First Time out in my Lil Bigfoot - Fiberglass RV


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Old 06-02-2013, 07:57 PM   #1
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First Time out in my Lil Bigfoot

Well I finally got to go camping. I didn't go far 20 - 25 miles. William M Tugman State Park. It's a lovely campground a little on the older side so the roads and spaces are narrow. I posted pictures in my Album. It was well maintained with hot showers but no sewer hookups, which doesn't bother me since I don't need one. Even though it was the free camping and fishing day the park wasn't full. It is a lovely park and I will be going back again. I still have to find the trail around the lake.

Lots of firsts on this trip. The first time I towed my rig over 40mph , first time I camped with a dog, she did great, first time I've camped in over 30 years. First time to actually spend the whole night in the trailer. (the problem with practicing stuff at home is you're at home and can always go indoors). The first time I got to sleep on this bed configuration. (The benefit of practicing stuff at home is you can make adjustments before you are away from home). I can't say it was the first time I backed into a camping site because I couldn't get er done. There was a very nice soul who did it for me. I did try several times and different sites and wasn't having any luck. He volunteered and I was pleased to have someone do it who made it look easy. I was getting very frustrated. I haven't even disconnected the trailer yet, tomorrow I'm going to practice practice practice. It was great and I'm glad I'm signed up for Bullards already.
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Old 06-02-2013, 09:28 PM   #2
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if possible, it is usually easier to back around to the left [driver's side], that way you can see the trailer by looking back rather than using the mirrors. find a spot on the ground where you want the left wheel of the trailer, mark it with something if that helps, don't be in a hurry, get out and look a couple times if necessary. Before you back into a site, also check for hazards, rocks, stumps, trees, low branches, fire pit, even the picnic table. Find a big parking lot that has the spaces marked to practice in, a school parking lot on the weekend is good as there should be no traffic. A little practice and you'll get it. Most people in a campground can be recruited to help by watching, but most times too many helpers can cause confusion. Pick one to be the guide, say you're only listening to him, any extras can be the eyes where he can't see, but it's best to listen to only one person giving the directions.
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Old 06-02-2013, 11:05 PM   #3
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Bob's Tips on Backing Up ... That Sometimes Even Work.....

1. Work at backing up fairly straight. You can't back up in a curve, the trailer will just keep getting more and more out of line. Pull foward until straight and start again.
2. I always use my outside mirrors so I can see both sides, at any given moment one side may be out of view.
3. I put one hand on the BOTTOM of the steering wheel and move the BOTTOM of the wheel in the direction that I want the BACK of the trailer to move. Get in a big parking lot and try backing up straight and you will see what happens.
4. If I have a helper, I give my helper a whistle and the only command they can give is STOP. Almost all directions that helpers give you will be misinterpreted or wrong.
To many cooks/directions spoil the broth!!!!

Hope that helps......



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Old 06-02-2013, 11:11 PM   #4
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Congratulations on getting out! The start of a great adventure,
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Old 06-03-2013, 05:59 AM   #5
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[QUOTE=Bob Miller;392374]Bob's Tips on Backing Up ... That Sometimes Even Work.....

1. Work at backing up fairly straight. You can't back up in a curve,
To many cooks/directions spoil the broth!!!!


Two Bobs, two different opinions. When I had to drive tractor trailers I always preferred to back up to the left, but the exception being when I had to back one into the shop, but even then I had to start out backing on a curve. Most campgrounds you drive along the road, then back into a site off the side so at some point you will be backing on a curve, thus my recommendation to back to the left. But Mr Miller is correct in saying to get it straight when you get in the site, so I'm really not disagreeing with him. And he is certainly right with the "too many cooks" comment. Last December I was guiding a friend into a site with his 32' 5th wheel camper when 3 more people came along and started giving directions. At that point he told them "I don't mean to be rude, but I can only listen to Bob", so I gave the directions, but had the others watch where I couldn't see and tell me where the trailer was at. One of the company rules for backing was GOAL, Get Out And Look.
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Old 06-03-2013, 07:35 AM   #6
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At this point I can almost back up straight. Notice the word almost. I say that because if there are any bumps or slopes it doesn't seem to want to stay straight. The curve thing is definitely my problem which I have to work on. I couldn't find a spot where I could actually get the trailer and tug straight enough to back into the sight because I haven't practiced curves All your tips will help and I will get it figured out at some point, because I am going to practice. Lucky I have a large under-utilized parking area not to far from the house I can work in when the bus drivers and fire trucks aren't doing the same thing.
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Old 06-03-2013, 12:30 PM   #7
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Short trailers can be difficult to back up, when they start to turn they go quick so you have to be careful to not over correct. Get some practice and you'll do fine.
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Old 06-03-2013, 02:05 PM   #8
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Great that you got out to give things a go. That is the only way to learn.

For reversing, an empty mall parking lot is a fantastic place to practice. Just pretend that one of the stalls is your intended site, and practice reversing into it.

Having pulled trailers of all sizes from the age of 14, it is second nature for me to back up with one. One thing I personally disagree with is the method of putting your hand at the bottom of the wheel and moving it the direction you want to go, as you end up relying on a trick rather than learning how to do it proper. The approach I have always used, and have taught firsthand to many others, is to figure out which way you want the trailer hitch to move, in order to get the trailer moving in the direction you wish it to, and then move the rear of the tow vehicle in that direction. In doing this, reversing will become second nature in no time. The trick is getting so that you only have to think of where you want the trailer to go, and automatically know which way the tow needs to go to get it there.

