Many readers are probably familiar with the process of manual coach leveling; find the most level spot on the pad, use bubble levels to monitor which corners need to go up and by how much, lay down the ramps (these days, plastic ramps of adjustable heights are available), drive the coach onto the blocks to the appropriate height, and move the coach if the height is not correct. It can be a painstaking process, especially when a travel trailer or fifth-wheel is involved. Three- or four-point hydraulic leveling systems make the task of leveling your motorhome a walk in the park, with some systems even performing the task automatically.
Whether your RV has hydraulic levellers or manual jacks, carrying jack pads, with dimensions slightly larger than the jack foot is recommended. Center a pad under each jack foot prior to lowering it all the way to the ground. This will help protect the ground surface, whether it’s dirt, grass, or concrete. This is especially important with blacktop, as it is very easy for RV jacks to damage blacktop, especially in the case of hydraulic jacks. Using blocks will also further distribute the weight being exerted on each jack foot, minimizing the possibility of the jack(s) sinking into the ground. Hydraulic levelling jacks are generally single-acting, which means that, although hydraulic pressure is used to lower the jack, spring force is used to retract it. Once in a while a jack will get stuck in the mud or soft soil because the spring force is not enough to pull it out. Jack pads help prevent this from happening. Also remember that if you use stabilizing jacks like those shown at the right with a travel or pop-up trailer, be sure to use them for stabilizing only and do not try to level a trailer with them, as they are not strong enough.
But why do we go to the trouble of making sure our recreational vehicles are absolutely level? Aside from the obvious fact that we want to be comfortable while living in the RV, some believe it is also important for the fridge to be totally level. This last point is actually not strictly true. In the early days of absorption refrigeration, the burner and gravity process utilized by the technology was much less mature than it is today. Back then, if the fridge wasn’t extremely level, it tended not to work very well. Now, absorption technology has evolved to the point where the vehicle doesn’t have to be as level as it used to be. Simply stated, these days, it is a generally held view that if you are comfortable in your RV, your fridge will be as well. Given the popularity of hydraulic levelling systems (even available in Class B vans), as well as the increasing occurrence of level RV sites across all park types, the requirement for painstaking levelling of an RV is not as prevalent as it used to be. This is not to say that general levelling is not important, just make sure you sleep with your head higher than your feet.
About the Author:
Coach-Net is pleased to welcome Steve Froese to our team of writers. Steve, an avid RV owner, traveler, and Coach-Net member since 2013, is the principal of “A Word to the Wise Technical Communications”, a published RV author, certified RV technician, and licensed Professional Engineer. He frequently collaborates with the “RV Doctor”, Gary Bunzer, and has worked with the RVIA/RVDA as a technical and training writer and consultant. Professionally, he works as a quality engineer and musician. Watch for more of Steve’s work in upcoming Coach-Net publications.