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Old 09-15-2021, 10:41 AM   #1
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Level Airstream: Round Planet... or Worse

Flat is not a Level Surface.
Level is not a Flat Surface.

Forget what people have told you. Finding a Level surface is FLAT at best.

Front Power Jack: You need at least Ten leveling blocks and I add two 12 inch x 12 inch x 2 inch (2x12x2) blocks. One for the bottom of the stack and one for the top that the pad of the Power jack will sit. Sometimes the two boards and 8 blocks work, sometimes more, but usually less than 10 blocks. The wood blocks do not settle after a rain or after you enter the trailer...

The less height of the Power Jack extension... the BETTER. You can bend and damage your jack if too high and the trailer moves and the jack bends. You are up a Creek without a Paddle problem... If you bend your jack... not an Airstream Warranty issue... YOU did it.

Side to Side Leveling Blocks: You need at least 10. Sometimes you need up to 14. Is your site Level... zero. Is your site flat but uneven from side to side 1 to 4 blocks per tire on that side. You also determine if you need to Back UP or Pull FORWARD to achieve... almost side to side level.

You need to start with ONE, then TWO to Four blocks. Not all at once. You gradually elevate the tires at the same time. Thus... extra blocks work great.

The front to back trailer Level... is easy. Just do not overextend. Chock your tires from going forward or backward. Two minimum on one side. Four... overkill but your trailer will not be leaving if you... detach.

The side to side...takes some figuring. You have ten fingers... Often the soil is soft and to be perfect... the leveling blocks will sink a bit with weight. If you can feel a Frozen Pea under your mattress... it may take a few attempts to get the Side to Side... level. Then use the power jack on the stack of blocks to get front to back level.

You might SEE that your trailer looks to be way off... but is perfectly level. I add a photo of LEVEL but appearances we call them Optical Illusions. It is WHERE THE AXLES are sitting...not the front or the back elevations. Inside the trailer can be level, but outside look way... way off. Boondockers already know this stuff...

We used a 24to 48 inch LEVEL with bubbles to find perfectly LEVEL from front to back and side to side in our garage. Side to side... a 24 inch works fine. Garages drain water out of the door, so your garage concrete is FLAT... but NOT LEVEL front to back. It may also not be LEVEL side to side. Use the Level to decide... your EYES cheat flat and level.

If you want perfection... 48 inch level. If you are satisfied with close enough... a 6 inch level. Imagine your are walking in a small boat on Lake Michigan... that is all you need to understand. The Airstream is stable without the stabilizing jacks... as well. Never use them. Squeaks... you are asleep and who cares?

Anything UNDER 1 inch side to side you will not notice, but your bathroom door knows, immediately. Front to Back and Side to Side. Nothing is perfect. Your floor may not be flat from the factory, nor level when parked. Optical Illusions, again.

We Off the Grid Boondock. Nothing is Flat. Nothing is Level. We are Experts in figuring it out. One outside with leveling blocks, the other in the Tow Vehicle getting hand signals to pull forward, stop, back up... pull forward... etc. The more of an Airstream Princess you are... it may take hours, if not days to get LEVEL. Just settle for Almost Level and you will live a long and healthy life in your Airstream... at least I am being 'on the level'.
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Old 09-15-2021, 10:44 AM   #2
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The Top Photo of the trailer is perfectly LEVEL side to side and front to back.

We put leveling bubbles on the front side and the front center from WalMart, maybe Camping World. The small arched bubble system that sticks to the aluminum. Not the huge clunkers some use with yellow coloring... the small ones are perfect for us. About four inches long... which is about the thickness of my skull on Fridays.

Remove the Sway Bars. You can create damage when you jack up the trailer with the bars attached. We swing ours out and disengage them. Keeping them attached will cause strain to the Hitch, the Trailer and the Tow Vehicle's sleeve assembly. Do not believe me? Go ahead... I am a Neanderthal. You are the Human Bean. Go for it.

The important part of Leveling is WHERE the AXLES are sitting. On top of a round surface can appear way off...but the axles determine how the trailer will sit.

If Off the Grid Boondocking... remove the sway bars and put them into the back of the tow vehicle. We can travel at 10mph or 70 without sway bars... but for extra safety when on the highway... sway bars if we needed them or not. The last photo shows the sway bars swung out when leveling.

