Answers to questions about RV Repair and Maintenance from RV expert Dave Solberg, author of the “RV Handbook” and the managing editor of the RV Repair Club. This column appears Monday through Saturday in the RV Travel and RV Daily Tips newsletters. (Sign up for an email reminder for each new issue if you do not already receive one.) Today Dave discusses how to stabilize the steps and the trailer.
We recently purchased a 2014 Dutchmen Denali 30-foot travel trailer. The main door in and out of the trailer is located at the back of the trailer. Whenever we exit, the trailer rocks a lot – like we don’t have stabilizers. They are the original 3 steps attached to the underside of the trailer.
In a previous trailer we had the new-style stairs that attached to the threshold and folded out. I had a hard time going down that style of stair, and I’m not sure if the mechanics of that type of step will interfere with opening the refrigerator located next to the entry door.
My husband looked at the current steps and said they are welded to the frame/body of the trailer and will be difficult to take off and reinstall new steps.
What options do we have? Can we upgrade to a stronger drop-down step without replacing the attached/welded frame under the trailer? Is there a way to steady the current steps with blocks or step stabilizers?
I don’t want to just do something and not have it solve the rocking problem. —Mary A.
The steps of your RV are not intended or designed to actually stabilize the rig. Most trailers have some type of leveling/stabilizing system such as scissor jacks or piston-type jacks at each corner. Since your trailer is sitting on the ground supported by just the tires, initially, there will be quite a bit of sway and movement as the air in the tires are designed to cushion the ride going down the road.
With the door in the back of your trailer, if you are using the stairs in any way to stabilize the trailer, you only have one connection point at the back. That means there will be no equalizing support at the front other than the tongue jack, which will create a teetering effect.
Check trailer for scissor-type jacks to support it
I would suggest looking at the corners of the trailer to see if you do have scissor-type jacks to help support and stabilize the trailer. Even if you do, these are flimsy, at best, and I would suggest additional supports such as these:
Another trick is to chock the wheels and install a spacer between them to keep the rig from swaying back and forth.
One last thing that might help for your steps is an under-mount step support. I would suggest getting the rig stabilized first and then you can add this to help support the steps. What you have is probably a little weak and thus is moving, as indicated.
There are several types of step supports available. Even a cement block underneath will help. However, I like the folding type that attaches underneath and supports the bottom step to the ground. Check out Tony Barthel’s review of the Lippert model here.
Read more from Dave here.
Dave Solberg worked at Winnebago for 15 years developing the dealer training program, as marketing manager, and conducting shows. As the owner of Passport Media Creations, Dave has developed several RV dealer training programs, the RV Safety Training program for The Recreation Vehicle Safety and Education Foundation, and the accredited RV Driving Safety program being conducted at rallies and shows around the country. Dave is a leading expert in the RV industry and author of the “RV Handbook” as well as the Managing Editor of the RV Repair Club.
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