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Old 08-03-2010, 09:21 PM   #1
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How Do You Work Under Your Coach?

I'm envious of those who do much of their own maintenance on their DPs. I would feel confident taking on most stuff on a gasser but "know my limitations" and gladly pay Freightliner to keep my chassis up to date.

However, I do love to poke around under the coach to identify stuff and learn... not to mention for things like running a 50' HDMI cable to the back TV.

My question is this; how do you raise and secure your coach before you feel you can safely crawl around under it? Most of the posts on the topic say to never trust the jacks and always use properly sized jack stands. We full time and have to really scruitinize added bulk and weight so I wanted to check in to see if the jack stands are pretty universally used.

What do you do???

Rick, Nancy, Peanut & Lola our Westie Dogs & Bailey the Sheltie.

2007 Itasca Ellipse 40FD
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Old 08-03-2010, 10:01 PM   #2
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I do all of my own maintanance and repairs and have enough room under the coach to move around under it without having to lift it. I do put the jacks down but only to support the coach and to lift it a very small amount if needed. If I had to lift it alot I would roll it up on wood blocks or lift it with the jacks and then use jack stands. It really is easy and safe if you use a reasonable amount of caution. It will give you great satisfaction knowing whats going on under there. It also helps if you have to have someone else do the work that they know that you are not a rookie and know whats going on down there.

NOTE; I am not responsible for typos, poor grammer or misspelled word !
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Old 08-04-2010, 02:05 AM   #3
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If I can reach it, lift it and know how it works I fix it myself. These are the rules I live by concerning my coach. I have a 33 foot Pace Arrow on a Ford V10 chassis. I have found that in about every event when I hire someone else to do work on my coach they either dont know what they are doing or dont care and they are charging me 90 dollars an hour to ''poke around'' and throw parts at something. Some things I have to ''hire done'' because it is not practical for me to do them like I had a tranny put in last year. Four grand and it was done wrong. I had to have it removed and ''alignment pens'' installed after my fly wheel busted.
I do not advise you to do this but I do. I PUT MY COACH UP ON THE JACKS and I am careful not to crawl under the front axle or the tires. Other than that, if it should fall, nothing would touch me.
I also carry the tools and a spare tire so I can change one if necessary. Once out in Utah we waited 18 hours for a service truck and he didnt have the proper tools to change the tire. my moral is to be as efficient as you can and dont let idiots work on your coach.......
remember ..... this is me .... you make your own rules .....
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Old 08-04-2010, 04:28 AM   #4
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Don't trust just the jacks!

Many auto parts places have reasonbly good jack stands fairly cheap. I bought a pair of 10 ton jack stands for about $50.00, and a 20 ton bottle jack for about the same amount.

I use the jacks to raise the coach, and then the jack stands are placed before my butt goes under the coach.

It is a pain to place the jack stands and get them in the right place to do your thing but think of the alternative.

That, would be a real pain!!
Ray, Sandra, and Zorro
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Old 08-04-2010, 05:06 AM   #5
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It was just before my time here on iRV2 but I understand a member was "memorialized" on the site as the RV fell on him! It can and does happen!
NOTE: Jack stand weight ratings are for both stands. One stand would be 1/2 the advertised weight.
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Old 08-04-2010, 05:22 AM   #6
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Hal, you are right about the jack stand ratings.

To answer Ricks question, I do just about everything on our coach. I have not been able to rig up a front end alignment rack or wheel balancing machine just yet so I will leave that to the pros.

Change tires? Only if I have to!

