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