After only using our motorhome for a season, we decided that leveling the coach with a bunch of 2x12s t was not a valid solution. So we planned last summer to add hydraulic levelers. I live about an hour from Quadra Mfg, the makers of the Bigfoot Hydraulic system, so late last summer we visited the factory. We found that typically in January, Quadra has a sale on their systems. So since the camping season was almost over, we thought we would take advantage of the sale and have a system installed over the winter.
The factory also installs the units, so we thought they would do a better job than a local dealer. And again, since they were only an hour's drive from home, it was an easy decision. I usually do most of my projects myself, but this project included working under the rig and welding. I really do not have the facility to do this project, nor do I really have very good welding skills - and since the January sale was on Installation ($500 off the normally $650 flat rate), we went with a factory install.
The jacks that were installed have a 14" stroke for the front, and 12" stroke for the rear. Each jack can handle 12,000lbs, which is about the weight of the entire rig. We also went with the wireless "manual" system, which means the leveling of the jacks must be done with a spirit or other level, and the wireless remote.
Quadra also sells an automatic system that is a one-button push-and-forget levelling technique, but I went with the manual system as I liked that I had complete control over the jacks. And the manual system was a bit less expensive.
Quadra calls their system "Bigfoot" as the landing pads are the largest available. When I did the research on the levelers, I found that there were at least 3 companies that made an aftermarket installation kit; Quadra (Bigfoot), Lippert (Level Up), and HWH. Of the three, I liked the Bigfoot system the best, so that is what we went with.
The wireless remote is used to level the system, this allows you to walk around the rig while doing so (as well as inside). One thing I did discover though is that there were a few "dead spots" where the receiver would lose signal from the wireless remote. Part of the reason I think is the receiver is normally installed behind the driver's seat on the side wall, but that is where the slide out is, so they could not install it there... so they installed the receiver under the seat.
I did talk to the engineer that designed the wireless system, and he suggested adding wire to the antenna in multiples of 13" (at 433Mhz, 13" is a half-wave antenna).
The main control box under the rig is where the valves and hydraulic pump are located. There is an emergency switch located there so that in an emergency (or if you lose the remote), you can retract all of the hydraulic cylinders. I really don't like the location of the switch under the rig, so as soon as the warranty period is over, I plan on relocating that switch to the cab.
I have been using Camco's EZ Level system to level the coach with great success, although you can also use a spirit level.
Unfortunately, this system will not alleviate the need to carry along a couple of 2x12s, but at least I won't need to carry big ramps. The reason is that even with a 14" lift, some terrain is still too steep for the leveler to work. For this reason, I may need to place a couple of 2x12s under the cylinders for additional lift. As well, when fully extended the front tires may be off the ground, and I like the idea of putting blocks under the tires so they are not.
Another option is to carry a set of the plastic leveling blocks as they won't be damaged like they would if I had to drive over them in the past.