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Old 04-08-2012, 07:30 AM   #1
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Backing Down Steep Driveway; is it Safe???

I have a very steep downhill driveway, with a small turn-around area near the house. I can get the FW turned around, but it takes about 15 minutes of back and forward. I'm wondering if it's possible to back the rig down the driveway instead. I would not have a problem steering down; just concerned about braking. Are electric trailer brakes as effective in reverse? Will the 8400lb trailer overcome the braking of the 5600lb tow vehicle and start pulling me downhill? I suppose I could put the TV in 4WD. I'm concerned because once I start backing down, I'm really committed.

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--2016 Montana 3711FL, 40'
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Old 04-08-2012, 07:48 AM   #2
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I would think brakes are just as effective no matter the direction of travel. From the brake effectivness point of view, if you can drive down it, you should be able to back down it.

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Old 04-08-2012, 07:48 AM   #3
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4 wheel is always a good plan in the situation you speak of. As to will your tow vehicle hold the weight, I would think so. Although there would be many variables such as how steep is the drive? Is it paved or gravel? If paved, better chance. If gravel, more opportunity to lose traction when braking.
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Old 04-08-2012, 12:23 PM   #4
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You have to remember that stepping on the brake will also want to a degree to pull weight off of the tongue versus applying weight to it.
If the driveway is overly steep I can see it causing issues.
Can you, or have you tried backing up the driveway first? If that was an issue I would not try backing down hill.
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Old 04-08-2012, 01:06 PM   #5
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Is it possible to consider making a parking spot at the base of the driveway for your 5th Wheel. It would avoid the decent? You would proabably have to run power to that area if you wanted to work on the 5th wheel at the base of your diveway.

It may not be practical or affordable, but it is a thought. And your layout may not allow for this option at all.

Just a thought.
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Old 04-08-2012, 02:57 PM   #6
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Do not use 4wd on a dry paved road .. ever. It breaks itself..

As for brakes working in reverse.. go to a parking lot, back up and manually activate the trailer brakes from the controller.
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Old 04-08-2012, 03:18 PM   #7
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I have a friend with a Montana 5'er (Big Sky) and he always uses 4wd with his 1-ton Dodge when backing. He has done this for several years with no adverse affect. He states that it provides better control.

Do some research and talk the the Mfg of your TV and see what their engineers say.
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Old 04-08-2012, 04:05 PM   #8
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Normal axles (differential) will allow the wheels to turn at different speeds but when the transfer case is locked on a 4wd there is no play between the dominant front wheel and the dominant rear wheel when they turn at different tates.. and they do turn at different rated 'speccially when turning..

Be very very careful using 4wd on a dry paved road..

I use 4wd low when backing but I have the front hubs free..
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Old 04-08-2012, 04:34 PM   #9
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Standard RV electric brakes are designed to work in both forward and reverse. They aren't quite as effective in reverse, but they do work. If you watch the animation below, you can see where the arm with the magnet spreads the top of the brake shoes. It does not matter if you are going forward, or in reverse...

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Old 04-08-2012, 04:57 PM   #10
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Ralphie, I guess there is no way to increase your turn around area at the top of the hill. If it were me I'd use four wheel drive low range to back down the drive way. You are going slow and not for a long distance so it should be OK. Just my opinion with limited experience with four wheel drive units - one Jeep, one Scout, one GM 2500, one Dodge 3500 and my present F-250. I used 4 wheel low when backing into RV spaces when I had a 36 foot King of the Road.
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Old 04-08-2012, 07:03 PM   #11
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I backed a 12,500 lb boat down many a steep boat ramp, with a 1 ton Ford PU for years. The boat trailer had surge brakes therefore they do not work in reverse. I never had a problem with the truck brakes stopping the load. Go slow!
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Old 04-08-2012, 09:06 PM   #12
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First of all, the electric brakes are self energizing in forward and not in reverse. This means they are somewhere around 50% less effective in reverse. It is obvious from the illustration. PM me if you need an explanation. Second if you can pull it up the grade in two wheel drive then you can back down the same grade. Third, that short time and slow speed will not harm anything in fwd. Fourth, the brakes on the truck work on all of the wheels and you can slide the truck wheels on the concrete, hence no problem in controlling the rig backing do the grade. Again being able to drive up in 2wd indicates you certainly can maintain control with the brakes. I do not see any problems on any of the issues. Wet or slippery surface at the time of the backing down could change the story however.
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Old 04-10-2012, 07:22 AM   #13
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Thank you all for your responses. Seems like the general consensus is I can go backward down the driveway. There is no turn around at the top and the drive angles so that if I drive down the road a bit I can make the turn around and will be set up to more easily enter the drive from the opposite direction. It is steep and about 300ft long, all downhill with a slight curve.

I have no problem getting up the drive in 2wd, and I could get my previous 36' Class A up and down the drive, and could get it turned around easier than the FW. Since I was on the road when I posted, and I came home during the daytime, I decided to go downhill as I had before and was able to get turned around a bit faster. Maybe I'm just getting better at it. However, I'll try some of your suggestions before my next trip, even first backing down a lesser grade to test things out.
--2005 F350 Superduty Crewcab, 6.0, 4wd, short bed, 3.73 gears
--2016 Montana 3711FL, 40'
--SOLD 2014 Wildcat 327CK, 38'
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Old 04-14-2012, 06:09 PM   #14
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