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Old 07-17-2021, 11:09 AM   #1
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How level is level?

Has anyone added an auto leveling system to a smaller travel trailer? I've noticed that only larger or 5th wheels have auto leveling systems.

I currently use the curved Andersen Camper Levelers, powered tongue jack, and stock SJ-2500 stabilizers for our GeoPro 20BHS. This setup is easy to manage but I'm never 100% positive of the level. The top, non-hinge side of our door rubs the door frame. The stickiness has been there from day one and is not the worst but I would think that having perfectly level trailer would be best before I start fixing the door and door frame clearance.

Here are some of my observations when it comes to leveling.

1. Andersen's not wide enough.
The Andersen's work well for side to side leveling but they are thinner than the tire is wide. The leveling section of our 20BHS manual talks about using 2"x8" lumber over 2"x6" lumber for leveling due to the tire hanging over the edge of the lumber.
2. Trailer tongue flex.
I use both the bubble level app and a magnetic bubble on the trailer tongue when leveling. After all the stabilizers are down (or at home, a jack stand under the center of the frame), I can retract the tongue jack and watch the trailer tongue fall a little, which means the bubble level is now a bit off.
3. Stabilizer pressure.
Everything I read says do not use stabilizers to lift the trailer, agreed, they are rather unstable with lateral movement. But, I never know how much to lower the stabilizers. As they make contact with the ground, another turn or two will make the trailer raise just a little. I hit all four corners 2 times and try to get the same snugness. Sometimes after a day our two of camping, some adjustment is needed.
4. Retract tongue jack.
I would think I could retract the tongue jack once all stabilizers are down but have not found any literature that states that.

I'm looking at the Lippert Ground Controll TT Kit but don't know it it will fit and if I'm worrying too much about perfect level.

Does anyone have knowledge or experience to share?
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Old 07-17-2021, 11:46 AM   #2
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In years past when I had propane refrigerators If level enough for comfortable living was good then refridge was also good. Today with 12 volt fridge level is not as critical but comfortable living is still the same. So I make my camper as level as possible.
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Old 07-17-2021, 02:28 PM   #3
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I use a carpenter's level on the countertop, both directions. Old fashioned but I started doing this back when we converted our first motorcycle trailer and it works for us.
I just watched the Haylett video of the Rockwood factory tour. Evidently automatic levelers need more ground clearance, if I understood it correctly.
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Old 07-17-2021, 02:51 PM   #4
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Trailers are designed to cantilever over the axles and get load from the tongue (either the jack or the tow vehicle).

Adding auto levelers may induce strains not in the trailer design. As you noticed there is a bit of flex in the system.
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Old 07-17-2021, 03:13 PM   #5
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On your #4 do not retract the tongue jack as it is the main front support. If you retract it and a stabilizer fails in the front, the trailer can fall forward. Stabilizers are not meant to hold weight. The tongue jack is.

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Old 07-17-2021, 03:27 PM   #6
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The stablizers are stablizers and are not involved in leveling the trailer. Do not "raise up" the trailer with the stablizers. The stablizers should be firm to the ground but no more than that.

And absolutely do not retract the tongue jack and leave all the weight on the stabilizers. The tongue jack holds the weight.
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Old 07-19-2021, 08:09 AM   #7
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That sinking feeling

Quote:
Originally Posted by larrold View Post
2. Trailer tongue flex.
I use both the bubble level app and a magnetic bubble on the trailer tongue when leveling. After all the stabilizers are down (or at home, a jack stand under the center of the frame), I can retract the tongue jack and watch the trailer tongue fall a little, which means the bubble level is now a bit off.
3. Stabilizer pressure.
Everything I read says do not use stabilizers to lift the trailer, agreed, they are rather unstable with lateral movement. But, I never know how much to lower the stabilizers. As they make contact with the ground, another turn or two will make the trailer raise just a little. I hit all four corners 2 times and try to get the same snugness. Sometimes after a day our two of camping, some adjustment is needed.
4. Retract tongue jack.
I would think I could retract the tongue jack once all stabilizers are down but have not found any literature that states that.
What you're not considering in items 2, 3, and 4 is that the stabilizers sink. And the more pressure you put on them, the more they sink. Have you thought about putting foot-long segments of 2x8 under each one? Try camping on a concrete pad. You won't see any of these effects. Two-foot long segments would be even better.

