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Old 12-03-2002, 07:07 AM   #1
 
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Tips on backing up and Turning radius

Can some of you share their knowledge and experience on these unpleasant matters?


Ron
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Old 12-03-2002, 07:37 AM   #2
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Wink Not really unpleasant

The best method is to take some non-damaging markers such as cardboard boxes to an empty parking lot and practice.

Turn the trailer moderately, get out and look at the clearance between bumper/fender and the trailer. Turn more tightly and repeat until you have an idea how tight it is safe to turn. Memorize what the trailer looks like in the mirrors when near the turning limit. This will prevent denting something later on.

Now, set up the markers to make a back-in site, about 10' wide. Approach it at 90 degrees as if you are on a road in a campground. Now, practice backing in without hitting the markers or exceeding the safe turning angle.

Let's say the site is on your right. Approach on the right side of the road, close to the markers. Swing away when you reach the markers, then turn sharply to the right as the tail of the trailer passes the markers. Stop. This puts the truck at an angle to the trailer so that as soon as you start backing, the trailer will naturally turn into the site. Use the passenger side mirror to watch the trailer wheels in relation to the markers. Don't worry about the other side of the trailer ... just put the side you can see in the right place and the other side follows.

It is often worthwhile to pull forward at least once during the process to better align truck and trailer so that the rig is fairly straight when in the final position. Makes leveling and unhitching easier..

It's good to have a spotter to help, but I travel alone most of the time and I have no problem backing into a site. When in doubt, get out and look, even if you have a spotter.
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Old 12-03-2002, 07:41 AM   #3
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Best advice I got was always remember that the bottom of the steering wheel should turn in the direction that you want the trailer to go. Or, put your hand at the bottom of the wheel and move it to the left to have the rear of the trailer go left, etc.

When I got my rig, I took two small orange cones to a shopping center parking lot on a Sunday night and practiced for about an hour with various angles. It helped a lot.

For radius, make your turns as smooth and long an arc as possible to eliminate tire wear on the trailer (if dual axle) and aviod jackknifing the trailer.
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Old 12-03-2002, 01:45 PM   #4
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The key is to practice. Find an empty parking lot on a weekend, set up some plastic trash cans and back to your heart's content. You will learn if you spend a little advance time. Plastic trash containers are a lot more forgiving than trees.

Second thing to remember if you have tandem wheels. Keep your tire pressure at proper levels. I witnessed a person roll a tire off a wheel rim while backing into a site. Interestingly enough the guy put the spare on and proceeded to roll spare off as he continued his backing pivot. In both cases the tires were low on pressure.

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Old 12-04-2002, 10:12 AM   #5
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Great advice from JaceBeck.......

Repeat this over and over and over.....

Quote:
Best advice I got was always remember that the bottom of the steering wheel should turn in the direction that you want the trailer to go. Or, put your hand at the bottom of the wheel and move it to the left to have the rear of the trailer go left, etc.
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Old 12-06-2002, 01:39 AM   #6
 
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Thanks guys for your advice.

Keep them coming...I'm sure I'm not the only one having trouble when backing into tight spaces.

What to do when you jackknife? and don't have room to move around

What about definite No-No's?


Ron
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Old 12-06-2002, 06:21 AM   #7
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If your brake controler has the capability, temporarily disengage the trailer brakes while backing. If not, try not to use your brakes any more than necessary while backing.
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Old 12-06-2002, 07:53 AM   #8
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Ron,
Regarding the jackknife issue, if you take your time you won't have a problem, as stated on this tthread before, when it starts getting tight, pull forward and straighten out. I was nervous about backing when I bought my A/S in January (MN) but didn't pick it up until April. Once in the rig, in a parking lot it will start to come together fairly quickly. I still make mistakes and am certainly no pro, but no longer worry about it.

As for big no-no, in my case, it was putting my wife in charge of directing me back. Big mistake for me. Now, I simply scope out the spot...alone and back it in 2/3 to 3/4, jump out to check my alignment, if necessary and I'm done. No evil eyes staring at me for the rest of the night because I was a "jerk".

Lastly, if you do have someone direct you back (my nine year-old daughter likes to) you may want to use a pair of FRS walkie talkies (Motorola or similar) to communicate between you and them. They are especially useful at night when visibility is low.