I have attached a PDF that I made up with the method I use for backing into a site. If you follow the approximate angles of the tow to the trailer, it will make it way easier to do.

Trailer Reversing.pdf
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Old 06-03-2013, 02:10 PM   #9
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Seems like several mental steps to get to the same place.

Placing the hand at the bottom of the wheel only requires one step. It you want the trailer to go left, you move your hand to the left.
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Old 06-03-2013, 02:25 PM   #10
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I think both ideas have merit however since I still didn't know how far to move it the diagram is very helpful. I'm a visual and kinesthetic learner and haven't watched anyone back up a short rig since I was a child...oops! Almost to long ago to remember
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Old 06-03-2013, 02:37 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Glenn Baglo View Post
Seems like several mental steps to get to the same place.

Placing the hand at the bottom of the wheel only requires one step. It you want the trailer to go left, you move your hand to the left.
There are no steps with my method, just one reaction. No thinking involved at all. Try to convince a professional driver to use the hand on the bottom thing.

Methinks we need to set up a reversing challenge at the Escape Rally this weekend to test the various practices.
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Old 06-03-2013, 02:50 PM   #12
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I like the diagram, if there was a formula like line the trailer wheel up with x and turn right x degrees, move back 6 ft then turn..... I would probably be happy, I used to be a computer programmer so steps make sense to me until my body gets it memorized
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Old 01-10-2014, 12:30 AM   #13
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So Kathy, are you a pro at backing into the campsite now? I have yet to master that. Cece
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Old 01-10-2014, 09:44 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by Cece View Post
So Kathy, are you a pro at backing into the campsite now? I have yet to master that. Cece
Not a pro but getting better. I think it's hard to learn if you don't get out all the time, so I'm going to be pretty rusty by the time May gets here which is my first planned trip for this year.
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Old 01-10-2014, 02:36 PM   #15
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ah, backing up.....

Don't get discouraged or anxious about backing up.

Keep in mind that what you are trying to do (backing up in straight line) is basically IMPOSSIBLE.....as soon as your rig starts to back up your tow vehicle is trying to push your trailer out of the way (that's just plain old physics and geometry....you ain't going to change THAT)....and a shorter trailer will be even harder to control because the shorter distance between hitch and trailer tires the faster the trailer will "try to get out of the TVs way" (move to one side or the other of centerline)......and you have a real short trailer!

So while you are trying to back into a spot with an audience of campers with much larger trailers.....keep in mind that they have it a lot easier than you....they might have more bulk/volume to contend with but it's a lot easier to control going backwards.

Because it's hard to back up in a straight line, when I used to tow and launch boats (26') I always backed up in an arc, with the inside on drivers side....it's easier to control an arc than it is to constantly steer left and right chasing a trailer that is trying "to get out of the way"....but that was with boats and long trailers.....

when I first got and tried to back up the 17 Bigfoot....I felt like I never backed up a trailer before!!!!!.....it was horrible and frustrating....that's because of the shorter length and the fact that with a flat front (instead of a boat shape) the visibility is lousy, very hard to tell if not impossible to know when the trailer is starting to move off center line....and it happens so fast you can't correct it with steering...you have to pull forward and straighten out....

One suggestion....put some targets on the front of your trailer....go to a large parking lot, drive straight and slowly come to a stop....look at your side mirror....get a friend with a pencil to mark the spot where the side of your TV meets the front of the trailer.....repeat on the other side.....now "mark" both those spots with a short piece of electrical tape......end result when you are driving down the road you should just be able to see both targets.......now when you start backing up you will see instantly when and on what side your trailer is "trying to get out of the way"....and be able to correct it by steering...

if you look closely at the pictures below you will see my "targets" left and right.....(you might also see a center target, higher up, it lines up with another target stuck to the inside of my back window....backing up to hitch up the trailer I look into the rear view mirror and line both targets up...)

Regards, F
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targets.jpg   targets2.jpg  

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Old 01-10-2014, 02:59 PM   #16
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Thanks for the encouragement. I do notice I can park it better if I can keep myself from getting too frazzled and remember to take a deep breath and go slow.
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Old 01-10-2014, 04:04 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MsRubyLu-Kathy View Post
Thanks for the encouragement. I do notice I can park it better if I can keep myself from getting too frazzled and remember to take a deep breath and go slow.
I can attest to a longer trailer easier to back up.
As an ex-truck driver it was a lot easier to back up a 40 ft. trailer,
but harder to maneuver a 12 ft. utility trailer when at home. Two
reasons = Difference in length, but also the semi-trailer has the
wheels basically at the back door of the trailer. The utility trailer
has the wheels in the center. So the rear is not exactly going where
the wheels are going. Something to adjust for on our little campers.

Even a 40 foot utility trailer is a different beast. It has the length,
but the wheels are also in the center. So turning street corners you
have to be aware half the trailer is swinging into the other lane on a
turn. And backing up is a lot of fun..............LOL
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Old 01-11-2014, 12:38 PM   #18
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Smile Pictures of my Lil Bigoot

I have finally uploaded some pictures of Little Betty here. Thanks, Kathy, or the reminder.
Little Betty is a 13 foot 1995 Lil Bigfoot and she is towed by a Jeep Liberty
She pulls like a little red wagon.
CeCe
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