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Old 02-05-2019, 10:00 PM   #1
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Fifth wheel towing question

My question is not about towing down the road or backing up - those will be difficult enough to learn. My question is about getting the trailer down the driveway.

Our driveway was not configured with an RV in mind. The entrance is off a dirt road and backing from the road into the driveway is a real challenge. I learned after much trial and error to do it with the travel trailer but what is easier and more sane is to enter the driveway face-first, and then pull off the drive into our field, loop around, and come back up into the driveway facing toward the road. Then I back down to my parking space.

Our property is sloped - not particularly steeply but still sloped - so that when I pull off the driveway down into the field there is an embankment I drop off, and when I pull back up I have to go up the same embankment. Easy with a travel trailer but the two problem points I see in the fifth wheel are when the truck is going downhill and the trailer is still on the drive, and then when the truck comes back up onto the drive and the trailer is still coming up the embankment. In both instances the rear of the trailer will be angled down in relation to the truck and I worry that the bottom of the trailer overhang will hit the truck's tailgate/bedrails. I won't know this until I get the trailer home from the dealer and try the turn-around move and would hate like heck to damage either of them.

Am I worrying for nothing? I'm asking folks who have experienced dropping off a campground road, for example, down to a site. There has to be some sort of articulation front-to-back in the truck/trailer combination, doesn't there? I can make some modifications before I pick up the trailer, like fill to ease the angle of drop-off, but do I need to? Would be an eyesore.
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Old 02-05-2019, 10:21 PM   #2
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No, you are not worrying for nothing! I have just under 6" between my trailer and the top of my bed rails and really have to watch the articulation of the trailer. It doesn't matter if I'm backing into a site or turning off a main road into a drive or parking lot.
I've been in a sticky situtation at a campground before. Backing it into a site was close. Pulling it out 3 days later got interesting. Good thing I keep four 18" length 2x6 planks with me. I had the wife out there building and moving them as a road two at a time to keep one side of the trailer as high as possible so it didnt contact the bed rails.
However, I do know that I have more of an issue like that with my 44' Northpoint because it is so long compared to my 34' Montana I had 3 trailers ago. The Montana being 10' shorter put the axles closer to the truck so it didnt articulate as much ( or could articulate more without hitting the bed rails, depending on how you look at it ) and I could put it in a lot of uneven sites. The northpoint, I keep a close eye on it.
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Old 02-05-2019, 10:26 PM   #3
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I will also add that backing a 5th wheel is much easier than a travel trailer. If the trailer gets a little cocked, you only have to pull forward a little bit and it will straighten out compared to a travel trailer that needs more forward to straighten out. You may want to try to back in from the road.
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Old 02-05-2019, 10:28 PM   #4
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No, you are not worrying for nothing! I have just under 6" between my trailer and the top of my bed rails and really have to watch the articulation of the trailer. It doesn't matter if I'm backing into a site or turning off a main road into a drive or parking lot.
I've been in a sticky situtation at a campground before. Backing it into a site was close. Pulling it out 3 days later got interesting. Good thing I keep four 18" length 2x6 planks with me. I had the wife out there building and moving them as a road two at a time to keep one side of the trailer as high as possible so it didnt contact the bed rails.
However, I do know that I have more of an issue like that with my 44' Northpoint because it is so long compared to my 34' Montana I had 3 trailers ago. The Montana being 10' shorter put the axles closer to the truck so it didnt articulate as much ( or could articulate more without hitting the bed rails, depending on how you look at it ) and I could put it in a lot of uneven sites. The northpoint, I keep a close eye on it.

