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Post Info TOPIC: parking a 5th wheel


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parking a 5th wheel
 


Any words of wisdom out there on backing a 36' 5th wheel into a camp site? Weve done fairly well backing to the right, but were practicing at park last week (it was almost empty so a good time to just practice) we both tried for about 2 hour to get the dang thing into a left back in space and never could get it.  I know our problem is the pivit point, at what point do you start the turn?  We both almost got it, but could not get it to straighten out without getting to close to the grass, and don't want to damage anything.  Also how far from the road edge do you start?  Middle, closs to the edgeyou are cacking into or the other side of road.

I know it will come with lots of practice, but we were sure frustrated that day.  We just pray for a pull through, and that won't get us the practice we need.

Thanks for any words of wisdom,  Ann

 



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A parking lot with cones..........using the normal lanes in the back of a mall or shopping area might help alot without causing damage....except to the cones of course!!


also using cones will help on a normal site to help you judge safe distance from hitting things......

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First, just want to say we are not in any way perfect in doing this.  We have a 40 foot 5th wheel and have been doing full timeing since August 4, 2012.  So we are newbies too.

We went to the Harrisburg Oregon RV-Dreams Rally last September and Linda Pain gave me a simple tip.  She said it would change my life and it did.   We were just 6 weeks on the road but had stayed in around 20 camp grounds and traveled 2200 miles.  We had never had an RV before let alone a 40 foot 5th wheel.  The back in was to my left (doesn't matter for this) and I did my usual and pulled just past the back in all the way to the oposit side of the road.  Linda came to my window and told me to trust her and pull as close to the side of the raod as the back in was.  Also, pull till the end of the 5th wheel was just past the entrance to the back in site was, then start my back in routine.   The back in routine still takes practice and I am still working on fine tuning it.  This tip however moved me forward by light years.  The basic idea is that this gives you the most mobility with the truck.  I am no longer afraid of back ins!  

 

Hope this helps and good luck!

 

Mark and Patty



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Mark & Patty, We too were at the RV Dreams rally. We were in the Sprinter van. Thanks for the tip, I think your saying to start as close to the edge of the road as the spot you are going into so you have more room in the road to move. Left slot- left side of road, right slot-right side of road.

It was at River Bend that we were practicing. We laying over waiting to get in and get solar put on.
Thanks, Ann

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Best if you can make sort of an S maneuver as you approach and go by the campsite, so the butt end of the trailer is already pointing toward the spot. Then take everything very slow and get the trailer turning on the right path, visualize the arc you need. Look at the trailer wheels, the arc they follow is where the trailer will end up. It helps me if my wife stands exactly where I want the rear corner of the trailer to end up , that way I see the path the trailer needs to follow and can do minor corrections on the way.

The S maneuver thing won't work that well if the road is narrow as it may get the truck too far over to the other side. In case of really narrow roads and tight 90 degree sites sometimes you have to really crank it and jack knife the trailer and follow it in. Hate to do that though it's hard on the tires and suspension.

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rkm


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Some good tips here and Linda is correct.... stay close to the edge to start your initial setup.

If I may offer what helps me and just realize each driver is different.  As you slowly pass your site, watch the rear axle of the trailer, as it reaches the center of the spot crank hard right (assuming site is on left), as the trailer tail end is beginning to point at your spot, crank a short left and try to end up as straight with the spot as possible. As you back slowly, don't over steer. Follow the trailer in and if you have a partner.....use that partner, and get your signals down before hand.

 I heard of a single guy that uses a length of rope in the camp spot to use as a guide for his trailer edge to line up with. Haven't tried it but it sounds as if it would work. Be careful, don't get frustrated, have fun.

Good luck hope this helps

rkm



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RKM's "wheel guide" is a good idea.  Where we are parked now, to make things work best, I need to be able to back our fifth wheel as close as possible to the same spot.  Towards that end, I have a strip of barn stall matt about 6' long that I roll the driver's side wheels up on and it puts me right in there.  So, I can see how the stretched-out rope would serve as a guide while backing.

Another thought for when practicing driving and backing, look for a large church parking lot and ask the folks there if you could use the lot for practice.  For the most part, those places won't be busy except on Sundays.

Terry



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Terry, is the church lot for forgiveness of some of the backing up language... 



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no Oh my gosh, we were there too, but Linda must have been holding out on us, cuz we never heard that tip! : )

We just used our glasses, cell phone and remote control to practice and it makes so much sense!! Eye glass ear pieces laid on table was parking space, cell was truck and remote was trailer - worked every time! biggrin

Cant wait to try it in real life!

