By Kate Doherty
It’s time to pick up and move to a new adventure! The weather is perfect, it’s mid-week, there’s little traffic. Time to bring the slides in and raise the leveling jacks. The panel lights kept blinking and not switching to “travel mode.” I went outside. “Hey, the @#$& RV jacks aren’t coming up! They started but stopped short.”
“Honey, put ‘em down please!” Guess it’s time to crawl under and wipe ‘em down and re-lubricate ‘em again. No matter where we seem to park, it always seems to be over the roughest ground. Now we’re ready to try again, my spouse saying, “Okay, they’re clean and oiled! Bring ‘em up.” Waiting patiently, watching the panel lights blinking, saying to myself, “Come on, come on!” They still weren’t fully retracting. And we sure couldn’t drive with them down, even a little. This puts a crimp in one’s travel plans.
The RV jacks went up and down, up and down
We cycled them, wiped and oiled them again. Still no joy. They kept stopping about two inches from fully retracting. My spouse tried pushing the jacks up by hand – no avail. And, there wasn’t enough room to wedge a 2” x 4” board under them. Like a bolt of lightning, he remembered we’d stowed a 36-inch pry bar in one of our storage bays. Duh!
Remember high school science class?
We retrieved the pry bar. Remembering our high school science class where that weird science teacher taught us about levers, we decided to try the pry bar. We found a rock that was reasonably flat on one side. Next, we placed the flat tip of the pry bar under the jack with the rock (as the fulcrum) about six inches from the far end and pushed down. Voila! The jack went up smoothly. Maybe that science teacher really was smarter than a fifth grader!
This is a common occurrence with leveling jacks. They can be temperamental at times. Heat, dust, moisture, and constant weather changes wreak havoc on metal. We had replaced the retraction springs not more than six months ago during our mid-year service checkup. Even when we’re parked for a couple of months, we regularly clean, lubricate and exercise these pistons. During the cleaning/lubricating regimen, it’s important to feel for burrs or abrasions on the piston’s surface. The surface can be polished with a 1500-grit wet/dry cloth.
Lastly, we check the hydraulic oil reservoir to ensure that it has the correct amount of fluid. But remember, even when all is in order, like Forrest Gump said, “It happens.” Sometime in your traveling future, something like this just might occur.