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Post Info TOPIC: Backing Up


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Backing Up


All the posts with hints & tips about backing up (especially into campground spaces) talk about working with your spouse/partner.

Well, since we travel solo there isn't someone to guide us from the back. I realize that backup cameras help but how do you do it?

I've thought, especially while learning, that I might ask someone to be my guide before backing up. Has anyone done that? Would it be rude or obnoxious? Would you help someone this way?

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Donna & Stu (& Sadie, too)
2 Taking a 5th ~ Sadie Speaks ~ Fire Lily ~ ToadilyPets



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We aren't on the road yet but either of us would help someone who asked for help.  My parents are on the road and my dad has had the people in the office come and ask him to help someone unhook ( a young couple who were on the first trip and had not been able to unhook from the truck since they left).  If you asked when you check in the park may have a person who could help.    Anna



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That's a great thought, Anna! Thanks!!

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Donna & Stu (& Sadie, too)
2 Taking a 5th ~ Sadie Speaks ~ Fire Lily ~ ToadilyPets

Roz


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Hi there D. Froggi!

As often as not, I find myself backing in sans assistance.  I go some places without my better 7/8ths, or for some reason or another she is driving the toad that has already been disconnected.  I found a solution for me.

I realize I am driving a MH and you and others pull your house.  What I do will work for either if you simply take your time and watch closely.

When approaching the sight, I stop and walk the sight to determine the "sweet spot" I wish to occupy.  If it is daylight, I mark my "driveway" with yellow tennis balls.  If it is dark, I use small red strobe lights like on an airport runway.

Yes, I have a backup camera and strong "docking lights" on both sides of the MH.  Also, with luck, my MH will not bend in the middle like those,such as yourself, that are towing.

Do not get me wrong, it is always better to have someone directing you in, but, as you have said, this may or may not always be the case.  When I take my time, this method has worked well, and there are scratches or dents to date.

Have a great Frog Day!

Charles


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Great tips - exactly what I was looking for. I've got some of those bright orange soccer cones...that should work for daytime use. Guess they won't go in the yard sale now...LOL!

Thank you!!

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2 Taking a 5th ~ Sadie Speaks ~ Fire Lily ~ ToadilyPets



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I've read where some folks keep a couple of strands of rope lights handy for this very thing.  They stop before backing, plug the strands into the electric pole and proceed to park.

The orange cones are a great idea too.

Good luck with it.

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I've got rope lights (well, at least one set) so that definitely helps in the night (which I HOPE I never have to do...<g>).

Such great tips....thanks!!!!

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2 Taking a 5th ~ Sadie Speaks ~ Fire Lily ~ ToadilyPets



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Hi Froggi, If you do decide to have a back up camera installed, here's a good trick to help you judge where the back of the MH is. First get some stick on pin stripe tape, or just cut some piece's of any kind of tape about five inches long. Then get a friend to help you with a tape measure to locate the back edges of the MH. While you are in the drivers seat, with the camera on, have your friend stand at the back right edge of your MH, now attach a piece of tape on the video screen vertical in line with your friend. Then do the same on the left side. Then have your friend pull out the tape measure about thirty feet, then lay it on the ground. Now have your friend stand at each ten foot mark on the tape and put a piece of tape on the screen at each mark horizonatlly. I hope this helps, also have a couple small two way radio's for those times when you do have someone to help. BTW Good Luck On The House, Ours is for sale also, Can't Hardly Stand The Wait. Gummy

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WOW! I would never have thought of that, Gummy. Thank you!!!

Hoping BOTH our houses (and anyone else waiting) sell soon....thought mine was, sigh....

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Donna & Stu (& Sadie, too)
2 Taking a 5th ~ Sadie Speaks ~ Fire Lily ~ ToadilyPets



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Froggi,
We're backing up a fifth wheel, but these might help you as well (at least in the daylight).
We use the orange lynx levelers to put under the tires once we get into the desired positioned in the site anyway, so we just throw out a few along the right and left edges to guide us into our spot.
Note: I do have a backup camera on the back of the fiver, but would rather rely on my spotter using the handheld radio.
Best of luck on your house sale.  Hang in there.  Another buyer will come along.
We will be doing the same house "dance" next spring.

