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Old 04-29-2021, 07:51 PM   #1
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Backing in advice - best observer instructions

I will start with the fact that I am not good at backing in the trailer. I go slow and steady and still have troubles but with time I have gotten better and assume I will continue to improve. Our trailer is a Roo 233s. 25 feet including hitch and we pull with a Ford truck short bed.

My question: what advice do you have for how the observer should help. Where to position themselves. What method to give directions. What hand signals. Etc.
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Old 04-29-2021, 08:12 PM   #2
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I will start with the fact that I am not good at backing in the trailer. I go slow and steady and still have troubles but with time I have gotten better and assume I will continue to improve. Our trailer is a Roo 233s. 25 feet including hitch and we pull with a Ford truck short bed.

My question: what advice do you have for how the observer should help. Where to position themselves. What method to give directions. What hand signals. Etc.
You will get lots of help with this but I will offer one piece of advice! I often tell my wife............if you can't see my mirrors, I can't see you! She uses hand signals to help me.
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Old 04-29-2021, 08:20 PM   #3
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I will start with the fact that I am not good at backing in the trailer. I go slow and steady and still have troubles but with time I have gotten better and assume I will continue to improve. Our trailer is a Roo 233s. 25 feet including hitch and we pull with a Ford truck short bed.

My question: what advice do you have for how the observer should help. Where to position themselves. What method to give directions. What hand signals. Etc.
We use radios and use the terms stop, driver side and passenger side exclusively. Even with that, I get out and look often as needed.
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Old 04-29-2021, 08:22 PM   #4
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You will get lots of help with this but I will offer one piece of advice! I often tell my wife............if you can't see my mirrors, I can't see you! She uses hand signals to help me.
X2

I will also add that everyone has THEIR own 'best' way but with trial and practice, you will find what works for YOU.

Yes it does get easier backing with practice/experience.

The advice of "if I can't see you or see you in my mirrors" is good.
Someone standing behind a R/V waving their arms does no good to someone that can't see them.

Many folks use walkie-talkies or cell phones but we (wife and I) do just as well with BOTH windows down and TALK to each other, NOT YELL! We have a 36' 5th wheel and with her at the rear, I can hear her just fine.
Go slow.
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Old 04-29-2021, 08:27 PM   #5
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Prior to backing in, I get out and discuss with my wife where we would like the camper to go and look for obstacles to avoid.

I ask her to stay to the side where I can see her. This isn’t as importsnt now that we have a camera and can see her. Prior to the camera, she would say “now go this way” when I can’t see where she is pointing.

It helps for the spotter (observer)to know how to “predict” when to tell you when to turn or straighten out. Backing trailers don’t turn on a dime!

Lest you think my post puts all the responsibility on the spotter, it is not my intent. My wife and I are both still learning and getting better as we go.
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Old 04-29-2021, 08:45 PM   #6
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You will get lots of help with this but I will offer one piece of advice! I often tell my wife............if you can't see my mirrors, I can't see you! She uses hand signals to help me.
This^^^^^
Make sure the spotter makes big hand/arm motions and can see you in the mirrors.
Luckily my wife watched me help the fire engine driver back into the engine bay at the firehouse. She forgets once in awhile so I have to remind her but she overall does a great job.
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Old 04-29-2021, 08:50 PM   #7
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And if someone else tries to help tell them thanks, but DW has it handled. Some of my most frustrating parking jobs were when 2 or 3 "helpful" people we all yelling at the same time and I couldn't hear DW.
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Old 04-29-2021, 08:52 PM   #8
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A couple things that may help. I always back to the drivers side when at all possible. Like others get out and take a good look at where you want to back in. Pick a spot where you want the rear corner of the trailer, visualize a line to the spot, and back to it. A marker of some sort will help. A cone placed where you want the corner could help.
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Old 04-29-2021, 08:53 PM   #9
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Observer and driver get out before backing and walk around the spot looking high (limbs, wires, etc) and low (curbs, water faucets, power pedestals, etc)

Then observer stands in rear of spot and keeps Eye Contact with driver through side view mirror. If driver can't see observer, driver STOPS and waits until observer gets back in view. Observer only signals immediate stops due to obstacle in the way.
Both hands up to driver in mirror means stop!
No left - right - or any other signal. Can confuse driver. Driver needs to depend on his/her backing and observer is emergency stop only. Been working for wife and I sice 2005.



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Originally Posted by Plan Man View Post
I will start with the fact that I am not good at backing in the trailer. I go slow and steady and still have troubles but with time I have gotten better and assume I will continue to improve. Our trailer is a Roo 233s. 25 feet including hitch and we pull with a Ford truck short bed.

