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Old 07-07-2012, 06:29 PM   #57
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This isn't exactly following the thread, but I'm certain it will be of help to all who are contemplating their first pull...................

My fears, and does anyone have any tips on how to do them:

1) Making a 90 degree turn at a stop light.

2) Changing lanes on freeways/interstates (I know to watch the mirrors, but I still worry about blind spots).

3) Driving through a narrow place.

Thanks so much in advance.

Deb
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Old 07-07-2012, 07:06 PM   #58
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My fears, and does anyone have any tips on how to do them:

1) Making a 90 degree turn at a stop light.

2) Changing lanes on freeways/interstates (I know to watch the mirrors, but I still worry about blind spots).

3) Driving through a narrow place.
Well, our trailer is only 17ft, so I don't know if it changes much as you get longer trailers, but our trailer tracks perfectly behind the van. Where the van goes - it goes. So we do not have to worry about swinging wider than usual going around corners, or anything like that. If the van can make it, the trailer can make it.

As for changing lanes, you'll quickly get a feel for how long your rig is, and those wide angle stick-on mirrors will help you get a good view down your side so you know you're clear.

We haven't encountered many narrow places, though we've scratched it up with branches a few times on roads heading into campgrounds. I wouldn't worry about it until you encountered them. Most places you're going to be driving were made for vehicles larger than your AS to pass through!

Don't let it hold you back. The first two can be conquered with practice and confidence in your abilities. The third is only rarely going to come up anyway
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Old 07-07-2012, 08:30 PM   #59
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Originally Posted by Air Cruiser View Post
This isn't exactly following the thread, but I'm certain it will be of help to all who are contemplating their first pull...................

My fears, and does anyone have any tips on how to do them:

1) Making a 90 degree turn at a stop light.

Thanks so much in advance.

Deb
Plan ahead,stay to the left side of your lane,get to the far side of the lane you are turning into before you start to turn you wheel. As has been mentioned practice this in a empty parking lot.
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Old 07-07-2012, 09:12 PM   #60
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I wanted to be sure my wife could hook and tow. For two people traveling I did not ever want to be in a situation where we couldn't move if the primary driver got sick. My wife learned to tow our rig easily, and she has a proper check list, and can hitch it alone too. I have complete confidence in her. But normally I do most of the driving. She always helps with her half on the hitch, and she is the absolute best at silent hand signal only backing of the trailer. She is also a navigator par excellence.
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Old 07-08-2012, 11:13 AM   #61
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Originally Posted by Air Cruiser View Post
This isn't exactly following the thread, but I'm certain it will be of help to all who are contemplating their first pull...................

My fears, and does anyone have any tips on how to do them:

1) Making a 90 degree turn at a stop light.

2) Changing lanes on freeways/interstates (I know to watch the mirrors, but I still worry about blind spots).

3) Driving through a narrow place.

Thanks so much in advance.

Deb
1. Diesel explained it, but I'll add—watch 18 wheelers and busses on how they get through intersections and turn. 18 wheelers are longer, so they usually go part way into the next lane before they start the turn. Usually the left edge of your lane is good enough for a 25' trailer. Glance in the right mirror to see where the trailer tracks and after a while you will know where it is without looking (but look sometimes anyway to make sure). Do not be afraid to take whatever space you need—truckers and bus drivers do it all the time (most drivers expect big and long vehicles to do that). Go slowly and watch both side mirrors to make sure some idiot is not trying to fit between you and something hard and immovable. Sometimes people will try to pass you on the right in absurd places. This all sounds like a lot to do, but we adapt quickly and it becomes second nature. The road turns 90˚, but your angle is less because you have space to curve around, so make your personal visual a curve, not a rectangular turn.

2. Do you have factory tow mirrors installed on the tow vehicle? Ours have 2 mirrors—a large upper one which acts like a regular side mirror, and a lower one that I angle down to show me what is next to me and the edge of the trailer. I can see the trailer wheels too and that's good for knowing where they are tracking on turns and narrow roads. This substantially reduces the blind spots, but cars can sneak up on you—maybe they were so close behind you they were invisible, then they swing out when you are watching the road in front of you. You can glance back and confirm the space is clear, but it also important to watch what's happening behind you fairly often so you are less likely to be surprised. You can buy a stick-on convex mirror (I hope I don't mean concave, it is easy to get them confused) that shows you a wide view of the next lane. Stick it on the left outside of the side mirror(s). If you don't have factory tow mirrors, and can't get them for your vehicle, there are plenty of aftermarket ones of varying quality. The add-ons aren't as good and good factory tow mirrors are the best.

