Electric Tongue Jack Opinions: Atwood vs. Ultra Fab - Fiberglass RV


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Old 01-12-2010, 06:15 PM   #1
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Hi All:

I'm putting together a limited, but expensive shopping list.

I want a electric tongue jack - period.

I have, in fact, researched the various threads regarding Electric tongue Jacks, as well as other RV Forum sites. I have also researched prices on the internet.

I have narrowed the choice down to Atwood vs. Ultra Fab.

There is a significant price difference between these 2 products.

What make and model have you installed, and how do you like your choice?

How does the manual override work on your ETJ? Is the override easy to get to and use?

Any problems with fitting it to your frame?

Reaching the ground for high axle trailers?

Any other thoughts, opinions welcome.


Thank you all for your help!
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Old 01-12-2010, 07:07 PM   #2
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I chose the Ultra-Fab. I purchased a refurbished jack from ebay. Doesn't look like the same seller (campinggurl) is still offering them. Lady was getting rebuilds from company and selling on ebay. don't know about the current individual on ebay offering refurbs.

I am totally pleased with the jack. They even honored warranty when I broke the jack housing by backing into it with the tailgate down. It has one weakness that I'm willing to deal with for the price difference of their competitor. The head of the jack has a rubber plug on top of the unit for the manual crank. The plug opens directly into the gear box of the jack. I got a auto trash bag from Wall mart and strapped it on the top of the jack. The bag does block the lights, but can be easily removed if you don't go overboard securing it to the jack.

Jack has 18" of travel and the only problem with length I've ever had was on uneven terrain. A couple RV suppliers have been advertising a refurb jack for $109.

good luck with your choice
Curt
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Old 01-12-2010, 07:50 PM   #3
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I'd love to be able to add something to this topic, but alas I cannot. I've had a brand-new electric tongue jack sitting in a box ready to be installed, in storage, for several years (Atwood 3,000#)! The problem I've run into is there's no mount on my trailer. Typically, there's a three-bolt area on top of the tongue when there's a center mount jack... my trailer doesn't have this ... it has the side-mount swivel jack. The original plan was to change the coupler to 2" and at the same time add the necessary bolting mount to the top of the A-Frame... I just haven't had it done. There always seems to be something else requiring my bankbook. Sigh. Someday.

But, I know the distance "throw" for the foot could be a problem. For me, and the fact my trailer is up in the sky, I carry two sets of lego blocks and figured stacking the amount needed would take care of the problem.

Maybe this year?
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Old 01-12-2010, 07:52 PM   #4
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Ours is a Barker Hi-power 2500 that was on the trailer when we bought it. Works great. A ground wire became corroded once, but that was easy to fix.
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Old 01-12-2010, 08:28 PM   #5
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Ours is a Barker Hi-power 2500 that was on the trailer when we bought it. Works great. A ground wire became corroded once, but that was easy to fix.

Thanks for your reply, Bob. I just googled the Barker, and unfortunately, it is more expensive than the Atwood.
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Old 01-12-2010, 08:33 PM   #6
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I chose the Ultra-Fab. I purchased a refurbished jack from ebay. ...... I am totally pleased with the jack. They even honored warranty when I broke the jack housing by backing into it with the tailgate down. ....A couple RV suppliers have been advertising a refurb jack for $109.

It has one weakness that I'm willing to deal with for the price difference of their competitor. The head of the jack has a rubber plug on top of the unit for the manual crank. The plug opens directly into the gear box of the jack. I got a auto trash bag from Wall mart and strapped it on the top of the jack. The bag does block the lights, but can be easily removed if you don't go overboard securing it to the jack.

Jack has 18" of travel and the only problem with length I've ever had was on uneven terrain.



Thank you, Jack.

I don't understand what your were saying about the rubber plug: Why is it a problem to open directly into the gear box? and why does the auto trash bag help? What lights does the bag block?

Does Atwood have that same problem? How does the Atwood assembly differ?

Thanks for a great post!



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Old 01-12-2010, 09:33 PM   #7
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Quote:
I want a electric tongue jack - period.
I understand that. I was fine with our 5th wheel's crank-handle "landing gear" until late 2008 when my shoulder started giving me real problems. Camping is no fun if I have to take ibuprofen just to make sitting still comfortable. So I bought and installed a used Atwood retrofit motor. It adds 12 pounds or so to my trailer but makes my life much easier.

