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Old 09-24-2015, 02:40 PM   #1
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Newbie physics question - backing in

I have this long driveway that I have to back my 33 foot 5th wheel trailer into. The driveway is relatively narrow and I have a mailbox and a culvert ditch at the entrance. ...as most people do.

Theory, if I can pull out of the driveway with one wide turn that avoids the ditch and mailbox, should I not be able to back in on the exact same line?

My thinking is maybe I try marking my tire lines out and use them them later to back in.

Don't laugh, but today it takes me about 10 tries. True, I only had to do it twice, but this is the only anxiety trigger I have left when it comes to towing.

Thoughts?
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Old 09-24-2015, 03:06 PM   #2
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I have never driven a fifth wheel but have driven a lot of trailers. Yes in theory your idea will work. The tough part for some is making the steering correction at the correct time. Bracing in you will have to watch your front wheel "swing" so your truck fenders don't hit the curb, mailbox or ditch.
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Old 09-24-2015, 06:28 PM   #3
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No matter how hard I try - I can never nail the sweet-spot to get back into my driveway...always takes some jiggerr-pokery!!!
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Old 09-24-2015, 06:36 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paule View Post
Theory, if I can pull out of the driveway with one wide turn that avoids the ditch and mailbox, should I not be able to back in on the exact same line?

Thoughts?
In theory, the fiver needs to follow the same line to end up in the same spot. But, for that to happen, the truck will not travel the exact same route since you have to cut the steering wheel in the opposite direction to get the fiver to turn. Now, the fine point is to give yourself about 2x the distance you think you need for backing up. By doing that, you can make a very minimal steering wheel cut, get the fiver turning and then let the truck follow the fiver. Most of us, me included, don't give ourselves enough distance and have to make sharper cuts and reverse cuts with both truck and fiver oscillating all over the place.
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Old 09-24-2015, 06:54 PM   #5
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Practice practice practice and once you've done that, practice some more. The only way your going get the hang of it is to continue to do it. Pick out some landmarks along your street once you've got the hang of it to tell you how far to pull up before backing in. You'll get it...just takes...you guessed it...practice.
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Old 09-24-2015, 07:41 PM   #6
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While at the RV show last weekend, saw a few larger (44') toy haulers had wireless back-up cameras installed. Not sure if they would work for your situation, just food for thought.
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Old 09-24-2015, 08:19 PM   #7
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It is all about the set up. It takes practice. By set up, I mean that forward pull right before you back up. With practice you will get it.
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Old 09-25-2015, 02:11 PM   #8
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Yes, if you follow the same line. but. the inertia of the TV will have a different impact backing in vs pulling out so the wheel turns/timing are hard to hit exactly right, hence the "do-overs" from under/over steering.

If you get her parked in less than 10 tries, I call that a success.
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Old 09-26-2015, 09:28 AM   #9
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We have a similar problem at home, long, narrow driveway, and to make matters worse, we pretty well have to come in on our blind side unless we want to drive miles out of our way.

Our daughter's driveway is wider, but she also has to come in on her blind side as she is on a dead-end street.

So here is what we did. My daughter and I went to an empty parking lot (the arena in the middle of the day). We brought with us some traffic cones and a measuring tape. I had her back in to an imaginary spot, marking off where she started and ended up. I also measured how much swing happened, which would tell us how wide a road she needed. I had her come in about 3 - 4 feet from the edge of the road to start, parallel to the side of the road, and just turn it right in. The swing was 9 feet (her fifth wheel is 29 feet long). We also determined she needed to have the rear of her trailer about 20 feet past the edge of the driveway before starting the maneuver. This worked both on the blind side and the non blind side. This method uses as little road width as possible, which is very important in some campgrounds, or in her situation, when there are cars parked on the street. Lucky for her, there is no parking on her side of the street.

We use the same method at home with our 34 foot fifth wheel. We measure 20 feet from the edge of the driveway and while I spot him (using walkie-talkies) my husband backs it in. There is usually a bit of maneuvering back and forth to get it right, but to get it in the first time you have to be pretty good. A kid growing up on a farm or a guy who is a truck driver can do it first time, but not us.

