Backing up a trailer - Fiberglass RV


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Old 03-10-2009, 08:28 AM   #1
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When backing up, instead of holding the wheel at the top, place your hand at the 6 o'clock position.This way the trailer will turn left when the wheel is turned to the left and right when you steer right.
Anyone else have a good tip?
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Old 03-10-2009, 08:38 AM   #2
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my tip is practice, practice, practice when nobody is looking so you won't get embarrassed.
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Old 03-10-2009, 08:53 AM   #3
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Don't turn your head and look back, use your mirrors to view the trailer in movement.
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Old 03-10-2009, 08:59 AM   #4
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my tip is practice, practice, practice when nobody is looking so you won't get embarrassed.
LOL I am still practicing! by the end of the camping season I think i have it perfected, then after the winter.. i am back to square one... took me 15 min to park it in the driveway the first time... now last time it was 5 min.. so getting better.... next time will be no guarentee.. might take me longer...
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Old 03-10-2009, 09:19 AM   #5
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When backing up, instead of holding the wheel at the top, place your hand at the 6 o'clock position.This way the trailer will turn left when the wheel is turned to the left and right when you steer right.
Anyone else have a good tip?
That's not bad. My tips would be start out as far out as possible from the spot you're backing up into, and try to think as though you're steering the trailer and forget about the car so to speak (but do check for obstacles!). Go veeeeeery slow at first, go easy on the steering wheel, draw an imaginary line for the path you're following, and make any small corrections before it's too late. Eventually it becomes second nature.

Oh, and you can practice online here
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Old 03-10-2009, 11:11 AM   #6
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Long ago I stopped focusing on turning the steering wheel left or right while backing. Left to go right but then once the turn is started the wheel goes right again or you jackknife, and then, then, ghaaaaaa!

Think about how you need to "bend" the car / trailer assembly at the hitch. For this moment, what angle between the car and the trailer will steer the assembly where I want it. "Steering" the car to a position or angle is what we always do, with or without a trailer.

For me this mental approach quickly became rather intuitive. The only problem that I generally have is when I try to think about which way to turn the wheel.

Use the technique that works for you.

Craig T.
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Old 03-10-2009, 11:41 AM   #7
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If possible try to back in using the drivers side so you can look back out the drivers window to see where the trailer tires go.........many semi drivers know that backing in on the "blind side " (passenger side) is harder to do but not impossible with practice.
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Old 03-10-2009, 12:03 PM   #8
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Some years ago, when I first bought a boat and trailer, I would practise backing into our driveway. Then pull onto the street in the other direction and try the driveway again. Whenever our good neighbours would see me doing this they would line the front lawn and shout encouragement. "Hey Jim, a little more left. Look out on the right".
When we bought the Boler I again practiced parking until I felt comfortable with the same results from the neighbours. When you can do it right, when your friends are laughing and making fun of you, you won't have a problem in a campground.
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Old 03-10-2009, 12:16 PM   #9
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I have been backing up trailers, farm implements, etc. for almost 40 years, and it is like second nature to me. I also have a Class I license for driving big rigs.

Sorry Kevin, I don't really think using a reverse logic would be advised, and I would only find it confusing. You should never think about the direction of left or right that your hands are going, but whether you need to turn clockwise or anticlockwise.

Steve is right that lots of practice is key. Practice in an wide open parking lot. You can use the lines for reference points.

Donna's suggestion to use mirrors and not turn your head around is right on the money. Once you get used to this it will help immensely. Besides, you can see better with the mirrors.

Craig's thinking is along the lines of what I always recommend to those still learning. I tell people to think about where they want the back end of the tow vehicle to go in order to PUSH the trailer backwards to where they want IT to go, then guide the tow vehicle in that direction.

What Joe says about trying to back in to the left, viewing from the drivers mirror, is definitely the easiest as you get a clear view in the mirror of where you are going. Always try to orientate yourself to back in this way if possible. Backing and turning to the right leaves a blind spot, and requires much more care, and often stopping and checking your progress if you don't have a person guiding you.

If you have a person guiding you, it really helps if they understand the mechanics of reversing with a trailer. Directions should always be given in the direction you want the trailer to move, not they way you want the driver to turn the wheel. Pointing with no hand movement signifies a slight correction in direction, a simple 'wagging' of the hand means a bit more correction, and signaling while bending at the elbow means to correct hard. The person guiding should always stand right in line of the drivers side mirror too.
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Old 03-10-2009, 02:08 PM   #10
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FIRST - the one thing nobody really mentioned, FIRST get out of the vehicle, and LOOK at where you are going. Look for obstructions, issues in the terrain.. & so on. It also helps you see WHERE the rig is, and WHERE you **want** to end up!!!

Otherwise, ALL of the above are GREAT suggestions. I ***know*** that our first time or two must have caused infinite amusement to other campers... but then I have ALSO gotten to enjoy a show or two... lol...It DOES take practice, practice, practice and then more practice. But I have to admit I have never thought about just doing it over and over in the driveway. And, YES the driver's side really IS way easier.

Also agree 100% with Donna's mirror advice. I am fortunate to have electric on the passenger side, so they are easy to adjust.

I do use the 6 O'clock hand position, I suppose because that is how I learned. backing Slow is ALWAYS best, and the longer and "straighter" the approach the better.

my bride still has not done any backing up... we need to head to a big parking lot for practice.
I was fortunate in that previous to buying the scamp 5er, i HAD done some utility trailers (concrete and stuff) and even had a small trailer used on the back of a garden tractor - which reduced the learning curve.

MAN - this makes me want to go home, hitch up and just taker 'er for a SPIN.
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Old 03-10-2009, 04:06 PM   #11
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Of course the simplest thing to do is get pull-thru sites. Then if you miss align on the first pull thru you just go around again.....
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Old 03-10-2009, 05:06 PM   #12
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BUT there is the home issue...
Before we moved to town, we had 5 acres, and that would have been VERY easy. Now not so easy. lol

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Of course the simplest thing to do is get pull-thru sites. Then if you miss align on the first pull thru you just go around again.....
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Old 03-10-2009, 05:17 PM   #13
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FIRST - the one thing nobody really mentioned, FIRST get out of the vehicle, and LOOK at where you are going. Look for obstructions, issues in the terrain.. & so on. It also helps you see WHERE the rig is, and WHERE you **want** to end up!!!
Excellent point Alan, a definite must do.
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Old 03-10-2009, 05:43 PM   #14
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I use a similar mindset to Craig and Jim, in that I think about "driving the hitch." I was already comfortable with using mirrors and driving long, "straight" vehicles, but I had to get used to the added dynamic of the trailer/backing. A friend gave me the "driving the hitch" concept and after that I could stop thinking "Okay, I want the trailer to go right so I turn the wheel left." (I had tried the hands at the bottom of the wheel but just couldn't get used to it.)

One other tip I learned through a job, was that if you have a choice between backing up when you arrive, or backing up just before you leave, you should choose the former. That's because, having just pulled in, you have a current "working" concept of what's behind you (having been able to see it, generally, when you were pulling in). You know that a cat hasn't taken up napping under the tires, kids haven't set up behind you, etc.

(Of course this doesn't preclude getting out to look, but if you've just swept over the very ground you're going to back up into, you have a basic idea of what's there.)

Raya

PS: Jim - I've always wanted to learn to drive "the big rigs" -- I have a class B Commercial license (basically anything that's not articulated and up to a 10,000# trailer, plus air brakes) but have never driven a semi-tractor/trailer. Looks kind of fun
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