Just a smart Neanderthal way of doing things. Imagine what I could do if I were a smart Human Bean, like yourself.

What are your techniques? I started towing an Airstream, knowing nothing in 2006. Glasses and a Level work better than guessing. I may become a Human Bean before I advance beyond an Airstream Princess with a Level, a Compass for orientating the Sun to the Roof Solar, Sunrise and Sunset for cold or hot days... and even have time to sit out front and think about the old days when I was an Airstream Princess and no idea what I was doing...

If you do not like the location... stay hitched and find a location you like better. We leave the Tow Vehicle attached, unless planning to drive around and get the fuel down to Empty... in Nowhere... kind of possible problems. We camp and have 360 degrees to explore by hiking. It is healthy. Have a walking stick in the event you need to beat off some hungry Grizzly Bear or wild chickens.

Detaching? Trimax has kept my modern relatives from borrowing my Airstream... and may work for you as well.
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Old 09-15-2021, 10:51 AM   #3
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the 'ol bathroom door trick

My four foot level lies to me all the time. How do I know? The way it holds its eyes, I guess. More of a feeling I get when the bathroom door clocks me in the noggin while looking at the bubbles in the level on the floor in front of the bathroom.

So we get close with the level, then ask for a second opinion from the bathroom door. It never lies.

Then I use that info to "zero" the Levelmate Pro critter, which doesn't lie very often and generally agrees with the bathroom door.
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Old 09-15-2021, 11:02 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pjshier View Post
My four foot level lies to me all the time. How do I know? The way it holds its eyes, I guess. More of a feeling I get when the bathroom door clocks me in the noggin while looking at the bubbles in the level on the floor in front of the bathroom.

So we get close with the level, then ask for a second opinion from the bathroom door. It never lies.

Then I use that info to "zero" the Levelmate Pro critter, which doesn't lie very often and generally agrees with the bathroom door.
Good methodology. It does seem as though the bathroom door never lies!
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Old 09-15-2021, 11:05 AM   #5
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Hi

Just what happens when you let the bars "just hang" depends a bit on what brand hitch you have and how lucky you are or aren't that day. Even if it worked last time, you probably won't be as lucky the next time.

Any time you are on a non-level surface (or there is wind) your trailer can go walk about. That front jack may look pretty sturdy. Your trailer has a lot of built in "push". As you put out your blocks, think about where the chocks are going to go. Having a tall narrow stack of blocks doesn't give much room for a chock does it? Off to the store for more blocks ....

There's also this other word that chocks / blocks sort of reminds one of ... rocks. They may well be lying around doing nothing, waiting to be helpful. There's no reason at all not to take them up on the offer. Big flat ones are generally the ones you are after. Weird that they show up in some areas and not others ..... ( hint: shale isn't the best bet ... )

When you go off the bottom step coming out of the trailer and it's over the "low" end of the site, your knees may well inform you of that fact. Level is about more than just the wheels and the bathroom door.

On a more "conventional site" ( = one where at least one other person has been at some point in the last 10,000 years, camping or not ... ) the prior use likely has created ruts here or there. These *can* be useful. It's amazing how much moving the trailer a foot left or right may change the level on what looks to be a flat surface. Give it a try ....

Bob
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Old 09-15-2021, 11:29 AM   #6
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Uncle Bob... we are not moving when the bars are swung outward. It is to relieve the tension of the Tow Vehicle being down, the trailer is being up and the bars will take it all out on the Airstream Rivets. That is why I took a photograph. It is much clearer than chipping it out on a sandstone bluff... I am a modern Neanderthal. Not a Nin com Poop... of sorts.

Some rich members have Hitches that are so complicated that a chain saw cannot detach them while on the road. Grease and some muscles work on ours... Flint Knapping stone tools keeps one stout.

We do not camp in the two ruts where traffic of ATV's, Trucks and lost campers travel. We find that the 'ruts' are perfect at the campsite among the trees. The places we camp are not WalMart or a Truck Stop where ruts are common. This year we found one Airstream and one Avion after months of camping in the Wilderness. More were found at WalMart shopping.

Found a Human Bean rally off the grid. A bit tight for us to squeeze in, so we left the area. We took the lonely road into the Forest. Whomever laid out the road needed glasses... obviously did not see the TREE???

