Most caravan parks that advertise level pitches mean just that and you can wheel you unit on, set up and have everything all nice and ship shape, or caravan-shape, in not time at all. A lot of pitches though are not level, and if you are like me, even a small measure of unevenness will bother you.
As well as it being something that bothers me at a level of attention to detail that is probably way beyond any normal appreciation of the concept that good enough really is enough, there are some practical reasons for levelling you RV. You will find that things like the kitchen sink, the shower tray and the grey-water fallout pipes are all designed with specific falls which are focused on getting gravity to assist you when you need drainage. If your unit is not level you may find that your shower tray will hold pools of scummy water, your wash-up water will refuse to leave and your drainage pipes will block up with dreadful evil smelling gunk. Your drinks will look uneven in you glass, things like camera batteries and golf balls will roll off the table and you may have a less than comfortable nights sleep.
The solution to all this is easy and cheap to achieve:
- If you are a caravan owner simply equip yourself with one wedged shaped leveller plus one chock which is usually pushed under the wheel and locks into position to prevent the wheel rolling off the leveller. The sequence of events for me is usually as follows:
- Arrive at the campsite & take a stroll to select a pitch
- Examine the pitch to see that it is flat and consistent. Perhaps one doesn’t exist or it might be that the pitch which provides the best possible view of the mountain or lake is not the flattest.
- Unhitch and use the mover to get the van roughly into position, moving it slightly further back on the pitch than where it will end up.
- Using a short spirit level check that it is level front to back and using the jockey wheel make some adjustments until you are happy that the bubble is between the lines.
- Placing your spirit level transversely on the floor, without stepping inside the van, and check that it is level side to side.
- If it is lower on one side place the thin end of your leveller under the front of the wheel and move the caravan forward onto it raising the level on that side.
- Making sure the van is stable at all times check your spirit level until you are happy that the floor is level.
- Check that your van is fully on the pitch and that the tow-hitch or rear is not protruding into the roadway. You will most like have solved this problem earlier by positioning it a little further back than you wanted.
- Secure the chock ensuring that it is locked into position to form a stable obstacle to the wheel.
- Secure the brake, deploy your steadies ensuring that they do just that, steady the van that is, without carrying any of its weight.
- Get the kettle on.
Finding a spot on the caravan to put your spirit level is often debated. I’ve seen people put them on counter tops, on the tops of windows and on the A-frame. Having tried them all I now prefer to use the floor, on the assumption that it it is intended to be horizontal in all directions in order to act as a base for the construction of the unit.
Sometimes the caravan levellers can be known as a wheel ramp and a few basic models exist. When buying one look for a surface that will give you good traction when wet, especially if you are using a caravan mover to get it into position. Some are gently wedge shaped and give a consistent ramp all the way up while others are stepped. The stepped ones look like they are very stable when everything is in place, however it might be difficult to get everything just right.
Milenco manufacture one which is based on an aluminium frame and which had a built in ratchet allowing you to get your van absolutely level. This idea appeals to me as well as the fact that it is very simple operate, involving little or none of the shunting involved in the above operations.
You can get a two way spirit level that is designed to work in both directions, front to back and side to side. If you can find a surface that the manufacturer intends to be level you can perhaps permanently fix one of these to it. This will negate the necessity to find it each time you arrive on site, however do find a place to fix it that will not cause a hazard or interfere with the operation of anything else.
Remember that if you have a twin axle van you must generally use two matching leveling gadgets on the same side.
If you want to enter at the luxurious end of the market there is always the option of using a fully automatic system such as the CaraLevel. This is fitted to each of the corner steadies and has a computerised sensor which allows it to decide when the van is level. It takes under tow minutes to complete the operation and it can even be used for short stops without removing the caravan from the tow-car.