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Old 07-09-2020, 09:41 AM   #1
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Canít Master Backing Up!

Hi,

OK I get the basics of backing up. Turning the steering wheel in the right direction is not the problem. I just can’t seem to make the Airstream go where I want it…

It seems I’m going to jack knife no matter what I do! I practiced at an empty parking lot today trying to get the Airstream to fit in one of the spaces while not hitting the other spaces, mimicking a narrow park.

It takes me like 6 back and forths to get it in but I’ve seen guys do it in one nice slow motion.

It just seems there’s not enough space to get the AS aimed and not jack knife. When I reset, straighten out I lose my position, Airstream no longer headed into proper spot. OR I have to cut a corner....

Recently I had to pull into a very tight spot and a trucker coached me. I started along the curb same side of street as spot and then swung around. Took maybe 5 tries and trucker said he could have done it in one motion…..But I don’t see how. We were able to back my 25FB from a narrow lane into a narrow space!

Jack knife is a real concern right? I mean I could actually clip the Airstream with rear corner of TV if not careful right?

I’m tired of living in fear of the back-in space!

[EDIT]

I guess my issue is when to "straighten out". Seem I'm almost jack knifing then as I straighten out the AS starts heading drastically in the "wrong" direction instead of flowing in the assumed path...

Help!

Thanks…

Trav
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Old 07-09-2020, 09:56 AM   #2
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you may find this youtube helpful


How to back up an RV / Trailer "tail swing"
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Old 07-09-2020, 09:57 AM   #3
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Put your steering hand at 6oclock and move it in the direction you want the trailer to go...and do the whole operation slowly, with small adjustments

Large adjustments while moving too fast = a do it over.


Also, try to back into a spot on the drivers side, much better perspective from the drivers door mirror.

Bob
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Old 07-09-2020, 09:58 AM   #4
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The following only works when you use your outside mirrors. Never turn around and look at the trailer. Place your hand at the bottom of your steering wheel. The direction you move your hand is the direction the rear of the trailer will go. For example, turn your steering wheel to the left and the rear of the trailer will go to the left. Upon arriving at the site I pick a point of reference like the edge of the concrete slab. My goal is to get the street-side (driverís side) trailer tires as close to the edge of slab as possible in order to maximize the curb-side outdoor living space. This technique allows me to very accurately back up the trailer by making small right/left adjustments to the steering wheel in an effort to keep the street-side trailer tires running along the edge of the slab.
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Old 07-09-2020, 09:59 AM   #5
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Excessive inputs, I am thinking. You might look at this video.
You need to get past the initial parts to the campsite parking part, but I think it is helpful.
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Old 07-09-2020, 10:03 AM   #6
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Thumbs up

Quote:
Originally Posted by ROBERT CROSS View Post
Put your steering hand at 6oclock and move it in the direction you want the trailer to go...and do the whole operation slowly, with small adjustments
. . .
Quote:
Originally Posted by Short563 View Post
The following only works when you use your outside mirrors. Never turn around and look at the trailer. Place your hand at the bottom of your steering wheel. The direction you move your hand is the direction the rear of the trailer will go.
. . .


Bingo x2!



. . . with the emphasis on "only works when you use your outside mirrors. Never turn around and look at the trailer."

Tow your rig to a large empty parking lot and practice, practice, practice . . .

Much simpler than folks realize, like riding a bike.

"backing up mirrors only" search results: https://www.google.com/search?q=back...=airforums.com

Plenty of folks have mastered this, as you can see from all the posts/threads in those search results. Your mirrors must be adequate for the job . . . they must give you a good view of the rear of your trailer . . . if not get better mirrors.

Happy trails,
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Old 07-09-2020, 10:04 AM   #7
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It'll just take practice. For some people, lots of practice, and there's nothing wrong with that.

