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Old 09-23-2020, 11:28 AM   #1
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In a pickle; help needed in Madison, WI

I've gotten myself into a bit of bind that I'm pretty sure I need physical, in-person help with in Madison, WI.

Short version: I overestimated my ability to back a 19' Flying Cloud into my ~12' x 30' driveway. I need someone to do this for me at my place in Madison, WI. Any ideas?

Long version: I just bought a 19' Flying Cloud in MN and towed it to Madison, WI. Stayed at (pull-through) campgrounds for two nights along the way.

My plan was to back it into my driveway myself based on past experience being able easily to back a boat. I planned to keep it in my driveway for a few weeks and boondock in it to learn the systems, etc., and take that time to arrange storage for the winter.

Upon getting into my town I took it to a local empty parking lot to practice and found that backing it safely was beyond my current skillset. As it turns out, backing a boat is much different than backing a trailer, where I can't turn around and see what I'm doing. I drove around for a bit wondering what to do and ended up staying at a local KOA here in Madison, where I am now.

So what I am asking is for anyone in the area who can safely back a 19' Aistream to help me get my rig into my driveway by backing it in for me. I am willing to put in writing any sort of liability waiver that you may require to help me out with this and to compensate you for your time, if needed. If that goes well I may then need further assistance in getting the trailer into storage sometime in the next few weeks. FYI; My house is in an urban area and the street is a bit tight to maneuver in.

For those who wish to tell me how much I screwed this up: I'm well aware that I made a huge mistake in planning (or not planning, as it were) this out correctly. I am personally very upset about it and could use constructive help only. I'm swallowing my pride and humbly asking for help, not more criticism. If this were non-COVID times I would also be asking for a hug.

If you're willing to help let me know in this thread and I will contact you via private message, email, etc.
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Old 09-23-2020, 11:52 AM   #2
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Just wondering if a local dealers have an electric dolly for moving trailers around their lot and if they are willing to come out park it for you?


They also sell them on Amazon. Here is one for up to 3600lb trailer (your '19 ft may weight more).
https://www.amazon.com/SuperHandy-Tr...NsaWNrPXRydWU=


Another option is installing a front hitch.
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Old 09-23-2020, 11:56 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by rowiebowie View Post
Just wondering if a local dealers have an electric dolly for moving trailers around their lot and if they are willing to come out park it for you?


They also sell them on Amazon. Here is one for up to 3600lb trailer (your '19 ft may weight more).
https://www.amazon.com/SuperHandy-Tr...NsaWNrPXRydWU=




Another option is installing a front hitch.
The closest Airstream dealer is 1.5 hours away in Milwaukee and the last time I was there it was so busy it took them an hour to get a salesman to talk to me. I can't imagine the demand for the time of one of the technicians!

I didn't know about those electric dollys! Seems like a good mid-term solution. As of now I'm looking immediate/near term...just need to get it into my driveway asap.
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Old 09-23-2020, 01:06 PM   #4
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I think you can do this. Don't panic and talk yourself out of it. Just remember these very simple principles.
1. If you want to go left, turn right. If you want to go right, turn left. Before you make a turn, stop, say these thing: left turn right; go right turn left.
Then if you are in the wrong spot:
2. Turn in the direction of the error. So if you find yourself going too far right then turn right.
3. Take your time and go very slow.
4. Go a few feet back and then get out and see where you are at. Don't try to do it in one motion.
5. Try to set up your approach so you can see the driveway. In other words you should be able to see the edge of your driveway when you make the turn. Typically it works best when you are backing in with the drivers side of the truck and trailer.

At some point you are going to have to back into a camp site. So you might as well learn how now.

No one does this without some consternation. You just have to go slow and not get in a hurry. P.S. Try to do this when the traffic is the lightest.
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Old 09-23-2020, 01:39 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Daquenzer View Post
I think you can do this. Don't panic and talk yourself out of it. Just remember these very simple principles.
1. If you want to go left, turn right. If you want to go right, turn left. Before you make a turn, stop, say these thing: left turn right; go right turn left.
Then if you are in the wrong spot:
2. Turn in the direction of the error. So if you find yourself going too far right then turn right.
3. Take your time and go very slow.
4. Go a few feet back and then get out and see where you are at. Don't try to do it in one motion.
5. Try to set up your approach so you can see the driveway. In other words you should be able to see the edge of your driveway when you make the turn. Typically it works best when you are backing in with the drivers side of the truck and trailer.

