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Old 05-01-2007, 06:29 PM   #1
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Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 6
Cool RV Driver School

We've just taken position of our fifthwheel trailer. Fifthwheeling is new to us. Was
wondering about RV Drivers training. Anybody out their have any experience with this, or recommendations on getting experience in traffic.


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Old 05-02-2007, 07:45 AM   #2
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Location: Justin, Tx
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Don't know of any schools. But what my wife and I did after getting our 1st 5'erwas to take it to a large parking lot without the parking bumps (key, no parking bumps) and practice driving, turning, braking, backing up. BOTH of you NEED to know how to pull your rig, If one of you is unable to pull the other HAS to, my wife can pull just as well as me, she's adequate at backing but all she needs to do is get us there, if it comes down to it, somebody else can back it for her, not saying she can't but it takes a while. Learn what your turn radius is. You don't want to be running over any curbs. Run through the gamut. If the lot is big enough get it up to 40 or 50mph and practice some emergency stops so you know what it'll do in a real situation. Adjust your brake controller to stop the trailer and not the truck as that's what your truck brakes are for and that could potentially cause problems with control. Practice backing up a lot, both left side and blind side (some parks you have to blind side back in. We spent the most time at that. EVERY trailer backs up different. They all have a different "cutting point" to them (when they start turning with respect to the truck. Learn it. That will make getting into back-in sites soooooo much easier. I've driven big trucks before and pulled big trailers, little trailers, and sizes in between. They all act a little different. After your practice session(s) take it out on some less traveled but larger roads so you can get a feel for it at speed. A 5th wheel when setup right (level and with a good hitch and brake controller) is VERY easy to pull on the highway.

I guess the gist of this is practice, practice, practice. Don’t be afraid of it but respect it.

Also a couple of things people tend to neglect. Lug nut torque, tire pressure (truck and trailer and spares too), and pin box and hitch bolt torque. Check them before EVERY trip. Don’t neglect your truck either. Engine oil, transmission, coolant, differential, and brake fluids, air cleaner, the list goes on…………………….

Congrats on your new rig! If you need any help, suggestions, or have any to offer, THIS is THE place. We’re relatively small here but there are a LOT of REALLY GREAT folks especially Mike the owner of the site.

Remember, there are no dumb questions. All you have to do is ask. Someone here should be able to help.


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Old 05-02-2007, 07:24 PM   #3
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I don;t tow, and never have driven anything larger than a class 3 MH, but I always wondered how capable and knowledgeable some 'big-bus' drivers are, considering they're operating rigs as formidable as a semi. I do know that one gentleman I ran into last summer had a big shiny Prevost and 0 idea as to how his air brakes worked, which left me a bit uneasy considering the long steep hills on secondary roads leading down to our campground on the Bay of Fundy. Basically his driving skill was gained in vehicles he now tows behind his rig.
A quick google search netted the attached articles, which do have some good points.
I guess if I were to (or could afford to) go into a big RV, I'd give the idea some thought.
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Old 05-02-2007, 07:41 PM   #4
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Location: Van Nuys, CA
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Just reading my new wetways from the auto club they mention an rv driving school at www.roadtripamerica.com/rv/rv-school-days.htm
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Old 05-03-2007, 08:54 AM   #5
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Location: Justin, Tx
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Nice links. I wasn't aware of RV driving schools. I'm sure a lot of good information can be gained from those. The only problem I can see from the links is that the schools aren't offered everywhere.

So I'll stick to my suggestions of practicing in a large parking lot and then making it out to some of the lesser traveled roads then the super slab then well known in-town roads......... Learn your RV first in a controlled environment before you subject yourself to the mercy of other drivers who are not so courteous to RV'ers. Leave PLENTY of distance between you and the vehicle ahead of you (emergency stopping, people cutting in). Control your temper when they do cut in (this was and still is the hardest thing for me).

Some more suggestions:
DO NOT use your cruse control when towing. You'd be surprised at how much better your fuel economy will be. Your cruse control doesn't know when a hill is coming up, only when you are already on it then it hammers down on the accelerator using more fuel. Set up the hill before you get to it. Increase your speed by 5 or 10mph and then hold the throttle at that same spot while going up the hill. Your speed will drop but shouldn't drop too much below where you were before you started accelerating. Use downhills to your advantage especially if it is immediately followed by an uphill grade.
While driving in town or in other low speed or stop and go traffic take your auto transmission (if that's what you have) out of over drive. It'll save wear and tear on your transmission from the constant up and down shifting. Some will say they never tow using overdrive; I kick OD in once I'm up to about 55mph so my RPM will drop. If I find myself on a very steep grade I'll take it out of OD and let the motor do it's thing (again saving my transmission). This also helps the exhaust gas temperature if you have a diesel truck. You don't want your EGT to reach over 1275 deg F. Bad stuff can then happen to the fins on your turbo. I've got a set of gauges on my truck that monitor EGT, Transmission temp, and Turbo boost (don't really need the boost monitor but it is a good indicator of problems that may happen to your turbo). Going up steep grades and heavy acceleration will cause your EGT to go up. Taking it out of OD and increasing your RPM will make your fuel burn more efficiently and help maintain your EGT to a safer level. Sometimes this isn't enough and you just have to back down off the throttle. If you're pulling a large rig (over 10,000lbs loaded) I would recommend getting a set of gauges (EGT and Trans temp at the least).

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5th wheel

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