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Old 05-28-2009, 11:43 AM   #1
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Ugh - I'm embarrassed. Can't tow...

After 3+ years of owning and loving this Airstream of mine, I have come to the realization that I've got to learn how to tow the bloody thing. I simply can't believe that I haven't done so as of yet - there's something that's keeping me from learning - I'm pretty intimidated by the thought of turning tight corners or backing it into a campsite with people potentially watching...

My husband has been the driver up to now, but he's currently in Las Vegas. The trailer has been in the dealership to get some issues fixed, and of course it's ready to go, and my hubby isn't here! I just can't drive the bloody thing and it's really ticking me off (at myself of course).

Is it just me or are there other husband/wife teams where it's the guy who does all the driving?

I'm not a timid driver by any means - I've got a Kawasaki Ninja for pete's sakes and boot fearlessly around town. It's just the thought of towing that makes me nervous.

I think I'm going to march down to the dealership tomorrow morning and drive it home myself. After all, isn't there a wise proverb that says to do something that scares you every day?



Hopefully I won't have a post tomorrow on how to fix dents...
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Old 05-28-2009, 11:51 AM   #2
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Sounds like my wife,even took her on back roads for 60 mi. or so,I still have the finger nail marks on the steering.She did good,she just wouldn`t admit it, she just couldn`t relax behind the wheel.So I do all the driving now.Just relax you`ll do fine.Dave
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Old 05-28-2009, 12:07 PM   #3
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I have to do all the driving due to health issues-I just told myself there wasn't any reason why I can't. There are several good threads with advice. Swing WIDE and go slow are the best mantras. Now as far as backing-I haven't conquered that yet, my husband can back up. There will be a time that I will not have a choice though so I hope to find a good place to practice and someone who is good at teaching. If for some reason you need to turn around look for a church or school parking lot. Check out the gas stations very carefully (I learned the hard way.) Talk to yourself-you will do just fine! Oh-and ask for pull throughs:>
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Old 05-28-2009, 12:08 PM   #4
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We all have to learn. I have extensive experience trailing and backing utility trailers and a large boat but was not comfortable with my 25' AS. Last Saturday I took it to a vacant shopping center parking lot and spent a couple of hours and now feel comfortable. One problem I had was that the extension mirrors I had were not secure if they were so far out that I could sight down the sides of the trailer while backing. I received my new ones yesterday so won't have to slide the old ones out to where they won't stay on at highway speeds. By the end of my session, I could back and turn and also pretty well "read" where the back corners were in relation to obstacles. Then I made a number of turns as I went past a drain so I could determine how much farther forward I needed to go past the drain to avoid the drain with the trailer. The trailer will cut a more narrow arc so simply avoiding the drain with the TV will pull the trailer into it.
Just some comments that might help. You can always have your hubby drive you to a parking lot with the trailer and then just go away so you can practice without the helpful comments that sometimes aren't. :-)
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Old 05-28-2009, 12:08 PM   #5
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The son of a friend of mine was having serious trouble with parallel parking... and his father was beyond the breaking point. We went to an empty school parking lot with some plastic cones. I had him drive backwards... for a very long time. He drove in circles one way; he drove in circles the other. He drove backwards in figure 8s.

You see, in Montana where I'm from, there are mountain roads with no "turn arounds" at the end. You sometimes have to drive backwards for miles. The more you drive backwards; the more comfortable you get driving backwards.

I suggest you borrow a utility trailer and some cones, find an empty lot and just drive backwards. Back up. Pull forward. Make turns. Go slow. Forget the Airstream. Just keep backing in and pulling out and turning until you get more comfortable. Once you reach a comfort level, drop off the utility trailer and do the same with the Airstream. Learn your "turning points." Get in the habit of using your mirrors. Make all of your mistakes on rubber cones. Bring a person to "coach" you. It's all about repetition.
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Old 05-28-2009, 12:12 PM   #6
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All good advice. Also, when in doubt, don't hesitate to stop, get out, and take a look.
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Old 05-28-2009, 12:24 PM   #7
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Ugh - I'm embarrassed. Can't tow...

Another option if you want to practice without risking your Airstream, is to rent a U-Haul 12-foot (tandem axle) trailer. While it will be narrower than your Airstream, they behave in a similar manner otherwise. A day's rental plus the supplemental liability insurance would likely be much less than the deductible on your Airstream; and the U-Haul could give you a confidence boost prior to towing the Airstream.

Kevin

P.S.: Nearly everyone had misgivings similar to yours prior to towing for the first time. Don't allow the coach to intimidate you, with practice your confidence level will skyrocket. One additional hint -- be sure that you have your driver's seat well adjusted -- then adjust your exterior mirrors for the best view along the sides of your coach -- and don't forget to adjust those convex spot mirrors if you have them.
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Old 05-28-2009, 12:24 PM   #8
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Many thanks for all the excellent tips. I'm roping my sister into coming home with me to help me back it into the driveway.

