Secure That Rig With...
by Bob (Ram) Muessig
"Wheel Chocks...check. Pin locked...check. Wood blocks...check. C'mon, I've gone over my checklist hundreds of times and nothin' ever changes. F'cryin' out loud, I could do this loading and hitching business in my sleep with out the danged checklist!" Well, maybe so, but DON'T! I've gone over mine, too, and even though nothing ever changes, it always seems that my attention is called to some little thing...something that would ordinarily go completely unnoticed. Those little things are PRECISELY why I use my checklist.
There are a few things that you'll find will need your attention before, during, and after any trip. And, if you're using that checklist faithfully, you'll automatically stay on top of everything, catching stuff before it can go wrong (hopefully).
One of these items is your set of wheel chocks. These may be simple wood blocks or sophisticated devices, but all they do is keep your vehicle exactly where you want it to stay. They prevent it from rolling. That's their sole purpose and they are very important to you when you are hitching or unhitching, changing a tire (chasing the rig down the hill toward the lake or cliff with the lug wrench in your hand is really gonna make you look silly), setting up at a campsite, or getting ready to leave one. Now, it doesn't make any difference at all as to which type of chocks you use as long as you use 'em and always make sure that they are in good shape with nothing cracked, bent, or broken.
Now let's take a look at the pin lock. These locks are used mainly for securing the pin on a fifth-wheel trailer, but similar devices are also used on travel-trailers, tow-dollies, and tow-bars to prevent theft, vandalism, or accidental break-away while you are traveling down the highway. They actually may be considered more of a safety device than anything else and, as you probably already know, safety is one of my biggest concerns (my waistline is the other). First, look closely at the keys to the lock. Be sure there are no sharp or rough edges that may damage the lock. If there are, don't grind or file them. Use a piece of steel wool or a wire brush to smooth them away (old locksmith trick).
Since these locks are of the outdoor variety, they are exposed to water and dirt, the two most damaging things to any lock. If left exposed to the elements without proper care, your locks won't last long. The little pins inside, and the springs, will be subject to corrosion. You can protect your lock(s) by using a lubricant designed especially for locks, such as white graphite, available at any locksmith shop or hardware store. NEVER OIL A LOCK! (Sorry for shouting) Oil attracts dirt. You may put a piece of tape over the keyway to prevent dirt and water from getting in. Some folks even put a plastic baggie over their lock(s) and secure it. That's a very good way to prevent exposure to dirt and water. All I'm saying is, if you keep your locks clean and lubricated, they'll provide many years of service.
The one thing I've not yet mentioned is those wood blocks. If you have some room (doesn't take much) and can carry a little extra weight, get some LARGE wood blocks. Find a lumberyard and pick up some 4x8, 2x8, & 1x8 pieces about 2 feet long. If you have a selection, as I do, you'll be able to level your RV at home, in storage, at campgrounds, or on the side of Mt. Everest, for that matter. If you have to park on uneven ground, you'll find these wood blocks to be invaluable. In addition, these large sizes will not sink into rain-softened earth as easily as those little metal pads on the leveling jacks and stabilizers. Another thing to consider is what type of wood you will want to use. You're going to be putting these blocks on the ground, so your best bet would be pressure-treated wood, even though it will be a bit more expensive. However, it will last a great deal longer than untreated wood, so you can easily justify the additional cost. Put that together with the fact that insects don't like pressure-treaed wood and your wood blocks become quite a bargain. You see, you don't want to introduce insects such as termites into your RV. After all, many RVs use a lot of wood in their construction and your pretty cabinets, furniture, subflooring, and walls would be a termite's delight...an unlimited food supply! Aside from that, just make certain that your blocks are not cracked or split. You'll want a good, solid foundation for your RV no matter where you are.
Suppose you must change a tire or perform some other type of repair underneath your rig. You'll need those blocks to provide solid footing for your jack, too. And don't forget to use those wheel chocks, especially now. You don't want to spend your vacation pinned underneath the rig, 'cause that's a really poor place to relax. So's the hospital.
Double-check all items on your checklist. Everything OK? Great! Keep in mind that safety and security go hand-in-hand with chocks, locks, and blocks. Happy camping!
Back to Top