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Old 12-01-2014, 10:59 AM   #43
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Stuff in the road hazards.
Ladders and shovels... couches, bed springs and mattress set, bicycle, loose tools, empty or half full plastic gasoline containers are common, cardboard cartons, road kill deer, elk, dog, coyote, antelope and prairie dogs not knowing which way to exit the highway... seen it all. Saw a Honda generator on the side of the road, turned around to pick it up and someone was putting it into their trunk. The bicycle was between Lakeside and Somers, Montana off the side of the road.. no place to pull over with a trailer. Looked like it was still in one piece.

Making the transition from a gravel road to a paved road can be trickier than it seems. When traffic clears and you have "plenty of distance to the next vehicle" have your truck engaged in 4x4, if you have it. Otherwise when you begin to move your rear traction tire or both tires will spin gravel and you are moving almost as if Twilight Zone is making a film of a disaster in waiting and your trailer is three times longer than imagined. Whenever we are looking for or exiting an off the asphalt camping site, 4x4 is engaged.

Now once you are at the off the hard pavement and backing into a spot, make sure your 4x4 is disengaged... Saves on U Joints on the drive train getting bound up and much easier. Going down gravel or up gravel... 4x4 it. Never believe that you will have plenty of traction on those rear tires with a trailer in tow. I do it without thinking, today... but learned these tricks quickly.

If you get caught on ice patches and your trailer is fish tailing... my friend who did this says... use the brake controller lever to manually engage the trailer's brakes. It will straighten it out behind the tow vehicle. Can anyone add to this terrible situation to find yourself? Snow... well OK. ICE... I am camped at WalMart until the sun comes up or the Highway crew has cleaned everything up.
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Old 12-01-2014, 08:51 PM   #44
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Thanks Pro. After retirement, I see a new career for you as fact checker. Happy holidays to you.

Al


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Old 12-02-2014, 08:15 AM   #45
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All the previous posts are great advice, but they are "best practice" for all driving. If you drive with these practices in mind all the time, towing a trailer is just that towing a trailer, no big deal. If however your daily driving habits are ,shall we say "horrible" (not paying attention, fast, aggressive, lane changing, ect, ect) you find having to alter your driving style to tow, becomes more the problem than towing the trailer ever should be. Practice patience and "best practice" defensive driving everyday towing or not. Makes life a lot easier.

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Old 12-02-2014, 08:39 AM   #46
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Practice patience and "best practice" defensive driving everyday towing or not. Makes life a lot easier.
Since you mentioned defensive driving… here at work I've been required to take a defensive driving course every three years whether I need it or not, in order to maintain my privilege of driving Government vehicles for trips to our construction sites.

After much repetition I can distill the entire defensive driving course to one simple rule: Never, ever, put yourself in a position where the only thing standing between you and an accident is the other driver's ability to swerve or brake!
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Old 12-02-2014, 07:16 PM   #47
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I have seen only two trailer accidents.

One was east of Flagstaff, Arizona and there must have been three feet of snow on each side of the road. The road had been plowed, but had the typical strips of packed snow where tires compacted the snow into a "white ice" on asphalt. This was a small pop up camper and it must have been able to separate from the vehicle when the tow vehicle hit the snow. The vehicle was fine, but the trailer looked like it had exploded over twenty to thirty feet in the median between the traffic lanes. They were putting what they could salvage into the tow vehicle.

The second was a 25 to 30 foot trailer, not an Airstream, east of Santa Fe, NM where I-25 goes East-West and a bit northerly through some hills. It was down hill, dry pavement in June and straight road. I would have guessed that the driver fell asleep at the wheel, drifted left into the median. The trailer and tow vehicle were both on their sides... It was a bit of a surprise to come across the accident that must have happened ten to twenty minutes earlier. The passengers were out looking at the damage and you could hear the sirens coming from Santa Fe.

So fellow Airstream owners. Be careful in the winter on snow, ice or patches of black ice or compacted snow in the traction width of your vehicle. And... if you ever feel your eyes becoming heavy... find a place to pull out, park and get some shut eye. The Santa Fe roll over was a shock to the system. The passengers were lucky to emerge shaken up but appeared to be well.