Two things you have to keep in mind with fifth wheels that are different from travel trailers: 1. as mentioned before, the trailer does not follow the same path as the truck. It takes a short cut. 2. and this will get you into trouble every single time - there is a delay between the time you make a correction on the steering wheel and then the trailer reacts. By the time you realize this, you have already over-corrected. Try to keep the second in mind, as it is easy to forget.

Both of us are going to take the course at Lazydays in Tampa on driving and backing up fifth wheels when we are down there this winter. It is $75 for one and $100 for two. I want to learn this too. I drive it, but have never backed up this trailer, only the 30' fifth wheel we owned before.

I hope this helps. If I did not make t clear enough or you have any questions, just ask.
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Old 09-26-2015, 04:39 PM   #10
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Know how you feel - I finally get it right by the end of the camping season - start all over again in the spring. I tend to cut it too sharp to begin with.
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Old 09-28-2015, 07:36 AM   #11
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Comforting and helpful. Thanks everyone. When I got back yesterday it was much less stressful...but still took 10 minutes or so. Not complaining.
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Old 09-28-2015, 09:51 AM   #12
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It's actually easier with longer 5'er's than shorter (in my experience)...
with our 35 footer I would zig zag all over the park
with the 41 footer I just had to learn to:
take my time,
make small corrections,
start my turn earlier than I thought,
and steer back (to follow) sooner than I thought

I actually got pretty confident with it even though we didn't camp in it much since it was in the shop or broken more times than not

Now that we are in the longer, more massive motorhome it's almost easy
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Old 10-04-2015, 07:48 AM   #13
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Backing up with a 5th wheel can be much more difficult then a traditional bumper pull.
The 5th wheel center point relative to the wheels, make turning the trailer less responsive to making corrections.
I have a slider and that 12" adjustment, makes quite a difference in backing up when necessary.
I think your physics is correct but your brain sees a different picture and reacts differently.
In a difficult location, I feels it's better to take smaller bites rather then thinking one shot is required. I does feel better though, when others are watching.
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Old 10-04-2015, 04:15 PM   #14
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Bob, I actually find it just the opposite. Backing up the 5th wheel is much more easier for me than my previous travel trailers. More responsive and feels like it's connected more solidly when turning.
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Old 10-05-2015, 08:04 PM   #15
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Bob, I actually find it just the opposite. Backing up the 5th wheel is much more easier for me than my previous travel trailers. More responsive and feels like it's connected more solidly when turning.
Mark,
I hear you but with the pivot point on a 5th wheel almost directly over the wheels vs the pivot point back 3' or so on the rear bumper, the amount of wheel necessay to move that pivot point is so much more with a 5th wheel.
That may make it easier for some, more difficult for others.
When I had to back into a tight space or a tight turn, the bumper pull made it much easier for me to correct.
With the 5th wheel, when I have to turn really tight, I make the turn but can't correct enough to straighten out quickly, because that pivot point is so far forward.
I really think it boils down to what each person becomes comfortable with.
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Old 10-05-2015, 08:38 PM   #16
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I sure you're correct Bob. We've had a 5th wheel for almost 10 years now and backing it up is like second nature now. (not that it goes smooth all the time) I just think it took 9 years to train my wife how to direct me. ,,don't tell her!!!
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Old 10-06-2015, 02:22 PM   #17
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I also have found through the years and upgrades that the longer the trailer, the easier it was to back it in. That darn pop up we had was always jack-knifing on me.
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Old 10-06-2015, 02:28 PM   #18
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I also have found through the years and upgrades that the longer the trailer, the easier it was to back it in. That darn pop up we had was always jack-knifing on me.
I have heard that from other people as well.
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Old 10-06-2015, 02:29 PM   #19
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I have heard that from other people as well.

Don't tell the Mrs, she just thinks I got better through the years. Truth is, it got easier.
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