Homemade Ground Pads…

This Winnebago Journey has four HWH jacks with 8″ landing pads. Although they work fairly well, they do seem to sink into the earth fairly rapidly. I found myself resetting the jacks once a week at least in most long term parking situations. I haven’t been lucky finding cement or blacktop RV pads to park on lately. It all depends on how the weather is and how soft the ground under the RV is of course, but the smallish round landing pads HWH provided on the jacks didn’t help the situation much.

I do have a set of four plastic ground pads but they had gotten scrunched too often and were breaking apart. Mainly because it was hard to center them under the landing pad since they were so close in size. This picture shows how I’d accidently position the plastic pad off by a couple inches and it would go wonky when the jack lowered and break the plastic. It’s hard to see where it’s going to land when the pad is all the way up in the parked position. And it’s hard to tell how low I’ve taken it if I lower before putting the pads down underneath. Sometimes even lowering the landing pads to within 3″ of the ground didn’t always aid in getting them centered on the ground pad…but it did help.

So for all those reasons, I didn’t care much for these 9″ plastic ground pads.

But I do like the small 9″ X 9″ size of those plastic pads as they fit nicely in one of my basement cabinets, so I looked for another set around the same size, but stronger. And I never happened upon anything I wanted so I figured I could just make something suitable. And the occasion presented itself when I went to a Home Depot for some finish plywood and the assistant cut a piece 2′ X 4′ of 1/2″ plywood incorrectly. He put the miscut piece in the 70% off bin so I bought that right along with a properly cut sheet I planned on using to mount both my TVs. So with that $6 sheet of plywood, and what would become several scrap pieces left over from the TV doors, I set out to build my own pads.

After I had the TV doors cut correctly, that gave me some plywood scraps to work with since I bought the entire sheet, and I had the 70% off sheet that was improperly cut at 24″ X 20″ with another section that was 23 & 3/4″ X 24″. Cut it so that I had 8 pieces that are 10″ X 10″. Enough for the tops and bottoms for 4 landing pads. Than with the scraps left over from the scrap sheet, and the sheet I cut the doors out of, I cut out numerous pieces that were a few inches wide, and 10″ long. I did have a scrap or two that were 5″ or so, but check out the pics and you’ll see what I ended up doing. And then some scraps that I made 12″ long in total so 1″ would hang over the edge in the middle of the pads so I’d have somewhere to tie a nylon cord draw string.

I planned it so I’d end up with 3 layers of 1/2″ – 10″ X 10″ pieces for a total pad thickness of 1 & 1/2″. Should be plenty of strength. Then I set them up so the grain of the top piece of the sandwich would be turned 90 degrees from the grain of the bottom for further strength, to reduce the chance of splitting. There’s little chance of that happening with plywood naturally but why chance it?

Here’s a set of cut pieces I used to make one landing pad. Two 10″ X 10″ sheets, than a few scrap pieces from the various other cuts.

Here’s how it looked after the 4 inner pieces were in place. The 1″ overhang on each side will be for a nylon string I’m going to add to make it easy to pull out from under the RV using my awning hook. 

I did use carpenters glue (water resistant) between each layer. My master carpenter ex-FIL use to tell me that screws are only there to hold the wood in place while the glue dries…implying that it’s the glue that made the piece strong. I wouldn’t argue with him. He was very knowledgeable and talented. Learn from the masters when you can, I always say.And here’s how I screwed them all together. The different sizes of the draw boards are due to the different widths of scraps I had. Doesn’t matter really. It’s all a test anyway.

And here I’ve added some nylon strings (1/8″) to make pulling them out from under with my awning hook easier. I also drilled some 1/4″ holes on two edges to grab with the hook if needed.

And here it is under the jack’s landing pad. I like the 10″ better than the old 9″ pad because it’s easier to see if it’s centered.

So for all of ~$8 in materials and supplies, I have 4 nice new ground pads with drawstrings. Hopefully, they’ll give me years of use. I might poly them to make them waterproof too. I’m thinking I’ll drill a 1/2″ hole near the 1/4″ hole to make a ‘keyhole’ type thing that will be easier to find and drop in my awning hook in low light conditions.

[Notice that the front springs shown here are the type of weak springs that HWH replaced with an upgraded spring? That’s right! I’ve already bought the replacements and will have them changed when I get back to Mexico this winter…here’s the story about the rears – Rear spring replacement]

I don’t know yet if they’ll need any design changes and what effect weathering or terrain will have on them, but I guess I’ll see eventually. Not against abandoning a bad idea if it doesn’t work out. Have no idea how long the wood will hold up either. And finally, I’m waiting for a product called a Snap Pad that the company is supposedly working on making an 8″ version for my size of landing pads. I might switch to those. But they will be quite a bit more expensive than these wooden ground pads I just made.

We’ll just see how long these last and how well they hold up. They were fun to make and inexpensive so rebuilding a new set if necessary every few years is also a consideration. I’ll keep you posted.

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