My family has enjoyed the RV life style for at least 25 of the last 50 years. Growing up, my parents owned a 1954 15’ Kenskill travel trailer. My wife and I lived in a 17 ½ foot Castaway trailer for 9 months when we were first married. When our children were at home we had a Nimrod Tent Trailer and then a 1978 Komfort 20’ trailer. We now own a 2002 Sprinter 32’ fifth wheel.
The first time we used the Sprinter in 2002 we were very surprised with the excessive movement when we set up camp. The trailer was equipped with telescoping stabilizer jacks on the rear. However, just moving my arm when sitting in the trailer would cause the trailer to shake. If anyone was moving around the trailer when you were trying to sleep the shaking made it almost impossible.
After a small amount of research I found out that there were king pin tripods and special wheel chocks that were supposed to solve the problem. I purchased a King Pin Stabilizer made by U.S. Catalytic and a pair of BAL Deluxe Tire Locking Chocks. At the same time I purchased 4 scissor jacks which I added two between the front landing gear and the tires and two between the rear telescoping stabilizer and the tires. The trailer should be stable now, right? The trailer shook less, but to my dismay, I could still sit in a chair in the trailer, move my arm and the trailer would shake.
I had spent over $350 on “stabilizing equipment”, in addition to the stabilizing jacks that came on the trailer and it still did not have a solid feel. I tried many configurations of setting up the trailer and placing more and more weight on the jacks and could never get the trailer to feel solid.
It did not take me long to realize that a significant improvement needed to be made in the area of stabilizing a parked fifth wheel or travel trailer. I set about testing various configurations with the following objectives:
- Make the trailer feel solid
- Attached to the trailer so there was no storage required
- Simple to set up and operate
- Versatile enough to fit most fifth wheels and travel trailers
- Priced so most Fifth Wheel and Travel Trailer owners could fit it into their budget
I started with a 3 brace system to make the stabilizer as simple as possible and used a foot plate to be sure that I could connect the brace to the ground bypassing any slop or wiggle in the stock jack system. The foot plate also added versatility to connect to most jacks used in the industry. Additional benefits of the foot plate were that it would provide a larger foot print than standard jack bases and would have 3 pads that would greatly improve stability for the brace and the trailer.
Several different locking mechanisms were tested. The key objective was to make them convenient to operate and to eliminate any possible movement in the system.
Several different configurations were tested on 5 different trailers including large and small, fifth wheels and travel trailers. The trailers traveled a combined total of over 45,000 miles with all prototypes working very well. Excellent suggestions were made by those testing the units. The final design was determined based on the feed back from the users and the criteria mentioned above.
The end result is a very well thought out and tested trailer stabilizing system that will perform as stated. It is simple to operate, will provide a very solid feeling to your trailer and will last long enough to be transferred from trailer to trailer.
Several other bracing type stabilizing systems apparently were developed over the same time as this one and some came on the market sooner. Our analysis indicates that the additional time we spent designing and testing has provided many advantages of our system over all competitors.