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Old 03-26-2016, 09:47 AM   #1
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Working under the coach

For you folks that do crawl around underneath your Alpines what is your preferred method for getting the coach up off the ground a bit. When I replaced my parking brake actuator I blocked underneath my leveling jacks, lowered the jacks raising the coach and then lowered the coach onto a couple of 6 ton jack stands. Reason I ask is I came into some timbers and was thinking about making some drive on ramps. Just wondered what others do.
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Old 03-26-2016, 10:19 AM   #2
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If you are only talking about a "little bit" of lifting, then ramps or jack stands are fine. Only caution I would off with using the on-board jacks to lift the coach is that becasue we have trailing arm suspension, the weight of the front and back axles will eventually come to rest on the shocks and/or the air bags. Shocks are probably ok in front but the rear axle is a lot to hang off the shocks. Nor do I like the way the air bags get distorted [stretched] when you lift the axles off the ground. I am sure some one say its fine--just not for me.
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Old 03-26-2016, 12:24 PM   #3
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I built 4 ramps using 2X12 planks. I cut them and screwed them on top on each other (3 planks high). I use all 4 to drive the rear of the coach onto which raise it about 5 inches and I chock the front wheels. That provides enough room to crawl around safely even if the air bags were deflate. I do put the rear jacks down just in case but not to lift the coach.
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Old 03-26-2016, 12:31 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Fernandez View Post
I built 4 ramps using 2X12 planks. I cut them and screwed them on top on each other (3 planks high). I use all 4 to drive the rear onto which raise the coach about 5 inches and I chock the front wheels. That provides enough room to crawl around safely.

Probably a good idea to have four. I have two I used on my gasser. Now with a DP probably good idea to support duallys as well. What do you use for chocks? I had some CW plastic ones, but found they crack and break pretty easy with DP weight.
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Old 03-26-2016, 07:03 PM   #5
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Thanks for the responses. I did notice when I had it up on the jacks that the air bags were stretched. I think I will take the time to make the ramps. I am still not comfortable working under the coach but I will get used to it.
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Old 03-30-2016, 06:34 AM   #6
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I need to understand here. If you dump the air that puts the Coach on the frame. Just like camping. Then if you raise the jacks till the wheels are off the ground, how does that stretch the bags. Then I have heavy duty jack stands under each wheel at the axle. Tell me if I'm doing this wrong. This is how I do it and I don't want to get hurt or break anything. I went and had the tires changed and that's the way they changed them. When I was working on ABS this free the wheel to check adjustments. Then I turn the wheel to grease the drive shaft. If I'm doing it wrong and unsafe please, tell me where and what is the problem.
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Old 03-30-2016, 07:12 AM   #7
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Interesting- I wouldn't have thought the wheels will stay 'up' after the air is dumped and then the coach raised. I'm assuming the 'vacuum' (I use that term loosely) in the air bags is holding up the axle and wheels if the valve is closed? That doesn't make sense as the wheels would lift off any time you leveled the coach after dumping the air, which is a no-no.

If the wheels are off the ground, something has to be holding them up. Either the fully extended shocks, 'stretched' airbags, or some mechanical stop. Haven't looked at mine, yet, as I'll be picking it up in a little over two weeks...
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Old 03-30-2016, 06:53 PM   #8
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Walt,

The "vacuum" in the airbag is not sufficient to hold up the axle assembly. You can raise the coach quite a ways before the wheels are pulled up off of the ground. But they will eventually hang on the shocks if you raise it far enough.

Keep in mind that the park brake locks the rear wheels. If you pull the rear tires off of the ground, things may move and damage the jacks (and you) if you don't have the front chocked!!!

I would use Dave's method if I wanted to spend time under the coach.
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Old 03-30-2016, 07:02 PM   #9
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I had considered these options for working on the chassis. Then I found an oil pit I could use. So much more dignified and productive.
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Old 04-03-2016, 07:31 AM   #10
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I got the old book out and I went out and looked again. I see exactly what your talking about. You guys are on top of things. Now when I go camping sometimes ,to level the coach the auto level will raise a wheel. In this case what do you normally do. I see what your saying about safe and unsafe and wear on the bags and shocks. Now do you take your coach off auto and go manual to level. Put blocks under it to raise the low spots. I just always put it on auto and it took over. The spots that where to low I would put blocks of wood there and let it level again. Is this the normal. I got a crash course on this and now I'm learning I was told alittle wrong. I don't mean to sound like i'm off the wall but if I listen to everyone that has told me how to do this. I don't get to talk to anyone here with a Alpine, you are it. The best of best. So all this ramp makes great sense now. I need to clear up what is your way of dry docking on unleveled ground. I read never put out slides unless the coach is level. I'm assuming that's right. Do you always dump air to level? I think if you help me with these things , Ill take it from there. I do thank you.
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Old 04-03-2016, 08:36 AM   #11
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Larry, I agree, there is alot of different, if not contradictory info on this forum--all well-meaning but not always the most accurate. Fact is, I learn something new about different models and years of Alpines, almost everyday. Generally speaking, I think you can divide then into two categories: 1- things you should/shouldn't do; and 2- things that are/arent recommended.

