Good Sam Club Open Roads Forum: Truck Campers: Jack Failure Disaster
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DanLevitan

NC

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Posted: 04/11/22 04:47pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I had a terrible experience yesterday when I tried to unload my camper which resulted in my camper falling over on its side in my front yard. It happened so fast I'm not exactly sure where it went wrong. I'm new to truck camper loading and unloading and have only done it three times before so my experience level is likely a contributing factor but hope to get input so I can never have another jack disaster.

Shortly after I drove my truck out from under my camper and began lowering it things start going literally sideways. I have manual crank corner mounted jacks and use my cordless to lower in about two inch increments rotating to each jack. I think I was on my second rotation around the camper when I noticed the camper was twisting on the jacks. When the right rear foot was behind the camper rather than beside it I new things were different than my previous attempts. I was able to kick the foot back towards the side but that only amplified the twist on the other jacks. I went back to the previous jack and went up some thinking I could undo whatever influence I was causing but I saw the mount beginning to peel off the camper. At this point I knew it was a lost cause and had to bail out as the jacks on the other side folded under and the camper dropped. It took a visit from a recovery company to upright it to it's current legless resting spot in my front lawn. Thank goodness I don't have an HOA because it's not going anywhere fast. The damage was actually less than expected but still several weekends worth. I have spent the last year and a half going through this camper from top to bottom including removing most of the skin and replacing lots and lots of rotten wood. It made my heart ache to see it on the ground.

A little background. This camper originally used three wing mounted tripod jacks to do the heavy lifting. Some models had a fancy Safe-T-Jack system but this one didn't. Only two of the original rusty jacks and one mounting bracket remained when I took possession. The others had rotted away and were lost. During the rebuild of structure I decided to beef up the corners to accommodate four Reico Titan manual corner jacks. I remember being reluctant when the new jack mounts came with wood screws but I decided to trust the process and that's what I used. No though bolts. Possibly corners mounts were not as strong as they should have been.

Other possible factors. Last week I upgraded the water tank from a 10 gallon to a 27 gallon. I had filled it up for a leak check. I didn't think to empty the tank prior to unloading the camper so it weighed a good 230 pounds heavier than prior attempts. I haven't yet weighed this camper but I guess its 3000ish.

The hard pack ground where I was unloading the camper was nearly level, but not exactly level. It was not windy.

Maybe this was a combination of factors but I'm reaching out so I can try and learn as much as possible for next time.

Lwiddis

Cambria, California area

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Posted: 04/11/22 04:52pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I am sorry for your loss.


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notsobigjoe

southeast

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Posted: 04/11/22 05:05pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Right off the top of my head I would say your front jacks were several inches lower than your rear, or all of your jacks were at a different level. When unloading the rea of the camper should be about 4 inches lower than the front. Of course that assumes there is not tons of wood rot where you mounted your jacks. Others will post more ideas. I have had my lance for so long I can't remember doing it any differently. Good luck. Take some pics of the jacks and post.

happycamper1942

Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

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Posted: 04/11/22 05:32pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Everyone's worst nightmare. Sorry to hear it. Difficult to diagnose without more details.


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Seminoe Joe

Texas, Wyoming, or somewhere in between

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Posted: 04/11/22 05:56pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

That’s a tough one. Sounds more than anything like the weight was just too much for the mounts. If the camper wasn’t designed for 4 jacks, maybe that’s the problem? Any photos you can share? How old is the camper?


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jimh406

Western MT

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Posted: 04/11/22 06:03pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Sorry to hear about that. I've found small squares of stall mats are good to prevent sinking and sliding which can lead to leaning. Still, my TC is relatively stable even with only 3 jacks touching the ground. Maybe your COG changed when you rebuilt it and the front to rear and side to side balance is a bit off.

Good luck.


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Rscconrad

Illinois

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Posted: 04/11/22 06:26pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Sounds like an old avion. Is that the brand? Sorry to hear of your problems. I had one fail but it fell into the corner of my truck luckily. That held it up and was able to use bottle jacks to get it level

sir kayakalot

Mountainburg Arkansas

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Posted: 04/11/22 06:54pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

How old is the camper? My guess would be rotten wood where the jacks were mounted too, maybe even a lack of adequate structure if it was originally a three Jack system before you converted it to a four Jack setup

JimK-NY

NY

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Posted: 04/11/22 07:28pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

None of us can evaluate the structural issues, if any. If there were no structural issues, my first guess would be the same as stated by notsobigjoe. The front of the camper needs to be higher than the rear throughout the process.

Second, you need to lower the jacks evenly. I recommend looking at levels when lowering or raising and also periodically check all of the jacks to be sure they are holding at least some of the load.

Finally I would be concerned about the ground. Was it really as hard as you thought? Did you use wooden squares or other supports under the legs to distribute the load and keep jacks from digging into the ground?

Anyway, I am sure you must feel sick after such an experience. I hope the damage was minor and you quickly sort out the issue.

NatParkJunkie

Pittsburgh

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Posted: 04/11/22 08:57pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

sorry to hear about your disaster! sounds like a combination of problems. I'm glad you spotted it and got yourself out of the way so it didn't land on you!

if you're moving the legs manually with a drill, 2" at a time with one leg seems like too much of a lift to me. I have 4 corner electric jacks with a remote. When I'm going down, one of my back legs lowers faster than the other 3. As soon as that leg barely lifts off the ground, you can hear the other 3 motors straining more, and the whole thing feels much less stable. I stop right away then, and raise or lower one leg at a time to get the camper back in balance and supporting the load right before continuing down further.
Were you rough guessing the amount of drop on each leg, or measuring it? Maybe it would be better to go slower and count each revolution? like Like lower each jack 5 revolutions, then 5 revolutions on the next jack? always lower back legs then front legs so the back is lower than the front.
I wonder if you ended up with one of the legs a lot higher than you thought the other 3 were, so the whole camper started pivoting around that high point?

I had a similarish- thing happen recently as well. I was down in Florida, and I tried to take the camper off the truck for a few days in a county park. The ground was hard packed dirt/sand. It felt solid enough to me, and I added some wooden blocks to spread out the load on the feet as well.
The camper lifted just fine. While I was lowering the camper, the jack legs kept binding about half way down. I lifted and lowered the camper several times, changed the angle, put it back on the truck and tried again, but kept getting bound up about half way down.
I ended up putting the camper back on the truck, and left it on the truck for the rest of the trip instead.

I think that the ground was soft enough that the camper was settling into the ground a bit at different rates while I was trying to lower it, which got the legs bound up. After reading your story, I'm glad I bailed, and didn't try to force getting the camper off the truck on that trip.

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