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Old 02-18-2012, 03:51 PM   #1
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How the heck do I drive this dang thing??

I think I'm in way over my head! We went from a 5er to a 2002 Monaco Windsor 40PDT yesterday and it scares the pants off me! This thing is just too big and complicated for a country boy like me! I drove it home from Montgomery, AL, and only ran off the edge of the road twice, but my wife kept a death grip on the arms of her seat the whole way! I had to pry her hands loose when we got home! She says we can't sell the 5er for a month or so while she decides if she can ever get comfortable with this monster. I was kind of uptight for the first 30 minutes or so, but it really wasn't so bad after that. Seriously though, I think we will really like it once we become more familar with it. Did any of you go through a period like this when you went to a Class A? I'm gonna spend a lot of time in the manuals that came with it, and also searching the Class A forum and this Monaco forum. I may ask a lot of dumb questions, so you guys try to have patience with this greenhorn. Looking forward to getting to know all of you here!
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Old 02-18-2012, 03:57 PM   #2
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On my first trip in my 40' Phaeton I went through Atlanta at rush-hour, I prayed that I would get home with the mirrors still intact. Today I handle it like a sports car give or take an exaggeration here and there.
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Old 02-18-2012, 03:58 PM   #3
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Joe, we're in the same boat, I drove mine home in Jan. and it hasn't left the drive since. There is an awful lot to learn, I am taking my time and learning one system at a time. We spent the first night in it last night. I have been fixing it up to our liking. Painted over the gold handles and hinges, in the process of moving the TV to mid-coach. swapped out the captain chairs for some used ones we picked up at salvage.
You are not alone. DW is convinced that I will be doing all the driving.
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Old 02-18-2012, 03:59 PM   #4
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We all did. HHang in there and practice.
Here's a start:
RV Driver Confidence Course: Part 2 - Better RVing
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Old 02-18-2012, 04:04 PM   #5
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Memories! I bought a 34' Mirada and my first experience was driving it 1000 kms home including starting on our biggest city's busiest motorway! I did not have the previous experience you have with a big 5er, and my partner had white knuckles too. Now, 18 months on, I am fine with the width, getting better with the length and only very occasionally do I need to be reminded about the height. Over the Christmas holidays we did 1000 km towing a toad, and my only problems there were not being to reverse while towing. The turning circle caught me out a couple of times and we had to disconnect to back up. Oh and the tow bar at the back hangs low, so the V10 dug up some asphalt around the country on slow low entrances and exits. Nice thing about the V10 though - it pulled right through it! I am sure you are posting with your tongue firmly in your cheek, but I did find a series of videos on when to start to turn and reversing were very useful. Someone else will know the link hopefully.
Enjoy the ease of setup of the A class, and have a ball!
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Old 02-18-2012, 04:10 PM   #6
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MSHC,
Welcome to paradise!! We love our rig, road-wandering and all.

WRT driving, it helps to realize that you're sitting pretty-much in front of the steering axle. But "we" do it this way in order to reduce the turning radius. Making a u-turn is a thrill ride as well. Try it some time.

But you and DW are gonna love it. Trips to the potty are so much easier.

Suggestion: If you're driving with your hands on the rim of the steering wheel, you'll be doing a lot of shoulder/arm pushing and pulling to keep your rig in your lane. Try placing your hands somewhere nearer to the horn....reducing hand/arm/shoulder travel when making those small corrections.
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Old 02-18-2012, 04:11 PM   #7
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LOL, you're going to love it Joe. It won't take but one trip and you'll feel like you've been driving it for years. BTW, after that first trip, Annette will have you giving that 5er away as fast as you can

Our rigs are very close in design and setup. Everything is quite easy to find and the mechanical and electrical systems are easy to work with.
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Old 02-18-2012, 04:12 PM   #8
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Joe,
My wife and I know exactly what you're going through. We upgraded from a 5er to a 45 ft coach in 2010. It was 1 1/2 lanes wide and 2 blocks long and I thought I needed an engineer traveling with me to explain everything, I couldn't remember what any of the switches did. We made it home without killing anyone and have put about 16,000 miles on it since.
You'll quickly become at ease with it and love it. There is a big learning curve from the ease of a 5'er but my wife and I both have it mastered. She loves driving it, I have to fight for the pilots chair.
I suggest you make a check list of all the things that have to be done before driving off and a list of all the things that have to be done setting up camp and then FAITHFULLY follow the checklist each time. This will save you from many "operator errors".
Both of you believe us when we tell you that you're going to love RV'g in your coach and will never want to go back to the 5'er
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Old 02-18-2012, 04:16 PM   #9
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First, if you managed to make enough money to pay for it, you are smart enough to learn how to drive it, I promise. Lots of not so bright people drive big trucks.

