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Old 07-25-2011, 01:26 PM   #1
Kd9
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2011 30' International
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Unhappy First Trip Failure

Well, yesterday we took the Airstream out for its first trip. We were so proud that the hitch held and we didn't roll over any curbs. We spent an hour in an empty parking lot getting used to backing up and hand signals. This obviously wasn't enough time.

All we were trying to do was to travel about five miles and park the TT in the covered parking storage. But the first thing we did was rip the top of the middle canvas awning support free so that it was hanging parallel to the ground by the two bottom screws. Moving on we spent an hour trying to back the Airstream into the parking space and could not do it. We kept jackknifing or heading into a crash with the Pace Arrow parked in the next space. Who knew we would need a professional to park this thing?

Eventually, tired, hot, and frustrated, we took the TT to the construction site of our new house and just left it. It's not a good solution because it is an isolated spot and surrounded by lots of construction vehicles. But at least someone there should be able to help us park it. This can't be rocket science, but we can't figure out what we are doing wrong.
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Old 07-25-2011, 01:29 PM   #2
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Practice, practice, practice. Its hot, tiring and frustrating but that's all it takes. Our first attempt at backing into our covered storage was 45 minutes.... now after having done it 4 times, we are down to 5 minutes tops. the secret is to back in as straight as possible... right angle turns into storage are very difficult, at least my perspective
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Old 07-25-2011, 01:52 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Kd9 View Post
Well, yesterday we took the Airstream out for its first trip. We were so proud that the hitch held and we didn't roll over any curbs. We spent an hour in an empty parking lot getting used to backing up and hand signals. This obviously wasn't enough time.

All we were trying to do was to travel about five miles and park the TT in the covered parking storage. But the first thing we did was rip the top of the middle canvas awning support free so that it was hanging parallel to the ground by the two bottom screws. Moving on we spent an hour trying to back the Airstream into the parking space and could not do it. We kept jackknifing or heading into a crash with the Pace Arrow parked in the next space. Who knew we would need a professional to park this thing?

Eventually, tired, hot, and frustrated, we took the TT to the construction site of our new house and just left it. It's not a good solution because it is an isolated spot and surrounded by lots of construction vehicles. But at least someone there should be able to help us park it. This can't be rocket science, but we can't figure out what we are doing wrong.
Just remember turn the steering wheel in the opposite direction you want the trailer to go. You only have to move a foot or so to see how fast it is reacting and wither you need to take some out or put in more in on the steering wheel. You will get it. At first it might be easier if you are definitely looking over the shoulder and not in the mirrors.
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Old 07-25-2011, 01:55 PM   #4
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We also went to a parking lot and practiced and practiced. For our first tip we had a very difficult angle to back into. It took several tries and we finally had it in the spot (from one side). But when we went around to the other side we were completely off the pad. Start again. One thing we do now is I will do some of the backing. What I figured was I wasn't having my husband turn soon enough and he gives better directions so that is working for us. Just keep trying and practicing. You'll get it. Good luck and welcome to the forums. Susan
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Old 07-25-2011, 02:01 PM   #5
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There are lots of tips and tricks on youtube. One thing that a *trucker* taught me was never to worry about pulling forward. That is, as you back up and feel that you're *off*, pull forward some to make the corrections. And go SLOW. So slow that it seems insane.

I have learned to get mine in a tight garage and up a steep incline with relative ease (oops, I probably shouldn't have said that --- JINX). It takes me just 15 minutes. It should only be 5 minutes but I back 3-4 feet, put the truck in park and go back to look and assess my progress. The incline is so steep and I have to *cut it* so hard that my mirrors are almost useless at this point.

Also, my *trucker* friend tried to encourage me to learn to use my mirrors when backing-up rather than turning my head around to look through the rear window and/or through the drivers window. It ususally works.

Those dang empty parking lots make it seem simple compared to an occupied area. I find that I do much better backing into the garage without any help. Takes all the pressure off. Course, I don't have a lot of choice - except the well-intended neighbors....

