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Old 08-11-2018, 01:45 AM   #1
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2019 30' International
Livingston , Texas
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Newbie: trailer backup simulator

Hello AirForums!

After 4 years of planning and saving we just bought a Signature 30 and will be hitting the road fulltime soon!

We're complete newbies so we've got a lot to learn from everyone here. One of those things is how to backup an Airstream trailer. We've been trying to watch videos and had a few goes at it so we kind of get it but it seems to be a skill that we need to practice as much as possible.

Are there any truck + trailer simulators which we can play with to help learn it in the safety of a video game? I've tried googling and all I can find are some impressive looking semi-truck games but I don't think that's quite the same (is it?). I like the idea of the view inside the cab and looking at your mirrors etc. Is there anything like that for backing up a 30ft Airstream?

Amazingly there is not much else that I can find on the internet. Does anyone know of anything like this and would like to share?
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Old 08-11-2018, 04:25 AM   #2
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Backing up works the same in all towing situations, from riding lawn mowers with a cart to boat trailers and your truck to Airstreams. Hand down at the bottom, move it in the direction you want the back end of the trailer to go.
To see the effects, you might want to borrow someone's riding lawn mower and cart.
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Old 08-11-2018, 06:01 AM   #3
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For a few months, NEVER back the Airstream without a spotter. It only takes a few seconds and you can make a very expensive mistake. I agree with Acheron, easiest way to learn is to put your hand on the steering wheel at the 6 o'clock position. Move your hand in the direction you need the back of the trailer to go ( move hand up to 3 o'clock and the back of the trailer will go to the right or curb side). Another tip, have the spotter say "curb side or street side", not right or left. As on a boat saying port or starboard, it take the perspective out of the mix, doesn't depend on which way you are facing. Finally, with a longer trailer learning to do the " scoop" maneuver will help tremendously getting into tight spots. Here is a youtube from the LoLoHo channel that explains it.



Watch this one first:


good luck
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Old 08-11-2018, 06:06 AM   #4
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Im unaware of a virtual simulator. I can highly recommend an RV safe driver class. The local commercial driver license (CDL) training center offered the class and my wife and I had it scheduled for the first weekend we were to pick up our trailer. 2 days, 80% of it was backing up. Highly recommended.

Good luck!
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Old 08-11-2018, 07:42 AM   #5
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Zanadude Nebula , Milky Way
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Installed a rear view camera this year, even after all these years Stream'n it made a BIG difference. It has a grid that gives side & following distance which helps a lot when backing into limited spaces'. With our Classic the grid is almost exactly the same width as the trailer...👍

Bob
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Old 08-11-2018, 08:52 AM   #6
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Remember that driving test you took when you were 16? How your Dad set up flags to pull through to learn to parallel park?

Do the same with your new trailer. Take it to a nearby empty parking lot and start to play.

Backup cameras today are simply a must for travelers. Not only can you see where you are backing into, but you can use them to watch rear traffic while traveling. More peace of mind.

Good luck, you will learn fast.
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Old 08-11-2018, 10:22 AM   #7
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A very valuable tool is a pair of walkie-talkie radios. They can be found in Amazon, for about $40ish. The spotter needs to be trained on terminology that the driver understands exactly the same. Watch the LoLoHo video, and get a pair of radios. Very helpful!!!
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Old 08-11-2018, 10:38 AM   #8
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Red Leader - In addition to the backing videos from Longlonghoneymoon which are great, go to youtube and the Wandering Wagners. Search “how to back up an rv”. This is without doubt the best video on this that I have seen. Mike is a tractor trailer driving instructor. The best. Watch this one several times!
Don’t worry, TAKE YOUR TIME,and have fun!
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Old 08-11-2018, 10:41 AM   #9
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Long trailers are easier to back than short ones. They don't jackknife as easily.
Go slow, don't let it get too far off course before correcting. Don't be shy of pulling forward again. If you think it's off course, it's probably too late to correct.
Don't be afraid to get out and look. Distances are very deceiving in mirrors.

Spotter. This is a can of worms. Mine was more of a watcher. She'd stand where I couldn't see her and then report if I hit something. Save your marriage, work out signals before attempting this.
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Old 08-11-2018, 11:04 AM   #10
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RV BOOT CAMP. Find one and attend. You can thank me later.


Escapees RV Club, FMCA, RVSEF, RV~Dreams (and I expect others) offer this VALUABLE training. JUST DO IT!
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Old 08-11-2018, 11:08 AM   #11
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"How your Dad set up flags to pull through to learn to parallel park?"


Dad was supposed to put up flags??????
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Old 08-11-2018, 11:10 AM   #12
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We're in our third year with our 27' International, buying it without ever towing much of anything. Intimidating for sure. I worried every foot of a longer trailer will make a difference, and thus wondered if a 25' would be easier than a 27'. We are very glad we bought the 27' and I have no doubt backing that is any different than the 25'.

We use and highly recommend using the radios, and our terminology is based on driver's side and passenger side. At one point early on, and like you, I was looking for an app simulating backing a trailer using a steering wheel. Nothing found.

