Balky Right Rear Jack…

Series 310 HWH Leveling System & Spacemaker Room Extension System

Springs: 63 Coils, 1.68″ Diameter – How to measure HWH coil springs

Oil: Dextron ATF; ~6 qts

Jack Style: 4SA

 

While still at the dealers, I noticed that the passenger side rear jack didn’t seem to retract all the way. There was a tech under there working on it so with everything else to consider I spaced it. When I drove it home, I dropped the jacks no problem and then just stayed in place for a month until my first trip. And of course, while heading off on that trip, that’s when I noticed it was retracting very slowly compared to the others. OK, not a big deal, I dealt with recalcitrant jacks on my Bounder for 12 years so I’m not going to let it get to me.

The first thing I did with the Bounder was find out where the beeper was and disconnect it. Later, I added a switch to the controller so I could just turn it off, which would silence the beeper. Then I found that the tank was low on ATF fluid and topping it off would stop the beeping. Over the miles, I found the passenger side rear jack (coincidentally) leaked too much so I added ATF stop leak. Those tricks worked, but I still depended on my Off/On switch to shut off the annoying beeping if I was driving. I’d know the jacks were up most of the way from the numerous times I’d stopped the rig and checked. They’d have 2-3 inches to go, but there’d be plenty of clearance to drive the rig. Not over a bunch of speed bumps of course, but over 99% of the RV park roads I’d travel. Then over the next few miles of driving, vibration would return the jacks to stored position. Once or twice in 12 years, I could tell or hear that jack scrape on the ground, which would elicit a “DOH!”, from me. But luckily, I did not bend the jack.

But that was the Bounder and now I have a similar issue with the Journey. This system is made by HWH with the added complexity of controlling the two slides. I noticed before I picked the RV up that the RR (Right Rear – passenger side rear) jack was slow retracting and wanted to stay at around 2″ from fully retracted. So I lubed all the jacks with spray on Lithium, then checked the oil (ATF Dexron) and found it was more than a quart low. GAH. What do those dealer’s techs think checking fluids is suppose to mean? So I put in a quart and at least got the level up to the bottom of the dip stick.

Exercised the extend/retract a few times to work the lithium into the seals and still had the RR being much slower than the others. It was faster than before, but still slow. And one time it just stopped 3″ from fully retracted. So I tried to open the release valve on the hydraulic controller shown below, after lubing them all. All four of them have a ‘T’ handle on the back. I needed to twist it with a end wrench because it was so tight, and that broke the end of that shaft off. The other three were fine, but the one with a retraction problem is the one that breaks. GAH! It’s also the hardest to work on as it’s furthest from where you’d sit trying to access it. Well, it broke in the ‘normal’ operational setting so no real harm done. I exercised the extend/retract a few more times and the RR got to a point where it would truck along at a goodly pace. Still not as fast as the others, but fast enough where I could deal with it before trips.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA The entire setup is attached to the chassis behind a portion of a basement door and under the living room slide area. This system both raises the jacks and also extends and retracts the slides. The rectangular box is the ATF tank and the silver device on top is the dipstick and where you fill it. I’m told it has several quarts of fluid but I haven’t been able to find the amount in the operator’s guide. When retracting the jacks, there’s a single fluid valve that opens and allows fluid to flow back to the tank while the springs do the work of lifting the jack ram up off the ground and into the stow position.

This picture foreshortens so it looks like the entire hydraulic system is close to the ground. But there’s at least a foot of clearance and it pretty much stays clean from road water and debris.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA And the stubborn jack in the extended position shown below. The first time I inspected these springs, I’d swear I saw that they had tapers at the top and bottom so I was happy that I had the new improved springs. I don’t know what I was looking at because a couple weeks later when I looked again, I can see that none of them have the taper. The tapered springs are the manufacturers ‘improved’ version of the springs. They’re designed to have more pull strength so they’ll raise the jacks faster, and have a longer life. Well, OK, I’ll just buy the improved versions when I’m ready and put up with the long rise time for now. The springs P/N – R3847. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

After that maintenance process of adding oil, lubing the jack shafts, and raising/lowering the jacks a few times, I felt a few more operations and all of the jacks would be behaving normally. But then the other day, I had a short trip to make and when I arrived and checked, found that RR was still 2″ short of retracted. The other three were in the proper stored position and had retracted quite quickly. So I extended it hoping that would help it remember where it was suppose to retract to. Also, that’s what HWH recommends.

