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Old 05-03-2010, 07:10 AM   #15
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1992 34' Excella
Austin , Texas
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Here's a few tips from an ex-trucker that may help.

First of all, things happen slower and are easier to keep under control if you slow down. A rig that's unmanageable at 60 mph will be much easier to handle at 40 mph and a piece of cake at 20 mph.

If you're in a tight spot and don't know if you can make it, then just stop and get out and take a walk around look (unless it isn't safe to do so like on a high speed motorway). The other cars may not like it but so what - you don't care so much about their rig - you care about yours. And when they drive by you and salute you with the number 1 gesture, just smile back really big and wave at them and watch them get even more infuriated. It's kind of fun actually. Remember - slow is the way to go when it's tight.

Your trailer is always going to take a tighter turn radius than your tv, meaning the trailer wheels will always track inside the path of your tv wheels so you have to allow for it by turning wide and "square" corners instead of rounding the corners off.

Right turns are the hardest to make. Here's a rule of thumb that works up to about a 75' overall rig length. Between the road that you're on and the road than you're turning onto, you're going to need 4 lanes for a 90 turn. This means that on a four lane road turning onto a four lane road, if you're in the outside lane on your side of the road at the intersection then you're going to have to use 3 lanes from the road that you're turning onto to make the turn. If you're in the inside lane then you will need 2 lanes from the road turned onto, from the middle turn lane then 1 lane on the road turned onto, etc. (but watch your inside mirror for cars that may try to sneak beside you on your right as you're getting ready to turn).

Normally there's a turn lane in the middle which can be used so that you don't have to use one of the oncoming lanes for the turn, but I've had to go up onto concrete traffic islands before with my truck and as long as you take it slow it's not really a big deal and your trailer will clear the island and stay on the pavement. I once hauled a load to New Orleans in the french quarter and made a left turn onto a narrow street with my trailer (48') up on the sidewalk clearing the building at the corner by about 4" while my truck mirror was nearly against the balcony railings of the buildings on my right - but I made the corner with no damage because I went really slow and kept my eyes open for all possible conflicts.

Keep glancing at your mirror on the inside of the turn - that's likely where something is going to hit first and stop if you think you're going to hit something. If traffic closes in around you and you can't move it will probably take the cops to assist you by clearing cars out of your way, but that's OK - it's part of their job.

I always kept an up to date trucker's atlas handy for route planning. They're available at all the major truck stops. Nearly all of my nightmares were the result of not carefully planning my routes beforehand using the book.

"If you come to a fork in the road, take it."
Lake Travis, TX
"Rancho Deluxe"
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Old 05-03-2010, 07:21 AM   #16
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2012 30' International
Walkerton , Virginia
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My GPS (and I'll bet yours does, too) lets me choose the kind of vehicle I "am". When I'm towing, I'll tell the GPS that I am a truck. This way it does not send me down roads that I shouldn't try.

The place you make your choice may be hard to find, but I'll bet it's there. I can also choose to be a pedestrian, bicycle or car.

All the other advice here is good, too. You can do it - but practice in a safe area so you can get comfortable with what you are doing and can build confidence as you go.


Somebody, please, point me to the road.

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Old 05-03-2010, 07:37 AM   #17
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1973 27' Overlander
East Haven , Connecticut
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RC, my friend, don't give up!! I was lucky enough to meet you on your first trip ever. Use the enthusiasm and desire for fun and adventure that you displayed on that trip to overcome your fears. You can do it. There's lots of good advice posted here.

Allie and I are wishing you the best. I hope all is well with your family and we hope to see you again soon.
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Old 05-03-2010, 07:39 AM   #18
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1977 27' Overlander
1973 27' Overlander
1963 19' Globetrotter
Naples , Florida
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With the towing mirrors on my TV I will adjust the mirror in and down where I can see exactly where the tires are,if I am too close,I can swing a little wider or back up and try it again,once I get past my obstacle,I adjust the mirror back up to where it should be for highway traffic. Yes they are power mirrors. Dave
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Old 05-03-2010, 08:13 AM   #19
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1972 29' Ambassador
St. Paul , Minnesota
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I grieve your stressful experiences - pick non-peak traffic hours and saunter on your way, folks will enjoy seeing your Airstream more than we know

And... Roamin' Cat? All I can say is GO WEST!

People living in other areas of the USA may not realize the original 13 Colony States have gazillions of state and county highways that resemble bicycle paths found elsewhere in this great country... Two hundred years ago old buffalo & game trails were used by ox carts and wagons and grudgingly paved as automobiles took over, with tight development and land prices stalling wide right-of-ways or other 'modernization'...

Here in Minnesota one has to try (and drive half an hour) to find a road that follows the lay of the land - arrow straight on the flat Great Prairies...

And also - not every car behind you is a Doctor making an emergency house call - 99.5% of drivers behind you will not mind you being cautious as long as you are consistent in your signaling and intentions. Allow them to join your parade, don't feel you are stopping theirs!

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Old 05-03-2010, 08:32 AM   #20
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2005 25' Safari
Roseville , California
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Hey, not a discouraging word above, and I agree with all of them. Even those of us with at this point only minor dings or no dings (every appendage now crossed for good luck) can remember the times we were within 2 inches of disaster, from our own stupidity or bad luck. You enjoy Airstreaming when its working for you, so get up there and go for it. Practice in a parking lot, travel with others (friends, a club, etc.) for encouragement and support, and when you get your confidence back (you will, with a wise cautious edge) tackle yor fulltiming dream.

