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Old 09-23-2018, 07:03 PM   #1
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Newbie Towing Hints

Hi,

Well tomorrow is the day I take full possession of my Sport 22FB! So excited!

Spent two days with it at the camp ground and confident it all works as supposed to!

But...

A little concerned the dealer is taking my towing concerns lightly and neighbors who know how and were going to help me unexpectedly out of town...

So I may be forced to show up alone and with little to no assistance hitch it up and hit the road!

The hitch is installed and adjusted. The trailer brake installed but I don't think the dealer road tested. Should I demand they road test it?

Any clues as to how to drive/tow? Other than go slow and make wide turns remembering the pivot point is the trailer axle....

Videos are so full of fluff I lose interest before they start makoing good points if they ever do!

So any advice for a newbie literally on their own!

thanks,

R44
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Old 09-23-2018, 07:21 PM   #2
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R44... we have all been in your position.

Before you leave the dealership. Drink a glass or two of water. You will sweat it by the time you get onto the highway. Your roads are going to be a challenge. We have driven them. Maybe 2AM the traffic thins out. In Las Vegas... there is NO traffic after Sunrise for several hours. At 2AM, everyone is still out driving and walking the sidewalks.

Totally different patterns to consider, as well.

Walk around the trailer and make sure you are connected to the tow vehicle. Check your turn signal lights and brake lights on the trailer. If they do not work... you have no brakes, either.

The dealership in Denver, Colorado handed me a stack of 'trailer safety' booklets and some video to watch and waved... bye bye.

Before I left the dealership, I had the guy who set the hitch test my brakes with the manual braking. They worked. Bye, bye.

The hitch was set up wrong.

I turned one street too soon from the dealership and ended up in an apartment complex parking lot.

I sweated this one out. Once I found the right way to get onto the highway was the easy part. Drive the CENTER of three lanes, when available. Merging traffic will try to cut in front of you.

If you drive the speed limit, traffic will back up behind you.

If you speed, traffic will back up behind you.

Find your comfort level and do not mind the mirrors. Don't listen to everyone about mirrors and attaching, etc. You will learn to turn the steering wheel to one direction, then back with the trailer gently moving enough to see back a block or two. Try it when you have room to work on it. It is using finese, but better than strap on mirrors that vibrate whatever is behind you.

When changing lanes... the other drivers will see the beads of sweat on your forehead. Set your blinker for which way you want to merge and someone, might, give you a break.

Backing up is the more difficult thing to learn. Start at the bottom of the steering wheel when backing up. Left the trailer goes left. Right the trailer goes right. If you put your hands on the top of the steering wheel, you will be going totally opposite directions... so practice where you have lots... of space. Once you figure out backing out... ignore everyone on this Forum and their suggestions. You will be selling your trailer in a month, if you try to figure every possible option known to we Airsteamers.

The shorter the trailer... the more difficult it is to back up. Do not get discouraged. Some day you may have a 30 foot which is easier to back up... in comparison.

Nothing like light poles or parked trailers in the area.

You need to look, left, right, back, forward and UP. Do not tear off your Air Conditioning unit on your maiden trip home.

Good luck. It is even frustrating for someone to teach another... as the student... has different ideas, already from their driving experiences WITHOUT a trailer in tow. Can be spooky for the teacher... not the student.

Others will jump in and tell you how you will do... so well. They have been through Hell and Back... so will be easy on you. Myself. Each trip is a learning experience. Some of it you would like to forget, some you will recall and wake up early in the morning in a cold sweat.

Trailering is fun, travel and adventure... at the same time. After a couple of years... you will be able to sleep through a night without night sweats.
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Old 09-23-2018, 07:31 PM   #3
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I am sure you will receive a lot of good advice here, on the Airstream Forums.
First, I recommend you have a checklist of important hookup and towing procedures. When you are at the dealer, and with their staff watching, you should practice several times both the hookup and unhook of your trailer hitch and the 9 pin connection. Focus on chains and how they are crossed and attached.

Towing is overall fairly easy, and a 22FB is a perfect size to learn on. Make all turns wide and make sure the towing mirrors are properly adjusted.

Find a large empty parking lot and practice backing up for a few hours, thus simulating backing into a campsite. Watch utube videos on backing up a trailer. These will definitely help you early on.
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Old 09-23-2018, 07:52 PM   #4
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Thanks,

I'm plotting a course that goes through neighborhoods to an old highway I can take all the way south to storage facility. It always has slow traffic on it and is 55mph. Single lane for much but open to 2 lane and has limited traffic. Nogales Hwy if you're familiar with Tucson area.

Went to storage facility today and confirmed my spot open and found a nice easy loop through the lot to curve right in the pull through.

I usually catch on fast but still cautious! If I can find a large vacant lot along the way I'll pull in and play around SAFELY! Maybe set up some cones.....

Thanks again!

Night sweats huh? :i

R44
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Old 09-23-2018, 08:39 PM   #5
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Prior all good stuff, practice

And do not allow yourself to be rushed!!!
The times I made mistakes I allowed myself to be rushed.

