Scary jackstand incident has me looking to upgrade - Fiberglass RV
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Old 01-26-2021, 05:03 PM   #1
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Scary jackstand incident has me looking to upgrade

Hello! My husband and I have a 1991 Bigfoot C-8 camper that we've been loving (we sold our 1986 13' Scamp to buy the Bigfoot). About a month ago, while jacking the camper up to tailgate-level to load onto the truck, the jack that my husband was cranking (front driver-side) suddenly 'blew out' when the camper was just about at peak height. It came crashing down and pinned him up against another vehicle parked in our driveway, he only ended up bruising some ribs, but it could've been much worse.

When the camper fell, it also tore the bolts from that jack out of the fiberglass of the camper. So, that was the only damage to the camper itself. We contacted the manufacturer of the jack ('Hijacker') and were told that if moisture gets inside the jack, rust can form, corroding the 'pin' inside, causing it to shear off which leads to the jack failing. They are the original jacks and the camper has always 'lived' in damp, Washington State.

My husband just wants to order the parts and rebuild the jack himself. While I, a bit traumatized from the experience, would rather replace all four of the original Hijacker jacks with newer, possibly electric jacks, and do some type of extra reinforcement on the fiberglass where they will attach to the camper.

I'd love to hear from anyone who has upgraded their jackstands on their fiberglass, truck bed camper, or anyone who has rebuilt their jacks. Good brands? Is it worth it to go electric? Will I have a problem finding jacks that are compatible with this year camper?

Thanks, in advance, for any advice!
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Old 01-26-2021, 07:40 PM   #2
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Glad no major injuries to your husband nor the camper. If your husband is dead set on rebuilding the jacks, he should see if he can either find stainless steel replacement pins or should consider having some fabricated. I don't have a truck camper so that is the extent of my suggestions.
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Old 01-26-2021, 11:21 PM   #3
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I don't have any specific knowledge about these jacks, but I am surprised to hear that they can fail so completely.

Personally, I would be investing time researching whether there are better choices available. I would talk with other manufacturer's and/or their representatives to see if all the different brands are fundamentally built the same and are all basically subject to this potential problem, or if there is some alternative brand that is better built.

I would also probably consider posting on other forums that include more members with campers. Looking at a few other forums here tonight, it appears that you are far from the first people that this has happened to.
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Old 01-26-2021, 11:34 PM   #4
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If your husband is dead set on rebuilding the jacks, he should see if he can either find stainless steel replacement pins

Stainless steel also rusts and fractures. I'd look into that further, before placing my faith in stainless steel.
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Old 01-27-2021, 05:57 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Glenn Baglo View Post
Stainless steel also rusts and fractures. I'd look into that further, before placing my faith in stainless steel.
That is fully dependent on the grade of stainless steel. And even if the grade used did rust, it would not rust to the degree that carbon steel rusts. It is likely that stainless steel pins would outlast the rest of the camper. But I am reminded of another frequent poster and acquaintance of mine on this forum who has often stated that “anything assembled by man will eventually fall apart.”

Truck campers can be extremely dangerous to attach and detach. A few years back a local man was crushed to death doing so. Thankfully, no serious injuries from this jack failing.
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Old 01-27-2021, 08:46 AM   #6
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If I survived such a jack failure, I would replace ALL four jacks immediately. Given the jacks could be 30 years old, it’s time.
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Old 01-27-2021, 09:46 AM   #7
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Years ago when I had a truck camper I looked at Stable-lift. It cost more than I paid for the camper so I didn’t buy it. Now if I was buying a new camper I think I would buy the lift.

https://www.stablelift.com/stable-lift-products.php

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Old 01-27-2021, 09:52 AM   #8
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Stainless and rust