My question: what advice do you have for how the observer should help. Where to position themselves. What method to give directions. What hand signals. Etc.
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Old 04-29-2021, 09:06 PM   #10
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I have tried almost all the above, my wife is one of smartest people I know. Which is part of the problem my expectations are higher because of this. When out of her realm she struggles, I either have my daughter spot , I pick a line tell her to make sure I donít hit anything then go for it. Last time I let her try to back was a fairly straight shot mostly. She did great.
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Old 04-29-2021, 09:32 PM   #11
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First, here is a good video:


My spotter (DW) has one job - to yell STOP on the two-way radio if I am going to hit something. I try to keep both windows down and she tries to stay visible in a mirror (if you can't see me, I can't see you) with the two-way radio as backup. She does not tell me right, left, driver, passenger or anything like that. Only STOP! Then I get out and assess the situation if need be. She will also tell me STOP! when she thinks I am in right position in the driveway to put down the steps and rear stabilizers.

I have a 26'11" dual-axle trailer and Dodge Durango tow vehicle.
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Old 04-29-2021, 09:35 PM   #12
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Go to Eartec.com and invest in a pair of headsets. You talk in a normal level, no waving of arms, no yelling. Whoever is outside can tell the driver exactly what they are seeing and where the vehicle needs to go.

In the boating world we call them "marriage savers".
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Old 04-29-2021, 10:21 PM   #13
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My wife is good at many things. Spotting while I back the trailer is not one of them. After about 7 years of RV camping I have learned to tune out all instructions from her except "Stop". Most of the time it sounds like she is dictating a thesis paper and I am just nat able to filter out the unneeded info while backing.

I have tried to put her behind the wheel so she understands what it takes to back a trailer and to learn what information is helpful. Asking her to try caused too many arguments.

The irony of the situation is she can speak 3 languages fluently, effectively communicating with the entire western hemisphere and a good chunk of Europe but I cannot teach her how to give short, direct instruction when spotting the trailer or boat.

Fortunately, my 11 year old daughter is pretty good at spotting. In a few more years she can be in the driver's seat.

The first few years it really aggravated me. My attitude put a damper on the first night of each trip. Now, I just let it go and we laugh about it. It is just not in her wheelhouse.
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Old 04-30-2021, 12:38 PM   #14
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Backing Up

The one thing that saved me...I was told by a truck driver to "hold the steering wheel at the bottom" and then turn the wheel in the direction you want the trailer to go! Also, as you say you do, go slow!
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Old 04-30-2021, 12:44 PM   #15
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The one thing that saved me...I was told by a truck driver to "hold the steering wheel at the bottom" and then turn the wheel in the direction you want the trailer to go! Also, as you say you do, go slow!
Great advice, works every time. Just go slow because it's easy to overcompensate.
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Old 04-30-2021, 01:22 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by Plan Man View Post
I will start with the fact that I am not good at backing in the trailer. I go slow and steady and still have troubles but with time I have gotten better and assume I will continue to improve. Our trailer is a Roo 233s. 25 feet including hitch and we pull with a Ford truck short bed.

My question: what advice do you have for how the observer should help. Where to position themselves. What method to give directions. What hand signals. Etc.
First thing I do before attempting any backing up is to unhook the bars from my WDH so the TV & TT will turn a little easier. The first time I tried backing up it made such noise with the WDH flexing and tweeking, I thought everything had snapped. Now I get a little more free swing with the bars off, it only takes a few minutes to unhook and do my maneuvering. And yes, keep your observer in the mirrors so you dont run her over.....lol
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Old 04-30-2021, 01:48 PM   #17
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Watch this VERY helpful video, especially the third segment.


https://youtu.be/p1B5d_K2__4
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Old 04-30-2021, 01:54 PM   #18
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Backing up

The best suggestion I found was pulling up further and making a more gradual turn into the site. We use our cell phones and I tell my wife to watch the mirrors.
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Old 04-30-2021, 01:56 PM   #19
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Already a lot of good advice here. My wife does a good job. Like others, I tell her to stay where she can see my mirrors. If I can't see her, I stop and wait for her to get back in sight. I also tell her to just point which way the rear of the camper needs to go. I don't want anyone telling me which way to turn the steering wheel.

And, like someone else mentioned, I usually turn down others when they try to help. Too many trying to tell you what to do only adds to the frustration.
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Old 04-30-2021, 01:57 PM   #20
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Backing

Here’s my experiencebased advice.
1) don’t have you wife help you, if possible, but do have ONE person
2) use walkie talkies because cell service is unreliable frequently
3) ensure you are on the same page with signals, comm and where to stand and what you need help with (a hazard or blind spot)
4) survey the site on foot first, then get out and look for yourself often
5) consider leveling, slide outs hook ups, trees , etc before you start
6) never let pride keep you from starting all over


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