Steve

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Thanks, Steve!!

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Donna & Stu (& Sadie, too)
2 Taking a 5th ~ Sadie Speaks ~ Fire Lily ~ ToadilyPets



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Thanks everyone, these are all some great ideas that I never would have thought of.  Will come in real handy for me once I hit the road.  Another Solo Woman wannabe fulltimer in a 30 ft TT. smile

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Welcome to the forum.....hope you'll post an intro in that thread (and ignore me if you already have...I've got a ton of threads yet to read...LOL!)

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Donna & Stu (& Sadie, too)
2 Taking a 5th ~ Sadie Speaks ~ Fire Lily ~ ToadilyPets



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I agree with the poster above, about marking your site, especially when you first start backing a 5er if you have any concerns or problems backing one. I've never marked a site, I just found out that if you go slow and pay attention you'll get it in the space. I've also found out since I'm solo, that I do better without any help. People have the tendancy to think they are helping you and they actually make it worse (just from what I've seen). I do perfectly fine doing it by myself. Get out and check and get back in and move a little, and get out and check again, and double check and back it in and its done. I basically tell folks "nicely" that I don't need any help and hopefully they will go away so I can concentrate on what I'm doing smile.gif

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I'm feeling kinda like the Little Engine That Could.....<g>

 



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Donna & Stu (& Sadie, too)
2 Taking a 5th ~ Sadie Speaks ~ Fire Lily ~ ToadilyPets



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So far I have avoided the problem by always requesting pull-thru sites. I realize that this is not a practical solution as:
1) Many nice campgrounds have no--or at least a very limited number of--pull-thru sites.
2) My experience to date is that the back-in sites tend to be the nicer, more scenic, and more private sites. The pull-thru sites tend to be clustered together in the center of the park with little or no landscaping.
On the other hand there are factors to keep in mind about what I just said:
1) Campgrounds with only back-in sites tend to handle only smaller rigs. Many back-in sites just will not handle 36' and larger units--but that doesn't mean that some campground office attendants won't try to put you into one (more then once I have had to return to the office and demand a new site). You certainly will need to shed the toad before parking the rig and may in fact lack room to park it with your rig during your stay.
2) Landscaping (which I value highly in a campsite) can be a scurge for those of us sporting a satellite dish for TV and Internet mounted to the rig. I know my system balks at locking into a system if there is even one tree--in any direction--within a hundred yards.
Having said all of this, I must add that I have never yet been in a campground where I am not certain that office personnel would not readily be willing to help you back-in. If, however, you do chose to seek help from fellow campers be sure your umbrella liability insurance payments are up-to-date.


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If at all possible I always would set up for a 'see' side (driver's side) back.  And then I would set a target, or pick a point to 'hit' with the near corner of the trailer (5th wheel). Ultimately whether solo or with a spouse, the driver is alone at the wheel, and even if someone is trying to help with spotting, you have to hit that mark.
& for those times that you 'lose' the picture of where the rig is going, stopping, setting the brake and taking a walk to see where things are going or not going, is always a useful tool.



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Ned


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Avoiding learning how to back up is not an answer, if you are in a situtation for example on a highway due to traffic accident or whatever you should learn how to back up your rig when hooked up. I just cannot imagine driving one if you cannot back the rig.nojmo   
DH says he finds that a easy way is to keep only one hand on the wheel(at the bottom of your steering wheel like at 6:30 on a clock) and simply turn rig to left or right, after you have pulled far enough ahead, then back into campsite.
southwestjudy


-- Edited by Judy at 13:02, 2009-02-08

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One thing that I would like to add here is embarrassment! Some guys try to whip into a spot to show everyone that they are "The Man"...this is to avoid embarrassment. You see us guys like to have everyone think that we are good at everything so when it comes to backing up we want to just swing that rig in there and "Getter Done". But in reality we usually get so out of whack we look like a goober. Now the answer to that problem is take your time and don't worry if it takes several moves to make it...it is better than getting so racked it takes a tow truck to get you straightened out. Just remember we can't all back in like....
The Rubber Duck....come back

Speedy

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Speedy you got it right. Most guys hate to show they have issues with backing. As a consequence they often try too hard.