Best wishes!
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Old 05-03-2010, 08:39 AM   #21
Silver Sneaker
2006 16' Safari
Denver , Colorado
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If I may add

A couple of times while traveling with a slide-in camper many years ago, I was happy to know in advance how tall my rig was overall. Saved an anxious moment or two. Knowing the height also reminds me to be sure of overhead clearance when backing into a space at a campground.

Get the practice. Just go for a drive (lunch at a park?) with the full rig, each time you set up and go someplace it gets faster and easier. Check everything over and over. I look everything over when walking towards the rig. Are the tires right, anything hanging down, pot holes I ought to remember that are out of sight from the drivers seat, etc? Did I mention practice?

I love the stuff in a parking lot idea, set up 2 poles just 9 or 10 feet apart and see if you can pull the trailer straight through between them. Stop as the trailer goes through, get out and see if it's centered between the posts. Set it up to make a right turn and hit a piece of cardboard just with the trailer tires so as to learn where they track.

Oh, I almost forgot, practice. This could be fun, enjoy.
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Old 05-03-2010, 09:13 AM   #22
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1980 31' Excella II
Drummond Island , Michigan
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You cannot anticipate the unanticipated but you can over anticipate the results. What that means is you are anticipating a bad result if you continue traveling in your A/S. The good thing is you have asked for help and you want to do something to change the situation. Now you have to do it. Giving up the A/S just creates another problem for you because it is something you wanted to do and removing it doesn't make the want go away. Try some of the tips shared by the responding Forum members and adapt a positive I can do it attitude. Thousands of A/S pilots rack up hundreds of thousands of miles of travel on every type of road imaginable each year and have for more than 50 years. Most of those miles are without incident but some are not. You are not any better or any worse than everyone else. That being said, my tip for you to avoid right side scrapes is pretty simple but a lot of people don't think to do it. When you adjust your mirrors obviously you are very interested in seeing traffic behind you when changing lanes, thats a given, but you should also be interested in seeing where your tires are in relation to the edge of the lane particularly during right turns and in parking lots with curbs, pylons and other parked vehcles. I adjusted a small auxiliary mirror to give me a view of the tires and I make it a practice of watching that mirror as I manuever right turns. If you drive so the tires miss the curb or pylon or pothole the rest of the trailer will too. Get back on the horse, take a couple of short trips, be confident and enjoy the A/S life.
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Old 05-03-2010, 09:31 AM   #23
Tom, the Uber Disney Fan
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2006 30' Safari
Orlando , Florida
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This was the experience I had on my first camping trip with our brand new Airstream. I drug the Airstream on the guardrail around a gully coming out of our first campground. The "scratch" ran from the rear edge of the door all the way to the last rib at the curve:

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This was the results of the accident, complements of a Buck with a nice rack (killed the buck and he was headless when we passed again 2 days later), that occurred on our second camping trip with our new Airstream:

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While my wife and I joked that it would be a whole lot cheaper to camp in the driveway (the combined two accidents were $9,600 in damages), I have been towing our 30 footer going on my fourth year and we camp on average of once per month without incident. Of course, this led to our only trip to Jackson far. Prior to the accident in the first photo, I had never towed anything larger than a ski boat.

Don't give up if you love camping in your Airstream as much as we do.
2006 30' Safari - "Changes in Latitudes"
2008 F-250 Lariat Power Stroke Diesel Crew Cab SWB
Family of Disney Fanatics
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Old 05-03-2010, 09:38 AM   #24
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Saint Augustine , Florida
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I can't add much, except that I am learning from reading this thread- and so, thanks! I will hopefully be towing sometime this fall (I hope, I hope!!) and all of this will be nerve-wracking to say the least. I plan to try to find a driving class- for me, that would be helpful as I tend to gain confidence that way first and feel more "with it" when I go out and practice.

Speaking of practice, that is what living life is: practice. Every day and every moment you are concious, you are practicing.

Good luck, best to you and family, and I hope to see you out there!
(I'm in Lyme CT for the summer)


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Old 05-03-2010, 11:46 AM   #25
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2010 30' Classic
Vintage Kin Owner
South of the river , Minnesota
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One alternative to consider is to obtain an inexpensive trailer of similar length and practice with that. There are tandem axle car haulers and utility trailers of various kinds that come up on Craigslist fairly frequently, and you could drive one around for a month or whatever then sell it again. The basics of dealing with the extra length and width, and turning and backing, are the same with any trailer.
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Old 05-03-2010, 11:51 AM   #26
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2007 16' Bambi
Bend , Oregon
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You tell a vivid story! It made me grimace. But sorry to hear it. Lots of good advice here, I'll add one thing: just GO SLOW. Trust that you'll be safe at the speed limit, and leave lots of braking room between you and the vehicle ahead. Just sigh when other drivers keep filling in that space and pass you angrily. I was in an accident once because I got in a hurry and let my passenger and others on the road intimidate me into making a move that I wasn't comfortable with. Relax and enjoy the beauty of the drive : )
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Old 05-03-2010, 11:56 AM   #27
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1960 24' Tradewind
Anytown , Connecticut
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Chip up

Lyn- You have faced worst situations than these. I have do doubt in your abilities, we have all been there at one time or another. Are you joining us this weekend? If so lets sit down and talk then we will take your truck or mine out for a ride.

J. Rick Cipot
Sandi Gould
NEU New England Unit
Airstream Life Magazine
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Old 05-03-2010, 01:42 PM   #28
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1976 25' Tradewind
. , AZ to Maine
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Tractor Trailer Driving School

Sounds very traumatic, I hope you recover completely.
I might be tempted to do a little schooling with an expert.
Have you ever considered a tractor trailer driving school?
No kidding, some of those truckers are very, very good drivers and there is a lot of skill involved.
Best wishes,

"Talk is cheap, Airstreams are expensive," Wally Byam.
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