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Old 08-21-2018, 09:08 PM   #1
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Proper leveling procedure

I recently bought a National Dolphin 5355 which came without any operation manuals. I have read some horror stories about using the wrong sequence on the leveling jacks and having the windshields pop out. That must truly be a heart wrenching experience.

I have heard that the front jacks are to be operated before the rear.

Also, I heard that the rear wheels are to never be jacked COMPLETELY OFF THE GROUND at once.

Both of the above items are enough to make me think that I have made a huge mistake.

The system is Power Gear lll levelers.

The motorhome has the Workhorse chassis, 8.1 Vortex, Allison transmission.
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Old 08-21-2018, 10:23 PM   #2
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I’ve had my 5342 over 13 years. I don’t think I’ve ever been taught a specific “do it x, y, and z or it’s doom and gloom,” so I’ll follow this thread a bit, although I’m not likely to change what works for me.

I do recall my dealer suggesting level first, then slides, and when pulling out, slides in, then jacks. Actually jacks are the very first thing I do - pull to position, do jacks while right there still in the seat, and likewise pull jacks and drive away when retracted.

My usual routine is I look at my level indicator and typically activate whichever end needs to come up to approach level. Then the other end just until touch ground for stability. We’re not picky about “level,”. Close works for me, and close for us is plenty in the refer’s happy zone.

I’ve had the front tires in the air a number of times though, to get “close.” I think the issue with the rears is to ensure the jacks are only stressed vertically. I can see without that instruction an owner may use jacks on a grade and the jacks are stressed in a manner not intended. I won’t go rears up; I’ll try better position first.

Dunno about windshield issues. Have you heard about this with a National coach? I think they are pretty rigid. I’ve not detected any house flex or twist and we’ve exercised things to max at times. Sometimes I’ve noticed that I have one rear jack hanging when I thought it was down when doing side to side (oops), so 2 fronts and one rear only supporting, implying the chassis has to support any twist. That’s not my intent, but I’ve done it . Still, everything fits, closes, seals, works, whatever without issue.

What makes you think you made a mistake, let alone “huge?” Good job getting a National, btw!
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Old 08-22-2018, 01:05 AM   #3
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My 99 Dolphin owners manual and Power Gear manual says to raise the front a few inches first then use the rear jacks to level front to back and side to side. The two front jacks are on a common circuit and will float prevent the twisting of the frame and popping or cracking the windshield. The reason for not lifting the rear tires off the ground is the lose of braking and the possibility of the motorhome moving. Not just and National RV problem.
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Old 08-22-2018, 08:19 AM   #4
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Ditto post #3. Rook
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Old 08-22-2018, 02:18 PM   #5
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I level the same as the two above. I have seen comments about broken windshields so try to avoid spots that need a lot of side to side leveling. I also avoid getting any of the wheels off the ground. Sometimes close enough is good to avoid too much twisting, also havenít had trouble with the fridge when doing so. One thing we donít like is that the rig (Ford chassis) still moves quite a bit as we walk around inside even though the jacks are deployed, they donít stabilize very much.
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Old 08-23-2018, 09:59 AM   #6
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We have a 2007 Dolphin and use the following proceedure for leveling:

1.) Park and Brake the motorhome.
2.) Lower front jacks to a firm ground contact on both legs.
3.) Lower the rear jacks to a firm ground contact on both legs.
4.) We then complete leveling front-to-back... adjusting as necessary.
5.) Then level left-to-right, adjusting as necessary.
6.) Then one last front-to-back check...
7.) Then slides come out.
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Old 08-23-2018, 12:53 PM   #7
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Thank you very much. Your response helps reinstate my feelings that I made a good choice in motorhomes. However, I have read articles where windshields have been dislodged from incorrect leveling methods.
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Old 08-23-2018, 10:52 PM   #8
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Disclaimer; weíve only owned our 2007 Sea Breeze 3 1/2 weeks, but Iíve camped in it 4 times already and this is my experience. Since the front two jacks work in tandem only, I level side to side first using blocks under the tires. I then raise the front, or back two jacks together depending on which end needs to go up to level front to back. Then I lower the other two just enough to stabilize. Reason I do it this way is because since only the back two work independently, I am worried that if I try to level side to side using only the back jacks, I may twist the chassis. It seems to work well so far.
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Old 08-23-2018, 11:29 PM   #9
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Ours come down in pairs, so I usually start the leveling process by extending the jacks on the low side first. That could be front, rear, or side. Once those are deployed enough to get it leveled, I bring the other two down for stabilization. Of course there are times when one corner of the site is higher than the rest. These I try to be more careful with since it's easier to cause twisting in the frame.

