Loading and unloading on a slope - Escape Trailer Owners Community

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Old 05-06-2012, 03:27 PM   #1
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Loading and unloading on a slope

We live on a hill and were wondering how we will easily load and unload our soon-to-be-built trailer.

The street is steep enough that I would not consider parking without the tow vechicle tires cranked against the curb and chocks behind all tow vehicle and trailer tires.

Our driveway is only 28' and itself has a decent slope up to the house (a rise of several feet on the steep side). Parking at an angle would not be an option due to the twist/roll between the trailer and the tow vehicle when parked, just need to back in have have my 4Runner sticking out into the street 8-9'. Here again, I would have every wheel of both vehicles well-chocked, safety cones marking the nose of the 4Runner, etc.

Once loaded, I would park on the level further up the hill to stow everything. Given the slopes and angles, I would never consider detaching the trailer from the tow vehicle. Just want to shove boxes in the door, fill up with water, and go.

I have done this several times before with utility trailers filled with yards of dirt, gravel etc that I am sure weighed more than the Escape. So I know it is possible to get in and out with a heavier, but slightly shorter trailer.

Anyone in a similar situation? Any tips or additional precautions? Or am I just asking for trouble?
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Old 05-06-2012, 03:37 PM   #2
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Re: Loading and unloading on a slope

If you have an equalizer hitch, you'll want to install and detach the bars when the trailer and tow are on the level. Too much pressure on them otherwise, even on a slight slope.

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Old 05-06-2012, 05:35 PM   #3
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Re: Loading and unloading on a slope

We park our trailer in our drive all summer, and it has a fairly good slope to it. With a 4x4 block, I still have to crank it up almost all the way to get it level. I disconnect from the tow vehicle, and use Bal-X chocks, which I would highly recommend.

Here is a crappy cell phone shot of our trailer in the drive.
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File Type: jpg Trailer in Drive.jpg (273.0 KB, 126 views)
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Old 05-06-2012, 05:38 PM   #4
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Re: Loading and unloading on a slope

Here is a shot of one of our chocks. They help stabilize the trailer immensely, a huge difference, plus are easy to use in any situation, especially good if one set of wheels are up high on blocks to level side to side. A bit heavy, and not too cheap, but worth it if you have tandem axles.

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Old 05-07-2012, 02:05 AM   #5
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Re: Loading and unloading on a slope

Thanks for the tip, Jim. The X-Chocks are on my Amazon wish list and will be part of my first accessory delivery. They would help (and the reviews appear to be fantastic) but I think I would need even more support in my case. It is hard to tell from your picture, but I think the slope I am on is even greater than yours.

I did a quick check of my driveway slope with a level line. It is roughly 1 to 12, about 1" per foot where the axels would be sitting and a little steeper towards the hitch. Looks like there is ~3' between the axels, so the front axel would be 3" lower than the back if the trailer were leveled in place with the wheels on the ground. I suppose I could fashion a massive shim for the front wheels (e.g. back up, put shim into place, pull forward onto it) but that would still assume that I would need 3" of suspension play betwen the axels while attached to the tow vehicle - and that I could safely get the thing unhooked and back on again in such a levered scenario.

I estimate the front hitch would need to be cranked up by about 12" to make it level. I suppose I could make a heavy cement pillar for under the tongue jack if I really wanted to unhitch and work on the trailer in the drive, but would that be sufficient?

So that is why my initial thought was that I will never be able to unhitch and safely level the trailer in my drive. Parking the trailer on a 1 to 12 slope without truly anchoring it by some mechanism seems precarious to me. But never having never leveled a trailer before, I do not have any experience to fall back on.

Anyone know what vertical travel distance the trailer axels are spec'ed to handle safely, and (assuming a massive enough base underneath) what the sane limit is as to how high the front hitch should be cranked above the hitching plane?

Or would custom scissor jacks fore and aft paired with some massive, no-skid shims do the trick?

This is, of course, on my (long) list of items to discuss with Reace, but I would like to know from your experiences what is doable.

David
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Old 05-07-2012, 10:39 AM   #6
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Re: Loading and unloading on a slope

I just measured. I have exactly 3% slope, or 5/8" in 12". The axles are 29" apart, giving me 1 1/2" height difference between axles. With the X-chocks in place, there is little worry of it moving at all.

If you did have any worries, I would build a couple tapered block to pull on to, eliminating and stresses in the axles, and any chance the trailer would want to roll. You could keep these to use whenever needed.
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Old 05-07-2012, 09:24 PM   #7
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Re: Loading and unloading on a slope

Thanks for measuring your setup Jim. Looks like I have my first trailer project - fashioning a couple of wedge blocks and a tongue pillar. I'll update with a pic of the whole setup in a couple of months.

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Old 07-14-2012, 04:45 AM   #8
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Re: Loading and unloading on a slope

Attaching a picture of our new trailer parked in our driveway. I was initially concerned about the slope, but the combination of wedge blocks and x-chocks for the tires along with stabilizers and tongue support was solid. Probably over-engineered the tongue support structure given the front stabilizers worked so well (the tongue platform is made out of 4x6 posts and weighs about 100 lbs) but it was good to know that the tongue was not going anywhere should one of the stabilizers slip.

It took only an an extra 10 minutes to get the trailer on and off the hitch. Since my driveway is only about 2' longer than the trailer, rolling the front wheels on and off the tire wedges requires backing the trailer right up to the house such that the spare tire is actually in the garage. And raising and lowering the tongue takes a few minutes due to the need to repeatedly run around the tow vehicle to raise/lower the front stabilizers in sync.

The setup worked as planned, so I am happy with it.
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Old 07-14-2012, 05:05 AM   #9
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Re: Loading and unloading on a slope

One more pic.
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Old 10-16-2014, 06:14 PM   #10
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We have a driveway that is a challenge to park a trailer on. It is sloped down and to the side. It is also angled to the left. We wanted the trailer to be parked level. We have now used the ramps I built for 3 seasons. See attached photos. The ramps are built from 1 inch plywood and are screwed, glued and held together with threaded rod.
This morning I returned the trailer to it's birthplace (ETI) for storage till spring. The windows are closed and the roof vent is open slightly. We have not experienced any mould or mildew storing the trailer this way. The solar panel keeps the batteries charged.
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