As Protagonist said... drive defensively and there is NO course to learn to be a safe Airstream traveler... common sense sometimes is not first on someone's list when vacations are too short and the roads are too smooth to keep one awake...
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Old 12-02-2014, 09:34 PM   #48
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Ray, our 16' Bambi was in a serious accident (i. e., totaled) in August, and after months of haggling with the insurance adjustors, we finally took delivery on our new Bambi-2 yesterday. (Yay!) A couple of take- away messages:

1. Our accident was caused by a driver in front of us falling asleep at the wheel. Fortunately, she was the only proximate cause of the accident: nobody wants on their insurance record that they were even partly at fault.

Fortunately we (and she) were physically OK, but dealing with the insurance claims company was a horrible experience.

2. We had several opportunities to chat yesterday with Nick at Airstream of Spokane (who gets a big shout-out from us )and learned that perhaps 40 to 50% of new AS buyers at his dealership are first-time RVers. (As we were, when we bought Bambi the First at Can-Am in Ontario.) Also, that the typical life span of a white box style trailer is probably only about 15 years.

So there's no shame in being a newcomer-- just expect a big, big learning curve. And thank heavens, you had enough good taste to get it right the first time.
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Old 12-03-2014, 05:54 AM   #49
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In discussing towing in slippery conditions.... my experience in Wyoming in 2009...while driving up a slight hill, about 45 mph, the truck downshifted, and the rear wheels broke loose, the wind pushed the trailer out to the left so i could see the side in my left mirror. Fortunately I was able to regain control and after consulting on the CB, I led six big rigs not Laramie at about 35 mph without incident.

So, the idea is to drive very conservatively in slippery conditions. Use a manual mode so the auto trans does not surprise you.

And, the next morning after the blizzard passed through:
AirstreamREV_2009_Int_27FB_Snow_04.2010-3 by Fantinesvoice.com, on Flickr
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Old 12-03-2014, 10:59 AM   #50
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Msmoto... oh yes, Wyoming. You can experience four seasons in a weekend in the Northwest part of the State, as well. There are several areas of Wyoming that should be avoided during any slick weather conditions. The west and east ends of I-80. The drop from Sherman to Laramie is steep and in the shade during the winter months most of the day. The west side of I-80 is from Wyoming into Utah... there are ski resorts to the South in Utah which should give you an idea of what to expect.

The Wyoming Big Horn Mountains should be avoided if you are uncomfortable steep grades. Go around into Montana to Billings are proceed. During the Summer the Big Horn Mountains have some great off the highway hunter's camp sites, but trying to find a flat spot is difficult. Some exist with easy access but you have to discover them by trail and error. Even I... avoid the Big Horns! General Custer should of as well.

We travel south from Castle Rock, Colorado to time the Raton Pass in nice weather. It is steep going up... and steep going down. So you are on the gas pedal going South and in lower gears and brake tapping on the way into New Mexico. This is a steep learning curve if you do it in nice weather OR winter driving!

For Newbies... please do not be discouraged to attempt the crossing the Rocky Mountains. I find more stress driving through the Front Range of Colorado, mostly Fort Collins to Colorado Springs as the nastiest part of our trips. Albuquerque can be a challenge, but easy compared to the Colorado Front Range. I-70 going across Colorado has plenty of climbs and descents! Smell the 18 wheeler brakes?... you will. As long as they are not YOURS. I use my 5 speed Toyota transmission to maintain a reasonable "down the mountain speed" in the 55 to 65 mph range. As little braking as possible... the quick drop the speed five to ten miles per hour and let the brakes cool.

The winter drive on I-40 to Flagstaff and also the drive from Phoenix to Flagstaff in the Winter is another to look out for.

Our travel to Las Vegas in January will be taking the "desert route". Once south of Santa Fe, NM... to Albuquerque and to Tucson west to Las Vegas... is our choice for winter travel. We watch the weather reports and hope that the overnight stay at the Sandia Casino parking lot north of Albuquerque, NM is unseasonably ... warm.

