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Old 03-26-2014, 03:58 AM   #1
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Backing-into-the-driveway strategy

OK, colleagues--tomorrow I pick up my new 22 Sport at the dealer and will drive it home. Among the many things I am obsessing about (sway, fishtailing, crosswinds, blown tires ...) here's the terminal one: getting it into my driveway!

I live on a narrow residential street. (I also live near the end of a cul-de-sac, so if I don't get it in, I'm going to end up backing down the street and down a hill to get it turned around.) But please help me visualize this--how do you approach backing into a driveway/parking space from a narrow street?

My old approach, with my 1/2-the-size-of-the-AS popup, was to pull pretty much to the opposite side of the street, along the curb, with the back of the trailer about even with the edge of my driveway, and back in from there. That felt like it gave me the greatest angle into the driveway. BUT, it didn't leave a lot of room for the TV's front wheels: a lot of times as my truck was coming around, I hit the curb or actually went up on the curb with the front wheels. I'm wondering if my backing geometry is wrong.

Second question ... when you're backing, what are you watching in terms of pivot point? I mean, do you say (for example) when my trailer wheels are even with the corner of the driveway, that's the time to go into maximum turn? Or is you angle more gradual as you back in?

I know all this is kind of difficult to put in words, but any help would be much appreciated.
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Old 03-26-2014, 07:05 AM   #2
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There really isn't an easy way to teach another person how to back up a trailer.
My advice is to go find an empty parking lot somewhere before you pick up your trailer. Then haul it there and do some practicing before you bring it home.
Bring some kind of markers, cones, plastic trash cans - something you can run over and not hurt tires or aluminum - and set them up as your guide posts.
Then practice, practice, practice.
Start with just backing it straight back and get a feel for it. Then try something harder like back it around a "corner".
You will get it.
I always figure I'm as smart as the next guy is and if he can learn to back a trailer, so can I.
Good luck
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Old 03-26-2014, 07:07 AM   #3
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Practice

Your procedure for the old trailer sounds about right, although you should allow a little room for the front wheels of the truck when you pull towards the other side of the road.

Surely the dealer has a parking lot. Get them to allow you some space for practice, and maybe to provide a patient and experienced coach.

After all, you'll be giving that dealer a lot of money, so they should provide the training you need to be comfortable.

Then, there's the old standard advice--get a few traffic cones (purchase, not steal) and find a big lot at a store, church, etc. where the owners will let you practice.

Our Airstream is the sweetest-towing trailer I've ever pulled. Quit worrying and enjoy!
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Old 03-26-2014, 07:10 AM   #4
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I sure wish I could help you. Seems most people just learn to do it with practice. Fir me, each time seems like the first, but I always manage to get it backed in.. You can do it! Get a good hitch and check the tire pressures and TAKE your time!!! Jim
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Old 03-26-2014, 07:35 AM   #5
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Bring it home at night, so your neighbors can't see you.

If the width of road at the end of your cul-de-sac is narrow like ours, and the road is not too long, it sounds like you might be best served by backing up the road and then turn into your driveway, hugging the nearest corner of your driveway.

If that is the case, the first skill is simply to gain a level of comfort in just backing up in a straight line, which you can practice in any open parking lot.

And if all that fails, make sure you have a 6 pack of beer or some other gift for the neighbor whose lawn you traverse.

Offered in jest...
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Old 03-26-2014, 07:40 AM   #6
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At what position in the cul-de-sac is your driveway? 9 o'clock? 1 o'clock?
Is the cul-de-sac big enough to do a u-turn?
If it is on the left of the cul-de-sac, either do a u-turn or pull up on the wrong side of the street along the curb in front of the driveway then angle the tow vehicle out across to the other side until the trailer tires are just past the driveway and the entire rig is at an angle.
This should allow room for the front tires to turn without hitting the curb.
If your driveway isn't as I picture it in my mind, disregard all of this...
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Old 03-26-2014, 07:52 AM   #7
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a. take it slow
b. always leave room in case you need to adjust your position
c. good side mirrors will help
d. sometimes you'll be in the zone and will have no problem. sometimes it
will feel like putting toothpaste back in the tube
e. it REALLY helps to have a 'wingman' - spouse, friend, etc. - guide you.
agree IN ADVANCE what the signals are.
f. know that your neighbors will be watching every time. it's the same
way when you go camping. get used to it.
g. see step [a]

hang in there - it will get better [hopefully]
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Old 03-26-2014, 08:13 AM   #8
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my driveway is on the cul de sac and i seem to have more trouble at home than on the road with backing...maybe it is because the driveway is a bit narrow and is curved. with that said i had never towed anything other than a 16' utility trailer a couple of times before purchasing the AS. the trip home with the AS was about an 8 hr drive and the trailer pulled just fine. i surprised myself with backing-in that first time...but i do have to say getting it in the drive depends on how tired i feel when i get home.
go slow and if you have trouble, get out of the tv, walk around and relax and then try again..i find i can see better when backing to the left, but somtimes depending on the site it may be better to back to the right.

