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Old 07-23-2011, 11:13 AM   #29
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I have owned my construction company for many years, driven log trucks, gravel trucks, well drilling rigs, also moved lots of wide and overloads on a flat bed. Here in Canada I held a class A license with Z endorsement [air brakes]. All the above I owned I was responsible for all mistakes. I felt very comfortable behind the wheel. Point I would like to mention is my first DP that i puchase was a Winnebago Vectra Cat diesel about 36 feet long. When I traveled the highways this motorhome had new tires, wheel alignment always to the 10,s, to me driving it seemed normal other than I always seemed to be close to the shoulder of the road had to watch this as I would tend to crowd the line on some of the 3 lane roads when in the center lane.
Now I have a Monaco Camelot 40 foot DP it is totally different I now stay in the center of my lane with no effort. This coach has had nothing done to the drive train since I purchased it. It is like night and day on a long trip. The point is, I hope that you make sure what ever you drive it is always in your control as to my experience they may not all drive the same. Good Luck Happy travels

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Old 07-23-2011, 06:26 PM   #30
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Rather than using an object in the front (such as a wiper blade or such) to line up with the road, I uae both rearview mirrors and the rear camera. It helps keep me in the center of the lane, as well as constantly aware of what vehicles are near me.

I have ridden motorcycles for 45 years, and it has taught me to FOCUS at all times.

2008 Itasca Meridian 37H & 2015 Flagstaff T12RBST
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Old 07-27-2011, 01:11 AM   #31
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Tons of good advice so far. I would add to learn where your rig is on the road try to keep your eyes focused down the road in front of you. Closely watching your mirrors or a spot on the dash to see where you are will result in wandering all over the road as you try to correct. Using these guides will help in the short term, but you eventually want to lean where your rig is by looking down the lane in front of you. Learn to let your peripheral vision keep you centered. Practice makes perfect.
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Old 07-28-2011, 06:05 PM   #32
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I agree with CharlieTwo, but will add somthing that has not been mentioned. Air Brakes, there is alot to be learned about using, maintaining and knowing when you have a problem before it it too late. The cost of a driving course is pretty small compared to a huge repair bill and or someone getting hurt or worse.
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Old 07-31-2011, 04:44 PM   #33
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We just bought an older motor home being very carefull we also bought a tomtom gps (note never set one on shortest route) our first major trip was from near nashville TN to Franklin, NC ..... before I figured it out we were on what they call the tail of the Dragon road over the highest elevation in TN .... 70 some miles of 10 - 30 mph curves .... we made it fine .... but my history of driving the anke pass in vietnam in 66-67 may have helped ... so join the army and let them teach you how to drive where brave men would never go ! good luck
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Old 07-31-2011, 06:42 PM   #34
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The Tail of the Dragon has 318 curves in 11 miles. I've ridden that on my motorcycle and it is one of the best BIKE rides in the US. I would not like to do that in a MH. Good driving Oldsarg.
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Old 08-01-2011, 08:46 AM   #35
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Thanks Charlie, they infact were having a motor cycle rally that day we went over the trail. I am sure some of the bikers were shocked as they came around corners too sharp to come face to face with the front of the big tan van. Had a a state trooper follow us for a few miles, told DW he would probably pull us over if there was room and give me a ticket for being stupid, driving that road
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Old 08-01-2011, 07:20 PM   #36
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Originally Posted by Funbunny View Post
How do you learn to drive the motorhome of your dreams when you've never driven something that big before? Where do you practice?

Today I was on the highway in my minivan having to drive next to all these huge trucks and oversized loads thinking, "How would I do this in a Class A?"
I got to Lazy Day RV dealer ship and took there free driving training. It was well worth it and I learned a lot. My spouse took it to. Just camp in there RV park and take the class. Plus they have a lot of other classes you need about traveling in RV's.
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Old 08-23-2011, 09:48 PM   #37
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Here is a trick. Learn to drive off of your left knee. After you learn how it is very easy to know where the yellow line is.
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Old 08-24-2011, 06:31 AM   #38
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I started by pulling a boat/trailer in my 20's, then a 20' class C w/ boat, then a 31' A then the 40' busW/18" of Toad behind. Just kept moving up in length. the key is make wide turns and use mirrors. Go slow if you get in a tight spot and leave plenty of room for vehicles in front of you. They don't stop fast. Go for it!!!
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Old 08-24-2011, 08:07 AM   #39
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I had driven rental trucks up to 30' and we rented Class C MHs twice before buying our class A. We looked all around our area for driving classes but nothing was available except for OTR trucks.

We also used the empty parking lot approach. Sunday mornings, just after sunup turned out to be the best.

