If you look carefully at the photos, you can see the original jack brackets mounted on top of the larger underlying metal reinforcement plates. When painted, you can hardly tell they are there.
The first time we applied the camper’s weight to the front jacks, it was obvious that the mount was infinitely stiffer. The legs exhibit no shift or tilt. It’s rock solid, and better than when it was new, in my opinion.
After that experience, I was confident enough to make that same modification to our brand new Lance 1050s, even though there was no indication of a problem. The front legs react most of the camper dynamic loading and static weight, and distributing that load over a wider area greatly relieves the point stress at the attachment bolts.
I can’t be the first person to accidentally get the camper up on three legs, where one of the rear jacks retracts faster than the other, leaving the camper standing on two front and one rear leg. The body structure is strong enough to do hold the unsupported rear corner in the air. However, you won’t be able to get one front leg into the air, and please don’t try it. The front loads are just too high, the center of gravy is too far forward, and you risk tipping, rolling, or structural failure. Because the rear legs are relatively lightly loaded, there is no reason to worry about a stiffener modification on those legs.
Getting back to your question, I can say that both campers stand on their own four feet, off the truck, lowered close to the reasonably level ground, most of the time. I’ve never put any support under the belly of the campers, and don’t plan to. I once saw a photo of a camper that was set on wooden pallets, after the pallets had shifted in the wind/rain, allowing the camper to slip/slide sideways, tearing the front leg out of the frame and destroying the front panel. The legs are very stable when solidly on the ground, but cannot stand much of a dynamic impact when retracted.
Since that time, we’ve installed a new roof on the Coachmen, had the front window removed and insulated, installed LED lighting, and closed the now windowless front end with a solid wrap-around composite sheet. After adding some new decals, the old girl looks great. I still keep the propane tanks full, as she’s fully repaired, functional and ready to go. But, that also means she’s ready to sell. I guess I’ll soon need to start working on an eBay ad.” – Gary Possert, 1998 GMC K3500, 1998 Coachmen Ranger
“We live in Alaska, so a sturdy base is necessary to withstand winter weather. Since we use our camper for half or more of the year, we typically put it on its base only once or twice a year.
I built a small, portable deck that sits on four poured concrete footings complete with leveling hardware. The deck is 4′ x 8′ and is constructed of two 4″x6″ beams running lengthwise, with 2x6s on 16″ centers mounted in joist hangars on the beams, just like a deck or floor.
To keep it light, all things relative, I didn’t fasten the 2×6 joists to the joist hangars so they can be removed. To keep the deck rigid, there is a piece of 1/2″ all-thread that is through-bolted through the beams at each end. When the 2x6s are dropped into the joist hangars and the all-thread tightened, it is very rigid.
To use it, I back the camper into the spot where I want to drop it, raise it off the truck and pull the truck out. Then I drop the four concrete footings in place, put the deck beams into the leveling U-saddles on the footings and square/level it up. If the 2x6s aren’t already in place, they are dropped in next. This takes about twenty minutes if the spot isn’t fairly level.
Once the deck framing is complete, square and level, I place a sheet of 4’x8′ OSB, like roof or floor sheathing, on top of the deck and then place a piece of 2” thick 4’x8′ rigid foam insulation on top of that. Then I lower the camper in place, raising the jacks about an inch off of their pads in case the deck settles over time. I don’t want one corner sinking enough to put that load on a single jack.
Remember, we live in a cool climate, and the foam board is for extra insulation in the unlikely event we would need to inhabit our camper in an emergency. It helps insulate the basement where the holding tanks reside.
And yes, we have camped for days in it in -20F temps and it was great. One winter I tested the forced air propane heating system at -45F one winter, and with both twenty pound propane tanks full and married together, it took thirty minutes to get up to 55F, and ultimately shut-off at 68F in forty-five minutes where the thermostat was set. It’s very usable in an emergency, although I would need a 100 pound or larger propane tank to sustain this and live in it.
This deck stays at home. It was not intended as a portable or temporary base to take on camping trips.” – Bill Wakefield, 2001 Ford F350, 2001 Bigfoot 20C 8.10
“Here is a picture of our 2012 Lance 850 on our 2011 Ford F-350 in the storage yard. I do not dare put the Atwood jacks down for fear that I will drive off with them down!” – Bob Morrissey