Keep them eyes on the road and those tires as well.
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Old 12-04-2014, 02:42 AM   #51
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I'm relatively new to towing a trailer so this thread has been helpful.

For what it's worth, my three golden rules are:
1. Be very deliberate about recognising that I am not merely driving when I am towing. I am responsible for a large and potentially dangerous rig. Get in the zone.
2. Always back up with a helper. In my case my helper is usually my wife and we both have to be careful to be super patient and kind. After 19 years of marriage we expect communication to be easy but there are all sorts of frustrations associated with communicating when backing up.
3. If in any doubt, stop, get out of the TV and check. Even if I have a helper. If I'm driving, ultimately it's my responsibility.


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Old 12-04-2014, 05:54 AM   #52
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If I'm driving, ultimately it's my responsibility.
If only more drivers understood that simple rule!
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Old 12-04-2014, 07:13 AM   #53
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OK, true confession time...raised in Sioux Falls, South Dakota....lots of snow/winter driving experience.

Actually heading to Dearborn, Michigan, this January to visit a friend...and attend the NAIAS. But, not towing.....instead in my Subaru.

The rule for me in towing....one more time....they do not stop....one needs huge space in front to avoid crashing, and it is almost impossible to have an avoidance maneuver unless one maintains the huge following distance.

Total attention, two hands, and when in heavy traffic/following GPS directions, it sometimes pays to minimize distractions.....radio, etc.
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Old 12-07-2014, 01:50 PM   #54
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We got our first Airstream in September and we are brand new to towing. Last week we spent four hours at Southwest Truck Driving School in Phoenix learning how to back up straight and at an angle, and how to parallel park. We also went around the trailer and checked everything out and made a few changes including adjusting the brake controller. We then drove on the road with the instructor (Merlin). My wife had never towed a trailer and he had her drive on some local roads then drive in traffic and then drive on the freeway while i sat quietly in the backseat. My wife is now very comfortable driving and we also learned how to communicate when backing up.

I checked with our insurance company and they gave us a discount for taking the course.

It was well worth the time and money and I highly recommend it to anyone who is starting out towing a trailer
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Old 12-07-2014, 05:50 PM   #55
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We got our first Airstream in September and we are brand new to towing. Last week we spent four hours at Southwest Truck Driving School in Phoenix learning how to back up straight and at an angle, and how to parallel park. We also went around the trailer and checked everything out and made a few changes including adjusting the brake controller. We then drove on the road with the instructor (Merlin). My wife had never towed a trailer and he had her drive on some local roads then drive in traffic and then drive on the freeway while i sat quietly in the backseat. My wife is now very comfortable driving and we also learned how to communicate when backing up.

I checked with our insurance company and they gave us a discount for taking the course.

It was well worth the time and money and I highly recommend it to anyone who is starting out towing a trailer
By golly, you deserve a "super blue ribbon".

Most travel trailer owners, assume that towing is a piece of cake.

Yes, it certainly can be a beautiful cake.

But, it also, very easily, can become a cake that no one would EVER want to encounter. Why?? Assuming gets them there, on a "fast track".

What you did, is most admirable, to say the least, in that you did the absolute maximum to learn the correct "how to do it and how not to do it".

It is with great hope that you enjoy your Airstream, and especially enjoy Airstreaming with it.

You certainly put both your left and right foot on the proper track.

And, as a side very good thing, you made Mama happy too.

Andy
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Old 12-07-2014, 07:35 PM   #56
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By golly, you deserve a "super blue ribbon".

Most travel trailer owners, assume that towing is a piece of cake.

Yes, it certainly can be a beautiful cake.

But, it also, very easily, can become a cake that no one would EVER want to encounter. Why?? Assuming gets them there, on a "fast track".

What you did, is most admirable, to say the least, in that you did the absolute maximum to learn the correct "how to do it and how not to do it".

It is with great hope that you enjoy your Airstream, and especially enjoy Airstreaming with it.

You certainly put both your left and right foot on the proper track.

And, as a side very good thing, you made Mama happy too.

Andy
Andy, Thank you for your comments and also thank you for all of your posts on Airforum and for taking my phone call last week and spending some time with me discussing back up cameras

Bob
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