Jacking entire trailer for axle replacement and mover install - concerns?

Jul 30, 2018
23
I'm getting set to lift my entire 2006 Fleetwood Niagara, with the goal of upgrading to a 5000lb axle, installing the PurpleLine Enduro I finally got last winter, and anything else I might want to do while I have easy access underneath.

I've done as much reading as I can here and via Google about jacking, the problem being that in the majority of cases the goal is getting at a single wheel rather than replacing the entire axle. If one side of the trailer is still on the ground, I would be vaguely comfortable just jacking at the axle or near the supports, but I need to lift both wheels and remove those points entirely.

What I've come to at this point (still have to set pavers for the 4th corner) is this arrangement:

IMG_3887.jpg
I have 2000lb jackstands on well-supported pavers at each corner, so they should be getting no more than 1000lbs at any given time depending on weight distribution (I've stripped out a lot of even fixed stuff so I'd guess it's current weight at ~3000lbs). I have a 8000lb bottle jack ready to make the rounds (again and again) to jack the corners probably 1/4" at a time before setting back on the stand and continuing in a circle. The pavers are set up so I can independently stack more under both the jackstands and the bottlejack as I go, with the goal of keeping well in the "shorter" range of both devices to aid in stability (e.g. before I jack the corner shown below I'll add another paver or two under the bottlejack and shorten the screw).
IMG_3888.jpg
What I have been noticing as I do some very early testing is that the frame and trailer in general seem to make some pretty ugly creaking noises as I go up even a fraction of an inch, especially in the front. I suspect that's because I'm essentially un-flexing the frame that's had all the weight supported at the axle position for all these years. The problem is that I can't really get my jack points much closer to the axle in the rear because I need somewhere to install the mover, and in general "wider is better" (if anybody remembers those commercials). Even though I plan on dropping the stabilizers and getting a little bit of weight on them (maybe 100lbs? I'll dial it in with a scale) and probably setting up the tongue jack as well, if I'm going to crawl under this thing and start whacking away at the axle, I don't want it going *anywhere*.

So my question to the group is: would you change anything in this arrangement, within the parameters set out above? Am I risking any damage to the trailer itself in doing this (e.g. as I would if I tried to jack the whole thing off the wheels by the tongue...)?

Thanks!
 

jeepster04

Active Member
Nov 23, 2010
298
I'm a little confused why you're jacking up each corner, I imagine that is flexing the trailer a good bit. I've never had an issue jacking up each side of the camper under the axle then sitting each side on jack stands. Works perfect.
 
Jul 30, 2018
23
I'm a little confused why you're jacking up each corner, I imagine that is flexing the trailer a good bit. I've never had an issue jacking up each side of the camper under the axle then sitting each side on jack stands. Works perfect.
Because I *can't* jack anywhere near the axle and also replace it, or have room to install the mover, as well as the other concerns outlined in my post.
 

ccarley

Active Member
Sep 23, 2014
231
The last photo in your post shows the perfect spot for jacking and stands to get the trailer up in the air. I wouldn't use the stabilizers at all but I would use good jackstands to support the frame like where you are placing them in that last photo.

Worst case what I would do is make sure your tongue jack is elevated high enough so when you get the new axle & tires on it won't be too awkward. Then just use those points right behind the axle for support. The frame is very flexible and will make noise but going slow like you describe should be just fine. If you are concerned about the tongue jack, just add a jackstand or two up front before jacking up the rear.

Good luck,
Clay
 
Jul 30, 2018
23
The last photo in your post shows the perfect spot for jacking and stands to get the trailer up in the air. I wouldn't use the stabilizers at all but I would use good jackstands to support the frame like where you are placing them in that last photo.

Worst case what I would do is make sure your tongue jack is elevated high enough so when you get the new axle & tires on it won't be too awkward. Then just use those points right behind the axle for support. The frame is very flexible and will make noise but going slow like you describe should be just fine. If you are concerned about the tongue jack, just add a jackstand or two up front before jacking up the rear.

Good luck,
Clay
Would you skip the jacks in the front entirely, or maybe just try to spread the load between them and the tongue jack? My concern about using *only* the tongue jack in front is that while it's rated at 2000lbs, what it (and the tongue itself) normally takes is the weight between the axle and the tongue, minus the weight behind the axle, for a total of nominally ~10% of the total trailer weight. If I'm jacking the trailer several feet behind the axle that math changes rather drastically, with things like the fridge that normally would be subtracting from the tongue weight instead adding to it. While I suspect I have plenty of headroom in this 2x4 box frame, watching the tongue snap off would be a nightmare scenario (if not lethal).

Even if I only load a few 10's of lbs onto the stabilizers, my thought is mostly just to provide additional resistance to any horizontal movements that might potentially tip the whole thing off the stands. I could even drop some tent stakes through the sandshoes.... Can you tell I *really* don't want anything to go wrong? ;-)
 

Dingit

Super Active Member
Mar 8, 2017
2,141
I don't know how but I'm with you--those stabilizers get deployed. You hope you don't need them but it's one more layer of not getting squished.
 

SteveP

Super Active Member
May 21, 2015
2,647
Personally, I would move the front stands back about a foot and swap the position of the stand and the jack on the back. You'll have more working room once you get the wheels off. Take the wheel off of the tongue jack and use it as you're running from side to side to stabilize the tongue as you jack it up. Definitely snug down the stabs once you get it high enough to work on.
 
Jul 30, 2018
23
Personally, I would move the front stands back about a foot and swap the position of the stand and the jack on the back. You'll have more working room once you get the wheels off. Take the wheel off of the tongue jack and use it as you're running from side to side to stabilize the tongue as you jack it up. Definitely snug down the stabs once you get it high enough to work on.
I've got it up about an inch past getting the tires clear, so I'm at this point now:

IMG_3892.jpg
I have plenty of large pavers left over from the driveway project, so I was experimenting with stacking them up to set the trailer down on, as well as using them to "shorten" the stands and jack as I keep going up. I have misc scrap wood and other things that I can use to get the right height for each paver stack once I've reached my final elevation, since the paver bases were just set wherever grade was at each point. I've been resetting the tongue jack (with foot, not wheel) and the stabilizers as I go to try to spread the load around as well. I've done some experimental shoves to see what happens, and it's definitely not moving anywhere. I suspect once I get the final paver stacks in place and orient them along the frame, it'll take a car moving at a decent clip running into it for anything to fall over.

With the paver stack approximately where it is on the back now, I should be able to clear even more room between the axle and there. On the other side though is the sewer plumbing, so I can't really move that stack very far at all. The front lift points definitely take less effort to raise than the rear, but I wonder how much of that is because of the tongue jack? I'll look at moving them further back towards the wheel, but there are a few things along the frame that may stop me from moving too far - tow rings(?) and crossbraces that are gapped from the main frame such that I don't want to risk putting weight on them.
 

SteveP

Super Active Member
May 21, 2015
2,647
since you already have the wheels off leave the stands where they are. You don't want to move it more than you have to.
 
Jul 30, 2018
23
since you already have the wheels off leave the stands where they are. You don't want to move it more than you have to.
At this point my next task is calculating how many of the different thicknesses of pavers I need to swap out the stands and guarantee stability, but yeah, I'm happy with the locations at this stage.
 




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