Some specifics:
3: The difficulty in deciding how snug to make the stabilizers is directly related to their sinking depth which is related to pressure. Fixed with big pads under them. After a day or two of camping, the stabilizers have sunk. Fixed with big pads under them.
4: Retract tongue jack. Well, you shouldn't, but it's not the frame bending--it's the front stabilizers sinking more. Fixed with bigger pads.
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Old 07-19-2021, 08:55 AM   #8
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When I set up my 5th wheel the first thing I do is level it side to side with blocks under the tires if needed. Then I unhook from the truck and level it from from to back with the front landing gear / jack. I finish it off by snugging up the rear stabilizers. If I'm setting up for a longer time, I put jack stands under the frame.
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Old 07-19-2021, 09:39 AM   #9
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I installed a Hopkins 08201 RV Smart Level on the side of my trailer. I can see it in the mirror (even in the dark) and it tells me when I'm level. The lights tell you how far off level you are. Each light represents 1". I use Lego blocks instead of the Anderson leveler because it supports the width of both tires. You could stack 2x6's as well. The Smart Level saves me lots of time.

I noticed in mine, that the countertops weren't parallel with the fridge, so I set it up to level the fridge by using a carpenter's level on the door. Swing it open to check side to side level. I use wood under my stabilizers. You can tighten them up if they sink. I lost the manual crank (kid left the hatch open) so I use my DeWalt drill.
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Old 07-19-2021, 08:03 PM   #10
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If you have an i-Phone they have a leveling app built into it. It is in "utilities" under "measurment". Just go to it, click on the level option and lay the phone down on a flat surface that you want to be level. It will tell you how many degrees out of level you are (forward and back and side to side) and when you are in perfect level the circle turns green and reads 0 degrees. If you have somewhere outside your TT that is the same level as you need, you can place the phone there. I have a very old level that is a bubble level that is adjustable. I think I have seen these around, but, you may find it on line. I glued a magnet to it and stuck it onto a flat spot on my TT tongue and set it up there. This one allows you to set the bubble to level and it tells you which side needs to be raised and by how much. I've had it for 3 trailers and about 20 years now. If you can't find it, the i-phone works really well. Just open the door and set it on the floor.
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Old 07-20-2021, 07:29 AM   #11
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Your old level

Quote:
Originally Posted by ProfChuck View Post
If you have an i-Phone they have a leveling app built into it. It is in "utilities" under "measurment". Just go to it, click on the level option and lay the phone down on a flat surface that you want to be level. It will tell you how many degrees out of level you are (forward and back and side to side) and when you are in perfect level the circle turns green and reads 0 degrees. If you have somewhere outside your TT that is the same level as you need, you can place the phone there. I have a very old level that is a bubble level that is adjustable. I think I have seen these around, but, you may find it on line. I glued a magnet to it and stuck it onto a flat spot on my TT tongue and set it up there. This one allows you to set the bubble to level and it tells you which side needs to be raised and by how much. I've had it for 3 trailers and about 20 years now. If you can't find it, the i-phone works really well. Just open the door and set it on the floor.
Your old level probably looks like these.
Advantages of the old level:
  • Never has a dead battery
  • Waterproof "Neither rain nor snow..."
  • Shock- and drop-resistant
  • Minimal loss if you step on it or lose it
  • Cheap enough to permanently attach several
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Old 07-20-2021, 04:23 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Larry-NC View Post
Your old level probably looks like these.
Advantages of the old level:
  • Never has a dead battery
  • Waterproof "Neither rain nor snow..."
  • Shock- and drop-resistant
  • Minimal loss if you step on it or lose it
  • Cheap enough to permanently attach several
Actually, I found it. Now in a black case (mine was grey). Also on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Hopkins-Towin...15687&sr=8-235

It was the Hopkins # 09715 Hitch Level and it was $16.76 on Amazon. It's a long URL and may be easier to just look it up now that you have a number. I put one of those round magnets under the unit so I didn't have to screw it to the tongue. It hasn't come off yet, although I do velcro the top down to prevent it from blowing away going down the road.
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Old 07-23-2021, 06:18 PM   #13
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Andersen levelers and level mate pro. Getting level(or close enough) has never been easier.
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Old 07-23-2021, 09:46 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by lewisra View Post
Andersen levelers and level mate pro. Getting level(or close enough) has never been easier.
1000% this. My only regret is I didnít switch to this earlier. The hardest part is setting the initial level with the slides in. Now Iím level and stabilized in a couple minutes without opening the camper door. The hitch height recall is a nice bonus.
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Old 07-24-2021, 03:31 AM   #15
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I have the same trailer. Carpenters level and 2x10 blocks under the stabilizers/jack does the trick.
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Old 07-26-2021, 12:53 PM   #16
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The Camco and Andersen leveler widths are fine, it's not hurting a thing.

Stabilizers are just that, stabilizers. It's OK to put a little pressure on them, but I wouldn't be going to the extent of raising the trailer with them, maybe 1/4" of suspension unloading in the rear max.

I have no idea why you'd want to retract the jack once the stabilizer are down, all you would accomplish is a less stable trailer and quite likely destroyed stabilizer jacks. These aren't "auto leveling" jack like on larger RV's.

For the refrigerator, if it's an absorption type it needs to be within 6 degrees front to back and 3 degrees side to side.

