How to Repair or Replace Airstream Travel Trailer Leveling Jacks
How to Replace Airstream Leveling Jacks
Owners of Airstream travel trailers know they can depend on these well built RV’s for a lifetime of enjoying the outdoors and traveling across America. But as the years roll on, even these classic camping units need some maintenance and repairs. Like any high end product, the repairs can run into quite a bit of expense unless you are a hands-on type person.
This article shows how to replace the leveling jacks on an 1986 Airstream 31-foot Sovereign travel trailer. Many models of older Airstream travel trailers used similar leveling jacks.
Forgetting to raise one or more of the leveling jacks will result to damage to the jack in most cases. Leaving the jack lowered or raised while in an area close to the ocean can cause it to rust and malfunction. Whatever the reason, eventually one or more of the leveling jacks will need to be replaced.
Off With the Old Jacks
Replacement Jacks May Have Extra Holes
What should be a relatively easy job of unbolting the old leveling jacks and installing the new ones unfortunately does not always turn out this way.
In most cases, some of the bolts will refuse to budge. They will either break off into the steel beam they are attached to, or the edges of the hex will round off leaving the bolt still attached.
I ran into both scenarios while installing the four new leveling jacks on the Airstream Sovereign and on older models where the Airstream jack stands are original equipment.
Obviously, this is a common occurrence for Airstream travel trailers as the new leveling jacks, which fit in the same spot, had offset holes which allowed drilling new holes in a different location on the support beams.
Make sure there are no obstructions if you move your jack stands to a slightly different spot.
Removing Old Bolts
It was actually easier if the bolt broke off in the beam as only a little grinding was required to level the area where the leveling jacks fit against the bottom of the beam.
Otherwise, the entire head of the bolt had to be ground off with a side grinder. The use of a cutting torch is not recommended because of the close proximity of the aluminum skin covering the bottom of the unit.
Be very careful so as not to scratch the exterior metal covering any time you are working around it.
Repairing Damage to the Aluminum Skin
Often the aluminum skin beneath the leveling jack attachment area is corroded or even absent because of the contact between steel and aluminum metals.
Now is the time to make sure it doesn’t get any worse by patching it before installing the new leveling jacks. There are several methods to ensure the deterioration doesn't get worse.
I used an aluminum backed rubber adhesive roofing repair product sold at Lowe’s or Home Depot building supply stores, but other materials and sealants will do just fine.
After cutting a strip of the repair product to fit the attachment point of the jack, I raised the jack until it was firmly pressed into the correct position against the bottom of the unit.
Completing the New Jack Installation
Adding a strip of roof repair product allowed new holes to be drilled without fear of the leveling jack moving. A high quality bit is needed as this is hard steel.
Run self-tapping bolts into the new holes until they are snug but not tight. Check for proper placement and a firm fit before removing the bolts and applying a thread locking substance to the bolt threads.
You may now tighten the bolts as much as desired for the final step in replacing the leveling jacks. Torque these bolts snugly but don't overdo it.
Buying Replacement Parts
Airstream accessories are often expensive to purchase but are worth it for some aspects of safety and durability.
Be sure to examine aftermarket replacement Airstream parts well before using them on your Airstream travel trailer.
Enjoy your vintage Airstream and keep your investment in good shape for many years to come by keeping it in tip top shape and using good replacement parts during repairs.
More Airstream Repair Articles
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- Airstream Travel Trailer Repair : How To Repair and Service The Rooftop RV AC
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This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.