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Old 01-16-2021, 11:23 AM   #1
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Stabilizing Jacks - seriously?

There's plenty to love about our new 21NE, and while this post certainly has a legitimate rant attached we're very hopeful we'll be enjoying it for many years to come. However, in the week we've had it I'm seeing a few things that are giving me grief. Several QC issues, a couple faulty components, and now - the stabilization jacks.

Yes, I know what they are for - stabilization. Not jacking. Snug, not lifted, wheels chocked/blocked. Our trailer has been parked inside our pole barn on a concrete pad since it got home, and this is the only place they've been used.

Yesterday, I went to retract them to move the trailer only to find the front right jack was dangling. Both of the more "secure" outside connections into the frame had snapped clean off - leaving it hanging from one tiny self-tapping screw into what's basically sheet metal. Under the trailer, I stared in disbelief how these are actually attached...and my first thought wasn't "How could they", it was "What else is like this?"

Coming here and investigating this issue made it worse. As many of you are aware, this issue has existed for a very long time and Escape has not seen fit to address it. They shouldn't be using sheet metal screws at all, but they're even undersized for the jack - it has 3/8" holes, and they use 1/4" self tapping screws. Even if one gets lucky with the handful of threads holding these jacks in place for a while, the elements will certainly attack these less than adequate connections over time.

So - enough of the condemnation. I need a fix, as I'm down to three jacks and am not about to use them until they are secure. How they perform in a campground isn't critical, but knowing the connections won't decide to let loose at freeway speeds is.

While I'm sure a few eyes will roll, and Escape might even suggest warranty would be impacted - the only proper way I can see to address this is by welding sturdy L-brackets onto the trailer frame for the outside connections, and drilling through the light sheet metal inboard cross member and applying a significant backing plate. Through bolt everything. A liberal application of POR-15 should keep corrosion at bay where things are drilled/welded.

I've seen several folks here have through bolted the inside connection, as that's easily done - but has anyone else undertaken the issue of properly addressing the outside connections? Is there a better way?
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Old 01-16-2021, 12:22 PM   #2
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Yes the inner screw under the trailer is in thin metal and it can be replaced with a bolt which is what I have done.

The outside two screws on our 19 is into the frame which I would not necessarily call thin. I replaced my screws with larger screws coated with anti seize.

A flat plate welded to the underside of the frame that sticks out enough to secure the jack with bolts would be better.

If you are concerned about these screws you should check the ones that hold on your propane mounting plate. Theses are the ones that people find rust first.
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Old 01-16-2021, 12:35 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eggscape View Post
The outside two screws on our 19 is into the frame which I would not necessarily call thin.
Agreed, the frame isn't thin - but 1/4" self-tapping screws are weak, undersized and only a few threads will secure them into the frame.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Eggscape View Post

A flat plate welded to the underside of the frame that sticks out enough to secure the jack with bolts would be better.
Duh...flat plate would indeed, be easier. No need to fab up brackets - thanks for the idea. In fact, square tube to drop them a bit might be better still, as I've read posts here about lack of stabilizer extension height when getting the raised trailer option - which I have. Maybe I can pick up a couple inches without impacting ground clearance - I'll investigate that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Eggscape View Post
If you are concerned about these screws you should check the ones that hold on your propane mounting plate. Theses are the ones that people find rust first.
Thanks for that as well - I'll add it to the list. I may install larger tanks, as being off grid for extended periods of time will happen. If so, I'll incorporate fixes there at that time.
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Old 01-16-2021, 04:20 PM   #4
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^ Speaking of "...larger tanks..." you might want to check to see how secure or not the tanks are from Escape. The fresh water tank on our little 15A has play, and significant play at that, in both horizontal front-to-back, side-to-side & vertical up directions. Not good. Next on my list to correct.
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Old 01-16-2021, 05:09 PM   #5
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We have the classic scissor jacks welded on that were done on some early 19’s. Rock solid. They are stronger than the C-Jack design in my opinion. Consider swapping them out. They may stick out a little more from under the trailer when stowed but you don’t have that inboard connection to worry about like on the C-Jack’s.