Rocks are usually attached to the Earth. You then need a shovel to dig it out, but after three feet down an counting... chocks are plastic. Write your name on them in magic marker. Uncle Bob will steal them as he cannot haul heavy rocks.

Never camp on a Sand Dune, either. You could find yourself on top of another Camper that did not know that Sand Dunes move more often than an Airstream Princess, who needs perfection... or not camping anywhere.

Most of the Off the Grid campers we encounter are Human Beans. They are on top of things, like camping without a Denny's within 250 feet walking distance. They eat wild animals and potatoes raw. We do not mess with them. We are Airstream Princesses to them. Although I do look a bit rough around the edges... and do not stand down wind from me or our two Blue Heelers. We can take your breath away... so buzz off and find a RV Park.
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Old 09-15-2021, 11:57 AM   #7
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Hi

On one very early adventure with our AS, a few campsites up hill from us was a SOB of some sort. The jack on the trailer was all the way out. There was a stack of orange blocks plus a scissor jack roughly as high as half the length of the jack under it. One wheel had maybe 4" of blocks. The other wheel had maybe one layer ( WHY ???). To this day I have no idea *how* they got that one wheel up on a 4" single stack of blocks ......

I did find myself calculating just which way it would go when it let loose. By my calculation it would have gone well to one side of us ......

I did not see them eating any wild animals raw ....

Truth in lending: I did eventually have a chat with them. Their only defense was "no, that probably was not the right thing to do".

Somehow I missed out on watching them break camp. I *really* wanted to see how they got it down off the mountain of supports.

Bob
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Old 09-15-2021, 01:25 PM   #8
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Uncle Bob... no leveling blocks, no tow vehicle & LEVEL

Uncle Bob and Neanderthal Ray have tricks to use the least likely places to set our trailers.

This is one. Mount Rocky... Uncle Bob did good. What are your photos if you are brave enough to include some. The worst possible camping location. Maybe even some that were nice locations, but you have not figured out where you were. That happens to me often enough, that we go to the same places over the years. Like a Homing Pigeon coming home to roost. Ahhhhhh Familiar places. Familiar faces.

This photograph took some effort and avoided any damage to the suspension and awning to get on top. Getting it down took just a bump from our six month old Blue Heelers. A trailer wrecker with ears. She is a 'work in progress'. What she can do in six months, took me 12,425 years...

The Airstream axle squeaks.
The tow vehicle could not be located.
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Old 09-15-2021, 01:39 PM   #9
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For us folks with dually motorhomes and B vans it can be a challenge to find sturdy yet lightweight leveling blocks. The reviews for all the "lego" type have a lot of stories about how they crushed and broke apart when used on a motor home and as such I have been reluctant to try any of them although the light weight of them is very attractive. So far I use the solid wedges that you drive up on and stop when you are level, they are handy when you need more on one side than the other, you just place one on the low side first, start up onto it a bit then add the second one and drive up onto the top of the first one. They are however, quite heavy: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07PM8X48R...erz_origin1-20

I also carry some 2x8 pieces of lumber which I cut to fit as a shelf 1/2 way up in one of my compartments so they serve double duty. I'd like to find a lightweight composite to use instead as the lumber will eventually split and it is a bit of a chore to get it out and use it.
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Old 09-16-2021, 08:03 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by ITSNO60 View Post
For us folks with dually motorhomes and B vans it can be a challenge to find sturdy yet lightweight leveling blocks. The reviews for all the "lego" type have a lot of stories about how they crushed and broke apart when used on a motor home and as such I have been reluctant to try any of them although the light weight of them is very attractive. So far I use the solid wedges that you drive up on and stop when you are level, they are handy when you need more on one side than the other, you just place one on the low side first, start up onto it a bit then add the second one and drive up onto the top of the first one. They are however, quite heavy: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07PM8X48R...erz_origin1-20

I also carry some 2x8 pieces of lumber which I cut to fit as a shelf 1/2 way up in one of my compartments so they serve double duty. I'd like to find a lightweight composite to use instead as the lumber will eventually split and it is a bit of a chore to get it out and use it.
Hi

More or less, a 30' Classic is 9,000 pounds on 4 tires and 1,000 pounds on the jack up front. Yes that can vary a lot as you tip this way or that.

