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Old 08-26-2012, 09:49 PM   #1
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Practising Parking Airstream

I kept wanting to learn how to park the Airstream, and the few times I got to try it with my husband coaching and losing what little patience he had I never got anywhere. So I told him I want to practice parking the trailer. He would just disappear and think I was going to drop the subject. So I called my mother to see if she would come over and help. It's easier to have someone help you hitch up, right?
So anyway, got it hitched which I can do and then started the circles in the back yard with the instructions copied from the manual. Mom directing. First park from left side and then the right. Half hour and it was perfect!!!!
Went out again today and 15 minutes, not perfect, but I did it left and right.
So until I need to drive the truck somewhere, I will continue to practice until I unhitch it.
Hubby says I should never have to back up just always use pull thrus, like life will always give me that perfect pull thru?
So I'm getting the concept, well better at it anyway.
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Old 08-26-2012, 10:11 PM   #2
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Have been backing trailers for 30 some years business related. I can usually back anything to any spot.
Trying to teach my wife how to help back into a tight space. It is a maddening experience, but after 30 some years of marriage I have patience. The worst part is when she walks out of mirror or widow view. Then the hand signals... I just stop, get out and say "I can't see you".......
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Old 08-27-2012, 12:00 AM   #3
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It's an acquired skill...keep practicing and you'll be a pro in no time!

It is not good, though, when your helper disappears from your line of sight. I've learned to just stop cold and wait till he re-appears. We could all write a book on trials and tribulations of maintaining an amicable relationship with your partner while backing up trailers! It's always funnier in hind-sight (pun intended) somehow.
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Old 08-27-2012, 02:21 AM   #4
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A bit of practice is all you need. Helpers are good but so is a cheap two way radio set (just a few dollars) and losing those signals from line of sight becomes much less important. Of course, confusion will still reign when left and right is confused with the other left and right
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Old 08-27-2012, 06:39 AM   #5
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I've learned the "step out of sight and scream" method is the most entertaining from the observer's point of view.
Seriously, something I learned long ago to help backing is to go slow, check the mirrors, and if needed, get out and look.
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Old 08-27-2012, 07:01 AM   #6
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When we back in at our house, my wife HAS to leave my sight to be able to check that I'm on the edge of the driveway. Between that and a loud diesel engine, we use handheld radios.
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Old 08-27-2012, 07:18 AM   #7
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I am finding out that sometimes no helper is better than a bad helper. The helper should make sure you don't hit anything and that is it.

I usually take it slow and get out and make sure I am not going to hit anything.

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Old 08-27-2012, 07:28 AM   #8
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Most important thing for training a helper is to work out the difference between "Now stop" and "Stop NOW!" Once you get past the whole "left/right" thing, of course.
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Old 08-27-2012, 07:44 AM   #9
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Personally I think that everyone should learn how to maintain systems, hook up, transport, park and set up solo. What if something happens where you are the only one around and you need to move or park the trailer? You cannot count on someone being around or able to assist and you will just have to do it yourself. I have seen too many boats and trailers where the second part of a couple is nothing more than a passenger and does not have a clue how to operate or maintain the vessel (boat or trailer). Self reliance is a virtue.
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Old 08-27-2012, 10:16 AM   #10
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Stepping up to the task

On our recent trip to a small campground near Asheville, the park had experienced several extremely heavy down pours which had severely rutted the gravel road. It happend to be raining when we arrived. In an attempt to keep out of the rain, the gate host quickly drew direction on the camp map for me. Of course it was the longest way and the way that would not allow for me to turn the 29' trailer around. Having only my 13 year old daughter with me I was sure I was sunk. She quickly offered to help me back.

Traditionally she is the one who gives directions in this style " ok..... so I think you should come back... to the left.. no I meant the right..... Ok..... so I think you should..... wait... I think you should stop.."

With the heavy down pour I could not leave my window open and it made visibility in the mirrors extremely difficult. She threw on her rain coat and grabbed the two-way radio and proceed to the rear of the trailer. She was very conscience to stay in the view of my mirror switching sides as necessary as the trailer would turn for the road. Her directions could not have been more clear and concise if she had been doing it for years. We were able to back up over 300 yards of a twisting single lane gravel road and into the site, first attempt.

I don't know if it was all the previous stern instructions I had given her about how to direct, the fact that it was raining so hard she wanted to get in the trailer as quickly as possible,or if was purely divine intervention, but no matter which it was she was amazing.

She has mastered backing the tractor with the lift on the back. Now we tackle a trailer. I think we will start with one a little smaller than the AS. By the time she is able to drive, she will be all set.

It is all about opportunity and practice. Keep up the good work.
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Old 08-27-2012, 10:39 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Protagonist View Post
Most important thing for training a helper is to work out the difference between "Now stop" and "Stop NOW!" Once you get past the whole "left/right" thing, of course.
If you're using auditory queues rather than hand signals, a good rule is to have no extra words and NO MUMBLING. Loud, clear "STOP" rather than now stop vs. stop now, so any sound on the radio while the rig is in motion is an instruction. LEFT, RIGHT, BACK, SLOW, STOP etc.
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Old 08-27-2012, 10:51 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DKB_SATX View Post
If you're using auditory queues rather than hand signals, a good rule is to have no extra words and NO MUMBLING. Loud, clear "STOP" rather than now stop vs. stop now, so any sound on the radio while the rig is in motion is an instruction. LEFT, RIGHT, BACK, SLOW, STOP etc.
I wasn't specifically referring to auditory cues; the same is true for hand signals. The ability to add emphasis for a quick and immediate stop versus easing to a stop may be important.
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Old 08-27-2012, 01:58 PM   #13
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Your're all great!!!!!!

