Jack springs…

Here’s how the jack springs on my Journey look…

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This picture happens to be of the RR jack, the one furthest from the hydraulic tank and solenoids and the one that I often have to ‘help’ with a 1″X2″X6′ stick. That story can be found here: Balky RR Jack…

Check out that the springs have no taper on the bottom and top. The manufacturer added a taper to the replacement jack springs a couple years after releasing the system, improving the strength and retraction speed of the the rams. This was mainly due to pressure from users dissing the slow rise time of the system right off the lot for a couple years after release of the product. The untapered type springs are not as strong as the tapered springs and so takes longer to retract the ram. My ’02 Journey originally came with the untapered springs.

Well, I knew I wanted to replace at least the rear springs (two per jack) and ordered them 8 months after buying the RV. Bought 2 sets of them off of eBay for around $70 US using p/n R3847, link here: Springs!

Kept them on hand until I got down here to San Felipe, Mexico and after asking around, had a volunteer to do the work. The manager of Campo San Felipe where I’m staying decided to install them for me, for a fee of course, but not much. Paid $124 which is a bit high here in Mexico but it did take ~5 hours spread over two days.

It was the first time he’d tried that job so I gave some hints, like he’d need 12 sticks of hardwood or plywood to wedge into the expanded spring loops. That extends the springs the 2″ or so needed to remove or replace them. One end hooks to the landing pad…the part that contacts the ground, and the other hooks to the RV frame. Old fashioned clothes clips used on clothes lines work well as spacers after separating them into two pieces. That was the extent of my expertise though. I did operate the jack system when they needed.

Here’s the only picture I took of the springs with the wood inserted between the loops. Most of the wood has already been removed. The wood is used to expand the springs so you can more easily remove (or install) them. I loaned the worker my portable vise since the springs are rather strong, and a vise is necessary so you can clamp the spring in place as you force it back and forth, inserting the wooden spacers in the coils as you go.

Anyway, after the old springs were removed, the workers took a full day off working on other important projects, and I wanted to lower the front jacks so I could extend the slides (I’d retracted them because they’re not suppose to be extended when the jacks are up). When I tried to do that, the rear rams, since the base plate had been removed, buried themselves into the dirt. Even though I’d pressed the right buttons on the control. Not sure what caused that, other than the lack of springs, but thought I’d mention it as a warning to readers. Eventually did get the front jacks extended so I was able to extend the slides so it worked out…but it was worrisome for a bit there, didn’t want anything ruined or a leak to show up. So far so good.

So I insisted the workers get back on the job, and helped by digging the dirt out from the ends of the jacks so they were exposed. They had to use a car jack to get them up while I pressed the retract button on the control, but once that was done and the rams were in the stored position, didn’t take long to get the new springs installed. With help from some heavy duty tools, like crow bars. I don’t know exactly what happened because I was operating the HWH jacks controller. And here’s how they look after they were all installed:

So I have 4 of the 8 springs replaced so far. On the two rear jacks. Back last September when I was ordering them, the eBay supplier only had four available so I haven’t ordered the fronts yet. I’ll get to them eventually, since the old style jack springs are known to break occasionally.

On Edit: March ’17

I did get the opportunity to test the new springs a couple days ago and both rear jacks came up as quickly as expected, but now the front jacks are slow as molasses. Usually they would be fully retracted before the rears were half way up. Probably has something to do with the hydraulics and having the new stronger springs in the rear. The left front did make it all the way up by itself eventually while I was struggling with the right front jack. There I was in the RV park’s driveway, the alarm beeping away, knowing I didn’t want to drive a couple hours with that damned noise, so I grabbed my piece of lumber and an object I could lever off of, tried to lever the right front jack back up into place.  It would not budge. Looking at the ram though, saw it was looking a little grungy. Proof that I should have cleaned them the day before I tried to travel. To get by that problem, extended that jack, then using the spray can of dry lube, sprayed the ram as best I could, while contending with the gusting winds. And that did the trick. The jack fully retracted with a little help from the lumber lever and off I went on a day trip. Since I’m down in Mexico, I’ll wait till I’m back in the US to order another set for the fronts. Might do the job myself, but it did not seem like an easy job, so might just wait until I travel back to Mexico next year to have them replaced. At least I know now that an occasional lubing of the jack shafts they’ll retract without too much trouble. Doubt I’ll have to lever them along again.

2 Responses to Jack springs…

  1. Mike Cline says:

    I usually have to lube mine before retracting. The one time I “helped”, the system did not respond well. Even though the jacks were up, the alarm continued to sound. I had to lower and reset to make it happy.

    I’ve ‘helped’ mine retract several times in both this Winnie, and in my Bounder and the jacks up never failed to silence the alarm. Without more info on your problem, I’d guess you were low on fluid but there was just about enough to silence it that one time due to universal randomness. Or it could be the ATF level switch was getting flakey.

  2. Greg says:

    I just replaced both front and rear springs in my 2002 Itasca Horizon 36LD. My rear jacks are model AP 19670 (12K lifting capacity), they take spring kit R34692. The fronts are AP 18813 (9K lifting capacity) and take spring kit R3847. If your Journey has the same HWH set up as my Horizon I think you put the lighter weight springs designed for the front jacks on the rear.

    It’s been a while since I did the HWH jack spring research and can’t remember the specifics. All I remember is that I was fairly confident that I’d ordered the right springs for the rear of my RV. I’ll take another look when I have the time. And there was a marked improvement in rear spring retraction times after the new springs were installed. But I’ll check it out. Thanks for the heads up!

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