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Old 12-26-2010, 03:16 PM   #1
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Bottle Jacks vs. Scissor Jacks

I've been thinking of getting a set of bottle jacks in case I have to change a flat tire on the road. I found this ad at Harbor Freights.

10 Ton Hydraulic Bottle Jack

My tow hitch is 16". What size bottle jack would I need? Would these work for me?
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Old 12-26-2010, 03:42 PM   #2
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The main issue is likely to be lift height. Be sure you'll get enough travel out of the jack to unload the suspension enough to clear a fully inflated tire. Most any jack can lift half a FG trailer, but these axles unload as you lift, so you need to be able to get it up high enough: if you can get enough lift height out of the bottle jack it will work. You might have to chock it up under some 2x4 or 4x4 supports to maximize its lift. You could also put a block between the jack and the frame. Choose a sturdy point for jacking, and chock the opposite trailer wheel(s ) in both directions to keep things stable.

My floor jack barely got the Escape 19 high enough to level the wheels in my driveway, but I didn't
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Old 12-26-2010, 06:42 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jane P. View Post
I've been thinking of getting a set of bottle jacks in case I have to change a flat tire on the road. I found this ad at Harbor Freights.

10 Ton Hydraulic Bottle Jack

My tow hitch is 16". What size bottle jack would I need? Would these work for me?
Jane, 10 ton is overkill, take a look at this one which has a double ram which means you can get it under a low frame/axle bracket. I have this same jack in the 2-ton model and it works well. -- Torin Double Ram Bottle Jack — 4-Ton, Model# TF0402 | Bottle Jacks | Northern Tool + Equipment
Note: the pic at Northern tool shows a 2-ton but that page is a 4-ton. Always carry some blocks just in case you may need them.
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Old 12-27-2010, 04:53 AM   #4
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Jane, the important thing is to be at home and try it out... whatever you end up purchasing. You don't want to be on the road and find out you've got a jack problem...

Have you checked to see if the jack you have for the tug will work for the trailer? Often, that's what folks find they can use. YMMV
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Old 12-27-2010, 09:29 AM   #5
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Why not use a Search results for: '12v scissors jack' .
I have used one for 6 years and find ir more convenient that manual scissors or hydraulic jacks.
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Old 12-27-2010, 10:21 AM   #6
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Here is the best jack I have ever used.

Heartland America: 12V DC Electric Car Jack
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Old 12-27-2010, 01:47 PM   #7
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Also check Harbor Freight. Looks like the same jack + you can use one of their 20% off coupons...
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Old 12-27-2010, 06:14 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jane P. View Post
My tow hitch is 16". What size bottle jack would I need? Would these work for me?
You have a 19' Bigfoot whose tow hitch is 16" (off the ground?)

I agree with Gene in that a 10 ton (20,000 pound) jack is overkill. I happen to have a tiny little 2 ton (4,000 pound) bottle jack that came with my Fiber Stream. It is adequate for me because my trailer weighs 3,100 pounds fully loaded.

Your question is: Bottle or Scissor? Each design has it's merits. But before you select a design, think about what parameters you need to meet for the job, such as:
  1. Weight Capacity. I suggest a 4 ton (8,000 pound) jack for your trailer. Possibly lighter to carry and push under the flat than a 10 ton unit.
  2. Lift Height, or Travel. How high do you need to raise the hub in order to mount a fully inflated tire? Getting the flat off is one thing, getting the spare (or replacement) on is something else.
  3. Retracted Height. Great travel is no good if the retracted jack is too tall to fit under the frame near the flat. Don't ask me how I know this.
Single Ram Bottle jacks (like your example) may be good at #1 and #2 but inadequate at #3. Or shorter single ram bottle jacks could be good at #1 and #3 but lacking at #2. Gene's suggestion of a Double Ram Bottle Jack is a good choice for this reason.

