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Old 05-01-2015, 11:12 AM   #29
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2010 30' Flying Cloud
Mocksville , North Carolina
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Another option may be to get someone (another trailer owner) to back the trailer for you if it is a very busy or very tight spot. That way you can learn on the easier and less stressful sites and slowly move up to the more difficult backing jobs. I would think most RVers would be more than willing to help out.

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Old 05-01-2015, 11:20 AM   #30
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Hillsboro , Texas
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BTW, we also use 2-way radios. One in the cab, the other for the "spotter". The driver faces forward and follows my "ground instructions". That way the driver can watch the front of the TV for problems while I watch the trailer.

I can back without a spotter, but I exit the TV often and verify there are no issues with what the back of the AS is doing. Of course the cameras are also a great help. I can see 360 degrees with them. So I need only concern myself with the low tree branches of building overhangs.

Peace and Blessings..
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Old 05-01-2015, 11:40 AM   #31
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Originally Posted by n2916s View Post
Quick hint: when backing, place your hands on the bottom of the steering wheel. Whatever direction the bottom of the wheel goes (and your hands) is the direction the back of the trailer is going to go.

It really helps.

This helps. Always use your mirrors never turn your head and look back.
I get the back of the trailer pointed in the right direction when going forward. When I can see the side of the trailer in the mirror pointed in the direction I want to back, I start backing. It is harder to back if you can't see either side of the trailer.
If I am turning too much and close to jackknifing I go forward a little to straighten the trailer out and resume backing.
Lining up before you start backing helps also. You want a nice gradual curve so you can straighten things out when you are in your site.
My wife has taken solo trips in our Airstream and doesn't back up very well. She asks for pull throughs and asks for a helpful camper to back in a site if there are no pull throughs available. Even though she doesn't back up very well she is not nervous about driving the trailer.
All you have to do is be able to back up a little to get yourself out of a tight spot.
Take your trailer out and enjoy yourself. After a little experience you will be surprised your were ever nervous about backing.
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Old 05-01-2015, 11:45 AM   #32
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2015 20' Flying Cloud
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Great write up Jack!!
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Old 05-01-2015, 11:45 AM   #33
2009 27' FB Flying Cloud
Leaburg , Oregon
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There are several RV dealers, including Sutton RV that offer classes for "women only" on how to back up your RV including how to hook up and unhook and just about anything else you want to learn. Classes are also offered at rallies and shows. Just relax and believe you can do it.
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Old 05-01-2015, 11:48 AM   #34
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1994 21' Sovereign
The high country. Black Mountain range. , North Carolina
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About 45 years ago I had to learn to back a rather large trailer attached to a huge EUCLID rock hauler. I was taught by the previously mentioned method of hands at the bottom of the steering wheel. I was told to first use the mirrors as mentioned and to think of my thumbs at the bottom of the wheel and which ever direction I wanted the trailer to go I should think of which thumb pointed that direction and turn the wheel accordingly. It just takes practice. I really like the idea of going to a CDL class also. In many ways, it is easier for me to back a larger trailer than smaller. Small ones react so quickly that you can get beyond correcting, thus having to pull up and start over. Just don't give up! I have helped many at the boat dock get their boats in the water. I would rather help them than see them struggle, tie up the ramp and make what should be a good outing for them turn into a shouting match. Someone will usually be glad to help. Get out there and go!
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Old 05-01-2015, 11:56 AM   #35
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1972 29' Ambassador
Boynton Beach , Florida
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The big conceptual moment for me was to think of using the TV to point the trailer in the right direction, as in "I have to push the hitch over there." Backing up in a curve, which happens at many campgrounds, can be daunting. The thing to remember is that the trailer will fit, so don't worry too much about the side that you can't see. So try to put the trailer's tires as close to the edge that you can see as you feel is comfortable. Pull way past your target, watch the trailer's wheels, and drive them in!

A few other hints:

-Call ahead to the RV park and ask for a pull-through site. The more expensive parks have accommodations for those monster Class-A Prevosts, so your little bitty Airstream should be able to maneuver just fine.

-Make sure that both you and your spotter have your cell phones, and use them as a communicator. Agree on what's left and right. Amazing what happens when you don't have to shout, or frantically wave your arms to a driver that can't see you!

-Don't be afraid to ask for spotting help from bystanders, but their only purpose is to make sure you don't smack into something! You're the driver, and just because someone can yell forcefully, and wave their arms confidently, doesn't necessarily mean that they know more than you. When I pull into camp, I'm very anti-social until the trailer is disconnected, leveled and hooked up. Then the drinks come out!

-Never drive into a place that you don't positively know that there's a way out. Pulling over and walking in is preferable to a long, long backup!
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Old 05-01-2015, 12:53 PM   #36
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My longest backout was about 5 miles once....

That was fun...

1/2 Ton 4WD Truck, 72 Sovereign Hensley Arrow
The fact that I am opinionated does not presuppose that I am wrong......

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Old 05-01-2015, 01:27 PM   #37
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1980 31' International
Cincinnati , Ohio
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Don't ever feel intimated when backing up and there are fantastic tips here!
I am also just learning and spent over an hour pulling our 31' out of our large backyard to park in her summer spot on our driveway. (My husband can do it in about 5 minutes) Granted, I have to negotiate an oversize garage at 3:00, an inground pool perpendicular to the garage at 9:00 and what appears to be a teeny-tiny automatic gate flanked by two brick columns. It was an intense training, and I stopped MANY times just to take a breath and regroup. For once, my husband did not frazzle me and the trailer did not end up swimming in the pool.

