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Old 12-21-2011, 08:15 PM   #1
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1976 31' Sovereign
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Thumbs up Manual and electric tongue jack

I inherited a 1976 31ft Sovereign. When I visited it in VA and cleaned it out, I noticed the battery was dead. I have an electric tongue jack but could not test it. There was no manual jack that I noticed. Am I blind or stuck with only the electric jack?

This is question no. 1 of 100!

Larry
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Old 12-21-2011, 08:22 PM   #2
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I'll let someone with older unit knowledge give details, but mine has a little hand crank, which can be used after opening up the motor housing.
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Old 12-21-2011, 08:24 PM   #3
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The electric jack should have a manual mode also. There should be a bolt head below the motor that will allow you to put a socket on it and manually run the jack down or up. (It probably came with a handle that fits the bolt but it has probably been lost over the years,)
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Old 12-21-2011, 10:12 PM   #4
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If you remove the motor, by loosening a set screw, from the top of the jack you can manually jack up and down using the top of the shaft where the motor drives it. The jack came with a specialty tool/wrench originally, but you will be able to use something else if that tool is not in the trailer.

You might also temporarily use the battery from you vehicle in place of the dead battery to get the jack up and down.
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Old 12-21-2011, 10:21 PM   #5
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Howdee and welcome to Airforums.com, streamnhurt! You found the right place to ask just about any question you have. Only 100? Bet you can come up with more than that, given some time. Betcha!

As for your power jack, while it can be made to work manually as described above, don't give up on the electric part too quickly. Mine is original on my '74, and I hope I get away with bragging that it still works without it stripping its gears next time I use it, but it does work beautifully!

The Owner's Manual is quite clear that it really needs lubing regularly, so find out where the grease goes before attempting to "plug it in". When you find out, let me know? I forgot!

So, what is number 2? Hehehe..
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Old 12-21-2011, 10:43 PM   #6
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Manual jack operation:

Some electric jacks have a small plastic door on the top where the tool may be inserted. Our '65 Caravel is like this.

Some have a drive shaft which comes out the front of the motor. Our '83 Excella is like this.

In both of these situations there is a crank tool with the proper fitting to match up with the drive.

Some you must remove the motor as described above for manual operation. These may also have a crank tool with the proper fitting to fit the drive on the shaft after the motor is removed. On our Caravel, the same crank tool works with the motor in place or removed.

There may be other variations of which I am not aware.
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Old 12-22-2011, 08:39 AM   #7
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Welcome Larry, we are here because we all have questions and good answers are at hand, sometimes even debated. The electric tongue jack like many components found on an Airstream are off-the-shelf products commonly used on any brand travel trailer. In 35 years it is unlikely to know if your jack is original or has been replaced at some time. Some display a make/model label, others may not (posting pictures is always helpful). As Jim pointed out, there are several methods the various manufactures devised to accommodate manual operation. The common denominator is a crank of some sort. Since it a rarely used item, there's no telling where a previous owner may have stored it. Hopefully they left it with the trailer, someplace.

A standard socket wrench will fit some. My crank is a metal shaft with a pin pressed through the end to fit the notch in the drive shaft. My previous one was just the opposite, the pin was on the drive shaft and the wrench was a sleeve with a slot cut in it. If you can't locate your crank, most RV parts stores should be able to get the one you need.

Beware: If your jack requires that the motor assy be removed for manual operation and it has upper and lower limit switches such as the H&H Barker Super Jack, there is a synchronization procedure for reassembly that must be followed to prevent damage.
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Old 12-22-2011, 10:01 AM   #8
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I love my electric tongue jack. I have it proudly displayed on the shop wall for all to see. I can still crank a trailer jack and for storage and shop yard moving, I prefer a hand crank jack by a wide margin. It's just a 10 minute job to change the jack with three bolts and one power cord.

I replaced the power jack with a SideWinder front crank. It cranks easy and it works every time, with battery or without. I wouldn't tow without a charged battery to power the breakaway switch, but in the shop yard I don't keep a battery in the trailer. If I ever want a power jack, it's a 10 minute job to install one. I'd only install a new power jack though, since it's the same amount of work to install a new one as to install a used one.
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Old 12-22-2011, 03:35 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by streamnhurt View Post
I inherited a 1976 31ft Sovereign. When I visited it in VA and cleaned it out, I noticed the battery was dead. I have an electric tongue jack but could not test it. There was no manual jack that I noticed. Am I blind or stuck with only the electric jack?

This is question no. 1 of 100!

Larry
If everything is wired properly you should be able to draw enough power from the tow vehicle to operate the jack once the cable connecting it to the trailer is plugged in. Failing that you can use jumper cables to provide 12v power from your truck battery to the trailer battery. In most cases these alternatives will be less work than using the manual crank.

If you get in a real jam you can raise the trailer with another jack and remove the tongue jack temporarily for the drive home.
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Old 12-22-2011, 05:30 PM   #10
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thanks, there are lots of tools, probably a crank in there somewhere
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Old 12-22-2011, 05:34 PM   #11
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thanks for the advice, I believe there might be a crank in all the tools there.
since it is a 7hr drive i will have to wait to check it out.

larry
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Old 12-22-2011, 06:37 PM   #12
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Have An Airstream Enthusiast Meet You There

Hi Larry,
Just as I suggest prospective buyers have a volunteer inspector help with that first walk through, I would suggest that you have a local Vintage Airstreamer help you get it hitched up. Having owned a couple '76 Airstreams with OEM electric jacks, I can assure you they have a manual back-up mode.
I can also assure you that it won't be obvious or intuitive, and besides, the little Allen wrench screw(s) that hold the cover may be rusted tight.
So, look at the list of volunteer inspectors on the right-hand side of the Portal, find one near your point of purchase, and see if they want to help you. Find someone with a 73-79 Airstream. They'll know what to do.
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