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Old 08-21-2006, 08:54 PM   #1
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Stabilizers or Scissors...?

I am curoius to know if anyone has replaced the OEM satbalizer jacks with scissor jacks?
I have one of my OEM jacks that is seized and I sheared the nut in another. I am considering 5,000 lb or better scissor jacks to not only last for a long time but also actually level the TT.
I also notice that approx. 12" aft of the rear jacks there is actually a jack location spot for lifting I assume with a floor jack or service hoist, but this looks like a better location for mounting heavier duty jacks particularly for a unit that is prone to sag and separation.
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Old 08-21-2006, 09:00 PM   #2
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Well, if you get too wild with the stabilizers, or put a scizzors jack in the same place, you'd probably bend the frame outrigger that it's attached to. They're not real heavy.

But, your idea would work just fine if you moved it inboard to the actual longitudinal (lengthwise) frame rail, rather than on the outrigger. No reason you couldn't, just would be a little further reach into it. You could maybe even extend the bolt out so that it'd be in the same place as the OEM; it'd just reach further into the center to the new scizzor jack mounted to the longitudinal, rather than the outrigger.

I've always heard to not store the trailer with the stabilizers down. If you do, and the ground settles a lot, it could dump undue stress into the outriggers...
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Old 08-21-2006, 09:21 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JimGolden
Well, if you get too wild with the stabilizers, or put a scizzors jack in the same place, you'd probably bend the frame outrigger that it's attached to. They're not real heavy.

But, your idea would work just fine if you moved it inboard to the actual longitudinal (lengthwise) frame rail, rather than on the outrigger. No reason you couldn't, just would be a little further reach into it. You could maybe even extend the bolt out so that it'd be in the same place as the OEM; it'd just reach further into the center to the new scizzor jack mounted to the longitudinal, rather than the outrigger.

I've always heard to not store the trailer with the stabilizers down. If you do, and the ground settles a lot, it could dump undue stress into the outriggers...


Hey Jim,

Thanks for the first reply to my first thread. I am glad you brought up out riggers, especially since I hadn't thought about them at all! What do you think about moving the scissors back to the factory marked "jack location"?

As for actuating the jack I was thinking about a crude but custom wrench that I could put into a cordless drill motor that would give me the reach, and because I'm lazy.

I have not heard about the ground settling thing before but sure makes sense.
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Old 08-21-2006, 10:29 PM   #4
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drag

welcome to the forum and congrats on your first thread!

you may be better off repairing what you have now or replacing with the same units. they are made by BAL and still available. there is a special model made just for airstreams with an extended shaft.

other than damage to the outriggers you may want to stay away from jacking your trailer anywhere on the frame EXCEPT the axle mounting plate. airstreams are quite flexible, if you jack it up on either end excessivley you may find things like the door and windows won't close properly! and worse yet the skin might wrinkle.

i have experienced the sinking tounge jack scenario discussed above with the outriggers down. that is how i discovered the flex and problems with my door closing properly. not bad, but enough you can notice it!

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Old 08-22-2006, 11:08 AM   #5
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John,

Thanks for the info, I understand that the OEM jacks are only rated for 750 lbs. static load/jack. I guess I am having a hard time with that since my unit at all four corners I belive weighs more than that, especially the rear if the grey and black tanks are reaching capacity. I am also curious if I can get a better (more rigid) product that will carry a heavier load for less bucks than OEM and at the same time do a better job of leveling my TT. I appreciate any thoughts, I realize that doing this is insulting to the purist's out there, however...?
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Old 08-22-2006, 01:56 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drag'nwagon
John,

Thanks for the info, I understand that the OEM jacks are only rated for 750 lbs. static load/jack. I guess I am having a hard time with that since my unit at all four corners I belive weighs more than that,
The key is that they aren't meant to carry heavy loads. Their purpose is to stabilize the trailer to give you less rock and roll. They aren't carrying the weight of those corners. As others have said, use caution if you plan to lift any substantial weight. There are a few of us who have already seen the effects of too much lift from a stabilizer jack.

