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Old 06-29-2014, 08:36 PM   #11
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Location: Dayton
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Congrats on your new Pinnacle. The DW and I love ours. Create a checklist that works for you to hook and unhook. Seen too many damaged pickup beds from assuming the hitch is locked closed. Ditto on the wide turns and watch your mirrors closely.
Almost forgot, welcome to the forum and we wish you many happy and safe camping days in your future.

Craig & Terry in Tennessee
2018 Pinnacle 36 KPTS,
2012 F350 CC LB King Ranch, 6.7L TD, Ford 25K hitch, TM TPMS, Diesel Site Coolant Filtration System

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Old 06-29-2014, 10:25 PM   #12
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Congratulations on the new addition Patrick. I'm sure you'll do just fine with maneuvering. While our new PUP isn't as big as your 5th wheeler, after my career in Architecture I decided I needed to do something different.....really different. You don't get much different than OTR truck driver.

I would recommend what others have suggested here also. Find a large parking lot (malls after hours are perfect) and practice, practice, practice. Practice straight line backing......pull straight forward and then back up as straight as possible. Try to get to the point that you can back up the length of a football field with as little movement of the steering wheel as possible. Once you feel comfortable with this, experiment with turning the steering wheel and how the trailer reacts while backing. The key is minor movements of the steering wheel. As you see the back end of the trailer starting to respond, get back under the trailer (translation: counter steer to get your truck lined back up with the trailer to stop the turning movement of the trailer end). Get a feel for this and how the movement of the trailer responds to the direction you steer.

Once you feel comfortable with this, the next step will prepare you back into just about any space. Line the truck and your trailer up with your wheels straight ahead. Set out 5 orange cones. One 24" behind your trailer centered with the trailer. Place one on each side of the trailer 24" out and even with your rear set of tires. The last 2 go 24" out on each side and even with your front tires on your truck. This configuration has just become your camping site. Pull out and turn to the left until your trailer has cleared the camping site and is inline with your truck. Now come the fun part. Back the trailer back into your camp site. Just reverse the movements you made with steering wheel getting out of the space.

Here's somethings to help you with this. Remember you're not steering the trailer, you're pushing the back end of the trailer where you want it go. If your hand is on the top of the steering wheel, turn the wheel towards the danger (i.e the thing you don't want to hit). If your hand is on the bottom of the steering wheel, move your hand in the direction you want the end of the trailer to go. I prefer the hand on the bottom of the steering wheel, you are less apt to make major movement this way. The key is back slowly and make minor movements with the steering wheel.

Backing into a space (dock or camping site) is easier done when coming from the left side of the space. Your focus mirror will be the driver side mirror. Coming in from the right side (blind side docking), your focus mirror is the passenger side......not as good.

When the back end of your trailer is at the point of the front cones, stop, put the gear in park, set your parking brakes and get out and walk around the trailer. Notice where the end of the trailer is in relation to the cones, where the truck is in relation to alignment with the trailer and how far the front wheels of the truck are turned. As you continue backing into the spot, you may want to stop again and walk around a second time. I drove for a company that required drivers to do that during the yard test. Its a good practice.

When you can do it from the left side without hitting the cones, then practice coming in from the right side (blind side) too.....you never know when you'll have to come in from that direction.

The key to success is practice and take your time.....it isn't a race. Once you experiment with these movements, you'll get the hang of it in no time. Three other things professional drivers always remember.....3 right turns always equal a left turn, it takes more distance than you think to fully stop ( in the tractor trailer, fully loaded, at highway speeds, it takes more than a football field to come to a complete controlled stop) and always leave yourself an out for evasive movements.

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Old 06-29-2014, 10:45 PM   #13
Lost in the Woods
Join Date: Jul 2013
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Thank you sir! I've been pulling a 5er and various other trailers for many years and never had such good instruction. I'll wager you have done a great service to many with your good advice!
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Old 06-30-2014, 07:56 AM   #14
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Google "Mark Polk" and you'll find he has a wide assortment of video products, from free clips to DVD's about the RV life. I bought this one: http://shop.rveducation101.com/tow-y...o-dvd-p169.php and the many tips in it were EXTREMELY useful. I felt much better about doing that first drive home, since I had watched it.

Our dealer directed us to a number of back streets adjacent to his lot where we could practice making turns without jumping the curb, etc. and getting familiar with how it handled, before we had to hit the busy streets/highways toward home. Then, even before home, we had already selected a deserted parking lot that was easy to get into, and spent a couple of hours with cones practicing backing. It was still nerve wracking backing into our drive the first time, but not as bad as it would have been!

Also search for "Jimmy Cox" on YouTube. He has a series of videos on how to back a tractor-trailer. Same theories apply to a 5th wheel. I found it very excellent for helping to understand ahead of time how all of this was going to work in real life.
2012 Ford F-150 Eco, SCrew, 4x4, MaxTow, HD Payload
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Old 07-06-2014, 07:20 AM   #15
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Location: Vienna
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Well, hopefully you have had a good first experience by now. We are pulling our first ever fifth wheeler also. Have pulled a lot of trailers before but first fifth wheeler. Main thing to remember is to make a wide a turn as possible to allow for the unit turning way inside the radius of your tow vehicle. Can be a costly experience. Also, get a good pair of the rubber wheel chocks to block your tires before hooking and unhooking. Not the cheap small yellow things from Camping World. Believe me, I learned this one the hard way. Main thing, relax and enjoy. Lot of memories to be made.

Joe Hinson
2010 Jayco Quest G2(SOLD)
2014 Jayco Eagle 33.5RETS
2007 Ram 2500 5.9L Cummins(SOLD)
2015 Ram 2500 6.7L Cummins 4WD
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Old 07-06-2014, 10:41 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by namusmc65 View Post
Main thing, relax and enjoy. Lot of memories to be made.
And hopefully, they're all good ones!!!
2017 Some Other Brand (SOB)
2013 Jayco Jay Feather X23B (She Gone)
2014 Ford Expedition
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Old 07-14-2014, 07:02 AM   #17
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Join Date: May 2014
Location: Gilbert
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Congrats and you will be fine!

My family just took delivery of our very first TT on May 17th, a 31.5 FBHS fifth wheel. I was feeling a little like you, pretty intimidated as I had never towed anything in my life and now I have the 32' thing behind my truck. You will find that driving forward is pretty easy once you understand where the trailer is going to track behind you. Situational awareness is key, I have done fine. i just returned from a 3500 mile road trip with our trailer and had no issues. Backing up is different though, Like everyone has said, practice, practice, practice...
Also, someone had suggested checklist, DO IT. You always forget something, I drove from Banff, Alta to Calgary, Alta with our television antenna up, no damage done, but could have been. One lesson already learned for my wife and I is ALWAYS CHECK THE CLEARANCE ON THE SLIDEOUTS BEFORE MOVING THEM. We went to extend out main slide-out and unbeknownst to us a cabinet door had opened during travel, that door got caught in the slide during operation and promptly got broken. Again, a checklist would have helped.

Congrats on the new FW!

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