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Old 01-19-2022, 12:22 PM   #1
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RV Handling - The Countdown Begins

I’m fairly certain this will give many of you seasoned owners a chuckle, BUT…here goes...

This coming Saturday (01/22/2022) I hope to FINALLY take our RV out for the first time. I’ve got the RV – Paradigm 310RL, got the truck – 2022 F350, and got the hitch – B&W Companion 18K slider hitch. We’ve had the fifth wheel since the end of September 2021. It’s been sitting being loaded, play-camped in on several occasions (no overnights though), and being prepped to use in the back of the dealer lot. I’ve watched so many dadgum YouTube videos and scoured forum posts to try and figure out who, what, when, where, how, and why all the stuff we need. So, I THINK we’re prepared. Well, maybe.

Did I mention I have NEVER EVER towed a 36 ft trailer before? Drove a big U-Haul truck once from SC to FL but never hauled an RV. But that was it. Wait, I take that back…in 2004 I “drove” the USS John F Kennedy AIRCRAFT CARRIER for a short time while out on a deployment. If you think an RV responds slow when backing up try doing a U-turn with an aircraft carrier. Took us almost 10 minutes! So, I guess that 1000+ foot ship was longer but then I was on the water and not a street so it doesn’t really count here.

With all that said – how the heck do I safely haul this Fifth around and not get myself, my truck, and the fifth wheel into trouble? I know, open ended and loaded question. But I’m downright scared out of my wits on how to handle this thing. I know turns must be wide. You must go slow when maneuvering in campgrounds and parking lots. Stay in the right lane on the highway most of the time. Don’t drive any faster than 65 on the interstate. Start slowing down sooner than when not towing because of the weight of the 15K trailer I’m hauling, etc.

But, what is the trick to parking? How far past a back-in space do I need to be before starting to back up? How far do I pull up next to an angled pull-thru space before I start my turn into the space? I will use pull-thru sites as much as I can, but my storage location is back-in. So, I’m backing up regardless. I will have a Haloview7 Camera and two side cameras installed on the rig. Plus, my wife will be in the back spotting for me – I’ll need to video that because the yelling WILL happen. LOL. I also will have the RV gimble assembly that works with the Ford Trailer backup system to use as well.

I’m just looking for pointers and help here to try and not have things go south the first day. Hell, coming out of the RV dealership I have to turn right, then get into the left-hand turn lane to make a U-turn at a stoplight, then get onto I-95 North to head to my storage facility. Not sure if I’ll try the U-turn or go thru the light and take a right thru a subway parking lot so I can make a normal left turn at the light I would have done the U-turn at. All this in about a 2-block area of roadway.

Looking for help, suggestions, real-world experience, tips, etc. I realize I’m probably setting myself up for some off-the-cuff answers. But staying safe, not damaging anything, AND keeping my sanity while driving is my goal here. So, anyone got any tips I can use? Thanks in advance - Bill (3 days and counting..tick..tock..tick..tock)
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Old 01-19-2022, 02:45 PM   #2
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Maybe find a big empty parking lot. Then, with wife and 2 way radios, practice turning, backing, etc.

Good luck, and have fun!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bhidalgo View Post
I’m fairly certain this will give many of you seasoned owners a chuckle, BUT…here goes... what is the trick to parking?
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Old 01-19-2022, 02:49 PM   #3
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It would appear you have very little experience hauling trailers. We have no idea how familiar you are with driving a pickup truck of that length and wheelbase either.

All I can suggest is that you first become familiar with the truck a little bit before hooking up. Most RV places are near industrial areas or large shopping centers or mall outlets. Try picking up the trailer during low traffic times so you're not too stressed out. Find a large and rather empty parking lot where you can practice reverse and turning maneuvers. Bonus points if the lot has clear striping to guide you. If you have access to a bunch of traffic cones you could use them for practice parking maneuvers.

You will catch on pretty fast if not under stress. A 5th wheel typically takes more "swing" room to back up and turn into vs a TT, but it is generally a more predictable parking job if sight lines are free.

I didn't check on your tow vehicle, but if it's still traditional style hydraulic power steering don't hold the wheel at the lock stops for any length of time, your power steering pump will thank you.
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Old 01-19-2022, 02:53 PM   #4
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Lessons

If in your shoes and your considerable investment in new equipment, I would hire someone to train me on the basics. Most likely one of the dealer RV techs or sales people either know how or know someone that would be happy to moonlight as an instructor for some beer money. That would be my next call. Good luck out there!
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Old 01-19-2022, 04:40 PM   #5
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You're asking a lot, a lot of typing I mean, to try to condense decades of experience into a few paragraphs. But just a couple off the top of my head.

As far as your wife giving directions, the only thing to remember is that if you cannot see your wife STOP. Tell her she MUST be in view of your mirrors AT ALL TIMES, radios, cell phones or not. Plus, your wife shouldn't be giving you directions. My wife's job is to stand in our spot and give me a target for either the left or right rear of our trailer, and then her only other job is to watch and make sure I don't hit any low hanging branches, picnic tables, power pedestals, etc.

Turns aren't so much about swinging wide, in fact that's bloody dangerous to be swinging into someone else's lane and entirely unneccesary. It's more about turning "late", and by that I mean your keep driving straight until you are almost past the lane you want to turn into, then turn sharp and hard. That way you'll make your turn but also do it while completely staying in your lane. Drives me nuts when there's 2 left turn lanes and the guy in the right lane cuts you off by being completely in "your" lane, halfway through the corner. Watch your trailer as you make the turn and you'll get to know pretty quick how the truck/trailer moves around corners. ALWAYS check your mirrors EVERY turn to make sure you're clear.

