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Old 10-06-2016, 12:45 PM   #1
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Camper on flatbed trailer..what type of jacks to use?

I have a bit of an oddball setup for the time being...I'm putting a 12 foot truck camper on the back half of my 10K flatbed equipment trailer, and putting a Suzuki Samurai on the front the trailer, pulled in under the cabover section of the camper (I've verified this will all fit by measurements). I have to do this for the time being, as I only have a 6.5 foot bed on the current truck. I'm truck shopping for a new-to-me dually right now, but finding what I want on the used market within my current budget is proving to be difficult. So for now, I work with what I have.

See attached picture for concept, but my setup will be on a longer, much heavier duty, trailer and there will be a mini Jeep up front instead of a quad.

I will need to drop the front of the trailer to the ground to get the Samurai on/off the front, and will be to be able to the support the rear of the trailer up while doing this as the camper will be mostly behind the axles on the trailer.

My original plan was to install a scissor style leveling jack on either rear corner of the trailer, but then I started looking at the crossframe stabilizer jacks as well. Seems that would be a more convenient option, but I'm also reading where a lot of these jacks aren't really meant to lift a load, just support what's there.

Would this still hold true in my situation, since I'm lifting around 3000lbs? I don't really want to take the camper jacks with me, as they're the tripod style and quite large/bulky. I'm also trying to avoid having to unload the camper at camp.
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Old 10-06-2016, 02:58 PM   #2
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Are the camper jacks electric??

Why not just mount the camper jacks to the trailer itself? That way you can use them for leveling as well??
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Old 10-06-2016, 03:20 PM   #3
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Are the camper jacks electric??

Why not just mount the camper jacks to the trailer itself? That way you can use them for leveling as well??
No, manual crank. Rieco-Titan tripod style, mounts to the underside of camper. The mounting pad on these jacks are pretty much at the top of the jack...a couple feet at least above trailer deck level.

Plus it would be handy to have something on the trailer for supporting the rear end anyways when I don't have the camper on it.
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Old 10-06-2016, 03:32 PM   #4
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I would just use ramps on front of trailer, bridging forward over tongue as needed. Any competent welder/fabricator ought to be able to work something up.

I have a somewhat similar setup, camper box is loaded on front of trailer, with CJ or truck loaded behind. Of course my trailer is long enough that vehicle can be over/slightly ahead of axles for tongue weight. Have you tried that?
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Old 10-06-2016, 03:59 PM   #5
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I would just use ramps on front of trailer, bridging forward over tongue as needed. Any competent welder/fabricator ought to be able to work something up.

I have a somewhat similar setup, camper box is loaded on front of trailer, with CJ or truck loaded behind. Of course my trailer is long enough that vehicle can be over/slightly ahead of axles for tongue weight. Have you tried that?
Weight of the camper is going to cause the rear of the trailer to go down...it's going to be largely behind the axles, with the Samurai ahead of the axles. My axles are set for a 55/45 split on the deck (and I know this because I intentionally put them there when I built it).

I have the camper on the trailer now, and it's dang near perfectly balanced front to rear at the moment with the front edge of the camper box just behind the front axle. With my buddy and I both standing in the rear of the camper, the tongue started to come up off the ground. I can walk around in it myself without issue, but with just a bit of bounce going in/out, I can get the tongue to start coming up off the ground. Camper still needs to shift back about 2 or 3 feet in order to fit the Samurai up front, which will give me significant negative tongue weight without the Samurai up there. I also won't have the trailer attached to the truck when loading/unloading. Thus, the need to have something under the back of the trailer for support, otherwise the tongue will be pointed to the sky once the Samurai comes off the trailer.

If I set it up with jacks of some sort, I jack up the rear high enough to drop the tongue down, and negate the need for ramps. The Samurai is tall enough on it's own that I don't need ramps to get it on the back of the trailer, so the front really only needs to come down enough to make sure the tongue goes under the axles.
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Old 10-07-2016, 10:08 AM   #6
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I see the dilemma you are facing with the imbalance when the zuk is unloaded.

Perhaps you could drive the zuk part way up the ramps which would transfer weight to the front and then crank the scissor jacks up. The actual weight on the jacks would be much less. You can do the same with unloading by just taking an extra step of shifting the weight forward by stopping halfway on the ramps during unloading?

That way you aren't really stressing the screws on the jacks and cranking them back down and level you have gravity working for you!
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Old 10-07-2016, 10:43 AM   #7
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I see the dilemma you are facing with the imbalance when the zuk is unloaded.
Exactly!

