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Old 04-13-2015, 08:20 PM   #1
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First time backing up-stories to share

Saw a recent thread from Beelbill on backing up his new fifth wheel.

I have never backed up anything longer than a 10-15' trailer before I got this 33BHBS.

I started wondering if other fellow Jayco owners would share their first experience backing up their first trailer or motorhome. Could help those that have anxiety....or could make it worse.

Here is my "first time backing up story" that I posted on the other thread:

"Was backing my new TT into my single car driveway with the wife "guiding" me. There was still snow melting in the yard. Went wide and she said "You're in the yard". Didn't think nothing of it. Tried to pull forward.. No movement. Tried to backup... no movement. Thought of two things at that moment. Either I pulled the emergency trailer brake cable or I broke my truck. That's when my wife walked up and said again " you're IN the yard". Got out and looked. Sure enough, I was IN the yard alright. Sunk the trailer right up to the axles on the passenger side due to the melting snow water saturated yard. Had to repair the massive divot and two sprinkler heads.
Oh well, practice makes perfect. Next time it only took one try to get it in the first try."

Brian, Michelle and 2 boys
2010 Toyota Tundra Crew Max 5.7L
2015 Jayco White Hawk 33BHBS Summit Edition, Glacier Package
Equil-I-Zer WDH
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Old 04-13-2015, 08:41 PM   #2
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I took to backing up trailers of any size very easy. I had a good teacher. I have backed up everything from small flatbed/tilt bed snow machine utility trailers to long 44 footers and even the military tracked SUSV (snow cat looking machine) which uses articulated steering and both the trailer and the front tracks drive.
However, that is not to say I have not had my mistakes. I had had my first TT for over a year. We were on the first outing of the summer. The campground we were at lined the campsite parking space with railroad ties. Not the sunk into the ground type. These were on top of the ground and kept in place by a long spike. I told the DW where I had envisioned I wanted the door to be. Well she kept telling me further, would walk around both sides and guide me back to where I wanted to door to line up. There was a moment which seemed like I was up against something. I asked DW what I hit. She went to the back of the trailer and told there was nothing there. I gave it a bit more gas and felt it go freely. Soon there after she yelled stop.
I got out of the TV and went back to start the process of unhooking. That is when I noticed, I had backed right over the railroad tie. DW said she didnt even notice because she was concentrating on lining the door up where I wanted it.
Well, not my TT tires were about 4 inches behind the railroad tie. So I tried to pull forward.... notice I said tried... it didn't work. by now there were spectators.
Problem was the ground sloped away behind the railroad tie drastically. The top of the railroad tie was only about a half an inch below the frame of the trailer and infront of the leaf spring bracket. Whenever I pulled forward, I would hit the leaf spring bracket.
Then the campground experts started showing up and I had what seemed like 100 pieces of advice on how to get it out.
In the end, we used bottle jacks and raised the TT and put blocks under the wheels until it was high enough to come over the railroad tie.

The biggest question I kept having to answer was: "didn't you feel yourself backing over the railroad tie?" "Why didn't you stop when you hit the railroad tie?"

Wisdom only comes from the experiences of making mistakes.

2015 White Hawk 25BHS Glacier Package
2004 Dodge Ram 2500, 5.7 Hemi, 5Spd Manual
2008 Arctic Cat M1000 SnoPro
Previous: Northface tent/Komfort 5er/Jamboree MH
Lance Cabover/Prowler TT/WildernessTT/Tiltin Hiltin Cabover/Starcraft popup
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Old 04-13-2015, 09:14 PM   #3
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Backing a travel trailer

We use two radios .It works great I don't have to keep trying to keep my wife in view. She is free to walk around and help me avoid all the hazards. I was taught to keep my hands on the bottom of the wheel and turn the wheel in the direction I want the trailer to go. I have found that the longer the trailer the easier it is to backup.
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Old 04-13-2015, 09:18 PM   #4
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That is a fair size camper for the Crew Max! I picked up our Jay Flight 32TSBH from the dealer last year and when I got home with it the wife had run to the store. We live about a 1/2 mile in on a dirt road. Its a pretty nice road but still its a dirt camp road with a lot of low branches and not all that wide. For our house I have to pull past the mail box and back in the driveway. Now in the military I've towed my share of very large aircraft and backed into a much tighter spots. But without spotters or a tow super it was more nerve racking than backing a 100M aircraft into a hanger with 6" on the wing tips! I know I have the room but it messes with your head. With 21 years of safety drilled into everything I do while in the Air Force its hard to justify the risk. We had 4 trips last year and so far everything has worked out good...no battle scars yet! I'm putting cameras on the truck and trailer this year to help. With the crew cab, 8' bed and 37 total feet of trailer its a long way back there!!!
2015 Jay Flight 32TSBH
2001 Ford F-350 7.3 CC Dually...275K
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Old 04-13-2015, 09:53 PM   #5
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I have a funny storey about that, it was my parents backing the trailer up when i was a kid. In a campsite in Tofino, BC they somehow ended up backing the trailer up so that a 5' tall tree stump was right beside the hitch in between our van and the trailer! I still remember the headsmacking and the tears, but to this day we all laugh about it. "How the heck?" Now i have a 30 footer of my own. Ive pulled a lot of different types of trailers and actually find the smaller ones to be trickier (industrial/construction compressor trailers are the worst).

