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Old 07-22-2019, 10:34 AM   #1
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Wood leveling platform for driveway - incredibly stupid idea or not?

My 38' 22,000 lb. motorhome sits at about a 2.2 degree nose-down attitude while parked on our concrete driveway, which is uncomfortably close to the 3-degree limit for a Norcold refrigerator. In addition, the slides are not supposed to be moved unless the motorhome is level. Side-to-side is already level.

I can't use the jacks because it lifts the front wheels off the ground. When I added three 1.5" Quality Plastics blocks it reduced the angle to about half. The three blocks gave me 4.5" of lift under the front tires.

I'm thinking about building a step platform out of 2x12's to get a full 9" of height under the front wheels. In theory it should work because the 2x12's are wider than the 9 3/4" Quality Plastics blocks (and wider than the Michelin XRV tires). This should be far more stable because everything will be deck-screwed together rather than plastic blocks sitting on top of each other.

As you all know, sometimes theory does not work in practice...

So I'm asking anyone with a thought on whether this should work or whether I am missing some basic concept that will spell expensive disaster. I figure I will lower the Lippert (Power Gear) jacks until they just touch the ground for some stability. They will almost be at full extension in the front. I always use wheel chocks on the rear tires in addition to the parking brake.

We always would have a second person watching outside to assure we did not drive off the top of the platform. This is the biggest danger I see but this project is kind of like proofreading your own writing; it rarely works out well.

Thanks,

Ray
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Old 07-22-2019, 10:42 AM   #2
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My rear wheels sit on 3 layer ramps when parked at home. My 3 layer ramps are as long as your 6 layer though. 13” in that top is not very long. At the very least I would make that 24”.
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Old 07-22-2019, 10:53 AM   #3
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I built 6 of the ramps nearly identical to yours. They worked fine and can certainly hold the weight. I drove the motorhome up onto all six to get access underneath for maintenance.
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Old 07-22-2019, 11:21 AM   #4
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Close but no cigar. You do not need 10” between each level (5” is enough) and a 2X10 is wide enough. I would put some plywood in every 3 levels and increase the top level to 18” long, like in the picture below. A car tire will fit on 12” but a MH tire will not.

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Old 07-22-2019, 12:14 PM   #5
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Close but no cigar. You do not need 10” between each level (5” is enough) and a 2X10 is wide enough. I would put some plywood in every 3 levels and increase the top level to 18” long, like in the picture below. A car tire will fit on 12” but a MH tire will not.
Would you please clarify what you're trying to tell me with the plywood?

I put a 2x10 (9.5" wide) in front of the tire and it just fits the tire width with a bit to spare. The Quality Plastics blocks are 9 3/4" x 9 3/4" x 1.5" so I figured I'd go with 2x12's because that would give me a bit more lateral footprint.

I was thinking 10" at each level just in case I wanted to use them for something else like a car.

OK, so what I heard is make the top level 18" to 24" long instead of 12" and lengthen the others commensurately.

I'm OK with that because I was feeling a bit uneasy about having that much weight on the end of what essentially is a lever. I suppose that "something" could possibly cause the lowest level to raise up and the whole thing to fly out under the proper conditions, like heavy winds.

Back to the drawing paper.

Thanks for the quick replies!

Ray
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Old 07-22-2019, 12:28 PM   #6
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Pine lumber is bad about splitting over time (when it dries) and the plywood will hold the pieces together. The cost of a 2X12 is a lot more than a 2X10 which is wide enough to support my 315/80/22.5 tires. It’s your money so waste it however you want to.

I only had three 4’ long scrap 2X10 boards ($0 cost) and raising the front 5” is enough so I can get under the front safely. Lateral support??? You will not be turning on the ramps. High winds??? Never mind.

With a ramp that’s 14” tall you will need to be on it a fair distance so the 14” does not hit the front of your MH...same thing with a car but a extra single 4’ 2X10 will let you use it to ramp into the ramp.
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Old 07-22-2019, 12:39 PM   #7
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Pick it up, with the front levelers, slide blocks under the tires and let it down until the tires touch them.

