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Old 05-02-2010, 09:15 PM   #1
Be Not Afraid JMJ + AMDG
Roamin Cat's Avatar
2008 25' Safari
Quiet Green , Connecticut
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 243
Exclamation nasty accident, knew I was too new to know what to fear!

Couldn't find the "we can tow it" place to post this, sorry.

Fear. That is what I feel now when I think about towing the AS. Only used it twice last year.

We bought it on impulse, bought a great truck to tow it with, I joined the NEU, and I was off and running! Got lots of "wow, you drove it here by yourself?!" comments that first summer. I often responded with something along the lines of "I am too new at this to know what to fear!"

Well, last trip of first season, my trucker map mysteriously missing from truck, entered destination on RI seashore into "trusty" GPS. I told DH I took a different route the last couple of times I went there, but we decided to trust the gadget. First mistake. Took me on a nice wandering narrow road through the back of beyond from CT to RI. Somewhere near the border, not sure on what side, we were presented with a sudden 90 degree turn, a semi in the other lane making the same turn coming at us, speed limit 30 mph and driving as posted, no warning of sudden turn ahead. Traffic on my tail. Took the turn, scraped the side of my baby and ripped the bottom panel off the AS passenger side, right down to the tire well. Walked back and looked at the rock post that marked that corner, LOTS of evidence that I was not the first one to have such a close encounter with it

Also had a lot more breakables inside than we realized! Found that out when we went inside to try to recover before proceeding. Corelle DOES break, lots of it, everywhere.

Continued to the site, freaked out at the damage, afraid to use water or especially propane (tear in line? blow us up?!). Cleaned up the damage, took advantage of the sewage dump site, and headed home (using a MAP this time from the ranger!).

Sat all winter, glaring at me, damaged side facing house. $10k of repairs, apparently I also managed to ding the semi and dented in the rear corner panel on the driver's side very nicely as well. Thanks to Colonial, looks almost as good as new (slight difference on repaired side compared to "original" side near the tire well. Wish I noticed this before arriving home!).

After practically living in it the first summer (while trying to avoid freaking out over DS's upcoming brain surgery, which was very successful, praise God!), we only used it twice last summer (second season) after the repair work. Second trip out, I bravely decide to drive, managed to scrape along the side of a fence after dumping. This time damage only to the adhesive bumper like strip down the side.

That's it. I have shut down in fear. I have no idea how to tow the AS, how to take corners, what space I need, I knew, that first summer, that I didn't know enough to know what I didn't know. By the end of the season, I was paralyzed!

DH works long hours. We need me to be able to drive to location and set up, so he can just commute to work. I also need to break down and get it home, and he backs it up the driveway when he gets home. Worked out great the first year.

Now, trying to work up courage to try again before deciding to sell (at a loss, probably, just past two years of ownership of new unit), and we open it up and find the leak (another post). Though if we sell, we would also sell my beloved TV, and we could break even.

Just feel so defeated and in over my head. How do I get the courage to try again?! I have to navigate several sharp turns on narrow, windy country roads to get to the nearest highway.

How do I do it? Anyone?

I want to full-time!!!!!!! I have longed to roam around this country as long as I could remember, in an Airstream! I had plans to get a longer AS, custom fit it out, and go for it. SOOOOO many times I wish I had just bought the 27ft FB (easier access to both sides of bed, two more feet of closet and pantry space, perfect!). Nearly traded this in for a new bunk bed unit I found, could have FT with homeschooled kid in that.

Sorry for the long ramble. Just not sure how to recover from this one.

Have my eye on a Garmin 465T but don't want to spend the money if I cannot tow this thing.



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Old 05-02-2010, 09:37 PM   #2
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back IN the saddle is the way 2 cure the yips...

RIGHT turns are the hardest 2 make,

so hard that many folks plan their trips to ONLY include LEFT turns

3 lefts=1 right, think about it.

turning LEFT is easier because there's more clearance in the intersection generally.