The trick i find is super helpful is to get the trailer positioned in the angle you want to reverse in by pulling forward in the opposite direction. That might not seem like it makes sense, but i can usually make tighter turns by doing that. It starts the "cutting in" sooner, right away when you start reversing. Have confidence, go slow. If it starts going in the wrong direction, pull ahead, Straighten out, and start again. Its no rush, the beer will still be cold when youre parked!

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Old 04-14-2015, 12:20 AM   #6
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I learned on backing up trailers when I worked for my brother in law who had u haul dealership. It was a very good learning experience. Then we got a tent trailer and had no problems. Well along came our new TT that we bought 3yrs ago and that was the first time I towed anything over 14' long. Ours is 24' and the hardest thing to get used to was seeing nothing but trailer in the rear view mirror. I towed it home and needed to out it in a single car wide driveway. It took me a couple tries but I got it in. My sport mirrors on my truck weren't wide enough for me to see the sides without the tow mirror extension which I bought right away. Now when we bought our new home 2 yrs ago it is located on a dead end road with a round about 5 houses before my house that I have to navigate around and then back it up all the way from there into my driveway and park it on the gravel pad beside the driveway. I found that it was best to remove my WDH before hand to make maneuvering easier. It is too hard to remove the WDH otherwise. I find it super easy now that I am so used to it and I don't need a spotter.
2012 Jayco Jayfeather X213
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Old 04-14-2015, 11:06 AM   #7
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I will say this: backing trailers is very much a perishable skill.

I spent my youth backing trailers all the time; boat trailers, long tandem axle utility trailers, short single axle trailers... I was actually really good at it, and could always get the trailer wherever I wanted it. When I got my travel trailer, I hadn't backed anything at all in about 5 years or so. It felt like I'd never done it before!

One of the first times I backed the TT was in a tight CG. There was a handy man there and my wife to "help". It wasn't so much about my skills as it was about the rig being WAY too big to put it where I wanted (and of course my lacking practice). After about 10 mins of trying to cram my trailer in this spot while respecting all the landscaping and other equipment around me, I ended up just saying F-it and backed the trailer way out the back of the spot, down into a slight drainage culvert between the CG property and the next lot over, and pulled it up forward into position. Luckily there was no parking barricade and the ground was dry. There wasn't an overtly obvious audience, but I could feel the eyes upon me from all the windows...

Still have not been back to that park since...

2014 Jay Flight 28 BHBE
2015 RAM 2500 6.4L HEMI, Tradesman 4x4, 3.73
Blue Ox SwayPro (BXW 1503)

Upgraded from an REI internal frame backpack and a Eureka 1/2 dome tent!
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Old 04-14-2015, 12:51 PM   #8
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Back in '86, the wife, kids & I picked up our brand new travel trailer from the dealer and headed out to a state park where friends were camped. We arrived after dark and when we saw the campsite our friends had saved for us, I realized I would need to come at the site from the opposite direction.

As we maneuvered through the pitch black park, I found a place to get turned around. As I put the TV in reverse, DW asked if I would like her to guide me back. I said no and started backing. Next thing I know, the trailer hit something!

Stupid place for a tree, right where I was trying to back blindly in the dark. Since then S.W.M.B.O. (she who must be obeyed) gets the benefit of any doubt.
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Old 04-15-2015, 08:58 AM   #9
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SWMBO, love it. Today's first laugh, thank you!
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Old 04-15-2015, 12:47 PM   #10
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I don't know why but for some reason backing up my trailer just came naturally. My truck is 22' and the trailer is 34' with some space in between. It's long... but I've not had any issues with backing it up and maneuvering it.

I have backed it into a space with nearly zero side clearance, going up a hill, in the pitch dark of night. So far, I've never hit anything and I don't have to reposition / retry repeatedly. I guess I am lucky that for some reason I can just visualize the angle of approach and it just works out almost dead on.

I do find that backing in a long trailer is actually easier than a really short trailer. The short ones get sideways very quickly whereas the long ones seem a bit more forgiving since turns are slower.

I have a short 10' utility trailer and that thing ends up over corrected so fast when backing up that it makes me crazy. I look like a complete rookie backing that thing up and a pro backing up the giant travel trailer. Go figure...

Joelton, TN
2013 Ford F350 Lariat Crew Cab 4x4 6.7 Diesel 3.55 Long Bed
2013 Jayco White Hawk 30DSRE
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