If it wasn't for the absortion fridge in the camper, I wouldn't even bother with actual jacks. I'd just put a couple drop leg stabilizers on either corner in the back, and I'd just deal with a few degrees of off balance if it happened.

The other dilemma that I'll be facing is initial loading. I'll drop the camper on the trailer with it still attached to the truck, but then I'll still need to crank up on the back of the trailer once I unhook from the truck to drop the front down. I suppose I could make ramps for the front, but then I need to come up with another way of supporting the front of the trailer as my current tongue jack would be in the way. I suppose I should also mention that I'll coming up over the front of the trailer, over the tongue. Not the side like ATVs are commonly loaded.

I ended up picking up a pair of the Harbor Fright leveling jacks last night. They say 2.5 ton capacity, which technically should be enough to lift the whole mess on one jack, but experience has taught me that the rated limits on HF stuff is often the failure point..so I _should_ be OK with a pair of them back there...I hope
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Old 10-07-2016, 10:53 AM   #8
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Face the camper backwards...steps over the front
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Old 10-07-2016, 11:20 AM   #9
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Face the camper backwards...steps over the front
I'm thinking that will result in too much tongue weight, and to a lesser degree, concerned about the aerodynamics of the back of the camper facing the wind, especially with the Snap-and-Nap on the back.

While I haven't any of this on a scale yet, I'm guesstimating the camper to weigh 500-1000lbs more than the Samurai, plus the extra weight of the trailer structure in the front. That said, putting it on the front would actually be preferable, due to the additional structure underneath...being a more solid area to support the camper. I'm just thinking that I'm going to end up with 1000+lbs of tongue weight, and that it's going to be a bit much to handle behind a 1/2 ton truck.

I'll try it both ways this weekend when I start laying all this out, and building stops for the camper on the trailer.
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Old 10-07-2016, 11:38 AM   #10
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You may wish to check out this thread if you may use the camper without the full load.

Why trailer weight distribution is so important.
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Old 10-07-2016, 11:40 AM   #11
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You may wish to check out this thread if you may use the camper without the full load.

Why trailer weight distribution is so important.
Yes, well aware of what happens when you don't have ENOUGH tongue weight. Putting the camper forward will likely result in TOO MUCH tongue weight.

Also, the camper won't be on there permanently, as I use this trailer for hauling the 4x4s on day trips as well. I can also pull it far enough forward on the trailer that it balances out properly by itself, just as I did when bringing it home the first time. I only need it farther back if the Samurai will going on the trailer as well.

This is also only a temporary solution until I get a larger truck that will handle the camper in the bed like it's supposed to be.
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Old 10-07-2016, 11:45 AM   #12
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Yes, well aware of what happens when you don't have ENOUGH tongue weight. Putting the camper forward will likely result in TOO MUCH tongue weight.
You are correct. You have an interesting balancing problem. Have you thought about a triple axle?
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Old 10-07-2016, 11:55 AM   #13
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You are correct. You have an interesting balancing problem. Have you thought about a triple axle?
I have, but felt buying a larger truck is a better solution :P
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Old 11-08-2016, 03:22 PM   #14
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Just as a quickie update, I ended up buying a pair of scissor jacks sold as trailer leveling jacks at Harbor Freight, and never even took them out of the box.

I put the Samurai as far forward on the trailer as I could, with the tires just barely on the edge of the deck. Then backed the trailer up under the camper, again scooting the camper forward as far as I could get it. I used some ratchet straps to hold the camper to the trailer, as I don't have proper tie downs for the camper yet, and I really only wanted to keep the camper from sliding/bouncing off the trailer as I pulled it around to the front of my property.

It LOOKED great, but I found that the rear of the trailer didn't have near enough support, and was flexing quite a bit under the weight of the camper.

I never even got the thing off my property. I slowly pulled it over a culvert tube in the wash going across my property, and could already see quite a bit of movement in the back of the trailer then. Given that, I'm concerned that it will either pull the camper apart once it's fully tied down, or cause failure in the trailer itself..which will destroy the camper, lol.

Putting the camper forward on the trailer would also be quite a bit of work, as my trailer is 102" across the fenders, which would mean considerable extensions on the jacks (the jacks were set up already to clear a dually when I bought the camper, and we had to extend one further still just to get it on my trailer).

So I nixed the whole idea. The camper is back on my RV pad, and I'm in the market for a dually 1 ton truck
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