What about Scissor Jacks? They can be a lighter and simpler design alternative to meet all 3 parameters listed above BUT have you noticed that all of the suggested scissor jacks here are motorized? My experience has been that hand cranking a manual scissors jack can be much more exertion than pumping a bottle jack that has an adequately long handle. However, a scissors jack has a smoother travel than a bottle jack, especially when lowering the new tire back down to the pavement if you don't have a precise control of the bottle jack bleed valve. A motorized scissor solves this problem IF you can trust that your Battery will be charged enough at all times AND that the cord will be long enough to reach a 12 volt DC outlet.

Bottom line?
If you trust your 12 volt source along the side of the road, get a Motorized Scissors Jack. But I don't trust my Battery to be 100% available and a manual Double Ram Bottle Jack would be my choice.
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Old 12-27-2010, 07:58 PM   #9
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I just use the scissor jack from my tug. Why carry 2? You can only work on one thing at a time.

That said, I have used smaller bottle jacks to level the trailer with. They are pretty handy and easy to carry.

I used the 10 ton one to level my 31 foot motorhome. It had no trouble, so yes, its a tad bit of overkill for your trailer.
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Old 12-27-2010, 09:12 PM   #10
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Bottom line?
If you trust your 12 volt source along the side of the road, get a Motorized Scissors Jack. But I don't trust my Battery to be 100% available and a manual Double Ram Bottle Jack would be my choice.
If you don't trust RV battery, use the TV battery.

As for myself I usually use my "Jump Start".
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Old 12-28-2010, 09:16 AM   #11
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You might want to be sure the store has a good return policy on whatever you buy, and check out the jack before you need it. I had my jack for about a year before I tried it out - luckily it worked fine. I have no trouble lifting my camper with my non-motorized scissor jack but my wife, who has arthritis in her hands, probably couldn't do it.
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Old 12-28-2010, 11:24 AM   #12
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I have a solution I did not see anyone else post. I bought a hydraulic scissor jack at Tool Town. I found that my old screw-type scissors jack had no lift (leverage) at the down position so it was close to worthless. This one is fairly flat when it is down and stores in a plastic case. I can not find it on the Tool Town web site but it is like this one at Home Depot, only mine is 2 ton. It works well. We used in on a barn restoration to lift a wall to get it level. It stores neatly in the trunk on the Ridgeline. Thankfully, I have not had to use it on the Casita yet.
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Old 12-28-2010, 03:40 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ray N View Post
You might want to be sure the store has a good return policy on whatever you buy, and check out the jack before you need it. I had my jack for about a year before I tried it out - luckily it worked fine. I have no trouble lifting my camper with my non-motorized scissor jack but my wife, who has arthritis in her hands, probably couldn't do it.
Thanks Ray,

You are absolutely correct about the return policy! Good point.

I really hadn't thought about a non-motorized scissor jack. But given the first purchase I made was a motorized Jack, I need to think about that.
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Old 12-28-2010, 04:24 PM   #14
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OK,

Thanks for all your great great ideas! Some important things to think about.

Right after I got the trailer, I ordered a pair of 5000 lb Ultra Scissor Stabilizer Leveling Jacks to level/stabilize the trailer. We put them to immediate use for installing my new Electric Jack.

I had the Scissor Jacks bolted to the front of the trailer. And I was thinking of getting another pair for the rear section.

One of my options is to store this second set in the trailer's basement, use use them when I camp, and have them on hand in case of an emergency.

But, given all your excellent posts .... using these jacks to change a flat doesn't sound like a wise solution.

Regarding your suggestions?
  1. Trusting my battery: What about a power drill for the ultra scissor jack? What would happen if I added a 2nd battery (for dry camping)?
  2. Motorized Scissor Jacks: Are the recommended ones the correct height & poundage?
  3. Double Double Ram Bottle Jack: where's the best source to find this? What about controlling it when I am ready to lower the rig?

Finally, what is the best way to find out how much height I would need for Frederick's parameters? My trailer shop or my tire store?
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