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Old 05-01-2018, 10:32 PM   #1
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Unhitching Camper on Uphill Slope

I have researched this a bit, and I have yet to come across my specific situation.

The only way to unhitch our camper is on an uphill. Every time we unhitch it, no matter where our chocks are, the camper comes off the ball and moves backwards a couple inches. Which is obviously dangerous and unwanted. Once or twice we thought the jack would fall off our wood block. One time the camper nearly crushed one of our chocks.

What are we doing wrong?

Many posts I see on this subject recommend using x-chocks, but we have a single axle travel trailer, so that is a no go.

Are we using bad chocks? What do you guys recommend on single axle campers?

Any advise will be much appreciated!
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Old 05-01-2018, 10:38 PM   #2
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Your profile says you have a " 2012 Forest River Surveyor Sport." While the procedure may be the same for other brands of trailers, do you have an Escape? Want to help, but need better details.... like model of ETI build.
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Old 05-01-2018, 10:46 PM   #3
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EDIT: No I do not have an Escape. It is a Surveyor 191T. It is a small trailer with 2 fold outs. One in front and one on the side. Says "SURVEYOR" in big letters across the side. You should be able to google an image of it. Hope this helps.
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Old 05-01-2018, 11:10 PM   #4
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If you aren't familiar with Escape molded fibreglass trailers, click on the red 'Escape Trailer Industries' logo on the right of the page. This forum is frequented by Escape trailer owners and wannabe owners who discuss all topics related to Escape trailers and camping in them.

Your chocks should hold you trailer in place and keep it from rolling downhill while you are unhitching. If you have got your chocks in place - especially on the downhill side of the tires - before cranking up on your jack, your trailer should stay in place. If the trailer is rolling downhill with chocks in position, the chocks are not doing their job.

P.S. If your trailer always jumps back a few inches when you unhitch, then perhaps you are not releasing tension in your WDH hitch first. Check operating instructions for your WDH, assuming you are using one.
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Old 05-01-2018, 11:10 PM   #5
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Just curious - I know you said your camper has just a single axle - but does that single axle happen to have electric brakes (like our EggCamper)? If so, I'm trying to think of what all could go wrong if you were to temporarily pull the safety brake pin to lock the electric brakes while you disconnect from the tow vehicle, then reset the safety brake pin, knowing that it will then still rock back a bit. That might also involve a more hefty set of wheel chocks to absorb the rock back and a wheel on the bottom of your tongue jack rather than the solid foot. Just thinking....
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Old 05-01-2018, 11:51 PM   #6
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Unhitching Camper on Uphill Slope

After you set your chocks, but before you unhitch, put your tow vehicle in neutral and let the whole rig roll firmly onto the chocks until it stops. Then set your parking brake and unhitch. The trailer should not roll any further if you do it this way.

Also, x-chocks are *not* chocks.
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Old 05-02-2018, 05:20 AM   #7
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Also you may have springs on your suspension vs rubber torsion axles on the Escapes. A picture of your suspension would help.
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Old 05-02-2018, 05:34 AM   #8
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I find the rubber chocks work better then the plastic, got them at Tractor Supply. While we use one set, you could use 2 if you want. We kick them into the tires on the downhill side to seat them but with 2 sets you can also place one in front of each tire, using the car pull the trailer snug into them, hold it there and place the rears snug. You may have to do the opposite to remove.
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Old 05-02-2018, 05:54 AM   #9
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It's also possible that the slope you're on is just too steep to be safe. I've camped a few places where I was actually afraid to unhitch, and did not. I would not have been able to sleep if I had unhitched, imagining the camper careening down the hill, all night long.

Maybe you need to find a better place to unhitch?
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Old 05-02-2018, 06:44 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sclifrickson View Post
After you set your chocks, but before you unhitch, put your tow vehicle in neutral and let the whole rig roll firmly onto the chocks until it stops. Then set your parking brake and unhitch. The trailer should not roll any further if you do it this way. Also, x-chocks are *not* chocks.
Doing this, depending on the degree of slope, it seems the weight of the tow vehicle free-rolling back into the camper could actually "bind" in the coupler with possibly more force than the force the OP is dealing with from the weight of the trailer trying to roll back away from the tow vehicle - if that makes sense. Again, depending on how much slope one is dealing with.
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Old 05-02-2018, 06:51 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sclifrickson View Post
After you set your chocks, but before you unhitch, put your tow vehicle in neutral and let the whole rig roll firmly onto the chocks until it stops. Then set your parking brake and unhitch. The trailer should not roll any further if you do it this way.

Also, x-chocks are *not* chocks.
Best answer above

Quote:
Originally Posted by padlin View Post
I find the rubber chocks work better then the plastic, got them at Tractor Supply. While we use one set, you could use 2 if you want. We kick them into the tires on the downhill side to seat them but with 2 sets you can also place one in front of each tire, using the car pull the trailer snug into them, hold it there and place the rears snug. You may have to do the opposite to remove.
I have found using the rubber chocks much better than the plastic ones also
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Old 05-02-2018, 06:57 AM   #12
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I am also curious to know if there is enough tongue weight on your trailer, since you stated that the tongue jumped off the ball. I am unfamiliar with the tongue weight for your trailer make, and it could be worthwhile to check it.
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Old 05-02-2018, 07:16 AM   #13
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Chocks

As advised, large heavy duty chocks made of hard rubber will help. I would advise "setting" the chocks with a heavy rubber mallet or a plastic faced dead blow hammer. Sometimes you have to thump them pretty hard. Kicking them in with your foot is ok on the dead flat but doesn't quite do it on slopes. On very steep slopes that lead up to a "deck site", I sometimes do not unhitch on a " one night stand".
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Old 05-02-2018, 07:42 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sclifrickson View Post
After you set your chocks, but before you unhitch, put your tow vehicle in neutral and let the whole rig roll firmly onto the chocks until it stops. Then set your parking brake and unhitch. The trailer should not roll any further if you do it this way.