5th wheel landing gear works differently from a standard hitch trailer, so I don't know if you can still use a manual crank, only that I do still have that option if I get stuck without enough battery power of a blown fuse or something. It is slightly more work to move the crank now the motor is installed.
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Old 01-12-2010, 10:21 PM   #8
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I have the Barker High Power 3500lb jack which works great with Reese SC Weight Distribution System. Barker's 18" stroke helps a lot during installing and decoupling the spring bars. If I recall correctly, Barker is the only one using limit switches on both ends of the stroke as well as recirculating ball bearings for long life. Neither Ultra-Fab nor Atwood advertise ball bearings so I would assume they use sleeve bearings. The weight of my Bigfoot 21RB tongue is about 700lb. For lighter tongue this could be an overkill. George.
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Old 01-12-2010, 10:41 PM   #9
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Quote:


Thank you, Jack.

I don't understand what your were saying about the rubber plug: Why is it a problem to open directly into the gear box? and why does the auto trash bag help? What lights does the bag block?

Does Atwood have that same problem? How does the Atwood assembly differ?

Thanks for a great post!
The rubber plug is on top of the gear box and unprotected from the weather and rain. It does not always make or maintain a water tight seal. Others have complained of rain water getting into the gears and doing damage. That's why the cover to keep rain from impacting on the top and rubber plug. Cover doesn't have to be anything fancy or elaborate, just so it keeps the rain from impacting on the top of the gear box with the rubber plug in the top. People on rv.com have reported using zip-lock bags to empty gallon jugs. Applying a sealant creates more problems and solves nothing.

There are small lights on each side of the jack to illuminate the area at night. They are turned on and off with a rotary switch. Most covers are going to block them since they are right at the bottom of the gear box.

Atwood models that I have seen don't have the hole and plug on the top of their jack. IIRC the Atwood manual plug is on the side or rear of the gear box.

Using the manual crank is no fun with any electric jack. The motor is engaged and you have to turn it as well as the gearing to move the trailer.
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Old 01-13-2010, 06:23 AM   #10
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Ours is Barker H&H Acme 2500, no Hi-power label. Sorry. Manual use requires an adapter for a 9/16 hex wrench and removal of the plastic shroud at the top (easy to do). I don't have an adapter. The plastic shroud protects the mechanism nicely.

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Old 01-13-2010, 09:00 AM   #11
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Camping World has a vinyl cover for electric jack's

http://www.campingworld.com/shopping/item/...ack-cover/34822

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Old 01-13-2010, 11:57 AM   #12
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I've been getting ready to add the power tongue jack and have settled on the Barker VIP 3000. It is a bit less money then the Atwood on eBay sellers sites and the reviews have been solid. Right now, they aren't doing any big promos on them, but in the fall they were giving free shipping which made the 3000 about $170 and the 3500 about $190.
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Old 01-13-2010, 02:27 PM   #13
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OK all, the Barker VIP has now been added to my shortlist.

Quote:
I've been getting ready to add the power tongue jack and have settled on the Barker VIP 3000. It is a bit less money then the Atwood on eBay sellers sites and the reviews have been solid. Right now, they aren't doing any big promos on them, but in the fall they were giving free shipping which made the 3000 about $170 and the 3500 about $190.

So ... the Barker VIPs are the latest upgrade to the Barker Hi-Power Jacks. And they are actually less money than the Barker Hi-Power versions. Plus, they are less $$$ than the Atwood. Thanks, Greg.

[b]AdventureRV.Net lists the Ultra Fab 3000 for $139; They are selling the Barker VIP 3000 for $159.79 and the 3500 LB for $188. Their shipping costs seem about $8-9 higher than e-bay.

They also list the Tekonsha P3 Brake Controller at a good price.

Getting closer.
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Old 01-13-2010, 03:17 PM   #14
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I have the Barker High Power 3500lb jack which works great with Reese SC Weight Distribution System. Barker's 18" stroke helps a lot during installing and decoupling the spring bars. If I recall correctly, Barker is the only one using limit switches on both ends of the stroke as well as recirculating ball bearings for long life. Neither Ultra-Fab nor Atwood advertise ball bearings so I would assume they use sleeve bearings.The weight of my Bigfoot 21RB tongue is about 700lb. For lighter tongue this could be an overkill. George.

George, what are limit switches? What is the advantage of having them on both ends of the stroke?


I will be towing the trailer to our house tomorrow morning. If time permits, I will take it to a public scale on route.

I've been told that my 19 Footer is about 500 lbs heavier than the 17.

In theory, my rig's weight is as follows:

2400 Lbs: Dry Wt.
3200 Lbs: Gross Wt.
348 Lbs: Tongue Wt.

I have no idea how this translates into the power requirements for the tongue Jack!
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Old 01-13-2010, 03:51 PM   #15
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Limit switches are internal to the jack and cut power to the motor before reaching the physical limits of the jack. Can save burning up motor if a person were to regularly run the jack to the physical limit and stress the motor.

