Roadtrek

Roadtrek

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

ROADTREK MODIFICATIONS: EZEE-LIFT

The spare tire on the standard Roadtrek is stored in the storage area under the bed and accessed through the rear doors. This pretty much takes up the main storage area that the Roadtrek offers. Roadtrek - as an option - offers an alternative called the Continental Spare Tire Kit. This places the spare tire on the exterior of the van over the rear bumper and in front of the driver's side rear door.

The Continental Spare Tire Kit is attached to the Roadtrek with a second hitch receiver. The "tire kit" and be taken on and off the Roadtrek, but if it is off and you are traveling, unless you have moved the tire under the bed, you have no spare. For some reason, the Chevy van rear cargo doors cannot support the weight of the tire on the usual spare tire carrier that swings to the side on a hinge. With the Continental Spare Tire on the Roadtrek, if you want to move the tire out of the way to open the left rear cargo door you must lower it down on a hinge that swings down toward the ground. Getting the tire down, you have the weight of the tire to move it - though you really want to hold on and slow it down or it can come down with a bang if you move it to the point where gravity will take over. The tire is very heavy, and of course, is on a steel rim along with the support bar, the decorative back-plate that matches the paint of your van, and the chrome ring that surrounds the tire and locks it to prevent theft. One strong person can lift it back into place. For the average person or older person, to lift the tire back into place without straining it takes two people. Since we have gotten the Roadtrek we have avoided opening the left rear cargo door as much as possible because moving the tire out of the way takes too much effort - and the two of us to do.





Not long after getting the Roadtrek, I learned about an invention from a Roadtrek owner called the Ezee-Lift. The Ez-ee lift is designed with a spring and pulley system that makes the tire easy to lower and put back up into place. With the Ezee-Lift, the weight of the tire feels like only 20 pounds to lift rather than the 70 pounds that it actually weighs. Meryl and I both knew that we needed to have one of these, as it would greatly improve the ability and convenience to have both rear cargo doors open. We decided to wait until this new RVing season to get one.

I asked on one of the forums if the claims were really true and I was told they are. I also learned that the gentleman who invented and manufacturers the Ezee-Lift, Mr. George Jones, would install the system for you if one can get to his home in Connecticut or if he is selling his system at a Roadtrek rally. The system is actually easy to install, but I was looking to get the Roadtrek out on a first trip, and I have physical difficulties that prevent me from getting down and under the van, and the system needs to be bolted to the frame of the Roadtrek in the rear. Since Meryl would rather not be in charge of putting the bolts on - though she certainly is capable and willing if necessary, we both decided to take the trip to Connecticut with the Roadtrek to have Mr. Jones do it for us. We decided to go on my birthday as a birthday excursion. Because of work commitments that Meryl has at this time in the year and with the holidays at the end of the week, this would be a one day trip - up and back the same day - with a couple of other destinations thrown in for fun. There will be a separate article coming about the trip to Connecticut itself, and another article about one of those destinations.

Mr. Jones' home is located some distance east of Hartford, Connecticut in a very hilly (maybe it is better described as mountainous) area. Once off the Interstates we drove on several winding roads that climbed up and down through very beautiful terrain. There were homes interspersed along the route, but when you look at the route with Google maps set to satellite mode, you do not see a road - you just see trees. And indeed, you are driving through a roads that wind their way through a forest. I would not want to attempt this drive at night, on ice, or in the snow - though we I commented on this to Mr. Jones, he told me that in Connecticut if it snows, the plows clear the roads by the next morning. That does not always happen where I live. There are ponds, streams, and a few places that if I could have just pulled over to the side, I could have taken some very nice photos. I will tell you right now, in the event that this all concerns you, that Mr. Jones gave us directions directly from the road that he lives on that went straight and fairly level back to the Interstate. Another lesson on not relying on one's GPS. Often the best route is not what a GPS will send you on.

Anyway, with traffic in New York and the never ending construction and traffic on the Connecticut Turnpike it took us four hours to get to Mr. Jones. He had asked if we would call when we were thirty minutes away, and we did. When we arrived at the turn to the road that he is located on, we could see a man in the street waving at us. It was Mr. Jones. He helped guide me to back up into his driveway. When we got out of the Roadtrek he told us that his wife had seen us pass her on the road along the way, and called him to say that a Roadtrek was heading that way. There are not a lot of Roadtreks that are commonly seen on a lot of roads, so she knew it had to be us.

Mr. Jones had the Ezee-Lift installed on our Roadtrek in about thirty minutes. The job requires that a powder-coated square tubular bar containing a large, heavy duty spring attached to a plastic enclosed metal cable be bolted under the back of the Roadtrek. On most Roadtreks there are already two holes in the frame to place the bolts through. If the holes are not there, Mr. Jones provides a template to use to drill them. You can contact Mr. Jones through his website, to find out if the holes are there - and there are photos there to see exactly what to look for if you look under your Roadtrek. Once this is bolted on, a bracket is bolted around the top of the Continental Spare Tire support arm. There is a pulley that is an integral part of the system and that is placed on the side of the bottom of the support arm and is bolted through the hole that normally holds the bolt that serves as the hinge pin. That original bolt and nut are removed (which did take some doing - due to the weight of the tire above), the pulley plate is put in place, and a new bolt is put through the pulley plate and through the support bar to the other side to now become the new hinge pivot pin, and locked into place with a locking nut. With all of the parts in place, the last step was securing the metal cable to the bracket that went on the top of the support arm, just under the tire. The cable is installed so that it will hold the tire tightly toward the van which eliminates the shaking the tire did on the back of the van before the Ezee-Lift was installed. This is a nice bonus. The only tools necessary where a pair of ratchet wrenches. Mr. Jones installed the system with the tire still on the support arm. If doing this myself, I would have removed the tire first to take the weight off the hinge pin to make it easier to remove. He has installed many, many of these and I am certain that he knew the tire did not really need to come off.

