We’ve been in the SKP Saguaro Co-Op for a year and a half. We had to stay last summer because of our various health issues. Last May, just about a year ago, we became leaseholders in the park and moved our motor home from site 702, where we’d spent the winter of 2015-2016, to lot #6, our new, permanent Arizona home. When we did this I tried to retract our almost brand-new Atwood leveling jacks but the controller almost immediately went into failure mode and left the jacks in the down position. Fortunately, when the coach’s air bag shock absorbers filled they lifted everything about 5 inches and that gave us just enough clearance to be able to make the move.
I started working with a local RV repairman (Steve from Kiwi RV Service) to see about getting them fixed, or at the very least retracted so we could take the motor home to where we could get them fixed. Steve spent a lot of time on the phone with Atwood and they finally sent a replacement controller board, which he installed. When we tried again that board also immediately went into failure mode and wouldn’t let us retract the leveling jacks. Since exactly the same problem was happening on two different controller boards it probably wasn’t the board but something different. We contacted technical support at Atwood again but even after several phone calls nobody there seemed to know what could be wrong.
But we were also getting the run-around from Atwood. We called a number of times and usually could not find anybody who could talk to us about the leveling jacks. They’d take a message and promise to call us back and then never would. This went on for a long time and we finally found out why and that was because Atwood was in the process of selling the leveling jack division to Lippert Industries.
We tried talking to Lippert industries but were basically told (not in so many words, but it’s what they meant) that they weren’t honoring any warranties from Atwood. Steve persisted though, and finally got a technician from Atwood to call us on his own time and he ran us through a troubleshooting procedure. What we found is that each leveling jack has a sensor that tells the controller about its position. A wire to one (or more) of the sensors must have a short and for this reason, because the controller couldn’t tell where all the jacks were, it went into failure mode.
There is, of course, no way to override this. You can’t put the controller into any kind of manual override and there are no manual controls (no switches or pushbuttons) on the controller board. The technician said that the only way to get the leveling jacks back up was to hot wire them, and that’s what I did today.
It’s not pretty, but it worked:
The hard part was getting the connectors. There are a pair of wires coming from each jack that plug into the controller board. I didn’t want to remove the original connectors from these wires because hopefully we’ll be able to get this fixed the next time we go to the Tiffin factory. I spent a lot of time on-line trying to find the connectors I needed without being able to find them but Steve finally reminded me that we still had the original controller board and I could get the connectors from it. I de-soldered the connectors (took a while, they didn’t want to come off) and then soldered them to 10 gauge wires (the motors appear to take a lot of current) and then bolted the 12V cables from the controller to the posts. Each jack was wired oppositely, because I didn’t know which polarity would get the jacks to extend and which would get them to retract.
I started the motor home’s engine and waited for the air bags to lift the jacks off the ground and then attached the cable from the front passenger-side jack to the left hot-wire connector and found it was extending the jack. Unplugged it and plugged it into the other side, and it started retracting. I waited until it was almost all the way up and then unplugged it and then repeated this for all the other jacks. I took a marking pen and marked which connector did what for future reference.
So our leveling jacks are finally retracted. Since we bought the motor home 6 years ago we’ve had more trouble with our leveling jacks than anything else. We replaced 5 jacks over the years that had failed because the jacks kept physically breaking off from the motors. In October of 2015 we had all of the jacks and the controller replaced with newer versions at the Tiffin Factory. We pretty much drove directly from the Tiffin Factory to the SKP Saguaro Co-Op so the new jacks and controller failed after almost no use on our part at all. At the moment I have nothing good to say about Atwood leveling jacks because we’ve had nothing but problems with them. I also don’t have much good to say about Lippert Industries because they appear to have decided not to honor the Atwood warranties. Whether this is really true or not is hard to say, because Lippert had just acquired the Atwood leveling jack division and it’s possible they were still sorting things out, but they sure weren’t willing to provide any over-the-phone technical support either.
I have a plan to replace the controller board with more complex hot-wired manual system so if Tiffin can’t fix it for some reason, I’ll have to way to extend and retract them myself. This also seems like a project for an Arduino or Raspberry Pi but that’s a much more long-term project and as long as I can get them up and down it won’t matter all that much.