I've heard of windshields popping out but it doesn't happen very often. While there are exceptions, it usually takes a whole lot of frame twisting to make it happen. I wouldn't worry too much about it unless your favorite campsite just happens to be really front/rear to side unlevel.
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Old 08-24-2018, 03:58 PM   #10
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1. Push "ON/OFF" pad on control panel. The system is now operational and the "ON/OFF" light will be lit. If "ON/OFF" light is not lit, see "BEFORE YOU OPERATE THE SYSTEM" conditions on page L4.
2. Push "FRONT JACKS" button until the front of the coach rises at least 3 ". This is important and necessary to allow the coach to pivot when leveling side to side. If there is insufficient jack stroke to lift the front of the coach at least 3 inches the coach will have to be moved to an area with less front to back slope.
3. Push "REAR JACKS" button until jacks contact the ground.
4. If bubble is towards front of coach push "REAR JACKS" button, If bubble is towards rear of coach push "FRONT JACKS" button. Keep button depressed until bubble is centered in vial from front to back, then release.
5. If bubble is towards left of coach push "RIGHT JACKS" button, If bubble is towards right of coach push "LEFT JACKS" button. Keep button depressed until bubble is centered in vial, then release.
NOTE: The right and left rear jacks are used to level the coach side to side. Pushing the "LEFT REAR JACKS" pad on the control panel will extend the left rear jack. Pushing the "RIGHT REAR JACKS" pad on the control panel will extend the right rear jack. The front jacks are designed to provide a pivot point for the chassis, thus there is no individual control of the right or left front jacks on 4 jack systems.
6. Repeat steps 2 through 5 if needed.
7. Turn power off to leveling system by pushing "ON/OFF" pad.
8. Visually inspect jacks to ensure all pads are touching ground. Should one of the rear jacks not be touching the ground, press the corresponding left or right rear jack buttons to lower the appropriate jack to the ground. Never lift all the wheels off the ground to level the coach
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Old 08-24-2018, 04:20 PM   #11
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You have gotten good information and some not so good. Jack systems when in the automatic mode or manual mode always lift jacks in pairs.

Windshield will pop out or break if the frame is lifted only on one corner and twisted enough. That's why jacks only lift in pairs.

If the lights tell me the front is low then those jacks go down first. Then the rears are grounded. My DW will tell me when both jacks have hit the ground and I will lift the RV slightly. I've never ever heard of the 3" rule. Why lift the RV 3" if it does not need that much to be level??? Seems kind of silly to me.

I raise the RV slightly so I know that set of jacks are both grounded and lifting equally. Then I'll level the RV using the set that is needed. Then I'll level side to side as needed.
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Old 08-24-2018, 07:17 PM   #12
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That information was a cut and paste from the Powergear owners manual.


Below is for automatic jacks.



1. Push "ON/OFF" pad on control panel. The system is now operational and the Electronic Level lights will be active.
2. Check to see that the "EXCESS SLOPE" indicator is not flashing. If the indicator is flashing the coach should be moved to a more level location so leveling can be accomplished efficiently and safely.
3. Push and hold the "EXTEND" ALL JACKS pad until all of the jacks contact the ground. IMPORTANT: Push the "Front" button to raise the front of the coach an additional 3". This is necessary to allow the coach to pivot when leveling side to side.








NOTE: If your coach is equipped with a latching control, press the "EXTEND" ALL JACKS button only once. The jacks now will extend automatically until all of the jacks contact the ground.


NOTE: The "JACKS DOWN" light only indicates that one or more jacks are not fully retracted, and should not be used as a guide in this step.




4. Observe the "FRONT" and "REAR" electronic level lights (arrows). Push and hold the corresponding pad until the light goes out.
5. Observe the "LEFT" and the "RIGHT" electronic level lights (arrows). Push and hold the corresponding pad until the light goes out.
6. Observe the round level indicator light (green). At this point it should be lit, indicating that the coach is level. If not, repeat steps 4 and 5.
7. If further adjustments are necessary, simply push the appropriate pad to override the system and level the coach to YOUR LIKING.
 
8. Visually check that all jacks are firmly on the ground. Should one of the rear jacks not be touching the ground, press the corresponding left or right rear jack buttons to lower the appropriate jack to the ground. Never lift all the wheels off the ground to level the coach

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Old 08-24-2018, 07:27 PM   #13
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Good info Richard, thanks. But here’s my question; if the coach starts out not level side to side and I lower two front jacks together first, obviously one of them is going to touch down first. If I then continue until BOTH front jacks are touching, does it then cause the coach to go even further off level since the one on the high side will raise that side even more until the low side touches down? Then I must use the rear jacks one at a time to try and level side to side? I hope I’m making sense here. Keep in mind my system does not have an automatic mode.
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Old 08-24-2018, 07:40 PM   #14
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Carl,
When your RV is setting with one corner lower than the others it's already twisted but it a slight twist.

When you lower say both front jacks and raise it say 1" now the front is level but the back may still be slightly twisted. Lower the rear jacks which always work in pairs and now the RV's rear is level side to side. Once all 4 jacks are on the ground the frame is not twisted but now you have to get the RV level side to side and front to back but that always happens with side jacks and front or rear jacks working in pairs so nothing will get twisted only leveled.

My automatic mode of leveling will work one jack at a time if it needs just a slight change. When it's working in the manual mode they will ALWAYS work in pairs and no excessive twisting will happen.

Here's what I did to make life a lot easier and it should be standard equipment on every RV but you can add it easily.

Drive the RV into a nice parking lot. Lower your jacks just like you were leveling it at a CG. Using a 4' level check front to back and side to side and get it dead nuts on level. Put your level on the floor. Since the floor is built on top of the metal frame by golly it should be level. Don't use the counter tops or fridge. Use the floor!!!!

Now that you know the RV floor is deal level while setting in the drivers seat install a nice bubble level on the dash dead level. Install one below the drivers window dead level. WHY??? When you pull into a CG you the driver can select exactly where you want to park the unit so get it as close to level while still keeping the connections close. Even moving the RV 6" to 12" left or right of center may make a big difference.

With the bubble close to level you the driver need no one to tell you when things are level. Drop the jacks and using the manual jacks finish leveling the RV.
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