Keep your powder dry — and your landing gear greased


By Russ and Tiña De Maris

We were just preparing to head out on the road after a few months hunkered down in the Northwest. We had everything tied down and packed into place, and rolled the pickup into position to hitch up. At that moment, it all ground to a halt — literally: The landing gear refused to budge — or rather, it refused to lift the fifth wheel high enough to get onto the saddle.

What happened? Our landing gear, neglected over a several-year period, simply chewed itself up, leaving no gears to mesh together. Talk about grinding to a halt! Happily, the landing gear manufacturer still existed and within a few days we were able to rebuild the landing gear system and head out on the road.

This problem might have been avoided if we (and previous owners) had been smart enough to keep the landing gear greased. And it wouldn’t have been a tough job — really a simple matter of popping a dust cover off the top of the landing gear posts (inside the front compartment of the fifth wheel), applying the appropriate grease and running the jacks up and down a few times.

This same idea may well apply to your travel trailer tongue jack. If there’s a zerk fitting, annual maintenance would apply — a shot of grease and a roll up and down a few times to distribute the grease. Electric jack owners may find they need to open the “head” of the jack to lubricate, which is a bit more of a hassle. But compared to chewing up your gears in the middle of nowhere, what’s a few extra minutes at home?

Finding out how to properly maintain your landing gear (a look at your owner manual will help) will help you sleep better at night, and your landing gear or tongue jack will slide better by day.

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