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Old 04-21-2011, 04:15 PM   #1
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Interesting Tongue Jack electrical problem

Last time we put our trailer back in storage, the tongue jack was completely dead. (Standard Barker 3500# "Superjack")

I pulled the head off in order use the handle and be able to unhook the trailer.

That was several weeks ago. Today, I finally had the chance to go back to the storage yard armed with tools, meters, even my Honda gennie and trusty soldering iron in hand!

I first cut the feed wire to the jack and found that it measured 12v. Seems good.

So, you'd think that maybe would mean the problem was in the jack itself, or maybe a bad ground connection.

However, an experience I had on my last (non-AS) trailer caused me to try something else.

Even though the feed measured 12v, I decided to try powering another load on it. I connected a 12v air compressor. It would not run.

So even though the feed line measured at 12v, it could not handle a load - interpretation? a high resistance connection.

I confirmed my diagnosis by connecting the jack directly to a 12v battery and it ran fine.

After poking around a bit, I uncovered a splice in the feed wire wrapped in electrical tape. When I unwrapped it I found a connection in the wire using of those cheap and nasty plastic coated crimp connector.

I barely touched the connector and the wire fell out of the connector followed by green verdigris dust (copper corrosion.)

Problem solved - a fresh solder joint insulated with shrink tube and the jack is fine again.

This is the second trailer with which I have had exactly the same problem.

I'm no electrician, and this has taught me that although a meter is always a handy troubleshooting tool, don't always assume that because you read 12volts, you have a good reliable feed that can provide some power!

Hope this may help someone else down the road!


Brian
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Old 04-21-2011, 04:21 PM   #2
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Yes, those crimp connectors cause as many problems as they cure, especially if the installer does not have a good crimp tool.
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Old 04-21-2011, 04:32 PM   #3
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Good find. Sometimes the test light will light up but the connection is not capable of any load. Hate those scotch locks..
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Old 04-21-2011, 04:37 PM   #4
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Yes, those crimp connectors cause as many problems as they cure, especially if the installer does not have a good crimp tool.
Hi Steve,

We just visited your fine city last Feb for the first time on our way to Tucson for a few weeks. (We have been to Tucson many times.)

We could only stay three days in Austin, but stayed at Oak Forrest RV park which was pretty handy to downtown. There was a marathon on the weekend we were there though and that made things a bit busy.

We did tour your Capitol building that was most impressive, and also, we spent a good few hours at the Museum of Texas (I know it is called something else!) Very enjoyable. I have a current interest in learning about civil war history.

The actual downtown street where all the bars are was a bit much for us old geezers - well, me anyway, better not speak for the Mrs!

We did enjoy that area of eclectic shops/restaurants etc on South Congress St.! Even saw a couple of Airsatreams being used as diners. Some pretty strange looking characters working in a couple of those shops though!

I tried to get into that downtown RV park (Pecan Grove I think it is called?) but they were full up on account of the marathon. That would have been real handy to downtown, we could have just left the truck and used our bicycles.


Cheers ........ Brian.
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Old 04-21-2011, 06:19 PM   #5
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I think my electric jack will look good hanging on the shop wall. How come I can't find the thread where the electric jack failed at a good time? At a convenient place? In daylight? When it's not raining? And when the back up plan is warm and ready? :-) And . . .I can't find the sidewinder jack failure thread! Me thinks electric jacks, batteries, and tow vehicle umbilical hot wires, blow a fuse, lack power, slip a wire, or burn out, at the worse time, at the worse place, with the biggest audience possible.

Just the few times I've moved my trailer in the yard to do the repairs and maintenance I've come to dislike the electric jack more than a little. I can't imagine myself making the decision to depend on the jack that depends on the snake wires, that depends on the battery, that depends on the charger, that depends on the power cord, that depends on the shore power. Lacking the shore power, the jack depends on the tow vehicle snake wires, that depends on the lost fuse, that depends on the battery.

If I'm too disabled to crank a trailer 6 times a year, I doubt I'll be taking any camping trips. If I change my mind . . . it's three bolts and one wire to be back to the electric jack. :-) My .02

Gary
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Old 04-22-2011, 05:46 AM   #6
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I think my electric jack will look good hanging on the shop wall. How come I can't find the thread where the electric jack failed at a good time? At a convenient place? In daylight? When it's not raining? And when the back up plan is warm and ready? :-)

Gary
Gary,

You sure got that right!

