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Old 08-05-2020, 11:46 PM   #1
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Is power jack better or worse?

Hey guys,

I do not mind spending a few minutes cranking the jack up or down by hand and figure it might be better to not depend on battery, take up less space, and be one less thing that can break. I have not seen any Rockwood/Flagstaff without it, but any feedback at all is appreciated.

1. Does the motorized jack give less clearance or take up more space? Can it be folder sideways or horizontal?
2. Anyone ever have any issues with motorized jack?
3. Anyone not like the manual jack?
4. Is there anything you can do as backup if your batteries are drained with the automatic?

Thanks,

Dan
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Old 08-06-2020, 12:41 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by VailDan View Post
Hey guys,

I do not mind spending a few minutes cranking the jack up or down by hand and figure it might be better to not depend on battery, take up less space, and be one less thing that can break. I have not seen any Rockwood/Flagstaff without it, but any feedback at all is appreciated.

1. Does the motorized jack give less clearance or take up more space? Can it be folder sideways or horizontal?
2. Anyone ever have any issues with motorized jack?
3. Anyone not like the manual jack?
4. Is there anything you can do as backup if your batteries are drained with the automatic?

Thanks,

Dan
I think that your questions are mostly not unique to A Frames, so I will share my thoughts.

1. My electric jack is fixed in place. It prevents me from putting the tailgate on my truck down while connected - I have about 1/2" of interference. Some folks have had luck rotating the head of the jack or the entire jack to get clearance, but it seems to depend on which specific jack you have.

2. Mine works great. It's a convenience. A manual jack would also work great, but with my weight distributing hitch, it is nice to not have to crank up to back the hitch ball under, crank down to lock the ball in, crank back up to lift the rear to connect the bars, and then finally crank it back down again. For me, with a WDH, it is worth its weight in gold.

3. See #2 (but that is my only objection. If i am in a site that is slightly downhill from the tow vehicle, there can be a *lot* of cranking to lower the tongue enough to get level and then back up to hitch up.

4. There is a rubber plug in the top of the jack head. If your battery is dead, you pull out the plug, insert the provided wrench, and crank it by hand.

Goos luck with whatever you choose!
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Old 08-06-2020, 12:49 AM   #3
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Thanks qwkynuf - Those simple explanations help me a ton. I had no idea if there was. manual crank as a work around, and good to hear that you really like the automatic one, except for the tailgate issues.
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Old 08-06-2020, 01:20 AM   #4
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Thanks qwkynuf - Those simple explanations help me a ton. I had no idea if there was. manual crank as a work around, and good to hear that you really like the automatic one, except for the tailgate issues.
I have literally run into *one* time where I had the truck connected and realized that I needed the tailgate down (to load up the generator). Turns out that if I just unlatch the ball and lift the tongue up an inch with the jack, I get enough clearance. So I didn't even have to move the truck.
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Old 08-06-2020, 06:46 AM   #5
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My 2˘

My tailgate will -just- clear the jack when I'm hitched. Yay!
My jack has the rubber plug BUT my trailer did not come with a "provided" handle. I had to come up with my own socket and ratchet.
It takes a LONG time to hand crank an electric jack but you can do it if you have the necessary tools.
My previous 3 trailers had manual jacks and I liked them. They were lighter and the manual jack was much quieter and actually faster.
My current rig has more tongue weight and WD hitch so I'm glad it's electric even tho it's slower and noisy.
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Old 08-06-2020, 09:23 AM   #6
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Had a hand crank on my previous trailer and an electric on my current. Love the electric jack. My tailgate clears so lucky there. My only issue has been once in a while the jack doesn’t work when I press the button. I find that I have to use my hand crank to turn it a little bit then the electric function works again.

My old trailer had four manual stabilizer jacks and as mentioned a manual tongue jack. Seems like I turned manual jacks for an hour when setting up.
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Old 08-06-2020, 09:35 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by VailDan View Post
[...]
1. Does the motorized jack give less clearance or take up more space? Can it be folder sideways or horizontal?
2. Anyone ever have any issues with motorized jack?
3. Anyone not like the manual jack?
4. Is there anything you can do as backup if your batteries are drained with the automatic?[...]
  1. Yes, it gives less clearance and takes up more space. Whether or not this is significant depends on your vehicle. For both my Ford trucks, I cannot drop my tailgate when my Rockwood 2504S is connected. I have never seen an electric jack that folded.
  2. Yes. My jack sort of blew a fuse that took me forever to diagnose. The issue was that the LED light would work but the jack would not. I've never seen a fuse that allowed some current to flow, but not a lot. I keep mine covered when not towing.
  3. Yes. I do not like a manual jack, particularly when using a WDH. My WDH requires me to connect, jack my trailer back up when connected, install bars, and then lower back down. I'd hate this process if it were manual. My old PUP was manual and it was fine (no WDH).
  4. Yes. Electric jacks have a manual override. If your battery dies or the jack malfunctions, you can hand crank it. It's not as convenient as a true hand jack, but it works fine.
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Old 08-06-2020, 11:29 AM   #8
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If your tailgate wont lower there's lots of long drawbar options:

https://www.etrailer.com/s.aspx?qry=Long+Drawbar
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Old 08-06-2020, 12:38 PM   #9
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Depends how much of a hurry you’re in.
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Old 08-06-2020, 01:14 PM   #10
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Reliability: if a power jack fails, pop the cap and use your cordless drill with the stab jack adapter, and you're back in business. You can also hand crank the same way.