Best of luck to you next time! Laura
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Old 07-25-2011, 02:02 PM   #6
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Here is some information on setting up for backing. ‪How to back up a tractor trailer pt. 2‬‏ - YouTube
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Old 07-25-2011, 02:09 PM   #7
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Like the other folks said, you crawl before you walk. I remember going to a parking lot on Sunday for a store that was closed. I took two small plastic trash cans and two brooms. I set them up and practiced backing between them. That allowed me to change the width and angles.

It may not be a bad idea to get two small walkie talkie type radios that use public frequencies. That way if you have a copilot helping you back, you can talk to each other.

Learn to back in from both sides and remember that most folks who have problems backing, usually do not pull far enough forward from the spot they are backing into. This puts them at a disadvantage since they have to pivot the trailer at a much larger angle which is much harder to control. The further you are away from the spot you are backing into, the more gentle the angle has to be. Have your spotter watching the side of the trailer that you can't see. If it's a left side back in, you can see the left side of your trailer easily. It's that right side that is blind. Vice versa on a right side back in.

Jack
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Old 07-25-2011, 02:14 PM   #8
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I had backed boat trailers all my life but had trouble with the Airstream. Learning to use the mirrors was the trick. I still have a little trouble but after our recent 9 day trip and many parking episodes I am much better. Someone taught me long ago to put your hand on the bottom of the steering wheel when backing a trailer and move your hand in the direction you want the trailer to go. If the back of the trailer needs to go left just move your hand to the left and vise versa. Works like a charm. Much easier than trying to remember to turn the wheel the opposite way. With your hand at the 6 o'clock position it is so simple.
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Old 07-25-2011, 02:14 PM   #9
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Put your hand on the bottom of the steering wheel. If you put it on top, you are moving the wheel opposite where you want to go and everyone gets confused that way. With your hand on the bottom, turn the wheel left, the trailer will go left.

Do it very slowly. Make sure you start somewhat past the space you want to back into—you won't have to turn the wheel as much. Don't be afraid to stop and walk around to see where you are. If people are watching (they always are) remember they have had to do this too and surely did it badly.

Depending on how much you turn the wheel, you will get different responses. This is just learned through practice. Turning the wheel all the way should be done sparingly as you may turn the trailer to quickly and with some vehicles, the tail light may hit the trailer. Most of the time you won't be able to see what's happening on the right side of the trailer so get out before you start backing and look for obstructions. Place your spotter where you can see them in a mirror. My wife moves out the mirror because she can't tell what I can see, so I stop and tell her where to stand.

You can use walkie-talkies to communicate.

Gene
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Old 07-25-2011, 02:16 PM   #10
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Slowly! Who cares if it's not a perfectly executed 3-point turn...go back and forth as much as you need to...
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Old 07-25-2011, 02:43 PM   #11
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My observation is that folks want to turn the steering wheel TOO MUCH. A little steering input goes a long way, quickly. Teaching kids to back a fire truck into the firehouse tests me sometimes.
A vehicle turns much sharper and lot more quickly in reverse. This is evident when one parallel parks. There is no way to park vehicle in a tight parallel spot by pulling in head first. But, back it in and it will fit no problem.

You'll get it. Just practice.

Best Regards,
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Old 07-25-2011, 02:56 PM   #12
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AND.....if you say to yourself..."I think I can make it"....you can't. Look at all the dents in the rear ends and the awnings scraped off.
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Old 07-25-2011, 03:24 PM   #13
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What has worked great for us is that DW stands off to driver's side and lets me know how i am doing on that side and I use passenger side mirror to judge my distance and amount of space left between the side of the trailer and the rail of the storage stall. Once you get the hang of it, you will see the parallel lines of the trailer and the space you are backing into and it will be so much easier. And funkill is so right, don't be afraid to pull forward and try again ... AS don't like to be backed up at 90 degrees
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Old 07-25-2011, 03:33 PM   #14
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backing up

I can back a 40 ft school bus into a space w/6" on either side, but I cannot back my caravel into a spot because it has no corners!! and it has a small error curve; it goes from almost right to jackknife, especially when I don't have 40 ft to pull forward to correct!! train your partner to move so that you can see them in your mirror! signals unseen are accidents waiting to happen! happy trails...........joe the bus driver
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