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Old 07-02-2020, 10:05 PM   #1
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Lifting wheels off ground with Air Suspension ok or not?

Hi we are new to a air ride equipped motorhome and are wandering if it is ok to lift the wheels off the ground with the Jack's when leveling on those unlevel sites, the chassis is a Freightliner XC and it seems like the air bags are really stretched if the wheells and everything are pulling down on them in this situation ... We just do not want any damage to the system. Your input would be appreciated thanks
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Old 07-02-2020, 10:31 PM   #2
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Personally I don't like to lift wheels off the ground with the jacks and I would never lift the drives off the ground. If it's so unlevel that the wheels would be off the ground, I'll run up on some boards first to get close, then finish leveling with the jacks.
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Old 07-02-2020, 11:07 PM   #3
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Fronts are ok. You won’t damage anything. As stated above, never the rears (drive wheels) because the parking brakes are on the rears. If you’re not comfortable with the fronts being off the ground, you can build some small ramps or wood blocks you can drive the front wheels onto. If you search for ramps on this forum you’ll find lots of examples.
Here’s a good thread on DIY blocks and ramps
https://www.irv2.com/forums/f258/diy...ds-409122.html
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Old 07-03-2020, 05:20 AM   #4
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Here we go again...

When an air bag RV is lifted, ONLY the axle weight is left on the ground. no matter the lift height. This is unlike a leaf or coil spring vehicle. The tires provide limited stopping.

You never want to lift any RV on a hill.

If the leveler pads are on softer ground, they will put much restriction to the RV moving sideways as the pads will be in a hole.

The suspension system has no problem handing from the shocks / limit straps. It endures FAR greater stress while you are driving down the road soaking up the bumps and road heaves.

All that being said, try to NOT lift the RV any further up than is required. Things inevitably break. Hydraulic lines, solenoids, seals etc. You don't want a single leg to drop on it's own which the torques the chassis.

An RV up in the air is invitation to crawl underneath or store stuff under. Not good when something breaks.

So, pick a more level spot or use blocks to get the rig as level as you can before lifting. Don't park on a hill and lift so that there is no chance of slipping sideways (tire and / or leveling pad friction).
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Old 07-03-2020, 07:14 AM   #5
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Your drive axle (brakes) always have to be on the ground... else you'll go down hill as soon after you've walked bow to stern inside the coach a few times...
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Old 07-03-2020, 07:50 AM   #6
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I don't like to lift either off the ground ever. I only use the jacks enough to level the final little bit and to not have the coach shake while moving around in it. The thread Sonic posted is great! I use 2x10s like suggested in the posted link, but took it slightly further. I didn't cut an angle, don't really need it and in the past I found that it sometimes gives them the ability to slip while driving onto them. I would post pictures but it is in the shop for engine repair and the boards are in unit.

Basically I took 2x10s and cut 2 boards the longest that would fit in the bay I was storing them in (about 36 inches long). I then cut 3 more boards about 8 inches shorter (for a total of 4 boards high), so lenghts of, 12, 20, 28, 36 long. I have 2 sets in case there is a need for the rear duals to go on boards.

To keep the boards from sliding when driving onto them, I bought 3 different size carriage bolts that would go through 2, 3, or 4 boards but not all the way through, just long enough to keep them stable as you drive. I then took a spade bit that was 1/8 inch larger than the bolts and drilled through all 4 boards to accommodate the bolts, i did this in the rear where they would line up even and no worry about puncturing tires if they popped up slightly. I then took a spade bit slightly larger than the bolt head, and drilled on top of the holes the thickness of the bolt head. This way they sit down flush with the boards. It works very well!

For the jack pads, I couldn't use anything very thick, as if I am on level ground and I dump the air, I only have about 4 inches between the jack pad and ground. I took 2x4s, and cut them the length of 3 2x4s put next to each other. I cut 6 in total. I then laid them crossways (think the first 2 layers of Jenga) and nailed them together from both sides. These work great for leveling!

When i get it back from the shop next week I will try to remember to post some pictures.
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Old 07-03-2020, 09:29 AM   #7
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Quote:
Your drive axle (brakes) always have to be on the ground... else you'll go down hill as soon after you've walked bow to stern inside the coach a few times...
I find it difficult to credit the coach moving down the hill with 20,000 - 40,000 lbs of motorhome pressing the jack pads into the earth. That assumes the jacks are rated for the full coach weight and don't break under the load. My 36,000 lb coach had 4 x 16,000 lb jacks, so I wasn't too worried.


Back in the day some coaches had poor frame rigidity, especially up front, so the front cap and windshield frame would often twist if the front wheels came off the ground. My '96 Southwind (F53 chassis) was like that and I avoided ever lifting the front to even barely touching cause the windshield would start to move. My 2002 W22 chassis coach didn't seem to have any problem with that but I was still careful. My 2004 DP was stable as a mountain no matter how much it was jacked.