My first one failed on a cold windy and wet Saturday night in March in Nashville when I was getting the trailer hooked up (while sick with the flu!) to be ready for an early departure to head home on Sunday!

When the jack wouldn't lower, I removed the powerhead to see if I could crank it manually - unbelievably, this particular jack was designed with no provision to do that!

Realizing that hext day was Sunday and no RV repair places would be open, I figured it was down to me to fix it. I figured that if I could not get it working, then the only solution would be to remove the jack and try to use my bottle jack to hook up the trailer!

Luckily, after two hours in the rain, I was able to run a new 12v feed wire to the jack and get it running again and retired to teh trailer for a hot coffee - still sick with the flu, but happy again!

My problems with electric jacks have at times made me think about going back to a manual jack - but at least the electric jack that I have now has the ability to be cranked manually in an emergency, so I'll probably stick with it.

While I was fooling around with the jack, I made an adapter so that in emergency, I could crank it with my cordless drill that I use for my Hensley hitch equalizer jacks and with the trailer stabilizers - it works fine with the tongue jack too. Another gadget for the tool box!

Brian
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Old 04-22-2011, 07:39 AM   #7
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My jack works fine until I extend it completely and then the 30A fuse blows. Unfortunately, I cannot quite yet tell when I am about to extend it to it's maximum length so I have blown a couple of fuses. Other than carrying a supply of 30A fuses, any ideas what might be causing this short?
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Old 04-22-2011, 08:04 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wingeezer View Post
Hi Steve,

We just visited your fine city last Feb for the first time on our way to Tucson for a few weeks. (We have been to Tucson many times.)

We could only stay three days in Austin, but stayed at Oak Forrest RV park which was pretty handy to downtown. There was a marathon on the weekend we were there though and that made things a bit busy.

We did tour your Capitol building that was most impressive, and also, we spent a good few hours at the Museum of Texas (I know it is called something else!) Very enjoyable. I have a current interest in learning about civil war history.

The actual downtown street where all the bars are was a bit much for us old geezers - well, me anyway, better not speak for the Mrs!

We did enjoy that area of eclectic shops/restaurants etc on South Congress St.! Even saw a couple of Airsatreams being used as diners. Some pretty strange looking characters working in a couple of those shops though!

I tried to get into that downtown RV park (Pecan Grove I think it is called?) but they were full up on account of the marathon. That would have been real handy to downtown, we could have just left the truck and used our bicycles.


Cheers ........ Brian.
Brian,

Sounds like you were in Austin.....some crazy things go on there, especially on 7th street I think it is.

San Antonio is a little more, well shall we say, relaxed than Austin. But, if you want to party, Austin is the place to be.

We live North of San Antonio a little ways, close to the town of Bulverde.
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Old 04-22-2011, 10:15 AM   #9
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Brian,

Sounds like you were in Austin.....some crazy things go on there, especially on 7th street I think it is.

San Antonio is a little more, well shall we say, relaxed than Austin. But, if you want to party, Austin is the place to be.

We live North of San Antonio a little ways, close to the town of Bulverde.
The crazy things that may happen on 7th are when the drunks from 6th get lost wandering around looking for their hotel/car/cardboard box/next stop on the pub crawl.
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Old 04-22-2011, 10:56 AM   #10
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Brian,

Sounds like you were in Austin.....some crazy things go on there, especially on 7th street I think it is.

San Antonio is a little more, well shall we say, relaxed than Austin. But, if you want to party, Austin is the place to be.

We live North of San Antonio a little ways, close to the town of Bulverde.
Steve,

You are right - my goof, somehow I saw the words San Antonio and read Austin!

We had hoped to spend time in both Austin and San Antonio on this trip, but has a slight mishap just after we left home. That caused us to detour to Jackson Centre for some unscheduled repairs!

It cost us a couple of days out of our trip schedule, and since we had visited
San Antonio before (just once) and never Austin, we reluctantly had to give
San Antonio a miss this time.

When we stopped in S.A. before, we found a fairly decent RV park not too far from the city centre. I recall there was a bus stop right at the park entrance so we were able to leave the truck parked and just take the bus downtown.

I find that a relaxing way to visit cities that I am not familiar with - and no problems trying to find a place downtown to park the truck!

Brian
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Old 04-22-2011, 11:02 AM   #11
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The crazy things that may happen on 7th are when the drunks from 6th get lost wandering around looking for their hotel/car/cardboard box/next stop on the pub crawl.
Yeah, we did find our way to 6th, but either I wasn't in the mood or maybe I'm just to old and decrepit for that sort of thing now!