RIGHTS are a problem because the trailer takes a TIGHTER path round the turn.

so to make CLEAR right turns, one must go forward more B4 turning.

IF it's gonna be too tight, just go straight and then make 3 lefts...

it is useful to be aware of cars behind, but don't let those cars HURRY u into a mistake.

virtually every gps will give hokey directions is some settings...

particularly the boonies or coastal or mountain spots...

use a map, besides maps are a good excuse to PULL OVER and think.

so ya had a tough 'sophomore year' (smart and dumb) but get out there again now.

cones/parking lot may help with the turning/clearance issues but RIGHTs are tricky.

just remember 3 lefts=1 right, and that LOOP around the block in tight areas is a good thing.


all of the true things that i am about to tell you are shameless lies. l.b.j.

we are here on earth to fart around. don't let anybody tell you any different. k.v.
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Old 05-02-2010, 09:51 PM   #3
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abc , Ohio
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I'm new here and have never had an RV. However, my wife and I had sail boats for 25 years and lived full time on them for 2 years, cruising the great lakes, east coast and FL. We were always very careful navigators, never running aground, etc. Shortly after purchasing our 37 foot sailboat, we were leaving an anchorage that we had stayed in hundreds of times. Bang! We hit a rock! I couldn't believe it! The boat wasn't sinking so we sailed it back to our marina. We had the boat hauled and found about a 2 inch hold in the bottom of the keel!

Believe me, I felt pretty low. I "feel your pain".

I said all this to preface my advice, which may sound harsh, but isn't intended to be.

Here's the advice: Suck it up, Learn from the experience, Go back at it, Don't let this ruin your dreams!

We had the boat repaired and when it was ready, we sailed right back to that same anchorage and had a great weekend. The next summer, we sold everything we owned except the boat and essentials and took off on our cruise! Looking back on it, running aground was the least of our worries!

Good Luck,
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Old 05-02-2010, 09:51 PM   #4
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Here's hoping you don't give up hope and toss your dream out the window. You can do it. Learn from your mistakes, practice in an empty parking lot if you have to, to get your confidence back, or maybe get some expert one-on-one instruction. Some RV places do offer that. Don't let your fear reign over you....let it strengthen you!
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Old 05-02-2010, 09:54 PM   #5
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nasty accident, knew I was too new to know what to fear!

Greetings Cats!

So sorry to hear about your misfortune. My advice is: don't give up on your dream just yet. As a Freewheeler, I have had to learn the ropes of towing and there are a number of "tricks" that I have heard discussed at some of our meetings including:
  • If your tow vehicle isn't your daily driver, try making it your daily driver for at least three months. By driving an otherwise infrequently used vehicle, on a daily basis you have the opportunity to experience any of its quirks as you travel from point A to point B with all of the unexpected happenings in daily driving.
  • With your trailer/tow vehicle combination travel to a vacant parking lot with an assortment of plastic cones or medium sized plastic waste baskets to mark an obstacle course. Then, at your own pace, tow through the obstacle course multiple times varying your speed to get a feel for how the coach reacts to these tight maneuvers. Having an observer can help you learn to gauge the space between your coach and an object as seen in your rear view mirrors that will increase your confidence in judging where the edge of the is located - - or the centerline on the other side. My one suggestion would be to gain permission from the lot's owner prior to practicing your towing skill set.
  • Something that I did prior to my first long trip with my coach was something that really helped to build my confidence. I just left my rig hitched for two weeks and towed my Airstream everywhere I went during that time - - and I managed to get all kinds of practice during that time. What made this a little easier was that any difficulty that I got into was near home in familiar territory so the fear of getting totally stalled somewhere wasn't a huge threat. I work in a rural area so I was even able to tow the rig when I went to work.
  • If you are a member of the WBCCI, you might want to consider asking one of the experienced members to ride along with you for a few miles to observe your towing methods - - - I did this and was able to pick up several pointers including a beter way to adjust my McKesh Mirrors and a couple of ways to guage my rig's position in its lane on the highway.
  • Another option might be a commercial RV Towing/Driving course such as those offered by RV
Good luck with your deliberations!

