I've been reading posts on this forum since October of 2004 and got my first Airstream and my first RV in March of 2005. I have always known that I might not have actually taken the leap or developed a sense of confidence without the help and expertise of many of you here.
Vernon (53FlyingCloud) actually helped me take my first white-knuckles 5 mile tow and sat beside me without crossing himself, or making a mess on the upholstery
of "Big Dawg", my new Suburban 2500.
This morning all of that knowledge came into play.... and WE may have saved someone's life because if it. I was driving down the interstate and saw an SOB ahead of me that just terrified me. It was a big Prowler being pulled by an undersized, underpowered, low slung truck. Of course no W/D hitch. The tandem axle rig was so nose down that the rear end was rotating like a stripper's boobs... Only the tassles were missing! I saw the trailer start to pull off and I decided to follow him into the rest stop.
My normal experience is that most men don't like to be told ANYTHING about their vehicles by any woman, but I decided to see if I could help without getting my head bitten off. (If not, I was just going to call the state troopers.)
As it happened there was a nice family and I just asked them if they needed help as I'd seen them having trouble changing lanes. Turns out they'd had this same setup for 2 years! He admitted towing the trailer had always been like trying to ride a bucking bronco. Well, one thing lead to another and I was able to show the man how hard the front tires were wearing and how hot they were compared to the back ones. He thanked me for the advice about changing his hitch ball height, but was going to go on to his destination (200 more miles) before he did anything - then his wife chimed in and said that they'd both worry about it all the way now, knowing what was wrong. (The front was a foot off the pavement and the back was almost 30 inches up!)
I was driving Big Dawg so I had all of my tools in the back. We unhitched his trailer, took the ball off of his hitch bar (it was totally loose too!), flipped the bar giving him a 4 inch rise instead of a 4 inch drop, tightened the ball until my ears popped (didn't have a deep enough socket to use the torque wrench), greased his totally rusty hitch ball (first time ever), asked him if he was sure he had the right sized ball (he wasn't...but it had worked so far), and re-hitched him. Believe it or not the trailer was still a bit down at the nose, but only slightly. I showed him the bars and trunnion to my Reese Dual cam and described how it worked and we talked for a few minutes, then he took off down the road with me following - while I talked to his wife on the cell phone. Everyone in the car could tell how much better the trailer was towing even before they got up to highway speed. I'm still a bit worried about the ball on his rig, but he swore he'd have it checked before the day was out, and also check the receiver for excessive wear due to lack of lubrication.
This is actually the second time I've been able to help someone whose hitching job was positively dangerous. It's was very rewarding half hour of my life. I absolutely know that I was just a conduit for all of the help, support and knowledge you've so generously shared with me. We made a new friend today, and I'll bet he'll be lurking on this website frequently from now on.
I've met lots of people RV'ers outside of these forums who really know their rigs, really know how to tow and back up, and who've been equally generous with me... but boy, it just scares me sick to see how many seem to start RV'ing without the least bit of preparation or information. Thank heavens, most RV'ers are outgoing and helpful, otherwise I'm sure there'd be a lot more in serious wrecks or killed. I've heard that AARP and several other organizations have fought the idea of requiring any special licensing or training for drivers of towed vehicles.... is this true, and if so why?
If it is true, wouldn't it be a good thing to set up seminars for first-timers in conjunction with dealers? I haven't been to that many RV dealerships, but it doesn't seem to me that many offer anything, not even an informational DVD or tape.