Jace

P.S. My wife is perfect in every other way and a joy to go camping with...and a great Mom...smart and stunningly beautiful...and I think she is looking over my shoulder right now.
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Old 12-06-2002, 08:20 AM   #9
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Ron,
Watch the circus that occurs when you see someone backing in. My wife and I decided that the screaming and hand waving wasn't our cup of tea. I bought a couple of two ways and it usually works pretty good....up until she says go to the right and I reminder that she needs to orient me as to her right and my right.

We've got it down pretty good and up to this point have only had one incident where she assumed I was watching a tree on my right side and I was distracted by another person "attempting to help".

As a matter of fact this brings up the issue of help. I've been to a couple of rallys where multiple people attempt to help us back in. Unfortunately it sometimes becomes a scene from the "Long Long Trailer" where Nicki attempts to back into the relative's driveway, only to take out the shrubry and other things because of multiple people trying to help. Unless asked I keep my hands in my pocket and my mouth shut. I figure the driver and their co pilot communicate better than me.

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Old 12-06-2002, 11:51 AM   #10
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I echo JaceBeck. Best advice to enjoy the trip is to take it slow, scope the site, back in partially, get out and scope some more. Even when I am backing up to hitch up, I generally find it easier and less stressful to back up, get out, look, back more, look again, usually can get it right on in about 3-4 get out and looks.
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Old 12-06-2002, 12:03 PM   #11
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I got a chuckle from comments regarding spousal help in backing and maneuvering your trailers. Glad to know I'm not the only one who tries hard to ruin one's day over such challenges. Between a legitimate hearing loss and a male propensity to hear only that which I choose, recent experiences could have provided sad endings to otherwise great travel/camping experiences. I rebuilt a couple of 80+ year-old tobacco barns over the past few years, to include the shelters that earlier tobacco farmers would use to hide under from the sun while "stringing" tobacco. One barn in particular we are very proud of. It now has a raised floor and heavy work benches, plus shelves for storage, etc. The side facing our home has a porch and, with some effort, now resembles an old country store. I had a concrete pad poured along one side, under the shelter, which provides an unbelievably convenient and safe place for storage of our Airstream. I attempt to maneuver the trailer under the shelter and as close to the porch as I can, to allow us to step right out of the trailer onto the porch. Six inches is my goal. You would think pulling straight in would be no big deal, but I'm always backing and filling to keep from rubbing off the door-side trailer awning, or to keep away from the electrical outlet on that side of the barn. Even with the help of my bride, it usually takes some effort. And, even with years of experience in backing boats and utility trailers, etc., getting 31 feet of an Airstream properly aligned remains for me no easy trick. I have this vision of one day snugging the thing to the side of the barn to the point of having to dismantle the barn in order to free up the trailer. My wife would probably get some satisfaction from that, after having heard me continuously harp about her level of assistance. Wives and Airstreams - two of life's true blessings!
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Old 12-06-2002, 05:22 PM   #12
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Hey y'all;

When the wife and I were younger we played with master craft boats, water skied and I was a tinkerer with a few pro streeters.
At the boat launch I did not want the rookies to smash my boat so I would get out and the wife would back down the ramp.
When I was on a crusade to save every 1955-57 2 door post and 2 door wagons, the wife was there backing up the car trailer as I placed the beasts on the trailer.
Now when we camp I drive there and she parks the nest at the site. This will cause some stange reactions from fellow campers, never fails , that someone will ask thier spouse why they don't drive like her?
We also use a walkie-talkie to communicate with when backing up. LAST pledge not to scream before I exit truck.
Seems to have worked for us. - Ray
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Old 12-06-2002, 06:39 PM   #13
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Cool Progressive Lens Glasses

Guess this is as good a spot as any to air this curiosity.
I wear progressive lens no-line glasses. I have never worn any other type such as sgl. correction or the plain bifocal or trifocal etc.
So I have no reference marks to compare. When I got my first pair 4 or 5 years ago the tech told me before I left that I might experience a clarity problem if looking far to either side or over my shoulder. She was right, but all other things were quickly adapted to. I still have a great loss in the far ranges of periphery when trying to twist head and look back such as in backing. Obviously I tend to use mirror as much as possible. But I always feel like nothing subs for that over the shoulder look. I guess I should purchase a pair of plain specs and see if the problem goes away.

Do any of y'all recognize this "problem" and are there any suggestions?
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Old 12-07-2002, 02:41 AM   #14
 
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Talking

I didn't expect this thread would get me LOL, but some posts really crack me up
I also learned a few good tricks that I will put into practice soon.
Also glad to see I'm not alone and one of my fears is shared by Joe Hall : "snugging the trailer against something"

Keep them coming, tution & fun is coooool

Ron
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