Second the going to a parking lot and just practice backing up, see how fast the trailer responds. Try backing up in a straight line. Go slow with the steering, most newbies to backing up simply over correct too much and make things more difficult.

Keep a safe distance, meaning way more than you're used to. You'll still be able to stop, but it'll take longer/farther.

Don't rush, anything, take your time and try to relax.

Forget the U-turn, just go till there's a big parking lot you can pull into and get yourself turned around in, then head back the way you want. Remember that 3 rights make a left as well, so you can always go past your intersection, then make 3 rights to get back to that intersection so you can do as you thought, then turn left.

Hopefully your storage lot isn't jammed tight. I'd go to your lot, measure how wide your space is, and how far it is across from the front of your site to the other side so you know how much room you have to maneuver in. Then once you're hooked up, head to an empty parking lot and setup your storage lot with cones, tennis balls, coke cans, etc. and practice backing into your site while keeping within the constraints of the lot. Again while backing into your site, your wife should be watching that you don't back into anything, and tell her to remember to look up, 9 times out of 10 and RV will hit something up high vs their bumper.

Hope this helps a bit. Congrats on your new truck/trailer, enjoy.
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Old 01-19-2022, 07:39 PM   #6
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Slow and smooth
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Old 01-19-2022, 08:08 PM   #7
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Check trailer tail swing

It's important to determine the pivot point and tail swing of your trailer so you know how far away from an obstacle or vehicle you need to be when turning.

As someone else said, take it slow and stay calm.
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Old 01-19-2022, 10:10 PM   #8
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RV Handling - The Countdown Begins

All good advice on here, especially open parking lot practice including doing a mock up of your storage facility situation and practicing a bit before parking there if possible.

Another thing that is VERY important is learning the routine for safely hitching and unhitching the rig to ensure your hitch is latched and locked around your king pin. Make a written checklist and stick to it. Always do a “pull test” when you hook up.

I have a pre-flight checklist that includes everything interior and exterior, including hitching up and pull test, that needs to be done and/or checked before travel. I’ll be glad to share and you can modify as needed for your specifics. (pm me if interested.)

Congrats and safe travels,
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Old 01-19-2022, 10:14 PM   #9
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Take some time in an open parking lot to figure out how to use your mirrors when backing up. This is a link to a boating mag, but I like the tips in the article.

https://www.boatingmag.com/backing-u...using-mirrors/
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Old 01-19-2022, 11:08 PM   #10
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Another vote for taking your rig to an empty parking lot where you can practice backing it up. Practice backing straight, and to both sides. Also practice pulling into pull-thru spots at various angles. Doing so will take a lot of the stress out of parking at RV parks and will help you feel more comfortable towing overall.
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Old 01-20-2022, 04:29 AM   #11
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If you can avoid it don't back to your blind side. Electric mirrors also help as you can reposition them as the RV swings. Always look for drooping limbs and leaning trees before you start backing. Ignore the looky loos, it's not their RV you are going to damage. And the biggest thing...................
Don't get in a hurry because there is someone behind you on a narrow campground road.
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Old 01-20-2022, 06:43 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kdauto View Post
It would appear you have very little experience hauling trailers. We have no idea how familiar you are with driving a pickup truck of that length and wheelbase either.

All I can suggest is that you first become familiar with the truck a little bit before hooking up. Most RV places are near industrial areas or large shopping centers or mall outlets. Try picking up the trailer during low traffic times so you're not too stressed out. Find a large and rather empty parking lot where you can practice reverse and turning maneuvers. Bonus points if the lot has clear striping to guide you. If you have access to a bunch of traffic cones you could use them for practice parking maneuvers.

You will catch on pretty fast if not under stress. A 5th wheel typically takes more "swing" room to back up and turn into vs a TT, but it is generally a more predictable parking job if sight lines are free.

I didn't check on your tow vehicle, but if it's still traditional style hydraulic power steering don't hold the wheel at the lock stops for any length of time, your power steering pump will thank you.
Appreciate the info. I've hauled smaller trailers before just nothing of this length. Have had about a dozen F150's in the past and am now in my 2nd SuperDuty. The difference between this rig and the lawn care trailers I used to pull is non-comparable. I know I've got my work cut out for me now. Familiarity and practice all work best for me focusing on and learning. I may just be overthinking all this - finally at the finish line after waiting almost 8 months for it all to get to this point.

Planning to pick it up on Saturday and there's an outlet mall parking just around the corner that is on the downslide, so I may head there and do some parking lot practice everyone as suggested. Already have plenty orange cones here at home to use as well to run over. R// Bill
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Old 01-20-2022, 06:47 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jjackrash View Post
Take some time in an open parking lot to figure out how to use your mirrors when backing up. This is a link to a boating mag, but I like the tips in the article.

https://www.boatingmag.com/backing-u...using-mirrors/
Thanks for the link. Looks like another tool to work with. Sometimes it's the simple things that help the most. R//Bill
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Old 01-20-2022, 07:23 AM   #14
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Everyone towing a fiver had a first time and very few people struggle with it. More than likely you'll have no trouble learning at all. I think backing up a trailer can be learned in a few minutes with a good teacher yet some people struggle for years on their own and never really get the hang of it. You might want to find a retired commercial trucker to take you out and help you learn to back up.
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