What fun it is to watch newbies trying to back their trailer into a site. The best one I remember was the wife standing directly behind the trailer, obviously out of sight and hearing of the husband, while she motioned for him to keep coming back, which he did blindly. As he got ever close to a tree, she puts up her hand and says stop, which of course, he could not hear or see. He stopped when he hit the tree and could back no further.
Two things spouses rarely can do together without a fight, one is hanging wallpaper, and the other is backing an RV. Thankfully one of those is is out of style.
Camper Backing can be grounds for a divorce! Just Kidding :-)
Great advice already given. In regards to jack-knifing, it is important to make minor/gentle course corrections. The instant the rig starts to make too much of a move - Stop and pull forward two or three feet, and try again.
In regards to communications, it really is a case of having a spooter there to either keep you from hitting something, or tell you when you are in the right spot. I tend to plant my wife on the site, where she can spot danger, and hopefully be a target (not that kind of target), where I can use her as a reference point. If I can, I put her where I want the back corner of the camper to end up. In regards to communications, STOP works 99% of the time. Since moving up to a travel trailer recently, we discovered that cell phones work great. I have mine on speaker phone in the van so I can talk and listen and drive.
You will get the hang of backing. I have been pulling trailers of all sizes around for over 30 years now. While I have very good instincts, I still have moments where the trailer tries to get the best of me. If it is winning, take a breath, stay calm, pull out of the comical mess you might have gotten into, and try again!
1993 Ford E-350 pushed by a 1988 Wilderness 24' TT
we survive backing into sites because I tell her get out of the way I'll do it myself just holler STOP if I'm going to back into something
no hand signals no radios just one word STOP. So far I haven't had to hear that word yet.
This is what I do too. I get out and check a lot, take my time.
2007 Expedition EL 4x4 Tow pkg
1981 Palomino Pony, the PopUp = PUCampin! (Sold)
2006 Pioneer 180CK = (No more PUcampin!)
I would imagine the most "sucking" is you. The following information might help.
1. Get close to the side of road the back-in site is on, and pull forward so that the back of trailer is slightly beyond the pad. You can see your side of trailer. Your wife needs to watch other side for trees, etc.
2. For directions I have my wife say "right" meaning trailer moves right when backing up. The other direction is left (or your "other right. Stupid!" from your old drill instructor).
3. To move the trailer to the right, start by turning the steering wheel to the right. Move back slowly and stop about 1/3 way on pivot right. Now turn the steering wheel to the left about 1/2 way and continue backing up SLOWLY. If the trailer seems to be going to far right, turn the steering-wheel more left to stop the pivot. Steering-wheel turned right slowly toward neutral stops turning to back up straight. You can put transmission in park and get out to check how you are doing so far. Do this after each part of motions above (every 5 feet or so, as needed).
4. If you need to pull forward just turn the steering slightly in direction to straighten truck & trailer out. Move across loop road until pickup is near opposite side.
5. Now start following directions in #3 on how to pivot needed direction.
The biggest problem is that new people to towing do not understand to crank the steering wheel right to have the rear of trailer move right when backing. Once you learn the procedure starting the steering wheel to right and cranking the wheel to left (after first 5 to 10 feet) and then cranking back right to neutral while moving slowly will get you in in one try.
If backing into a site to your right, all directions are oposite of above.
Mark & Jan "Old age & treachery win over youth & enthusiasm"
2003 Fleetwood Jamboree 29
We recently went from an 18ft TT to a 32ft TT and the difference is amazing. The short trailer was very tricky and seemed to be more difficult to correct and less predictable. The 32ft isn't as "touchy" and I don't overcorrect like I did with the short one. I use my 14hr old son to watch for placement on the pad and objects--wife gets too frustrated.
What works for me is to turn my head, It feels instinctual that way. If I try to look at the mirrors and pay attention to which way I'm turning the wheel the whole process is much more difficult for me.
2012 Evergreen Everlite 32RBK-DS
2011 Toyota Tundra 5.7 Rock Warrior
Another trick is to put your hands at the bottom of the steering wheel - 6 o'clock. When you move your hands to the right, the trailer moves to the right. Left goes left. It may sound simple, but it works, even after 30 years!
It is always so crazy to watch husband and wife teams backing up a trailer. Sometimes they scream and holler at each other and sometimes is is smooth like butter. My wife and I used to back our 30' trailer into a really tight storage spot. I tow a lot of trailers and can back up fine, but that spot was TINY. The best advice I can give you is use a radio or your cell phone. Hand signals can get very confusing and you can't always see the other person. We use our cell phones and my wife can give me pretty specific directions when needed. Plus, we don't fight because there is no confusion!
We just traded our trailer for a fifth wheel and backing that thing up is a whole other ballgame. It feels like we are back to the beginning learning how to work together to get it in a spot.
When you go camping though, PLEASE - both of you agree to have patience. You are working TOGETHER to get it in there and you WILL be able to do it. It is no fun to start a camping trip out by fighting while backing your trailer.
Walkie talkies work for us or a phone, our truck has Bluetooth so I can talk to her and listen hands free.
Next I let her do all the directing all I do is drive. She tells me to cut I cut. and instead of using left and right she will tell me to swing the back end to the driver or passenger side. All I watch is the front of the truck and make sure I don’t swing it into any trees or campsite posts.
Go to a parking lot and set up some cones and practice a bit. We also went to state forest during the week and practiced getting in to about 10 sites and some were really tight. I never towed anything as big as our 33 footer before so I was a total rookie. Just make sure he only listens to you and does not do his own thing.
For me the best helper is no one! it is actually easier for me by myself than with someone yelling directions from the rear of the trailer. the longer the trailer the easierit is to back, you should`ve went right to a 30 ftr from the beginning LOL! the only time I had someone try and guide me I knocked the head off the water hookup! never again!
Have you or your husband go to a parking lot and practice backing in between the yellow lines at various angles. practice helps. it gets easier!
Son Brandon 11yrs
Daughter Marissa 10yrs
07 Cherokee 32B
02 Excursion 4X4 V-10 4.30 gear 5Star tuner Y-pipe mod Hellwig sway bar
Reese HP dualcam Prodigy brake controller
A bad day of camping is
better than a good day at work!
We have two TTs, a 31 ft and a 17 ft. I can back both perfectly in OUR DRIVEWAY every time because I know where everything is and because I've done it so many times. Other places it's a******shoot because every spot is different in many ways. Oddly enough, I can put the 17 ft in place easier than the 31 ft. Maybe it's because it reacts faster to input. As has been said, bottom of the steering wheel turned in the direction you want the back of the trailer to go and TAKE YOUR TIME. DW's brother was a trucker and he could put our trailer exactly where we wanted it but he did it very slowly and would pull forward before too much correction was needed. I sometimes forget that. Eventually we all (at least most of us) learn.
2009 Chevrolet Silverado LTZ 1500 4x4 5.3L
2011 Kodiak 281RLGS travel trailer
2011 Egg Camper
2010 Chrysler Town & Country
Good Sam life members
Bob & Grace professional retirees