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Old 03-15-2006, 11:05 PM   #1
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Portland , Oregon
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Backing up steep driveway-wheels under rear bumper?

I'm not sure of the grade of my drieway but I can describe it as about 20 feet high and 100 feet long. As I back the 28' ambassador up, the bumber bottoms out. How much weight can the back end support. I thought of mounting some wheels but I'm not sure of the right spot. There is a stabilizer bar about 5 feet
from the rear end. Any suggestions?

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Old 03-15-2006, 11:14 PM   #2
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OOoooh, I don't like the sound of that.
As you say, putting wheels on the bumper would decrease the friction, but they'd stick down even FARTHER than the bumper does now, so they'd add stress (weight) and do it for a longer period.
You might try keeping a couple of 2x10's around, and just when the trailer is about to bottom out, run out and put one under each tire (as you back up), to pick up the trailer an extra inch and a half...use two, offset "stepped" if you need more height.
Or, I suppose you could lower your hitch height before backing up.
Or park on the street

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Old 03-15-2006, 11:22 PM   #3
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Well, imo, you dont want the back end supporting any weight in such a situation. Are you backing up in a straight line from the street? Perhaps if you hit the driveway at an angle you wouldnt bottom out like that. Once you cleared the low point, you couldnt square up the trailer with the house.

The problem i see with mounting small wheels to the back bumper is that i would fear that eventually they would break off. As such things are want to do it would be at a bad time. Then there is the issue of having too much weight on the bumper causing it to bend out of shape.

Sometimes there are just too steep of angles to get the trailer up without causing damage. Such times call for packing the stuff to the street to load up.

As funchucky1 mentioned, sometimes a few boards is all it takes to get that extra inch of clearance that is needed.
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Old 03-16-2006, 02:17 AM   #4
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If you have a WD hitch, you could remove the arms when you back up the hill. That should drop the rear of your TV and raise your trailers a** a little...


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Old 03-16-2006, 03:12 AM   #5
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I seem to recall reading in my owner's manual that they don't reccomend putting the little wheels on the rear frame, it adds too much stress when they hit, that the frame was/is designed in such a way to provide some skid protection...

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Old 03-16-2006, 04:13 AM   #6
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Try Funchucky1's proposals. As you've discovered, a 20% grade is pretty dang severe when most acceptable grades are half that. Don't add wheels to the rear end. Park in the street or find suitable offsite storage if you can manage that.
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Old 03-16-2006, 04:57 AM   #7
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I think I would try the suggestions given, as they are all good ones. 20%? Sounds like a good hill to go sledding in the winter.
Is there any other way to get to your place? Maybe a back alley? It may be worth the trouble to make a way in from there, if there is.
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Old 03-16-2006, 05:10 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by overlander63
....Is there any other way to get to your place?...It may be worth the trouble to make a way in from there, if there is.
Probably way cheaper to replace the axles with 45 degree starting angles - if I recall, Wexus purchased an older trailer - it might be time to think about replacing the axles anyway. If the trailer has spring axels it would be relatively easy to raise it a couple of inches.

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Old 03-16-2006, 06:46 AM   #9
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Wexus: Had the same problem when Sherry and I bought our 28 foot Safari. What I had was a gate 9 feet 5 inches with a trailer 8 feet 5 inches wide. Then I had a yard with a driveway which was at least 3 feet higher than the sidewalk, with a steep three to four foot drop from the upper level to sidewalk level.

Not good, and no solution. Ultimately, we tore everything out, the gate, the planter, all the cement (the pad was not wide enough anyway) and did the following:

1) widened the gate so when I back the trailor in I had 13 1/2 feet in width, re calculated the slope from the sidewalk, so the trailer did not bottom out, and then because the slope elongated the rv pad before I could get to level ground, I had to extend the pad further into the backyard by another 15 feet.

When it was all done I had the problem of needing new gates, so the wife and I said ok lets do it right, and had custom galvanized white powdered iron gates with Hardi siding which matches our house.

The cost, well way beyond budget.

Just had to share, but hope your wood placing method works. I would have done the same but the width of the old gate controlled by final decision.

We love our little spot for our rig, so I will post a pic here later.

Good luck, Robert and Sherry
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Old 03-16-2006, 07:27 AM   #10
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After we bought our 34 Limited I decided to have a concrete RV pad (with dump station and power) poured at the side of our house (more than 75 feet total length). The contractor did a really good job with it. However, since I had not bothered to bring the trailer home so he could see that huge rear overhang and design the drive accordingly, we had a very unacceptable slope right after clearing the curb sidewalk. For two seasons I tried to get by with planks to modify the slope but this was a real pain so I had the contractor come back and modify the drive with the slope beginning at the curb. After paying more for the modification than the total original cost it is useable. My back-in ritual is to stop a couple of blocks from home (I live on a foothills mesa that is pretty steep), remove the leveler bars and friction sway control, then when backing try to hit the drive as squarely as possible. At times I nail it without any scraping while at other times I have a slight scrape on one side of the frame.

With the extreme slope you describe Id be as concerned for the stress on the TV as the trailer.

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Old 03-16-2006, 07:50 AM   #11
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Another method

Originally Posted by Wexus
I'm not sure of the grade of my drieway but I can describe it as about 20 feet high and 100 feet long. As I back the 28' ambassador up, the bumber bottoms out. How much weight can the back end support. I thought of mounting some wheels but I'm not sure of the right spot. There is a stabilizer bar about 5 feet
from the rear end. Any suggestions?
Greeting Wes~
Short of redoing your driveway or finding another spot to park your unit.
You might consider this:
Instead of trying to back it in with your tow vehicle, try to find a BOBCAT (or an old farm tractor with similar setup) with a trailer hitch mounted on the front of it. With this setup, you can raise or lower the front of the trailer as needed to avoid scrappin the rear while backing up. Airstream does NOT recommend that you put wheels under the rear frame for lifting the rear. All you'll end up doing is bending your frame, for starters. Who knows what else~
it's a problem we all face at one time or another..I ended up leaving my unit at our place in Va., as it's level ground it's a pain in the butt because of the distance but, it works.
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Old 03-16-2006, 07:50 AM   #12
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Hi wexus as van said I would try driveway approach with trailer at a angle, and if that works keep an eye on your toung jack after you get trailer started up driveway you may need to use the plank idea on your TV to keep from bottoming out your toung and jack. I have a friend that has a steep driveway also and he has to back in at a angle to keep his bumber on his SOB fithwheel from hitting, and he has plenty of ground clearance so that kind of tells you how steep his grade is also for the first 20'.
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Old 03-16-2006, 08:15 AM   #13
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If you have the budget to do this, I would suggest you create a transition slope at the bottom of the driveway. 20% slope is huge and in some places against code. A transition of, say 8 or 10%, might be enough to let you get the trailer backed up your drive without hitting the bumper. You may even need two transitions to get things to work out. A good contractor should be able to meassure your trailer and tow vehicle to determine what sort of transition will work. Good luck!

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