Jacks, Trail-A-Mate, Sidewinder Jacks and Bottle
Jacks can be used to position your caravan at home,
change a wheel or raise the van or trailer for
Stand with a screw type adjustment system. It is
easily adjusted by turning the knurled hand nut
until you have reached your preferred height.
Caravans and trailers do not come with a jack.
There will be times when you need to raise or move
your caravan, trailer or RV using a jockey wheel or
jack. These devices can be used to position your
caravan at home, change a wheel or raise the van or
trailer to enable you to grease the nipples on the
Trailer jacks can also be used to raise up your RV
to enable you to hitch up to a tow vehicle as well
as raise the RV to enable connection of the chains
to the hitch bracket for the weight distribution
No portion of your body should be placed under a
vehicle or RV that is supported only by a jack.
Vehicle support or safety stands should be used. To
protect your hands it is a good idea to use leather
Even when releasing the weight distribution hitch
chains or uncoupling your caravan or trailer off the
tow ball you should keep your feet well away from
under the ‘A’ frame or draw bar. Jockey wheels have
been know to fail or collapse from not being secured
properly to the bracket on the drawbar.
If your caravan or trailer gets a flat tyre find a place,
with preferably a level surface, and pull over. Make sure
you will not be in danger from passing traffic when you are
in the process of changing the tyre. It is best to leave
the caravan or tailer hitched to the tow vehicle to prevent
it moving or rolling forward but chock or block any wheels
remaining on the ground. Use a piece of plywood or plate
under the jack. Give some thought to the jack extension
height to ensure it will be high enough to lift the wheel
off the ground particularly if you have an off-road caravan
or camper trailer as it may have a higher ground clearance.
Use safety stands to support the caravan or trailer and
don’t place your body or any parts of your body under the
Trail-A-Mate Caravan and Trailer Jack
The Trail-A-Mate device is a hydraulic jockey wheel
that can convert to a hydraulic jack. By removing a
pin you can replace the standard hard wheel with a
base plate. The Trail-A-Mate comes complete with
the jockey wheel housing assembly, jacking base
plate, jacking brackets, lifting clamp attachment,
pump handle and instruction booklet.
Some caravans and camper trailers now have a jacking
bracket or jacking point behind the rear wheels but,
if not, brackets are supplied with the Trail-A-Mate
kit. Make sure the cross member is of solid
construction before having the jacking brackets
welded on. A welded steel tube right across the
caravan may be required for some of the older
caravans. The last thing you want is for welding
for the jacking bracket to break away from the
chassis whilst the RV is jacked up.
The manufacturer claims the jack has a working load limit
of 1000 kgs and a maximum lifting range of 380 mm (15
inches). When you are jacking a caravan or trailer you
are not lifting the total weight but rather about 1/3 or
less of the van or trailer weight.
The Trail-A-Mate makes raising and lowering the RV
physically much easier, especially on your back, than the
jockey wheel winding method particularly for the heavier
RV’s. Get a canvas tent peg bag or a plastic bucket and
place it over the head of the jack to protect it from the
weather. It’s also a good idea to chock under the ‘A’ frame
or drawbar and lower the trailer onto the chocks or a jack
stand to take some of the stress or weight off the
Trail-A-Mate if storing your RV for a long time.
The hydraulic (rubber seals) can perish over time so it is a
good idea to carry your jockey wheel with you as a spare
anyway or take a bottle jack because if the jack hydraulics
fails you may still need to lift the ‘A’ frame or draw bar
up to get it onto the hitch/tow ball of your tow vehicle.
Hydraulic oil can be purchased from automotive accessory
stores. You can obtain a Trail-A-Mate Service Kit and the
supplier will post it to you along with a DVD that gives
step by step instructions on how to complete the replacement
of the seals etc. It is worthwhile to note, you would need
a vice to grip the Trail-A-Mate to loosen the nut if you
have to replace the piston seal.
The Trail-A- Mate Service kits are available from Seatra
International Pty Ltd, 233 Shepherds Hill Road, Eden Hills
SA 5050. Ph (08) 8278 5107 or email
are other Hydraulic Camper Jacks available. The
manufacturer claims they are heavy duty construction with a
2,000 lb capacity.
