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Author Topic: Safe grade for using hydraulic levelers  (Read 632 times)

dsplaisted

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Safe grade for using hydraulic levelers
« on: July 21, 2020, 06:31:22 PM »
Hi folks,

We've just gotten our first RV (2004 Winnebago Adventurer 38G).  Our driveway is slanted by about 10 degrees, and the street in front of our house is slanted by about 3 to 4 degrees (as measured by my iPhone leveling app).

How steep of a grade is it safe / advisable to use the hydraulic levelers on to level the RV?

In the manual it says to point the front end downhill when parking on a grade.  I did this in our driveway, and a bunch of water spilled out from the water tank.  I think this is normal because the tank was full so the slant just made water flow out of the overflow valve.  However, it seemed to be getting one of the hydraulic lifts wet.  Is this expected, and how the overflow drain hose is supposed to work?

Thanks!

WILDEBILL308

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Re: Safe grade for using hydraulic levelers
« Reply #1 on: July 21, 2020, 07:07:06 PM »
I have seen coaches on some realey steep inclines. My take is if you can't get level without lifting the tires off you are probably ok. I would chock the rear wheels just to be safe. 

Do you have the owner's manual?
https://winnebagoind.com/resources/manuals/pdfs/Operator2003/03Adventurer.pdf
Bill
2008 Newmar Mountain Aire
450 HP ISM Cummins
Allison 4000MH Trans.
Towing 2014 Honda CRV
Home base Fort Worth, Texas
A man who carries a cat by the tail learns something he can learn in no other way.
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dsplaisted

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Re: Safe grade for using hydraulic levelers
« Reply #2 on: July 21, 2020, 07:33:28 PM »
I do have the manual (for the 04 Adventurer).  I didn't find any information about what sort of incline would be safe when I was scanning / searching it.

Thanks!

dsplaisted

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Re: Safe grade for using hydraulic levelers
« Reply #3 on: July 21, 2020, 08:55:02 PM »
So it seems that given the grade it's on, I can't get it any closer to level than leaning 2 degrees forward.  Is that level enough for me to open up the slide outs?

Also, the right rear hydraulic jack doesn't want to retract on its own.  I can pry it back up into position with a shovel.  Searching online seems to reveal that I should first try to lubricate it with some WD40, and if that doesn't work maybe replace the springs.  Does that sound right, or is there anything else I should do / check?

Thanks,
Daniel

PJ Stough

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Re: Safe grade for using hydraulic levelers
« Reply #4 on: July 21, 2020, 09:42:33 PM »
So it seems that given the grade it's on, I can't get it any closer to level than leaning 2 degrees forward.  Is that level enough for me to open up the slide outs?

Also, the right rear hydraulic jack doesn't want to retract on its own.  I can pry it back up into position with a shovel.  Searching online seems to reveal that I should first try to lubricate it with some WD40, and if that doesn't work maybe replace the springs.  Does that sound right, or is there anything else I should do / check?

Thanks,
Daniel

With the HWH leveling jacks the seal where the ram goes into the jack dries out, so from time to time I spray the seals liberally with WD-40 and let it run down the jacks just before I retract them. Doing this I have no trouble with my jacks retracting  slowly despite the fact I still have the original retracting springs.

As far as getting the front wheels off the ground, her is a pic from the campground at the Iowa State Fair.
« Last Edit: July 21, 2020, 09:45:25 PM by PJ Stough »
PJ Stough   Iowa
2005 Winnebago Voyage 38J

“Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.”--- Voltaire

dsplaisted

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Re: Safe grade for using hydraulic levelers
« Reply #5 on: July 21, 2020, 09:51:47 PM »
OK, but is that a pick of what to do or what NOT to do?  :)

PJ Stough

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Re: Safe grade for using hydraulic levelers
« Reply #6 on: July 21, 2020, 09:56:30 PM »
OK, but is that a pick of what to do or what NOT to do?  :)

The choice is yours. :) Having been to the Iowa State Fair Campgrounds, and seen some of the setups, this is one of the more conservative setups.
PJ Stough   Iowa
2005 Winnebago Voyage 38J

“Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.”--- Voltaire

Lynx0849

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Re: Safe grade for using hydraulic levelers
« Reply #7 on: July 21, 2020, 10:38:44 PM »
Put more blocks under the front levelers. Maybe then you can get it closer?

I know lots of folk like WD40. I do too except only to loosen something up. Then I use a lubricant like oil or lithium grease.
WD(water displacement)40 isn’t a good long term lubricant IMHO.
Rob & Deryl, Nettle & Tigger
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PJ Stough

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Re: Safe grade for using hydraulic levelers
« Reply #8 on: July 21, 2020, 10:46:31 PM »
Put more blocks under the front levelers. Maybe then you can get it closer?

