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D-GOOSE

PARKING LIKE A "PRO"...

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D-GOOSE

Just received this in my E- mail and thought it may help some people.

PARKING LIKE A "PRO"...

by Bob (Ram) Muessig

Recently, at RVers ONLINE, I submitted an article regarding the similarities among pilots, truckers, and RV drivers. While it's true that many of already know how to handle our rigs safely (often via the School of Hard Knocks), it's also true that a greater number of us don't. Now, if we don't want our benevolent (I use that term loosely) politicians stepping in and telling us that we must take driving courses, get special license endorsements, and, in general, be regulated like the airline & trucking industries, then more of us need to learn.

I keep harping about "using a checklist". The reasons are many and good, but the most basic is this: if you have that checklist in your hand each time you step into that rig, it will tweak your awareness that this is NOT your car, NOT a trip to the grocery store; this is a whole new ballgame. Just that awareness could save your life. So - first, go over your checklist. When everything checks out, head for the nearest vacant parking lot (every town has one) - church, mall, whatever. Pick out a parking space and pull in straight between the lines. Stop, get out, and carefully examine how you are aligned in that space. If your rig is straight and centered in the space, that's good, for that's where you'll want to start. This is exactly like a pull-through space in an RV park.

OK...pretend that the end of the line (on the driver's side and nearest the front of your rig) is a tree. When you pull forward and turn left (leaving the space), watch your rear-view mirror or stick your head out of the window and make sure that your trailer wheels on the left never touch that line (hit the tree). If they do...there's a repair bill. If you think of how much it costs to fix it each time you wreck it, you'll get real careful REAL fast! For now, just be glad you're in an open lot instead of a crowded campground with everybody watching. If you didn't get it right the first time, do it again. Continue practicing until you're able to do it three times in succession. You may find it wise to have someone with you, on the outside, to laugh...Sorry...I meant "guide you", to make things a bit easier. Figure out some signals that you both understand and then use them.

Once you've got that procedure down pat, practice the same thing while turning to the RIGHT. This is what professional drivers call the "blind side", and it's a little tougher. It may take a little longer for you to learn, but you can do it. Just be patient and don't do anything fast. Doing something that hasn't been thought out carefully will get you into trouble very quickly.

Ready for the FUN stuff' Good. Get lined up in that space just like you did the first time and check your position the same as before. This time, however, mark the position of your wheels on the pavement with chalk or tape. Then, get back behind the wheel, pull forward all the way out of the space and stop. Now, if you're in a motorcoach, you can steer it like a car when you back up, but if you have a travel-trailer or a fifth-wheel trailer, the procedures are a little different. From here on, I'm going to assume (hate that word) that you have a trailer of some type.

First, put your hand on the bottom of the steering wheel and begin to back up slowly. If your trailer needs to go to the left, simply move your hand to the left. If it needs to go to the right, move your hand to the right. Experiment with this technique for a while, making small movements, and you'll soon discover that the rear of your trailer will move in the same direction as you move your hand. Once you've got this all figured out, practice backing into the space and parking with your wheels in the same position that you marked earlier. All this practice is going to make the tedious job of backing up MUCH easier in the campgrounds.

Ok. Get back into the space (like you did the first time), pull out and turn left (avoiding the tree), get your rig straightened out and stop. Using the techniques you just learned, begin to move slowly backward into that space. Avoid hitting the tree and position your wheels on your marks. This is the driver-side back-in. Practice until you get it right. Now, you can try the blind-side back-in. Get into the space as before, then turn to the right when you pull out. The procedures for this maneuver are exactly the same. Only the directions are reversed. It may take longer to master than what you've done previously, but don't give up. All you need is patience.

Soon, you'll have mastered all the skills necessary in order to park your rig and deprive those in the RV parks of their "Campground Entertainment". In fact, folks may just compliment you on your abilities. Then you'll know,

You're "parking like a PRO"! Cool!

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

"I Can't Drive Something That Big!"

by Bob (Ram) Muessig

As a professional truck driver with approximately 2 million safe miles behind me, I've spent a lot of time behind the wheel, in all kinds of weather, over all types of terrain.

Now I drive a truck for fun...my RV. It's a 36-foot, fifth-wheel trailer. It's long, wide, and heavy, and when we pull into campgrounds, the most common statement we hear is "I couldn't drive something that big!" My response' "Sure you could. All it takes is a little patience and some practice."

