My Temporary Fifth Wheel Power Jack Repair

Details of my MacGyver-like Fifth Wheel Power Jack Repair

A few weeks ago we were all setup camped at Zion National Park when we notice a strange clunking noise as we moved about the fifth wheel. Along with the clunking, it also seemed to be wiggling around a lot in the front end. I headed out and tracked the noise and excess movement to the front power landing jacks. Hmm, weird they had never done that before. I opened up the front storage area and scoped out the mechanics of them. Everything appeared to be OK so I tried to lower them a bit. BAM! Clunk Clunk BAM! Anne and I quickly looked at each other. Crap! That wasn’t a good sound!

I opened up the front storage area and scoped out the mechanics of them. Everything appeared to be OK so I tried to lower them a bit. BAM! Clunk Clunk BAM! Anne and I quickly looked at each other. Crap! That wasn’t a good sound!

I had heard stories of stripped gears and sheared off pins and all sorts of other horrors that can befall the power jacks leaving you stranded. On closer inspection, it looked like the power motor bracket has somehow come loose and this enabled the motor to spin right around the shaft. This made me feel a little better as it was unlikely I would be dealing with damaged gears. The cause turned out to be a molded plastic stop had cracked and sheared off the gearbox housing. See the photo below for a better understanding.

Atwood Gear Box

Atwood Gear Box

So the next task was how to fix it? We were a fair distance from any major RV parts source that would just happen to stock this part and changing out the gear box is not something I was going to tackle at the RV Resort, so it was time to improvise. Being a full-timer I always pack along a good selection of tools, odds and ends for possible repairs, things like nuts and bolts, screws, tape, bailing wire, all sorts of stuff like that. Having these things allowed me to cobble together a Macgyver-like solution. With my cordless drill, I made a hole through the corner of the gearbox housing and used a nut, bolt, and a ¾ inch socket to fashion a temporary fix. Whaalaa we were back in business and the power jacks were working smooth again without any wiggle or play.

Gearbox Fix   Gearbox Fix 2

Gearbox Fix 3

Video Detailing the Gearbox Temporary Fix


I was pretty lucky that when the motor was doing the funky chicken dance it didn’t damage any nearby wiring. Once I get situated at our summer RV Park I will be changing out the gearbox. This will give me a chance also to take things apart and examine the state of the gearing and mechanisms in greater detail. While apart I will be able to clean out the old grease and re-lube everything. Of course, I will document everything and post it on the blog, so be on the lookout for that.

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