EPDM Coatings
rvupgradestore.com Composet Products Custom Yacht Interiors

Author Topic: Towing a 5th wheel for the first time  (Read 5812 times)

2 Buckeyes

  • ---
  • Posts: 13
Towing a 5th wheel for the first time
« on: December 27, 2015, 12:38:55 PM »
Looking for any advice or tips from the more experienced towers out there. My wife and I have recently purchased a XLR thunderbolt 385 as well as an F350 Dually Diesel to pull it. Neither of us has ever towed anything before and we are trying to be as prepared as we can before we pick the toy hauler up in April and tow it the 250 miles to the campground. All advice welcome and appreciated. Thanks in advance.
2016 Thunderbolt XLR 385
2016 F350 6.7 power stroke diesel DRW

Wigpro

  • ---
  • Posts: 1298
    • Capt Jim Lucas
Re: Towing a 5th wheel for the first time
« Reply #1 on: December 27, 2015, 12:46:14 PM »
Drive from the RV Place to a large empty parking lot....follow the aisle lines and watch how it turns and do it long enough to get comfortable about how wide a turn you need to not hit the curbs (lines) then back it up into a few spaces and practice parking it....take turns outside watching the track of the trailer when making sharp turns and try and stay off the lines...

5th wheels tow pretty easy - but turns can be an issue until you are used to it...while you are in the parking lot - hitch and unhitch a couple times...practice makes perfect.

Good Luck,

Jim
Full time traveler, fishing guide and photographer!

Travel Blog: http://captjimtravelblog.blogspot.com

Website: www.captainjimlucas.com

Photo Site: http://captjim.smugmug.com/

2 Buckeyes

  • ---
  • Posts: 13
Re: Towing a 5th wheel for the first time
« Reply #2 on: December 27, 2015, 01:11:47 PM »
Thanks Jim, Sounds like a good place to start. We're Still trying to get a feel for the truck by itself. Fortunately we have several months before having to tow. 
2016 Thunderbolt XLR 385
2016 F350 6.7 power stroke diesel DRW

Phil Hyde

  • ---
  • Posts: 654
Re: Towing a 5th wheel for the first time
« Reply #3 on: December 27, 2015, 01:16:27 PM »
The hardest thing for me getting started was hitching and unhitching.  It takes a bit of practice to learn your particular hitch.  After a while, I realized that you really want to get the hitch tight under the pin, actually lifting up on the pin.  That way there is minimal clearance and the hitch will latch.  If there is too much clearance, it won't.

Know your rig height and plan ahead for your routes to avoid low clearances.

Also, know the limitations (speed rating) of your RV tires.

Don't be in a hurry!
2015 Ford F350 CC 4WD DRW
2010 Keystone Montana Mountaineer 345-DBQ

steveblonde

  • ---
  • Posts: 2227
Re: Towing a 5th wheel for the first time
« Reply #4 on: December 27, 2015, 01:44:56 PM »
rule 1 - turns are made really wide - try watching a Semi - follow one for a bit around town watch him watch how he turns

rule 2 - if you dint have a hitch yet watch you tube how it hook up a 5th wheel there are several,

rule 3 - remember when backing up take your time be patient with each other its not a race and if you cant see the person directing in your mirror you they cant see you either.

welcome that Thunderbolt and truck is a big combo -  that trailer is 42 ft and its tall too 13 ft the whole length ( i have a Voltage) its a lot to handle but it handles like a baby
2015 Voltage 3305 Toy Hauler - loaded
2017 Ford Escape my Daily driver - first Ford in 25 yrs
2017 Black on Black F350 Diesel Dually loaded (First Ford Truck after 17 GMs) 5200lbs cargo/weight capacity named Kong


" If you're not living on the edge you're taking up too much space"
From Canada Eh?

gseason

  • ---
  • Posts: 32
Re: Towing a 5th wheel for the first time
« Reply #5 on: December 27, 2015, 05:47:27 PM »
Also keep an eye on the rear of the trailer when turning. The rear will swing out and hit something if you're not careful.