Trying to get a trailer perfectly level is pointless, get it as close as you can and go. If ours is within 1/4" - 1/2" either direction it's more than fine.

The deflection your reading with the tongue jack retracted is deflection in the stabilizer mounting plates and possibly the stabilizer themselves, again, I wouldn't recommend ever doing this.
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Old 07-26-2021, 04:42 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by larrold View Post
Has anyone added an auto leveling system to a smaller travel trailer? I've noticed that only larger or 5th wheels have auto leveling systems.

I currently use the curved Andersen Camper Levelers, powered tongue jack, and stock SJ-2500 stabilizers for our GeoPro 20BHS. This setup is easy to manage but I'm never 100% positive of the level. The top, non-hinge side of our door rubs the door frame. The stickiness has been there from day one and is not the worst but I would think that having perfectly level trailer would be best before I start fixing the door and door frame clearance.

Here are some of my observations when it comes to leveling.

1. Andersen's not wide enough.
The Andersen's work well for side to side leveling but they are thinner than the tire is wide. The leveling section of our 20BHS manual talks about using 2"x8" lumber over 2"x6" lumber for leveling due to the tire hanging over the edge of the lumber.
2. Trailer tongue flex.
I use both the bubble level app and a magnetic bubble on the trailer tongue when leveling. After all the stabilizers are down (or at home, a jack stand under the center of the frame), I can retract the tongue jack and watch the trailer tongue fall a little, which means the bubble level is now a bit off.
3. Stabilizer pressure.
Everything I read says do not use stabilizers to lift the trailer, agreed, they are rather unstable with lateral movement. But, I never know how much to lower the stabilizers. As they make contact with the ground, another turn or two will make the trailer raise just a little. I hit all four corners 2 times and try to get the same snugness. Sometimes after a day our two of camping, some adjustment is needed.
4. Retract tongue jack.
I would think I could retract the tongue jack once all stabilizers are down but have not found any literature that states that.

I'm looking at the Lippert Ground Controll TT Kit but don't know it it will fit and if I'm worrying too much about perfect level.

Does anyone have knowledge or experience to share?
Hey there.
Ok first no you can’t retract your tongue jack once the corner stabilizers are down. The tongue jack is made to hold a lot of weight at the tongue location. The corner stabilizers are just that. They help remove spring movement from the camper. The frame attachment points nor the jacks are made to supports much weight.
One thing you can do is place cribbing under the corner stabilizers to limit the extreme extension. This will take away a little movement from the trailer. Also you can remake the mounts for the corner stabilizers and turn them at a 45 degree angle to the frame. This will really help take movement away from the trailer.
Auto levelers are really not an option on a regular travel trailer because the frame isn’t designed to hold a bunch of weight from upward jacking.
I siliconed a 2 way bubble level to my frame up by the tongue so when I’m leveling I can see it easily.
Being perfectly level isn’t necessary but enough to prevent items from sliding off the table..LOL…
I have 2 slide outs on my 2020 Forest River Vibe 32 BH and prefer to lean a tad towards the slide outs. This keeps the rain water from pooling at the slide seals. Also a little forward lean to allow the AC to drain off to the front left corner. Hope this helps….
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Old 08-02-2021, 11:56 PM   #18
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LevelmatePro

I installed a LevelmatePro on my RV. It makes things much easier. Just turn the thing on, start the ap on your phone, and it tells you exactly how level you are. Set the wheel blocks as needed, and done.
It's about $145 on Amazon. Best add on ever.
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Old 08-03-2021, 07:54 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lewisra View Post
Andersen levelers and level mate pro. Getting level(or close enough) has never been easier.
I should have said the LevelMate Pro+. The Pro+ has a larger battery and also a mini-USB to plug it in, so you don't need to worry about turning it off to save the battery. I hardwired mine to 12v so I don't need to worry about turning off and on until the end of the season.
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Old 08-03-2021, 11:29 AM   #20
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My Coleman was the same way with the door. It had nothing to do with the "level" of the trailer and had everything to do with the tension on the stabilizers. If cranked too much, or too little the door would stick. It all has to do with the frame. The ends sag and getting the sag out corrected the door sticking. Crank them too much and then the bottom of the door would stick.

I used the bubble levels one on the front, and one on the side, level side to side with blocks, and then have the wife watch the bubble as I lift or lower the tongue jack, then set the stabs until the door opened and closes freely. I also had JT Strongarms on the trailer that I would lock in place, and would be good for as long as we were camped. The Strongarms made a huge difference in keeping the trailer locked in, and never needed adjusting during the week. I also used large foot pads under the stabs.

Putting an auto level system on a conventional pull might not work well since it could raise the trailer ends too much and damage the body by causing too much twist in the frame. It would need to be engineered properly to prevent that. I don't think conventional frames are designed to be lifted from the corners like a 5th wheel is, and the jacks on 5th wheels are usually before and after the axles too.
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