Sherry & Jesse

 



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To simplify steering, place your hand on the bottom of the steering wheel. When on the bottom, the trailer goes the direction you move the wheel.

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I have found that backing in is all about taking your time, taking a deep breath and not over steering, over correcting or making moves too quickly. Whatever side we are backing into, the tip about getting as close to the side of the back in is right on the mark. I always have the back of the trailer start at the edge of the spot. Once you get the trailer/ truck to crack it's spine at the hitch the key is not to over steer or jack knife the trailer. When your trailer wheels start to enter the site as it turns you need to ge the truck to follow by turning the wheels in the same direction that the trailer is now turning. you may still need to turn opposite to force the trailer end over but you still have to have the truck to follow the trailer back. It is all practice and feel and will change with each campsite or whether you maybe going up hill or down hill. Make sure your navigator stays in your line of sight. Don't be embarrased to have to either get out of the truck to see where you are or to have to pull out and start again. The best pro truckers do the same knowing that they do not want to waste time trying to force a trailer into a spot that they cannot make.

Good Luck and keep up the practice!

Les

 



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Some years back I was lead to the site by a campground staffer.  He came up to the my window and said do everything I tell you and you'll be right in.  I thought to myself "Yeah right. You and a million others have said that."  He told me that he was going to say only four things which where related to the rear end of the rig.  Left, right, stop turn, straight, and stop.  After that it would be a number associated with how far straight back I should go. IE.  10 feet, 4 feet, etc.   Worked like a charm and wife and I have been using it ever since.



-- Edited by TXRVr on Wednesday 10th of April 2013 07:08:56 AM

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like that method......add the hand to the bottom of wheel and in you go!!


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I hope all of you guys are close by when we have to learn!!!


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We trust each others directions as they come in over the radio and go slow watching for tree limbs, road barriers and utilities as we back in.  We are not embarrassed to pull up and straighten out a few times because many sites aren't even straight so you may need to adjust even when you did everything right.  Our most exciting experience was getting on and off ferries in Alaska.  You need to have some faith to follow directions of the ferrymen who put you as close to the wall and water as possible to get the most vehicles on board.  The parking lot practice helped a lot with the radios we learned what communication was necesary.  Move to the right doesn't help.  Our frame of reference is always the back of the 5th wheel to the drivers side or the passenger side. 

 

After some practice you almost always get in without to much problem but everyone runs into a hard place to park once in a while.

 

Safe Travels,

Larry and Jacki



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A couple of thoughts on backing.  First I don't like to listen to anyone else unless I ask for their help.  If they misdirect you and you crunch a corner of your rig I am sure they are not going to help pay for the damage.  If I think I can't see from the TV I get out and look maybe several times.  Second, like someone else said, don't be afraid to pull up and get straight.  Once you start see sawing back and forth you will never catch up, keep the trailer going the direction you want it to go.  It is much easier to pull up a little to get the right angle than to fight the steering wheel.  You will continue to get better the more you practice.  Good luck and Happy Camping!



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Commercial trucking has a key word for backing... GOAL. It stands for Get Out And Look. I have seen situations where you need to get out and look every three feet or less until you are positioned where you want to be. Just make sure you set the brakes when you leave the wheelhouse. If you think it's embarrassing not to be super-backer, see how red your face gets when your rig starts moving as you walk to the back of it! :) A couple of rules to make it easy are; 1) Minimize the amount you have to turn the trailer. It is more difficult to back in at 90 degrees than it is to bend just 30 degrees. 2) Try to avoid blind side backs. It is difficult or impossible in some situations but keep it in mind.

3) Have a method. For example, if you needed to do a 90 back into a slot, know
- where your rear trailer wheel needs to be in relation to that slot. For example,

- 5 feet from the curb and ten feet from the point that intersects with the line where you want your wheel right side wheels to end up. Stop.
- turn your wheels all the way to the right till they wont turn any more.
- Back the truck up until, when looking in the mirror, the side of the bed lines up with the center of your generator door. Stop.
- Turn your wheels all the way to the left until they wont turn anymore.
- Back up until the trailer and truck are straight and follow the trailer in.

You will have to make your own stop points, etc. But the key to this method is to turn your wheels all the way to the lock, identify specific markers on your vehicle that never change and do not take your steering wheel off the lock position while the vehicle is moving. It takes several, many, alot of tries in an empty parking lot to determine what those points are.