I know lots of folk like WD40. I do too except only to loosen something up. Then I use a lubricant like oil or lithium grease.
WD(water displacement)40 isn’t a good long term lubricant IMHO.

What I have concluded from my use of WD-40 is that it softens the seal, but not necessarily lubricates it.
PJ Stough   Iowa
2005 Winnebago Voyage 38J

“Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.”--- Voltaire

Ex-Calif

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  • Dan from Dayton...
Re: Safe grade for using hydraulic levelers
« Reply #9 on: July 22, 2020, 05:22:16 AM »
IMHO as a beginner, but an engineer, the levelers would be designed to push straight down.

If the RV is at an extreme angle the piston will assuredly have some side loading - this may not be noticeable 90% of the time but if the leveler has side load due to a nose down attitude that could have something to do with how easily it can slide back into the cylinder.

The WD40 etc probably helps.

I had to block my RV for the first time last weekend and the fronts were off the ground when I was level.  I put a maximum of 6 inches of block under the front jacks - that was my "personal" trial and error limit.

No way would I personally be doing anything close to that county fair photo.

PS - When your one "jammed" leveler gets off the ground does it retract the rest of the way on it's own? i.e. is it jammed only when it's on the ground and perhaps has side load on it?
"Marvin" - 1997 Georgie Boy Pursuit 3150 - P30 Chev 454
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phil-t

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Re: Safe grade for using hydraulic levelers
« Reply #10 on: July 22, 2020, 05:57:05 AM »
So it seems that given the grade it's on, I can't get it any closer to level than leaning 2 degrees forward.  Is that level enough for me to open up the slide outs?

Also, the right rear hydraulic jack doesn't want to retract on its own.  I can pry it back up into position with a shovel.  Searching online seems to reveal that I should first try to lubricate it with some WD40, and if that doesn't work maybe replace the springs.  Does that sound right, or is there anything else I should do / check?

Thanks,
Daniel

The valve on the control unit (up front by the reservoir tank, usually, is in behind the left front wheel on my rig) responsible for that jack may be sticking partially closed.  If you repeatedly press the retract all button on the control panel will it retract?  I use spray on silicone lube on my jack pistons, when extended and wipe them down.  The jacks have a grease fitting at the seal, give it a couple pumps every dozen or so uses.
2010 Winnebago Vista 32K on an '09 F53 22K Ford V-10 gas chassis.
2020 Buick Envision AWD Premium in tow.
CHF, DIY rear TrackBar
Retired - Moving Along

WILDEBILL308

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Re: Safe grade for using hydraulic levelers
« Reply #11 on: July 22, 2020, 10:04:55 AM »
So it seems that given the grade it's on, I can't get it any closer to level than leaning 2 degrees forward.  Is that level enough for me to open up the slide outs?

Also, the right rear hydraulic jack doesn't want to retract on its own.  I can pry it back up into position with a shovel.  Searching online seems to reveal that I should first try to lubricate it with some WD40, and if that doesn't work maybe replace the springs.  Does that sound right, or is there anything else I should do / check?

Thanks,
Daniel
You can put some jack pads under the jacks to get it level as some have mentioned. I have some I made up because some places require a pad under the jack. Being level is good for the slides it is mandatory for operating the refrigerator.
On your sticky jack problem. look at the base of the cylinder where the piston comes out. Some have a grease fitting that needs to be greased ocashinaley.
 While WD-40 will work to clean the shaft and loosen the seal it is not that good for long term use. I use the same hydraulic fluid as what you use in the system to wipe down the shafts.
The jacks like a lot of your systems do better when they are used or at least exercised regularly. after you grease and lube everything cykle it about 10 times.
Bill
2008 Newmar Mountain Aire
450 HP ISM Cummins
Allison 4000MH Trans.
Towing 2014 Honda CRV
Home base Fort Worth, Texas
A man who carries a cat by the tail learns something he can learn in no other way.
-Mark Twain-

dsplaisted

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Re: Safe grade for using hydraulic levelers
« Reply #12 on: July 22, 2020, 12:32:58 PM »
I've got a long wood board that's about 1.5 inches thick and 9 inches wide.  Do I just cut some square-ish sections off of that to make my own leveling blocks?

Thanks,
Daniel

Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: Safe grade for using hydraulic levelers
« Reply #13 on: July 22, 2020, 12:38:31 PM »
Despite a lot of internet blather on the subject, I do not believe the slides are particular sensitive to tilt, even if they have to push uphill to open.

