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Old 01-01-2019, 12:33 PM   #1
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Lining it up without a trailer caster

As a TT noob, I'm not new to towing....towed things like motorcycles, car trailers, boats etc... ALL of the things I've towed, the trailer always had a drop down caster wheel to "position" the trailer "over" the ball, drop....and off we went.

So I was thinking about the logistics and it dawned on me that the AS doesn't have this. My TV (2016 Yukon XL) has a backup camera I "think" that will make the job easy enough, does anyone ever "add" a caster wheel to help move it into position on a LEVEL surface? Does it make any sense to do such a thing for being able to simply drop the AS on the hitch instead of playing the back and forth left/right game with the TV?

Seems like that would be an "easier" option, but not exactly sure if it makes sense to add or not?

Search engine isn't as helpful as I'd thought, or I'm just looking or asking it the wrong thing...

Thoughts?

Thanks,
Chris
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Old 01-01-2019, 12:41 PM   #2
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Hi Chris.

The problem with a caster on the tongue jack is that you will have no effective brakes on the trailer. With anything other than completely level, that would be a huge liability.

Also consider that these larger trailers are upwards of 4k-9k lbs, with ~1k tongue weights. Casually pushing around the tongue to line things up is not going to happen.

Best practice is to play the TV back and forth game. Don't worry, you'll get very good in time, especially with a camera. Even better with a spotter.
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Old 01-01-2019, 12:56 PM   #3
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While a bak-up camera is great, the best option is a trusted copilot you can guide you back until the ball and hitch are aligned.

Just make sure you agree in advance as to the hand signals. 👈🏻 👉🏻 ✋🏻 🙌🏻 🙏🏻
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Old 01-01-2019, 12:57 PM   #4
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Camera should help. We don't currently have a camera so can't say for sure.

Not all spotters are the same - a spouse/significant other may do a good job as a spotter but you'll need to agree on hand signals so you can understand each other.

My method is to do it by myself - I back up, stop short, get out check the distance and whether I'm centered, back up a bit more, steer if needed, get out and check again, repeat as needed. I very seldom have to pull forward and start over.

As pteck mentioned, the wheel/caster on the jack is not a good idea.
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Old 01-01-2019, 01:10 PM   #5
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^^^^^ x2

Well said, Lucius.

Once you have done it a few times, it gets easier, like riding a bike.

Very easy to over-think this . . .

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Old 01-01-2019, 01:40 PM   #6
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I made an anti divorce device for hitching.

It’s a blind spot mirror on the tongue jack and I view it from truck rear view. Allows pretty good view when I’m about 4’ out and closer. Added yellow reflective tape on hitch components to help guide.

Still married.
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Old 01-01-2019, 01:50 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by nvestysly View Post
... My method is to do it by myself - I back up, stop short, get out check the distance and whether I'm centered, back up a bit more, steer if needed, get out and check again, repeat as needed. I very seldom have to pull forward and start over.

As pteck mentioned, the wheel/caster on the jack is not a good idea.
It's very easy to do it by yourself without cameras or help.

First, control your breathing and say your personal mantra.

Next, get a clear visual image of the hitch and coupler. Continue your slow breathing. Slowly place your vehicle in gear and loosely grip the steering wheel.

Repeat your mantra. Close your eyes. In your mind, reach out and touch the coupler. Be the coupler.

Slowly release the brakes. Visualize the hitch ball approaching the coupler.

You will know when the ball is perfectly positioned under the coupler. Set the brake and exit the vehicle.

Be sure to properly latch the coupler before driving forward.
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Old 01-01-2019, 01:56 PM   #8
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I had a B/U camera on the Burb but the Hitch'n Rods work better for me...locates both the AS & the reciever.
Plus O' rings will help with the height 👍

Bob
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Old 01-01-2019, 03:14 PM   #9
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You cannot move the tongue of an Airsyream around by hand. With the backup camera, you will be right on target. Simple.
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Old 01-01-2019, 03:52 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by markdoane View Post
It's very easy to do it by yourself without cameras or help.



First, control your breathing and say your personal mantra.



Next, get a clear visual image of the hitch and coupler. Continue your slow breathing. Slowly place your vehicle in gear and loosely grip the steering wheel.



Repeat your mantra. Close your eyes. In your mind, reach out and touch the coupler. Be the coupler.



Slowly release the brakes. Visualize the hitch ball approaching the coupler.



You will know when the ball is perfectly positioned under the coupler. Set the brake and exit the vehicle.



Be sure to properly latch the coupler before driving forward.


Zen and the art of trailer coupling!

