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Old 05-10-2005, 05:48 PM   #1
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Well,

I took the plunge and went ahead and bought a StableLift system for my camper/truck. It's the 3 jack Dually system. All I can say is 'Wow' is this thing built beefy. I can't wait to get it on the camper so I can free my truck up again for those necessary trips to the ole home center/trash dump/boat ramp etc. I'm going to keep track of my progress on the installation and put together a site showing it when I'm done. The only thing I missed so far was how it came originally packaged, but I might mock that up for a photo before I start.


It looks like a pretty straight forward install, with the only real trick being able to get at the 'top' of the holes that get drilled to drop the bolts in.

I was wondering if anyone who has installed one could share any tips they may have learned during the installation?

So far, I'm planning on:

<UL TYPE=SQUARE>
<LI>Creating some 4"x4" plywood plates to help disperse the stress where the bolts go down through the camper (Recommended in the instructions for foam sandwich constructed campers)
<LI>Removing whatever outer access panels I can to get at the bolt locations
<LI>"Maybe" removing some appliances (the furnace) to be able to get at the location for the front drivers side
<LI>Stocking up on a couple of 3/8" drill bits for drilling the holes in the frame for the hold down brackets. (When I installed my TorkLift Tie downs/Super Hitch as well as the firestone airbags, I really got tired of stopping in the middle to sharpen drill bits, and yes, I do use a good cutting fluid!)[/list]
Any tips or tricks would be appreciated!
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Old 05-10-2005, 05:48 PM   #2
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Well,

I took the plunge and went ahead and bought a StableLift system for my camper/truck. It's the 3 jack Dually system. All I can say is 'Wow' is this thing built beefy. I can't wait to get it on the camper so I can free my truck up again for those necessary trips to the ole home center/trash dump/boat ramp etc. I'm going to keep track of my progress on the installation and put together a site showing it when I'm done. The only thing I missed so far was how it came originally packaged, but I might mock that up for a photo before I start.


It looks like a pretty straight forward install, with the only real trick being able to get at the 'top' of the holes that get drilled to drop the bolts in.

I was wondering if anyone who has installed one could share any tips they may have learned during the installation?

So far, I'm planning on:

<UL TYPE=SQUARE>
<LI>Creating some 4"x4" plywood plates to help disperse the stress where the bolts go down through the camper (Recommended in the instructions for foam sandwich constructed campers)
<LI>Removing whatever outer access panels I can to get at the bolt locations
<LI>"Maybe" removing some appliances (the furnace) to be able to get at the location for the front drivers side
<LI>Stocking up on a couple of 3/8" drill bits for drilling the holes in the frame for the hold down brackets. (When I installed my TorkLift Tie downs/Super Hitch as well as the firestone airbags, I really got tired of stopping in the middle to sharpen drill bits, and yes, I do use a good cutting fluid!)[/list]
Any tips or tricks would be appreciated!
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Old 05-10-2005, 09:02 PM   #3
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.....on boats that we have to attach something with bolts.....we use SS bolts washers and nuts.....we use a fiberglass reinforced plywood and we use a sheet of aluminum as a sandwich to stop cracking and spreading with 2 layers of silicone cement......we do not have come backs- never have- never will!...geofkaye
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Old 05-12-2005, 06:21 AM   #4
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Spend a couple of extra buck and by good quality cobalt bits, you won't need as many. If you go through storage area bottoms you have to make sure there is not a gap between the bottom of the stroage area the camper bottom, if there is you need to put blocking between to make a solid block when bolted. You will know your camper pretty good by the time you are done. On my AF they had to raise the camper for the angle brace from the mounting plate to the vertical post to clear the bed. They just screwed 2x4 to bottom of the camper I have taken them off and built a frame work in the bed of the truck. Some thing to watch out for, that brace hitting the bed rail when you load it the first time. A friend of mine dented his bed after he installed the lift him self.

PS I can send pictures of mine (3 jack dually)if you send me a pm with an email.
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Old 05-12-2005, 07:07 AM   #5
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Here are some tips I've got from the Manufacturer
<UL TYPE=SQUARE><LI>When in doubt, remove the appliances to place the bolts correctly. Most appliances are designed for easy in/out. (I found this out when I pulled most of them out. The only reason the fridge was tough to pull was the sheer quantity of heavy duty caulk that BigFoot used to seal the bottom of the fridge).
<LI>Set the clearance between the fender and the posts to about 1.25 inches
<LI>For the BigFoot, it was recommended to use a 1/2 pad of plywood between the stable lift and the camper to prevent any flexing. Have a sheet metal shop create a 1/2 id u-channel out of 20-22 gauge sheet metal to edge the plywood with. Paint the u-channel white to match.
<LI>On the gussett bolts, put as big a piece of plywood on top as possible. Securely bolting the gussett is key to the stability of a dually installation[/list]I was also thinking about a couple of things mentioned in the manual, and one is to make sure that the unit is installed square, that is that the bottom frame is the same exact width as the top brackets are apart. At first I was thinking, How the heck am I going to measure that because I just dont have one of those magic tape measures that goes through campers, when It hit me.
Finally time to get a plumb bob. I'll drop the measurements down from the top of the brackets to the concrete, mark it, and measure it there. Gravity is your friend, I reckon..