3. There are 3 widths you need to know—width of tow vehicle, width of tow vehicle mirrors (fully extended) and width of trailer. Your trailer is probably 8 1/2'. The truck is the first thing you'll notice, of course. It will be, roughly, a couple of feet narrower than the trailer; the tow mirrors will probably not be quite as wide as the trailer. Measure the widths of everything. If you know how much wider the trailer is than the extended tow mirrors, you'll know whether you can make it.

Some people have a hard time judging the width of whatever they are driving—we see it all the time when someone doesn't think they can fit between a car and the curb when they want to make a right turn; sitting behind them, we see plenty of space but to them it seems too narrow. On average, men have better ability to judge spacial relations, though a lot of women can do as well, and a smaller group of men don't do well at all (women can differentiate colors better, so it balances out; it is blue-green to me, teal to you). If you don't have this natural ability, you'll have to learn cues that tell you where the trailer is. Like everything, experience helps. As Stefrobrts implies, campgrounds are the worst with branches that scratch aluminum. We have some of those scratches too, especially up high from overhanging branches. I think I was driving for every one of them too.

Remember, when the road seems too narrow, it probably isn't. The maximum width of vehicles (except for oversized ones, and almost all of them fit on almost every road) is 8 1/2'. Most lanes range from 10' to 12'. 12' is the interstate minimum, but sometimes they cheat. Rural lanes sometimes are 9'. Construction crews can be unconcerned with the needs of drivers, but they don't want to have to pick up knocked over cones and barrels, or move the concrete Jersey barriers after they are hit, so they make sure trucks and trailers can get through. They can cut it close—maybe 9', but usually don't make it that narrow. Watch the big trucks and see how they thread through. Barb doesn't have the natural ability with spacial relations, but has driven thousands and thousands of miles through all sorts of crap and hasn't hit anything. On one long trip that went on for weeks and weeks, it seemed every time she drove there was construction ahead and she made it fine.

Narrow spaces include trees overhanging, rocks overhanging roads, gas station canopies that are too low, gas pumps with big steel posts to protect the pumps and garages just for cars. Overhangs and canopies may be more of a problem because we don't see them as often and aren't used to them. Most newer trailers are 9 1/2' (I think) high, but if the roof vents are open, or you have put on 16' wheels, you may be a little higher.

Go slowly until you gain confidence.

Gene
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Old 07-08-2012, 11:41 AM   #62
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Wow

Look at all the courageous women out there towing - and probably showing up their DH's in many ways tee hee....good on ya.

The best bit of advice I learned before I even got into towing a trailer was from my brother. He was staying with us for a while. I was trying to back up our single axle landscape trailer full of topsoil...he was watching me from the window of our house.


I was about to just leave it parked and wheel barrow the load in after jack knifing it a billion times!!!

He came up to me and sent me off to the house to get some masking tape. I scratched my head and said what. Again he said "get out and go find some masking tape". I complied - he's older and bigger than me ha.

He got in the jeep with me and taped up the rear view mirror! I said great now how the heck will I see what I am doing.

He said if you are going to get into towing on your own one day instead of Peter doing it all the time - you need to learn one key thing - LEARN HOW TO USE YOUR SIDE MIRRORS. He was a longtime transport truck driver.

The next thing he told me to do was get out and walk around the rig pace off and get a metal note of how long you are - you will be towing differences sizes over the years.

Next was to give yourself the space you need by pulling forward twice your distance to start your approach.

Wow with just those few things I popped that trailer into its spot first try with him in the car. Then he gave me the easy tip of bottom hand on the wheel and turn in the direction you want the back of your trailer to go - but that one messed me about - I like my hands at the top - so it just became subconscious to do the opposite to that of no trailer.

I have gained an uncanny "spacial awareness". Yes there are still tricky spots I get myself into and if I have not been towing for a while I take it a little slower and re-build that confidence each time.

Another WBCCI member older gentleman once told me - remember YOU OWN the road - watch out for the other guy but you are bigger and they CAN see you so you do what you need to do and not worry about them worrying about you.

That was Peter's biggest issue - he was so concerned about what other people think or having to wait while he backed in. Me personally I don't care. I have sat waiting for 100's of people to back all sorts of things on the road and It has never annoyed me so why would I think it annoys those waiting for me