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Old 08-22-2006, 02:19 PM   #7
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Jack,

Thanks for your thoughts, I have been thinking about what you guys have to say and also that there must be a reason for such a light jack. My conclusion is that in the hands of a novice you can probably mess things up severely if you try to actually jack the unit up with them. Does every one agree that with skillful adjustment things will be OK?
Any comments on the mounting bracket itself with a scissor jack, specifically the load being placed on the frame in a smaller more central area than with the OEM's?
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Old 08-22-2006, 03:01 PM   #8
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It's Tuesday and I like my BAL jacks...

Dragn'wagon -- be careful here. The outside (front-to-back) portion of BAL jacks have several mount points that line up nicely with the frame. The midline extension of the BAL jack attaches at some distance into a crossmember. This tripod distribution of forces results in very good stability which also conveniently stays on the bottom of the trailer. Leveling blocks are only a minor inconvenience by compared to a more complex setup. Imagining stationery jacks positioned at some frame position similar to the current BAL jacks or jack points, I can only come up with a scenario in which stresses are too high or my Airstream falls off the entire contraption. Positioning jacks closer to the axles? Maybe if you design a new frame... But centralizing the balance of forces will still permit too much trailer swing when people walk around inside IMO and you'd want to stabilize at the corners just like the BAL jacks.

One could go so far as trying to make levelers like a moho (again, with a frame designed to take it in the first place). This would require that you actually suspend some combo of tires/axle weights in midair. The resultant frame flex from holding trailer body weight as well as suspending an axle in the air is much more than the frame routinely holds. Damage to skin and door/window fit has been proposed. Airstreams are light enough to tow because they are not over-engineered to do more than should be asked of them. There is a good reason most useful loads (difference between empty curb weight and gross capacity) are in the neighborhood of 1000 pounds plus-or-minus. To have your trailer loaded for normal use and then suspend an axle from the same frame is asking too much. Pure and simple.

Readers' experiences in threads are similar to what I have done. After using leveling blocks (homemade wood or the lego type), I will deploy my BAL jack maybe one turn more than normal on the downslope side of the trailer if I want to do a slight tweak to how the trailer is resting.
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Old 08-22-2006, 08:32 PM   #9
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Thank you canoestream,

Lets not get confused, I do not want to pick the unit up in the air. I have some knowlege of super-structures and what holds what up. I am looking to try and kill a couple birds with one stone. First I have two failing BAL jacks on adjacent corners that I have to replace. Second I would like to save 1 to 2 hundred dollars in this repair. Third, I have a '74 31 foot rear bath unit that is prone to sag and separation and I would like to put a little more support under it when parked and utilizing tank capacities.

I really just want to know if anyone has put scissor jacks under an AS, and if there were any issues with the installation or post installation One of the questions/concerns I have is the OEM setup under the trailor, specifically, it appears as though the "tri-pod" set-up on the BAL actually straddles the frame.....Y? Is this to spread out the load and keep it off the frame? If I put scissors on my unit and mount them to the frame in the same general location as OEM am I going to regret it? If I install the scissors to the frame does everyone think the frame will hold the load in a smaller more localized mounting plate area that is indicative of the scissor type mounting plate?

I really appreciate all of you that have replied, thanks and hope to rely on your help in the future.
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Old 08-23-2006, 02:27 PM   #10
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Drag'n,

You won't hurt the frame by sticking scizzors jack under the main rail and stabilizing it. If you lift it 12" off the ground, you might bend it. But if all you're doing is stabilizing it, you should be fine.

In my opinion, Airstream screwed up with the 4" deep frame like is on your 31 footer, and mine. If you look at an Avion of the same vintage, they have a 6" deep frame, and they do not sag. The weight difference from a 6" deep frame to a 4" deep frame, all else being equal, would be about 100lbs for the whole trailer. And, it'd be about 4 times stronger. It's a cubic relationship between bending stiffness and beam depth. The equation is I=bh^3 / 12. So you can see that increasing the height of the beam drastically affects its stiffness, without pumping up the weight. Airstream went to a 5" deep frame in the mid 80's. run the numbers and you'll see that adding that inch of frame depth basically doubled the stiffness of the frame. All the sag problems went away when they did that.

