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Old 03-13-2021, 10:32 AM   #1
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Towing tips for brand new people to combination vehicles

Ok new campers +glampers! It's almost springtime in the Airstream forums.That means a lot of brand new trailer owners.
There are record numbers of people in USA, brand new to towing camping trailers.
Many have never towed/ hooked up a little single axle lawn or boat trailer, let alone a multi ton trailer.
Learn to do a Pre trip and Post trip inspection of your combination vehicle, every time you drive it.
Safety is the #1 issue, with combination vehicle operation.
Excessive speed is the #1 killer on the roads of America.Keep your speed below posted speed limits, while learning to tow.
Look far ahead, to avoid panic braking.
Travel in far right lane while learning to tow, as much as possible, for a number of reasons, which I'll get into.
I saw increadable carnage out there, in millions of miles of tractor trailer operation.
Im posting this to help y'all avoid being a statistic out there.
Every year, in other Airstream forums, at least one new to towing,would roll a Airstream.Thats best to be avoided.
Slow down.
Keep the round side down.
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Old 03-13-2021, 11:30 AM   #2
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Great advice!

I would add - understand how your hitch works (whatever brand you choose) and make sure you understand how to correctly calibrate weight distribution and sway deterrent for your particular setup. Lots of good videos out there on YouTube to help / teach.
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Old 03-13-2021, 12:13 PM   #3
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Great advice!

I would add - understand how your hitch works (whatever brand you choose) and make sure you understand how to correctly calibrate weight distribution and sway deterrent for your particular setup. Lots of good videos out there on YouTube to help / teach.
Thanks ! Especially with single axles, it's important to load weight in front of axle,not behind it.
Emptying holding tanks before towing removes that added water weight also.
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Old 03-13-2021, 01:58 PM   #4
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Great advice on keeping speed under control while towing. I couldn’t agree more. I never exceed 65 mph when towing. The relaxed, easy pace is important for safety, but also an important part of getting into the right state of mind for camping.

I’ll also add that listing out everything in your tow vehicle and your trailer is an important part of understanding your weight and balance. I created a spreadsheet for this purpose, and it was a very eye-opening experience. I also bought a scale so that I know how much each piece of cargo weighs, and plan/balance my load accordingly. It’s easier than many people think to overload your tow vehicle or trailer.

Finally, I’ll add that it is critical to understand the capabilities of your rig, and to ensure that everything is in good working order.
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Old 03-13-2021, 02:38 PM   #5
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Great advice on keeping speed under control while towing. I couldn’t agree more. I never exceed 65 mph when towing. The relaxed, easy pace is important for safety, but also an important part of getting into the right state of mind for camping.

I’ll also add that listing out everything in your tow vehicle and your trailer is an important part of understanding your weight and balance. I created a spreadsheet for this purpose, and it was a very eye-opening experience. I also bought a scale so that I know how much each piece of cargo weighs, and plan/balance my load accordingly. It’s easier than many people think to overload your tow vehicle or trailer.

