Mod #59: 5th Wheel and Travel Trailer Stabilzer Bars

Mod #59: 5th Wheel and Travel Trailer Stabilzer Bars

Submitted on: 12/16/08

     Category: exterior, featured
Mod Rating: 12345

(47 ratings)

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Mod Description:

This mod was originally posted by aintgotnun in the Forest River Mods and Updates forum

Tired of your 5th wheel or travel trailer rocking back and forth when you walk around inside, no matter what you have done to stabilize it? Have you tried wheel chocks and bottle jacks and even adding extra screw jacks near the axles to no avail? Installing stabilizer bars on all landing jacks on your 5th wheel or travel trailer will prevent 99.9999% (we really can’t get more accurate than that!) of the infamous trailer rocking. Now you just have to worry about those who come knocking!

Mod Difficulty:

Note that this mod as detailed here is for a 5th wheel. Doing the mod on a travel trailer is very similar.
Before starting the stabilizer installation, you must first begin with the right tools. A drill, drill bit assortment, basic hand tools, and a beverage of your choice should get things going on the right track.
Start by hooking up your truck up to the trailer so you can raise and lower your jacks. This is not in the instructions that came with the stabilizers, but this should help provide more accuracy in the installation. In fact the instructions start out by saying: With your jacks down, start by positioning a tube assembly from the jack back to the frame of the RV like it is in the up position. Having the landing gear (jacks) down is not necessary, but if you have the luxury of being able to park your rig at your house and have a concrete driveway, all the better.
Next, raise the landing gear up and set the max height that you normally would travel with. You can place a piece of black duct tape around the jack to indicate the lowest you are comfortable keeping the landing gear down while traveling. This is a judgment call based on the rear of the truck, distance between the truck and trailer and the height of the landing gear. As a result of having the gear in the up position, you should able to mount the tube to the landing gear first instead of the frame as per the instructions, which state: Attach the large end [outside tube] to the frame with 1 drill screw. Attaching to the gear first makes more sense while they are up as you can be certain that the stabilizers would be at their maximum retracted position (minus 1 inch) while the landing gear is in the up position.
The installation instructions also state: There are many variables with different jacks. Our solution is to be open to phone discussion either before or during installation so we can provide specifics for your particular situation. And definitely take them up on the phone support. If they do not answer right away, leave a message. Dutch and Diana, the owners and manufacturers of the Plug It Right stabilizer bars, are full-time RV’rs and sometimes do not have very good cell service until they get to “higher ground”.
The next step is to close the stabilizer bar and then back out about an inch so it will not bottom out while retracting the landing gear. Then eyeball a spot to mount the bracket on the landing gear towards the outside edge of the leg if your gear is to the inside of the trailer’s frame. Some 5th wheel landing gears are located on the outside of the frame. In that case, the mounting point of the bracket would be located to the inside edge of the landing gear on both sides. This is important to help prevent binding of the stabilizers.
Now pre-drill a 1/8” hole for the bottom hole on the bracket and then shoot in the first self-tapping screw. Pre-drilling makes it a lot easier for the self-tapping screw to go in as it will not track to an undesired location. Attach the other end of the stabilizer (the outside hole) to the frame of the trailer, again pre-drilling for the screw. At this point, you should have one screw in the landing gear and one screw in the frame. Next, you will need to unfasten the bolt holding the stabilizer to the bracket at the frame to remove the tube so you can shoot the other screws in each bracket. Neither bracket, landing gear or frame is nice and evenly lined up with anything as the frame and gear are not lined up with each other. This is normal.
After reassembling the bracket at the frame, lower and raise the landing gear to check for binding. If there is any binding, remove the bolts from the brackets one at a time and use a 5/16” drill bit and run it through the bolt holes in each bracket while they are assembled (i.e., the brackets are mounted and the pipes are fitted through the brackets). Doing this allows for a tad more play to reduce the binding. Next is to reassemble the frame bracket and bolt combination. Now you are finished with the first stabilizer. Repeat these steps for the other front landing jack.
The rear landing gear is pretty straight forward after having installed the front gear. Simply remove one of the original bolts in the scissor jacks and replace with one of the supplied 3 ½” bolts and attach the landing gear. Retract the scissor jacks to the full up position and then mount the frame brackets remembering to pre-position the stabilizer with about one inch of extra play so it won’t bottom out. Ream the brackets with drill after mounting as you did with the front brackets, and now you are done.
TipIf you still experience rocking (even if no one is knocking), you may have to install two additional stabilizer bars on the rear scissor jacks. These bars should be placed from the inside of the jacks toward the center of the trailer. It all depends on your type of trailer and rear jacks.

