backing a trailer - Fiberglass RV

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Old 10-14-2011, 07:28 PM   #1
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Name: Laura
Trailer: Winnebago
Posts: 127
backing a trailer

Hi does anybody have a good way of backing up a trailer. I know I have to go the opposite direction that I want the trailer to go. And, that works great when I first turn it, but then when I have to back it up everything seems to go wrong. How do you all do it?

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Old 10-14-2011, 07:56 PM   #2
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Name: Floyd
Trailer: 2004 13 ft Scamp Custom Deluxe
Posts: 7,199
One way that works for a lot of folks is to place your hand at the bottom of the wheel and then turn the wheel in the direction that you want the BACK of the trailer to go. The real answer is to find an empty parking lot and practice backing into a spot between the paint lines until you get the hang of it!

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Old 10-14-2011, 08:20 PM   #3
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Name: Donna D
Trailer: Escape 5.0 TA, 2014
Posts: 24,868
Slow, slow, slow. Small, small, small movements. When things start to go bad, STOP, pull forward a bit and try again. Continuing to back most often doesn't help.

I can't turn my head and look back, that really fouls me up. I use all three mirrors. Unlike others, I put my hands on top of the steering wheel. Where my right thumb points is the direction the back of the trailer is going to go. If that thumb starts pointing to the left.... I know where the trailer is going...

and yeah, nothing beats practice!
Donna D.
Ten Forward - 2014 Escape 5.0 TA
Double Yolk - 1988 16' Scamp Deluxe
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Old 10-14-2011, 08:32 PM   #4
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Name: Laura
Trailer: Winnebago
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Thanks Donna, I've tried the suggestion of the bottom of the wheel, which does not seem to work for me. I will give the thumb pointing a try next time I hook up to a trailer.
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Old 10-14-2011, 08:45 PM   #5
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Name: John
Trailer: 16' Casita
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Donna has the real secret to easy backing up.
Use your mirrors. It may seem more difficult at first but it really is the easiest way.
Truckers back those big rigs using only their mirrors.
Adjust your left mirror so you can see down the side of your vehicle as well as your trailer.
Using your mirror keep your vehicle and the trailer in a straight line. You will notice the slighest deviation in the trailer direction instantly and correct it with a slight movement.
Find a large empty parking lot, like your local High School on weekends, and practice backing in a straight line.
Once you've mastered a straight line everything will be a lot easier.
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Old 10-14-2011, 09:04 PM   #6
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Name: Daniel
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You can also practice here: Ppre at sea
Driving on parkways and parking in driveways.
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Old 10-15-2011, 07:38 AM   #7
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Name: Laura
Trailer: Winnebago
Posts: 127
Sounds like all good advice, thanks so much.
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Old 10-15-2011, 06:33 PM   #8
Name: Ronnie
Trailer: 2000 Scamp 13, 72 Alpine Sprite
Posts: 72
If you have a short camper, they are more sensitive to overcorrection when backing. The slightest steering wheel movement changes the direction. So make only a slight steerig change for what you want the camper to do.
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Old 10-16-2011, 01:34 PM   #9
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Name: Michael
Trailer: Li'l Hauley
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There's no substitute for practice and gaining experience. After a while your brain accepts the idea of turning the wheel the opposite way of usual, and you start to line up visual reference points in the angle between tug and trailer that tell you when to swing the steering wheel back around the other way.

My first time, I was about 15. My did told me to use the tractor to back a disk onto a flatbed trailer parked in the recessed ditch alongside the country road. That is a 90 degree angle, obviously! He walked off and left me to the job. Without anyone pressuring me, I took my time. Watched what my front wheels did and how they affected what the disk did. Back and forth, back and forth. Get out occasionally, walked around the whole thing to see what's happening. Took me about 10 minutes but I got it squarely onto the trailer.

I've never been afraid of backing up trailers since then.
In the '60s, people took LSD to make the world seem weird.
Now the world is weird, and people take Prozac to make it seem normal.
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Old 10-16-2011, 08:09 PM   #10
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Name: Pam
Trailer: U-Haul 1985
Posts: 3,309
Don't feel bad if you do not improve immediately, I am still not the greatest. But the combo that works for me is
1) hand at the bottom of the wheel combined with using the mirrors (no looking over your shoulder or it does get confusing). I cannot back up with my hand on the wheel, and looking over my shoulder.
2. Practice (and I still need a lot of it, but I camp anyway)
3. Watch what the trailer does while you are backing up and making adjustments. Small adjustments only at first. You will get better!!
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Old 10-17-2011, 04:41 PM   #11
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Name: Ray
Trailer: 21' Escape - former owner of 17' "other brand."
Posts: 699
I find I do much better by myself than with my wife (etc.) giving me directions. Don't be in a hurry, get out and look things over, go a little bit more, and get out again. Don't be afraid to go forward and start over if things get fouled up.

When we bought our EggCamper Jim Palmer gave me a very quick lesson in backing up. His admonishment to "point the camper in the right direction and then follow through with the truck" was a great help. I try not to correct unless somewhat lined up with the camper; that is, get the camper going in the right direction and angle and then "follow through" by lining up the truck with the turning camper. I hope this makes some sense, but again, practice is the best way to learn.
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Old 10-17-2011, 08:06 PM   #12
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Name: Laura
Trailer: Winnebago
Posts: 127
I know what you mean when you say it goes better when you are alone. When my husband starts telling me which way to go, I get so frustrated I just get out and say "here you do it". Thanks for the adviese.
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Old 10-17-2011, 08:21 PM   #13
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Name: bob
Trailer: 1984 u-haul ct13; 1996 Casita 17 Spirit Deluxe; 1946 Modernistic teardrop
New York
Posts: 4,864
It's easier for most people to back around to the left as you can see better where the trailer is going. My former job [now retired] frequently involved moving tractor trailers around, so I always tried to back straight or to the left rather than right which is referred to as the blind side. And if unsure, GOAL, get out and look. Better to do that several times than hit something! Bob
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Old 10-18-2011, 08:03 PM   #14
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Name: Anne
Trailer: Escape 17 ft 2006 / 2005 Honda Pilot
Posts: 467
Here's the best tip I ever got for getting into a 90 degree spot (like into your driveway):
For a driveway on our LEFT (just reverse if you have a driveway on your right):
- pull up as close to the left curb as possible; continue until your tow vehicle is past the driveway
- then cut your wheels sharply to the right and cross the street; turn wheels back to the left and continue until your tow vehicle is parallel to the right curb.

Now, your trailer is angled towards your driveway!
Put tow vehicle in reverse and SLOWLY back up - watch the trailer in your mirrors and follow all the very good advice previously given.

I have a very small driveway on a very narrow street and now I can get the trailer into the driveway on the first try!

Anne H and Fay Wray, the cat | Portland, OR
en Plein Air (2016 19' Escape; 2016 Honda Pilot )
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