Kevin D. Allen
WBCCI (Lifetime Member)/VAC/Free Wheelers #6359
AIR #827
1964 Overlander International/1999 GMC K2500 Suburban (7400 VORTEC/4.11 Differentials)
1978 Argosy Minuet 6.0 Metre/1975 Cadillac Eldorado Convertible (8.2 Liter V8/2.70 Final Drive)
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Old 05-02-2010, 10:22 PM   #6
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Menlo Park , California
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Overlander64 has the right idea... get some tall cardboard boxes or other Nerf obstacles and get yourself and rig to a empty parking lot.

Set them up as turn markers and navigate around them - and watch in the rear view mirror to see the line the trailer takes. Some trailers cut heavily to the inside, so you have to learn to take the tow vehicle to the outside of the turn, which can take a little while to figure out. The trick of watching (w/ one eye :-)) the trailer in the rearview mirror in corners helps a lot, since you quickly learn to predict the line the trailer will take. Roads with painted shoulder stripes are good as well.

For very tight turns you'll end up using the entire lane - TV approaching the outside of the lane, trailer on the inside. This can be a little alarming w/ semis going the other way... remember, if need be it's ok to stop and let the semi clear the corner, and then proceed yourself. Don't worry about traffic behind you; almost certainly they can stop faster than you can. Don't forget to practice rapid stops with your Airstream... this can be very useful, both in training you and helping identify potential problems w/ the rig.

There really is no substitute for practice when it comes to driving. Hang in there and keep your cool; it is very difficult to make good decisions when flustered or fearful.

- Bart
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Menlo Park, CA
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Old 05-02-2010, 10:27 PM   #7
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Hi, sorry to hear about your accidents. I had mine before I even got my new trailer home. We bought ours out of state so it was a vacation too. I went into a little town and we decided to turn around. I turned off of a little street into a parking lot; In the parking lot, there was a driveway and I momentarily thought I could make it. Forgot about the trailer size and possition. I rubbed my trailer's side against a parked car. There was another exit I should have used, and did when we left. No damage to the car, small damage to my trailer, and huge damage to my heart and pride. [OOOOOHHHHH what a feeling] Anyway, no maps, GPS's, or what ever will keep you safe. There will always be road construction, accidents, detours Etc to deal with. So just learn to make slow wide turns and ignor the other drivers, they'll get over it. I was lucky enough to be able to do some cleaning and buy an American flag decal to cover my Boo Boo.
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Old 05-02-2010, 11:01 PM   #8
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Lapeer , Michigan
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Cats so sorry for your mishaps but the second as you say is not so bad and now the worst learning experiences are behind you. You may have been looking for the Silver Sisters Online Rally thread to post your we can tow it experience. Here is a link incase you would like to post there as well. I am certain you will hear from many others who have had similar troubles and some tips and helpful advice as well.

I have knocked out a reflector and scratched against branches and sent a few orange cones to flight I think and more and this new to us Airstream has its own set of deeper side scratches and door dent. What I find helpful is to make wide turns and I will even stop and hold up traffic rather than hurry through a clearance I am not certain to make. Yes that is embarrassing but I don't want to hurt the AS so everyone will just have to put up with my cautiousness. AND I too had a GPS take me on a postal rural road too narrow to turn around and a goose chase of wash outs and gullies where I had to get out and pace my wheel 1 in the morning with a full moon, Halloween time actually...creepy. Animals are out then and crossing the road and I was lost.

Another thing I do is use my side view mirrors to watch the back of the trailer, but pulling out beyond and thinking of the wheels as a pivotal point watch how the end swings with some practice where it is safe to experiment. You can always stop and back up and try again. I know the feeling, but you really must get back on that horse and ride before you decide its not for you. We all make mistakes. Kudos to you for trying and not giving up.