I like the idea of the radios. I can hitch by myself, but you all know that takes patience getting it there, but I have done it. I was doing it somewhere when my daughter was off visiting and I was left to do the hitching by myself. A fellow camper came in to help me there.
I am practicing by myself. I wait for my husband to be gone then hop in the truck and go to it. Today I didn't do too great but I am sure the more I practice the more understanding I will get.
It also dawned on me this morning that I have my son's truck to use for any errands, so I can keep the truck hitched up longer.
I am impressed with the 300 yard back up. I don't know whether to consider that a dream or a nightmare.
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Old 08-27-2012, 02:15 PM   #14
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Don't Forget the T-Shirts!

The correct attire is extremely important when one spouse, or partner, is helping the other back into a tight spot:
Helpers T-Shirt Message: Stop Shouting at Me!
Driver's T-Shirt Message: I'M NOT SHOUTING, DAMMIT!

P.S. In case no one has taught you this trick, try this:
Grip the bottom, center of the steering wheel instead of your normal grip.
To move the tail of the trailer right, move the bottom of the steering wheel right.
To move the tail of the trailer left, move the bottom of the steering wheel left.
Small adjustments are better than over-correcting, large adjustments.
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Old 08-27-2012, 02:18 PM   #15
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Hi, my wife has learned to help me park at campsites. I survey the site and let her know where I want to be. The only signals that I need are, come back, and stop. In a few cases, I need her to point in the direction that the rear of my trailer needs to go. My brother was helping me park my trailer at his neighbor's house and he brought out some radios; Both were turned on and on the same channel. I was backing up and stopped because he didn't say anything. I was very close to a building. Found out the the radio that he tossed into my tow vehicle had the volume turned way down. When parking at home, I rather do it all myself, with no help. I do quite well. We have no place to practice parking, so my practicing is OJT On the Job Training.
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Old 08-27-2012, 02:32 PM   #16
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"P.S. In case no one has taught you this trick, try this:
Grip the bottom, center of the steering wheel instead of your normal grip.
To move the tail of the trailer right, move the bottom of the steering wheel right.
To move the tail of the trailer left, move the bottom of the steering wheel left.
Small adjustments are better than over-correcting, large adjustments."

Yep!!!!!!!! That was a pointer my brother gave me and I promptly came home to try it my first time out since that was passed on to me. I parked that trailer so perfect with effort but I danced for a week. Had a patient friend and female to help me. Couldn't wait to show my hubby.
Also, he wanted to take the truck to get a part for the tailgate and I asked him not yet or this time. I want to keep it hitched so I can practice. He is worried about the transmission and me wearing it out.
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Old 08-27-2012, 04:19 PM   #17
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We use just four ARM signals. I cannot see hands in the rear view mirror. So, my wife's arm signals are not unlike those of a football ref motioning the start of the clock or the many other arm signals fans can see from anyplace in a stadium. The four signals are: move the trailer in the direction of one arm moving up and down, move the trailer straight back when both arms are moving up and down, stop when both arms are crossed in front of her chest. Simple, quiet, no shouting. If she moves to where I can't see her I stop. She knows the situation and corrects her position.

We have to back down our 100+ foot driveway that is only 10.5 feet wide with trees on one side and stone wall on the other.

Practice makes perfect
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Old 08-27-2012, 04:24 PM   #18
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We use radios and comunicate the direction with the words drivers side and passenger side.

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Old 08-27-2012, 05:05 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BessieB View Post
I kept wanting to learn how to park the Airstream, and the few times I got to try it with my husband coaching and losing what little patience he had I never got anywhere. So I told him I want to practice parking the trailer. He would just disappear and think I was going to drop the subject. So I called my mother to see if she would come over and help. It's easier to have someone help you hitch up, right?
So anyway, got it hitched which I can do and then started the circles in the back yard with the instructions copied from the manual. Mom directing. First park from left side and then the right. Half hour and it was perfect!!!!
Went out again today and 15 minutes, not perfect, but I did it left and right.
So until I need to drive the truck somewhere, I will continue to practice until I unhitch it.
Hubby says I should never have to back up just always use pull thrus, like life will always give me that perfect pull thru?
So I'm getting the concept, well better at it anyway.

I'm no pro at this - but have found a few secrets that usually keep me out of trouble:
  • always get out - scout where you want to go - where you want to stop - and scope out what you need to do.
  • don't ask your spotter to guide you - ask your spotter to tell you if you are getting off track - and when to stop (please note that "when to stop" is an important point .....)
  • back-up slowly - keep your perspective at all times
  • as soon as you lose perspective on where you are - then stop - get out - re-orient yourself - and pick-up where you left off.
And, of course, you need to recognize that Murphy's law has special significance when backing up with an audience - and the larger the audience - the more impact it has ......


Jay
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Old 09-04-2012, 02:28 PM   #20
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Glad for the practice

Well my mom and I just got home from our excursion to Silver Lake, Ca. Mom mentioned Kirkwood Lake so we headed on down, but as I went down the road, there was a sign that I didn't see that said "not recommended for trailers" No kidding!!!! So I came to a parking lot and pulled in for position to turn around. Didn't dare go into the campground, some can be narrow and pickles so without scouting, didn't dare go in. So I had to put my practice to serious exercise. Whew!!! I did it!!!!! Back into a boondock spot and now parked in the yard. I am just too impressed with myself.
Also glad that I had the generator with us, had to use it a few times, which is a first for me. Use that heater and down goes the juice.
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