If interrupted, see above. Start from step one and verify each step again until you reach where you left off. The times I made mistakes I allowed myself to be rushed after being interrupted and missed a step when I started up again.

Then double check your work, and have traveling companion check your work while you check theirs. Again, see above.

Thanks
Matti less of a newbie Smith
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Old 09-23-2018, 09:24 PM   #6
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I like the idea of putting your trailer height and total length on a post it note on your dash. This way when you go under a bridge you will confidently know your clearance. (ie. 9'9") You will also know your total length if you happen to run into a sign that tells you the maximum length that can use that particular road.

Have fun and congratulations.
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Old 09-23-2018, 11:49 PM   #7
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Newbie Towing Hints

Dittos on don’t let people rush you. The one ding I put in our Airstream was because of a certain DW wanting to get out of somewhere in too big a hurry. Don’t let anyone or anything put you into a rush or a case of “gotta get there itis” that’s how Airstreams, airplanes and boats get pranged!
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Old 09-24-2018, 03:52 PM   #8
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First tow = No Problemo!!!

Service department more than made up for the weak sales staff where I bought it. These guys say go to them with any issues and spent an inordinate amount of time making sure I understood everything and checking the hook up etc....

Towed like a sweet dream; no night sweats! Hardly knew it was there! had to keep throttling back as I'd be going over 65mph it was so smooth and easy.

Turning radius was a non event; felt/looked like it followed my rear wheels exactly! Had to spin around the storage facility a couple times to approach the pull through spot and was very simple to maneuver and place exactly where I wanted.

No need for tow mirrors!

Backed very easily and again found it simple to adjust parking spot to the inch.

The Tacoma was more than capable but yes empty but I don't envision towing much more than 1500lbs for my needs. I'll see how that changes things! Mileage dropped to 12-13mpg and coolant was up by 3° to 193. Still trying PID's on my Scangauge to get tranny temp but I had flushed and filled last year with Valvoline and just rechecked last week.

I did all the hook ups with mostly help from here and one quick how-to. Passed road inspection by service rep.

In the end yea maybe it'd be nice to have a V8 but a V8 that does everything else as well as my Tacoma TRD 4x4 Sport starts at $45K and has less capability off road....

Thanks!

R44
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Old 09-25-2018, 09:41 AM   #9
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R44..... Yeah!!!!

Congratulations.
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Old 09-25-2018, 12:04 PM   #10
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You felt like just about everybody the first time they towed. Glad you made it!
I think tow mirrors are required by most states.
Here's to many more miles of happy towing.
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Old 09-25-2018, 01:11 PM   #11
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Don't do your first tows in rush hour traffic(morning or evening) or the lunch rush.
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Old 09-25-2018, 01:51 PM   #12
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Don't rush and don't go in rush hour traffic have already been mentioned a couple of times, guess why? I used to fly planes and checklists are the rule in airplanes. Make a checklist on a note card and check every item, EVERY TIME. No exceptions. Chains, lights, windows closed, awning stowed and secured, cabinets all latched, vents all closed, steps up, check lights on trailer, chocks stowed, all items in the trailer secure, all items in bed of the truck secured, etc. It only takes forgetting one thing one time and it can get really expensive.
Until you get really comfortable, don't try and back into a spot without a spotter. It is hard to judge the distance ( you may have a camera so use that)and there are many Airstreams with a dent in the back for lack of another set of eyes while backing. I still get out do a walk around before backing into a spot and I've pulled trailers for 40 years.
Final tip on backing, if you are new trailer backing, place your hand on the steering wheel in the 6 o'clock position. As you very slowly back up, move your hand in the direction you want the back of the trailer to go ( trailer needs to move to the curb side then move you hand up toward the 3 o'clock position and the back of the trailer moves that way). It is a simple idea but it works and is not confusing.

Oh- one more, make sure your mirrors are adjusted before you leave the dealer,

all the best!!
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Old 09-25-2018, 02:29 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 68 TWind View Post
Make a checklist on a note card and check every item, EVERY TIME. No exceptions.

Thanks!

BTW IS there a check list on Airforums? As a newbie I'm probably not qualified to make a complete checklist!


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Old 09-25-2018, 11:57 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Rounder44 View Post
In the end yea maybe it'd be nice to have a V8 but a V8 that does everything else as well as my Tacoma TRD 4x4 Sport starts at $45K and has less capability off road....

Thanks!

R44
Awesome. Glad your maiden voyage was a great success. Credit to you for doing your homework!

Little hint on the V8 if you might be interested...

Look at a gently used Land Cruiser. Or even better, LX570.

More everything, including legendary over-landing and off-road capability. It's the defacto caravan tow vehicle of choice in the Australian Outback, for a good reason.
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Old 09-26-2018, 04:15 AM   #15
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Hint1: Generally speaking, left turns are easier that right.
Hint2: When traveling highway speeds, avoid sudden directional changes.
Hint3: Slow down for curves (well SLOW DOWN is always good practice).
Hint4: Never enter unfamiliar parking lot unless can clearly see exit strategy.
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