There are numerous reasons why you might decide to replace your manual jockey wheel with an electric trailer jack. Perhaps you have back or shoulder issues that preclude you from winding the handle. Or perhaps you’d just like to make the process of hitching and unhitching as easy as possible.
There are a number of electric jacks designed to raise and lower the drawbar. We recently installed the Black Jack Trailer Jack, which is imported into Australia from Queensland-based Titan RV.
Just how easy was it fit and use? Read on…
BLACK JACK TRAILER JACK INSTALLATION
The Black Jack is available in three different model options. We opted for BJTJ-1001 because it’s a complete kit that includes everything required to install the jack, except for the tools. If you have some spanners and perhaps a shifter, you should be fine. The brackets have numerous holes, allowing it to fit a multitude of drawbar sizes. High tensile bolts, washers and nuts are provided, and it’s just a matter of bolting up the bracket to the drawbar.
The Black Jack unit is then bolted to the bracket, at which point you can connect it to the caravan’s onboard 12V power source. The wiring kit is included. As expected, I found a positive cable, an earth cable to run to the chassis or the negative terminal on the battery, some cable joiners and a fuse.
And honestly… that’s all there is to it. Fitting the Black Jack is a very simply DIY task but, naturally, see a specialist if you’re not confident.
The unit has two buttons: an on/off LED light switch for low light operation, and a button to extend and retract the shaft. Up top, you’ll find a handy built-in spirit level as well as a rubber grommet.
This grommet hides a special winding point that you’d use in the even the van’s battery was depleted. Essentially, it’s a matter of inserting the provided tool and cranking the Black Jack up or down as required. This is a welcome feature.
The Black Jack Trailer Jack provides an impressive 560mm of vertical travel, which should allow you to hitch and unhitch from any towbar regardless of the conditions. The shaft itself has a number of holes, allowing you to adjust the starting height of the foot section as required – just insert the pin and lock it into place. Easy.
Further, the Black Jack can lift up to 1600kg. Considering the maximum towball mass of any Australian caravan would be 350kg (up to 450kg in some cases), this is the definition of ‘over-engineering’.
The Black Jack has been on the market for about a year but has been re-released with a couple of additional features: a new Jack foot pad, which provides a firm footing for the shaft, and the new ‘flip foot’ to replace the standard foot if desired by the user. It’s just a matter of removing the standard foot and securing the flip foot in place, using a pin in one of the aforementioned holes.
As its name implies, the flip foot swings upwards and rests horizontally under the drawbar, ready for travel, once the shaft of the Black Jack has been retracted. The main benefit for the ‘flip foot’ is so there’s no more bending down to adjust the foot shaft when hitching or unhitching when using the black jack.
Incidentally, you can purchase an optional jockey wheel attachment, which secures to the shaft in place of the standard foot or flip foot. This would be, in my opinion, mainly of benefit to owners of smaller/lighter vans that could conceivably be nudged into position by hand.
Now, it’s worth pointing out that the Black Jack weighs 17kg, which should be factored into your payload calculations (albeit minus the weight of the original jockey wheel), but if you’re considering an electric jack to aid hitching up your van, the Black Jack is a worthy contender. It even features a built-in night-light and comes with a handy cover to keep out the weather. We experienced no problems when fitting the unit and everything worked a treat.
RRP: $559-$599 (complete kits)
More info: www.blackjacktrailerjacks.com.au