On pressing the retraction button though, RR hardly moved, stayed within an inch of the pavement. Worse operation yet. I had to extend/retract several times to get it to retract just a couple inches. So I asked the park maintenance department for a lever and they came out with a 6 foot long 2X4 and a 1/4 piece of a split log to lever it with. The guy first got it up with the 2″ side so he could flip the 2 X 4 and get the 4″ side under the jack pad, then put around 100 pounds pressure on it and snap! The jack retracts all the way up. Rather quickly, I thought. Hmm, maybe something in the hydraulics tubing or an orifice somewhere. I ask the guy nicely and he gives me the 2 X 4 and the short 1/4 piece of log so I can lever it up myself in future. Nice of him.

Went online and posted my symptoms on RV.net and the resident RV tech on there tells me that the jack cylinder seals are bad and that jack cylinder needs to be removed and repaired. Not willing to do that right at the moment, I’ll be limping along for a while…just like I had to do with the Bounder.

Update: Sept. 2016

I’m not sure that tech was able to guess very well about my jack problems because I traveled a couple thousand miles after the occasion where I used the 2″ X 4″ to retract the RR jack and things did improve after operating the jacks numerous times during that trip. The jacks just moved faster. Probably due to the exercise they were getting. I’m not seeing any symptoms in the jacks that would lead me to believe that the jack cylinders need to be removed and repaired. And the RR jack has never ‘stuck’ like that one time.

There were maybe 3 times I had to lever the RR jack up during those 2K miles. Usually it would slowly retract to within 1-2″ of the top, which is a symptom of a weak spring. But then the alarm would beep incessantly. Sometimes just running the engine while it brought the air pressure up would cause the jack to slowly climb up to park position. Other times, not. So I got into the habit of helping that jack the last couple inches with the lever when necessary. Since then, I’ve replaced that big horky 2 X 4 with a much more convenient 1 X 2. And I’ve ordered a couple sets of replacement springs. The new type with the tapered ends that are suppose to have more oomph. I’ll have a mechanic installed them down in Mexico this fall. The 2 sets (4 springs total – 2 per jack) cost $70 from an eBay dealer. I’ll do the fronts some other time…the dealer was out of stock and only had two sets.

Update Jan. ’17:

HWH Jacks. One thing I had problems with is the warning beeper would continuously beep while traveling if I left a campground too rapidly. And it was the passenger side rear jack. The jack furthest from the jack manifold.

The procedure on travel day was, after retracting the slides, I’d start the engine so it would air up, and then press ‘Store’ to retract the jacks. This seemed to take too long, and I’d get impatient and drive off. And it’d beep until I got to my destination where I’d shut off the engine. Over several trips, I discovered some stuff about the Jacks:

1) I was not waiting long enough to let the jacks retract. If I just press the store button while the system is on, engine running or not, sure, they’re slow, but they eventually get to the end of travel and the lights all go out. There’s no beeping when I let that happen before trying to drive. However, once I shift into D, it’ll stop retracting and keep beeping forever.
2) HWH had stopped making the style springs used on my rig and replaced them with a better, stronger design back in ’04 or so because of the jacks taking so long to retract. I have ordered and received a replacement set of springs that I’ll have installed while I’m down here in Mexico.
3) Using the jacks more often, and lubing them more often, caused them to retract faster on their own. Seems as the last owner didn’t use them much or just parked, extended them, and stayed put. I travel more than they did so I use them more often. That exercise is helping loosen up a bit so they retract faster.
4) A 1″X2″X6′ stick of lumber still will rapidly retract jacks if necessary, if I’m really in a big hurry. And doesn’t take up much room in the basement.

So with the new springs, and new knowledge of operation, a regular lubeing schedule, along with a backup plan to retract any hesitant jacks, I’m good to go. Don’t think I’ll be having any jacks rebuilt anytime soon. I limped along with a leaking jack on my Bounder for 12 years so I think my newer jacks will give me at least 10 years without a major overhaul.

 

One Response to Balky Right Rear Jack…

  1. Greg says:

    You should visit the HWH website. “HWHCorp.com”. Under the FAQ they have a PDF file on cleaning the jacks. It says use only soap and water or WD40 with a soft cloth. I think the lithium spray you’ve been using is too heavy and exasperating your slow jack problem. The spring kit you listed R3847 is for the lighter front jacks. The rear jacks take a beefier spring kit R34692. There should be a label on each jack with the AP number for that jack. Take a rag and wipe the dirt off the lower part of the jack housing and you’ll find the label and AP number, you’ll see the fronts are different from the rears.. Call HWH at 800 321-3494 and with those AP numbers, they will confirm what spring kits you need.h

    I did use the Lithium spray several times early on, but then switched to silicone. Then there that one time on the day I was leaving Mexico…it was sort of a ‘must do’ situation as I wasn’t fond of the idea of driving 300 odd miles with the ‘Jacks down’ warning beeper sounding the entire trip, but I don’t recall using anything other than silicon spray on the jacks after those first few times after I bought the RV. The Lithium was all I had at the time.

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