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Old 05-01-2015, 05:33 PM   #43
Rivet Master
1981 31' Excella II
New Market , Alabama
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Posts: 5,285
One other trick is to lay out a garden hose where you want the trailer to be. This gives you a path to follow like lines on a parking lot. Put the end of the hose where you want to trailer to stop backing up. The hose will tell you where the safe lines are. Also don't be afraid to get out of the car and look where the trailer is and check out where you are trying to go. Practic in the yard or someplace with lots of room if you don't have a big yard.


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Old 05-01-2015, 05:54 PM   #44
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1978 31' Sovereign
Hot Springs , Arkansas
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Learn to gauge distances in your MIRRORS. A large parking lot is a great first playground. Set up something as a marker at measured distances on both sides of the "lane" behind your rig.
Start at "zero" at the rear bumper. Then set markers at increments of ten to twenty feet as far back as you desire. Start with them set 20 feet apart. With your eyes on the mirror, and one hand at the 6 O'clock on the wheel, back straight up. Use SMALL adjustments at slow speed to correct your course.

When your steering hand is at the bottom of the wheel, the back of your AS will go the same direction left or right as the steering wheel rotation. Hand moves to the LEFT trailer rear goes LEFT. Hand moves to the RIGHT, trailer rear goes RIGHT. It will be a "Eureka" moment for you. When you become more proficient, make your lane a few feet narrower, until you can back it into a 9 foot wide spot.

ALWAYS REMEMBER: Just because you can see it doesn't mean that it's not there.

If you are backing up solo, GET OUT and look around. Otherwise use someone to "spot" for you.
Practice and patience will be the order of the day. Learning how to back up can be crazy fun. YOU CAN DO THIS!!!
When you feel confident backing and turning, Call your State Police and see where their CDL driving course is. I am sure they would let you use it after testing hours.
If you can do that test, You will be able to back through a McDonalds drive thru..... just watch your overhead.

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Old 05-02-2015, 12:44 AM   #45
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2000 36' Land Yacht XC Diesel
Fresno , California
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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.

Mike beat me to it. I swear it's the EASIEST way to back a tag trailer. Put your hand on the bottom then turn left for left and right for right. Everyone I've taught that to picked it up instantly. And that's even with a 38' boat with an overall trailer length of 45 feet! Obviously practice makes perfect. I personally trained in an empty WalMart parking lot. But since those are pretty rare I suggest a K-Mart or Blockbuster lol. Shouldn't see to many cars there. Most RV dealerships have areas to train as wel (shout out to Toscano RV in Los Banos, CA)
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Old 05-02-2015, 05:30 AM   #46
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2012 27' Flying Cloud
W , New England
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Originally Posted by LucasS View Post
Mike beat me to it. I swear it's the EASIEST way to back a tag trailer. Put your hand on the bottom then turn left for left and right for right. Everyone I've taught that to picked it up instantly.

You're right - but the thing that messed me up was literally the words "turn left" because when you're driving forward, turning left is actually the opposite movement for backing left. Our RV driver trainer corrected me by starting with left hand on the bottom of the steering wheel then pulling my left hand to the left (which if going forward would move you to the right) to move the back of the trailer to the left. And then the same with my right hand pulling to the right if I wanted the back of the trailer to go to the right.

My DW got this concept immediately - me....well, I'm just glad we had a whole weekend to practice :-)

Practicing that trick is the key. Then you have to get the feel of "following" so you don't jackknife. There's a point where you want to slow and even change direction of the turn so you eventually back straight in to your site.
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Old 05-02-2015, 06:02 AM   #47
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Like others have said, practice, practice, practice. There will be a day when it all falls into place and from then onwards it's the easiest thing in the world.

