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Old 05-01-2015, 12:15 AM   #1
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Leveling and air bags

(I was in the HR Owner's forum when I tried to post this but it offered a drop down list of forums but that wasn't one of them so I'll post here.)

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Just read a lively discussion about which to do first, extend slides or level. Most said "follow the owner's manual". Well, my manual isn't perfectly clear but I think you can come away with final answer extend slides then level.

Now specifically my question about leveling. My manual doesn't address whether the air pressure should be up or down before leveling. Since nothing is said you might conclude the pressure would be up since the operator would most likely level immediately after driving.

But think about this. The manual cautions against a tire being lifted by the jack system, hydraulic three point in my case. If the air is released the coach is lowered relative to the wheels so that when leveling the jacks extend less to do there job. First, there would be less likelihood of raising a tire off the ground in the process of leveling. Second, the jacks would have minimum extension and be subject to less bending moment, laterally.

I thought of this when I saw another brand of coach park and immediately dump its air before leveling. Since the manual doesn't specifically address this what should I do?
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Old 05-01-2015, 12:25 AM   #2
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Our 2002 Dutch Star had HWH four point jacks. Manual said to level first, then deploy slides. Also to either be plugged in to shore power or have the engine running. I always let the air out first though, but I paid attention to the ground slope and sometimes put blocks under the tires or jacks depending on what I needed.
The Magna is automatic air leveling, no jacks. Manual says to level, deploy slides, then level again. Also to have the engine running due to the much higher output of the engine air compressor vs the small leveling pump. So far that's all I've done but I can see that I may need to modify that and dump the air first so it's lower to the ground.

I'm sure someone will chime in with their take on it too.
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Old 05-01-2015, 08:34 AM   #3
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You will find lots of info on your coach under the Monaco owners forum since it is one of the brands they manufacture.

I extend slides, dump air, and then level using the 3 point hydraulic system. Depending on the slope that I'm on I will monitor the air dump and use it to my advantage. It is better if the slope is a little up hill in the front since the instructions for the 3 point system are to put the front jack down first and lift the coach ~3/4", this acts as a pivot point. I then drop the back jacks to get the coach level.

If necessary I carry some 3"X12"X18" blocks that I can put under the jacks to get more elevation. If the coach is parked on a down grade and you have to raise the front higher, which you can do, but will have a big step to get into the coach.

With my coach, as soon as I activate the RVA jack system the air starts to dump however I can assist it by using the Air Dump switch. Some people will rapidly press the brake pedal to drain the air system but I don't have to do this since my switch only dumps the air bags and not the entire system. By leaving air in my tanks I don't have to listen the low air alarm in the AM when we are getting ready to leave. My air tanks will usually hold air for ~3 days.
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Old 05-01-2015, 08:49 AM   #4
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OP, from what I take away from reading the owners manual, park the MH with full air in system. Open a window to allow the air to equalize as you are deploying the slide outs. From my understanding you put the slides out first because the frame has not been 'tweaked' from deploying the jacks. Then it is time to level the MH. For me this is kind of a pain, because the engine needs to be shut down to deploy the slide outs, but the engine needs to be running to deploy the jacks. When it is time to leave, I start the engine to build up the air pressure until it reaches full pressure. Again, ensure that a window is open, then bring the slide outs in. Restart the engine and re-tract the jacks.
As has already been said, you will get different methods, some of which are directed by the manufacture.
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Old 05-01-2015, 08:56 AM   #5
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mr d, you can do that without problems, but be aware that it can take up to a half hour to level, since the air is being supplied by the small aux compressor. it will result in a much lower step, which is what you want.
jacw, pumping the brake to dump air is not the correct procedure. use the dump switch.
most coaches with air bags have a dump switch, whether they have a leveling system or not.
when you turn the leveling system on, the leveling system control box activates solenoids that isolate the air bags from the chassis air tanks. all air from the tanks to the air bags, is then controlled by the leveling system.
when you then hit the dump switch, it will then exhaust air from the bags, not the tanks.
you need to leave at least 60 lbs of air in the chassis tanks to keep the air brakes locked. pumping the brakes and lowering this pressure may cause the coach to roll.
why not let the system do what it was designed to do. almost coach that has air bags has a dump switch, whether it has leveling or not. it will not dump beyond the 60 lbs required to hold the brakes.
by the way, when you activate air brakes, all four wheels are locked, not just the rear like gas chassis coaches. so lifting a rear wheel is not half as dangerous as with gas coaches.
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Old 05-01-2015, 09:13 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by azpete View Post
mr d, you can do that without problems, but be aware that it can take up to a half hour to level, since the air is being supplied by the small aux compressor. it will result in a much lower step, which is what you want.
jacw, pumping the brake to dump air is not the correct procedure. use the dump switch.
most coaches with air bags have a dump switch, whether they have a leveling system or not.
when you turn the leveling system on, the leveling system control box activates solenoids that isolate the air bags from the chassis air tanks. all air from the tanks to the air bags, is then controlled by the leveling system.
when you then hit the dump switch, it will then exhaust air from the bags, not the tanks.
you need to leave at least 60 lbs of air in the chassis tanks to keep the air brakes locked. pumping the brakes and lowering this pressure may cause the coach to roll.
why not let the system do what it was designed to do. almost coach that has air bags has a dump switch, whether it has leveling or not. it will not dump beyond the 60 lbs required to hold the brakes.
by the way, when you activate air brakes, all four wheels are locked, not just the rear like gas chassis coaches. so lifting a rear wheel is not half as dangerous as with gas coaches.
Huh brakes (parking / emergency ) are spring applied the air is just to apply. the front brakes don't have springs and will apply only when you press on the pedal. I would expect that the leveling of and air bag (no Jacks) should be done with the engine driven air compressor running the aux compressor is for when it is setting just to maintain level
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Old 05-01-2015, 09:29 AM   #7
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Sounds like you have jacks.

