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Open Roads Forum  >  Fifth-Wheels

 > Learning to tow?

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portablevcb

Tijeras, NM

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Posted: 06/12/12 08:12pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I wish I could find the web site that had a lot of good info on backing a semi-trailer.

Biggest is GOAL, get out and look. Even after many years backing trailers I still stop and get out several times when backing into a new spot. And, I usually pull it forward a couple times to make sure I set it right.

Practice in an empty parking lot. Take a couple of cones (I used my 'lego' blocks) to mark obstacles.

The big 'ah ha' moment for me was watching how a semi-driver set up his rig to back it in. Set the position and angle going forward, then back it. Make a small movement, then 'chase' the trailer.


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Cummins12V98

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Posted: 06/12/12 08:24pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Place a couple 2x4's end to end and practice backing in paralell to them. It helps with the "what the hell was that guy drunk when he parked, he is so crooked in his space"!


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shagan77

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Posted: 06/12/12 10:10pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

X2 to all the above. Only one additional comment. We purchased a set of decent walkie talkies so my wife can talk to me (without shouting or relying on hand signals). She can speak quietly, tell me which way to swing, when I'm getting close to things and when to pull forward and try again. I pulled a variety of boat trailers and fivers are a whole different game. Far easier! I've backed into a reverse angle spot at a state park with huge oak trees n the corner of the drive. Slow and steady, it's amazing how far you can swing that long bed truck!!!

Welcome to fiver towing!


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1camperman

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Posted: 06/13/12 01:22pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I am going to start my 2nd year of camping and backing up the camper is what I am most nervous about! I need to get my wife to cooperate and give me signals!!!! She was lazy last year and didn't want to do anything with her hands. I think I've solved that.
My worst memory from last year was I was starting to back into our spot and about 4 or 5 people all of the sudden showed up and started shouting out instructions all at once!! I was ready to explode!

Cummins12V98

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Posted: 06/13/12 01:31pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

1camperman wrote:

I am going to start my 2nd year of camping and backing up the camper is what I am most nervous about! I need to get my wife to cooperate and give me signals!!!! She was lazy last year and didn't want to do anything with her hands. I think I've solved that.
My worst memory from last year was I was starting to back into our spot and about 4 or 5 people all of the sudden showed up and started shouting out instructions all at once!! I was ready to explode!


That is when you turn off the truck get out and ask everyone to leave and let you and your wife do your thing. Set up and tear down get in a set way to do things and double check each other with NO OUTSIDE DISTRACTIONS and you should not have any problems. Work out hand signals before hand. Walkie talkies are good also.
An older guy came over to help my wife backing me in and sne said "sir could you please leave us alone while we are setting up?. He never talked to us for the week we camped next to him and when we left we waved to him and he did not wave back, oh well!

JohnBoyToo

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Posted: 06/13/12 03:20pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

TeeHee - what do you expect ?!?

My wife always tells me:
It's not what you say, but how you say it !

I had a very helpful guy come over while backing in and setting up camp - so much so I bumped him when doing the sewer connections !!!
knowing how my "process" is, I told him I appreciated his help and gave him a job away from me doing something that didn't matter !!!!

The wife and I had a laugh over that one
and they are actually good friends now and we all laugh about it...

five'er

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Posted: 06/18/12 09:18am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I was an otr driver for a while.. Also spent a year prior as a shunt driver moving hundreds of trailers around, often parked inches from each other. Here is my advice to a happy experience when backing into your campspot..

Remember the one who is driving is the one in control and is responsable for the position of the trailer. That same person should be capable of knowing which way to turn to make the trailer go where it needs to go. The person in behind IF there is one should be there ONLY to tell you if you are about to hit something. When you arrive.. Park, put on the 4 ways.. walk the site and discuss with your other where you want it.. Then decide if a spotter is needed (it never hurts) once you decide where you want it to sit have the spotter watch, stop other traffic and/or warn you if you are going to hit something. A spotter is just that (an observer), not a co-pilot.. Just someone who is watching for trouble. If you take take that approach you will no longer have that back and forth banter. My DW will only get out if it's dark and I can't see the rear or the trailer, her role is only to tell me if I am about to hit something I can't see. Otherwise, she either holds the kids and dogs or sits tight beside me. The posters suggeston that they were in class with people screaming instructions was to condition them to do what they needed too.. That is, ignore the instruction, drive the vehicle and listen only for signs of danger.

schlep1967

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Posted: 06/26/12 01:06pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

You already have the hard part down. You know how to back a trailer. Now you just need to learn the characteristics of this trailer. Set-up is everything. Never start a sharp angle if you can get straighter. I had a friend that was always having problems parking his trailer. One day he was pulling in next to us and I saw why. With a lot of room he pulled past the site turned his wheel right then left to get the trailer angled toward the site. Great so far. But he kept turning left until he was almost at 90 degrees to the trailer then stopped and went for reverse. At that point I went over and said now I see why you have such a hard time. Without turning his wheel I had him back up 15 feet and stop. At that point I told him to pull forward and turn right. 15 feet later he was set up almost straight to back in. As soon as he saw that it was like a light bulb went on.
I also worked moving trailers at a trucking company. Experience is the only way to learn. Even though I have lots of experience I am still very carefull when picking places to stop when traveling. Figure out about where you will be for lunch then look at aerial pics on the internet to see parking lots that are truck/RV friendly. The easiest way out of a jam is to not get in it in the first place.


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richfaa

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Posted: 06/26/12 02:52pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

ependydad wrote:

My history is that I got a job with a kayaking company and was thrown into a so-called "trailer training" where you had to back a trailer into a parking space while 5-6 people shouted instructions through the window. I worked that for a couple of years - got OK with backing the trailer into it's parking spot (same spot, same approach, always). After that, I bought a pop-up and towed it a bit last year for 10 trips and about 1,500 miles.

This year, we've bought a dually and have ordered a 41' fifth wheel. I'm a little nervous and am starting to wonder how can I learn to tow/park this thing without actually having ownership of it yet AND before I get out to the wild road with it where there are real obstacles.


( truth is you can't till you have it.large parking lot some of those traffic cones and a lot of practice. It will come to you.
Good idea to get a accurate measurment of length so you will know what you have to park.Measure the height also for future reference.

Set up the cones and do right turns, left turns till you can do it and miss them by 6 inches.
Set up the cones and practice backing. It will take some time but you will learn quickly. On the initial ride home make WIDE turns till you get the hang of it. Go slow, be carefull, pay attention.You will be a pro in no time at all.)

I've looked at the RV driving schools, but none of them are conveniently located to me. I've kicked around just going to truck driving school but not actually testing for my CDL. Just go through the classes + hands-on portions. OR.. just going to pick this thing up (100 miles away) when it comes in and making the best of it with some parking lot time.



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LostinAZ

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Posted: 06/26/12 03:22pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

You will find that only first hand experience will train you. A 5th wheel is slightly less responsive to the tow vehicles movements compared to a Travel Trailer or equipment trailer. My DW is close to worthless helping me back into a tight spot. I finally have come to a compromise with her. I ask her to only warn me if I'm going to run into something, otherwise don't signal or talk. That works for us. You will find out what works for you and yours.

* This post was edited 06/27/12 08:41am by LostinAZ *

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