-Get some sidewalk chalk in the toy department to mark your wheel positions.
-Find a straight painted line and line the rig up with that.
-Mark the location of your rear trailer wheel
-Turn your steers all the way right.
-Back up till the trailer and truck combination is bent 35 to 45 degrees. Stop.
-Look in your mirror or lean out the window and look for something on the front of the trailer to use as a marker. Temporarily put a chalk mark in your trailer if you need to.
-Turn your wheels all the way to the left and back up until the truck and trailer are nearly straight. Now comes the heavy math. You want to be 90 degrees from your starting point. If you are, put out the slides and awning and have a celebratory beer.
- If you are less than 90 degrees, move the chalk mark on your trailer toward the passengers side two inches and do it again... starting from as close to the same place you started as possible.
- If you are greater than 90 degrees, move the chalk mark a couple of inches toward the drivers side and do it again... starting from as close to the same place you started as possible.

Now, once you get this worked out and practiced, here's what you do. Be sure there are witnesses in the area. You pull up to your parking space and position your rear trailer wheels right where you want them, just like you practiced. You stop, set your brakes and exit the vehicle. Walk to the back of the trailer and carefully inspect where you are backing into. Pay no attention to the people who are casually watching you. Pick up something light that would blow in the wind, a bird feather, a few blades of grass, some sand. Slowly walk to the center of the parking space still sizing up your situation. Stop, look around, then hold your hand out, fingers down and slowly drop the grass or sand to see which way the wind blows it. Look confident and walk back to your rig, release the brakes, put it in reverse and drop it into the parking space in one shot. You need to formulate your answer in advance because one of the on-lookers will ask.



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TThanks for all the great advice. Tomorrow we wseeill wweemove and have a back in space. We'll see how well we do.
Ann

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I agree with MarkS. Even though my wife is very capable of guiding me, I always get out and look (GOAL) at where the rig is, where I want it to be and any obstacles that I may not see while beind the wheel. That way I am visualizing where the trailer should be going as my wife guides me through the process. After many years, we are finally comfortable with it and do not worry when it comes time to back-in.

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At our workamping gig here in CA, one of our jobs is to supervise the backing in of rigs. Fifth wheels are always the toughest. Tougher even more is to get people to listen to us. We tell them to trust what we say..and we use the exact method Linda P does. Always use the bottom of the steering wheel to turn. Works every time, if they listen :) Once they are in, we make them get out, take a look at where they are on the pad, and adjust if necessary. Of course we use the same method when backing our own fifth-wheel in.

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Too folks who use radios. one word of caution. Have a system in place that will avoid running over your partner. We prefer hand signals and seeing the other in the mirror before moving the trailer.

With radios, you wouldn't want the person to trip over something and fall behind the trailer, losing the radio and then getting backed over.

Ray

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Raytronx wrote:

Too folks who use radios. one word of caution. Have a system in place that will avoid running over your partner. We prefer hand signals and seeing the other in the mirror before moving the trailer.

With radios, you wouldn't want the person to trip over something and fall behind the trailer, losing the radio and then getting backed over.

Ray


 

Ray,

Thanks for the reminder of that.  In the past, I've forced myself to stop because Jo got out of sight, even though I could hear her.  Plus, I think the driver can react faster to a hand signaling to stop than what would happen for the guide to say stop and then the word to be reacted upon.

Terry



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I didn't care what the park rules were....I had my own method that worked for me and I would ignore all attempts to distract me from doing it that way.Made a couple guys mad but oh well.

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Racerguy - we always ask RVrs if they have their own system, if they do, we stand back and just supervise.

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Every one learns good methods to back into there sites and get better each time they do it......

The ones that worry me and make me grab the chair to sit back and view....are the ones having severe difficulties trying to pull into a paved pull thru site !!!!!!!!!!

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I would never, ever listen to anyone telling me what to do. It annoys me greatly that people attempt to do that. Tell me where you want me to put the trailer, and Danielle will help me get it there. I listen to no one but her.

NEVER use just radios for backing. They cut out or you can not hear them properly. Hand directions - properly given - are always more effective and concise. We use radios, but only for "discussion" topics.....ALL directions are given with hand signals.

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laurly wrote:

Racerguy - we always ask RVrs if they have their own system, if they do, we stand back and just supervise.


 Good Idea......I didn't mind being told for whatever reason that they prefered me to put it in a certain place but liked it when good people like you let me do it my way.



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