I have gotten in some real jams. Experience will teach and it will get easier, promise. Hang in there Cats, Glad DH's surgery went well and hope you get out this season and use the AS alot more often this year. that's what it really takes to get comfortable is just using it again and again.

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Old 05-02-2010, 11:12 PM   #9
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Scottsdale , Arizona
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You are getting good advice here from experienced "dingers". I dinged the side of my new car trailer on a gas station pylon on our first trip with it. It still has the dent from 17 years ago. So, don't let the experience stop you. Just remember "Wide turns, wide turns, wiiiiddde tuuurnnns"
Harry W
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Old 05-02-2010, 11:16 PM   #10
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Sioux Falls , South Dakota
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Do It Afraid


As 2air stated " Get back in the saddle".

When the DOT officer said I had passed my driving test for my Class A CDL I can remember thinking if they will pass me they will pass anyone.

Do not make the mistake of seeing everything that can go wrong on every trip you will ever make. Just focus on the trip you are on. This was the best advice I ever got from an experienced driver.

I can remember being afraid of going through large cities during rush hour, crossing mountain terrain and driving in winter weather. Each time I did it I became less and less afraid until I was'nt afraid anymore.

DH's CB handle is Lost Again. That says it all.

After 15 years of driving all 48 and Canada we still get lost and still get into jams. The key is not to panic or get upset and just ask yourself : "Gee, now that I am in this mess how do I get out of it ?"

Actually the jams are what improves your skills.

I always would actually say out loud when turning , changing lanes, etc.

"Watch your trailer, watch your trailer."

Now I watch my trailer even when I don't have a trailer!

All of this will become second nature over time for you as well.

One error you made is probably the most common among new drivers. Never let the vehicles behind you drive your vehicle. When some one is following you too close or there are sveral vehicles benind you as in the situation you described, tap your brakes lightly so the following vehicle will know you are about to slow down then start slowing down. This would have given the oncoming truck time to clear the turn and given you more clearance. And yes you can come to a complete stop in a traffic lane.

Hang in there. If I can do it anyone can.

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Old 05-02-2010, 11:40 PM   #11
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When you get your pilots license - they say you now have a license to learn - not that you are a competent pilot - but you can now head out and start gaining real world experience.

Don't give up - like everyone said - do some parking lot practice and visualize in your mind when taking those turns. Plan your route and practice, practice, practice...

In a few years your gonna be giving someone else the same advice we are giving now - with your story to make it even more "colorful"!
John "JFScheck" Scheck
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Old 05-03-2010, 05:30 AM   #12
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Don't get intimated by other drivers, I bet not one of the cars behind you stopped after you scraped that post in the turn. Slow down and take your time. You have as much right on the road as the next person no matter what speed you are going. When making turns on streets take all the road you can whether you think you need it or not. If you are backing into a site by yourself ask someone in the campground to watch for you, most people will be glad to do that, if nobody is there get out and look yourself even if you have to look and move 2ft. get out and look again. I hope this helps.

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Old 05-03-2010, 05:42 AM   #13
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Colfax , North Carolina
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I did my best to try to knock down a tree once when we went camping. If it could happen to somebody with years of experience towing and camping, it can happen to anyone. That's why they are called accidents. That doesn't mean to be careless, but things happen in life. Go find an empty parking lot and practice towing and backing.

Oh, our GPS sent us through beautiful downtown Asheville North Carolina while towing Bertha, and some of the streets were 10 feet wide, total...
Meddle not in the affairs of dragons, for you are crunchy, and taste good with ketchup.
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Old 05-03-2010, 06:46 AM   #14
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A GPS that does not have truck routes for its maps can be a very dangerous guide. And they tend to take a longer route at times which is more expensive. Too bad your "trucker map" was missing, you could have compared the GPS route to the truck routes and made adjustments in the GPS.

Do not let this defeat you!!! Keep on keepin' on!


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TV2: Brownie, 1989 Dodge W250, only 256,000 miles!
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