We ordered our Pinnacle without an automatic leveling system. I made this decision for two reasons. Firstly, the cost of the rig would increase by around $3000. Secondly, there are widespread reliability issues with all of the factory leveling systems. It seems that many owners who have these on their fifthwheels have experienced problems, especially with the hydraulic systems. I have personally witnessed, on two occasions, accidents where the overhang contacted the truck bed sides. On one occasion, the plastic hydraulic line blew out of a fitting, resulting in an uncontrolled drop. Another common problem is that the rig will settle slowly, accompanied by occasional creaking sounds, probably caused by slight leakage in a valve or one of the cylinders.
There is a lot to be said for the tried-and-true power-operated screw jack landing gear. Our Pinnacle has good quality mechanical front landing gear with a single gearmotor, and it has operated trouble-free throughout our travels. When arriving at a site, I level side-to-side using Camco leveling blocks under the low side tires. I disconnect from the truck, then level front-to-back using the front landing gear, and extend the power rear jacks to stabilize the back end. The whole process takes between five and ten minutes.
I find that, when set up on a site, there is noticeable side-to-side and front-to-back shaking, caused by someone moving around inside the rig. It can also be felt when our washer/dryer is doing a spin cycle. All fifthwheels are susceptible to this motion, including those with automatic leveling systems. It is more noticeable in the bedroom at the front. For the last six years, I have used an aluminum tripod support under the pinbox, and expanding chocks between the tires. These things helped, but only to a certain degree.
We decided this year, to install a good stabilizer system. There are several of these systems on the market, and after extensive research, I decided on the SteadyFast system
, which is manufactured in Bakersfield, California. I have an engineering background, and this system seemed to be the best from an engineering and design standpoint. I have just completed the installation, and I was not disappointed. The system arrived in one day at our location near Temecula, CA, and was well packaged. Upon inspecting the components, I discovered that everything was well-designed, meticulously manufactured, and finished in an attractive metallic paint.
|After unpacking, ready to install|
The installation took about two hours, using common hand tools and following the well-written instructions. The only small issue I encountered was working around the mounts for our sliding cargo rack at the back. I had two options: I could order the bracket made for this purpose from SteadyFast, or I could install the rear brace at a 25 degree angle, mount it directly to the I-beam frame, and avoid the rack. I chose the latter method.
|Front stabilizers installed on the left front landing gear|
After disconnecting from the truck, leveling the rig, and locking the stabilizer braces, I went inside to check the results. What an incredible difference! Try as I may, I could produce almost no rocking motion in any direction. The system certainly works as advertised, and eliminates the requirement for the tripod and expanding tire chocks. Setup time is less than 45 seconds.
All in all, a very worthwhile addition to our fulltiming rig, for a cost of $269. Thoroughly recommended!
|Well-designed swivel clamps eliminate any "slop" in the system|
|Close up of a front locking bracket, bolted to the frame|
|Rear stabilizer. Even though this exceeds the recommended angle, it works perfectly.|
It avoids the spare tire and the sliding rack, and the bracket is mounted directly to the I-beam.
Very nice write up David. Thank you very much for sharing your experience.ReplyDelete
Thank you for providing a great product. It is always good when something works exactly as advertised and provides great value for money. I should have installed this system 6 years ago!ReplyDelete
Once more, sage advice! I'll look into them for our Montana, I knew there had to be something to stabilize her more than just the six legs of the self leveling system ( came on the rig ). Thanks!ReplyDelete