If you break down the skill difference between a passenger vehicle and a Class A, they are
1. Turns - learning how far past the normal turning point you need to go and how much room is really needed to swing, including the rear overhang. This is what gets a lot of people in places like gas stations. The parking lot is a big help
2. Staying in the lane. When we first started, I found myself way too far to the right. You can practice on the road by simply watching the driver's mirror and staying close to the inner line. It helps a lot when you get to construction, which is still my biggest worry.
3. Backing up, particularly where a 90 degree turn is involved. Again, the parking lot can be your friend in learning
4. Overhead. Some people get paranoid about low bridges. More damage is done in small towns with low hanging tree limbs. This needs time to solve and a lot of attention in the beginning
5. Downhill. This can be a very dangerous area. Interstates are built to 6-7% and most MHs can handle that with gearing down. Learning to use the exhaust brake and tackling 9-10% grades is another level. I did a lot of reading on this forum after I scared myself silly on a 10% grade with a hairpin turn at the bottom. "Stab" braking to maintain equilibrium (i.e. the MH not picking up speed) is the key along with the exhaust brake and getting the speed off a the top of the hill before the decent starts.
6. Stopping distance. This is probably the most important difference because other drivers mis-judge it for you. They cut in at the last minute when you might have otherwise had enough space. Watching ahead, especially for "stale" green lights helps but practice is the parking lot is the best aid to figuring this out.
7. No exit situations. With a toad, you cannot backup. The idea is to learn how much space you need to turn without backing. We've only had a couple of times in 7 years and 50K miles where we had to get out and take off the toad to get out of where we were. I've cut it very close a few more times, where I barely could miss obstacles on the last part of the turn. The toad will follow so it is just getting the RV turned that is important. Parking lot practice helps with this too.
8. Heavily crowned or rutted secondary roads. I still get white knuckles with these. Many such roads in Texas have big drop offs from the pavement. Keeping a firm, steady grip on the wheel without a lot of tension in the arms is how I solve it. Once I've found a road like this, I try to avoid it in the future. THey are OK for a few miles but 30-50 miles on one is just fatiguing.
9. Wind. This is my favorite (not). If you travel East and West in Texas, you are going to get into the heavy, gusty cross-winds. A steady wind isn't too bad but the days were it goes from 20mph to 45mph in a gust is miserable and can be dangerous. We crossed much of NM in such conditions. The only way to deal with it was to slow down. Sometimes, you just have to pull off and wait it out. Broadside gusts can flip a tractor trailer (that weights 3x what an RV does) so it is no small matter.

2000 Georgie Boy Landau 36' DP
2005 Saturn Vue toad
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Old 08-24-2011, 08:38 AM   #40
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For what it's worth, here are my two cents. I am a retired Ct. State Trooper. When I first went on the job, we weren't getting too much money, so I moonlighted by driving tractor trailor for quite a few years. One of my few assignments was Commercial Vehicle enforcement. When I retired, I was asked to come back for a while and work for the MVD doing driver's tests.
That being said, the worst drivers I ran into were those (younger) whose father taught them how to drive. (Especially us cop fathers). As a father, I tried to teach one of my 4 daughter how to drive. What a disaster. All I did was try to pass on my mistakes to her.
Please take a driving course. Sure you can learn by practicing on the road, but it can be expensive when you make a mistake. Take the course and then practice what you learned in the big parking lots. Carry that experience on the road and remember that the faster you are driving, the less time it takes to erase an error.

I remember being in a campground and a guy drives in with a rather large class "A" sporting a "handicap sticker" on the window. When he got out he was not kid. He remarked that he had been driving all day yesterday and all night. To him driving at night was easier cause he could stay in the high speed lane at 80 mph and pass all of the "big guys". What a jerk! I would hate to be on the road with him

So that's a long 2 cents worth, but error on the side of caution and take a course. Thanks.
Joe from Ct.
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Old 08-24-2011, 08:51 AM   #41
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These are some of my tips for a 43' tag motor home.

Plan your route before starting and try to make left hand turns to you destination they are easier than right hand turns especially on 2 lane roads.

Don't start out pulling a toad, become comfortable with the RV first.

Place 2 pieces of tape on your windshield marking the left and right lines on the highway. Stay in between these marks untill driving becomes natural.

When making a two lane left hand stay to the outside lane this will give you better visiblilty of who is around you and a greater turn radius.

When making a two lane freeway on ramp again stay to the outside lane.

Leave at least 4 X the distance to the vehicle in front of you based on how you drive a car.

Don't try to defend your space between the car in front of you, car drivers have no clue as to what it takes to stop a heavy vehicle, let them cut in front of you just suck it up and slow down. Eventually you will be able to drive with barely using your service brakes only you engine brake.

Don't play with your gagets while driving do that when your parked you must concentrate of whats happening around you big difference between car OMG and Motor Home OMG.

Watch out for trees when pulling over to the side of the road they will do a lot of damage to your roof top stuff as well as the the side of you rig.

Backing up have a plan get out and look even if you have to do it several times.

A smart man learns from his own mistakes! :
A wise man learns from the mistakes of others!
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Old 08-24-2011, 09:30 AM   #42
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OMG!!! The Dragon's Tail

Originally Posted by Oldsarg View Post
Thanks Charlie, they infact were having a motor cycle rally that day we went over the trail. I am sure some of the bikers were shocked as they came around corners too sharp to come face to face with the front of the big tan van. Had a a state trooper follow us for a few miles, told DW he would probably pull us over if there was room and give me a ticket for being stupid, driving that road
A few years ago we picked out this highway to get from point A to point B not knowing it was the infamous Dragon's Tail. With the wife behind the wheel of our 40' Alpine coach & toad, we started south on this very scenic highway. Gosh, all these curves don't show on the map. Then we started to notice people standing around all the curves. What the heck are they doing there? Then some idiot on a motorcycle comes around the curve at high speed doing a wheelie. Then another and another. Turns out there was some kind of unsanctioned motorcycle event going on. My wife kissed the ground when we stopped for the night.

Basil & Sue Shannon
Former Apex owner (Gary & Renee have it now)
Was Traveling Circus (2 clowns/Sage the Wonder Dog) Tent rotted. Circus folded.
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