Raising the coach when the terrain is heavily slanted does create side-loading on the jack rams.  The better quality rigs have jack rams spec'ed to easily handle that, but lower-priced models may have skimped a bit.  I don't know what is on your Adventurer,  but it's not a luxury-class product.

Lifting the wheels off the ground creates an extra level of stress on the structure of the coach body and has been known to cause twisting, so best avoided if practical.  You can gain a few inches of lift with spacers under the jack feet, but the wheels might still come off the ground. But you can also put board under the tire positions and drive up on them.
Gary
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FunSteak

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Re: Safe grade for using hydraulic levelers
« Reply #14 on: July 27, 2020, 12:04:08 PM »
Despite a lot of internet blather on the subject, I do not believe the slides are particular sensitive to tilt, even if they have to push uphill to open.

I don't claim to know the stresses and physics here, but I can tell you anecdotally that I can absolutely hear a marked difference in the sound of my slides extending and retracting depending on how level I am.  When dead-on level, the motors are noticeably quieter, as is the general sound of the slide itself.  In the few occasions where I've been forced to leave the rig somewhat out of level, everything is noisier and seems to be working harder.   

It just sounds better and happier when everything is nice and level.  Now, whether that means anything bad is happening otherwise, I can't say.
JP & Karen
2017 Minnie Winnie 26a

Lou Schneider

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Re: Safe grade for using hydraulic levelers
« Reply #15 on: July 27, 2020, 12:21:20 PM »
In the manual it says to point the front end downhill when parking on a grade. 

You don't want to park nose up on a grade and then lift the rear end.  The parking brake is only on the rear axle and if you lift it too far the tires will lose traction, possibly letting the rig slide downhill until the jacks collapse and put the rear tires back on the ground.
« Last Edit: July 27, 2020, 12:28:38 PM by Lou Schneider »

Ex-Calif

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  • Dan from Dayton...
Re: Safe grade for using hydraulic levelers
« Reply #16 on: July 27, 2020, 12:32:33 PM »
That's a great point for a newbie like me - I haven't been in that situation but I did life the fronts off the ground last trip. It probably would not have occurred to me. Gotta make sure I have adequate chocks before I do any high rear lifts.

I did know enough to make sure all 4 jacks were "planted" before raising the front to the desired height.

You don't want to park nose up on a grade and then lift the rear end.  The parking brake is only on the rear axle and if you lift it too far the tires will lose traction, possibly letting the rig slide downhill until the jacks collapse and put the rear tires back on the ground.
"Marvin" - 1997 Georgie Boy Pursuit 3150 - P30 Chev 454
Various classic MGBs
Ex-liveaboard boater - Class A newbie in sponge mode

FunSteak

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Re: Safe grade for using hydraulic levelers
« Reply #17 on: July 27, 2020, 02:19:09 PM »
You don't want to park nose up on a grade and then lift the rear end.  The parking brake is only on the rear axle and if you lift it too far the tires will lose traction, possibly letting the rig slide downhill until the jacks collapse and put the rear tires back on the ground.

I don't have jacks.  I use the yellow lego block looking things.  Your point also applies to that method.  In addition to the e-brake thing, it also takes a lot fewer blocks to raise two wheels than four!
JP & Karen
2017 Minnie Winnie 26a

SargeW

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Re: Safe grade for using hydraulic levelers
« Reply #18 on: July 27, 2020, 02:42:39 PM »
So it seems that given the grade it's on, I can't get it any closer to level than leaning 2 degrees forward.  Is that level enough for me to open up the slide outs?

Also, the right rear hydraulic jack doesn't want to retract on its own.  I can pry it back up into position with a shovel.  Searching online seems to reveal that I should first try to lubricate it with some WD40, and if that doesn't work maybe replace the springs.  Does that sound right, or is there anything else I should do / check?

Thanks,
Daniel

The closer to level you are, the better it will be for your slides to open and close easily. Those slide rooms just create a huge "hole" in the structure of the RV frame. If that frame is out of square when moving a slide, it can bind against the wall of the slide.

I have lifted my front tires off of the ground slightly for a short period of time with no ill effects. Traveling as much as we do, 6-9 months a year, simply  moving to another site is usually not an option. Driving up on a board is a good option if you want to carry some with you, I do not.  I do have blocks to place under the jacks if the ground is the least bit soft or unstable. 

With a coach of your age, it may well be due for spring replacement on one or more of the jacks. Replacement springs are not too expensive, and if you are a little mechanically inclined you can do  the replacement yourself.  If you search here on the forum for "jack spring replacement" you will find several posts by others that have completed the task.
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