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Old 01-01-2013, 06:05 AM   #29
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repetition nuked

Ken 1996 Safari Sahara- 3530, 35', CAT 300
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Old 01-01-2013, 06:08 AM   #30
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Originally Posted by UltraKen View Post
Several important steps to take.

1. You must know where you are in a lane. Your coach is wider than a car.

Go to a large parking lot as soon as you possible can. Look for the double face-t0-face parking slots away from other vehicles. Pull into one so that you take up just the first space leaving the end of the coach out of the space, AIMING to place yourself in the middle of the space.

Stop, set your parking brake, go to neutral, turn off your engine and go outside and look on both sides to make sure you are centered in the space on both sides. Correct if necessary by backing and pulling forward to get centered.

When you are satisfied that you are centered, sit behind the wheel and locate the parking space lines in the space in front of your space, and make a small mark on the lowest part of the windshield that you can see. A small dot of blue painter's tape works well, or a dot from a Magic Marker.

Next check your side mirrors to locate the lines alongside the coach.

You now have visual references for where you are in the parking space. Lanes on the road are wider, but with these marks you can always keep road lines ahead slightly outside the windshield dots. This works for narrow spaces at slow speeds.

2. For highway driving, aim for the center of the lane as far ahead as you can see.

When passing, or being passed by a semi - don't stare at the semi, concentrate on your lane markers on the windshield and your side mirror to stay as close to the off-side lane marker as possible. Left when passing, right when being passed.

3. I always use the rear-camera. When passing a vehicle I know I can pull back in lane when I can see their front grill. Obviously you don't want to pull in as soon as you see the grill, but in an emergency you will know you are clear.

4. Defensive driving rules for a car are to stay 3 seconds behind the vehicle your are following (doesn't work well in dense traffic). In a motorhome you want to extend that to about 5 seconds.

It's easy to estimate. When the rear of the vehicle ahead passes some "landmark" such as a sign, start counting "one mississippi, two mississipi, etc. Stop counting when you cross that spot. Drop back or close up to maintain that 5 second gap. It gives you plenty of time to brake or take evasive action as traffic warrants.

5. For backing up, I have a small dot at the top of the rear camera monitor screen that shows me the exact aim point of the rear of the coach. Watch the rear camera AND the side mirrors, and use an outside spotter if possible to check for overhead obstacles, etc.

6. For turns, practice intially in that parking lot. Since the rear of the coach pivots around the rear wheels, anything beyond the rear wheels will swing out wider than the path of the wheels. Go slow, stop often and look to see where the front, side, and rear of your coach are located. When you get a feel for it trying turning past a light post. Do this VERY SLOWLY, watching the side mirror closest to the light pole. If you start getting close STOP.

A good series of short video clips on driving a coach:

RV Driver Confidence Course: Part 1 - Better RVing

Ken 1996 Safari Sahara- 3530, 35', CAT 300
Pictures of my coach:
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Old 01-01-2013, 03:18 PM   #31
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Location: Auburn, CA, Havasu, AZ & Mulege, BCS
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1) For gas, see PilotFlyingJ.com & get their mobile app for finding locations. Other similar options exist making fueling a non-issue. Plan your fuel stops.
2) when taking off for the day, it'll be nerve racking for a short time. Co-pilot should note this & not engage the driver in chit-chat for 20 or 30 minutes, after which the driver will have sync'd into a more casual attitude.
3) definitely take the toad, etc. per above suggestions
4) Wife tells me the only real hard thing for her to get comfortable with was right turns. We had a retired fireman drive our coach one day, & he gave her this simple instruction, just as he gave to rookies:
~ stay to the left side of the right lane, hug the line if things are tight. This leaves some space to your right side.
~ take as long as you need, use blinkers, if you have to move at 1 mph to move safely then that's your speed and everybody will wait for you to finish.
~ pull straight ahead (do not turn the wheel) until the line thru your hips coincides w/the curb line of the street to your right you are turning onto. Once you get to this position,
~ turn the wheel to the right lock & proceed onto the new street. Unwind the wheel to adjust to the new street lane position.
~ Gun it. (just kidding)

#4 will be your best starting position for learning. After several successful turns, you'll be doing it by feel. In a parking lot w/sharp cornered landscape planters you may need to pull straight to slightly ahead of the hip-line to avoid running over the imbecile architect's parking obstructions. Running down the road is a snap, only slight lane positioning comfort tricks needed which you will get in class.
Good luck w/your new rig! And visit here often for any Q&A you may need.

Otherwise, just don't head thru any large downtown areas in rush hour traffic (or avoid them if possible regardless of the hour). I drove thru downtown San Francisco surface streets pulling the toad not too long ago, ~11:00a.m. Had the wife on Google Maps to let me know how many blocks till a turn movement. There was plenty of traffic, but everybody stayed out of the way sufficiently that getting onto the Golden Gate Bridge was fairly a breeze. Buses do it after all, right?
Baja-tested '08 2-slide 36'
Alpine: The Ultimate DIY'er Project
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Old 01-02-2013, 03:03 PM   #32
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I would also measure the exact length of the MH and the toad. By doing that you will know how long your entire rig is in case there is a restriction that you may not know about. By doing ahead of time you may have a legal arguement in case you are cited for excessive length. Height is an excellant idea as brideges have heights posted but may not be right after repaving is done!
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Old 01-02-2013, 06:21 PM   #33
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Thank you everyone, this forum is great. Here is the update. We took the advice and drove the toad down to Lazy Days. Had them install the Blue Ox tow plate and SMI break system. Watched the drivers video, at betterrving.com, at least three time. Took the drivers course which I would recommend everyone take. It made driving this 36 ft MH a joy. It is really a lot of fun to drive. I've backed this thing into a few tight spots and have yet needed to pull back forward to reposition. Follow the driving course exactly and its like magic, workers every time. Same for tight turns and narrow roads, it just works. We are now off on a three month journey.
Oh yeh, towing the toad. Seems we were overly concerned about a non issue.
Again, thanks for everyone input.
Paul, Kathy, and Tux a 4 month Mini Schnauzer
2014 Tiffin Phaeton 42 LH, 2013 Honda CRV
"When the time comes to look back, make sure you'll like what you see"
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Old 01-06-2013, 11:16 AM   #34
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Take the toad. I bought my diplomat on a Wednesday and left that Friday with my toad on a month trip. I say after your course you will be comfortable. Worse case is you will have to release the toad to back up.
What kind of tow bar did you get? What type of car are you towing? You may need a transmission pump. You will also need a braking system. This all has to be done before you leave.
Enjoy your travels. Things you have to learn about.
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Old 01-06-2013, 08:35 PM   #35
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its I4 to I75 or I95 the roads are good so take the car its not hard to get in or out of there you well be there for a few days so drive the MD around there but not in tampa then pull the car latter when going home
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Old 01-06-2013, 08:48 PM   #36
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Go for toad - it's not that big a deal to learn how to handle it. Just take your time and think about entry and exits when fueling. I have gotten off at exits - did not like any of the options. Just get back on the road and use the next opprotunity to fuel.

Vince and Susan
2011 Tiffin Phaeton 40QTH (Cummins ISC/Freightliner)
Flat towing a modified 2005 Jeep (Rubicon Wrangler)
Previously a 2002 Fleetwood Pace Arrow 37A and a 1995 Safari Trek 2830.
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