A few pointers (that I've given others):
  • Some people, like Mr. Cross, suggest putting your hand on the bottom of the wheel and turning in the direction you want to go. I know this works for a lot of people.
  • What worked for me was steering towards the direction I wanted to "correct". So if my trailer is to the right and I want it to move left, I steer to the right.
  • play with toys. Your TV is essentially a lever connected to another lever (your AS tongue). Understanding that you are pushing a lever with a lever and how that works helps immensely
  • The thing that I've seen most people do incorrectly is that they don't start a reverse move correctly. The closer you can get your trailer to its back-in position the better, and this often involves pulling much farther forward than you would think, and turning your wheels before you move rather than while you're moving.
  • Watch. While I was waiting to get my Airstream I'd watch semis backup in alleys to a loading dock in between columns for an elevated train. I'd watch people backing up at the RV stores and at campgrounds. Maybe your first few nights out get a pull-through, then practice backing up into empty spaces the next morning before you leave.

Really, it's all about practice. Don't learn in a stressful situation.
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Old 07-09-2020, 10:07 AM   #8
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Trav... Have you tried to back up WITHOUT THE TRAILER ATTACHED?

That is your problem.

- Practice Backing Up without your Airstream Attached.
- Once you have perfected that, try parallel parking.
- Once you have perfected backing up and said hell with parallel parking...
- Attach your Airstream.
- The confusing part is that for the Airstream to move Left or Right...
- You need to reverse how you were backing up your Tow Vehicle.

- To be a perfectionist... put your hands at the bottom of the steering wheel.
- The Left makes your trailer go Left. Right turning your steering wheel to go Right.

I know confusing as hell. It was designed to be confusing at first. Always when backing up your Airstream, put your hands at the bottom of the steering wheel. Left hand moving up... trailer goes left. Right up... repeat.

A 25 foot Airstream needs your tow vehicle to move three feet for every foot or so of your trailer to move. So, straighten the trailer and tow vehicle... in line FIRST.

Then practice. If your Airstream is at a right angle... pull ahead, do not be embarrassed. Many on this Forum are no better. I have watched them at Jackson Center. Bring pop corn.

Remember. Tow vehicle has to move a lot for the trailer to move a fraction, so start straight and then things all screwed up. Start over. YOU have an Airstream, not an Airplane. Practice will not KILL YOU... right away, but frustration might.

Good Luck. We ALL started out not knowing a damn thing about the Airstream. The shorter the trailer... the TOUGHER. Those backing up a 16 foot Bambi... they ARE EXPERTS.

Post #3 is not kidding. You cannot use your rear view mirror towing. If you are towing and cannot see the trailer in the rear view mirror, return to where you were camped.
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Old 07-09-2020, 10:07 AM   #9
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Do understand that there is no shame in pulling forward for a reset (ignore the "I could have done it in x attempts or with my eyes closed"). The objective is to get backed in and the less pressure you put on yourself the easier it will get over time.
Who cares if it takes you a dozen times to reset - safety and no damage is the goal. Also plan your attack and keep to your plan, don't let inputs from others distract, confuse, or bother you.
Slow practice over time and you will eventually be doing it with fewer attempts.
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Old 07-09-2020, 11:01 AM   #10
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one more thought...

In my experience with this airstream and trucking over the road and in the city, trailer tire location before starting to back up has a LOT to do with how the event will unfold. Most places are tight enough that it is impossible to line up with the slot by turning away from the entrance and continuing until everything is in a straight line, requiring the attention to trailer wheel placement at the beginning.

I typically pull forward/past the slot with special attention to locating the trailer tires as close to the corner of the slot as possible, while locating the TV on the opposite side of the access road running perpendicular to the camping slot. Kind of hugging the slot side of the access road, then moving the front and rear tires of the TV to the middle or far side of the road just as the trailer tires pass the front of the slot.

Watching semi drivers in a local truck stop can help, as long as you ignore the ones with the trailer tires at the end of the trailer. The rear bumper of your Airstream extends somewhat beyond the end of the tires, so take note of those semi trailers similarly set up.

Practice is the path to competence here. High marks to you for taking it seriously enough to do the parking lot practice and asking for tips.
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Old 07-09-2020, 11:33 AM   #11
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I was curious how experienced tower get that intuition needed to know ahead of time where the trailer will end up when finished. In questioning people about it, it turns out they have developed a spacial understanding of trailer vs. tow vehicle tracking. they seem to understand how much distance is required to straighten the orientation to vehicle to the trailer and how much lateral distance the trailer will drift in that distance all as a function of the initial angle between the vehicle and trailer.