Clearance: it always depends. On my previous high-wall pop-up, my manual jack was in the way of the tailgate. My new power jack is the same. I use a PFD to buffer the tailgate from the jack, and I can partially open the tailgate. Nothing gets damaged. But loading a full cooler into the truck bed can be a real challenge. I plan ahead.
This also depends on whether you use a WDH or just a plain old ball mount. A plain ball mount is usually closer to the tailgate than a WDH mount. Your mileage will vary on a lot of factors.

Experience: the power tongue jack seems slow compared to a manual. A well-oiled manual can be spun up and down very quickly when it's unloaded. (I always travel with my tongue jack fully retracted.) I could use one finger, as close as possible to the main jack column, and spin the crank very quickly...until loaded.
The power jack goes the same speed no matter what. Sometimes I ask my wife to help with this boring job while I move on to the rest of the hitch/unhitch process. Patience is a virtue.

But once you engage terra firma, you'll appreciate the power...ESPECIALLY if you attach to the ball and use the jack to hoist the tongue and rear end of your TV to ease the attachment of WDH "spring-bars". And the same is true if your coupler and ball don't want to separate easily when unhitching. The tongue jack not only makes this process easier, but it also lets you stand back out of harm's way if something goes wrong.
DON'T FORGET TO GREASE THE INSIDE OF THE COUPLER AND THE BALL to ensure minimal wear and tear on the ball/coupler when hitched, but to also ease the separation and connection of the two if there's slight misalignment. A "dry" hitch is an unhappy hitch.

Also note, that my PUP came with a 1500 pound tongue jack. It was flimsy and I replaced it with a 2000 pound tongue jack to deal with lateral loads on side-hill sites near lakes and such, and it wasn't quite as fast. A heftier tongue weight requires a stronger tongue jack, and that tongue jack may be slower to accommodate lifting more load. I noticed a difference in speed between my two manuals...just a little, but it was there to provide more "mechanical leverage" for the same length crank handle operated by the same human. If you buy a 5000 pound rated hand-crank tongue jack, don't expect it to be nearly as fast as a lighter duty one. All things being equal with the length of crank handle and your arm strength, the jack must be "geared" differently to allow you to turn it with about the same amount of force. (that 'gearing' may be manifest in the pitch of the threads or in gearing at the juncture between the crank handle and the threaded shaft that is the actual jack.)

Power jacks are generally slower simply because they are usually installed on trailers with heavier tongue weights. Every time I get impatient, I remember working up a sweat on a 90 degree day as I cranked the hell out of my tongue jack - especially if the front-to-back pitch of the ground was uneven. LOTS of cranking under load to level the trailer.
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Old 08-06-2020, 01:56 PM   #11
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Make sure to have plenty of 30amp fuses

We love our electric jack because we have a WD hitch and have to crank it up and down to get things on, so its a big help.

The first jack we had would blow a fuse if you raised the foot up too far or put it down too far. No warning just would stop working, Until we got to know the limit and figured that out, it was a pain. Fortunately it died under warranty and the new one is a lot better. The fuse that blew was on the tongue rail near the jack sorta under the Propane bottles. on the wires coming from the jack to the battery. Easy to replace. But buy a bunch of 30amp fuses (that is what ours use. They are the green blade fuses)so you have them on hand.
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Old 08-06-2020, 02:24 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Qwkynuf View Post
I think that your questions are mostly not unique to A Frames, so I will share my thoughts.

1. My electric jack is fixed in place. It prevents me from putting the tailgate on my truck down while connected - I have about 1/2" of interference. Some folks have had luck rotating the head of the jack or the entire jack to get clearance, but it seems to depend on which specific jack you have.

2. Mine works great. It's a convenience. A manual jack would also work great, but with my weight distributing hitch, it is nice to not have to crank up to back the hitch ball under, crank down to lock the ball in, crank back up to lift the rear to connect the bars, and then finally crank it back down again. For me, with a WDH, it is worth its weight in gold.

3. See #2 (but that is my only objection. If i am in a site that is slightly downhill from the tow vehicle, there can be a *lot* of cranking to lower the tongue enough to get level and then back up to hitch up.

4. There is a rubber plug in the top of the jack head. If your battery is dead, you pull out the plug, insert the provided wrench, and crank it by hand.

Goos luck with whatever you choose!
I echo everything stated here. My old tt (17’) had a manual tongue jack. It was fairly light, so it wasn’t a big deal to crank it by hand. My new tt came with the electric jack.