Your mileage may vary...
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Old 07-03-2020, 09:38 AM   #8
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Agree with Gary (RVRoamer)

Spent many a summer at my brothers home in SW PA with wheels off the ground. He lives on a hill side and the 2012 Tour never had a problem.
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Old 07-03-2020, 11:10 AM   #9
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Manual level to keep it lower
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Old 07-03-2020, 01:34 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Domo View Post
Your drive axle (brakes) always have to be on the ground... else you'll go down hill as soon after you've walked bow to stern inside the coach a few times...
How is that ? Do the jacks being driven into the ground by the weight of the chassis slide ?

Does your table, grill, chairs, slide down the site ? Do you have brakes in them ?

Gravity pushes straight down, not down hill. You need wheels for that.

I did rear brake jobs on large trucks, when I jacked them up, they stayed right where I parked them.
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Old 07-03-2020, 05:53 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Skip4Josh View Post
Hi we are new to a air ride equipped motorhome and are wandering if it is ok to lift the wheels off the ground with the Jack's when leveling on those unlevel sites, the chassis is a Freightliner XC and it seems like the air bags are really stretched if the wheells and everything are pulling down on them in this situation ... We just do not want any damage to the system. Your input would be appreciated thanks
Sounds like you've already had the wheels in the air, any damage?

The weight of the axle pulls down on the air bags but the weight of the front axle assembly is supported by the length of the shocks. When the shocks become fully extended, air bags, leaf or coil springs, that's when the front axle assembly quits moving down.

I'm with everyone that doesn't like the looks of wheels in the air, but it doesn't hurt anything and I have done it.

Think about this: The only way your motorcoach can roll away is if it's on the wheels. If it's up on the jacks, it can't roll. A good backhoe operator will hike the rear tires (where the brakes are) up in the air to get it up on the hydraulics where it is solid and stable, before operating. Sometimes they raise the front tires up with the bucket. Ever seen a mobile construction crane? First thing they do is raise all the tires up off the ground to get the unit level and stable before operating.

I'm not saying to lift your coach that way, but it's not the big deal that some people try to make it sound like.

On my Freightliner with the stiff rear end and V-Ride, if I lift one side a couple inches, the duals will come off the ground. Not a big deal because the jack won't roll.
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Old 07-03-2020, 07:16 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Gary RVRoamer View Post
I find it difficult to credit the coach moving down the hill with 20,000 - 40,000 lbs of motorhome pressing the jack pads into the earth. That assumes the jacks are rated for the full coach weight and don't break under the load. My 36,000 lb coach had 4 x 16,000 lb jacks, so I wasn't too worried.


Back in the day some coaches had poor frame rigidity, especially up front, so the front cap and windshield frame would often twist if the front wheels came off the ground. My '96 Southwind (F53 chassis) was like that and I avoided ever lifting the front to even barely touching cause the windshield would start to move. My 2002 W22 chassis coach didn't seem to have any problem with that but I was still careful. My 2004 DP was stable as a mountain no matter how much it was jacked.


Your mileage may vary...
Gary: I agree in principal - and I believe, as usual that forum members are all trying to say the same thing. Which is that 1) when we know our equipment and 2) the circumstance is favorable then there should be no problems.

However, OP, an admitted newbie, did not tell us the year and model of his Thor (I may have missed it), nor the type of jack nor the degree of slope he could be considering - so, to err on the side of safety when advising someone that is NOT familiar with his equipment I think our answer should be a conservative and collective NO - don't go off the ground for the drive axle (brakes).

I've got a Quadra BigFoot system - I've never done it, but I'd be perfectly happy lifting the rig straight up on (relatively) level concrete for a short period of time. As an engineer, I'd start getting nervous doing this on a less stable gravel/dirt/grass/sand/hot asphalt surface with all four off the ground and unknown lateral forces potentially attacking the jacks due to shifting of the base surface. Surely, the jacks have been designed to support the vertical weight of our rigs, however, for the life of me, I've never asked about the hydraulic cylinder's ability to withstand lateral forces (walking, exercise in the MH, unbalanced washer, repeated wind when camped for a winter, etc. etc.) nor have I asked about the jack's foot's ability to resist slipping down a slope despite the 15 tons of force on the set of jacks.

Maybe I'm just a willy nilly?

As always, disagree or agree the forum group is constantly trying to help others to stay safe and enjoy this wonderful way of life (for some) and pastime (for others).

Stay healthy!
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Old 07-03-2020, 08:17 PM   #13
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The shocks will limit how much the front air bags can extend, whether or not it damages the front shocks is a different topic.
As a general rule MH's with solid front axles state in the owners manual NOT to lift front wheels off the ground. I've never read of IFS MH's having such a statement.
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Old 07-03-2020, 08:29 PM   #14
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