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Old 08-17-2017, 04:32 AM   #1
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Best way to determine if trailer is level

Hi all... I have a 2010 19'. I'm trying to dial-in my WDH, and I'm curious what method people use to determine if the trailer is truly level? I'm talking about having a level trailer while towing, parallel to the ground -- not leveling the trailer in a campsite. I live in a hilly area, so finding level ground is not easy. Even flat parking lots tend to have some slope with lots of bumps and little dips and rises.

I've tried measuring the distance of the frame to the ground at the front and back of the trailer, but that seems pretty inaccurate, since the frame curves up near the front. I think measuring the frame to ground height close to the axles might be my best bet, but even then I don't know if the frame should be the same height off the ground on each side of the axles.

Measuring the belly-band-to-ground height at the front and back of the trailer is certainly a fast and easy measurement, but doubt that is the most accurate.

Using bubble levels is not a good choice for me, given the ground has some slope. I tried using the same bubble level on the ground and the trailer frame -- they should read the same. Worked ok.

So anyway, I'm not too worried about it -- using all of the above techniques, I think I'm pretty close to level. I'm just curious if there is some other method other people are using. Thanks.
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Old 08-17-2017, 05:58 AM   #2
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I too have unlevel areas but a level inside the trailer should tell you if you are high or low at the front. It helps to have an adjustable hitch where you can make adjustments while hooked up. I check the level inside while towing because a lot of gas station areas appear level so I stick my head inside to verify if I'm close. Also measure your tow vehicle tire gap, front and rear before and after hooking up to determine if a w/d set up is needed to offset rear end squat.
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Old 08-17-2017, 07:38 AM   #3
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When at Escape for delivery Dennis was using a tape measure on the belly band. Not sure how accurate that might be but again how close do you have to be? It certainly is easy provided you have a level area to start with.
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Old 08-17-2017, 07:57 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by fudge_brownie View Post
When at Escape for delivery Dennis was using a tape measure on the belly band. Not sure how accurate that might be but again how close do you have to be? It certainly is easy provided you have a level area to start with.
Hi: fudge_brownie... I thought close only counted in horseshoes, hand grenades, and bad breath. Now we have to add "Trailer levels" to the list. As long as the bubble is between the lines your OK!!! Sometimes the bubbles get stuck and need to be tweaked a bit to respond. Alf
escape artist N.S. of Lake Erie
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Old 08-17-2017, 08:18 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by fudge_brownie View Post
When at Escape for delivery Dennis was using a tape measure on the belly band. Not sure how accurate that might be but again how close do you have to be? It certainly is easy provided you have a level area to start with.
I suspect that Dennis was just checking that the hitch height was correct so that the trailer would pull relatively level behind the tow vehicle. Obviously using a tape measure to check distance from belly band to ground surface at various points around the trailer would only work when the ground surface that the trailer sits on is perfectly level. That is pretty unlikely to be the case at most campgrounds that you will stay at, and that is why it is better to use the levelling bubbles that were installed on your trailer.
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Old 08-17-2017, 09:38 AM   #6
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That is pretty unlikely to be the case at most campgrounds that you will stay at, and that is why it is better to use the levelling bubbles that were installed on your trailer.
Yes, those are handy and can be "adjusted" to show level when close enough.....
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Old 08-17-2017, 09:42 AM   #7
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This may not apply to Escapes but the factory bubble levels on my Casita were way off . I leveled by trailer using a 4 ft and 6 ft level to make sure the floor and refrigerator were level. I then added 2 larger size levels to the exterior of my trailer using screws and adhesive caulk.
My solution maybe rather anal but now when I set up my trailer I am confident when it says level it is level.
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Old 08-17-2017, 09:54 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by steve dunham View Post
This may not apply to Escapes but the factory bubble levels on my Casita were way off . I leveled by trailer using a 4 ft and 6 ft level to make sure the floor and refrigerator were level. I then added 2 larger size levels to the exterior of my trailer using screws and adhesive caulk.
My solution maybe rather anal but now when I set up my trailer I am confident when it says level it is level.
Same here - Casita also attached my labels crooked. Bugged me so much I had ETI leave off the levels and I use my own.
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Old 08-17-2017, 10:06 AM   #9
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First level the trailer using a torpedo level at the bottom of your refrigerator. After the refer is level front to rear and side to side check the level indicators installed on the outside of the trailer. Confirm or adjust the outside level indicators. The refer is the most important concern for leveling to hopefully result in good cooling.
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Old 08-17-2017, 10:56 AM   #10
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Your just trying to true the vehicle and trailer combination by the sounds of it.
I started off by finding some level surface. yes it was hard but any time I think I'm on a level surface I recheck it.
And I adjusted the hitch until the trailer was as close to level as I could get it. My hitch is adjustable.
Then installed the weight distribution arms on the hitch and see if they changed anything.
On my sons truck snugging up the weight distribution arms threw off the level so we changed the hitch height one notch and tried again.
I always attach it the same way since then, same number of links on the weight distribution arms and whenever I check it still seems to be fine.
And like someone else mentioned, mostly I check at gas stations as they do seem to be the most consistently flat
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Old 08-17-2017, 01:10 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by goalie39 View Post
I've tried measuring the distance of the frame to the ground at the front and back of the trailer, but that seems pretty inaccurate, since the frame curves up near the front. I think measuring the frame to ground height close to the axles might be my best bet, but even then I don't know if the frame should be the same height off the ground on each side of the axles.
That's good reasoning. The main frame rails - the straight part ahead of the axles and extending back various distances depending on model - are the best single part for reference and they should be parallel to the ground.

