the entire width of the tire be supported when leveling to avoid tread separation or sidewall damage.

To use your ramps, position the unit at the optimal location and, while still connected to the tow vehicle, check the East/West level by placing a torpedo level across the floor at the entry door. After determining which side needs to be raised, move the unit forward or back far enough to accommodate the ramp. Place the ramp behind or in front of the wheel to be raised and roll the unit up onto the first platform. Re-check the level and, if needed, move to the second or third level.
I often get the question "what if I need to go higher than the top level?" The top of the ramp is 4 1/2" high. If this doesn't get you pretty close to level, Bucky, you don't need a taller ramp ... you need a better campsite!!

1 comment:

Barbara said...

I sent you one comment about work. Did you get it. If not will rewrite.
Thanks, Barb