I just pulled into Retama Village this week. On our street we have 90* backins with only a 10' path to hit, with landscaping on both sides. It is tight by any measure. Took me three tries this time - although I have hit it first time every other time. And I know how to back pretty well (he says smugly....:))

My point is, everyone has bad days. Don't sweat it. Take your time. Practice. And if in doubt, get out and look. My tractor has a decal on the drivers outside mirror. It says: G.O.A.L - Get Out And Look, before backing. Good advice in ALL situations.

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In another life I went to truck driving school back in the late eighties. They required you to get out of the truck 3 times when backing up to something. Once before you started to back up. Again in the middle, and lastly just before you finished. We were not allowed to look out of the windows either. Only mirrors.

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Backing up is an acquired skill and we just don't practice enough to get consistently good at it. At best you probably back up no more than 50 times a year.

As others have suggested, getting out frequently and walking around the back will really help you improve your skills. It's still a crap shoot though after all this time, sometimes it's one shot and the next it's 4 tries.

But, there's no hurry, is there??

-- Edited by Luvglass at 12:47, 2009-02-15

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Froggi:

I have tried many things in the many years my wife and I have been RVing.  Usually she drives the RV and I direct her.  She follows directions better than me and I give directions better than her so it works for us.  I ave asked for help before but not all RV's back the same so finding some one who knows that a fiver backs different from a bumper pull is iffy at best.

When I park the RV by myself I try to back from the drivers side so that I can see where I am going by looking back out of the window, but there is no substitute for getting out and walking the site to make sure where you are and where you want to be.  Some times I have stopped as much a 10 times or more and walked around the rig.  I don't care who is watching or what they might think of me.  I would rather they see me making sure of where the rig is and where I am going than seeing me hit something!  My rule of thumb is this.  If I have the slightest question in my mind about anything, I sotp and walk the site.  It works for me.  I haven't run over anything yet!  Remember it is always better to walk than get things repaired and wishing you had!

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I can't back up our fifth wheel to save my life.  My husband usually tells me what to do.  Whenever I try to direct my husband (which I'm not good at - except for telling him when he's about to hit something), someone is always willing to help out. 

In most parks we've been to it seems like the event of the day is watching the new people try to back into their sites.  Don't be afraid to ask for help.

Another thought is to go to a school or mall when they're closed and pretend backing into a site (maybe get some orange cones).  They way when you're ready to hit the road you'll probably have a good idea of what to do.

-Colleen

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Backing is not hard if you practice. Some learn it better/faster than others. But learning it is not an option. You need to practice as much as required to learn to back adequately. You don't have to be an expert, but you do need to be competent.

Anyone that is not comfortable backing should take RV driving lessons. I don't suggest most people be taught by a spouse - although I did teach Danielle.

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I like the mall parking lot idea. That is how I taught my wife and kids how to drive and it worked great.

This may not be the correct place to ask this but I have a question. Reading through the forums it seems that there is a difference between backing a bumper pull trailer and a fifth wheel trailer. I have been backing various kinds of farm, boat, and travel trailer bumper pull type trailers since I was about 9 or 10 on the farm and it never occurred to me that backing a fifth wheel would be different. I know when I was pulling a farm trailer with pivoting front wheels it was MUCH more difficult to back. I didn't realize a fifth wheel would be different. What are some of the differences?