You can use a concrete block with plywood top and bottom.
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Old 07-22-2019, 12:58 PM   #8
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The ramps I built out of 2x12s work great. Although 2x10s are just wide enough for the tires, the extra width of the 2x12s comes in handy because it is difficult to get them lined up perfectly and I don't want a tire hanging over the side by even a little bit.
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Old 07-22-2019, 12:59 PM   #9
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Recommend you use as wide a 'footprint' as workable - at 9" high think about side-to-side sway if there's any lateral (side-to-side) slope in your driveway. I built something similar and screwed a chock to each top block as a safety (plus always used an observer to help climb the contraption).

I'm also in favor of using 8X8 or 10X10 blocks under the front jacks rather than full extending them.
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Old 07-22-2019, 01:03 PM   #10
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Pine lumber is bad about splitting over time (when it dries) and the plywood will hold the pieces together. The cost of a 2X12 is a lot more than a 2X10 which is wide enough to support my 315/80/22.5 tires. It’s your money so waste it however you want to.
OK, now I get it. So screw the plywood "top" onto that level separately rather than just insert it between. That makes sense.

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Old 07-22-2019, 01:07 PM   #11
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I'm also in favor of using 8X8 or 10X10 blocks under the front jacks rather than full extending them.
Yup, me, too. That's just too much weight relying on too little jack shaft. Maybe it's built to handle that; I don't know. But why take a chance?

Ray
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Old 07-22-2019, 01:14 PM   #12
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Pine lumber is bad about splitting over time (when it dries) and the plywood will hold the pieces together.
I agree on the plywood every three levels but I'd sequence the layers to have plywood as the top and bottom layers. A rope handle will be useful and a hole drilled in each end will allow you to position the blocks with your awning rod.

HOWEVER... My personal rule is to use wood glue between any two facing wood surfaces (even if it's going to be held together with screws) unless I'm planning on disassembly later...

My personal experience, and that of my dad and grandfather has demonstrated that a properly glued joint is stronger than the wood itself. The additional cost (of time and glue) will be negligible and you will end up with solid joints that will never come apart... and if a layer of wood splits the pieces will stay put, held by the glue to the layer of wood below or above (or both)...

Just make sure you have clean wood... if it's dirty I just hit it with open grit sandpaper in a belt sander before assembly, then a tack cloth or an air hose to remove the sawdust.

I can surmise that you might, at some point crawl under your MH while it is perched on those blocks. PLEASE overbuild them.

The glues that I have on the shelf right now is "Elmer's E7330 Carpenter's Wood Glue" and "Titebond 1415 III Ultimate Wood Glue". I have both only because the store was out of Elmers when I needed some. They are pretty much equal and either will do the job. Both are available at Home Depot.

Personal note... 30+ years ago I had a "repaired" wooden ladder fall apart on me and I fell 5 feet onto a set of concrete steps. I broke both arms and was laid up for 6 weeks. My dad did an autopsy on the remains of the ladder before it became firewood... his comment was that some glue would have prevented the failure. I don't know as I wasn't there for the autopsy, but I have no reason to disbelieve him

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Old 07-22-2019, 02:31 PM   #13
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I agree on the plywood every three levels but I'd sequence the layers to have plywood as the top and bottom layers. A rope handle will be useful and a hole drilled in each end will allow you to position the blocks with your awning rod.
My "awning rod" is a Smartphone app called Precision Plex. I'll likely pass on pushing those things around with my phone.

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My personal experience, and that of my dad and grandfather has demonstrated that a properly glued joint is stronger than the wood itself.
Wow, you just evoked a memory of 7th grade wood shop. The instructor demonstrated just that. He glued the wood together, clamped it overnight and nobody could beat it apart without the wood breaking. I've always used wood glue ever since, some 50 years, and also clamp it overnight.

All very good points. And no one has ever accused me of under-engineering something.

When I installed a ceiling-hung TV mount to hold a 65 lb. flat screen TV, I cut an access panel into the flooring of the bedroom above it. I used three stacked 2x10's bolted together between the joists and used angle iron to bolt it to the joists.

Then I bolted the mounting pole to it, all the way up through all three 2x10's, with a thick metal doubler plate on the top side. I hung on that thing, all 200+ lbs of me at that time, and it never even wiggled. If the house ever falls down that will be the thing left holding those joists up.

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Old 07-22-2019, 03:07 PM   #14
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I did sort of the same thing for my rear daulies. Built it with 2x12 side by side then each alternative layer crosswise. I could use shorts for that. Since it is outside for months I used treated lumber. So it is 22” wide and bottom layer about 6 ft long. Works great.
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