Often as not, this comment comes from a woman, yet lots of women own and drive their own trucks or RVs. Women of all ages have been hitting the road in record numbers, some in RVs (lifestyle choice), some in big trucks (career choice). About half of these brave souls even travel alone, so don't start telling me that you can't drive that RV. Some day, you may have to.

I understand that this might be a sensitive subject, ladies, but what would happen if your traveling companion got hurt or took ill' One woman I know told me "George does all the driving. I just couldn't handle the rig by myself." Then George rudely decided to get sick out in the middle of Podunk, USA. This proved to be a disabling illness and she had to learn to drive...the hard way.

She managed to get back to civilization, get George to the hospital, and take the rig to a nearby RV park. George got better, but now they share the time spent behind the wheel, for it was determined that sheer physical exhaustion was the major contributing cause of his illness.

Nobody ever expects things like that to happen, but happen they do, and it's best to be prepared. There are several ways to do this, such as driving schools, videotapes, books, experienced RVers who will teach you, or perhaps the dealer where you bought your rig. Just don't get discouraged. Remember...driving is a full-time job. That's why they pay people to do it.

If you are new to your rig, or your rig is new to you, take it to a vacant parking lot (every town has one) and get the feel of turning, backing, and parking. Soon, you will become familiar with the various techniques and begin to develop real skills. After a while, you may want to take the rig out on the highway for some practice with the mirrors and signals while changing lanes, shifting gears while climbing hills, and using the gears and brakes for coming back down.

Once you have developed some proficiency in the parking lot and on the road, you can spend a little time getting acquainted with emergency triangles, road flares, the jack and other basic tools. It's possible you may have to change a tire or perform some other minor repair, like changing fuses or replacing lamps, so be sure you know how to use these tools correctly.

At this point, you may also want to investigate the availability of emergency road services offered by many of the travel organizations. It would be wise to select one that understands recreational vehicles and provides towing service for both your tow vehicle and your trailer in the event of a major breakdown. Some of these things may appear terribly complicated, but that's simply because they're new to you. Keep in mind that a little advance preparation now could save you a big headache later on.

If you have a travel trailer or a fifth-wheel, get some practice in hitching to and unhitching from your tow vehicle and, while you're at it, make a checklist of the procedures to follow. You see, if you get into the habit of doing things the same way each time and using your checklist, you won't forget a critical step. The one thing you forget could lead to your trailer heading south on I-17 while you're going west on I-10. Bad form!

People usually fear things when they don't understand them, so the more you know and understand about your rig, the less apprehension and fear you'll experience in regard to its operation. You'll learn to drive that RV just like you learned to walk...one step at a time. And don't rush things. Little by little, slow and easy, and before you know it...you're a pro!

"Honey, would you like to drive for a while'"

"Thought you'd never ask."

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Pistol Pete

ummmm,

I didn't have time to read this so, can you just sum it up in one sentence?

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WakeGirl

We're talkin' 'bout practice.

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chathamsolutions

I REALLY like that Greg. Real life verbage and easy to understand, explain, or implement.

We should turn this into a 'How to drive drive a trailer' FAQ / Practice. Something we pass out to newbies when they're buying a new boat and getting the New Owner Checklist.

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D-GOOSE
I REALLY like that Greg. Real life verbage and easy to understand, explain, or implement.

We should turn this into a 'How to drive drive a trailer' FAQ / Practice. Something we pass out to newbies when they're buying a new boat and getting the New Owner Checklist.

Thank god I didn't write it. Surprised.gif But I have to agree that this would make a great how too.

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sunscapeJeff

I especially like how the second article talks about getting the significant other involved in driving the rig. Almost nothing on the ramp is more frustrating than the guy who has to hog either the only dock or a boat ramp lane with his wife holding the boat while he goes and gets the truck. Then he has to get out of the truck and drive the boat on himself. Part of it is the guy not wanting the wifey to tear up the truck or the boat, but part of it is also the wifey not wanting to learn how to do it in the first place.

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RTS
...Almost nothing on the ramp is more frustrating than the guy who has to hog either the only dock or a boat ramp lane with his wife holding the boat while he goes and gets the truck. Then he has to get out of the truck and drive the boat on himself. Part of it is the guy not wanting the wifey to tear up the truck or the boat, but part of it is also the wifey not wanting to learn how to do it in the first place.

While I agree what you describe is frustrating, I found myself in that situation prior to getting into a private club with 2 double ramps and little/no traffic, even on the weekends.

I would do all I could to avoid tying up the ramp, including inviting people on the boat I didn't really care for just because I knew the man could back a trailer.

