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Old 10-23-2005, 05:39 PM   #1
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Smile how to backup a trailer

I'm looking at an Airstream Safari 25' - beautiful trailer - my only concern is backing it up - both into RV spaces as well as my own driveway / carport. When I've towed trailers before - I never figured it out - is there a trick to it - I'm guessing I oversteer because the trailer seems to jack-knife against the car. Thanks.
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Old 10-23-2005, 05:47 PM   #2
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What you need is practice. I pulled onto a empty Sunday parking lot on a Sunday with two plastic trash cans and brooms. I backed and backed and eventually figured it all out. Obviously each trailer is a little different, based on their length and where the wheels are placed.

The secret that makes it easy is to put your hand on the bottom of the steering wheel. Turn the wheel from that hand, in the direction of where you want the rear end of the trailer to go. Eventually with practice you will be a pro.

Jack
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Old 10-23-2005, 05:50 PM   #3
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Backing a Trailer

A basic tutorial on how to back a trailer can be found on the U-Haul website

Here is what they say....
* It's easier to back up a trailer if steer with your hand on the bottom of the steering wheel. This way you don't have to turn the wheel in the opposite direction you want the trailer to go.
* While backing a trailer, if you can see more of the side of the trailer than the front you are in danger of jackknifing.

Hope this helps....and by the way, have someone standing near the rear of the trailer when backing who can give you hand signals to help you.
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Old 10-23-2005, 05:54 PM   #4
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If you have your husband standing behind the trailer, be careful of those hand signals!
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Old 10-23-2005, 06:28 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cindy_TX
I'm looking at an Airstream Safari 25' - beautiful trailer - my only concern is backing it up - both into RV spaces as well as my own driveway / carport. When I've towed trailers before - I never figured it out - is there a trick to it - I'm guessing I oversteer because the trailer seems to jack-knife against the car. Thanks.
Cindy,
Don't be intimidated by backing your future trailer. It can be learned and practiced like all other things in life.
Some say that longer trailers back up easier then shorter ones.
My wife and I got some walkie-talkies, and she uses one to guide me while I back the trailer in it's spot. Thi usually works very well, as I don't have to look for hand signals.
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Old 10-23-2005, 07:19 PM   #6
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Smile Remember objects in the mirror are closer ...

You know its not so bad, I think its better with fewer helpers (witnesses). Jack's idea of an empty parking lot on a Sunday is great. When in doubt, get out and look around... you go girl!
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Old 10-23-2005, 08:10 PM   #7
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only drive forward for the first 6 weeks!!

ok not really...

hi cindy and welcome to airworld.

when i moved from a class a to a trailer i too worried about the backin' up issue....all my experiences with moving/utility trailers included 'mac the knife/jack the knife episodes.

also i'd read that the longer trailers were easier to back,
so i ordered the longest one available.... and added the hensley hitch which further moves the trailer away from the truck by about a foot and allows the driver to get to about 84 degrees before problems....


then i picked the unit up on a friday and stayed at the dealership till monday!!! there were lots of empty parking lots and streets on sat and sunday. so i would pull out for awhile drive around, back up, turn, make big u turns and circles and so on....

i used plastic buckets and cones and trash cans and finally other trailers in the dealers lot.....for target practice.........i also took short trips on to the interstate...just one exit and then back to the dealer for more circles...

each session was 30-45 minutes

followed by cpr and oxygen therapy...

when my heart rate was under 100 and
my blood sugar was over 100 i'd have another go.....

really drivers ed for dummies.....parts 1-8

the afternoon was worse than the morning session (my sophomore time)
but the next day was much better....and by monday i was ready for action....

so don't worry just practice some near the dealership inventory!!!!!

cheers
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Old 10-23-2005, 08:19 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jcanavera
What you need is practice. I pulled onto a empty Sunday parking lot on a Sunday with two plastic trash cans and brooms.
Jack
What Jack said. My only suggestion would be to rent a cheap u-haul trailer (enclosed) instead of doing for the first time with the Airsream. Take it to a parking lot and get use to how it works. Then, when you have the hang of it, then do it with the RV.

I started with a boat and after about 9 years with the boat, the RV was no problem.
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Old 10-23-2005, 08:26 PM   #9
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Cindy

I agree with jcanavera, keep your hand at the bottom of the wheel and move your hand in the direction you want the trailer to move. Its takes some practice. And most importantly always remember - take it slow and you can always pull forward and try it again.

Steve
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Old 10-23-2005, 08:43 PM   #10
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Good Idea!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Silvertwinkie
What Jack said. My only suggestion would be to rent a cheap u-haul trailer (enclosed) instead of doing for the first time with the Airsream. Take it to a parking lot and get use to how it works. Then, when you have the hang of it, then do it with the RV.

I started with a boat and after about 9 years with the boat, the RV was no problem.
I'm still struggling a bit with backing - I have a tendency to oversteer! EASY does it definitely works better. I totally agree theres a lot less tension worrying about backing a scruffy old U-haul... so I say go for it.

Tin Lizzie
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Old 10-23-2005, 10:05 PM   #11
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Ditto exactly to Silvertwinkie & PaulaFord on the U-Haul idea. ... everybody else too for the hand on the bottom of the wheel trick.

It wasn't that long ago I used a very large parking lot at the local tech college on an empty sunday. There weren't many curbs and only a few light poles. I used the painted rows as a grid only. Orient in line with some reference on that grid and pull forward until you are straight.

Lessons:
1. Back up while keeping the U-Haul in a straight line.
2. Back up while gradually turning the trailer 90 degrees. After you do this a number of times, you'll be able to see the needed distance decrease some. There's no hard goal at this time. You don't need to have the tow vehicle straight when you've got the trailer where you want it. Only after you are able to turn it a predictable amount while backing should you begin to orient to distances and aim for a parking spot to put it in.
3. Don't expect all of this to happen right on the first session. You will want to go back again until you see reasonable results at least some of the time.

Best wishes and keep the wish alive. You've found the most helpful forum possible and that's a great step. You are most heartily welcome!
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Old 10-23-2005, 11:28 PM   #12
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I have found if I arrive at the campground after sunset, and must back into the campsite, there usually is a tree involved and an 80% chance that it will be raining.
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Old 10-23-2005, 11:51 PM   #13
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Ahh -- Good one! Either dark or rain make it so hard to see what you're doing. Together? Deliver me! You really have to practice that communication with a partner, and then it won't work right until mucho experience together.

Whether trying to put the ball under the hitch or backing into a difficult spot, it is very common to start what I think will work and then jump out of the truck to walk around to see if it's what I really need.

You can put yourself into some binds that you can't readily reverse by driving forward. Always consider whether unhitching (get some good chocks!) and repositioning the angle of the tow vehicle might be a choice.
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Old 10-24-2005, 05:51 AM   #14
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I have seen walkie talkies being used between driver and ground guide. It sure beats yelling through an open window with the rain pouring in.
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