https://balrvproducts.com/downloads/...rs%20Jacks.pdf
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Old 01-16-2021, 05:44 PM   #6
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I would check with Escape first before trying to fix it yourself, see what they say. I am not sure if Escape installs those, I assume they come already installed? The other 3 might need to be fixed also.
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Old 01-16-2021, 06:43 PM   #7
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The good thing about the small self-tapping screws is that they make smaller holes in the trailer frame... in a place where there shouldn't be a hole drilled at all, especially for the forward jacks.

A bracket welded or bolted to the side of the frame would be much better than anything done to the bottom face of the frame, which is more highly stressed. I think the best thing that could be done to those original holes would be to clean them up then weld them closed.

On my Boler, I used existing L-brackets welded to the side of the (similarly sized to an Escape) frame rail to mount a square steel tube right across the trailer (rear only - I didn't add them in the front), and mounted the jacks to that tube; the tube acts as a spacer and even cantilevers the jacks further outboard for better stability.

The inboard mounting point takes relatively little force, so the crossmember is likely adequate. Of course a suitably sized bolt is generally better than a self-tapping screw, but in a factory assembly environment those screws save expensive time... I'm not surprised that they are used.
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Old 01-16-2021, 06:45 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by yangstyle View Post
I am not sure if Escape installs those, I assume they come already installed?
ETI used to get frames shipped in stacks from the fabricator. I have seen photos but not seen them up close in person; perhaps someone else has and remembers this detail. I doubt they would stack well with the jacks, and a steel fabricator would probably weld jacks on rather than using screws, so my guess is that ETI installs them.
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Old 01-16-2021, 07:07 PM   #9
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I thought they brought welding /fabrication in house a few years ago to control quality?
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Old 01-16-2021, 07:21 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by sofmerc View Post
I thought they brought welding /fabrication in house a few years ago to control quality?
Perhaps. There have been a lot of changes and I don't remember them all. If they are building frames in-house, they're certainly installing the jacks in-house.
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Old 01-17-2021, 12:20 AM   #11
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I am in the process of ordering a 21C. Is there some other option or customization of the stabilizing jacks I could pay for as an upgrade?
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Old 01-17-2021, 12:33 AM   #12
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Not that I know of.

Also I have not heard of many falling off...yet.
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Old 01-17-2021, 12:54 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scottarue View Post
I am in the process of ordering a 21C. Is there some other option or customization of the stabilizing jacks I could pay for as an upgrade?
See post #5. No formal option related to stabilizers but ask Escape if they would weld on scissor jacks.
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Old 01-18-2021, 08:06 PM   #14
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Do any of you spray or brush the POR-15 or other products on the frame or other metal areas to prevent rust?
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Old 01-19-2021, 12:43 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by syspig View Post
There's plenty to love about our new 21NE, and while this post certainly has a legitimate rant attached we're very hopeful we'll be enjoying it for many years to come. However, in the week we've had it I'm seeing a few things that are giving me grief. Several QC issues, a couple faulty components, and now - the stabilization jacks.

Yes, I know what they are for - stabilization. Not jacking. Snug, not lifted, wheels chocked/blocked. Our trailer has been parked inside our pole barn on a concrete pad since it got home, and this is the only place they've been used.

Yesterday, I went to retract them to move the trailer only to find the front right jack was dangling. Both of the more "secure" outside connections into the frame had snapped clean off - leaving it hanging from one tiny self-tapping screw into what's basically sheet metal. Under the trailer, I stared in disbelief how these are actually attached...and my first thought wasn't "How could they", it was "What else is like this?"

Coming here and investigating this issue made it worse. As many of you are aware, this issue has existed for a very long time and Escape has not seen fit to address it. They shouldn't be using sheet metal screws at all, but they're even undersized for the jack - it has 3/8" holes, and they use 1/4" self tapping screws. Even if one gets lucky with the handful of threads holding these jacks in place for a while, the elements will certainly attack these less than adequate connections over time.