That's what I was afraid of. I can bring in a load of fill and make a "ramp" from the driveway into the field which is what I may have to do until I can master the art of "backing up"
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Old 02-06-2019, 01:25 AM   #5
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That's what I was afraid of. I can bring in a load of fill and make a "ramp" from the driveway into the field which is what I may have to do until I can master the art of "backing up"
I think that's a really good idea, you really don't want solid contact on the underside first time you bring it home.
It took me a couple of tries but I've gotten pretty good backing up a big 5er and our current house/street doesn't have a ton of room to get it done. Really glad I'm not on a through street as that would just add to the stress with traffic and all that.
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Old 02-06-2019, 01:28 AM   #6
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This is what I was thinking that you can do, I like doing it to make it easier for me.
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Old 02-07-2019, 06:49 AM   #7
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I have a similar problem. The driveway to my property drops off rather quickly and even though I have about 8 of bedrail clearance Im pretty sure Id make contact if I attempted to pull my rig down the driveway and/or back down. What I did is bring in some fill and created a parking spot off to the side of the entrance to my driveway. I live on a very rural road, crime isnt an issue, and I can get my rig about 15 off the road. So far this has worked out very well.
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Old 02-07-2019, 07:24 AM   #8
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Thank you friends. I know the best thing to do is to figure out how to back the fifth into the driveway, and I will eventually do it. The stressful part is out at the end...the driveway crosses over a drainage swale and it's only 12' wide at that point. First time I backed the travel trailer in I nearly had a heart attack. There is some pull-forward room but not a lot, and as has been said it takes a good bit of room to straighten out a travel trailer, so it must have taken me a good half-hour of inching forward, inching back, get-out-to-look, before I got it.

Anyway, thanks for sharing your suggestions and experiences. Hate like heck to dump fill out there in the field because it will be there until the end of time - although eventually it will grass over - and I'll probably be able to get in the driveway backwards after some practice, but after all the sound and fury at the dealer and then the first drive home I can see myself wanting to just park that trailer and have a drink (or two).
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Old 02-07-2019, 08:33 PM   #9
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The road leading to our house is gravel and barely wide enough for two cars to pass. My driveway is 12 feet wide with ditches on both sides. The driveway sits at a 100 degree angle to the road. I can back the FW in fairly easily by taking my time and making minor corrections. Not bragging, just letting you know it can be done with some practice and patience. I have to occasionally do this when the cul-de-sac is muddy otherwise I only have an 80 degree angle to negotiate.
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Old 02-07-2019, 08:39 PM   #10
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The road leading to our house is gravel and barely wide enough for two cars to pass. My driveway is 12 feet wide with ditches on both sides. The driveway sits at a 100 degree angle to the road. I can back the FW in fairly easily by taking my time and making minor corrections. Not bragging, just letting you know it can be done with some practice and patience. I have to occasionally do this when the cul-de-sac is muddy otherwise I only have an 80 degree angle to negotiate.

You just keep giving me confidence 2nOZ. That's the talk I need.
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Old 02-07-2019, 09:27 PM   #11
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I have faith in ya Killer! Give it a whirl backing it up the driveway when you get it. Traffic on the road will stop, you're bigger than they are! Lol! Worst case is you cant get it all the way, so you pull away. Take your time, have a spotter, and dont get all flustered. My Northpoint is 44'. Add the bike rack on the back and its 48'. My driveway is 80' long. I have a 25' apron up the side of the driveway to the front edge of the house then 35' along the side of the house. That concrete is 11' wide and I have an overhang and gutter that sticks out 18" from the front of the house going down the side. At the rear of the pad is my air conditioner that sticks out just under 3'. There is literally 1" of clearance between the A/C unit and the side of my trailer. I have about 3" to 6" of clearance between the sharp corner of the gutter and the side of the trailer. My truck is a crew cab, long bed, dually too. I ain't crashed into none of it yet and normally get it in one or two trays. So, if I can back this big bastard on that tiny bit of concrete real estate, I have faith in you getting yours in your driveway.
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Old 02-07-2019, 09:42 PM   #12
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I have faith in ya Killer! Give it a whirl backing it up the driveway when you get it. Traffic on the road will stop, you're bigger than they are! Lol! Worst case is you cant get it all the way, so you pull away. Take your time, have a spotter, and dont get all flustered. My Northpoint is 44'. Add the bike rack on the back and its 48'. My driveway is 80' long. I have a 25' apron up the side of the driveway to the front edge of the house then 35' along the side of the house. That concrete is 11' wide and I have an overhang and gutter that sticks out 18" from the front of the house going down the side. At the rear of the pad is my air conditioner that sticks out just under 3'. There is literally 1" of clearance between the A/C unit and the side of my trailer. I have about 3" to 6" of clearance between the sharp corner of the gutter and the side of the trailer. My truck is a crew cab, long bed, dually too. I ain't crashed into none of it yet and normally get it in one or two trays. So, if I can back this big bastard on that tiny bit of concrete real estate, I have faith in you getting yours in your driveway.