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One way to think about backing is to think of a lever and fulcrum.  On a bumber pull the pivot point is sticking out way behind your rear axle so it does not take much movement of the front end to change the point of leverage on the back.  With a fifth wheel the fulcrum point is over the rear axle therefore the center of the truck has to move to change the pivot point to the trailer.  Most people try to turn the steering wheel too much and end up swinging back and forth cranking on the steering wheel.  With a fiver think about the truck following the trailer right into the spot you are trying to hit because that is about how it works.  Make small adjustments and if they do not get the desired results pull up and start over, most people try to correct when it is already too late and the seesawing starts.  Don't be afraid to pull up and try again it is much easier than trying to catch up to your trailer when you have already gone too far.

What I have outlined is also the reason a fifth wheel is safer to tow than a bumper pull.  The bumper pull has much more leverage on your tow vehicle and can start to push you around when you get into a dangerous situation.

Remember to take your time and be safe!

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This thread is two years old but the problem will be around forever. A couple months ago I watched a 5W make a dozen tries to get into a site before succeeding. The site was only 45 degrees and wide enough for almost two rigs. It was even painful just to watch.


Practice does indeed make perfect, but I have one suggestion that will work for all rigs. It’s really important to – on the SITE side of the road -  pull the rig parallel and as close as possible to the edge. Your first turn of the wheel will get the rear end started into the site every time. I can’t tell you how far to pull past the site because every wheel base is different. That will come after one or two successful attempts. The secret of this maneuver is in being able to see the edge of the road in a mirror from the very start and use it as a guide. That won’t happen if the rig is in the center of the road.


I believe there’s only one effective way to use a guide. With a radio and only four seperate words of direction spoken into it. “Right, left, straight, and stop.” All four meant to imply the direction of the rear end of the rig. If those don't work then the next sentence is "Get out and come back here and look."



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I've said this before but I will repeat my caution on the use of a radio.

A radio is a GREAT AID to parking, but JUST an aid. Do not depend on spoken instructions. Use hand signals supplemented by the radio. Radios cut out easily and people talk too long on them and can not be interrupted. Hand signals don't cut out and REQUIRE visibility for use.

Parking "rules":

- Stop if you don't see your parker. Or if the parker is doing anything other than looking at you in the mirror.

- ALWAYS get out and walk the site first. Always.

- If in doubt, stop and get out again. If you loose your perspective get out and walk the site.

- Pull forward far enough to make the initial entry without jacknifing a lot. Not pulling forward far enough is the most common parking mistake.

- No one says it has to be done in "one shot". Pulling forward from time to time to "break the angle" is always helpful.

- the DRIVER is responsible for what is in front of the truck. In your initial walkaround (remember that "get out") make sure there are no obstructions.

- ask the "across the road" neighbor to move their truck if you need the swing room. Don't try to "squeak by".

- never go "lock-to-lock" on your wheels. If you have to do that you are doing something else wrong. Pull forward and start over. (Sometimes expert parkers go lock to lock, but never unless you are expert)

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Also,  the rear corner of your unit and your tires track different when backing, so you want to watch where your tires are not your rear end. Don't feel bad about pulling forward til you get it lined up

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I had to borrow a 20 foot bumper pull flatbed trailer last week to haul some lumber to the sticks and bricks. (almost ready for the market, woo hoo!)

Well when taking the trailer back to it's owner I missed the turn to his house and ended up in a "cul-de-sac" which wasn't. It was a 20' circle of concrete. Now I haven't pulled a trailer with my new-to-me 2001 F-350 crew cab and it's 8 foot bed...it's been years since I pulled ANY kind of trailer. But by using the tips above; taking my time, getting out twice and putting my hand at the bottom of the steering wheel I managed to turn the Queen Mary and this flat bed trailer around and get going in the correct direction. 

Now I know this isn't like pulling a fifth-wheel, or a bumper pull RV....since I had the benefit of being able to see what I was about to crunch into before I did...it showed me a valuable lesson that I NEED TO PRACTICE backing up and turning around with a trailer. Because that's the only way I will EVER get better at it. 

So if I can get out of a 'cul-de-sac' that's not...then that means there is hope for everyone out there!  Keep Practicing! 

She-nist 



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