At some point you are going to have to back into a camp site. So you might as well learn how now.

No one does this without some consternation. You just have to go slow and not get in a hurry. P.S. Try to do this when the traffic is the lightest.
Also, do you have a good neighbor next door that can assist in helping (guiding) you into your driveway? I have to admit that you need to learn on how to back it into your driveway - I am learning myself as there is always the situation where you are alone and need to learn this...my husband is a stickler on this! I am the hauler of our 22FB Sport and can pull it like butter, but I need to sharpen my back-up skills!
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Old 09-23-2020, 03:00 PM   #6
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Are there lamp poles, culverts, etc involved? A spotter is required! Cell phone connection on speaker works best. Approach from the direction that puts the most worrisome on the inside of the “bend”’ between the trailer and TV.
Did you try recreating your driveway with cones at the store lot? This might give you confidence.
My experience with dollies is that they can be nerve wracking on a slope, and need a good surface for traction.
I give you credit for not charging into a situation that might have damaged your trailer!
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Old 09-23-2020, 03:07 PM   #7
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You developed a bad habit backing up the boat trailer that way . . . turning around to look is a trap! [IMO]

BUWMO -- "Backing up with mirrors only" results: https://www.google.com/search?q=back...=airforums.com

In the morning, go get the trailer at the KOA. If they have room there, practice BUWMO.

Or go to a large shopping center and practice there. As suggested, having a spotter with you will help. Any friends who can back up a trailer?

Alternatively, call a towing company -- right now -- and have them deliver the trailer to your house ASAP.

Welcome to the forum and your baptism by fire . . . . . . you can master this, but leaving your fear aside will help.

Good luck,
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Old 09-23-2020, 03:54 PM   #8
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I can only echo what others have said:

1. Get a spotter to help you
2. Go back to the parking lot, mark out an area about the same size as your driveway, then practice until you get it.
3. Outside of your spotter, ONLY use mirrors when backing up. Go a few feet, stop, get out, evaluate, and proceed accordingly.
4. If it takes 30 attempts, then that's how long it takes. It's a parking lot!
5. Once you can get into your "parking lot driveway" in a few passes, go home and park your trailer.

I was a complete train wreck the first time I tried backing our 27' GT into a 10' wide door/aisle in our barn. I followed the above approach and am now at a point where I can get it in with only two or three passes; what used to take an hour now takes about 10 minutes. A long way to go, but getting there! Of course, the advantage of our barn is that I don't have to worry about cross traffic.

You'll get this - once you get the basic technique, it's more a matter of refining until you don't have to spend half a day trying to park. But the only way to learn how to do it is to do it.

Good luck and don't get discouraged - KOAs can get expensive!
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Old 09-23-2020, 04:28 PM   #9
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All suggestions are great. You can do this.

I have found my boat reacts for turns more slowly than my Airstream. Both are dual axle but the boat axles are further back than the RV axles (I think this causes the quicker turns). I found it easier to back up the RV since it reacts quicker.

Practice at the campground. i'm sure there are plenty of people there to help you learn. If you are close enough to home someone may travel with you to help spot you.
Get a spotter.
Go Slow.
Much easier with a spotter. However, when I do this solo I have set orange cones on the ground to mark out my turns. Just stay between the cones and you can't hit anything left or right. Just watch out for the back.
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Old 09-23-2020, 04:51 PM   #10
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Hopefully, you have extendible mirrors and they are actually extended. My mirrors extend just far enough that I can see the edges of the front of the trailer, so it's a little hard to see the sides until the trailer starts pivoting.

