Towing is easy, backing up?, well.... - Fiberglass RV


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Old 08-13-2012, 11:43 PM   #1
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Towing is easy, backing up?, well....

I guess this is as good a place to put this.

Prior to the purchase of (to be named) Bigfoot. I had one experience of backing up small U-haul trailer. It was memorable and not in a good way. I managed to dent my brand new trucks bumper when it would not go straight no matter how I turned the wheel. Seriously, how does a trailer to continue to jackknife when you turn the wheel either way? This makes no sense to my logical, accountant trained mind. (I'm no rocket surgeon). So it is not without some thought of how do you own a trailer without never backing it up crossed my mind.

So when picking up our trailer a few nights ago, Mike the PO took us out for a lttle test drive and then to a school to practice backing up. I felt that same chill break out when I tried to do so and the damn thing kept turning. It was night and we did not proceed too long, we both knew it would come but daytime would be better and jsts some simple practice.

A few days later (this morning in fact), I had chance to practice. Beleive it or not within about 10 minutes I had it backing up straight! Raising one's nessecity level will do that. What I noticed was the BF has these small fenders over the wheels and when the rig is straight you WILL NOT SEE THEM! Practicing in daylight does help! So little nudges to the wheel to the side that showed up in the side view mirror corrected things easily. Still no pro but hey this is not a bad start. Then moved to 90 degree parking and well let's just say we are still learning, but I can visualize the day in the not see far future where I will be backing up into a 7 foot wide space, texting and balancing a cup of coffee with my free hand.

BTW, the BF is being stored a a nice place where they store them in racks. You drop it off, they move it! Perfect? Not really. it costs way more than I want to pay, but the normal spaces are filled right now and I need to learn how to back up better. So I have some incentive to get this right soon, when my number is called at the regular folks lot.

So yes there is a question to be posed for those who were waiting for the point. It is this.

Imagine a clock, the hour hand is the truck, the minute hand is the trailer. The clock reads 10 (or 5) to 7 (6:50 or so). Can I make it be 6:00, ya know straight by turning the wheel while backing up and NOT going forward? Is this one of thoe brain teaser questions?
It does sound like you should be able to do and I suppose I just need an answer like yes or no to determine my next course of action. You can post the method if you want and I may understand it, but until I plop my butt in the seat and do it 15-20 times (again), it will remain an illusion.

Just in case it's not clear, no matter which way I turned the wheel, time flew and it was already quarter to eight!



Gary/Sonja

Gary wrote this BTW.
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Old 08-14-2012, 12:18 AM   #2
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Sounds like you are taking the correct approach - practice is the only way to get comfortable with doing it. Yes you can go from 6:50 to 6:00 without going forward providing you are going into a fairly long space - a shorter space may take one or two short moves forward.

I find that putting my hand at the bottom of the wheel helps a lot as which ever way the steering wheel is turned the trailer will go. Simple. Take it real slow and only turn the wheel a little bit at a time The other tip is tell everyone to stop yelling at you telling you to turn the wheel this way and that. Have them stand back and only yell if your getting close to hitting something
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Old 08-14-2012, 01:32 AM   #3
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I think I really messed myself up here as well as anyone reading this. I meant the minute hand is the truck and the hour had is the trailer. I think that makes a difference to my question but then again maybe not.
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Old 08-14-2012, 01:34 AM   #4
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Carol,

Good points especially the one about warning me. Smashing my bumper is never far off in my mind.
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Old 08-14-2012, 07:22 AM   #5
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Is this a big BigFoot or a lil' Bigfoot? The lil' Bigfoot will be harder to back up. With my small trailer I have found lots of space and slight adjustments on the steering wheel usually get me where I want to go. Next time you are in an uncrowded campground try backing up around a gradual curve. Then back into as many vacant sites as you can. That's what I did.