Damn you my friend! Hold my beer! Thanks for the good words. You folks are giving me confidence
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Old 02-08-2019, 05:37 AM   #13
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First thing to learn is??? USE YOUR MIRRORS when you stick your head out the window you will turn the wrong way. If you have room on your drive way( no bushes, mail boxes sitting close to the drive way) watch your tires and not the back of the camper. Get the truck and trailer on the same side of the road of your drive when the back of the truck passes the drive turn across the road taking both lanes when the trailer tires are 10' past the drive start backing the truck under the camper watching the tires and back it in. ( If the wife is back there telling me what to do I put it in park and offer her the wheel and that is when she goes inside and leave me alone)
You don't need the distractions when learning!!
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Old 02-08-2019, 07:07 AM   #14
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First thing to learn is??? USE YOUR MIRRORS when you stick your head out the window you will turn the wrong way. If you have room on your drive way( no bushes, mail boxes sitting close to the drive way) watch your tires and not the back of the camper. Get the truck and trailer on the same side of the road of your drive when the back of the truck passes the drive turn across the road taking both lanes when the trailer tires are 10' past the drive start backing the truck under the camper watching the tires and back it in. ( If the wife is back there telling me what to do I put it in park and offer her the wheel and that is when she goes inside and leave me alone)
You don't need the distractions when learning!!

I saw on the Michigan Travelers website something like what you're describing. They call it the Z Method. They say to hug the driveway side of the road, and when the truck rear axle reaches the left side of the driveway to cut the wheel hard to the right and go across the road as far as possible (there's a drainage ditch over there so I don't want to go too far ) and then cut hard left and pull forward a bit until the trailer is pointed at the drive. Then turn hard right and start backing up until the trailer is jacked at about the angle I want and start chasing it around. Looks easy when it's on the screen but it probably won't be like that. Also I need my wife out there...there are drainage ditches all around me and I need her to tell me where I am in relation to them. I don't want my Cadillac to have a wheel in the ditch and a wheel on the track . Thank you for your reply. Boosting a guy's confidence is a good thing, something we should all try to do more often.
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Old 02-08-2019, 08:35 AM   #15
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I only try to use half of the second lane so I have plenty of road and shoulder to chase it around. If you have to pull forward do it in small steps and then back up again. Moving forward a little will change things in the back a long ways. Practice in a mall parking lot early in the day or the middle of the night. The width of 2 parking stalls is close to the width of the road. Take traffic cones pillows or anything that won't damage the truck and trailer and start backing to see what things you can back over. Make a game out off it so you don't get the blood pressure up. Also practice doing it on the blind side a lot of sites I camp at are blind side backing in and I am better at that because I can't get my head stuck out the window and have to use the MIRRORS. I will adjust my power mirror on the passenger site at times when backing in so I can keep track of my tires.
Have fun so you are not the talk of the campground for the weekend.. LOL Over the years I have backed a lot of Campers into their spots because they thought they had a pull thru spot.
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Old 02-13-2019, 04:06 PM   #16
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I have 2 not so level acres and my Andersen hitch allows me to put my 41' 5th wheel almost anywhere on the property. Check them out Andersen's web site - https://andersenhitches.com/Catalog/...onnection.aspx
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Old 02-13-2019, 11:03 PM   #17
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You are not worrying for nothing! A sharp drop off can get your trailer into the top of the bed before you know it. You are right, the fill will grass over and you will have a good place to turn around even when it is wet. Good luck, enjoy!!
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Old 02-15-2019, 07:12 PM   #18
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I have a tad less than 6 inches clearance above the elevated rails for my tonneau cover and have to back the FW down to my garage and storage site. I had to haul in some fill to smooth out the otherwise sudden descent and it is still uncomfortably close. We go back about an inch at a time while DW watches very very closely. Still don't like it much. Thinking about more fill next spring.
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