I did buy a decent drill bit for this, instead of using my regular old 3/8 inch drill bit. Fortunately, I've got a drill doctor and sharpening a bit is childs play. I've had my share of drilling holes through steel with this truck/camper (i.e. installing a superhitch, torklifts, air bags, etc...) and nothing is worse than trying to drill a hole in steel with a dull bit.

Well, thats about it for now... Time to get to work, but I'd rather be installing the StableLift. I'll probaby finish it up tomorrow...
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Old 05-12-2005, 08:45 AM   #6
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"Wow!" is certainly the correct exclamation, Brent, for properly installing a Stablelift system on a fiberglass Bigfoot 2500 TC! The installation is obviously one that is best done during, rather than post, manufacture of the camper. Once the camper is constructed, the second best installation of the Stablelift system would certainly be by Mont (I think that's the owner's name) at the factory! He's likely to have the equipment, tools, knowledge, and experience to do the installation right.

I had been considering having a dually, 3-jack Stablelift system installed on whichever TC I buy at the camper dealership. There's no way now that I know what's involved (e.g. removal and reinstallation of TC "innards") that I would let an RV Tech at the typical dealership "tear into" my new TC, muchless tackle the job myself!

Nomad Al
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Old 05-12-2005, 12:51 PM   #7
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Well, althought it's a little involved, removing the major appliances is really no big deal. As Mont told me, It's about a 15 minute job for his crew to strip a camper of the major appliances.

In fact, now that I've done this, I've got good access to everywhere I need to place the bolts, and I've gotten to know my campers systems a lot better.

I agree, that I'd much rather have had it installed in the first place instead of now, but I don't think the installation is really that big of deal.

At any rate, I'm a big do it yourselfer and the few times I've let someone do something to an rv or boat or whatever I've usually had this nagging feeling that there was something about the way they did it I didn't like.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I wouldn't let a little think like the installation stop a person from getting this installed.

I guess for most people, the 4 jack system works fine, and that's why the camper companies use them. For my situation, though, i think I'm going to be much happier with my new system, even it if does take a little bit to install.
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Old 05-16-2005, 08:06 AM   #8
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I finished installing the stable lift on the camper this weekend. I still need to mount the hold down brackets on the truck, but that should be relatively easy.

I'm not going to lie, it was a pretty decent amount of work to do by myself. It probably would have been better if I had a helper, but it really wasn't necessary. Basically, I think it just took me a little longer than a 'team'.

Here's a couple of tips that might help...

<UL TYPE=SQUARE>
<LI> Removed the furnace for access to the front left corner. This was an easy thing to do.
<LI> 'loosened' the fridge and slid it back for access to the front right corner. Not too terribly difficult. Cut a hole in the panel under the fridge for access to the wing.
<LI> Used a plumb bob to determine the width of the stable lift, so that I could make sure the the unit was 'square'
<LI> Kept a drill doctor nearby. Drilling the tubes with a hand drill at odd angles isn't the easiest thing to do, especially without cutting fluid. Pretty much I'd drill 1, maybe 2 holes, then I'd take a break and sharpen the bit.
<LI> Since the largest fuses in my campers panels were 30 amps, I ran some beefy wire straight back to the batteries with a 40 amp short stop breaker. I initially ran this into my main dc distribution panel, but when I would run all 3 motors at the same time, I would blow the 30amp fuses.[/list]
Other than that, the install went pretty easy, just following the instructions that came with the lift.

What a difference this made. I took the camper on and off the truck several times this weekend with absolutely no drama. Just lift the camper, drive the truck out, level the camper and lower. Revers the process to load. It's a little odd to see the camper sitting on the stand parallel to the driveway, but there was no wobbling, no creaking, no jacks ratcheting, etc...

As I was operating the switches attached to the stable lift, it occurred to me why the other lifts have such a long cord on them (or wireless). It's so you can be 'away' from the camper when you're lifting so when/if it falls, you wont get crushed.
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Old 05-16-2005, 08:50 AM   #9
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Brent, sounds like a job well done! You saved yourself a couple thousand bucks of installation charges at the Stablelift factory and learned a lot, I bet, about your Bigfoot's systems. What was the total "man hours" invested in the install?

By the way, what did you think of the "inner construction" of your Bigfoot 2500? I've heard that the out-of-sight wiring is a real "rat's nest."

Let us know how your new Stablelift system operates on the road and in the field - especially on unlevel sites.

Nomad Al
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Old 05-16-2005, 09:59 AM   #10
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On the man-hours, I'd guess it probably took me around 20? But I wasn't rushing anything and really took my time. I've been into the wiring before (replaced the converter from the ole battery frier to a real one). I'd say the wiring is about what I would expect. I've ripped into my share of fibreglass boats and such and I'd say it's pretty comparable.

I've got a few more man hours that I need to throw at it, I'm guessing a 2-3 to mount the brackets on the truck frame (gotta allow time for bit sharpening).

And I think I'm going to get rid of the big plywood platform in the truck. I probably over built that thing, and could save some weight. I think I'll pull the panels off the bottom of the camper and see where the thing puts it's weight down, and screw some 2x2's as spacers to those supports. Or not, no rush on that one.

If something goes wrong on the camper, I certainly feel comfortable knowing about the systems and where things are routed. No more mysteries in this camper
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