My wife just doesn't have it in her to back a trailer or even put the boat on the trailer if I go get it. She is just not "savy" in that respect. And the last couple years, she's had a baby in her arms to boot.

I think you'll find many women (and some men, too ) who just can not be taught to back a trailer, especially at a public ramp. My wife is one of them.

Now I can just do it all myself, prior to her and my daughter even getting to the club, without getting in anyone's way. If, for whatever reason, I'm not a member of my club anymore, I'll sell the boat so I don't have to deal with the public boat ramps.

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Greg_S

Funny timing of this post. I just made one of the only investments that is worse than a boat, an RV.

It 30' and at first I had no idea where the a$$ end of this thing was. My first attempt to hook up the boat, I ended in the storage space next to mine. Perfectly in the spot I might add, just 11' off Innocent.gif .

My wife made the comment while on our drive out to Havasu that she was surprised that driving tests are not required for RV's and based how I see some drive them, me either.

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stewart
Funny timing of this post. I just made one of the only investments that is worse than a boat, an RV.

It 30' and at first I had no idea where the a$$ end of this thing was. My first attempt to hook up the boat, I ended in the storage space next to mine. Perfectly in the spot I might add, just 11' off Innocent.gif .

My wife made the comment while on our drive out to Havasu that she was surprised that driving tests are not required for RV's and based how I see some drive them, me either.

I was surprised too.... Last year we bought a 40' Class A, negotiated the deal and drove off with it, no questions asked. Crazy.gif

I've had a few truckers ask me if I had a class A license to drive it, THEY are very surprised to hear that no special license or training was required.

Right now, my wife is looking into an RV class that will teach you how to drive, park and use your RV. I told her she can't drive it until she passes the class Innocent.gif

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Faceplant409

If I were to get an RV I would factor a backup camera into the equation! Period!

P.S. I thought my wife was one of 'those women' who could not manuver either item... She's proven me wrong! She's decided that if it's not hurrcane windy, she's the boat driver. I make sure the bimini is down. Her rationale is the new truck has no scratches (and is much bigger than her suburban) and the boat is a few years old (coupl'a scratches). I said "tbut the truck has brakes." She's looking at it from an embarrassment standpoint, I think.

Pat

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RTS

If I put my wife in a Suburban, there would be no car in the parking lot of a mall that was safe. I had to install a stainless steel "crash pad" at the front of my garage to protect the drywall of my DINING ROOM (which shares a wall with the garage.) If she didn't have a company car, I'd be going nuts constantly fixing dents and dings in her vehicles. As it is, she just turns them in every couple years and I never hear anything about it!

I'll launch and load the boat myself.

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BlastRlxi

I gave my wife first choice years ago, boat or truck. She picked the boat and now drives the boat on and off the trailer. She's even better than me. I have talked to her about learning to back the truck and trailer in case I ever got hurt on the water. I told her that whatever condition I'm in, don't worry about it. Take care of the boat first! :)

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Sunset_Bob

My wife can back the boat trailer better a lot of men. She makes a lot of men scratch their heads in disbelief because she backs the rig so good. I took her to a shopping mall parking lot late one night and we had backing school. Biggrin.gif She practiced backing in a straight line, and in and out of cones for two nights.

We've used the same routine for 20 years at the boat ramp and never had a problem. SHe back the trailer and I launch & load the boat.

I've seen her back all the way down the parking lot, which is a good 200 yards, because some goober has the turn around area blocked.

Edited by Sunset_Bob

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Big Dubya

teaching with the boat trailer empty... in a non-crowded parking lot was the ticket for Mrs. Dubya.

she also is a pro with the trailer... raises plenty of eyebrows how she can manuver around other people's train-wrecks on the ramp, then park it in any spot any direction.

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smedman

my wife does the boat - I do the trailer. it was definitely a source of challenge the first few times we went out.

she was trying to tell me which way to turn when backing into our trailer parking spot -- me getting frustrated as she gave out directions -- her getting frustrated as I didn't seem to be following what she said. her thinking that if i just followed what she said it would be easy...

so the next time we were out and coming home with the boat, i said, "ok, your turn to back it in" and got out of the car. she took the wheel and tried to back it with me giving her directions -

let's just say she's never said a word about my backing skills since.

btw, i have gotten a lot better since jan when we got the boat. luckily, we had plenty of time to practice at the ramp with basically no other boats / trailers /cars around for a couple of months.

now, i do need to take her to a parking lot and let her practice so if i get hurt or something...

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