Truck and Trailer Revival, Part II

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November 10, 2008

In last week’s post, “Truck and Trailer Revival”, I talked mainly about the truck portion of the project, and the improvements we were able to make to the customer’s truck. In this post, I’ll be talking about the extensive work we performed to that same customer’s 2002 Travel Supreme triple axle trailer.

As I mentioned last week, many RVers are choosing to fix up their old rigs rather than buy new ones, and this fifth wheel was a perfect case in point. The owner had put an amazing 50,000 miles on his trailer, and loves it so much he decided to not only make necessary repairs, but also upgrade and personalize it to meet his own standards.

After so many miles, the first thing that was in order was a thorough inspection. The retainers that hold the magnets in place were broken, and the magnets fell out of several of the assemblies when the wheels were removed. We replaced the magnets and machined the armature surfaces on the brake drum. While underneath the coach, we also noticed that the MOR/ryde suspension that was in place was beginning to delaminate and required replacement.  I want to point out here that this is not a slam against MOR/ryde-it’s just that the trailer was very high mileage and was loaded at close to capacity most of the time. The suspension had simply worn out, so we ended up replacing it with a heavier-duty MOR/ryde system.

The biggest part of the job, however, was the installation of a Bigfoot leveling system by Quadra Manufacturing. The customer had wanted leveling jacks since the RV was purchased, but couldn’t get some of the other leading brands to fit, nor find someone who could perform the work. He really wanted to be able to set up the trailer more quickly when he got to camp, but also to have a stronger foundation on which to walk on. He explained to me that, walking inside the trailer caused bouncing, and deploying or retracting the slides caused a cyclical motion that rocked the trailer from side to side.

The Bigfoot system (so named because of the large 100 square inch foot pads) is available for fifth wheel trailers and is offered in heavy duty and light duty packages. Unlike systems like HWH, which incorporate one motor and four cylinders, the Bigfoot system uses a pump, motor and reservoir assembly for each jack, which makes it somewhat easier to install. Actually, I should say “possible” to install, as the job was still far from easy. We ended up mounting the pump, motor and reservoir separately on the front, and together on the rear. Space was the primary consideration; making everything fit properly was a challenge.

The whole job took 35 hours to complete, but once finished, fulfilled all the owner’s wishes and then some. The fifth wheel is now level and stable with the jacks deployed, but there are other benefits as well. The slideout rooms deploy and retract much more smoothly now that the trailer is level every time, and the jacks can even be used to change a tire if necessary. With 17,000 lbs. capacity per jack, they’re more than up to the job.

Is the trailer now ready for another 50,000 miles? That’s anyone’s guess, but one thing is for sure-a comparably moderate investment is going to make this trailer much more enjoyable for the rest of its service life.

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  1. janet lehmann

    My husband and I are considering the purchase of a small 5th wheel and the truck to pull it. Where can we get comprehensive info on what and how to begin?

    PS: we are not familiar with travel trailers (except that I know I want more stability while driving) or 5th wheels.

    Thanks for pointing us in the right direction.

  2. Bigfoot levelers do side to side and front to back and have an automatic feature that levels the vehicle with the push of 1 button.HWH also has similar features,but have a centrally mounted pump and run hydrualic lines to each jack.

  3. Betty Baker

    We just bought a Cardinal 34QS fifth wheel and want to add leveling like our old Class A motorhome. Does the Bigfoot do both left-right and front-back? Does anyone know of any other such products?