We have a backup camera because I am not “One with the ball and coupler”. 🤣
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Old 01-01-2019, 04:41 PM   #11
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Seems pretty clear and a consensus, thanks to all for the feedback. Wife and I will work out the signaling and there will be plenty of practice....LOL.

Happy new year to all.

Chris
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Old 01-01-2019, 04:49 PM   #12
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I use the tennis ball on radio antenna looking things to hookup solo with no problems. Haven't dinged up a bumper, yet.
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Old 01-01-2019, 05:03 PM   #13
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Before back-up cameras I used the 2 magnetic poles to help with alignment. They worked pretty well but after doing it a few times I got pretty good of centering myself just using my side view mirrors. Now I just mean "pretty good". Most of the time It took me a few shots to get it right but I preferred doing it myself to a human guide. Haven't used the poles for many years. Now I have a back-up camera and that really takes the guesswork out of it. It's no FUN anymore took all the challenge out of it.
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Old 01-01-2019, 06:26 PM   #14
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Lining it up without a trailer caster

Greetings Chris!

I have towed my travel trailers solo since 1980, and found that I prefer to do the hitching solo. Over the years, I have had several magnetic, convex mirrors that attach to the "A-Frame" hitch and provide a view of the coupler and the trailer hitch that make it possible to line up the two with minimal trouble. The hitching mirror that I now utilize is quite similar to this one offered by Camping World.


Good luck with your investigation!


Kevin
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Old 01-02-2019, 03:47 PM   #15
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I purchased a used Hensley hitch a few years ago. It came with a device which went on the ground under the jack which had a threaded horizontal shaft which allowed you to move the tongue side to side a few inches. I don't know if it is still available.
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Old 01-03-2019, 07:43 AM   #16
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I purchased a used Hensley hitch a few years ago. It came with a device which went on the ground under the jack which had a threaded horizontal shaft which allowed you to move the tongue side to side a few inches. I don't know if it is still available.
That is kind of what I was driving at, I understand now about the weight and sheer liability of trying to move it by hand. While most boats are around 1200 to 1800 lbs, I figured an AS would be similar (obviously more weight) to just get the TV close enough and "jiggle" the hitch over the ball via the caster wheels to make the movement.

Not trying to move it "feet" as that would be a bear to try an move around. But it seems the consensus is to use the camera and practice the line up. I just worry about what happens if I'm a 1/2" off and try to lower it down under rotten conditions or god forbid in a "rush"...but I'm sure it will be a fast learn process either way.
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Old 01-03-2019, 08:35 AM   #17
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I just worry about what happens if I'm a 1/2" off and try to lower it down under rotten conditions or god forbid in a "rush"...but I'm sure it will be a fast learn process either way.
So I'm not the driver, I'm the spotter.

Here's what I can offer from my vantage point.
NOTE-- we use an Equalizer hitch. This might be different for other kinds of hitches.

1-start by having the vehicle hitch on, and back the vehicle up close enough to the trailer to make sure that the trailer hitch is raised high enough to be about 2 inches higher than the vehicle hitch ball will be. This allows you to know that you can back up and drop the trailer onto the ball OK.

2-pull the vehicle forward and get into the position you want to be in. Now back toward the trailer and get to about 1-2 feet from the hitches meeting up. Get out and look, or have the spotter tell you how you are lining up. Also this is a finess thing, but if your area is not 100% level, when you get out and put the truck in park, the shifting of the transmission from reverse to park will have the vehicle move slightly backwards, or slightly forwards. Use this knowledge. If you are hitching up from home you will learn how this will be.

3-get back in the vehicle and continue backing until you think the ball is under the trailer hitch. Get out and look as many times as needed.

4-once the vehicle and trailer are where you want them, drop the trailer on the ball. It's a sphere so there is some play. If it looks wrong, then start over. When it's right the hitch takes the load of the trailer as you raise up the hitch foot.

5-Remember you are still chocked on your trailer wheels. Once the trailer is secure on the ball, unchock, pull forward a small bit (2-4 inches) to make sure the hitch lock clamps correctly, then put the vehicle in park, hook up the 7 pin, brake controller, sway bars, tow chains.
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Old 01-03-2019, 09:05 AM   #18
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My father in law had an Argosy with a castor. Parked it in our driveway. It rolled into a ditch in the yard before he got it chocked.
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Old 01-03-2019, 09:19 AM   #19
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My father in law had an Argosy with a castor. Parked it in our driveway. It rolled into a ditch in the yard before he got it chocked.
Surely an expensive "lesson learned"......chock first, all else 2nd...
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Old 01-09-2019, 10:26 AM   #20
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or god forbid in a "rush"
Oh those are dangerous words there!
Unless there a life threatening fire or something else life threatening don't rush.
It always takes longer or is more expensive when rush is involved


Thanks
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