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Old 02-13-2007, 01:41 PM   #1
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Backing up, how far?

When backing up and turning.

I'm having an issue knowing how far to go before I jacknife, or hit my rear bumper into the front of the trailer.

What tip or tricks do you know of?
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Old 02-13-2007, 01:48 PM   #2
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Have a spotter...if no spotter, take it slow and try not to jackknife it.
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Old 02-13-2007, 02:09 PM   #3
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I have touched the bumper with no real damage before, trying to back it up by the "seat of the pants".

I would think you could pre-plan by going to a large parking lot or other space, and finding out what it looks like just prior to touching. Get a spotter, or SLOWLY start backing/turning until you're almost touching. Get a good mental picture with landmarks of what it looks like from your seat, so when you get close in real life you'll know.

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Old 02-13-2007, 02:18 PM   #4
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Bob, my trick is to leave enough distance between the back in point and the rear end of my trailer. What this means is that you can do gradual adjustments in the angle of the trailer rather than large ones.

If I don't have enough distance to do that, I draw an imaginary line that is the angle I want the trailer to conform to when I back in. If I'm backing in from the drivers side I draw that line down the curb side of the trailer. On a blind side back in (street side) I draw the line down that side. If the rear corner of the trailer, dependent upon the back in, crosses that line, I know that I must either make a correction, (if there is room) or stop right there, straighten out the tow vehicle's front wheels and pull forward to straighten out the trailer as much as possible. Then I go back again only making small corrections.

The key to prevent a jack knife is to understand once you are at a point of no return and to stop right there and to pull forward. All this is very clear to me but actually you need to practice. The way I learned how to back was on a Sunday in a parking lot of a business that was closed. I used to lightweight plastic trash cans with brooms in them. I positioned them and backed and backed and soon learned how, with the help of a spotter how to back into spots.

Patty and I also bought a couple of walkie talkies many years back that we use. It beats waving hands and shouting. Just agree upon what is left and what is right before you start getting help from your spotter. Remember you each of you are looking from different directions!

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Old 02-13-2007, 03:19 PM   #5
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WOW Bob- You don't ever want to cut the wheel so hard backing up to get yourself into that position in the first place. Once you start seeing the side of your trailer in your mirrors, you have gone too tight! Always take the extra time to get out an review your situation before backing yourself into a corner [pun intended]. It is always better to make several small backward turns than one big one causing damage to your TV or your hitch. Cut it tight enough and you could do enough damage to make your rig untowable. Also, if you have an anti-sway friction bar on your hitch, remove it before backing up. This will help with your turns and prevent you from destroying it!
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Old 02-13-2007, 03:54 PM   #6
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Loosen the anti-sway friction, put it in reverse and make it happen. Let force be with you....works for me.
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Old 02-13-2007, 04:25 PM   #7
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Backing up is....

Hello all -

Backing an AS is... not that hard, actually. Just keep the inputs small, the speed low, and if EVER in ANY doubt about what is happening/ going on - STOP!!!! Get out. LOOK in person on both sides of the trailer, decide what needs to happen, then do it.

NEVER, EVER, EVER let anyone rush you, hurry you or make you do something that you haven't thought of first, then thought through, and then envisioned BEFORE you do it. NEVER, EVER!!!

Let that be your First & Last & 'to live by' Rule for towing.

Oh, and practice. LOTS!!!

I had to back the 34'er for nearly a 1/2 mile in Jacob Lake AZ (NR of the GC) on a NARROW 2 lane road - just missed the turn. Just waved everyone around....!!! Took about 15 minutes at walking speed with LOTS of stops and checks - but that 15 minutes saved me an hours drive (to the next available turn around), PLUS the hour back!

Learn to back that rig.

It can really save your bacon in tight gas stations, dead ends, missed turns, and it makes those back-ins so much easier!!! Just think of the views all those back-in spots have!

Personally, I don't find backing hard at all - just lucky I guess, but I do know folks that are reduced to sobs at the thought of doing it. Gotta learn it sometime, and a jam situation is NOT ideal.

This is not a part of the AS experience you should bury your head in the 'sand' about. Do it - you'll be glad you learned it.

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Old 02-13-2007, 05:46 PM   #8
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Go slow and keep looking out those mirrows. When the trailer start to look big in one or the other stop. Keep stoping and looking at the situation. There have been times i had to make a tight turn to be the trailer into an RV spot. Didn't like it but it had to be done. A spotter is your best bet.
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Old 02-13-2007, 06:30 PM   #9
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Thanks for the input, I can backup ok, just wanted to know if there was a tell tail way excluding the spotter to know when you're near the contact point.

Last month I had to back out onto a 3 lane hwy out of a narrow drive, my spotter was in the back not near the hitch, he was telling me to come back and turn hard and I just didn't like the look of the angle. I couldn't get out and take my time to look. Traffic was comimg at 60MPH I was doing this between the breaks in traffic at the lights.

I think the parking lot test is on my list of things to try.

I see tracker trailers make really sharp backup turns their rigs appear to be at 90 degrees.

As far as my spotter my cell phone has a speaker on it, so that goes on the dash (both hands on the wheel) with my spotter on their phone telling me what's going on so we're not yelling.
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Old 02-13-2007, 06:36 PM   #10
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Quote:
I see tracker trailers make really sharp backup turns their rigs appear to be at 90 degrees.
They are a 5th wheel type of hitch with more clearance.
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Old 02-14-2007, 12:28 AM   #11
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90 is TOO much!

Bob et al -

To my way of thinking, and admittedly somewhat limited experience, if your trailer is at anything approaching 90degrees to the TV, there are serious problems. There is NO WAY that you can make any meaningful adjustments while reversing with those angles.

If that sort of severe maneuver is required, then I would think that serious reconsideration of the situation is needed. But then it is your AirStream.

Thinking back on backing SilverToy in several, what I thought were 'extreme' backing angles, I was never at more than about 45 to 50 degrees deflection. Even at those angles, there was a LOT of forward moving to regain steering input. In reverse, using the common vehicle steering angles, you cannot affect much correction at those vectors.

The longer the TV wheelbase, the worse the input deficit becomes at severe backing angles. Ditto, the further the trailer axles are from the ball. Elongation of those parameters worsens things.

Sorry for going on, but thinking about all the angles was kinda "Cool"!!! Yea, I know - get a hobby or something!

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Old 02-14-2007, 06:30 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fyrzowt
They are a 5th wheel type of hitch with more clearance.
that's correct!

Silver toy, you may be right the results going real tight were negligable.
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