Simpsonsix

RV Stabilization

The question comes up a lot of how to keep the RV from shaking so much once it is setup. This is a constant battle and dilemma, since this is a vehicle made for moving and flexing. The content of this post deals primarily with tow-ables, travel trailers and fifth wheels.

Each unit will come with some means of stabilization from the factory. Travel trailers will have a tongue jack to get the trailer off of the ball hitch and then level, and then there will be a set of jacks on the front and another set of jacks on the back. Typically, these are manually operate jacks that the user will use a wrench to raise and lower. Fifth wheels will have a set of landing gear which will raise and lower the unit to get it on and off of the truck. There will also be another 1 or 2 sets of stabilizing jacks in the back. Some units will come with an auto leveling system, where with just a push of a button, the hydraulic jacks will level the unit front to back and side to side. This is typically a 6 point system, meaning that there are 6 jacks making contact with the ground.

My unit has 2 electric landing gear jacks and two electric stabilizing jacks, and I will be using it as the example from here on. I have employed all of the following additional means of stabilization in various combinations (some times all at once). They all have their benefits, and through trial and error I have found what works best in varying situations.

Starting in the front, I use a king pin tripod. This is made for stabilization, not weight bearing, but does an excellent job with reducing front to back movement.

tripod

Next, we deal with those bags of air that the unit sits on. Yes, the tires. First, I will always put down wheel chocks as a safety measure to keep the unit from rolling. Yes, these will help with some movement, but they are made for gross movement, not fine movement. To deal with that, I use a set of x-chocks in the tires. These are designed to provide strong counter pressure, so that any small amount of movement is resisted. These work really well in preventing movement, so much so that one time I forgot to remove them before trying to move my fiver, and the trailer did not want to roll forward at all (don’t worry, I quickly realized my error and took care of things before any damage occurred).

x-chocks

Also in the area of the tires, I mentioned above that some units come with a 6 point leveling system. I took inspiration from this and purchased an additional set of scissor jacks to use. What I realized was that my points of contact were all the way in the front and in the back, leaving the middle of my unit resting on my tires and suspension, which is not a solid point of contact. I have discovered that putting them directly behind my axles is a prime location for removing bounce.

Now lets move on to creating some angles. So far we have been dealing with creating perpendicular stabilization. A popular product is JT Strong Arm, which attaches to the frame and then to the stabilizer jack. It is made to move with the jack, and then the user will tighten it up once the RV is level. I can vouch from seeing the product in use on others RVs that it is an excellent and well made product. It is also expensive, running between $260-$300 usually, as seen here on amazon. I sought out to make my own version for a fraction of the cost, and I have been pleased with the results.

Parts to purchase, all from Lowes or Home Depot:

1-5/8″ Unistrut channel

3/4″ EMT conduit

Unistrut angle brackets

Unistrut spring nuts, 3/8″

Unistrut square washers

3/8″ Bolts and washers

1/2″ Bolts, washers, nylock nuts

Installation will vary by RV type and setup, so I won’t include quantities or measurements, but will let the photos show installation. The strut was mounted to the frame with existing bolts/screws that were already holding up the under skirting.

stabilizer-bars-1

Hardware for attaching the conduit to the Unistrut mounted to the frame. I removed the spring to make the nut move easier when the bolt is loosened.

stabilizer-bars-4

Shows attachment of conduit to Unistrut. When mounting the Unistrut, set the far end (left in this photo) for the fully up position of the jack, and then as it lowers it will move to the right.

stabilizer-bars-7

Showing attachment to the leg. I used nylock nuts here to keep the bolts from coming off, but allowing me to not have to tighten down too much so that the pivot will still move as needed.

stabilizer-bars-6

Showing attachment of two conduits.

stabilizer-bars-8

Showing attachment of rear stabilizer. I used a different bracket that fit better.

While not as convenient as the JT with only needing to untwist a screw, I have found it easy enough to keep a 9/16″ wrench handy to loosen the nuts on the Unistrut (I actually use my Makita battery impact driver with a socket attachment, both for the cross bracing and the scissor jacks).

Comments or questions, please let me know!

Share this with someone...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on Google+Share on StumbleUponEmail this to someone