I find at some point the angle between the trailer track and the tow vehicle track becomes too great to recover without chancing damage to something and I have to go forward. I guess that's the advantage to the fifth wheel. Raz
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Old 08-14-2012, 07:31 AM   #6
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We upgraded from a 16' Scamp to a 5er Scamp and STILL take 30 -45 minutes to back into our parking location at the house. I'll admit we have not spent a lot of time practicing - we DO spend a lot of time AVOIDING backing up! At some point we'll have to do the practicing thing so we are not relegated to only pull-thru sites!
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Old 08-14-2012, 07:37 AM   #7
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May I suggest that you first accept one of two main options...
1. place your hand on the top of the steering wheel and turn the wheel in the OPPOSITE direction of the trailer direction, or
2. place your hand on the bottom of the steering wheel and turn the wheel in the SAME direction as the trailer direction. [I prefer the first]
Then.....
Adjust your mirrors. Do not turn in your seat.
Make small corrections.
Remember, after a certain point it is impossible to recover your line of travel. You have to pull ahead.
Find a parking lot [after hours] and practice.
Do not let your wife, significant other, partner etc. guide you, unless you want to end the day in a snit.
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Old 08-14-2012, 08:17 AM   #8
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Thanks - we do try to do that (when we can remember which way the rule works!).
We HAVE learned not to have the person outside the tow vehicle try to guide the driver - except for crunch avoidance ...stressful!!! My husband is still trying to get a feel for the nuances of making turning adjustments and the interplay between speed and degree of turn. We will keep trying!
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Old 08-14-2012, 08:28 AM   #9
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This is a 17 footer, some might think that's big, others little.

In my experience it doesn't seem like there has to be much of an angle before you are at the point where you need to go forward and straighten out. Hence my question. Just would hate to box myself in should there not be much space ahead of me and I still have an angled trailer. I'm hoping I don't have to find out how easy or hard it is to manually push my trailer to where I want it. :-)

On the "opposite direction" thing, which end of the trailer do you look at to determine the direction? I assumed it was the back. That actually might help me a lot!
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Old 08-14-2012, 09:49 AM   #10
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Most ground guides believe you can back right thru the hitch point with a bumper pull much as you (or more likely someone experienced) would with a tractor trailer or in-bed hitch. Don't even entertain the thought of "just straiten it up" nor get irritated when you hear it. Backing into a narrow driveway at a 90 degree angle to a narrow street is not a piece of cake no matter where your hand is or your eyes are. That's a situation where you need the largest turning radius you can create.

There is seldom much parking on our suburban street and we have a double drive IF the wife's car is removed from the equation. When returning home, I pull past the drive cutting the tug from the near side to the far side of the road as I pass the drive. I oversteer there and correct to get parallel to the road which puts the big end of the trailer at an angle across the road and aimed at the opening of the drive. I next attempt to "cut" the curb such that the trailer enters the drive hugging one side or the other (I prefer the driver's side for visibility) but can't always choose and I have to approach my drive from the opposite direction from usual to give me this choice. I then use the smallest turn of the wheel which will completely put the trailer (and the tug) in the driveway with the trailer tight to the left on driver's side. I don't care a fig what angle the tug is at. It's about efficiency and time rather than elegance and I can unhitch at any angle. If the tug's mostly out of the street, most folks with the sense God gave an oyster will be able to get past it without sitting there for five minutes engaged in telepathic communication about what else they think you should do for them. Sometimes this big radius doesn't work and you have to "just straiten it up" by the only method I know which is pulling forward for the hinged version of the back and fill.

I have more trouble with back-in sites and oddly with ones which are at an oblique angle to a campground road with a lot of bends. I have concluded that I don't know what's there nor do I know what I'm seeing just after I saw the site #. If you can, pull it parallel on one side; set the brake, get out and walk the site. Locate the utility pole and water and find the usual and customary "track" into the site which misses the fire ring and picnic table and that branch that sticks out just there at the edge. After making this map (sometimes a lot more important in the darkness of early evening) get back in and do it. If you don't like where you're sitting pull forward or go round again; don't try to perform s-curve miracles or get flustered. When you begin to back and fill (and you will) don't express your frustration by slamming gears and jumping forward into the road. The families on foot or bikes and other traffic are still out there. What you owe them is a lot more important than your ego. People WILL be patient if they must; they WON'T be forgiving if you screw up and damage your rig (look't dat, Marge!) or them or theirs. So some of this is not just how to back into a space but how to avoid (even if takes an embarassing amount of time) getting involved in doing something you don't want to at about the point you could be putting down the landing grear and setting up.

jack
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Old 08-14-2012, 10:11 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Scouter Dave View Post
Find a parking lot [after hours] and practice.


