Shake, shake, shake – RV Stabilization

12

As campers get longer and suspensions improve, there are more and more issues of movement inside the camper. At our 42′, I can tell when my 60 pound daughter moves around at the opposite end of the camper. When someone comes up the interior steps, you know it. My mother-in-law is particularly susceptible to motion-sickness and regularly wears her “sea-sick wristbands“.

It’s a camper and not a boat (or even, as I found here- not even a camper ON a boat)! So, here’s what we’ve done to help…

Stabilization via Triangulation

JT StrongArm Stabilizers
JT StrongArm Stabilizers

Based on reading online, I was told that JT’s StrongArms were the thing to eliminate shake. As we ordered our Sabre 36QBOK, I made sure they were included in the deal (I got talked into knock-offs called UltraFab Eliminators). I was very excited the first trip out to tighten them down and quite disappointed when I got everything set and ended up sitting in the camper, still feeling the movement. (Since owning the camper, I have since learned that there are other products that use the same triangulation principals – namely the SteadyFast system and DIY solutions.)

Between-the-wheel Chocks

Rotochoks are no longer sold, look for a similar between-the-wheel chock
Rotochoks are no longer sold, look for a similar between-the-wheel chock

My next step is that I wanted the RotoChoks as my between the wheel chocks to replace my cheap plastic/yellow wheel chocks. To be honest, I got these more as “nice wheel chocks” than having any expectations that they would reduce shake and movement in the camper. I think they do dampen it some, but there’s still more to do and get rid of. (Again, there are more than one option for “between-the-wheel chocks”; namely, a lot of people use BAL X-Chocks. I didn’t like that they were metal pressing against the tire,but they have a good track record and my concerns were likely unfounded. Plus, I just like supporting the little guy.)

Jacks Near the Axles

I’ll start with, many people say that the above two things are sufficient in getting their rig “rock solid” as they say. For me- either I’m doing something wrong, have a different definition of “rock solid” or am just more persnickety than the next guy. Which leads me to continuing the quest to achieve house-like stability.

Valterra Stabilizer Stands
Valterra Stabilizer Stands

I’ve read that people are installing jacks near the axles to lighten some of the bounce on the tires and suspension. I looked at a new set of electric stabilizers like I have at the rear of my rig but gasped and pee’d a little when I saw the price. I really liked the push-button convenience, but wow – what a cost! I looked around at regular scissor jacks but I didn’t like that it’s 2 more things that I have to put under. I decided to start with the Valterra Stabilizer Stands first. It’s just 1 unit to put under the camper and stows pretty nicely into a folded-up solution.

We’ve been debating this week if it has helped or not. My wife is leaning towards, the rig seems less stable than before. I’m not sure there’s a huge difference in what I’m feeling. And mother-in-law, who sleeps at the opposite end of the camper, was asking about me moving around after we were asleep (aka, rolling over) last night.

(Update: 8/12/2013 – the Valterra Stabilizer Stands aren’t being used anymore. We just didn’t feel like they were helping and wife actually imagined that they made things worse. My next step is to try them in a different place and/or to move onto scissor jacks near the axles.)

Still experimenting…


12 COMMENTS

  1. I guess I'm curious why/how does the Steadyfast system work better than the JT's (or, as I have- the knock-offs in UltraFab Eliminators). Isn't the principle/concept the same triangulation?

  2. You are correct that one of the principles is triangulation. However,the principle needs to be applied properly between solid ground and the trailer frame with no play or looseness in the braces. That is where the Steadyfast System is completely different. It starts with a 3 padded self leveling footplate on the ground and connects to the frame with no play in the singe joint. So each brace stops frame movement in two directions. Trailers with the Steadyfast System do not need additional equipment such as between the wheel chocks, extra jacks, etc.

  3. We drink heavily daily and stop caring after the first fifth of jack.

    No, I joke. The SteadyFast system *is* superior to the UltraFab Eliminators that we had. I really need to write up a review on them. But at 42' and having rear electric stabilizers, there's still movement. My plan is to eventually get a pair of scissor jacks for just ahead of the axles. The problem being, I need really tall ones since we have a good 20"+ from frame to ground at the tires.

  4. Ok, thanks. I also have 4 electric stabilizer jacks and the shaking is really getting old, it even seems to be getting worse after 3 years. I saw on another post where someone placed bottle Jacks under the leaf springs to take out done of the give in the suspension. Not sure if I want to haul around the extra Jacks. I'm already carrying around a 2 ton for jack for tie changes.

  5. If/when I do it, I'll mount the scissor jacks permanently and will just use a drill for lowering and raising them. I carry one anyway for repairs and home improvements.

    I saw a guy on a forum take an electric stabilizer completely apart, rebuilt/reinforced the legs, and then installed it just in front of the axles. He's says between that and supporting the steps, they don't feel anything. He's crazy handy, though.

  6. We have now provided Steadyfast Stabilizers for well over 5000 trailers. I have probably personally installed over 100 on just about every make and model. One of the most important factors when using a bracing system on an RV is whether the jacks or "stabilizing jacks" stop the up and down movement since the bracing systems mainly remove the side to side/front to back movement. Our experience confirms that most, if not all of the stab or swing arm type jacks, either manual or power, allow up and down movement. So when a bracing system is installed you get less movement reduction with that type of stabilizer then you would with a scissor jack. Quite often I see on forums where scissor jacks are placed near the axles and very good results are reported. There is certainly an improvement, but I think there is a much better location. Usually those trailers have the stab type jacks on the rear or on the front and rear so there is a lot of movement to be stopped. If those scissor jacks either were placed near the stab jacks or replaced them there would be even better performance reported with a bracing system. We tested this on a customer's fifth wheel that had the single motor stab type jacks. They were reporting about 80% movement reduction with our system. We placed two screw type "stack jacks" on each side next to the rear stabilizer and just snugged them up to frame without taking weight off the stabilizers jacks. The movement reduction went from the 80% to about 90+%. They were surprised and of course very pleased.

    Paul Hanscom
    http://www.steadyfast.com/

  7. My Trailer is 36′ and I have gone though all the steps you mentioned to include the SteadyFast system, Replace all 4 Jacks with heavy duty scissor jacks, X-chokes and it has all helped considerably but still not completely satisfied. I am trying to figure a good way off adding another set of scissor jacks around the axles and doing something with the stairs sounds like a good ideal. Off course my problem maybe my heavy footed teenagers to start with. Maybe I will try the drinking thing. Lol

    • Installing scissor jacks just in front of the axle is fairly easy. They’re usually just drill and screw and that’s it. Jacks are fairly inexpensive on Amazon or eTrailer.

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