Finally, I’ll add that it is critical to understand the capabilities of your rig, and to ensure that everything is in good working order.
Thanks! Weights are very important, regardless of size of combination vehicle.
Its a good idea to load like for camping, passengers included, and go to a truck stop, and get your axle weights on a CAT scale.Like you say, actual weights are often suprising.
Weekends are a good time, when big truck traffic slows.
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Old 03-13-2021, 03:11 PM   #6
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Ok new drivers, this is extremely important, before I get to a lot of other points.
Put your cell phone in the back seat.Dont touch that phone when you're driving.
Next to excessive speeds, the cell phone is a huge contribution to deadly+serious wrecks.Its a huge cause of head on wrecks, and rollovers.
I never take my eyes off all vehicles.I see even pro drivers leaving their lane of travel, while playing with their cell phones.
Your lack of concentration on the road, while on phone, studies have shown, is on par with driving while impaired/drinking / etc.
Ok, moving on, to why you should be in the far right lane,as much as possible, when new to towing.
Being in far right lane, say on Interstate or state routes, lowers your chances of problems created by vehicles, by 50%, who would otherwise be on both sides of your rig, if you were in center lane.
It also slows you down, because you arnt keeping up with faster traffic.
It also gives you a opportunity, in a emergency, to have a out to the right, instead of being covered up in traffic, like say you blow a tire.
Also, an Airstream laying on its side, off the road, looks a lot like a turtle.So, take a tip from the turtle, hauling his house around, and slow down driver!
The exception for right lane travel, is approaching a interchange.When you start seeing exit signs, move over to next lane to left, before you get near interchange.That allows you to stay away from exiting traffic, cutting you off potentially,and then merging traffic, as you pass interchange.Allow it to merge, then move back to far right lane carefully.
This keeps you away from a lot of trouble.
In other words, you don't need your towing skills tested, anymore than absoulutly necessary.Its a long learning curve.
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Old 03-13-2021, 10:56 PM   #7
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I like to do a walk-around (visual inspection) after every stop when we’re on the road, paying special attention to the tires, hitch & wiring harness, and lights. I once discovered a leaking trailer tire and was able to replace it in the rest area (rather than on the shoulder of the Interstate) thanks to this practice.
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Old 03-14-2021, 09:57 AM   #8
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Make sure you are using a Tow Vehicle that has the ability to tow the weight of the trailer "down hill" and the payload capacity to carry all the "stuff". Don't blindly accept what the dealers tell you - DO THE RESEARCH! It's called protecting your family and mine!
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Old 03-14-2021, 12:12 PM   #9
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I might add that most rigs I see on the road have maxed out their TVs capacity. Remember that those weight numbers on the door jam are max numbers, meaning if you get to those weights your at the very edge of safety. Plan on staying well under those capacities for a safety factor.
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Old 03-14-2021, 12:26 PM   #10
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These posts are all good advice, for those new to towing!
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Old 03-14-2021, 12:28 PM   #11
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I was new to towing

Two years ago I purchased a 25 ft airstream with f250..I had never towed let alone hitch up...I was scared ..then I got the idea to call commercial driving schools, they met at the dealership and for 3 days I practiced with a commercial driver. I still once a year meet with a commercial driver and renew my skills and safety.. plus practice the backing up ..it’s been a great help for me...debra
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Old 03-14-2021, 12:39 PM   #12
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Two years ago I purchased a 25 ft airstream with f250..I had never towed let alone hitch up...I was scared ..then I got the idea to call commercial driving schools, they met at the dealership and for 3 days I practiced with a commercial driver. I still once a year meet with a commercial driver and renew my skills and safety.. plus practice the backing up ..it’s been a great help for me...debra
That's why I've started this thread! I'm sure learning from a towing pro, helped you tremendously, as a brand new driver.
It's rare anyone would pay for that type of one on one instruction, but very commendable!
Even these relatively small trailers can hurt the operator, as well as others, very quickly.
That's why proper wheel chocking, safety chain use,and things like pre trip/ post trip inspections, etc etc etc , are very important, as that pro combination vehicle driver showed you.
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Old 03-14-2021, 04:31 PM   #13
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It’s not cost prohibitive

Hi mr. cole it was 400.00 for three days in Tacoma wa.. not as expensive as it sounds..thanks for pointing that out.
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Old 03-14-2021, 04:43 PM   #14
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I’ll add another tip for newbies. Make a checklist for departure and one for arrival. My wife and I have interior and exterior checklists. Ours are laminated and we use dry erase markers on them. Go through your checklist in order, and don’t skip anything. The first time that you think you know it all and skip the checklist will be the first time you miss something and make a mistake.
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Old 03-14-2021, 04:56 PM   #15
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Hi mr. cole it was 400.00 for three days in Tacoma wa.. not as expensive as it sounds..thanks for pointing that out.
Thanks! I must say I'm suprised at that , for 3 days of instruction.
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Old 03-14-2021, 05:02 PM   #16
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I’ll add another tip for newbies. Make a checklist for departure and one for arrival. My wife and I have interior and exterior checklists. Ours are laminated and we use dry erase markers on them. Go through your checklist in order, and don’t skip anything. The first time that you think you know it all and skip the checklist will be the first time you miss something and make a mistake.
Thanks!A physical checklist, like pre trip and post trip, is very good idea.
Just for a example, driving out of a campsite, for someone brand new to trailers, (it happens all the time at campgrounds) that the shore power cord/ water +sewer connections, get ripped out of connections.
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Old 03-14-2021, 09:05 PM   #17
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Before any trip, check air pressure in the TV and Trailer tires

After a stay, the wife and I verify each others check list. She starts on the interior as I check the exterior. We then swap places and recheck again.

Always verify the water pump is off prior to locking the door after a rest stop break.

I do a safety stop before entering the main road and within a mile of departure after a stay. I get out and verify hitch, WD, electrical and safety chains.