One thing that helped me a lot was a 100' rope. I laid it out so that it went up one side of my approach, across the barn door, and down the other side of my approach. I laid it out in such a way that it was like having a runway that I could see in the mirrors - as long as I staid "between the lines", I knew I was in pretty good shape. After a couple of times, I knew how things should look and I no longer needed the rope. But I still carry it along in case I get into a tight place and need my training wheels again.
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Old 09-23-2020, 07:52 PM   #11
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First - less is more. When backing if you ever turn your steering wheel more than 1/4 turn, you will almost certainly screw it up.
Second - put both hands at the bottom of the steering wheel (6 oclock) when reversing turn your steering wheel in the direction you want the back end of the trailer to turn.
Third- whenever possible back up so that you can see the destination from the drivers side window. Exceptions are 1) the driveway is a hairpin (acute angle) from the drivers side window, 2) you are on a one way street and you have to back using only a backup camera on the trailer or your passenger side mirror. 3)Traffic from hell - try again at 3 am.

Generally great idea,, especially if you have to back up at night, a 50 ft string of rope lights or fairy lights can be placed on the ground about six inches outside the ideal track of your trailer's tire. Adjust your backup mirror so you can see the lights and move slowly. This works in the day too. Before putting down lights make sure that there are no obstructions that will whack the back or opposite side of your trailer (not fun to drag a 400 lb. Picnic table 4 feet back from the driveway, but always do it.)

Pull far enough past the driveway that the tire on the trailer has 5 to 15 feet to make the turn (long trailers need more time and space to turn. Assuming you are backing to the left, turn your steering wheel 1/8 turn toward the left. Back 5 feet looking at your tire. Stop, get out, walk around your trailer, and go for the next 5 feet.

When you think you are just short of the perfect angle, let the steering wheel go, so it will straighten the tires. There is a slight delay before the trailer stops turning. If you have gone too far, pull forward letting your tow vehicle go into a straight(er) line with the trailer and cautiously back a few feet at a time while steering moderately right and left to keep the trailer wheels on the line.

Ahem. If you have a LONG drive and a big lot, you might want to consider adding a turnaround in the driveway so that you can pull in, and park it or back it from there. If you have the money, an Airstream will help you find ways to spend it.☆
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Old 09-25-2020, 08:31 AM   #12
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All,

Thank you very much for the instruction, wisdom, and words of encouragement. It all paid off and helped me to safely back my Flying Cloud into my driveway last night. We got it done on the first try!

The key that opened up everything for me was placing the hand palm down on the bottom of the steering wheel. Also key was having a spotter and replacing the words "left" and "right" with "driver" and "passenger."

Now back to posting about the little things I want to get fixed or need to know about on my rig, such as why the fridge won't get cold on propane or power, what that big white mushroom-looking thing on the roof is, how best to keep the floors clean, etc., etc.

Thanks again for all of your help!
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Old 09-25-2020, 08:41 AM   #13
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Great news!
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Old 09-25-2020, 08:51 AM   #14
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One thing that wasn't covered of all good tips for backing. If mirrors are power rotating, do as truckers do, when backing into tight spaces. Rotate mirrors, this will keep side of trailer turn in view. When in camp ground if back in on psgr. side just turn around go wrong way, will put spot on drivers side. I have done this way for yrs. never been warned or told not to do this way.
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Old 09-25-2020, 09:04 AM   #15
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YAY! "Hands on the bottom of the wheel and push wheel where you want the back of the trailer to go" is what opened my mind to backing as Foiled Again mentioned in #2. Good luck on your new adventures! - Brad
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Old 09-25-2020, 01:52 PM   #16
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Thanks for the good news, Joseph.

Happy trails,
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Old 09-25-2020, 03:29 PM   #17
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My #2 rule, besides the hands at the bottom is:
GO SLOW.
If you're wondering, go slower. Creep.
Don't be afraid to pull forward and try again, once you get too far off line you can't save it.
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Old 09-25-2020, 04:22 PM   #18
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Trailer valet
They have refurbished ones for 600 bucks.

https://trailervalet.com/shop/traile...SAAEgIEdPD_BwE

I’m not too sure many would want the liability of moving your trailer.
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Old 09-25-2020, 04:26 PM   #19
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As for spotters I found it best if they refrain from giving directions and merely scream or signal if you about to hit something.
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Old 09-25-2020, 05:37 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by Joseph Matte View Post
. . .
Thank you very much for the instruction, wisdom, and words of encouragement. It all paid off and helped me to safely back my Flying Cloud into my driveway last night. We got it done on the first try!
. . .
Great news!
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