Once the system is installed, to lower the tire, all that is necessary is to take hold and give a slight push down, guiding the tire easily down without really feeling its weight. To raise the tire, you just lift and put it up. Mr. Jones recommends giving a little oomph on the first pull up and it will just follow up on its own. He had us both try it! Wonderful! There is also a bar included that you use when you have the tire off the support. This bar is put into place using the original hitch pin that holds the support arm up all of the time that the tire is not lowered. The bar then holds the tire carrier down and prevents it from springing up. Without the weight of the tire to hold the spring down, this is important. The whole system is very well designed.


On the 2012 Roadtreks, Roadtrek started including its own version of a lift system to make raising and lowering the Continental Spare Tire. I tried this at the Roadtrek display at the RV show that we attended in Hershey, PA last Fall. I was not impressed at the time with Roadtrek's system. It involved releasing a latch to raise the tire back up and it required a hand on the latch and a hand on the tire - and then some juggling - and it still required quite an effort to raise the tire. No. This was not a good solution. Roadtrek may still be offering this on new Roadtreks. The apparently offer a replacement kit for older Roadtreks, but that kit costs well over a thousand dollars and requires that you replace the tire surround and other parts in addition to the new lifting system. No, that is ridiculous - and it does not make lifting the tire any easier.

The Ezee-Lift costs $287.00. If you don't go to Mr. Jones directly, shipping is, of course, additional. You can order the system from Mr. Jones' company through his website, ezee-lift.net. This is money well spent and really a must for every Roadtrek. Get easy access to your cargo doors. No need to strain with that tire any longer!

The time that we spent with Mr. Jones was very pleasant. We were so lucky that the weather was perfect. And Mr. Jones gave us such great directions to get back on the Interstate!

Below are photos of my Roadtrek with the Ezee-Lift installed. Above are the before photos. Here are the after photos!

ADDENDUM:  For awhile the Ezee-Lift website has been unavailable and there has been no response to calls to Mr. Jones, the creator and seller of the Ezee-Lift system. I am happy to report that as of Feb. 2013, the site is up and running again. There are some glitches on the website that will not allow one to put in an order online, but there is a phone number (860-933-6949 M-F 9-5 ET) and if you call Mr. Jones, you can purchase an Ezee-Lift from him. (Thanks to one of our readers who shared this with us!)  The website requires that your browser have Java enabled to be able to place an order online. This is easy to do with the add-ons/extensions for your browser depending on your browser.



















9 comments:

  1. Looks to me to be hard to install. I did not find where to put the bolts through under the frame although I was told there were already holes there on my 2008 190 Popular Roadtrek. If I could only see a view of under where the tire is located........

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    1. When mine was installed - by the inventor and maker of Ezee-Lift, I could see that he was bolting to the chassis frame that goes back to front about halfway between the rear bumper and the rear tire on the driver's side. That was all he did under the Roadtrek. The rest bolted onto the post that holds the spare tire up from the hitch mount. It took him maybe 20 minutes or less and that was with him walking back and forth into his garage to get the right sockets for his socket wrench. It was all done with hand tools. We spent more time chatting about Roadtreks than he spent working on the installation. I am sure any mechanic could do this for anyone that does not want to do this themselves. It does not have to be an RV mechanic.

      I was just outside putting something into the driver's side cargo door and every time I lower that tire now I am amazed at how easy it is - and the same putting it back up - one handed.

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  2. I have a 2014 SS Agile with the hitch-mounted continental style spare tire. I believe it is the new system that RT has started using. I am not young, and I'm not very big. The first time I tried to lift the spare tire back into place, it was almost impossible. I had to use two hands to pull the lever up and out of the groove, but I needed one hand to lift the tire. I could not reach the lever with one hand and the tire with the other. I tried to think of modifications to help but nothing was workable. After many tries I managed to injure my left are and shoulder, and another camper saw that I was in distress and he lifted the tire for me. He was big and strong but it wasn't easy for him, either. The arm and shoulder are fine now, but I avoid at all costs opening the left rear door. Can the Ezee-lift be installed if there is a hitch? It sounds like the perfect solution!

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    1. Contact the inventor and maker of EzLift and ask him. I do not think the hitch should be a problem. I tried the new RT lift before I got the EzLift and I thought that it was awkward and not much of a help.

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  3. The gentleman who invented and makes the Ezee-Lift seems to have gone out of business. The website is gone and someone who has tried more than one phone number to reach him has left voice messages but has had no replies. This is a very sad thing. First, I hope that Mr. Jones is OK. Second, if this is not available any longer it is going to be a pain for anyone without one already to put down and lift the spare on their Roadtrek!

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    1. PLEASE NOTE - This comment above is old and is no longer the case. Ezee-Lift is still in business. See the addendum to this article for contact information.

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    2. The link in your blog to (http://www.ezee-lift.com/) is incorrect. The correct URL address should be .net http://www.ezee-lift.net

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  4. The new tire lift on my 2015 SS Agile is crap. I wish I had the ezee-Lift.

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    1. I tried that lift at the Hershey RV show the first time that RT was introducing it. I did not like it either. It was awkward to use and it did not ease the weight of the tire very much at all. That was just before I bought the Ezee-Lift - and was what made my decision that this was the way to go. Unfortunately, the new lift prevents the Ezee-Lift from being installed. I know a few that have contacted Mr. Jones about fitting their newer RTs with his invention. Every time I use it, I am amazed at what it used to take to put it up and down, and now I can do it with one hand.

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