Cant say I ever tried deploying the jacks/level coach with the air bags still inflated -- you might be able to but why would you?

Usually, the HWH will tell you if you are too slanted to level. At that point you can interrupt the auto level and go manual but again, why would you?

Depending on model and year, some owners have determined that the main room slide "work better" if you put then out before deploying jacks [some models/years require the jacks to be down[a little] before it will let you fully deploy a room slide.]

On rare occasions, I have allowed the jacks to raise the front wheels off the ground--not my favorite thing but its probably "ok."

IMHO--there are all kinds of reasons not to lift the rear wheels off the ground, parking brake, shocks, air bags, for a start.

Good questions--keep asking them.......
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Old 04-03-2016, 11:08 AM   #12
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Working under the coach

Larry, people that post on this forum need to look at what they get as a response to questions. Responses can come from anyone, they may or may not know/own an Alpine, however I believe they are well intentioned. WRV did things differently, I think mostly better, sometimes not so much, then other manufacturers, but overall pretty good. This leaves original posters to determine the appropriateness of a response.

We are at a point in the life of all things "Alpine" where some people who have owned an Alpine in the past have moved on to a newer coach and since Western is no longer in business (and maybe other reasons) they now own some other brand. There are folks here that respond with what they feel is relevant (and may be for their coach), but may not be how WRV did things, so take postings with a grain of salt.

On leveling, IMHO it is best NOT to leave a wheel without contact to the ground. I carry 3' pressure treated 2 x 10's. Most times I use them under the jacks to help spread the 33k of our coaches over a larger area (the less than 1 square foot of the jack pads just does not seem to me to be sufficient), how many times have you gotten to a campsite and found round holes spaced so you know they were from somebody's jacks. I also use these boards under the wheels if I am in a site that causes one to be off the ground. BTW I go to Lowe's and purchase a 8' PT 2 X 10, cut them into 3' pieces, the 2' extra I carry with me for those spots I can use a little extra lift. I also put drawer pulls on the ends so I can easily pick them up (if they are too far under the coach I have been know up to use the awning pull to grab the handle).

I set the HWH to automatically level the coach, that drops the air bags and puts down the jacks, if it detects "excess slope" I will add one of the 2' sections of 2 X 10 and re-level it. If one of the front wheels is off the ground I will raise that jack until I can get one of the 2' boards under and then drop the coach back down, if it is a rear wheel I move the coach. Once the automatic leveling is complete I do the "toilet" and "shower door" test and tweak manually as required.

My feelings on extending the slides, I do not do it until I have leveled the coach. While it is not required, in my opinion it certainly must make it easier on the systems, an unleveled coach could really rack a slide while it is extending or retracting. When I arrive at a campsite the first thing I do is plug into shore power, the HWH pump takes a LOT of power so I do not run the jacks down until I have either shore or generator power.

I see you live in Kentucky, if you are not already a member, you should join ACE (Alpine Coach East) as well as ACA (Alpine Coach Association) there are a surprising number of Alpines east of the Mississippi and we get together throughout the year. You should also consider attending the FMCA rally in Springfield, MA August 3 - 6, it is a long day or maybe 2 day's drive from Kentucky. ACE is considering a pre or post rally depending upon interest. At this point I know of 2 Alpines that are going to be at the FMCA rally and expect there will be more as we get closer to August, if you are interested let me know.
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Old 04-03-2016, 05:05 PM   #13
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Thanks Old Scott and Dr Dave. That put it where I understand. I do notice the inputs from other Models. Every time I crawl under the coach I see more problems. When I looked at how the front end is hooked to the shock I notice dry rot in the air bags. Then I was at the rear and saw a lot of rust on the radiator pipe. Dang! I guess I'll be looking for the bags and checking how bad the rust is. Thanks Guys I'm hoping this is all about April fool. You guys enjoy the rest of your weekend. One more thing Dr Dave I have tried to contact the east of the Mississippi group and that webb site won't let me get there.
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Old 04-03-2016, 09:15 PM   #14
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Larry, the ACE web site was shut down a while ago, as I understand it because there was no one to support it. PM me you email and I will get the membership chairman to contact you.
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