The best advice given! Practice, Practice, Practice! Get in that parking lot, learn to back up on the lines of the parking spaces. You will soon be able to back up on a straight line.




Do not let your wife, significant other, partner etc. guide you, unless you want to end the day in a snit.


Aww, come on......... That was the nightly entertainment at our Rv park . BC (before Casita) I understood people who struggled with trailers and 5th wheels backing into a site. My Dh and a couple of our work campers didn't because they were master backer-up'ers. But people who couldn't back up a MH just stumped me! I never could figure that out. We didn't have a lot of back-ins and more times than not, people would admit they didn't know how to back up and just let my Dh do it for them.














Quote:
Originally Posted by Fran L View Post
Thanks - we do try to do that (when we can remember which way the rule works!).

Don't get hung up on rules! Find what works best for you and go with it.


We HAVE learned not to have the person outside the tow vehicle try to guide the driver - except for crunch avoidance ...stressful!!!

It doesn't have to be stressfull! It's learning to work together to get backed in. Learn what hand signals work best for you as a team! Good Luck, it takes practicec to learn to work together but I have seen some couples work together without screaming, anger, tears. Not many but a few!



My husband is still trying to get a feel for the nuances of making turning adjustments and the interplay between speed and degree of turn. We will keep trying!

Make/Take every movement, slowwwwwwwwwwwwww............ And make every turn of the wheel in small increments. People tend to over turn the wheel.



After learning to back up the Casita, I do it solo. No guidence. The first night time back into a site was a little scary but I did it. I can back it into the barn with no problem.


But just a couple of weeks ago, I did get out of the truck and give the drivers seat over to a friends son after just one atempt. Decided not to make myself crazy. First off there were at least 20 people standing there, each thinking they could guide me! The site was a curb side backin (never a good thing!) The easiest backing up is from drivers side!

The site was on a curve with a speed bump in the middle of all of it!

I knew, it wasn't the day to learn to that one! It's always ok to give it and let someone else do it.................
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Old 08-14-2012, 10:51 AM   #12
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Check out Lucy in The Long, Long Trailer (1953) - IMDb.

Best Backup Scene Ever! Of course, that trailer was 45' long!

We've finally gotten so we can do a pretty good job with out 16' Scamp. It was "Practice"! And remembering the movie "Contact"... "Small Changes!"
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Old 08-14-2012, 11:09 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Pomfritz View Post

On the "opposite direction" thing, which end of the trailer do you look at to determine the direction? I assumed it was the back. That actually might help me a lot!
The arse end of the trailer will move in the opposite direction, if your hand is on the top of the steering wheel.

It does get easier with practice and an empty parking lot [if you can find one] with lines, is the best place. Not the KOA at dusk, after a long drive and a sudden urge to hit the biffy.
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Old 08-14-2012, 12:15 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Pomfritz View Post
On the "opposite direction" thing, which end of the trailer do you look at to determine the direction? I assumed it was the back. That actually might help me a lot!
If the trailer is straight behind the tow vehicle, look in the side mirror on which ever side it is you are turning the trailer to - if its going in the direction you are wanting it to, the back end will show up in the side mirror after a few feet of backing up - if you dont see it, its heading in the wrong direction If the trailer is at an angle to the tow you are obviously only going to be able to watch the back end from which ever side mirror you can actually see it to determine if its heading were you want it to go.

As others have said the big key is picking a method/rule - either hand at the top of the steering wheel (which turns the back of the trailer in the opposite direction of your hand) or the bottom of the wheel (turning the back of the trailer in the same direction your hand is going) and sticking to it. If you get frustrated just stop and think about whether or not you are using your chosen method or not. Taking it slow and only make small turns of the wheel until you are sure its going where you want it to go. Its way easier to correct a direction change if the trailer has only just started to make a small swing than it is to correct a big swing error which is going to take a lot more real-estate to back into to correct or you will need to pull forward to correct.

Dont worry so much about getting into a situation you cant get out of. If you got it into a certain position you can get it out the same way you got it into it May take a several short moves forward and back but it can be done.
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