A Sidewinder Jack can double as a jockey wheel. The
manufacturer indicates it is for caravans or trailers up to
16’ and a maximum GTM of 1600 kgs.
jacks are hydraulic jacks, including air hydraulic, used for
lifting. The extended height of the bottle jack and its
lifting capacity can vary per type and model so check
for sure the one you choose will do the job you want it to.
A handle is used to turn the valve clockwise to raise the
height and counter clockwise to lower it. For ease of use,
it is best to have a bottle jack that has a handle that
operates in a vertical (an up and down motion) rather than a
winding motion (clockwise and anticlockwise) as the latter
type of handle can be low to the ground making it difficult
to turn. To lower the jack shaft it is a simple as turning
a lever, controlling the rate of lowering, and the
hydraulics do the work.
Also, prior to using the bottle jack be mindful of its
height extension capacity as you may need to put a block of
wood under it to get it to the height you want. It is
really tiresome to jack it all the way up only to find there
is not enough height for the jack to get the wheel off the
ground and able to be removed from the caravan or trailer.
Jack stands come in a number of construction materials. For
example, plastic jack stands (max load 750 kg), sturdy
aluminium (1000 kg capacity) or steel (up to 4000 kg or 4
ton). These can be bought singularly or in sets of 4. They
are handy to support the van or trailer once on site or if
you want to chock it up off the tyres when in storage or
when changing a tyre.
Jack is a portable dolly/jack combination suitable for say
positioning your caravan, trailer, campervan or motorhome.
The twin rollers slide around the tyre, squeezing upward and
lifting the tyre off the ground. The 360 degree casters
enable you to side load, spin and position your RV or
vehicle. The manufacturer claims that each jack can support
High Lift Jacks
If you own a 4WD vehicle you may already own a high
lift jack. Various 4WD forum discussions indicate
there are varied opinions on these type of jacks
from ‘essential to have’ to ‘downright dangerous to
Whilst the high-lift jack cannot be used as a jockey
wheel it can be used to raise the RV to change a
flat tyre but there must be approved jacking points
on the tow vehicle, van or tailer. Use leather
safety gloves to protect your hands and keep your
body well clear from underneath the vehicle or
There are various brands of high lift jacks
available such as ‘Terrain Tamer’, ‘Jack-All’
(Canadian) and ‘Hi-Lift’ (USA) and they come in
various sizes and construction material. The
manufacturer of Hi-Lift Jacks claims that it is a
rugged, versatile jack weighing about 14 kg (30 lbs)
and rated to 2113.74 kg (4,660 lbs) and manufactured
of specially rolled extra high carbon steel. It is
available in 107 cm (42"), 122 cm (48") and 153 cm (60") heights. Hi-Lift have a User Manual available
online. ‘Terrain Tamer’ high lift jack has 1050 kg
lift capacity with a 48 inch lift.
Suppliers of high
lift jacks need to ensure that the goods they import
and supply in Australia comply with the relevant
mandatory Australian standard (AS/NZ 2693:2003).
High lift jacks are
available from Auto Pro, ARB and 4 x 4 stores and
eBay. Opposite Lock supply RGJACK brand high-lift
When buying a high
lift jack check that it has the markings or
of the name and address of the manufacturer or
importer, the batch identification number, the
nominated working load capacity and any warning
signs. The jack should have the ability to lower
step-by-step otherwise it may drop down to the base
plate thereby dropping your load. Such an event has
been know to trap and injure hands or other body
parts. Use a base plate under the jack to help
distribute the weight. For ease of use, wipe of any
dust and dirt and apply some lubrication such as CRC
prior to use.
high lift jack should be regularly maintained and also check
the engaging pins are not bent as this may prevent proper
operation. To prevent pin damage, one suggestion has been
to make sure the direction lever is in the ‘up’ position
when the jack is stored. One disadvantage of these high
lift jacks is the storage in or on the tow vehicle due to
vehicle or RV should be fitted with suitable jacking points
if you use this device.
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