Ours is 1989 and fully auto so yours should be as well.

Ours we park, engine must be off and flip a switch.

It dumps all air bags then jacks do their thing.

No slides...

One assumes that a leveled mh is going to have a straight frame while non level one could be tweaked so it seems one should be level first.

If your system is hwh contact them and they can provide manuals and instruction.

We contacted them on our old unit and they had no soft copies to email but instead mailed out printed manual with a calendar and other goodies...great company!
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Old 05-01-2015, 03:48 PM   #8
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"neoflyer"....Monaco has had a different procedure for leveling the coach for years, compared to others. First, Monaco installed their slides while the coach is aired up and ready for travel.

Their procedure is to deploy the slides while at ride height. This way the coach frame is not being tweaked and in the position it was when the slides were installed. Once the slides are deployed, you dump the air. This brings the coach lower to the ground and takes less jack extension. It also puts the steps closer to the ground.

Once the coach air is dumped, you can deploy the jacks. Your 05 came with manual leveling so you need to follow Monaco's procedure. You ALWAYS lower the front jack first, get the coach a little high in the front and then lower the rear jacks to level front to back and side to side. By lowering the single front jack first, the coach pivots on that jack and prevents damaging the windshield.

When you're ready to leave, start the coach and let it build air. As the coach starts to lift, the jacks will lift off of the ground. Hit retract all on your jacks and they'll smoothly store. If you retract them before airing up, the coach will drop somewhat violently. This just keeps the coach from making the sudden drop. Once aired, bring in your slides. I painted a red dot on any slide button that needed something moved, like the driver's seat, so I would remember.

Side Note: I good procedure is to park your coach in the campsite and shut it down. Connect your water, power and sewer while the slides are still in. This keeps you from bending under them later. It also adds additional power (power cord connected) to your slides. When you break camp, do the reverse. Again, you have full power to bring the slides in and you're not bending under the open slides.
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Old 05-01-2015, 05:46 PM   #9
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my HR with (PG 3-point hyd levelers) manual wasnt exactly clear until you pieced the different sections together. Anyways, 1)key off, ext slides 2)key acc, dump air 3)key acc, level. Just a couple of minutes tops.
I use a spring clothes pin under the dump switch while connecting power, water. If I am late getting the grill going, I slide out the genny and use the dump valve to speed up the air dumping.
fyi, read up on air brakes if your state does not require a non-commercial CDL. As a county school bus driver, our policy is to pump the brakes down to 20psi. Around 40 psi the springs will engage the emergency brakes and the truck cannot move even if the knob is accidentally pushed in. If you had forgotten to pull the knob, it would pop out anyways. It is part of airbrake portion of the CDL.
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Old 05-02-2015, 06:51 AM   #10
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All coaches are different. Here's what I do...dump the air, level, slides out.

If I don't dump the air first, the coach levels at drive height...too high when parked. Slides are always last, since they go out with the coach level, there is no stress on the chassis or slide motors.
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Old 05-03-2015, 09:14 AM   #11
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"neoflyer"....do yourself a favor and don't use any procedures offered by non Monaco owners. Monaco has ALWAYS had a different procedure because of their three jack system. How someone else does it on another brand is not useful in this instance!
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Old 05-04-2015, 09:11 PM   #12
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my HR with (PG 3-point hyd levelers) manual wasnt exactly clear until you pieced the different sections together. Anyways, 1)key off, ext slides 2)key acc, dump air 3)key acc, level. Just a couple of minutes tops.
I use a spring clothes pin under the dump switch while connecting power, water. If I am late getting the grill going, I slide out the genny and use the dump valve to speed up the air dumping.
fyi, read up on air brakes if your state does not require a non-commercial CDL. As a county school bus driver, our policy is to pump the brakes down to 20psi. Around 40 psi the springs will engage the emergency brakes and the truck cannot move even if the knob is accidentally pushed in. If you had forgotten to pull the knob, it would pop out anyways. It is part of airbrake portion of the CDL.
Dump switch? As far as I know my M/H only has dump valves to be used periodically to get rid of moisture. One is in Gen compartment and one under rear bumper. Figured I'd use those if I wanted to try this leveling procedure. Can't find anything in manual giving guidance.
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Old 05-05-2015, 10:50 AM   #13
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My HR has a valve in the Genny area, a valve near the hitch, and a switch on my dash labeled "Air Dump" that must be continously pressed to work.
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Old 05-05-2015, 04:37 PM   #14
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Reading this thread has really confused me. There must be numerous varieties of systems out there. Mine is over 20 years old and all I have to do is press a button(twice). The HWH system lets the air out of the suspension then proceeds to extend the hydraulic jacks to level the coach. Sometimes it doesn't quite get it level but I can add a little to this end or that side manually via the pushbuttons on the control panel.
Surely the leveling technology has improved in 20 years to make it easier.


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