From time to time when I visit our guests on-site as they are setting up their caravan I see them struggling to lower their corner steadies into position. This is more often the case when guests are using their crank handle. However, I’ve even seen some caravan corner steadies struggle to lower properly using an electric drill. Sometimes I’ve had guests remark they think its time to replace their corner steadies. In most instances that’s not the case, a proper service would get the corner steadies back in good working order. Therefore with this post, I wanted first to discuss proper corner steady servicing and when a replacement may be necessary.
When you take your caravan in for its annual service, the technician should also be servicing your caravan corner steadies. However, some caravanners choose to carry out their own servicing, and some service centres do a better job than others. Some of the ‘old’ methods of servicing and maintaining corner steadies are not the best practice today. Below if you don’t have the time to read this whole post you can use the Table of Contents to jump to a particular section, enjoy. 🙂
Introduction To Caravan Corner Steady Servicing
So before you run out to source some replacement corner steadies, with a bit of maintenance you may be able to get your caravan corner steadies back in good working order. If you have read any of my previous posts you will know I like to reference videos where possible. The video below from Practical Caravan is a good starting point. However, I don’t actually agree with everything John states in the video, but I’ll get to that below:
So during towing your caravan corner steadies have a pretty hard life. Dust, grit and dirt from the road surface is thrown up at the corner steady, particularly on fast roads. When it rains, not only are the steadies exposed the water but that water carries even more dirt off the road surface. I think John does a good job in describing the main issue a hand. That been the grease on the corner steady tread has worn away. Furthermore, the pivot points on the corner steady can also become stiff and need lubrication. However, its the choice of grease used by John in the video I think needs updating.
Using an Oil Can and Thick Grease? There Must Be a Better Way!
In decades past, the use of engine oil in oil can for lubrication was standard practice. You would then use some thick grease over the thread on the corner steady. Now, this practice is still done by many caravan service centres today. Don’t get me wrong, this method is better than not greasing the corner steadies at all. However, its not the easiest/best method and definitely not the best practice when it comes to your average caravanner.
For instance, John in the video is working with an ‘example’ corner steady upside down on a desk in front of him. We’ll your not be going to be taking your corner steadies off to work on them. First, the fixing bolts may be seized (that’s a separate issue), but mainly you often just won’t have the time. At a caravan service centre, they have a lift so that can work on the corner steadies while standing. I think its safe to presume you don’t own a caravan lift. You may own a caravan jack which may make the job a little easier. But generally, you will be lying on the ground. Quick note, if you do jack up the caravan you need to use axle stands before you climb underneath. In summary, it’s not going to be easy to apply thick grease or use an oil can while you’re lying on your back. But there is also an issue using thick grease.
The Problem with Thick Grease on Caravan Corner Steadies
As stated by John in the video above. Sometimes when your caravan comes back from an annual service there may be large lumps of grease on the threads of the corner steadies. This is not best practice, but as John states. They often leave it there as ‘evidence’ the corner steadies have been serviced. The issue with this type of grease, and particularly its overuse is that its a dirt magnet.
As I reference above, your caravan corner steadies have a pretty hard life while towing. Stones, grit and dirt are bouncing up off the road etc. Well, as I’m sure you know, grease it pretty sticky. Hence, some of that dirt is going to get caught up in the grease. Then when you get to the site and lower the corner steadies that dirt and grit can get pushed into the thread. This can over time actually damage the thread. Hence, the overuse of grease is a hindrance to good caravan corner steady operation, not a help. But there is a better choice…
The Benefits of Lithium Spray Grease
So personally, when it comes to servicing caravan corner steadies I would leave the oil can and thick grease in the past. I believe the best available solution today is to pick up a can of lithium spray grease. Lithium grease is commonly used for lubrication on metal to metal applications. The reasons being it provides long term lubrication, it sticks well to metal surfaces and resists moisture. Hence, all the attributes we are looking for when it comes to servicing caravan corner steadies. But when your lying on the back trying to work on the corner steadies you don’t want to be putting your fingers in a tub of thick grease. You can now get lithium grease in a spray.
Now, there are various brands of lithium spray grease on the market. The above can is produced under the WD-40 brand. Just be aware this is not a ‘standard’ can of WD-40 you may already have in your garage. Standard WD-40 does have lubricating properties. However, the effect won’t last nearly as long as using the proper lithium spray grease. You can use this lithium spray grease on the threads of the caravan corner steadies as well as the pivot points. It is much easier to apply while lying on your back, but please make sure you are wearing protective eyewear and other applicable safety wear. I would advise storing the can in your caravans front locker so its available on your travels if the corner steadies get a bit stiff.
