Sorry to ask such a silly newbie question. We just purchased a Keystone Cougar 295SAB (yippee!) and this is a big upgrade from our current popup.
Right now it is parked at my mother in laws but we are going to move it to our driveway. We have a super long driveway but the live on a relatively narrow street with cars parked on both sides. Thankfully we have a wide curb part of the driveway and our neighbors across the street have a wide driveway as well. I am still pretty concerned about being able to get it manuvered in so that we can back it up straight along the driveway. The driveway only offers us a few extra feet of clearance on each side between concrete wall and house - neither of which i would like to hit with our new camper.
Does anyone have any videos or advice on how best to pull in a fifth wheel and maneuver it when backing up into narrow spaces. Any youtube videos or physics lessons you would like to offer to help this total newbie
My husband seems pretty confident he can do it but I would like a little knowledge on my side so that when I am directing him I know what the heck I am doing.
Tell him to remember that the wheels pivot and not the back end of the trailer. Also, if he has no room (parked cars, etc.) to swing the truck around to follow the trailer he's not going to be able to do it.
and . . . you should use the search. This topic is discussed about once a month.
Semi-"retarred" in 2006. :-) 2008 Newmar Cypress 5th wheel, 2008 Dodge diesel dually to pull it with.
A few feet is not a tight space.. A few inches is. I'm sure he will be just fine.
My only advice would be to watch the mirrors, Move slow and when in doubt get out and look. Most people don't realize but it actually looks MORE proffesional than not to get out and look at the situation than it does to rush in. If you do a search on the topic here you will find a lot of tips and tricks. It's been discussed in great detail and length.
Set some cones up and try it. Also, you might want to invest in some walkie talkie's so that you can coach him back and see what is behind the trailer and how much room you have left.
We didn't do this the first time we backed into a camping site and my wife was just yelling at me and we backed into a tree. Communication is the key and until you have a few years under your belt. I am still working on mind and using my mirrors and not backing up with turning around in the seat.
When a spotter is new they can cause backing problems if they don't understand how the fiver reacts when backing. My recommendation for newbie drivers and spotters is to have a spotter with a walkie talkie and in the beginning have the spotter not give turning instructions, but to tell the driver if the trailer is heading toward and obstruction and how far away it is. And,to tell the driver to stop if it is obvious the trailer is going to hit something.
My wife is now a seasoned spotter and she can tell me to ease left and right and to straighten out and I know what she means. You sort of become a team after you have done it for a while. But, at first, spotters have learn what to say as well as the driver needs to know how his fiver reacts to his turns on the wheel.
'05' F-250 Power Stroke
'00' 30' Cameo Fifth Wheel
Picked this off a forum years ago and I have lost info on attribution, so apologies to the original author.
Backing a 5er
There are a few tips that make it easier.
Tip 1: Do everything possible to insure that you will be turning on the driver side. Even if it means driving around the campground and up/down a few roads to get yourself turned around. Passenger is your blind side and should be last resort.
Tip 2: You have to learn how long the reaction time is for your trailer to react. Go to a parking lot and practice. Always use your trailers rear axle as the reference point. The reaction time is the time it takes from the time you turn the tow vehicle steering wheel until the time the trailer starts turning.
Tip 3: There are two terms you need to know. Neutral, Jack and Chase. Neutral position is when the tow vehicle steering wheel is at the position where the truck is going in a straight line. When you Jack the trailer you are causing it to turn the opposite direction that the truck is turning. Such as in jack-knife. Chase is when you are trying to straighten out the truck and trailer, thus the term chasing the trailer.
Tip 4: Get out and survey the parking area (with your spotter) for obstructions. Determine where you want the trailer to end up and pick a reference point, which will act as the "edge of the parking area".
Tip 5: Start with the truck and trailer traveling straight. You want the side you are turning into to be about 4' off the curb or edge of the road. When the tow vehicles rear axle is at the far edge of the parking space, cut your truck wheel hard away from the curb. When the truck is about a 45-degree angle to the curb (or as close as you can get given the space you have to use) straighten the wheel back to the neutral position. As soon as the truck has begun going straight, cut the wheel hard in the opposite direction until the truck is again parallel to the curb. STOP. Your trailer is now at a good angle to start backing up.
Tip 6: Jack the trailer until it get to about 15-20 degree angle of the space you are going to park it then start chasing it.
Tip 7: If your running out of space to get the truck & trailer running straight, don't be afraid to pull forward to help straighten it out.
Tip 8: PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE and never backup with out a spotter.
I always have my wife (spotter) standing right next to the truck (rather than at the back) In the angle of the turn. We've already surveyed the area so we know what is where. We've picked our reference point as the point we want to miss. This point is far enough away from the opposite side of the parking area such that I will miss any obstruction. She watches to rear trailer axle and tells me whether to JACK IT or CHASE IT. That is the only thing I need to hear (other than STOP). With those terms I know exactly which way to turn. She is not standing at the back of the trailer flailing her arms yelling LEFT, NO MY LEFT, STRAIGHT, TURN IT THE OTHER WAY…... Nobody can react to those terms.
I will add that walkie talkies help some folks, not all. All I have my DW do is watch for people and objects I cannot see and tell me to STOP, otherwise I am guiding myself. Often I will tell her to just watch one rear corner vs some fixed object that might be out of my line of sight.
Important! I NEVER move the truck and trailer if I cannot see the DW directly or in my mirrors.
Also, don't hesitate to stop and pull forward frequently to straighten things out.
As Brian suggested, find a big empty parking lot to practice in, often a factory on a Sunday afternoon. That will help you gain confidence and learn the idiosyncrasies of your particular rig.
'99 Volvo VNL610 - 425 HP Volvo; Super 10 Spd
'11 smart fortwo on Volvo
'05 Newmar Mountain Aire 35 BLKS
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The thing that "steers" a fifth wheel is lateral movement of the kingpin...the thing that "steers" a travel trailer, boat trailer, etc... Is the lateral movement of the hitch coupler.
Stop for a second and think about where on the vehicle these are attached.
The coupler is attached to a ball on the rear bumper...for every input to the steering wheel...the vehicle pivots...and the is almost instantaneous response..as the ball has lateral movement. This is because the ball is some distance aft if the rear axle... That distance magnifies the desired result...
Not so lucky with a fith wheel...since the kingpin is directly over the rear axle...the vehicle pivoting has no effect. You have to physically move the center of the rear axle...so you need to lead a little more both going into a turn and coming out.
You might get lucky...but if you have a lot of bumper tow experience at backing...this, from my experience, is a humbling experience.
My only advice...of any substance...would be ---
When you get frustrated...and you will...don't yell at your wife. I've found that it doesn't do a bit of good.
You also need good towing mirrors...i noticed it was more difficult to tell which way the fifth wheel is pointing...unless you can see a side of the fifth wheel... So the mirrors need to stick out pretty far to visualize the path of the fifth wheel.
Try to keep the angle between the truck and fifth wheel down to a manageable angle....if it starts getting steep...pull forward and try again.
Parking lot tryouts for sure. Walkie talkies, or hands free cell phone for the driver, so that you can communicate even when he cannot see you. A second spotter would be welcome too, because even the two of you cannot really see everything at once. If the second spotter is an experienced RV'r, even better.