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Old 11-05-2012, 09:14 PM   #1
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Leveling with bottlejacks ?

Several weeks ago I finally got around to testing the levelers on my 94 Southwind. they are Milwaukee something or other brand, which I understand was bought up by Powergear. Anyway, I was able to get them down but when it came time to retract, no such luck. Pushed to "Jacks Up " button for all I was worth and nothing. Long story short my son and I were finally able to get the jacks up.

Because of the potential for spending a lot of money and time diagnosing this, I'm thinking of just using some hydraulic bottle-jacks to do the leveling. Can't really see a downside to this but thought I'd check with others that have more experience.

Thinking I should be able to put the jacks under the existing "mushroom pad" of the levelers and go from there.

Comments, ideas, suggestions welcome.

Bill W
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Old 11-05-2012, 09:20 PM   #2
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Sure you can crawl under and use bottle jacks, but why not contact Powergear and see what they say? If no remedy from them is available, you could also take the button panel apart and try using contact cleaner on the switches/buttons. Perhaps you could wire a momentary switch to replace the faulty retract button.
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Old 11-06-2012, 02:55 PM   #3
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I already know that the control board is no longer made and no replacement is available. At least none that I have been able to find.

I also know that if there is a bad solenoid, it could be around $200 IF a replacement could be found. More than likely would have to try the hydraulic supply companies in town to get a match. I just don't think it is worth it when I can buy 3 or 4 bottlejacks for about $150 or less.

BUT that is why I'm the "old hands" here to see if I am overlooking something.
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Old 11-06-2012, 03:08 PM   #4
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I had a flat along the highway during a windy Wyoming day. The tire service lifted my RV on a bottle jack, didn't want to use my leveling jacks which had already lifted the wheel off the ground. The wind blew it off the jack, it came crashing down and to the tire guy and I, who were trying to get the new tire on the rim, it looked like the whole RV was tipping over on us. That's why I'm a little hesitant to use bottle jacks, unless I've got suitable jack stands to make the lift safe.

My leveler panel was bad, I used a multitester and jumper wires to diagram the function of each wire. Then a call to the supplier and they rebuilt my switch panel for free. I know your panel is an orphan, but you might determine if it's a switch or a relay. Relays are cheaper than a bunch of jacks and much safer.
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Old 11-07-2012, 04:50 AM   #5
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I agree with Flinn, Check out getting what you have fixed before trying the bottle jacks. Continued use solenoids/relays are cheap to replace and your jacks won't care if they are from an outside source.
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Old 11-07-2012, 08:27 PM   #6
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You're bottle jack solution is not going to be very appealing after a few times crawling around underneath the coach spotting them, especially in the rain?

I'm with the others. Often solutions to a malfunction like yours is as simple as a broken connection or a bad ground wire. At least get it diagnosed to the point you're pretty sure you know what it's going to take to fix it. Then decide how to proceed? -Al
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Old 11-07-2012, 08:45 PM   #7
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+1 on post #4 - Bottle jacks are designed ONLY to lift high enough to allow you to put jackstands down. They are not designed to keep a vehicle up while working on or living in an RV.
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Old 11-07-2012, 09:27 PM   #8
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Well then, I guess it's time to crawl under the passenger side and see if there are bad connections, bad solenoid or ????

Thanks folks, I'll see what I can learn once we get back to home base.

Bill W
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Old 11-08-2012, 08:51 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wildbill001 View Post
Several weeks ago I finally got around to testing the levelers on my 94 Southwind. they are Milwaukee something or other brand, which I understand was bought up by Powergear. Anyway, I was able to get them down but when it came time to retract, no such luck. Pushed to "Jacks Up " button for all I was worth and nothing. Long story short my son and I were finally able to get the jacks up.

Because of the potential for spending a lot of money and time diagnosing this, I'm thinking of just using some hydraulic bottle-jacks to do the leveling. Can't really see a downside to this but thought I'd check with others that have more experience.

Thinking I should be able to put the jacks under the existing "mushroom pad" of the levelers and go from there.

Comments, ideas, suggestions welcome.

Bill W
For a more direct answer to your question, bottle jacks tend to leak down since true high quality bottle jacks are no longer made, so are unsuited for leveling.

However, the newer type of screw jacks, like the kind that comes with the heaver SUV's, and come with a curved hook end, work fantastic, just stay away from the old type that has a flat end.

Just insert the hook into the ring on the jack, and you can just position the jack without crawling underneath, and just crank to desired height, simple and easy.

Note that I'm not advocating raising the RV off the ground here, but raising just enough to level the unit which means, of course, that the majority of the weight will still be on the suspension. If more drastic height is required, use run up pads first, then fine tune with screw jacks.

FWIW,


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Old 11-08-2012, 09:37 AM   #10
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Also consider that control boards are programed to extend the jacks and raise the coach in small controlled increments, typically two at a time in today's world, don't know about 1994, and that is to keep the frame from twisting. One would have to be very careful employing and type of manual jack system.

One question, are the jacks on the '94 self returning, in that they have a spring, or hydraulic return?

My first trial would be to take the circuit board to a good electronic technician, find a HAM radio operator with an extra class license and they may be able to lead you to a good tech, and have them check the components and the board. If the board checks out okay, or after repair, and the jacks still do not function as they should, I'd then look at the solenoid(s).

Good luck.

Edited: p.s., thanks for putting this in the "General" section of the forum as many items such as this are common across brands as a general nature.
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Old 11-08-2012, 09:54 AM   #11
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I can't imagine having to position and pump up 4 jacks every time I wanted to level or stabilize the RV. The fact that the jacks can slip off the supports and/or leak down, and I think it would be much cheaper to repair the built ins that you're hauling around anyway.
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Old 11-08-2012, 10:07 AM   #12
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I have had to do alot of work on my Bigfoot system lately. I have replaced 6 of the solenoids. Not all were bad, but rather than have to deal with an issue on the road I replaced the mate to the bad solenoid while I was greasy and had it apart. I purchased 4 from Quadra at approximately $35 each plus shipping and handling. They no longer have the original design for my unit and the new one needs an additional hole drilled to mount it anyway, so for the last 2 I replaced I went to the local part store and purchased 2 Ford pickup starter solenoids that work great and were only $14 each. I'm not sure of the design on the Powergear but might be a cheaper way to go that $200 per solenoid.
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Old 11-09-2012, 06:07 PM   #13
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Rv

Yes the screw jacks work good.
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