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Backing up a 5th wheel

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  #1  
Old 05-09-2011, 09:58 AM
173abn82's Avatar
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Camper Type: 5th Wheel
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: Newark, N.Y.
Posts: 9
Default Backing up a 5th wheel

I just got a f-350 full size with crew cab, 35' Durango. I am a little scared what I will look like at my first try at this kind of camping. Does anyone what the best way to practice, or is there a site to go to. I tried to practice on my own, but it takes so many tries.
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  #2  
Old 05-09-2011, 11:59 AM
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Camper Type: Motorhome
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Vermont
Posts: 23
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I would ask your Honey to stand behind the unit with a walkie talkie (being visible in your mirror) and watch your backing. A pro semi driver told me "the longer the trailer the easier it is to back up".
I just went from a 23' travel trailer to a 35' class A so I am being very careful also.
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  #3  
Old 05-09-2011, 12:23 PM
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Camper Type: 5th Wheel
 
Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: Murrieta, CA
Posts: 957
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There is a phrase, "Practice makes perfect". Unfortunately that is NOT true. The phrase should be "Perfect practice makes perfect". I learned the hard and gentle way that depending on your wife who doesn't know how to back up a rig will not be able to tell you how to back up. On the other hand, since I've become more familiar with this, I can easily assist backing in someone else. The hardest thing to understand is to "obey and trust" your guidance because it will not make sense as you are doing it.

The most difficult thing to overcome and learn is over steering during backing up. Once you get the rig going the proper direction you must quickly correct the steering to follow the RV. Too many times we'll keep the steering wheels in the wrong direction and the RV will oversteer.

Start with an internet search of how-to's on backing up rigs (check Youtube). Concentrate on trailers not Motorhomes. The techniques are different enough to confuse you.

Then go to a large parking log and practice, practice and practice. If you find you are constantly going outside the lines start correcting your oversteer SOONER! After you become comfortable, then the biggest task is to have you convince the wife to do the driving and then you do the directing. My wife still doesn't help, but one of these days......

One more thing. If you are turning into a parking space, the last thing to do is drive straight out a few feet, then backing straight back in. Your trailer suspension and tires will love you for this last step. Never park a trailer on a turn, then stop! Straightening out the trailer will correct the trailer suspension. This process is terribly hard on a trailer suspension and they are not intended to remain in this position for long durations. Trailers use straight axles and NO differentials so backing up on a turn (the trailer does the steering) is tough on the suspension and tires.

There are also RV membership rallys that offer training. If you belong to an RV club you might get wind of some of these.

Good luck. Unless you are a full-timer, moving around ALL the time, you won't get this too quick, so be patient.
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Murrieta, CA

2006 Ford F-250/350
2006 Montana 3500RL
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Last edited by artmart; 05-09-2011 at 12:29 PM.
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  #4  
Old 05-11-2011, 03:00 PM
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Camper Type: 5th Wheel
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: Batesburg, SC
Posts: 21
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I always let my Honey back it in. I can back but she's better than me.
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  #5  
Old 05-11-2011, 07:23 PM
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Camper Type: 5th Wheel
 
Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: Murrieta, CA
Posts: 957
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That doesn't work with my Honey. When I'm backing she likes to check out the campground. Just kidding. I use her only for letting me know when I am at the right spot. Getting it to that spot is my responsibility.

I use small cones to mark where I want the tires, then she lets me know when I am there. Then with leveling blocks in place she lets me know when I'm positioned correctly. Then I chock and lock things into place, unhitch and I do all the outside setup as she does the inside.

This procedure works for us, but it took us a few tries and some frustration to find what works for us. She knows she should learn but doesn't have the desire. Oh well. With all the other couples we camp with, all the wives are the same way, so us dudes just help each other out and the quicker the women socialize, the better for us all. They always have refreshments and goodies for us when we're done so we can't complain.
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Murrieta, CA

2006 Ford F-250/350
2006 Montana 3500RL
Tent & Backpack with all the gear
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  #6  
Old 05-13-2011, 10:38 AM
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Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 27
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I usually have my wife guide me when I back up but it has gotten to the point where it really isn't necessary. This is our second yr with a camper and backing has become second nature. I first started feeling comfortable backing in to our driveway just because it was familiar, this helped me get used to the size of the rig. Along with all the other great advise you have recieved here I would add that I think it is really good practice backing up a decent distance not just a short bit. This will get you used to it quicker and you won't be nervious if you ever have to. Hooking up is still easier with help as I can't see anything(we have a 30' travel trailer but your 5th wheel will be easier), I can get it easy enough but it takes a couple times of getting out and checking. Last week when we were getting ready my 2 kids wanted to help guide, I had them stand back at a safe distance and told them to signal me when I was back far enough. I was backing up very slowly and thump, about a second later I hear STOP I was going slow enough that nothing was hurt but their pride-especially when I was laughing because it was cute!! Take some time and you will be just fine.
Enjoy,
Nate
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  #7  
Old 05-20-2011, 11:40 AM
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Camper Type: 5th Wheel
 
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Location: Southern Illinois
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One thing ill mention is patience plenty of it nothing starts the weekend off better then yelling back and forth at your significant other
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  #8  
Old 05-21-2011, 05:36 PM
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Camper Type: Motorhome
 
Join Date: May 2011
Location: Connecticut
Posts: 18
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Do you have any prior trailer backing experience? Going from nothing to a 35 ft trailer is a major leap. I would recommend that until you get good and comfortable pulling the trailer that you only go forward... You can find camp sites that are pull through at most camp grounds.... May be stick to pull throughs for the first season.
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