I note that you are in Fort Worth. On our return trip, we had to stop in at D-FW to pick up a set of skylights that I had ordered from Maxim in Dallas.

I'm generally not keen on visiting large cities on our RV trips, but figured that since we had to go to Dallas, we might as well spend a few days in the area as we had never visited before.

We found a great city run RV park/Maria in the town of Grapevine, conveniently located between D & FW.

Worked out great for us. We never did go into downtown Dallas or Fort Worth, but did spend an enjoyable day in the Fort Worth Stockyard entertainment area.

Brian.
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Old 04-22-2011, 11:11 AM   #12
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Yeah, we did find our way to 6th, but either I wasn't in the mood or maybe I'm just to old and decrepit for that sort of thing now!


I note that you are in Fort Worth. On our return trip, we had to stop in at D-FW to pick up a set of skylights that I had ordered from Maxim in Dallas.

I'm generally not keen on visiting large cities on our RV trips, but figured that since we had to go to Dallas, we might as well spend a few days in the area as we had never visited before.

We found a great city run RV park/Maria in the town of Grapevine, conveniently located between D & FW.

Worked out great for us. We never did go into downtown Dallas or Fort Worth, but did spend an enjoyable day in the Fort Worth Stockyard entertainment area.

Brian.
We're far afield of electric jacks, but from the Stockyards you can almost spit far enough to hit downtown... just across the Trinity. I guess it's a couple of miles to be exact about it, but on the Texas scale that's next door.

We're Fort Worth snobs (reverse-snobs?) We love Fort Worth and wouldn't move to Dallas unless we had to. It's a good-sized city with a nice smaller-town attitude and equivalent neighborhoods are more affordable and the neighbors more affable (on the whole) than in Dallas. Hopefully we've finished our relocating and will be content to do our moving around in Airstreams for a few decades!
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Old 04-22-2011, 11:12 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Wingeezer View Post
After poking around a bit, I uncovered a splice in the feed wire wrapped in electrical tape. When I unwrapped it I found a connection in the wire using of those cheap and nasty plastic coated crimp connector.

I barely touched the connector and the wire fell out of the connector followed by green verdigris dust (copper corrosion.)

Problem solved - a fresh solder joint insulated with shrink tube and the jack is fine again.

This is the second trailer with which I have had exactly the same problem.

I'm no electrician, and this has taught me that although a meter is always a handy troubleshooting tool, don't always assume that because you read 12volts, you have a good reliable feed that can provide some power!

Brian
Most all electrical experiences, are shocking, both high voltage(120 vac), and low voltage (12 Volts DC).

A loose connection will almost always show a voltage, but when a load is applied, the voltage disappears.

Ah, such fun.

Andy

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Old 04-22-2011, 11:17 AM   #14
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My jack works fine until I extend it completely and then the 30A fuse blows. Unfortunately, I cannot quite yet tell when I am about to extend it to it's maximum length so I have blown a couple of fuses. Other than carrying a supply of 30A fuses, any ideas what might be causing this short?
I have a Hefle garage door opener running a Television lift that does the same thing. The two way mirco switch is bad on my motor control.

Gary
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Old 06-22-2011, 10:07 AM   #15
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Electric Jacks

Quote:
Originally Posted by idmtman View Post
My jack works fine until I extend it completely and then the 30A fuse blows. Unfortunately, I cannot quite yet tell when I am about to extend it to it's maximum length so I have blown a couple of fuses. Other than carrying a supply of 30A fuses, any ideas what might be causing this short?
Hello. To make sure I don't extend the jack to it's max I painted a red line on the jack shaft so that when I start to see the red line I stop.
When the jack reaches max either up or down and the limit switches are not set properly the motor is in a lock rotor state and draws a lot of current which blows the fuse.
Good luck nm1oqrz
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Old 10-12-2012, 10:08 PM   #16
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Smile Excellent information - thank you

Hello
I read your article about your electric jack problems. Thank you. I am going to try this diagnosis as it sounds just like my problem. I have been beating myself up that I did not use the jack properly but have recently discovered it just doesn't have the power to push up the tongue to release the vehicle.
I have a 28 foot, 78 International, rear bath, twin beds which I love.
Unusual, no. But I am a single woman and buddy with my son and his family and friends. It is perfect as I can retire to my bed when I wish and the family can have their privacy.
I live in Etobicoke.
Thanks again for posting your solution
Crazygal
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