I've also been told to hold the steering wheel at the 6 o'clock position when backing up. If you want the trailer to swing to the left, then move the steering wheel towards 9 o'clock, ie to the left. And so on... Not sure if others think this is useful, but what the heck.
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Old 05-28-2009, 12:32 PM   #9
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I also forgot to mention that a number of years ago, in the pre-Airstream days, my hubby and I borrowed his parent's big white boxy 5th wheeler for a vacation in Cape Cod. That vacation turned out to be quite memorable for many reasons, most of which are very negative. Hubby pulled into a gas station to fill up, and ended up crashing into one of those big posts that are placed to prevent cars from crashing into the pumps. That post somehow wedged itself into the back frame of the trailer and started to take the entire back off. Everyone was watching, and he was beyond embarrassed and ticked as one can imagine. The gas station attendant had to bring out a crowbar to pry it away so that DH could drive forward without ripping the entire back off. The rest of that drive was done in complete silence, let me tell you. (another black memory of that trip was that we were down there for Sept. 11 2001...)

He hasn't crashed anything since (gee - I hope he doesn't read this ) and is terrific. But I've got this post-traumatic embarrassment syndrome or something. haha
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Old 05-28-2009, 12:36 PM   #10
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Yes... Hold the steering wheel at the bottom and move it in the direction (left or right) you want the trailer to go. (when backing up)
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Old 05-28-2009, 12:56 PM   #11
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I will drive on 2 lane and even try backing. What I am afraid of is the interstate. It took me quite a while to get comfortable driving in traffic and merging with my car and it does not have an extra 29' behind it. I am going to try it one of these days, but I am afraid of taking out a small car. I wish the AS had a lazer beam or something that could tell me for sure that I have enough room to come over.
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Old 05-28-2009, 01:12 PM   #12
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Ugh - I'm embarrassed. Can't tow...

Quote:
Originally Posted by mcair View Post
I will drive on 2 lane and even try backing. What I am afraid of is the interstate. It took me quite a while to get comfortable driving in traffic and merging with my car and it does not have an extra 29' behind it. I am going to try it one of these days, but I am afraid of taking out a small car. I wish the AS had a lazer beam or something that could tell me for sure that I have enough room to come over.
A large convex mirror attached to your towing mirrors will help to eliminate the blind spots and make it more apparent where cars are in relation to your coach when merging.




I have an older model of the McKesh mirrors illustrated in the photo above, and have the optional 3" convex mirrors on both sides -- they make merging and lane change operations much less stressful -- just need to be sure that they are adjusted when changing drivers.

Kevin
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Old 05-28-2009, 01:12 PM   #13
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Michelle, best wishes! I love your point about daring to do something scary everyday. I don't mind towing our AS, interstates or back roads or pulling into gas stations--always scouting an exit first! However, the idea of doing an entire trip, from checking and being responsible for all systems to backing in parking, gives me chills, and I've not taken on whole-trip responsibility yet. I think, however, it is important that all wives and partners force themselves to do this. I tremble to think of a trip that might end with my DH ill or injured so that I would have to break camp and bring the rig home without his assistance. For that reason alone, we women all should be able to understand and do all things connected to our trailers and traveling independently of our husbands. That said, I haven't taken my own good advice yet You might go into our search system on the forum and look up the threads about Silver Sisters and SS rallies. You'll read about many ladies here on the forum who have launched themselves away from home solo with their tv and trailers to meet up and camp with other solo ladies---and the euphoria they express when they see they've really been able to travel safely alone. And as for some dents, well, even the experienced guys get them on their Airstreams, and what are those dents, for the most part, but beauty marks, testimony to real road experience! Get on out there, and maybe soon I'll be somewhere towing behind you ~G
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Old 05-28-2009, 01:24 PM   #14
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Been there! We currently have a pop-up but even so I'm the only gal in our camping group that tows a camper (even when the entire group was in pop-ups) When I back into a camping site I'm entertainment for all around - I do get out and look and then get back in the Tahoe to continue backing up. Usually I get out an let my hubby back in when we camp together.

I am in charge of hitching up before many camping trips. I'm thinking of getting one of those little flags that you put above the hitch so you can back up easier. This does take me a while but it is better than punching a hole in the TV or camper.

I'm planning to tow and back up our Airstream if we ever get one. I think it is important to have more than one driver who is able to tow. I had friends who had a medical issue (not life threatening but the hubby was not able to drive) and his wife wasn't able/comfortable driving their motor home. We had to do a lot of family/driver swapping to get everyone home. Thank goodness we were with a large group.

Let us know how the trip goes. I'll hope to not be reading a dent repair thread from you!

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