Also, x-chocks are *not* chocks.
This is what I do if needed too, but will often reverse direction in gear to take the pressure off the ball and hitch.

I have heard this about X-Chocks before, but must disagree. They work great for chocking. Just because they are not wedge shaped does not mean they will not stop the trailer from moving. I only use wedge chocks if the slope is quite steep and fear the trailer could move before levelling and installing the X-Chocks. Have done so for 9 years now.
Quote:
Originally Posted by padlin View Post
I find the rubber chocks work better then the plastic, got them at Tractor Supply. While we use one set, you could use 2 if you want. We kick them into the tires on the downhill side to seat them but with 2 sets you can also place one in front of each tire, using the car pull the trailer snug into them, hold it there and place the rears snug. You may have to do the opposite to remove.
Totally agree on these chocks, which are available at Princess Auto in Canada. Another plus with them is using them in freezing temperatures where the plastic ones can easily break.
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Old 05-02-2018, 08:10 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by War Eagle View Post
Just curious - I know you said your camper has just a single axle - but does that single axle happen to have electric brakes (like our EggCamper)? If so, I'm trying to think of what all could go wrong if you were to temporarily pull the safety brake pin to lock the electric brakes while you disconnect from the tow vehicle, then reset the safety brake pin, knowing that it will then still rock back a bit. That might also involve a more hefty set of wheel chocks to absorb the rock back and a wheel on the bottom of your tongue jack rather than the solid foot. Just thinking....
That is an interesting idea. One would just need to remember to pull out the 7 pin connection from the tow vehicle before pulling the breakaway pin because it can apparently damage the brake controller.
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Old 05-02-2018, 10:51 AM   #16
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Do what sclifrickson says in post #6 and you should be good to go.
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Old 05-02-2018, 12:27 PM   #17
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Deck site

I did not take the 21 off the hitch here. Chocked all the trailer wheels, X chocks in, stabilizers down, brake set on the Highlander and chocked all the Highlander tires before going to bed. Note the slack in the Anderson chains, she was a push to get up there but worked out well. Grand Coulee Dam. Nothing wrong with a belt and suspenders, fashion police leave me alone.
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Old 05-02-2018, 12:34 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sclifrickson View Post
Also, x-chocks are *not* chocks.
True: they are parking brakes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Bennett View Post
I have heard this about X-Chocks before, but must disagree. They work great for chocking. Just because they are not wedge shaped does not mean they will not stop the trailer from moving.
Although X-Chocks are brakes, and not chocks, brakes are fine for this purpose... so I agree that they do keep the trailer from moving (what parking brakes do, right?) so as long as they stay in place (a concern with chocks as well) they should work.

Has anyone noticed that commercial truck drivers don't use chocks (or devices stuck between the tandem wheel sets) to hitch and unhitch semi-trailers with air brakes? They don't need to, because those air brake systems include a parking brake function, so the trailer stay put without chocks.

European travel trailers normally have parking brakes (a feature of their mechanical surge or "overrun" service braking system), so my guess is that they don't use chocks much and probably don't use X-Chocks or similar devices at all. Parking brakes are also available for North American electric brakes (including the 10" Dexter line), but Dexter charges an extra US$150 or so for just the assemblies at the wheels, and there would be the cost of cables and a lever as well; I'm not surprised that they are uncommon.
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Old 05-02-2018, 01:18 PM   #19
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All good advice above OP.

If you come back to this, the metal BAL levelers such as on amazon, might be something to look at as well.
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Old 05-02-2018, 01:29 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by War Eagle View Post
Just curious - I know you said your camper has just a single axle - but does that single axle happen to have electric brakes (like our EggCamper)? If so, I'm trying to think of what all could go wrong if you were to temporarily pull the safety brake pin to lock the electric brakes while you disconnect from the tow vehicle, then reset the safety brake pin, knowing that it will then still rock back a bit. That might also involve a more hefty set of wheel chocks to absorb the rock back and a wheel on the bottom of your tongue jack rather than the solid foot. Just thinking....
I don't necessarily know what I'm talking about, but I assume that the brakes on the trailer in question are of the typical primary / secondary shoe variety. When the brakes are applied, whether hydraulically or electrically, the primary shoe would be 'grabbed' by the rotating drum and that forces the secondary shoe into the drum, and only then do you get full braking action. I'm guessing that while this is taking place, the trailer will have moved some significant distance. This would be effective if the trailer really gets loose and heads down the hill and moves enough to set the brake shoes, but I don't know that you would get full braking right away by pulling the break-away plunger. Plus, apparently some brakes are more or less effective depending on whether things are going forwards or backwards, determined by the design of the brake system.

Rather than use the normal stand-alone triangular wheel chocks, I might build up a couple of chocks for the downhill side of the tires that integrate a base on which the tire would sit. Imagine a 2' length of 2x8 with an angle cut on one short edge to allow the tire to go up easily, and then at the other end have a big block of 4x6 or 4x8 placed across the base 2x8, with the 2 pieces bolted together with big countersunk 3/8" bolts. The tire would actually sit on the base 2x8 tending to push it down into the parking area surface, and would butt up against the big block on the end so it couldn't roll. Or maybe this would just result in the whole thing sliding down the incline? Maybe someone who knows all about coefficients of friction and force vectors and whatnot can chime in here? I tired to make a side view using slashes and hyphens, but the formatting gets all mucked up when I preview it.
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