Never had a problem with it. I think it would be a real pain to use the manual override since I have a jack-it bike rack and wouldn’t be able to use the drill.
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Old 08-06-2020, 03:42 PM   #13
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Jack

When I had a manual jack on previous P/U, I found a drill socket designed to replace the handle that allowed me to use a cordless drill to put the manual jack down. had the same for manual stabilizers. I do not remember where I got it. I used the handle as my spare as it used a push pin to connect. It made it quicker when using the WDH.
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Old 08-06-2020, 03:54 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by OYO View Post
If your tailgate wont lower there's lots of long drawbar options:

https://www.etrailer.com/s.aspx?qry=Long+Drawbar



This is a more expensive solution, but you can also replace the jack with one like this placed further back on the tongue...

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...c=1&pldnSite=1
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Old 08-06-2020, 08:21 PM   #15
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I assume you are asking about tongue jacks on A-frames since you posted in the A-frame forum.

When we purchased our first A-frame - 2014 Rockwood A122 - a power tongue jack was not an option. I used the standard manual jack, which had a horizontal swinging handle. Clearance on the handle near the propane tanks was tight. Because using a WDH made towing with my minivan so much better, I got to experience raising and lowering the tongue to get the E2 bars on and off. Not a bad trade-off for the much better ride while towing.

Our 2nd A-frame - 2019 Flagstaff T21TBHW A-frame - was bought at Robert's Sales in Denver. Roberts rents pop-ups and sells pop-ups and A-frames. They have Flagstaff install quality manual tongue jacks on their rental pop-ups to avoid customer issues. When we bought our A-frame, Roberts recommended their manual tongue jack with the vertical swing handle. Having read the bigger TT issues with their power tongue jacks, I went with Roberts recommendation for the quality manual jack, even though I have WDH bars to provide extra swings on the jack.

I am happy with the choice. The jack clears the tail gate swing of the minivan with a couple of inches to spare, and there is nothing to bang my hands on when swinging the handle. Nothing electrical to go wrong, either. When I consider the issues with the electric roof lift, I am really glad for the manual tongue jack.

just our A-frame experiences
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Old 08-06-2020, 08:23 PM   #16
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have your cake and eat it too

I have a manual jack that I crank with power, ... now I realize this can only be done with a top crank jack and both jacks I've had on FR Micro Lites were side crank, but as soon as our 25KS side crank stripped a gear, I replace it with a top crank BAL jack and modified my stabilizer jack socket at the same time(now it does two jobs), ... thus I have the poor man's version of a motorized jack, ... works great, ....
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Old 08-08-2020, 09:26 AM   #17
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I haven't felt a need in five seasons to upgrade to an electric jack, maybe in part because I use a weight-carrying hitch. But regarding the third question, I am really getting irritated with the factory-installed manual jack with a top crank that rotates on a horizontal plane. I am not sure if the A-frames still come with these. Mine is starting to bind up pretty bad, and there is no obvious way to oil or grease it effectively (if anyone knows of one, please do tell). So I think I am going to install one of the aftermarket ones that cranks on a vertical plane - but will consider electric too. This thread got me thinking.
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Old 08-11-2020, 04:48 PM   #18
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I haven't felt a need in five seasons to upgrade to an electric jack, maybe in part because I use a weight-carrying hitch. But regarding the third question, I am really getting irritated with the factory-installed manual jack with a top crank that rotates on a horizontal plane. I am not sure if the A-frames still come with these. Mine is starting to bind up pretty bad, and there is no obvious way to oil or grease it effectively (if anyone knows of one, please do tell). So I think I am going to install one of the aftermarket ones that cranks on a vertical plane - but will consider electric too. This thread got me thinking.
To oil your jack:
1) spray oil down the shaft below the crank handle.
AND THE BIG ONE
2) drill a small hole on the "back" side of the jack column...near the top of the jack. The hole can be off to the side a bit to make it easy to get to, but on the back side keeps road spray and dust from entering easily. The hole should be just slightly larger than the "straw" on a WD-40 can. Be careful as you penetrate the pipe "jack tower" so you don't break your drill bit on the "lead screw" inside. Spray liberally with WD-40 silicone lube. Work the jack up and down a few times, and it will spin with one finger when not loaded.

The oil at the top takes care of the "bearing" surfaces where the lead-screw shaft connects to the handle. The oil inside will work its way all the way down to the bottom of the lead screw to oil the "bearing" (bushing) at the bottom.

If that doesn't do it (it most likely will), extend the jack all the way out, drill a similar hole in the top most portion of the jack tube that extends out the bottom. This will enable you to get oil into the very bottom of the lead screw.

If you're worried about dirt getting into the jack tower (you needn't be), take a dab of caulk or chassis or wheel bearing grease and plug the hole.

Lube about once a year.
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Old 08-12-2020, 11:52 AM   #19
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I had Tailgate clearance issues even with my manual jack. I installed an electric for my use with the WDH. I recently installed a Jack-E-Up removable jack base and electrical quick disconnects. 1/3 twist and pull the jack out.
How much does your TT weigh? Tongue weight?
I just got tired of lifting the truck rear up manually to connect the spring bars. Didn’t weigh them but big difference in weight, 10# difference.
For lighter TTs or non-WDH, save the $$ & weight and stick with a manual jack.
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Old 08-12-2020, 12:09 PM   #20
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I like my power jack so much, I'd probably notch the tailgate if I had to. Maybe. Mine clears just fine.
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