One trick I've read about is to line up your trailer, then take a length of rope and trace a line from the back of your trailer wheels to where you need to be, a gentle curve. Then, just follow the rope when backing up.
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Old 05-02-2015, 06:16 AM   #48
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1996 34' Excella
Florida Panhandle , Florida
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I find that if I use my mirrors when backing up I'm almost useless, so I throw my right arm across the top of the seat and look out the back window as I steer with my left just glancing in the side views for alignment. I imagine it is something about the way my brain/eyes interpret what I see vs. what I do. I go slowly and pull up as many times as needed to give it another go. Oh, ignore the onlookers and make yourself smile while your doing the backing..... it'll force your brain to think you're having fun and soon you will be!!!
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Old 05-02-2015, 10:35 AM   #49
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1993 34' Limited
shenandoah , Iowa
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backing up

Something to remember is always have the site u want 2 back in2 2 b on ur drivers side as u go past the site. Then you'll start with ur mirrors and as the a/s starts turning in2 the spot u can look out ur window and watch the trailer go into the spot. If as u drive by the spot u want and it is on ur right side, that is called blind side backing, even truck drivers do not do blind side backing if there is any way they can come from the other way and have the site on their left side. slow and easy is the secret.

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Old 05-02-2015, 01:38 PM   #50
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All good advice so far... as a solo traveler, backing in your TT can be a little more daunting.

Here are the rules I follow.

1. If I can get a pull thru site, why not take it? Some campgrounds charge more for these however and sometimes you want to save a few bucks so I then take the back in site... but only AFTER I verify it can handle my 31 foot rig.

2. If one is provided, I study the campground lay out map very carefully. Unless the streets are one way, I want to arrive at my site with it on the DRIVERS SIDE if at all possible... as someone mentioned... trying to do blind side backing is hard enough even with a spotter... and nearly impossible if you are solo...

3. Next, if it is not too far, I actually walk my route to the designated campsite getting a mental picture of the route I want to take and looking for any overhead obstacles along the route and especially at my campsite. (not so much a problem in the West but sometimes a larger problem at smaller older campgrounds in the East.) When I get to my campsite, I eyeball it pretty carefully.... making sure there are no picnic tables or other sometimes even measuring its length with the long tape I carry just to be sure. More than ONCE I have been told my 31ft. TT would fit... when it would not...

3. When I arrive at the site, hopefully on the driver's side... I pull all the way by until the rear bumper is parallel to the left side edge of the campsite. I also try to be in the center of the campground street. I then put out two 12 inch traffic cones. The first one I put at the forward left corner of the campsite... that I my imaginary cement pole that I do not want to hit while backing in. The second one I put at the point where I want my rear TT bumper to end up and put a yardstick on it. I make sure that I can see both cones at all times in the driver's side mirror. When I knock the yardstick off the rear cone I know I am in as far as I want to go.

3. I only use my mirrors... with my right hand at the bottom of the wheel... turning slowly and backing slowly. If someone volunteers to help me back in ...that's ok... but I go over all the hand signals VERY careful to be sure THEY understand left and right and especially STOP. But remember YOU are the DRIVER IN COMMAND AND THE RESPONSIBLE ONE... they are not. I always make sure they stand in the REAR and where I can see them in my driver's side mirror. If they step out of view... I STOP. Don't be afraid to get out and look several times for yourself or to pull forward and adjust and even pull out and go around entirely if it is not working out for you... slow and patient wins the day.

4. One thing no one mentioned... try not to arrive at the campsite overly tired... like after a 5-600 mile pull that day. Or after dark... but sometimes that is unavoidable to accidents that slow you down, flat tires you have to change or a mandatory schedule you gotta keep. Recognize that you ARE VERY TIRED or that it is VERY DARK and just go even more slowly... though the same rules apply. I have a couple of small portable florescent light I use in place of the cones if I have to back in at night.

Last thoughts... as someone said... don't forget to check the front your truck now and then too to avoid hitting a sign, a tree, or that guy's brand new F-350 parked in the site next to yours... (just ask him nicely to move it first...)

and... I like the idea of using a piece of rope or hose as a guide for the tires... I need to try that..

finally... just take it slow and BE patient... and practice, practice practice till you got it.

Then... check in next time for advice as to how to best hook up to a Hensley hitch when you are solo... that can be another whole adventure in itself...!
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99 GMC 2500 6.0L Ext.Cab. 8ft Bed

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Old 05-02-2015, 10:17 PM   #51
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Fresno , California
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I know I'm a motorhomer and this is tag related...but when I'm backing up I use my rear-view camera most of the time. If you can somehow get one installed on your trailer that hooks up to a monitor in your TV I highly recommend it. I also rarely use my side mirrors as they're never really accurate. I agree with an earlier post in checking out your spot before trying to back in. I don't see much of a point to walk it, myself, as I like to actually feel how much room I have to maneuver. I solo travel most of the time and the one thing I love about the RV community and campgrounds is that fellow RVers can usually tell you need help and offer assistance before you even ask.