A few things will help:
1/ get out on a quite road and make a note where the center white line appears at the edge of your dash and windshield when you are centered on the road. You can even put a bit of tape there to remind you. When you are new at it this will keep you from having to look down in your mirrors to spot the road lines on either side of the coach. Most drivers wander too far to the right at first.
2/ Learn to not care if you are taking up 2 lanes or moving slowly - especially if you have to make a tight right hand turn - just put on the right indicator and let the coach drift wide left as you come up to the turn, then drive as deep as you can into the intersection before you turn.
3/ Don't try to keep up with traffic if it is flying by you, drive at a speed that suits you.
4/ Practice and trust your eyes. Get out on the road on a quite evening or weekend, head away from traffic, and get a few miles under your belt. Early on a Sunday morning go drive it through down town. Lots of big rigs get through there on week days at peak times, so you can too.
5/ Especially if you are going to pull a toad, don't trust your GPS, use google maps before you leave to look at your route, especially any spot where you have to get off the major roads. On a long trip I'll actually print up specific close ups of the places I'll have to navigate.
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Old 02-18-2012, 04:17 PM   #10
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Had a C for a few years and traded it in on our present A last year in Florida. Then I had to drive it 1500 miles back home.....pulling a 16ft 3500lb trailer. The first few hundred were a bit tense, but before we got home, I was in love with it. Took DW all the home before she figured out I wasnt driving on the shoulder all the time
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Old 02-18-2012, 04:51 PM   #11
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@MS

1. Be confident, you will be able to do this without any issues.
2. Learn the turning radius of your rig, when you approach a right turn, normally you want to start the turn just behind the drivers seat or there about. What ever you do don't steer into the turn stay straight and heavy left (means close to the left hand stripes in the road) once the drivers seat passes the sidewalk fully lock the steering wheel into the turn.
3. see if you can find a local school bus driver to help you with some manuevers in a large parking lot.

You could do this yourself by getting some cones and teaching yourself to back up and or park the rig.
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Old 02-18-2012, 05:04 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by distaff View Post
First, if you managed to make enough money to pay for it, you are smart enough to learn how to drive it, I promise. Lots of not so bright people drive big trucks.

A few things will help:
1/ get out on a quite road and make a note where the center white line appears at the edge of your dash and windshield when you are centered on the road. You can even put a bit of tape there to remind you. When you are new at it this will keep you from having to look down in your mirrors to spot the road lines on either side of the coach. Most drivers wander too far to the right at first.
2/ Learn to not care if you are taking up 2 lanes or moving slowly - especially if you have to make a tight right hand turn - just put on the right indicator and let the coach drift wide left as you come up to the turn, then drive as deep as you can into the intersection before you turn.
3/ Don't try to keep up with traffic if it is flying by you, drive at a speed that suits you.
4/ Practice and trust your eyes. Get out on the road on a quite evening or weekend, head away from traffic, and get a few miles under your belt. Early on a Sunday morning go drive it through down town. Lots of big rigs get through there on week days at peak times, so you can too.
5/ Especially if you are going to pull a toad, don't trust your GPS, use google maps before you leave to look at your route, especially any spot where you have to get off the major roads. On a long trip I'll actually print up specific close ups of the places I'll have to navigate.

great advice
i would add find a big empty lot and go practice, adjust the mirrors on the pedestal so you get the best view with tweaks inside on the big one with the switch, i keep my little mirrors adjusted so i can just see the rear tire and pavement, this gives me a great view up the side to right behind my seat
put out cones or markers and practice seeing them
practice backing up with your spotter,

the link above for the driving videos are great, they give you a leg up.
we went from a 40 ft fiver to the 40 ft m/h
i will tell you imo it was nervy the first 30 minutes, we got caught in 6pm rush hr traffic

had make a turn around in a skinny spot,
made it home

once you figure out where "YOU" are in relation to the road, you will be scooting around like its a pickup almost
sitting in front of the tires is different,
relax and enjoy
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Old 02-18-2012, 05:13 PM   #13
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You'll do fine. I felt the same way but after a few thousand miles it was better.

Although I still remember the first time on an interstate where they had concrete barriers on the lane lines and narrowed it to one lane with the barriers actually sitting on the paint! Great fun.

I used my mirrors a lot to help me stay in the middle of the white lines until i was completely comfortable.

Now with 60,000 miles I agree with Dadeaux, kinda like driving a sports car.
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Old 02-18-2012, 05:22 PM   #14
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You might be doing to much "driving" and not enough relaxing. The more you relax and look out front the easier it gets. Now you know that you can run off the edge and recover, that is good to know.

One of my easier guides is to keep my rump in the left tire track of my lane when going down the highway, I hope you know what I mean. I am not driving 40 foot but I imagine that works the same.

Jersey walls (concrete barriers) I do use the mirrors a lot to see where my tires are.
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