backing a trailer - Fiberglass RV


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Old 10-14-2011, 07:28 PM   #1
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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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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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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!
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Old 10-14-2011, 08:32 PM   #4
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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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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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You can also practice here: Pépère at sea
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Old 10-15-2011, 07:38 AM   #7
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Sounds like all good advice, thanks so much.
Laura
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Old 10-15-2011, 06:33 PM   #8
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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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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.
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Old 10-16-2011, 08:09 PM   #10
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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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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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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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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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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!
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Old 10-19-2011, 12:52 PM   #15
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I retired from 30 years of semi's and what works for me is back in on the drivers side like bob said (the passenger side is much harder) and hand on the top of the steering wheel like donna said....... get into a parking lot and just practice backing up a straight line and what i did was while looking in the left/right mirrors and hand on top of the wheel is just turn the wheel in the direction that you want the "front" of the trailer to go..... then "follow thru" turning the wheel the opposite direction so it doesn't go into a jack position..... sort of backing up in a "S" position.
Everybody has their own way of doing it and no one way is best...... do what works for you. All these little hints will help but nothing replaces "practice"....
Once you get the hang of this then try looking in one mirror only and an occasional glance in the other mirror will help with the confusion of keeping it going straight while backing up.
Joe
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Old 10-19-2011, 12:54 PM   #16
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Hi Laura,
These short-tongued campers that feel right up against your rear window, with no view of what's behind everything, can be very hard to back up. To learn, you might want to take a long, flatbed trailer to an empty parking lot to practice. Once you understand the mechanics of backing, and can do it with an "easy" trailer, you'll have better luck with something else. Longer tongues and wheels further from the tow vehicle are easier. I can back our boat trailer on a dime first try, the camper takes two tries (3 if someone "helps").
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Old 11-10-2011, 01:05 PM   #17
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I agree that practice is key.

Option 2 - is to drop your husband off at the bathroom, proceed to the site and try backing up a few times. Soon, a crowd will gather, so I just ask if someone is willing to back my camper in for me. So far it's worked everytime. Hopefully, the women won't be mad at me. I just can't seem to get my brain, my hand and my wheels in sync.
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Old 11-10-2011, 02:04 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by brendaross View Post
Hopefully, the women won't be mad at me. I just can't seem to get my brain, my hand and my wheels in sync.
Hey, whatever works for you is just fine. On the other hand, I refused to be defeated or embarrassed and kept at it until I have no problems. You too may have an a-ha moment!
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Old 11-11-2011, 09:10 PM   #19
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Anne H - I'll have to try that trick. It sounds like a good one.

The smaller the trailer in comparison to the tow vehicle the trickier backing up is. those 18-wheelers actually have it a heck of a lot easier! Us little egg-people are somewhat cursed, when it comes to backing up.

Seems no matter WHAT you do or how pretty the set-up is, once you start actually backing up the trailer gets a mind of its own and starts going in some seemingly random other direction. Gaaahhhh!!!!!!! It used to really frustrate me.

I consider myself "fair to good" at backing up... I can do it, and I've gotten much better with practice. And I've never hit anything! *knock on wood*

I use the "hand on bottom of wheel, turn the way you want trailer to go" trick.
I learned having a spotter behind me is really helpful, but only if they know to tell me WHERE the TRAILER needs to GO and they leave the figuring out of how to get it there to me.... (IE: don't tell me when or how to cut my wheels to right or left.)

I also had a few lessons from a trucker (Who seems incredulous that this little girl was actually trying to do this BY HERSELF all the time!) who taught me a method of switching back and forth between cutting the wheels left and right pretty severely, and pretty quick, but actually ends up keeping the trailer more stable in it's direction and I don't jackknife it.

I am not that good at physics, but it seems to work so that's what I do. *shrugs*
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Old 11-11-2011, 11:28 PM   #20
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Many truckers on this site (myself included) and it's really hard to explain in a letter how to do it but always try to back in on the drivers side.(it's easier) cut in and then follow thru quickly(keep an eye on that left side trailer tire where you want it to go).....seems like the steering tires are doing a constant "S"...... and with practice that "S" so to speak will become smaller but will never disappear completely. when you get too far into a jacknife position pull forward a little bit and then backup again....... it will take a few times of pulling up a little.....As for the spotter all they have to do is stay behind the trailer on the drivers side if they want to help and point with their thumbs to the left or the right where they want the rear of the trailer to go and how far back to come before i have to stop (I still prefer to do it by myself and get out and look every few feet in tight conditions unless you have a really good spotter) ..... I always wanted to be a driver and i remember as a little kid practicing with a toy tractor trailer..... you'd be surprised how that helps LOL
Don't give up practice, practice practice..... I knew many a girl to drive those big rigs. If they can do it so can you.
Joe
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