If you want a longer measurement base, the bottom of the rear frame section is stepped up higher than the bottom of the front frame section by the height of the front frame rail. That's 4 inches for all current models, and 3 inches for early smaller models and the earliest 19'. The frame just behind the tongue and immediately ahead of the bumper should be different in height by that step amount.

The idea is to have the two suspensions equally loaded, so if you find the line of the axle mounting brackets, you've found what needs to be level.

Quote:
Originally Posted by goalie39 View Post
Measuring the belly-band-to-ground height at the front and back of the trailer is certainly a fast and easy measurement, but doubt that is the most accurate.
That's actually a pretty good reference, since that joint line is intended to be level, but it is true that the fiberglass body isn't completely rigid.
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Old 08-17-2017, 01:13 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by ice-breaker View Post
I suspect that Dennis was just checking that the hitch height was correct so that the trailer would pull relatively level behind the tow vehicle.
Sure... but that's what the question was about.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ice-breaker View Post
Obviously using a tape measure to check distance from belly band to ground surface at various points around the trailer would only work when the ground surface that the trailer sits on is perfectly level. That is pretty unlikely to be the case at most campgrounds that you will stay at, and that is why it is better to use the levelling bubbles that were installed on your trailer.
True, and relevant to leveling for camping... but for the question which was asked, the ground only needs to be flat, not level.
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Old 08-17-2017, 02:19 PM   #13
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Although not answering the original PO's question, one trick I recently learned when setting up camp is to use an I-phone. If you go to your compass setting and left swipe, your phone becomes a level....pretty darn accurate from what I've found. Especially useful for leveling up your fridge.
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Old 08-17-2017, 03:18 PM   #14
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Thank you Brian, other folks missed the question:

The OP asked:
I'm talking about having a level trailer while towing, parallel to the ground -- not leveling the trailer in a campsite.
We want to check the level of the trailer for towing, the method that Dennis applied is a good one. The frame might be another option, note that Dennis did not use it for a measurement. . . mmmm perhaps he had a reason.

If you want to involve the vehicle in the mix you need to place the vehicle a a level surface, nothing attached or loaded and measure from the ground through the center of hubcap to the bottom of the fender. Record each of the four wheel measurements and then do the same when hitched and loaded.
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Old 08-17-2017, 03:31 PM   #15
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i just look to see if it looks level and check the factory bubble levels. might check the accuracy with another level if i was concerned they were not accurate. i too recheck when i know I'm on a pretty level surface.
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Old 08-17-2017, 03:43 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fudge_brownie View Post
If you want to involve the vehicle in the mix you need to place the vehicle a a level surface, nothing attached or loaded and measure from the ground through the center of hubcap to the bottom of the fender. Record each of the four wheel measurements and then do the same when hitched and loaded.
If a level surface is not available, then a straight sloping road surface will suffice. If you are using a straight surface, then you want to set everything up parallel to that surface. The levels then become irrelevant. Its probably easier to find a straight surface than a level one. Only poor quality builders (at least in a rain forest) put in a level driveway. A large shop might have a level surface.
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Old 08-17-2017, 04:56 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by steve dunham View Post
This may not apply to Escapes but the factory bubble levels on my Casita were way off . I leveled by trailer using a 4 ft and 6 ft level to make sure the floor and refrigerator were level. I then added 2 larger size levels to the exterior of my trailer using screws and adhesive caulk.
My solution maybe rather anal but now when I set up my trailer I am confident when it says level it is level.
Our Escape levels were off. We levelled with a longer level, peeled them off and reinstalled them correctly.
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Old 08-17-2017, 05:02 PM   #18
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Our Escape levels were off. We levelled with a longer level, peeled them off and reinstalled them correctly.
Hi: wetzk... Best to place a glass on the counter... fill it with beer and observe if it's level headed. Alf
escape artist N.S. of Lake Erie
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Old 08-17-2017, 05:26 PM   #19
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Hi: wetzk... Best to place a glass on the counter... fill it with beer and observe if it's level headed. Alf
escape artist N.S. of Lake Erie
And then repeat the process to verify...
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Old 08-17-2017, 06:25 PM   #20
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No wonder I can not level mine, I'm all out of beer....
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