Change the engine or the tranny? NOT! That is what I pay the warrenty company for.
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Old 08-04-2010, 05:36 AM   #7
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I do all of my own service and use Jack Stands recommended for the MH weight.
Del & Lori & Millie, (our miniature Aussie) 2007 Diplomat 40PDQ - 2009 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon, US Gear Unified Tow Brake.
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Old 08-04-2010, 05:52 AM   #8
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If jack stands are rated for their advertised weight in pairs then how large of a stand does one need for their vehicle. For example, my rig weighs between 10,000 and 11,000 lbs. Would I need stands rated for 3 tons, 12,000 for 4 stands, 4 tons, 16,000 for 4, 6 tons, 24,000 for 4 or etc, etc, etc???
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Old 08-04-2010, 05:54 AM   #9
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I am lucky as I have the space and the tools along with air tools, I use a 5 ton floor jack to raise her up and use truck jack stands under her, but I also like to add additional support like blocks too. I lower the floor jack so she can rest on the jack stands and blocks, yet i still keep tension on the floor jack, never trust a floor jack, bottle jack, as they can leak the fluid, always put support under the MH, for your saftly not hers, I always use more then I need.
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Old 08-04-2010, 06:32 AM   #10
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I was apprehensive about the differences with a diesel chassis over the gas passenger vehicles that I've worked on for over 30 years.

Here's what I did:

- I dedicated a week to each new area on our MH. For example, this week might be air brake week. I gathered all of the documentation from the books that came with MH and studied the air brake related matters. I searched the Internet for basic information about air brake systems. I studied the Canadian endorsement requirements for those who drive air brake vehicles and then I searched several forums for all of the air brake related posts. I posted questions that I came up with. I did a little study each day and treated it like an education class. By the end of the week, I was much more confident about the air brake system, had the checklist for verifying its correct operation and have been doing my own maintenance on it ever since. Knowing how to check the tanks for moisture, how the loss of air is going to affect the system is something that every driver needs to know. Knowing how to replace the air filter canister and coelessing filter is just the next step.

- ours is not an air suspension chassis so I can get under it and do many things with it just sitting on its wheels normally. For the times when I lift it with the jacks, I have jack stands that I got at Northern Tool.
Torin Double-Locking Jack Stands — 12-Ton Capacity, Model# T12002A | Jack Stands | Northern Tool + Equipment
Putting them under the front is the most difficult. Since the whole RV only weighs 19.5K, the jacks are overkill. Most of the lubrication, oil change, etc. can be performed without lifting. In Gaffney, they have ramps made of 2x6s bolted together on edge that are wide enough to handle the MH tires. The ends are sloped to make it easy to drive up on. They simply drive the MH onto them and getting under is easy.
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Old 08-04-2010, 07:48 AM   #11
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Hello - I have a 35K MH that sits on air bags. This is what I do:

I don't take the wheels off
If I need clearance underneath I drive up on to blocks of wood; make sure the wood is much wider than it is tall. A 4 in. lift is plenty.
I extend the levelers/jacks to secure the frame/body (I have air suspension and the frame/body can fall independently of the axles). But don't use the levelers alone to hold any weight
I use a rated jacks stand that is tall enough to reach the frame/body. Where I go a second jack stand goes with me.
Put the jack stand on a member that is strong enough to take the weight
I use a 40ton bottle jack to lift only what I need to.

Gravity always wins.

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Old 08-04-2010, 08:13 AM   #12
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There's enough room under my coach to not NEED to raise it. However, I banged my head a few time on the exhaust hanger for the generator while doing an oil change for the generator.

So, I gave myself some more room by driving up on some boards I use to help with leveling. No banged forehead this time. It's easy. It's cheap. It doesn't take up much space or weigh a lot. It's safe.

I trust those boards more than I trust a cheap set of jack stands (I don't care what the rating) for holding up over 30,000 pounds of motorhome. Now a good set would be another story, but I don't have the need for them.
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Old 08-04-2010, 11:12 AM   #13
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Normally use my MH jacks to raise the MH and then I put cemet blocks under the frame.

Have not got a rim for my spare yet. Other than that I have all tools including Torque Wrench for changing tires on the road, but I still use Coach-net.
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Old 08-04-2010, 12:51 PM   #14
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Thanks all. Great insights. Full timing presents a unique set of challenges in this area since the coach is almost always either moving or set up and rarely in a situation where I can drive it up on boards to work on... although the board ramps sound like a great approach.

I think a good set of jack stands is probably in my future and I'll just have to find a place to stow them.

Rick, Nancy, Peanut & Lola our Westie Dogs & Bailey the Sheltie.

2007 Itasca Ellipse 40FD
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