ModMyRV recommends these parts for this mod:
BAL RV Lock-Arm Stabilizing Bars

General Reference
How to Properly Level Your Towable RV

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20 Comments For This Mod

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  1. babblescriber

    Does anyone know how the PlugItRight stabilzers compare to the JT Strong Arm stabilzers? I’ve done some reading on some other forums and it seems most people are using the JT stabilzers. They look to be very similar though.

  2. silveradomike

    When I purchased my Jt’s there was not a big differance in price. The JT’s look much better and I am a little picky when something is going to show on my 5er. From what I have read the Plugitright’s also work just fine. In fact I was purchased them when JT dropped their price. I just thought that for a little more I would get a better looking system.

  3. babblescriber

    Thanks silveradomike. Do you find that the shaking is reduced enough to justify the price? I really want to do this mod but I don’t want to spend the money only to find that there isn’t that much reduction in trailer movement.

  4. TnT

    I used the JT Stabilizers and found that they work very well. Virtually no rocking when adjusted correctly with preload. I’m sure either one of these products would work very well as they seem to employ the same principle.

    The folks at JT were very helpful with phone help while installing. Beer was a must have tool to do the job, IMO.

  5. TnT

    JTs made a huge difference in the stabilization of my 5′r. In my opinion, they were worth every penny. I’m sure the Plugitrights would be just as good, but I don’t have experience with them. I have heard of folks making their own stabilizers, based on the same design, but the money was worth the product for me. I’d rather spend the money than spend time that I should have been camping in my trailer.

  6. ModMyRV

    Now that would be a real test of your mod talent to be able to make some stabilizers. Now that I think of it, it doesn’t appear to be all that difficult. Hmmmm…

  7. Bob Vaughn

    My stablizers make my TT as stable as a regular home…especially when the grandkids are running around inside….I am just tickled that I did this mod…

  8. Bob Vaughn

    Here are the front stablizers…the backs have an arm going forward and one to the center of the TT to eliminate side to side jiggles…..
    http://community.webshots.com/album/570446828CIeKyf

  9. tvman44

    I installed the JT Strongarm stabilizers last year, what a difference they make.

  10. Steadyfast

    Of Course I installed the Steadyfast Stabilizers. No question they are the easiest to set up.

  11. grannyanne

    I installed the lockarms from Bal. They do a great job and only cost me 65.00 for two. I like them because they use the same size nut that my scissor jack handle uses.I thought about fabbing some but for 65.00 it wasn’t worth it.

  12. grannyanne

    Here is their website:

    http://norcoind.com/bal/products/consumer/stabilizing_products/lockarm.shtml

  13. Paul Richards

    I installed the PlugItRight stabilzers near the end of last summer. I have found them to be a great investment, and they really do reduce the movement of the 5ver. I don’t know if they are the best units on the market, but they do work really well for the money that I spent on them. I would give them 2 thumbs way up!

  14. dmzempr

    Installed our Steady Fast set last weekend. I’m fairly certain I will no longer have to endure the bouncing trailer effect.

    Its going to be a good summer. ahhh.

  15. amsoiltek

    I will be installing the SteadyFast this weekend, and get this doing it at the campground! I’ll have pix and write up to follow.

  16. Lencactustwo

    We bought and I installed the JT Strongarm stabilizer kit on our 41′ Cyclone. 6 rod arms and it works great. We combined it with “between the tires” cranking jacks by Bal and “voila” I can have a midnite snack without waking anyone up. A must do if you shake and rattle

  17. gnarlykaw

    I wanted to do this mod, but didn’t want to spend the money for the BAL kit….. so, I look at it, and came up with a different approach. I bought six of the cargo stable bars for a truck bed, and these bars were of the threaded expand type. did i mention only 11 bucks a pop?? I bolted three to the front, and three to the rear, and they work GREAT!! just push the button in on tghe rod to expand or contract, and twist till the button comes out to make it tight.

  18. MeganM

    Gnarlykaw - would you email me more details on your mod?

    Shikmegan@aol.com

  19. John

    I have a Carriage that uses a square tube frame. So bolting to the frame with bolts and nuts is not possible. Can this system be bolted to the face (side) of the frame with self tapping screws?

  20. Paul Hanscom

    The Steadyfast system works very well and is very easy to use. It can be bolted to all types of frames and to the side of the box frame on a Carriage Cameo

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