So - enough of the condemnation. I need a fix, as I'm down to three jacks and am not about to use them until they are secure. How they perform in a campground isn't critical, but knowing the connections won't decide to let loose at freeway speeds is.

While I'm sure a few eyes will roll, and Escape might even suggest warranty would be impacted - the only proper way I can see to address this is by welding sturdy L-brackets onto the trailer frame for the outside connections, and drilling through the light sheet metal inboard cross member and applying a significant backing plate. Through bolt everything. A liberal application of POR-15 should keep corrosion at bay where things are drilled/welded.

I've seen several folks here have through bolted the inside connection, as that's easily done - but has anyone else undertaken the issue of properly addressing the outside connections? Is there a better way?
Is it possible that this could be a “breakaway” feature in case one forgets to raise the jacks before driving away?
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Old 01-19-2021, 02:30 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by Mswan View Post
Is it possible that this could be a “breakaway” feature in case one forgets to raise the jacks before driving away?
They may rip off with only 1/4" self-tapping screws but they aren't purposely designing the connection to account for user incompetence. There are also instructions for welding them on.
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Old 01-19-2021, 03:03 PM   #17
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Comments & an FYI

FYI: We damaged one of the Front BAL C-jacks when transitioning a gravel parking area, deep drainage swale, and highway edge, catching a sand pad on the pavement transition lip. The repair was to straighten a portion of the C-jack, and replace the bent jack screw.

The BAL parts source was a large RV business in the middle of the U.S., and by the time I received the part and paid shipping, I found that I could have bought an entirely new C-jack assembly online for less, (Amazon Prime-free shipping!!). And, I wouldn't have had to straighten anything.

Comments:

The C-jack is fastened to the trailer frame with (2) self-tap screws, and to a thinner cross-member with (1) self-tap screw.

The trailer frame is 4"x2"x1/8" wall A500 structural steel. When I reinstalled the C-jack, the self-tap screws were not secure, so I used slightly larger self-tap screws at the frame, and a bolt and lock nut at the thinner cross member, where there was access top and bottom.

IMO, the C-jack is a stabilizer, only applying vertical support/resistance between the trailer frame and the ground when set up for camping, so the screws are only to hold the C-jack in place when underway. I chock all my trailer wheels to prevent horizontal movement, so the C-jacks should have no horizontal movement component to contend with.


Walk around inspection prior to hitting the road includes verifying that the C-jacks are fully retracted (up position), and the inspection NOW includes making sure the sand pads are horizontal , giving me an extra inch of clearance, with no pointy corners to catch pavement transitions.
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Old 01-19-2021, 06:35 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by dfandrews View Post
IMO, the C-jack is a stabilizer, only applying vertical support/resistance between the trailer frame and the ground when set up for camping, so the screws are only to hold the C-jack in place when underway. I chock all my trailer wheels to prevent horizontal movement, so the C-jacks should have no horizontal movement component to contend with.
Single-leg jacks like this are also stiff in the lateral direction (when installed in this orientation, across the trailer), which also helps stability - it reduces the tendency of the trailer to twist around the axle when people move inside. This puts horizontal shear load on the attachment at the frame rails, and vertical load on the inboard mounting point.

But yes, these are only stabilizers, and would do their basic job if just held in place by hand until tightened - no one is trying to support the trailer with some self-tapping screws.
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Old 01-19-2021, 06:38 PM   #19
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Low quality is the standard across the industry no matter if you drop $40,000 on an Escape or $20,000 on a Jayco.

When you buy an RV you will become a carpenter, plumber, electrician and a mechanic or you will just write the checks.

I think that’s part of the adventure! ��
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Old 01-20-2021, 01:27 PM   #20
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maintenance

That is the same experience of owning a house, I have a plumber coming by I hope tomorrow. The older I get, the more often have someone fix things. Of course I find if I buy new every 3 to 5 years I don't have as many problems. The house has to last 25 to30 or more years.
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