RVers in general are just good people, but nobody can top the Airsteam family!
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Old 05-03-2015, 12:00 AM   #52
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2005 25' Safari
Salem , Oregon
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I have to disagree with some posts.

Hi, I have to disagree with some of the posts and with good reason. I lived in the city where there are no empty parking lots to practice in. I also lived on a very narrow street and had a very narrow driveway. I always had to back into tight spaces because that is what they all were.

(1.) Only use your mirrors: Well my Lincoln mirrors were quite small even with slip on mirror extensions. So I do look over my shoulder at times. At a certain point in backing, you will be able to see the trailer better in your mirrors. So I do both.

(2.) Use a walkie talkie: One time my brother tossed a walkie talkie into my Lincoln and said he would tell me when to stop. Well I knew I was getting close, but never got the "STOP" from my brother. When I go out to look, I was very close to damaging my trailer. The volume on my walkie talkie was too low and we didn't test it first. In over ten years of backing my trailer, this was the first and last time I used a walkie talkie.

(3.) A huge empty parking lot won't do much to help you in tight spaces. Tight spaces help you learn tight spaces.

(4.) One trick of mine: Back in place using only one side of your trailer. Here is how it works; The space at the camp ground is 20' wide. Your trailer is 8 1/2' wide. So you spot a marker, depending on what side of your trailer you can see. Curb side = picnic table, tree, edge of paved pad ETC. Street side = Power post, sewer sight, water spigot, edge of paved pad Etc. Now as you back in, keep your trailer close to one of the markers mentioned. [about two feet] This means that you will still have about 10' left on the other side so you can't hit anything. You only have to be concerned with what is directly behind you. And in most cases you will be able to back your trailer and tow vehicle in until you are out of the street.

This was at a friend's house that we have never been to. I very closely watched my right/curb side of my trailer, keeping it as close to the edge of the drive way because the other side had a brick planter box with hedges in it that I couldn't see until my tow vehicle was nearly straight with my trailer. Once you get mostly in, you can pull forward and make slight adjustments. This space was pretty tight.
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2005 Safari 25-B
"Le Petit Chateau Argent"
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Old 05-03-2015, 12:42 AM   #53
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My home spaces.

Hi, these are my original and new home parking spaces.
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2005 Safari 25-B
"Le Petit Chateau Argent"
[ Small Silver Castle ]
2000 Navigator / 2014 F-150 Eco-Boost / Equal-i-zer / P-3
YAMAHA 2400 / AIR #12144
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Old 05-03-2015, 01:51 AM   #54
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2016 30' International
Scottsdale , Arizona
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Lots of great info here.... thanks to all for your comments.
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Old 05-09-2015, 11:53 AM   #55
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San Diego , California
Join Date: Sep 2014
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Nothing beats practice and there are lots of great tips here.

I'd actually encourage you to go out there an get a toy tow vehicle with trailer. There are more detailed ones that actually have working steering. This would go a long ways to helping you understand, visualize, and practice the mechanics of backing up in short order. It really helps to see a birds-eye view of the angles.
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Old 05-09-2015, 01:23 PM   #56
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formerly of Tustin, Huntington Beach, Dana Point, and Laguna Beach , California
Join Date: Aug 2014
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I agree with all of ROBERTSUNRUS' four points, especially the 4th, and the advice to hold the wheel at the bottom so that you don't have to think "opposite" when backing up. If you're by yourself, make sure you get out and take a good look at the space's blind side and don't forget to look up at branches or a picnic table roof (I've parked the trailer where I can't open the door because of the roof). Then you can concentrate on just the one side you can see clearly with your mirror, typically the inside of the curvature of your tow vehicle and trailer. If you do ask for guide help, make sure you get just one voice.

Even when I'm concentrating on one side, I'll get out a few times just to reassure myself that the blind side is good, especially when there are big boulders or fixed objects. There will be times when others are watching and most of them will be guys. Some of them will have a superiority complex but remember, EVERYBODY started off slowly. Don't let them divert your attention to YOUR Airstream - get out and check the rear when you're not sure. Most of the people in parks and campgrounds do have all day, so what's the rush?

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