Happy towing out there - be safe!
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Old 07-08-2012, 11:42 AM   #63
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I can read through the thousands of posts about the tow vehicle/unit length threads, or start this poll ... Jim and I are doing a long trip this fall (Denver to Louisianna and back through several States) about 3000 miles round trip. My question is simply how many of the ladies out there help their husbands with the driving? Is it 10%, 15%, 50%?
Wendy
I don't have a husband so I drive 100% of the time. 80,000 miles or more.
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Old 07-08-2012, 12:04 PM   #64
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I have gained an uncanny "spacial awareness". Yes there are still tricky spots I get myself into and if I have not been towing for a while I take it a little slower and re-build that confidence each time.
I think the thing that still gets me about backing up is knowing WHEN to start my turn, and how sharp or easy to go to get it where I want it. People tell me backing the little single axle trailer is harder than a dual axle one, but that doesn't help much, because single axle is what I've got and need to figure out. I guess that part of it must just be practice, practice, practice!
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Old 07-08-2012, 12:07 PM   #65
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Thanks to Stephanie, Diesel1, GT1963, especially Gene for that very informative set of tips, et al. I'm going to print this off and keep it handy. I'm certain with all this info, I'll do just fine. I think I'll start out on the interstate where I can just go straight, and I'll practice backing at home, we have a large space without trees just right for that.

Gene, yes, we do have those same divided mirrors as you described, and my DH says they were very helpful to him once he understood how to use them.

Deb
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Old 07-08-2012, 12:16 PM   #66
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The trick with single axles is SLOW!!! I mean crawling and to give yourself lots of room - no sharp turns - you only have to turn the wheel I tiny bit as the singles are so reactive. With the tandems they are much slower to react.

Church parking lots are a great place to practice. Also take some pylons with you to set them at different angles for mock parking spots.

When I am on my own and I want my trailer wheels to land in a spot (that I have about 4 feet from the tires to the back of the trailer so it is easier to see my wheels than it is the back of the trailer. I take out a chock or one of my yellow levelling blocks and place it on the drivers side so I can judge how I am lining up when no one is around. I sometimes put two about 4 ft apart so that I can land straight too.

It is easier by yourself to have the emphasis on your sight side rather than your blind side. So it will determine which way I back in. There has been sometimes I will even go the wrong way on a campground driveway if I think the blind spot is too risky for me to hit a tree - I don't care if I'm going the wrong way as they are single lanes and you will hold up anyone either way anyway. Of course pull throughs make life so much easier - but not always!

The other really important thing is NEVER worry about getting out of your TV to see where you are in the back - even if you have to do it 10 times - it is your rig, where you want to put it best for levelling and how you like to set up your hoses - never listen to someone else's preference on where they think you should park your rig. Take charge!
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Old 07-08-2012, 12:33 PM   #67
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I think the thing that still gets me about backing up is knowing WHEN to start my turn, and how sharp or easy to go to get it where I want it. People tell me backing the little single axle trailer is harder than a dual axle one, but that doesn't help much, because single axle is what I've got and need to figure out. I guess that part of it must just be practice, practice, practice!
Check out "the long long honeymoon" Sean has a video demonstrating the "scoop" technique to get a good angle on backing.
The place I park my 34' triple axle has a long, narrow driveway off of a narrow road. There are ditches next to the road and the under the road end of the driveway. Very tricky with a 34! The "scoop" method is the only way I can get the angle. My first time backing in took forever, now it is not a big deal and I can get it on the first shot every time. It makes backing into tight campground spots much easier in comparison. Practice will let you get the "feel" of the dimensions and size of your rig. Soon you will be a pro!
BTW, I cant get my wife to drive the excursion by itself; she wont even consider towing. I would certainly help on the longer trips!
So kudos to all of you ladies!
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Old 07-08-2012, 01:49 PM   #68
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Next was to give yourself the space you need by pulling forward twice your distance to start your approach.
Thanks for pointing that out. I have a bad habit of not pulling far enough away from the spot and then trying to back at a very severe angle. Of course, there are places where you have no choice, but best to keep them rare.

Another rule is when you are tired after a long day, backing becomes much harder.

Gene
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Old 07-08-2012, 02:29 PM   #69
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Hi, I have found the tightest places are in downtown San Francisco, especially on turns. Also make sure that your tow vehicle is dead center at all border crossings because they are very tight. [only inches on each side] Off topic, but Gene and I have had very different experiences on border crossings.
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Old 07-09-2012, 01:17 AM   #70
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In all the years watching people back trailers, I noticed one very common error. They forget to "loosen" the turn once the trailer gets moving in the right direction.

If we begin with TV and TT straight, you crank the wheel hard to begin your backing move. Looking in your side mirror, you confirm it is headed right. Now you must begin to unwind that steering wheel as you move back. Not unwind all the way, but unwind until the angle formed by TT and TV stops getting tighter. People often hold the wheel without unwinding, and before you know it, you are jack knifed and have to pull forward and start over.

Crank the wheel--- then as you back, unwind it to the neutral point where the angle between TT and TV is steady. Then it only takes minor movement of the wheel in either direction to make the TT go right where you please. Once lined up, you just begin to unwind the wheel all the way back to straight.
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