05/08/2020 - RV Projects: Replacing HWH Jack Springs
It's Easier Than You Might Expect
The NewAire is equipped with HWH hydraulic leveling jacks on all 4 corners, and the rear passenger's side has been acting up: slow to retract - sometimes not at all. The jack is obviously on its last legs, but since a replacement would cost north of $400, replacing the 20 year old springs seemed worth trying.
Ordered a spring kit online from HWH after calling them to make sure which replacement springs were required. They need to know what HWH jack you have. The NewAire has HWH part number RAP1927 jacks and the replacement springs are part number R3847. Cost? Around $40 for the pair.
As one might expect, the difficulty in replacing the springs is stretching those enough to get them off/on. Some YouTube research came up various DIY methods, but the most logical recommendations included variations of the following steps:
Fully extend the jacks
Stick thin pieces of wood between coils on the old springs
Fully retract the jacks
Remove the foot and overextended old springs and from the jack
Stick thin pieces of wood between coils on the new springs
Attach the overextended new springs to the retracted jack along with the foot
Fully extend the jacks to engage the foot
Remove the small pieces of wood from the new springs
The most common thin wood referred to on the DIY videos was paint mixing sticks.
It all made sense, so we headed to Home Depot, of course. But instead of paint sticks, several packs of small wood shims fell into the cart. The thinking goes like this: shims are tapered, paint sticks aren't. And while the latter may be free, sliding shims between the coils promised to be an easy task. Plus the shims did not need to be chopped up.
SAFETY FIRST: Never, ever work under a hydraulically raised motorhome without putting jack stands or wooden blocking under appropriate locations on the chassis. You never know when a hydraulic line might choose to give up the ghost (and potentially beckon yours). Besides, using supports will make the job that much easier.
DOWN TO IT: raised the back end as far as it would go, and pushed shims into place on both springs starting at the bottom. It was easy to get each shim about half way in, alternating the direction. A total of 18 shims were packed into each side; maybe as few as a dozen would have done the job, but the shims were cheap and in hand.
BTW: did you notice the jacks on the NewAire have SnapPads? Can't imagine RV life without them. No more crawling around on the ground trying to position boards or hand-held pads under the jacks. Love these things!
Anyway, when the jacks were retracted, the shims kept the old springs extended enough that the jack foot was left dangling free from the piston leg. No connection to undo; the HWH foot is held in place by the tension of the springs. (As you can see, the foot was full of road gunk, so a cleanup was definitely in order.)
The springs simply unhook from the foot and the jack frame. Removal might take a bit of wrestling or persuasion with a screwdriver or small pry bar, but that was probably the hardest part of this job.
Here are the extended old springs shown next to the new ones. The shims lengthened the 13.5" springs to more than 18".
Once the old springs are off, the shims can be pulled out and wedged into the new springs.
Easiest way to do that is via a bench vise. Clamp and bend the spring over 180 degrees, then wedge the shims into the gaps. A rubber mallet can be used to drive the sims home.
TIP: After 1/2 of the shims are in, flip the spring over in the vice and bend it in the opposite direction before wedging in the rest. This will keep the new spring straighter than if you were to put all the shims on the same side.
With the jack still retracted, it now became a simple job to hook the extended new springs to the jack frame and hang the foot back in place below the jack leg.
CAUTION: Because the jack foot is dangling loose, held only by the new springs, you will need two people to align the jack foot as the piston leg is slowly lowered: one person operates the HWH controls, the second centers the foot below the piston leg as it comes down.
Perform this task slowly, and be careful to keep clear of the jack foot as the lowering piston leg engages it.
Once the jack is fully extended, the shims can be pushed/pulled from both sides of the new springs.
Job done. Not too bad, huh? Hoping to get another year out of the suspect jack before having to replace it. Time will tell.
Did You Notice?
Did you happen to spot the alien gnome hanging out in the back of the workshop? His name is Gtjhawlm Pity.
Don't ask why.
Water bay rehab.