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Old 04-28-2018, 04:11 PM   #1
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Backing up a 5th wheel vs a motorhome.

Recently purchased a 28' 5th wheel for another family member. My RV is a 41' single rear axle diesel motorhome. I can back up my motorhome usually in one try. Seldom do I have to back and forth.
But the 5th wheel is a pain. Lucky If I can get it in in 10 tries. Even backing a bumper pull is easier.
The 5er does not initially react to input then suddenly over turns. It does seem easier if I can keep moving in reverse to see which way it is reacting. I use the mirrors only.
Good suggestions please.
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Old 04-28-2018, 04:21 PM   #2
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Practice!
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Old 04-28-2018, 04:45 PM   #3
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I had a 43 foot tri axel 5er. I now have a 43 foot tag axel Class A. I have a much easier time backing up the motorhome than I ever did backing up the fifth wheel.
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Old 04-28-2018, 04:53 PM   #4
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yes, several differences in axle placements, and turning points, between the two...

I certainly liked pull thrus a LOT with our original Ram3500 dually and 40’ Blackwood bunkhouse!...probably 30+’ between the rear duallies and the trailer axles
but, now I don’t care if it’s a pull thru or backin, either is easy...only 20’ of wheelbase
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Old 04-28-2018, 06:03 PM   #5
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Well you have already got the correct idea.........

"The 5er does not initially react to input then suddenly over turns."

YES a 5vr goes respond slower AT FIRST so you have to be aware of that and then when it does respond..........need to have faster input

Also helps if you back in from drivers side so you can look out window, see 5vr tires and guide them along an imaginary line to where you want trailer to end up

The 'Swoop Method' also helps

Approach site road with truck/trailer close to that side.
Then when 5vr front set of tires reach nearest edge of site road turn truck sharply away from site road
When truck is at a 45* turn truck back so it is parallel to main road
5vr should be at a 45* and lined up for backing in to site

Remember...Slow respond then CHASE it quickly with input from truck while moving slowing backwards
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Old 04-28-2018, 06:15 PM   #6
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yes, and there's also the difference between 'drive wheels', and 'trailer wheels', as one is creating the movement, while the other is only responding to it.
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Old 04-28-2018, 06:29 PM   #7
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When I back in our 5th at home I have an extremely tight margins so we open the slides due to the garage and required screening fence. Width wise I have to be +/- 1.5 inches of a mark and within two inches lengthwise. I can see this as I back in and make adjustments as I go.

I also have a single axle boat trailer that is much easier to backup.

The key is to make very small movements in the steering wheel after you get the trailer to jack on the first turn. Much, much smaller than I do with the boat. As the OP stated it takes about 10 ft of travel before the rear of the 5th begins to move. So always have enough travel length to make some adjustments in the baking process.

As post #2 said, practice, practice and go slow, very slow with only small changes in the steering wheel. Having a spotter in view is very important in most cases. Make sure they understand if they can't see you in the side mirror, you can't see them. Before you start to back in, get out and do a 360 walk around to inspect what is there including overhead. Discuss with your spotter where you want the rear or wheels to end up and have pre-agreed upon hand signals. We have over the head hands free radios where we can both speak at the same time, unlike regular walkie-talkies. Also, you will find other campers more than willing to "assist" you. Just tell them no thanks in nice terms.

Sooner or later you may need to back in on the blind side (passenger's side). This is even harder sometimes.

Good luck, have fun and be safe...
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Old 04-28-2018, 06:31 PM   #8
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I finally learned how to accurately back my Class C. I watch the side mirrors only and turn the wheel the direction that I want the back end, as I see it in the mirror, to go. With a trailer of any kind the trick is to turn the wheel in the opposite way from what I see in the mirror. The important thing for me is NOT to view the rear end except thru the side mirrors. That way I don’t have to think about left, right, opposite, etc. If I change my view it scrambles my already struggling brain.
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Old 04-28-2018, 08:11 PM   #9
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As others have said practice , practice, practice. The "swoop" method as described by old-biscuit works well. With enough practice it will become second nature. Over 20 years I had 5th wheels and could put it anywhere. I now have a class A and although the principles are different I can't say one is easier than the other.
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Old 04-28-2018, 08:24 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fiesta48 View Post
Recently purchased a 28' 5th wheel for another family member. My RV is a 41' single rear axle diesel motorhome. I can back up my motorhome usually in one try. Seldom do I have to back and forth.
But the 5th wheel is a pain. Lucky If I can get it in in 10 tries. Even backing a bumper pull is easier.
The 5er does not initially react to input then suddenly over turns. It does seem easier if I can keep moving in reverse to see which way it is reacting. I use the mirrors only.
Good suggestions please.
I have a 34' motorhome. Never will say it is easy to back up, but getting into a camp space using something like the lazy-daze 3-1 method works well. I own a 19' boat and pull it behind a pickup and can thread it anywhere. When I first backed up a 5th wheel, first thing I saw was that it is different, but significantly easier. Since the hinge point on the trailer is over the rear axle, it is not near as touchy as something with an overhang with the trailer hitched to the back (as in my boat).

Main thing you need to back up anything with skill is nothing more or less than some practice. I generally go to a dead empty parking lot on a Sunday, mark off a lane, etc, with simple masking tape, and then get familiar with the rig. 5th wheel is easier to me than my boat, but it wasn't the first time I tried because it seemed harder to make the 5th wheel begin the turn, and you are reluctant to let the truck get at too sharp an angle relative to the trailer because you know that doing that with a rear hitch can damage the truck, or the boat, or boat when you cause the truck/boat to contact each other.
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Old 04-28-2018, 08:46 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by okmunky View Post
I finally learned how to accurately back my Class C. I watch the side mirrors only and turn the wheel the direction that I want the back end, as I see it in the mirror, to go. With a trailer of any kind the trick is to turn the wheel in the opposite way from what I see in the mirror. The important thing for me is NOT to view the rear end except thru the side mirrors. That way I donít have to think about left, right, opposite, etc. If I change my view it scrambles my already struggling brain.
That's to all responders. I was over correcting. I'm trying to back the 5er next to the MH with enough room to get one slide out, but still be on the driveway, next to the house overhang. Only inches to spare in every direction.
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Old 04-28-2018, 08:55 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Fiesta48 View Post
That's to all responders. I was over correcting. I'm trying to back the 5er next to the MH with enough room to get one slide out, but still be on the driveway, next to the house overhang. Only inches to spare in every direction.
Go to a shopping center parking lot early on a Sunday morning and practice. Maybe get a few cones. You will have a lot of room and you can practice different backing scenarios
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Old 04-28-2018, 09:51 PM   #13
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https://youtu.be/RLtfrBWzNCw

The scoop method.

I agree that a fifth wheel is very different than even a bumper pull and have found as others shared... practice with some practice is the best answer. Large empty parking lot is the way to go when practicing.
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Old 04-29-2018, 04:47 PM   #14
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Iím certainly no expert but I find that if I place my hand at the bottom of the steering wheel and turn the wheel counter clockwise the trailer goes right. Clockwise it goes to the left. You have to get used to the trailer turning in the opposite direction of the direction you are turning the steering wheel. I think bigger trailers are easier for me BECAUSE of the delayed response. Little 5x8s and such that are immediate frustrate me to no end.
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