In general, you want to level the coach side to side by putting boards and stuff under the wheels, more on the low side. You level it front to back with the tongue jack. The outboard stabilizers are merely there to keep it from bouncing around on you as you move around inside. You could put heavy duty jacks out there IF you modify the frame to take the load, but otherwise, you'll bend something.

Best of luck with your new toy. I sure have fun with mine
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Old 08-23-2006, 03:14 PM   #11
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We have scissors jacks built into our '06 from the factory and I use an cordless screw driver with a socket bit from Sears to drive a 3/4" deep well socket to turn the shaft.

Having said that, if I over tighten the jacks for soft soil for example, the door doesn't always close and has to be slammed. Trying to lift the rear with the set up you are considering may put an equal amount of stress on the floor. I have always been under the impression that the floor is suspended by the walls and the envelop that this creates sits on the frame, in a manner of speaking, and the walls are providing a good bit of the floor support.
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Old 08-23-2006, 09:10 PM   #12
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Jim,

Your an engineer? That is the first real answer that I have heard regarding sag and separation. I guess I wonder why they built these beasts with 4" tube instead of 5" or 6". I have ordered my scissor jacks and will installing this weekend, and I will definately let everybody know how it goes. I still believe in my head that these will work out fine. As I said I do not want to pick the trailor up I just want to add some rigidity to trailor when parked and save a couple hundred bucks. I have a full hook up on the side of my house and the trailor actually gets used while we are at home, kind of.

I heard that the new product has scissor jacks but I was having a hard time getting anyone to admit it. Of course, part of my concern there was being the only AS in the place with scissors and taking flack for it from the rest of the gang now I can call it an upgrade.


Thanks again


Dave


It was all her idea!!!!!
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Old 08-26-2006, 10:10 PM   #13
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Installation Day!!

OK, so I ordered 4 of the 5,000lb jacks from RV Xcessories they came in a day and half and with two crank handles for $128.00 including shipping. After playing with them with the kids raising them up and down, I hit the hardware for 3/8 - 16 x 1.00" bolts with lock washers and machine washers. Picked up a 3/8 tap and tap drill, oh and grabbed a bottle of permanent (red) loc-tight. The loc-tight really isnt needed with the lock washer but I did it for my peace of mind. First up was the removal of the BAL type satbalizers accomplished with ratchet and a 1/2" socket no issue. I then raised the scissor jack to the exsisting location to check out weather or not I could use exsisting holes. I could obviously use one of the holes and drilled and tapped to 3/8-16. I temporarilly installed one bolt and transfered hole on the other side of jack mount, drilled and tapped, installed both bolts with loc-tight and washer and done. I repeated this 3 more times and within an hour I was done. The jacks fit great and do not stick out any further than the OEM's. Since they sent me two crank wrenches, I busted out the die grinder and cut one off about 12" long. I then had to grind a bit off the diameter with the bench grinder so that it would fit in a Makita cordless 3/8 drill motor. This I am telling you is a beautiful thing people, I can set the clutch on the drill motor so that all jacks are tensioned equally regardless of terrain, and so I do not bend anything structurally. With the cordless in hand I can set a jack in less than 5 seconds. Oh, I forgot to mention that the scissor jacks are much lighter then the BAL stabalizers that I removed. I did not actually weigh them but I guess I saved close to 10 pounds each.

I had a good time doing this project it was fast, easy and I will be more than happy to explain more if anybody needs help.


Dave
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Old 08-28-2006, 08:37 AM   #14
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Quick question, what size (voltage) is your cordless drill? I have been using an 14 volt on my stabilizers, but it seems to have a bad battery that won't hold a charge or the drill has gone bad one or the other and I am planning to replace the drill. I have looked around Home Depot and all I saw this week end was 14 volt. Isn't there an 18 or 20 volt on the market? I plan to stop by Sears tonight and maybe Lowe's but as I recall, sears only had 14's, too.

Well, I did see DeWalts in 18 volt cordless at Home Depot for something like $300. That's more than I want to pay for a drill just to turn my stabilizer shaft.
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