Tuesday, November 28, 2023


Will a tripod help to stabilize my 5th wheel RV?

Dear Dave, 
What are the pros and cons of a 5th wheel tripod? I have tried several things to stabilize my 5th wheel, but nothing seems to work. What are your thoughts on trying a tripod? —Randy, 2022 Flagstaff Classic 8529RLS

Dear Randy,
The short answer is, I do think a tripod will help (pro). However, it will only help front to back as it is a center pivot point at the front (con). Let’s take a look at what is happening with your rig.

According to the Forest River website, your 8529RLS is 36’2” in length. It has a dry weight of 10,226 lbs. and a Cargo Carrying Capacity (CCC) of 2,017 lbs., which means it would have a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of 12,243 lbs., which is very heavy. If you have the standard auto-leveling jacks that I see on most of the video walkarounds, these are a 2” tube and will not provide much stabilization. There are issues to consider when talking about jacks, leveling and stabilizing.

Using jacks, blocks, or any other device to level simply means the rig will be level front to back and side to side. This is important for comfort of sleeping, making certain there is not twisting in the frame and sidewall for slide rooms, and the absorption refrigerator can zigzag the rich liquid solution back down to the boiler vessel. It does not necessarily mean the unit will not sway side to side or front to back when getting in and out of the unit or even walking around inside.

What causes unstabilization

I doubt that unstabilization is even a word since it keeps kicking the spellcheck red line of fury with no alternative word, so I’m going to invent it and submit it to Webster. Maybe I’ll win a Pulitzer Prize or even a Nobel Prize?

Anyway, there are several conditions that will cause your rig to be unstable—which is a word.

First is, the entire weight of your rig is sitting on four tires filled with air that are designed to move and flex while driving to provide a smooth ride. However, they are horrible for stabilization—another actual word—when you are sitting at a campground. So it is like sitting on an air mattress or one of those blow-up exercise balls—try walking on that!

But shouldn’t the leveling jacks take care of that and stabilize the rig? Not if the pad you are on is fairly level and the jacks only need to come down fairly low just to level. That means a substantial amount of the weight of the coach is still supported by the tires. Another issue with travel trailer tires and your 5th wheel is they are smaller tires with a thinner sidewall, so they will flex more than the big rigs.


The next issue is the suspension, which is leaf springs also designed for comfort and the actual frame. Even though it is welded steel channels, it will flex and move and add to the unstable condition. The jacks on a 5th wheel are typically not strong enough or have enough “beef” to keep the unit from rocking side to side or front to back when moving inside the rig. And the overhang of the front bedroom adds to the issue.

So, yes, I do believe a front tripod will help with some of the sway issue—but mostly front to back and not side to side, as it will be a pivot point.

More options

There are other options, both front and back, that can help eliminate swaying such as the cross-member bars from JT Strong Arm, which you can get here.

Another option is the Lippert Power Jacks that provide a two-point stabilizing on each side of the back of the rig. You can find them here.

 You might also enjoy this from Dave 

Options to stabilize a parked 5th wheel

Dear Dave,
We just transitioned from a travel trailer to a 5th wheel trailer and notice more movement in the trailer when set up on site, even with the factory stabilizer jacks deployed. In reading about further stabilization, one option is a tripod under the pin. What is your opinion of this option and what other options might you recommend? —Sam

Read Dave’s answer.

Dave Solberg is a leading expert in the RV industry and the author of the “RV Handbook.”

Read more from Dave here


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Dave Solberg
Dave Solberghttp://www.rv-seminars.com/
Dave Solberg 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. He has been in the RV Industry since 1983 and conducts over 15 seminars at RV shows throughout the country.



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Jim Johnson (@guest_242228)
5 months ago

I found a great re-use for an abandoned 5th wheel tripod. 1,000 pound crane scales are a fraction of the cost of a tongue scale. – farmers often use one chained to a front bucket on the tractor to weigh things like big hay bales. I suspend mine from that abandoned tripod and use it to measure trailer tongue weight.

friz (@guest_242161)
5 months ago

They have been around for decades. You would think that in that lenght of time if they were of much value everyone would be using them.

Jonathan Schacher (@guest_242094)
5 months ago

One could read this article and think that “all I need to do is get the tires off the ground”. My opinion would be that a bent frame could result from suspending all of the weight between the front and back jacks. On my 5th, I check to make sure that the tires are supporting the weight during/after leveling process and let the jacks do their job of leveling. I’d rather have a little motion than frame damage.

Kevin (@guest_241660)
5 months ago

Tried the tripod, it didn’t help much.

What did help was 2 triangular screw jacks. I place 1 on each side of the camper tightened very snuggly to the frame as close to the tires as possible.

Thomas D (@guest_241628)
5 months ago

In a word NO . as long as the rv is on tires it’s not stable. Live with it or get hydraulic lifts like motorhomes have and lift the whole unit if necessary.

Tommy C (@guest_241621)
5 months ago

I’m a firm believer in JT Strong Arms! It allowed me to sell my tripod that was not as effective.

Linda (@guest_241615)
5 months ago

We have the tripod and x-chocks between the tires. Helps tremendously.

Jim Johnson (@guest_241612)
5 months ago

We have had very good results with the RV Universal Stabilizer . The link is to the newer design. We have the older version. Note that each stabilizer only works in one direction, so you really need a minimum of 2 units placed at 90°. We use 3 on our roughly 37′ TT; 1 across the frame behind the bumper and the other 2 units on both of the long sides. While they are fast to setup / take down, I probably wouldn’t bother on an overnight stay.

Jo Pa (@guest_241607)
5 months ago

Just my opinion but I believe a tripod to be a waste of money. I have used them in the past and have never noticed a difference in stability one way or the other. Just take notice of the majority of 5th wheels not using them. No harm though if a tripod gives one a sense of security.

Tom H. (@guest_241596)
5 months ago

We have a Solitude 5th Wheel, 38′. We use the tripod and as you pointed out it helps but. The other item we use which helps out a lot (a whole lot!) is the X-Brace Stabilizer from Moryde. We have the model that fits into the 2″ receiver on the rear of the unit. It takes out much of the side to side movement when parked.

Gary Broughton (@guest_241594)
5 months ago

My FW was moving from all the slop in the front jacks. I built a tripod, with one movable leg and this cured our problem. This was back in the 90s.

Dan Kruger (@guest_241608)
5 months ago
Reply to  Gary Broughton

We have a 5W….we have the Anderson tubs and raise the rig up so the pressure is somewhat off the tires….very stable now. .you will have to reset the high point if u have the Lipper system…

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