We bought a F150 new just before buying the trailer, and it has the Pro Backup Assist package which is really cool, though at times (I think it depends on where the sun reflection is off the propane tank cover), it fails to 'connect'. Meaning, I resort to manually backing it using the hand on the bottom of the steering wheel trick. The hardest part is to know when to 'follow the trailer' around. It is too easy to keep turning the trailer so at some point I have to go ahead as I didn't correct the steering wheel so the trailer went straight back in, instead of a mild jack knifing. This will take more practice. I keep an eye on others backing their trailers around in campgrounds to watch how they do it, with an eye on their front wheels being key. They know when to follow the trailer around for that perfect alignment.

Enjoy your 'new' home!
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Old 08-11-2018, 11:15 AM   #13
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The 'scoop' maneuver sounds promising and I will try it. However, as a solo traveler, I disagree with him that you need 2 people to back in. What I do have to do is get in and out of the truck every couple of feet to see where I'm at as I'm backing in.
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Old 08-11-2018, 11:19 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mollysdad View Post
Long trailers are easier to back than short ones. They don't jackknife as easily.
Go slow, don't let it get too far off course before correcting. Don't be shy of pulling forward again. If you think it's off course, it's probably too late to correct.
Don't be afraid to get out and look. Distances are very deceiving in mirrors.

Spotter. This is a can of worms. Mine was more of a watcher. She'd stand where I couldn't see her and then report if I hit something. Save your marriage, work out signals before attempting this.
The signaling aspect you referenced cant be under stated a waving hand often is not enough direction and not always clear to the driver. Thanks
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Old 08-11-2018, 11:27 AM   #15
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Start by taking your car to a parking lot and back it into parking space after parking space. Back around corners to the left and to the right. Use only your mirrors ...... do not turn around to look, except to verify where you are. Practice GOAL .... Get Out And Look. Use a spotter as an extra set of eyes.

Spotter - radio - for some it works great - we don't use them - spotter stays in the mirror and if you can't see the spotter's hand signal, stop until you can. Two simple signals - "stop" or "OK to move" is all you need. GOAL first - develop a path and communicate to your spotter. It is not the spotter's duty to do anything but be your eyes - it is your job to back the trailer where it needs to go.

Now, get a toy .... vehicle and trailer ..... pull it forward, and back it up. Practice until you have a general idea of what is happening and what you need to do.

What do you have now? Anything that will pull a trailer? If not, rent a U-haul pickup and trailer for the day.

First, get a low stake bed trailer that has sides you can see over. Then go to a box trailer that you can not see around.

Practice, practice, practice ......

If you have a towing or commercial driving school in your area. Sign up and take a class.

Good luck - Pat
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Old 08-11-2018, 11:40 AM   #16
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We just purchased a 30' FC 2018 in April and had never towed or backed up anything that long. I remember going to our first campground by Mt. Rainier and had the option to get a pull through site or a back in site. The owners, a really nice couple with years of towing experience said 'You have to learn sometime and suggested the backup site'. We took their advice and after maybe 15 times of pulling forward and backing up, pulling forward and backing up I got it.

Don't worry about what other people are going to think if you have to adjust multiple times. Definitely have a spotter and agree on 'driver' side 'passenger' side as opposed to left and right for signals. You'll get it, it just takes some time, patience and practice. Also be sure to get out multiple time if you need to and asses the area you're backing into.

Have fun camping!
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Old 08-11-2018, 01:44 PM   #17
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Thumbs up

I've shared this one before. Before you start backing up be sure the person spotting and you agree on how to direct, to where you want to go and the signal for stop. THEN tell them you love them. Works for any two spotters.
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Old 08-11-2018, 01:54 PM   #18
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I agree with the practice environment suggestions .I learned by backing a boat trailer around a warehouse on a weekend when it was quiet. A parking lot also works. A $10 set of cones to practice the left vs right precision turn is also good but the warehouse is best as it has it all.

Taught my 16 year old the same way.
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Old 08-11-2018, 03:53 PM   #19
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To summurize:
1. Intstall a review camera. Some have a one way sound feature.
2. Buy 6 mini-traffic cones. Place 3 or 4 down the roadside path you desire. Use the others as stop marks.
3. Get a spotter.
4. Use two way hand held radios.
5. Before backing get out and survey the direction of the parking for obstructions, especially above your intended path.
6. Although it may sound like overkill, use all the above aids. It is much cheaper that way. Don't ask!
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Old 08-11-2018, 10:12 PM   #20
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Wow! You are all wonderful people! Thank you for all your constructive responses.

We love LoLoHo and have been follow them and many other YouTubers for years. We've rewatched their "backing up" videos and many others too, so we're good for the theory.

Actual real-world practice is what we're doing tomorrow! There's a giant empty parking lot near us that we will be using, so we have that covered.

However, I am very surprised no one knows of a simulator where I can practice the basics, quickly, repeatedly and perfectly safely. I also couldn't find anything good on the internet. I'm truly surprised. I might have to create one myself!

Real practice tomorrow though
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