With this intuition they know when to start the turn, how hard to turn, and when to start straightening out all while considering any obstacles may exist.

The biggest error inexperience backers make is to turn too hard and hold the turn too long. So with the basics understood, practice resisting the temptation to turn too hard, if you undershoot, back up and turn slightly more. Eventually you will find the right turning angle.
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Old 07-09-2020, 12:05 PM   #12
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I heard a tip once to go rent a little Uhaul trailer (the kind with the hitch...not the trucks) and practice backing and parking that like you would your trailer. That way it reduces any pressure about making mistakes and damaging your Airstream. It obviously wonít feel or act the same as your Airstream, but might help you get a little more comfortable with the motions.
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Old 07-09-2020, 12:09 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by BayouBiker View Post
. . .
With this intuition they know when to start the turn, how hard to turn, and when to start straightening out all while considering any obstacles may exist.
. . .
Like learning to ride a bike. Once your eyes/hands/mind "get" the turn/bank/correct/etc. coordination, it becomes second nature [in 2 dimensions]. So too with flying a plane, but obviously that is more complicated [3D].



Quote:
Originally Posted by OTRA15 View Post
. . .
Much simpler than folks realize, like riding a bike.
. . .
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Old 07-09-2020, 12:11 PM   #14
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Many good suggestions, I'll add a few equipment pointers.

Tow vehicle mirrors. I don't think I've met an AS'er that said their TV mirrors were too big. If I could mount 18 wheeler mirrors that would allow viewing straight down the sides of the AS on my full size pick up already has factory towing mirrors I'd replace them. I already have extensions too.

Mark the spot on your visible side with a traffic cone that shows where you want the tire to be when correctly you that's the spot I wanted, a target.

Practice.
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Old 07-09-2020, 12:11 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by saraed View Post
I heard a tip once to go rent a little Uhaul trailer (the kind with the hitch...not the trucks) and practice backing and parking that like you would your trailer. That way it reduces any pressure about making mistakes and damaging your Airstream. It obviously won’t feel or act the same as your Airstream, but might help you get a little more comfortable with the motions.
Great suggestion, in all respects.
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Old 07-09-2020, 12:13 PM   #16
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Go slower.
By the time you realize it's wandering off course, it's too late.
Keep your hand on the bottom of the wheel and push in the direction you want to BACK of the trailer to go.
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Old 07-09-2020, 12:33 PM   #17
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Hire an instructor for some private lessons. It is clear that you are doing something wrong and until you find out what that is, it is very hard to correct. A trained instructor can spot the problem and correct is easily. Good luck
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Old 07-09-2020, 12:42 PM   #18
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I’m no expert but slow speed and small steering movements help me a lot. And GOAL (get out and look).
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Old 07-09-2020, 12:55 PM   #19
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Check out LOLOHO’s YouTube vlog on “The Swoop Move”. It gets your trailer pointed in the right direction before backing into a back-in site. Gotta get your mirrors positioned so you can easily see the trailer wheels, that’s what you are trying to position in the correct place.
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Old 07-09-2020, 01:29 PM   #20
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[QUOTE=GCinSC2;2381194

Mark the spot on your visible side with a traffic cone that shows where you want the tire to be when correctly you that's the spot I wanted, a target.

Practice.[/QUOTE]

Iím a new 2020 Bambi 20í owner of 5 weeks. One 3 day trip and one 5 day trip. I bought two orange traffic cones to place alongside the AS when I bring it from the storage lot to the street in front of my house when loading up. I did practice twice at the school lot near house. But I found placing the traffic cones strategically at the camp ground space prior to back in was helpful. But The slots were angled. I still live in fear of a right angle back-in. In regards to OP concern of jack knife, I have determined the side view mirror makes it appear a jack knife situation is about to happen when in fact I am still 6 feet or more from that happening.
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