ps
where did you purchase your AS?
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Old 03-26-2014, 08:36 AM   #9
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The longer Airstream will be much easier to back than the pop up. I would try some moves in a parking lot before I went home with it. One thing you need to check before you get to the driveway is if the trailer and TV will hit each other during a sharp jacknife. One thing you can do is lay out a rope or water hose for the curve where you want the drivers side wheels to go. It is much easier for me to back using the wheel locations along a intended path. Pull foward and try again if the wheels leave the marked path.
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Old 03-26-2014, 09:01 AM   #10
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They do make a thing called a tongue dolly. With a light trailer such as yours, it would work well.

If your driveway is paved and relatively flat, you can use this device to move your trailer exactly where you want it. All you have to do is back onto the driveway with the car, unhitch, and then use the dolly to position it.

Here's a link: Amazon.com: Tow Tuff TMD-1000C HD Dolly Adjustable Trailer Movers with Caster Wheel: Patio, Lawn & Garden
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Old 03-26-2014, 09:21 AM   #11
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A friend of mine has a ball hitch on the front of her 4Runner and she says it's a lifesaver. She has no trouble backing her trailer now and is very grateful to her father for having it put on for her.

The only other suggestion I would make is to have a ground guide with a walkie-talkie or cell phone. Be sure they watch the overhead as well as the sides.
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Old 03-26-2014, 09:22 AM   #12
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Try the 'SCOOP' method. LongLongHoneymoon.com | Tips for Airstream / RV travelers. ¬Ľ Blog Archive ¬Ľ VIDEO: The Secret to Backing Up an RV

Also the longer the trailer the easier the back-up. When I backed a utility trailer with my CJ7 Jeep it was much more difficult than the large tent trailer we had. I used that Jeep to maneuver our 24' Trade Wind easily.....except for the slope we live on. Then the 4x4 Jeep truck was the answer.

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Old 03-26-2014, 09:37 AM   #13
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Just a couple of things.

When backing around a corner, back in from the drivers side whenever you can so you can see the end of the trailer out of your side glass.

As a learning aid place one hand on the bottom of the steering wheel when backing. When doing this the trailer will go left when you move your hand to the left and right when you move your hand right.

When in doubt, stop, get out and look where the end of your trailer is, and don't be shy about doing so. This will be useful even if you have a helper.

Don't freak about the bigger trailer. In many ways a longer trailer is easier to back than a short trailer.
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Old 03-26-2014, 09:37 AM   #14
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OK, I do have some suggestions, take them for what they are worth.

(1) If there is a "lot jockey" a the dealership or someone who moves the trailer around ask him or her to help. Sit in the passenger seat and have your wife or whomever is traveling with you outside practicing watching the opposite side you are turning in. You will not be able to see this side in your mirrors - for me and my narrow driveway on a residential neighborhood this is where I ask my wife to stand.

(2) Invest in some walkie talkies. Your wife has one, you have the other, with headsets makes it even easier. Before you start tell her where you want her and what you want her to say and when.

(3) If you are entering your road and going up hill, always back down hill.

(4) I pick the center to the road to start the maneuvers. I have an F250 Crew and 30" behind me so I want room in front for the truck and room in back.

(5) Go further past the driveway than you think you should go.

(6) I use the back tire on the tandem axle trailer as my pivot point, when it is three feet from the start of our driveway I start making a gradual turn into the driveway.

(7) I take the equalizer bars off before backing, much easier on the truck and trailer as basically I am making an 80 degree turn into the driveway.

(8) Practice at the dealership after the person helps you, make sure you are making the turn you will be into your driveway.

(9) Patience - with yourself AND YOUR WIFE. The best marriage battles I've seen come with backing into tight campground sites.

(10) If the first one does not work, pull forward and start over NO BIG DEAL. If neighbors want to get by they can at this time etc. Slow, take it real slow.

(11) YOU WILL GET IT - once you do, let your wife learn, you never know when it might be needed.

ENJOY, it's actually fun once you get it.

Bud
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