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Using Your RV : Tips & tricks

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Block your RV jacks?
Russ and Tina DeMaris

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It seems in the RV world there's always more than one way to look at something or do something. Here's one more for your ever-expanding list: Using blocking under your jacks.

Travel trailer and fifth wheel users, most all have stabilizer jacks, even if for fifth-wheel folks most often they only have a pair (at the rear). Travel trailers may have multiple sets of stabilizers, certainly on the corners, and perhaps other pairs stretched out along the body. The whole purpose of stabilizer jacks is as it sounds: To stabilize the rig for the comfort of occupants while the trailer is parked.

Roll into any RV park or campground and here's where the "more than one way of doing something" becomes apparent. You'll find trailers with their stabilizers "down" and some will be directly onto the ground, while other RV users will place a wood (or plastic) block or blocks between the stabilizer and the ground. What's the difference?

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For those who swear by using blocking, there are several reasons. First, the less a stabilizer jack is extended, the more stable it tends to be. Cranked out to full length, stabilizers tend of be a bit wobbly. Second, cranking down a stabilizer with a small foot pad can damage asphalt pavement--we know, we've done it. Even concrete can be scarred by a stabilizer foot pad. Third, jack foot pads sometimes sink into mooshy ground, and a larger block helps to prevent that. And fourth(and perhaps the most popular reason): If you stick blocks between the ground and the stabilizer you don't have to crank the jack down as far, nor crank it up as far when you leave. Call it generally laziness, we'll own up to it.

There are those who contend that carrying blocking to stick under your jack pads is a waste of time, and adds weight to the load. Then there are those who worry that if blocking used, particularly under fifth wheel's "landing gear" or under a travel trailer tongue jack, that the rig may slip off the block causing damage. We've used blocking under both of these situations; yes, we have experienced the slip problem. But that happened when we failed to chock the trailer wheels before running the jacks out. Happily we didn't suffer any damage, but the possibility is real.


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What to use for blocking? Dimensional lumber ("two by" stock) works well for most folks. We have a 6 x 6 block we use under our tongue jack. Some use plastic leveling blocks that they would otherwise use under wheels for leveling. We've also seen one RVer's landing gear blocks built out of stout 3/4" plywood, built into boxes. Not sure how well they hold up to moisture, but they were lighter than a corresponding size of dimensional lumber.

Whatever you choose to use (or not use) it's wise to chock your trailer wheels before you unhitch. That means a chock behind and in front of the wheels. If if you "think" you know which way the ground is running, double chocking will prevent nasty surprises.

REPENT IN SACKCLOTH CORNER: Here's an update for you: Consider the picture above (with the huge block under the stabilizer) a great example of what NOT to do. On further research and reflection, we humbly suggest you NOT stack your blocks high under your stabilizers. Please cut and paste this link for our recommendations:

http://www.newrver.com/stabilizer_jacks.shtml



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