I am looking forward to taking our rig to a nearby church lot to practice the parking within lines tip while using trying out the hands at 6:00 guide.

If we were closer, we could meet at the same campground and help each other back in!!
Jenn & Robb & our two furry kids
Maizie ('the Black Dog') & Dex ('the Brown Dog')
1980 International 31
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Old 05-01-2015, 02:59 PM   #38
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Vero Beach , Florida
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Great advice above. Here are the three lessons I learned along the way....

1. All vehicles turn and back up in an arc. When driving a car, especially a small one, it's easy to think of making turns sharply. We can back a car into a parking spot at what feels like a 90 degree angle. Not so a truck and trailer. Think of backing as a big curve, not a right angle. That's why jcanavera and others stress pulling past the spot. It makes that curve long and shallow. I plan a backup by looking for the long curve the trailer wheels need to take from where I start to the position I want to end up in. Like others who have commented, I only use mirrors (at my age my head doesn't turn far enough around anyway... but that's a personal problem). Having a spotter is essential unless you have put the trailer in the spot you are headed to repeatedly.

2. Like others say, always keep your hand on the bottom of the steering wheel. That seems like it shouldn't make much difference, but it sure does for me.

3. Understand that backing a car is a single move, while backing a trailer is a compound (two part) move. If you back your car into a parking spot that is on the driver's side, you will turn the wheel counterclockwise and might even be able to hold one position all the way in. The same move with a trailer starts with the wheel turning clockwise but as you move the south end of the trailer along that curve I mentioned above you will turn the wheel to the straight position and eventually probably to a left turn to hold that sweeping curve. If you don't make that second move, the trailer will eventually jackknife. If you use the thoughts in steps 1 and 2 above this will happen naturally. If you think about what you've been taught you will resist that correction move since it violates that training that you turn opposite from normal what backing a trailer. That opposite point is only to start the turn. After that you need to move however you must to have the trailer follow its path to the spot you planned.

Oh... One more point... When there are obstructions make sure to look forward now and again. I have not done it yet, but more than once I've nearly hit the front of the truck on a tree that the trailer had cleared 40' earlier.
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Old 05-01-2015, 03:16 PM   #39
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2006 34' Classic S/O
Fort Worth , Texas
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All good tips. Here are some more:
Buy a half dozen small 8-10 inch traffic cones. Place them down the left side of the parking spot where you are aiming. Adjust the mirror to be able to see the line of cones. Then with slow bottom wheel movements, and ease back into the spot you are aiming at. Watch for the slightest movement of the trailer's left rear end. This is how you fly formation and air refuel airplanes. The slightest abnormal movement is the clue to take immediate action. You are solving the problem before it gets out of hand. Only correct for necessary changes. If you are moving the wheel a lot , you are over working the problem. A good backing job will only require one correct movement of the wheel and then a neutralizing or take out correction. This is providing you have enough room to start with. If the spot is tight you may have to wiggle, that is, move the front of the tow vehicle forward in the opposite direction and do the turn again. On the corrections, be sure and pull far enough forward to improve your situation.
At my house here, I have a right then left curving drive way through a solid fence gate and in to a triangular shaped back yard. If I did not use cones and a backup camera I would have destroyed an Airstream and my back yard along with the fences. So far, no hits.
Happy backing,
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Old 05-01-2015, 03:27 PM   #40
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Good backing technique

There is only one way to learn it. A large parking lot, either cones or something like chalk or white flour to mark areas into which one must back the trailer....then spend about two - three hours practicing.

I never rely on spotters as they may accidentally give me wrong information, then who pays? And, I need to be able to do this alone, especially when backing into a campground.

Once you have gotten the hang of it, head for the local truck stop and back into the spaces between trucks... you will have about three feet on each side. Do all this for about four hours and if you have not figured out how to back a trailer by then, maybe you need to fly..LOL
Happy trails and Good Luck
Ms Tommie Fantine Lauer, Greensboro, NC
AIR #31871 K4MTL
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Old 05-01-2015, 03:41 PM   #41
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1977 31' Sovereign
Lynnwood , Washington
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Have you thought about going back to school??.....trucker's school. They'll have you driving, and backing up, like a pro in no time.

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Old 05-01-2015, 04:41 PM   #42
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1967 30' Sovereign
1999 31' Land Yacht
Bosque Farms , New Mexico
Join Date: Jan 2004
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Too bad you're not up here. I regularly park rigs into back-in sites if the owner feels uncomfortable. However, when I do so*, I also ask the owner to sit in the tow vehicle with me so that I can walk the person through it very slowly. About half the time, I stop once or twice halfway through the process so that we can get out of the truck and talk about positioning. (*Well, of course, there are exceptions. We've got a few guests who come up here pretty often and just regularly have me park their rigs for them. Not a problem, either!)

By the way, I have a riding mower and trailer that happen to be set up so that the backing characteristics are very close to backing an RV. I've lent it out several times to folks who want to practice backing with something smaller and less destructible. (It's especially welcome if the person agrees to mow some grass at the same time.)


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