Some people don't understand that when the motor starts to labor or slow down it is near the physical limit of the jack and it might be a good idea to stop before the motor gets too hot from the extra load. After motor gets hot and lets the smoke out it doesn't work anymore.
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Old 01-13-2010, 03:52 PM   #16
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This might be a dumb question, but can a power tongue jack have a wheel attached at the bottom? I have the swing up jack with a wheel, it's pretty convenient to get close enough and then I can wiggle the trailer around on it's wheel to hook up just right.
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Old 01-13-2010, 09:49 PM   #17
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Quote:

George, what are limit switches? What is the advantage of having them on both ends of the stroke?


I will be towing the trailer to our house tomorrow morning. If time permits, I will take it to a public scale on route.

I've been told that my 19 Footer is about 500 lbs heavier than the 17.

In theory, my rig's weight is as follows:

2400 Lbs: Dry Wt.
3200 Lbs: Gross Wt.
348 Lbs: Tongue Wt.

I have no idea how this translates into the power requirements for the tongue Jack!
Curtis answered the limits switches question well.

The relationship of tongue weight to jack capacity depends on how you plan to use the jack. Simple lifting and lowering the tongue weight needs a jack with equivalent or better capacity. So for your 350 lb tongue weight, a jack with a 1500 (I think this is the smallest Attwood but limited to 2" ball) weight capacity should be enough. I would assume that a higher capacity jack could take more abuse.


My use of the jack, besides lifting and lowering the tongue, includes installation of the weight distribution bars. After attaching the trailer to the hitch, I need to lift the trailer's tongue with the truck high enough so spring bars can be placed in their friction saddles then lower it. In my application, I can see that the jack is laboring during the truck lifting phase. For my 700lb tongue on 21' trailer the 3500 lb with recalculating ball bearings for extended life was appropriate. Not knowing if there are any standards for advertising jacks capacities their numbers should be taken with the grain of salt.


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Old 01-13-2010, 10:26 PM   #18
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Curtis answered the limits switches question well.

The relationship of tongue weight to jack capacity depends on how you plan to use the jack. Simple lifting and lowering the tongue weight needs a jack with equivalent or better capacity. So for your 350 lb tongue weight, a jack with a 1500 (I think this is the smallest Attwood but limited to 2" ball) weight capacity should be enough. I would assume that a higher capacity jack could take more abuse.


My use of the jack, besides lifting and lowering the tongue, includes installation of the weight distribution bars. After attaching the trailer to the hitch, I need to lift the trailer's tongue with the truck high enough so spring bars can be placed in their friction saddles then lower it. In my application, I can see that the jack is laboring during the truck lifting phase. For my 700lb tongue on 21' trailer the 3500 lb with recalculating ball bearings for extended life was appropriate. Not knowing if there are any standards for advertising jacks capacities their numbers should be taken with the grain of salt.

Thanks George.

I will, like you, be using the Jack to install the Weight distribution and anti sway bars. The whole point of this purchase is to protect my back!

My understanding is that once you determine the jack weight capacity that corresponds to your tongue weight, you go up one more level. So that if my tongue weight corresponds to a 2500 Lb Jack, I should buy a 3000 Lb jack. In that way, I will be sure not to stain the unit.

I plan to take the trailer to a moving and storage company with the public scale tomorrow. I am assuming that they will be able to determine my tongue weight.

I must say, this is becoming quite a project!

Good info everyone. You are helping me a lot!

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Old 01-14-2010, 06:16 AM   #19
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An issue I've heard about with the electric tongue jacks is the plastic covers. As we all know plastic has a tendency to chalk, crack and fall apart due to UVs... we've seen it happen with all types of vent covers, etc. on our molded trailers. Once cracked, plastic is difficult to repair. And, the plastic cover protects all the gears and electrics on this jacks. Prior to installing, it may be a good idea to paint the plastic cover with UV protectant paint. Or, keep the head of the unit covered at all times except while under tow. The link Bill provided may be that solution.

Quote:
Camping World has a vinyl cover for electric jack's

http://www.campingworld.com/shopping/item/...ack-cover/34822

Bill K
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Old 01-14-2010, 04:06 PM   #20
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An issue I've heard about with the electric tongue jacks is the plastic covers. As we all know plastic has a tendency to chalk, crack and fall apart due to UVs... we've seen it happen with all types of vent covers, etc. on our molded trailers. Once cracked, plastic is difficult to repair. And, the plastic cover protects all the gears and electrics on this jacks. Prior to installing, it may be a good idea to paint the plastic cover with UV protectant paint. Or, keep the head of the unit covered at all times except while under tow. The link Bill provided may be that solution.

Hi Donna,

I believe you posted a similar thought in another thread on electric tongue jacks.

The product in Bill's link is a universal cover.

I like the idea of UV protectant paint as well.

JMP
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