5th Wheel Landing Gear
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5th Wheel Landing Gear Maintenance. Today we’re going to talk about some trailer related items. Those of you that have followed us for any time at all know that we spend a lot of time on the road. Especially March through the end of October. Basically the show season as well as vacation season and so when we’re not on the road towing one of our vehicles to an event we’re picking up and delivering vehicles for customers. And then our spare time we like to travel with our 5th wheel trailer. So that’s what I’m going to talk about today. It is an item thats related to the 5th wheel trailer and specifically landing gear.
So those of you who are familiar with 5th wheel trailers know that there’s basically two types of landing gear. Hydraulic and electric. Now the electric ones use a lead screw jack and so what I’m going to talk about today is not only maintenance of this type of setup but failure of this type of setup. Now it’s one of those things that’s it’s not if it will fail, it’s when it will fail. These things are kind of heavy depending on the size of trailers you have.
Lead screw failure
Mine for instance has over 2,500 pounds of hitch weight and that’s a lot of work for a lead screw setup to do. And so it’s aware and they will fail eventually. So we’re going to talk about what you can do when they fail. Then we’re going to talk about what you can do to avoid failure and to buy as much time as possible. So there’s three or four main components to this type of system and so one is the foot and so let’s take a look at that. Looks like here’s the front of the trailer and we have a foot that makes contact whether it be rectangular square or round. But that’s what makes contact with the ground and then some of them have stabilizers such as this one.
So that’s one of the main components. The other main component is the jack itself. The telescopic piece this is three sections. One is manually telescope down and held with the pin and then the other is the lead screw, which is in here. This raises and lowers the interim portion. So we’ll take a closer look at that in a moment. The other two components, are the gearbox, this course mounts to your jack or leg and then the motor and it set the associated gearbox.
So those are the four main components. Now only three of these will typically fail. The foot is pretty indestructible unless you forget to raise the landing gear. Or don’t have it up and you catch it on something maybe. But odds are that will last the life of the trailer. These other three components probably will not. So what I do and I’ve been trailering since 1979, therefore I have a few miles under my belt. And in those years I’ve seen a lot of people have a lot of problems. But I’ve always been rather fortunate but part of that is be prepared and so that’s what I always prescribed. So part of that being prepared is that I carry an extra motor, an extra gearbox and an extra leg with me.
Now just this year back in May. We’re at an RV park out in the desert and the guy next to us handle any gear failure. One of his legs wouldn’t go down and so we had to call a mobile RV repair place. However they could not find one the correct length for his trailer. Then finally, by using a bunch of old parts that they had, they were able to build him one and take care of him. I didn’t have the heart to ask him how much that set him back. But I’m sure by the length of time that that guy was working on his trailer it was a pretty penny.
Preparation is important
So what happens if you’re prepared. Well if you’re prepared and like his was it was he couldn’t disconnect from this truck the vehicle. You know the truck and trailer were together. He’s trying to raise the trailer off the truck when the landing gear failed. So at that point it’s simply a matter of disconnecting your motor and your leg. Dropping the old one out putting a new one in and away you go. Of course you know it depends on what the failure was. In his case it was the lead screw piece that the lead screw goes to had stripped. So the lead screw is just spinning that the legs not going anywhere but had it been a motor or the gearbox.
If he’d been prepared he would have simply done the repair himself. It would take him you know 30 minutes or whatever and at no additional cost other than you know having purchased the repair components in advance. My trailer has two gearboxes. It will actually have four gearboxes and four motors all identical and so this you know not even for my landing gear but for my Levellers in the rear also so the Levellers are a half – so I don’t have an extra leg for the Levellers they’re a shorter leg but depending what the problem is I could probably steal some parts and make it work if I really wanted to.
Like I said the leveler, there’s more than one way to level if never-fail. I’ve got bottle jack I could use or something. But Ted these components without them you’re just you know not going to be in a very desired situation. So by being prepared we alleviate 90% of the hassle factor and you know probably 90% of the cost also.
So now let’s just talk about there’s really not much you can do to maintain and get these to lasting longer than they’re going to last. This sealed unit. Basically this isn’t sealed the gearbox but they’re permanently lubricated that will anything you need to do that. Same with this you can take it apart and check it. Make sure it’s well lubricated and I would recommend that you know make sure these things are maintained. The big one that you need to really make sure it’s lubricated is this. This is the expensive part. This is the more involved one to replace and this is the one that will affect you know a bigger aspect of your Casa factor.
If this fails it’s much more of a problem than if either one of these failed. These are much easier to replace. So let’s take a close-up of the landing gear lay here and what we can do to get the maximum life expectancy out of it. Okay let’s take a little close-up here. So if I can get this on camera. Now the top. This one is held on with two screws some of them are just snap in place. So what you have is two gears in the top here and those will need to be lubricated from time to time. This is a brand new one. Now I don’t know if you can tell or not but it’s it’s what I would consider kind of dry. So I would lubricate that a little more before I’d put it into service.
Some of them come with a zerk fitting. Those that are in my trailer from the factory do not. The zerk fitting you know it’s going to fill this whole cavity. It’s going to take a fair amount of grease but that’ll keep you well lubricated I on my Jack’s on the trailer that are installed right now. I just take and put a bunch of reefs in there by hand and that that takes care of you. The difficult part is doing the the lead screw. Well I say difficult it’s difficult if you don’t have the right tools. So that’s what we’re going to look at right now.
Have the right tools
A tool that will allow you to lubricate this 5th wheel landing gear very quickly and easily and thus buying you a lot more time out of this unit and so it doesn’t matter what type you have as long as you know the lead screw type landing gear. This tool will we’ll take care of it now this one has urk fitting here it really doesn’t do actually right there it really doesn’t do a lot of goodness and Stinson I’ll show you how to how to really do it the right way. Okay here’s kind of the inside view of the landing gear. Kind of tough to get the lighting here without causing player on this shiny surface. But there you can see it.
Now when this is installed in the trailer and it’s hanging vertically it’s not leaning up against the side like it is right now. It’s actually hanging in the center of the tube. Okay so that’s what we want to lubricate. That’s what we want to maintain. Good lubrication on that and the piece that it goes through and of course the lead screw will lubricate that as it passes through if it’s well lubricated. So let’s take a look at how we can lubricate this lead screw which is located inside of this box. So okay now this is how we lubricate it with this tool.
Right here basically a piece of clear tubing and with the zerk fitting on the one end we have a cap the caps just for after use you can put this cap on and that prevents grease from coming out and making a mess and keeps it sealed. So this just slipped over that little screw. We fill the tube with grease. This fits fairly snugly around that lead screw and so it forces grease through the threads making for a nice clean lubricated lead screw. Now let’s talk about the process. To do this so you would want to hook up your trailer to the truck so as you can raise your landing gear. And then once the 5th wheel landing gear is raised you can remove the foot in the stabilizers if they’re so equipped.
So once the foot is removed remove the pin. Mine has a perfectly mounted pin. Would just need to have that clicked to where it’s not you know passing all the way through allowing access to our lubrication tool. Slide it in. Grease it up good, remove the tool. Place the cap on to keep dirt from getting to the grease and from the grease getting everywhere else. Then simply do it on the other side you can very quickly and easily do your landing gear put the foot back on. Drop the landing gear, disconnect your truck can be done. So the whole process can be done rather quickly.
But this one exercise will give you a lot more mileage on your lead screw type 5th wheel landing gear.
It’s something that I personally do and then I highly recommend because it’s about as cheap as insurance as you can get. So if you’re interested let me give you a little bit of a close-up here on this so you can make your own.
Here is a link to 5th wheel trailer parts on Amazon