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Old 01-10-2007, 06:28 PM   #1
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Retrofit electric stabilizers (eg Power Twin II) on vintage trailer?

My 64 Overlander has no attached stabilizers, just some hand-operated lightweight jacks. They work pretty well - right now I just put two at the back under the ends of the frame rails, and use the hitch jack to stabilize the front - but I can imagine in snow or on overnight stops they'd be something of a pain to put out & take in. I'm lazy and I'd rather just push a button.

I was wondering if anyone else has retrofitted a modern electric stabilizer like the Ultra Fab Power Twin II that is apparently fitted to new Airstreams to an older model. It seems like the frame could handle them at least for stabilizing, although perhaps not for lifting for levelling.

Any opinions? Do they just bolt onto the frame, or do they need to be welded? Or is there some other fundamental incompatibility (like the trailer being too narrow)?
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Old 01-10-2007, 06:33 PM   #2
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I have put a pair of BAL stabilizers in the rear of our 63 Overlander, and I have two more slated to go in the front. They bolt to the frame, and you just crank them down with a handle, takes about 30 seconds per corner. No wiring, no motors to burn out.
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Old 01-10-2007, 07:25 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by overlander63
I have put a pair of BAL stabilizers in the rear of our 63 Overlander, and I have two more slated to go in the front. They bolt to the frame, and you just crank them down with a handle, takes about 30 seconds per corner. No wiring, no motors to burn out.

Simple is nice! Especially when boondocking. Or worse the motors go when in the down position!
Looks like fun but just one more thing to go wrong. Let us know what you decide!
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Old 01-10-2007, 10:39 PM   #4
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Hi Jacob. I've seen B.A.L. stabilizers for about $35 apiece at a local RV shop -- except they don't work with Airstreams. Because of the rounded belly edge and location of the main beam, our B.A.L. jacks have much longer drive screw rods. Might require talking to an Airstream dealer. Interesting thing -- the nut on that rod end fits a standard spark plug socket. I always bring my rechargable electric drill and my B.A.L. jacks are up and down in a jiffy. A spare battery came with it.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ultra-Fab
Introducing the only stabilizer product that lifts, levels and stabilizes all at the same time! While our Power Twin stabilizer conveniently levels and stabilizes your towable RV, the new Ultra Power Twin II adds the capacity to actually lift the trailer with up to 6000 pounds of rugged power. Each side can be elevated to a height of 30 inches independently or simultaneously
Current Airstreams have a frame that is much beefier than your '64 -- and the advice for all is that the frame will not stand any sort of lift. You cannot use the stabilizers to level. Twist on the frame will cause all sorts of havoc with the aluminum shell. You must use leveling blocks to level. The stabilizer is there only to steady the trailer when we walk around inside.

The sample Airstream Photo Gallery photos at the top of the portal page will occasionally show a bare frame with the shell off. There's just not that much there. A beam is stiff due to height. Yes, a motorhome chassis can be lifted but the chassis steel is much taller and the floor is much higher off the ground as a result.
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Old 01-10-2007, 11:10 PM   #5
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Out-of-Doors Mart carries the BAL with the long screww for Airstreams. They are $56.95 each.



I use the speed handle tool to lower mine, only takes a few minutes for all four.
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Old 01-11-2007, 03:55 PM   #6
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Good points all. For stabilizing only, it seems like the exact beefiness of the frame isn't so important (except insofar as it has to carry the weight of the electric motors & mechanism). On the other hand, $57 x 2 is a lot less than $500+ for the electric version, and I have my trusty Milwaukee cordless drill I could use with them...

Maybe I'll pick up a pair of the BAL ones and see how that goes. Thanks for the link.
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Old 01-11-2007, 06:04 PM   #7
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Jacob, you'll probably need four -- one for each corner. Leverage on the extended tongue jack causes it to provide little resistance to side-to-side sway. Airstream uses self tapping hex head screws -- tip and instructions similar to this product here -- just not countersunk or Phillips like seen at the link. I'd have to head down to my local ACE to tell you any better -- I'd probably try for stainless or galvanized, probably 1/4". Who knows -- maybe they'll come in the box.

The BAL jacks are installed at the major crossmember that runs between your corner ribs; the inner mount hole is positioned on the crossmember (find the rivet line). The outer mount holes center onto the fore-and-aft main channels -- same location where the side skins and belly wrap are riveted into. I'd certainly pre-drill to just undersized.

A How-to thread would be useful if you have a digital camera...
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Old 01-11-2007, 06:07 PM   #8
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BTW -- lubrication should be done with a non-oil product like LPS-1. Spray it on the threads at the drive screw nut that lowers the jack legs.
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Old 01-11-2007, 08:12 PM   #9
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I'll take photos when I do it, yep.

I do have the belly skin open in many places right now, but since I want these to be, you know, underneath the belly skin when I put it back in, you're right that I'll probably have to use self-tapping fasteners rather than bolts, and wait until after the belly skin is back on to install them. For now jacks are fine since it's not going anywhere.

Another good point about the four being needed. I haven't noticed much side-to-side movement at the front without jacks there, but then again that's on a perfectly flat surface in a warehouse with most of the interior removed. Hardly typical camping conditions!

I like being talked out of $1,000+ gadgets and into $250 or so of mechanical parts... well, unless they're really fun gadgets, but since I'd already figured that I couldn't use the electric jacks for levelling, they'd already lost some of their appeal.
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Old 07-03-2007, 09:09 AM   #10
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Mechanical jacks as shown in the above thumbnail photo are what are used on the Silver Streak my father had (1977 29'; BAL x4) and on mine (1983 34'; BAL x6). With a bit of lithium grease they move VERY easily by hand, and with a cordless drill almost too fast/hard. Attached with self-tap screws; I found none loose after 24-years. (One can see Silver Streak construction photo's at TomPattersons site, see early 1970's owners brochure for factory floor shots for comparisons of frame/joists/riggers).
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Old 07-04-2007, 01:18 AM   #11
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I have sizzor jacks on the rear of my 20' as and can change a tire with them. have noticed no movement in skin or frame.run them with 18v drill.
and no longer carry a selection of boards for leveling.
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