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Old 01-18-2011, 05:00 PM   #1
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Question on backing a fifth wheel in a straight line

I wonder if some members with experience would give me some pointers. My situation is that I have a 28" Arctic Fox travel trailer that is parked along the side of my house. It is literally three inches away from the full length of the roof line. I do a pretty ok job parking it with a little help from my son and a radio. As long as I cut in from the street from the "driver's" side, I can stick my head out of the open window and manage pretty well. As a matter of fact, I just backed it in all by myself, for the first time, with no problems. Now let me paint a mental picture for you all. I have a 25' set back from the face of my house to the side walk. According to code, I must park behind the front face of my residence. Add to that 4' of side walk and 10' of county right of way for a total of 39' of straight line access from the street. I am "considering" jumping ship and going to the "other side", namely a 32' fifth wheel. I have never backed a fiver before and I know that there is a bit of a learning curve. I'm ok with that because I have chosen a smaller end fiver that meets my needs as I see it. My specific question is, "does a fifth wheel back up in a true straight line if the TV and trailer are lined up?" Or can I back a fiver along the side of my house, keeping the front end at distance away from front side of the house then just cut it in to close the gap? (This is the method I use now for the travel trailer because it is almost impossible to back perfectly straight along the side of my house. Any thoughts?? Joe.
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Old 01-18-2011, 08:03 PM   #2
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I think you will find the 5er easier than a TT. I have had some experience with a semi but not an RV 5er. The TT will react quicker than a 5er.
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Old 01-18-2011, 08:14 PM   #3
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A little practice with the 5er and you will be a pro just as you are with the TT. You should have no problems swinging into alignment as you discribed.

I had an RV park where we stored lots of trailers for our cutomers and often when backing them into place there would only be about 3 inches clearance on either side, all it takes is practice.

Good luck.
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Old 01-18-2011, 08:34 PM   #4
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Thanks for the vote of confidence. I know that ultimately the answer is practice and more practice. However, still wondering if the fiver tracks straight going backwards or constant adjustments are necessary like a travel trailer? I think that the biggest drawback of a fifth wheel is how the trailer tires track to the inside on turns. I have read a lot about this. That is why I like the 32' model. This will keep those tight right hand turns curb checks to a minimum. Joe.
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Old 01-18-2011, 08:44 PM   #5
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It will track straight if your tow vehicle is straight. However, since the pivot point is in the truck bed instead of behind you by a couple feet (as it would be with a TT), the slightest adjustment with your truck will make a big movement with the 5-r.

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Old 01-18-2011, 08:54 PM   #6
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With a 5th wheel trailer it begins to respond to the truck steering wheel slowly at first, but once it begins to react it does so quickly. This means once you have the 5er beginning to turn you must adjust the steering wheel back toward center some to keep from "oversteering" the trailer. The single most required accessory is a really good set of towing mirrors that allows you to see down both sides of the trailer, where the wheels are, and in your case the 5er roof-line. .
I repeat what Del said: : practice, practice!
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Old 01-18-2011, 09:17 PM   #7
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On the 5er the pivot point is slightly forward of the rear wheels which explains most of the difference in backing them up. But they will back as straight and true as a TT.
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Old 01-18-2011, 10:10 PM   #8
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A 5er is easier to back than a TT. have owned both and deliveried both from factory to dealers for long time. A rear view camera is a great help also. In my case to park my 38 foot 5er I have to make a lazy "S" in backing in and at a given point I have 12" clearance from the corner of the roof on one side and about the same distance from a chain link fence. No bobbles allowed at that point
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Old 01-19-2011, 07:10 AM   #9
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Thank you all for the responses. You have totally answered my question. I feel a lot more confident when and if I cross over to the fifth wheel. The travel trailer that I like has the same floor plan and the 5-er but with two main differences. The 5-er hasd a fiberglass roof and, of course, has an over all shorter length. Decisions decisions. Thanks again for you input. Joe.
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Old 01-19-2011, 10:35 PM   #10
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My fiver has an aluminum roof and have no experience with fiberglass roofs except for delivery ones which has to be washed prior to dealer accepting unit, Fiberglass can be one slick puppy when wet.
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Old 01-20-2011, 05:37 AM   #11
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RVHauler: You are absolutely correct on how "slippery" a fiberglass roof can be. That being said, "Excel" has address that issue by "dimpling" the face of their fiberglass for slip resistance. It is also fabricated in a 3/4" honeycomb pattern which look like it would out last the life of the coach. I have to say, that once I saw that roof, I find it hard not to want it on my next coach. My biggest limitation was the topic of my original post, room. I currently have the old, EPDM and it holding up well. Of course, we all have to do the obligatory semi-annual trek to the roof for the caulk inspection and "hope" that you caught the weak spot BEFORE it leaks! I'd just assume go "glass" IMHO. Joe.
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Old 01-20-2011, 08:20 AM   #12
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I've found backing a 36 foot class "A" is a LOT easier than backing a trailer.

Mine has a camera on the rear so with the mirrors, which I can remotely adjust up or down, and camera I never have a blind spot.

Maybe you may want to look into getting a class A.
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Old 01-20-2011, 04:14 PM   #13
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A motor coach is definitely doable, however, after long consideration it was determined that a tow-able best suits our needs. I guess that I am trying to reach "towing nirvana". I want the best and safest towing experience that I can possibly achieve. For me, the whole point of traveling and "getting away from it all" is not to leave my hectic job just to have a stressful towing scenario. Part of that equation is that I prefer the ultra low maintenance of a fiberglass roof if possible. Joe.
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Old 01-20-2011, 06:06 PM   #14
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Yes, the fiberglass roof is nice. Mine is fiberglass and I've been up there at least 50 times washing it, installing cables and vent covers. Washing it is easy too.
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