There *is* a lot of weight on the rear axle of a 3500 based Sprinter B van. The axle weight is higher than the Classic axle weight. With 4 tires, the per tire weight should be similar. The load ratings on the tires used suggest this is the case.

The gotcha is how you get that dually up with all tires equally on blocks. If one tire goes up and takes the whole load .... yikes.

We have mangled a few lego blocks over the years with the Classic, but not many. One thing we always do is to build a pyramid. One block gets two underneath it. Those two get three or four underneath them. As you go up on the blocks, you never are raising up more than one block height at a time. The weight when you are done is spread over a lot of ground.

Bob
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Old 09-16-2021, 09:29 AM   #11
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Long ago an experienced camper (read that old geezer...) watched us doggedly hauling a 4' carpenter's level in and out of our trailer trying to get the thing level. He watched and waited as we added blocks, took them away and measured the levelness in the doorway, on the table, on the refrigerator...

When all was said and done, he wandered over and said "Darling, ya know if your trailer frame is level...your trailer is level" and handed us two cheap stick-on levels from Walmart. Both were placed on the front, one right-left and one front-back orientation right on the frame near the hitch.

Nothing more was said, but we've leveled that way all thirty years since, eventually left the big carpenter's level at home, and we still thank our trailer angel every time.
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Old 09-16-2021, 01:06 PM   #12
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Love the bathroom door comment. Itís always our final check. Technology!
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Old 09-16-2021, 01:33 PM   #13
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Four Foot Levels and other nonsense

Level your trailer in your garage using the 4 foot or the six inch Level. Or find a Walmart parking lot that is convenient, as you will need two or more adhesive bubble unit. Get the least expensive, yellow or clear. The yellow turns clear anyways and the bubble is MORE CLEAR... and perfectly round.

Mount the adhesive backed curved bubble unit when... the left to right AND the side to side are level... STICK EACH BELOW THE TRIM BELOW THE WINDOWS.

This previous statement is harder than you think. When it sticks... you had better be close to... flat or level? If you have a magnetic Compass and the needle keeps spinning around... you need to remove the Evil Spirits in your Airstream. Watch the movie... rather scary at best.

Nothing is perfect. A Perfectly... level trailer is required?

Only if you believe the Dometic Refer will not work, the water pressure will change in the toilet, food will fall off the cook top... etc. You can be OFF a lot. Been there, done it just to check it out. Everything works in NOT perfectly level. Some members have issues that a magician needs to work upon. Not us. We are level... headed. Ha ha.

Even the lights work... if not level.

Nobody is hauling a long level around, unless they are a carpenter. A four foot I used to rough in a building's second floor studs. It does not make any mistakes... Some users need... glasses. Get with it.

Even the pyramids seem to be level in Egypt... what they could have done with a modern level.

I even secured our dining table to the floor with L brackets. When traveling it would bounce on the floor and the aluminum below the window brackets could easily peel the thin aluminum. Now... aaaaah. Level when the trailer is level. No more tightening hardware below the table, holding that metal post.

Once we find LEVEL... get ready to apply the bubble contraption. Get the leveling bubbles at Walmart. Get an extra. You may need it, someday... soon.

If you mount and miss within an inch... it is level to me. Even if not... I do not mind. It is a trailer. Some people believe it is level and have proof, even though it is off an inch.. or more.

As long as my head is not down... it is all the same to me. Pillows are for leveling your head.

Just entertaining myself, as always. Have a good day. I am on the level.
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Old 09-16-2021, 01:34 PM   #14
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Camping world sells beebee levels by campco I use
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Old 09-16-2021, 02:35 PM   #15
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Teamwork is necessary to Level an Airstream

Remember... if you are the person towing the trailer, the passenger needs to use leveling blocks for Left to Right leveling, aka Side to Side leveling. This is the HARD Part of leveling. Front to back... is easy. It is not magic. This takes time... you will live through this... post, that is. Gathering the leveling blocks will take some time... take a deep breath, quit smoking, if necessary.

The front jack needs some lumber and ten leveling blocks as hardware. Rarely do you have to detach and lower the front to the ground. Find a better camping spot. Front to Back... even a Neanderthal can do it. You are a Human Bean.

The 'front to back' and the 'side to side' level bubble, whatever you call it at the store... need to be near one another. The side to side is the MOST important level.