During a stop for whatever reason, a walk around, checking tires, hubs for overheating, and the hitch. Manually check trailer brakes after every stop.
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Old 03-15-2021, 03:22 AM   #18
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Before any trip, check air pressure in the TV and Trailer tires

After a stay, the wife and I verify each others check list. She starts on the interior as I check the exterior. We then swap places and recheck again.

Always verify the water pump is off prior to locking the door after a rest stop break.

I do a safety stop before entering the main road and within a mile of departure after a stay. I get out and verify hitch, WD, electrical and safety chains.

During a stop for whatever reason, a walk around, checking tires, hubs for overheating, and the hitch. Manually check trailer brakes after every stop.
Thanks!
Physical inspection of tires ( for cuts/screws/ nails/ etc) + checking pressure of all tires on combination vehicle is very important.Pay special attention often,+ at first at stops, to steer tires( cuts/ screws/ nails/ pressures) on tow vehicle, they are critical, and are first to hit road debris.You don't want a steer failure at speed.
Always inflate tires when cold ( pre trip inspection) to maximum cold pressure shown on tire sidewall.Low tire pressure leads to tire heating and blowouts.
A good idea is carry a small 12 Volt air compressor, ( less than $20 at Harbor Freight /Walmart/ Auto part stores ) with added length of electrical wire spliced in, to reach back from cigarette lighter in tow vehicle to reach trailer tires.Always run engine of tow vehicle when inflating tires.They have a built in dial pressure guage, for at a glance progress.Air can be hard to find on road.Best to have it with you.Be prepared!
Also check tire pressure of spares.
While buying a air compressor, the tip of checking wheel hub temps/ tire temps/ can be done quickly by also buying a laser temperature gun, like $29 or so on sale at Harbor Freight.They take a 9 Volt battery.
You will quickly learn what your average running gear temps are , like in summer, and spot potential bearing or brake problems before they do damage.The more you get in habit of checking hubs/ tires/lights/etc at stops, like tip above, the faster you will stop road failures, while learning about your systems.
Towing is a long learning curve.The faster you start, the safer you run.
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Old 03-15-2021, 09:36 AM   #19
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Thanks B.Cole for starting this thread! I started pulling camper trailers in the late 60's moving up to a 31' Airstream in '77 and pulled it for 22 years. Then took a 22 year break then purchased a 27' Airstream last October. So, I'm not new to trailering, but it was really helpful to see all the advice posted by you and others. I can only imagine how helpful this thread will be to those new to trailering. We will never know, but this thread could help someone avoid a very unpleasant experience or even a fatal event. Thanks again B.Cole for starting this thread and thanks to all who added their wisdom. And cudos to dmegig for jumping right in with a 3/4 ton tow vehicle. It's not a matter of having enough H.P. to pull the trailer, but having as much safety margin as you can reasonably afford. If something goes wrong, you don't get a do over.
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Old 03-15-2021, 10:24 AM   #20
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Thanks B.Cole for starting this thread! I started pulling camper trailers in the late 60's moving up to a 31' Airstream in '77 and pulled it for 22 years. Then took a 22 year break then purchased a 27' Airstream last October. So, I'm not new to trailering, but it was really helpful to see all the advice posted by you and others. I can only imagine how helpful this thread will be to those new to trailering. We will never know, but this thread could help someone avoid a very unpleasant experience or even a fatal event. Thanks again B.Cole for starting this thread and thanks to all who added their wisdom. And cudos to dmegig for jumping right in with a 3/4 ton tow vehicle. It's not a matter of having enough H.P. to pull the trailer, but having as much safety margin as you can reasonably afford. If something goes wrong, you don't get a do over.
Thanks for your input, as an experienced driver.If this helps one new driver avoid the events you named, it's done some good.Safety is #1.
Your ticking off your experience ,made me think of my total driving time of all types vehicles,50 years, and I've seen a lot of those bad road wrecks up close, especially running heavy commercial combination vehicles.
Because commercial drivers are on the road 24/7/365, they are often on the scene of bad accidents, sometimes quite a while before flashing red+ blue lights arrive.It seems like quite awhile for some real bad ones, anyway.
I'm going to get into operating speeds soon, and it's going to generate some controversy, im sure.
I often see on these forums, that people pull their Airstreams (bumper pull/ on the ball) in excess of 70 mph.I'll give thoughts on that.
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