Caravan Corner Steady Replacement
So if you have followed the corner steady servicing advice above and your steady still don’t lower and raise properly, it may need replacing. If the corner steadies have not been properly maintained in the past, the thread may be so damaged it needs to be replaced. Alternatively, the leg its self can be become bent, and will not lower and raise without significant resistance. A bent corner steady could be due to a side impact of some sort. However, it can also be due to improper use.
For instance, a caravanner trying to lift and level a caravan with their corner steadies on a slope. This can lead to damage. The lateral force and weight of the caravan can twist the corner steady leg. Now, I’m sure you have heard this many times, but I’m going to type it anyway. Never, ever, ever try and use your caravan corner steadies as a means to level the caravan. You should only use levelling ramps. Trying to lift the caravan on the corner steadies can not only lead to their damage, but it can also lead to damage to caravans body. Eventually, this may even lead to leaks and damp which you may find with a moisture meter. However, if your caravan corner steady is bent and damaged and needs replacing, what should you do? You could obviously just let your service centre do the work. But if that’s what you wanted to do you wouldn’t be reading this post.
Caravan Chassis Identification
So when it comes to choosing a new caravan corner steady to replace an old one, the first thing to do is identify what type of chassis you caravan is built on. Knowing what chassis was used will make it much easier to find the right corner steady replacement. Your caravan manual (if you have it) may state the chassis type. Alternatively, you can enter your caravan make and model number into Google along with the word ‘chassis’, you’ll probably be able to find out. If you look around your caravans hitch there is a very strong chance you are going to see the brands of either AL-KO or BPW. Now, BPW is actually now under the control of AL-KO, but don’t presume you can just order any AL-KO corner steady and its going to fit a BPW chassis.
Front vs Rear Corner Steadies
Something very important to note is that in almost all cases there are different sized corner steadies fitted to the front of the caravan compared the rear. Therefore you need to watch out for that when ordering a new conner steady, even if you have identified the right model. Before you order to avoid issues, take your old corner steady off the caravan. You will obviously have to use a suitable axle stand or similar as a temporary replacement. Again, checked for any branding (AL-KO/BPW) and thoroughly measure all the dimensions. There should also be a stamped part number. Then again thoroughly check those dimensions against your intended corner steady purchase. For instance, below are the dimensions of the AL-KO short corner steady:
AL-KO Caravan Corner Steadies
There is a wide range of AL-KO corner steadies. First, as referenced above, they have their standard galvanised short corner steadies for the front of the caravan, and their long corner steadies for the rear. However, if you have a larger caravan based on an AL-KO chassis that’s relatively new, your corner steadies may look a little different. You may potentially have AL-KO Stabilform corner steadies fitted:
The AL-KO Stabilform through its different construction and wider footprint according to AL-KO provide ‘20% more stability’. How they measured stability as a percentage I have no idea. But they do appear to be to have a wider footprint which would make sense to provide more stable support. Again, you can get Stabilform short, and Stabilform long legs. However, they are around double the price of their standard caravan corner steadies. If you have Stabilforms currently fitted I would recommend a like for like replacement. Otherwise, if you have the standard AL-KO corner steadies I would not recommend a mix and match set up. There is also the AL-KO Premium corner steady as shown in the image at the start of this post. Again, only normally seen on large caravans and has a slightly higher load rating that the Stabiliform. You will also find the AL-KO Premium corner steadies fitted as part of the hydraulic caravan self-levelling systems.
BPW Caravan Corner Steadies
If your caravan is based on a BPW chassis, its likely you’re going to find the correct font (short) or rear (long) corner steadies under a ‘BPW corner steady’ search. However, the actual corner steadies are manufactured by Winterhoff, just like the Winterhof WS3000 caravan stabiliser hitch fitted to caravans with a BPW chassis. Therefore, I would recommend doing a search under both ‘BPW corner steadies’ and ‘Winterhoff corner steadies’.
Conclusions on Caravan Corner Steady Servicing and Replacement
Trying to lower and raise your caravan corner steadies when they are not in good condition is a right pain. Most the time with a bit of clean up and a tin of lithium spray grease as I’ve described above they can be made much easier to operate. However, from time to time they can get damaged or bent due to an accident etc. If that’s the case you should do a like for like replacement. First, get that old broken corner steady off and properly measure it, look for a stamped part number etc and brand. You’ll then be confident you will be purchasing the right replacement. There are corner steadies available as you would expect on eBay. Obviously, be cautious about what you buy when it comes to second-hand products. There is no point replacing a bent corner steady, for a bent corner steady.
While we are on the topic, there is also various corner steady leg locks you can fit as a security measure. However, as I stated in my associated post, they should only ever been seen as an additional security measure, never a primary security measure. In other words, they don’t carry the same security value as a good quality hitch lock or wheel clamp. I hope you found this post of interest. A stable caravan is an important part of being able to enjoy your time within the caravan. I also hope you consider coming to visit us here at Horton Common in the near future. 🙂