The FRONT of the trailer is where to place the bubble whatcha ma things. Have them set so the person needing to set leveling blocks can estimate how many and if you need to... back up or pull forward on them. You are the driver. Pay attention. If you think it is taking toooooo much time... DO IT YOURSELF.

By having the levels near one another, the person doing all the foot work... can easily look and know what YOU, the driver whining about taking too much time... needs to do.

I have heard the driver cursing at the spouse at RV Parks. Idiots are out there. Don't be one. This is a SKILL learned by doing... AFTER the leveling bubbles are in use.

If you want Perfect. Pay me $1000 to help you figure it out. This would not include parts or fuel expenses, nor lunch break and a 15 minute rest period... cost.

I am a Neanderthal. MY wife is a Human Bean and a smart one. This is easy as a TEAM. If one is the back end of a Mule... do it yourself. Get your MULE off the cushy seat and be... nice.

This is team work. After years of doing it... a movement of my wife's hand, all five fingers... is all I need. Not a word is spoken. Occasionally a spot just does not work... and you move to an easier location... like out of the Country, if necessary.

OK... Leveling 101 is complete. You are educated beyond most. The problem may be you need a shorter trailer... and a smaller tow vehicle.

FLAT TIRE? Now Mr. Tough Guy... get your Mule out there and show us your stuff... Make a video. This will be wonderful entertainment...
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Old 09-16-2021, 02:52 PM   #16
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Ray,
If you need all that stuff to get level, you might move a few feet and try a different spot ;-). I would rather use my space for better things than extra lumber.
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Old 09-16-2021, 03:01 PM   #17
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Leveling 102... Not for Holiday RV Campers

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Ray,
If you need all that stuff to get level, you might move a few feet and try a different spot ;-). I would rather use my space for better things than extra lumber.
******

We Off the Grid Boondock. Not at RV Parks and rarely in an area occupied by Human Beans.

This advice is more for those who are not Asphalt Parking Lot or RV Holiday Campers.

We find an area and can manage anything Mother Nature offers. Do not confuse one from the other. We have no options as campsites are not graded flat by Mother Nature. She is not always cooperating.

Those who pay to park... Front to Back leveling is easy. Often within an inch side to side... and easy.
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Old 09-17-2021, 06:57 AM   #18
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******

We Off the Grid Boondock. Not at RV Parks and rarely in an area occupied by Human Beans.

This advice is more for those who are not Asphalt Parking Lot or RV Holiday Campers.

We find an area and can manage anything Mother Nature offers. Do not confuse one from the other. We have no options as campsites are not graded flat by Mother Nature. She is not always cooperating.

Those who pay to park... Front to Back leveling is easy. Often within an inch side to side... and easy.
Hi

Front to back is easy up to a point. The point is on that rock as it goes trough the bottom of your battery box. How do I know that the battery box is the limit and not the jack at minimum extension? I have trial and error data on this ..... multiple trials and multiple errors ... somehow I doubt that surprises anybody very much

Bob
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Old 09-17-2021, 08:07 AM   #19
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Reducing... AXLE WEIGHT?

Common Sense?

If you have too much weight on Two Axles... Remove one tire and it should reduce the weight by 50% on one and 100% on the axle without a tire?

Standing on a Floor Scale with one foot makes you half as heavy?

Using leveling blocks under each tire on the side, leveling side to side, carries the weight on blocks as easy as having the tires on the flat asphalt?

You pick and chose. I prefer my methods.

Sometimes being crazy, makes numbers work...
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Old 09-17-2021, 08:21 AM   #20
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Common Sense?

If you have too much weight on Two Axles... Remove one tire and it should reduce the weight by 50% on one and 100% on the axle without a tire?

Standing on a Floor Scale with one foot makes you half as heavy?

Using leveling blocks under each tire on the side, leveling side to side, carries the weight on blocks as easy as having the tires on the flat asphalt?

You pick and chose. I prefer my methods.

Sometimes being crazy, makes numbers work...
Hi

I must admit that I sorta wonder at some of the trailers that rumble by on the road. The nose is a foot higher ( or a foot lower) than the tail. (likely not an AS or you would see sparks ....). One axle or the other *has* to be almost off the ground. Somehow they get on down the road.

When leveling on "less than ideal" surfaces, it's not unusual to see folks doing effectively the same thing. Somehow they survive.

Bob
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