Quote:
Originally Posted by Glenn Baglo View Post
Stainless steel also rusts and fractures. I'd look into that further, before placing my faith in stainless steel.
There are different metals sold as stainless.
Stainless steel will not rust if a magnet is not attracted to it. When buying anything stainless test it with a magnet..
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Old 01-27-2021, 02:41 PM   #9
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I had dad’s truck camper fall off the jacks while I was trying to load it 45 years ago. Pretty scary, as was Dad’s response to my apparent lack of attention to detail. I will not make THAT mistake again. Dad had a way of making a lasting impression when he wanted to.
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Old 01-27-2021, 03:21 PM   #10
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Yes! Definitely a scary experience, I was always a little nervous jacking that thing way up in the air to load, mostly because of the age of the jacks, but this incident really just solidified my concern. I won't look at those type of jacks the same again (at least ones that are 30 years old)!
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Old 01-27-2021, 03:36 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by thrifty bill View Post
If I survived such a jack failure, I would replace ALL four jacks immediately. Given the jacks could be 30 years old, it’s time.
Thanks, Bill, for justifying my concern! It was pretty traumatizing when it fell, it happened so fast and I didn't know what I was going to see when I rushed over to help (I was on the passenger side jack). I, honestly, don't want to use any of the remaining three jacks again until they're all replaced. My husband doesn't seem to be as 'freaked out' about it as me, so it's good to know I'm not just overreacting.
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Old 01-27-2021, 11:02 PM   #12
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I would purchase electric jacks as you can manually turn them if the electricals fail.....they never ‘bleed down”, so more reliable and safer.
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Old 02-03-2021, 11:43 AM   #13
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Stainless steel comes in many grades (read Alloy's) and regardless of material the "grade" of the fastener need to be the proper one for the stress required. Check out what the grade of the bolts are before replacing them. (Steel or Stainless) FYI "stainless" only means that it has more than 11% Chrome in it's chemical make up. 304 stainless has a tensile strength of approx 70,000 PSI where 17-4PH can have up to 180,000 PSI tensile (more than double).
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Old 02-03-2021, 12:00 PM   #14
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I second the electric jacks. It is an expensive option, but way more reliable and safe. We have had three campers in our camping days and had hydraulic jacks on all three. I too was concerned about safety when jacking. Something I did to keep it "safer" was to jack up the camper with the heavy duty saw horse supports underneath it, then back the truck up until the truck bed is just under the forward end, then move the forward support out from under, then back the truck all the way to the rear support, then move it out as you go. You had happen exactly what I was concerned about. As I understand it, electric jacks are screw jacks, so there is nothing to dramatically fail unless the corner of the camper they are mounted to fails, which on a fiberglass camper, is not very likely at all. All of our campers were stickies and therefor subject to rot.
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Old 02-03-2021, 02:18 PM   #15
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Shannon V - whether you and your husband decide to install new jacks or rebuild the existing ones, be very careful to make sure that the mounting area on the camper has been adequately repaired to securely hold the jack in place once again.

Your description about "tearing the bolts out of the fiberglass" concerns me that the jack mounting area might have been compromised. Don't hesitate to get one or more expert opinions.

Sometimes a good marine repair shop with expertise in fiberglass hull repair may be a good expert resource. They know corrosion, and heavy duty items attached to fiberglass, such as a transom that holds a large outboard motor.
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Old 02-03-2021, 05:35 PM   #16
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I was impressed by this electric jack system I saw in operation last year at Furnace Creek:

https://www.stablelift.com
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Old 02-03-2021, 07:12 PM   #17
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Totally misunderstood it was a truck camper. DELETED COMMENT.
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Old 02-03-2021, 07:24 PM   #18
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So if I understand what you described he was using stabilizers (one each corner) to raise level of trailer.

I believe this is something like what is being discussed.
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Old 02-03-2021, 07:41 PM   #19
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rebuilt hijackers

I have a 94 bigfoot 9.5. I found a person in Agassis, BC that was a machinist at Hijacker and now has his own machine shop in Chilliwack who makes nrw parts and rebuilds the jacks. I had all four rebuilt a couple needed parts the basic charge was $85 each which inclided new seals, however a couple parts didn't meet spec and were replaced.


One of the jacks that had borderline parts continued to leak a bit so I took it back the next time i drove passed (I live in Kamloops, BC). It eas repaired free and I picked it up on my way home the next day.



His name is Sheldon phone number is (778) 808-4748 website is www.camperjackrepairs.ca


On my unit the lag bolts were loose so i drilled out the holes in the bracket and used thicker stainless lag bolt to prevent rusting. There is a 2x4 or 2x6 imbedded in the fibre glass at the jack points.


There is aplace near the bigfoot factory that specializes in repairs to bigfoot products. https://gilmay.ca their family was the originsl ownets of bigfoot.


Good luck with you repairs.
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Old 02-15-2021, 11:59 AM   #20
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Thanks so much, Martin! We'll definitely look into these links and give Sheldon a call. Still waiting on the border to open up to non-essential travel, Chilliwack is only about an hour from us, so this could work out well. Thanks again!
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