rockman

  • ---
  • Posts: 221
Re: Towing a 5th wheel for the first time
« Reply #6 on: December 27, 2015, 07:01:17 PM »
I drive for a living hauling rock, truck & pup, and now super dump (hence my name here) My truck and pup ran about 70 feet stretched out so have a little experience. A few pointers for you: when you make right hand turn, stay wide with your truck and watch your right side convex mirror.  You will be able to see the gap between your right rear trailer tires and the curb, that will give you input on how wide you need to go.  Left turns are way easier unless someone is crowding the stop line on the street you are turning on to. If they are, just stop and wait for them to pull out.  If you can, plan your route to do left turns, 3 lefts = a right.  When you get better, right turns aren't too bad, but no point in stressing yourself out. You just have to wait longer than you will be used to to start your turn or you will drag your trailer over a curb, or worst, a parked car.  When in doubt, stop and check.  Backing, ALWAYS have your spotter stand on the drivers side next to the trailer so you can see them in your mirror without looking around.  They should ALWAYS be in view.  They don't have to stand right next to the trailer, they can be behind it, but on the same side.  If you can't see your spotter, STOP! Hand signals that you both understand for left, right, backup and stop are required.  If you want, I can tell you what I use.  I am backing into a lot of extremely tight places every day.  Take you time, look, walk your route you are going to take before you back in, and relax.  Don't get mad at your spotter if it isn't working. Stop, regroup and do it again - safety first!  When backing, until you get used to it, put your hand on the bottom of the steering wheel, not the top and move it in the direction you want the trailer to go.  When it starts to turn the correct direction, be ready to stop turning the steering wheel, and follow the trailer with your truck thru the turn or you will turn it too tight.  Always watch for overhead obstructions on the road and where you are backing into.  I know this stuff by heart and it is hard to write down, hope it makes sense.  Feel free to comment
Nick, Marian & our 3 fur babies
(make that 5, now have 2 kitties that go with us)
1995 Thor Residency 36M
460 Ford w/Banks Exhaust System
Hydraulic Jacks

elliott-maine

  • ---
  • Posts: 377
Re: Towing a 5th wheel for the first time
« Reply #7 on: December 27, 2015, 07:42:21 PM »
When backing, plan where you want you wheels to go, and have your spotter watch the trailer while you watch the wheels.  I have seen people put a rope on the ground that they follow with the wheels.  This can be a smart way to do it when you are practicing.  It will be second nature after a while.

Also remember that it takes quite a bit more space to stop.
Elliott & Vicky and copilot Hanna, the GSD

2014 Redwood 36RE, Gen, king bed, other goodies
2013 RAM 3500 drw, 4wd, Aisin tranny
From the great state of Maine

Larry N.

  • ---
  • Posts: 4512
  • Westminster, CO
Re: Towing a 5th wheel for the first time
« Reply #8 on: December 27, 2015, 08:33:12 PM »
 
Quote
If you can, plan your route to do left turns, 3 lefts = a right.

True, but with emphasis on the "If you can" since it's easy to get into a situation where 3 left turns puts you onto streets you shouldn't be on, perhaps with not enough room to maneuver, or in some places the streets aren't square or cut through, so be sure what's available before you do this (don't ask how I know).
Larry and Mary Ann N.
2016 Newmar Ventana 3709 -ISB6.7 XT 360HP
2015 Wrangler Sahara Unlimited toad
Formerly: Trailmanor 2720SL
  de N8GGG

Gary RV_Wizard

  • Forum Staff
  • ---
  • *
  • Posts: 60980
  • RVer Emeritus
Re: Towing a 5th wheel for the first time
« Reply #9 on: December 28, 2015, 08:26:53 AM »
There are some helpful tips in the RVForum Library Towables section, but mostly it is familiarization.
Gary
--------------
Gary Brinck
Summers: Black Mountain, NC
Home: Ocala National Forest, FL

rockman

  • ---
  • Posts: 221
Re: Towing a 5th wheel for the first time
« Reply #10 on: December 28, 2015, 08:42:28 AM »

True, but with emphasis on the "If you can" since it's easy to get into a situation where 3 left turns puts you onto streets you shouldn't be on, perhaps with not enough room to maneuver, or in some places the streets aren't square or cut through, so be sure what's available before you do this (don't ask how I know).

Excellent point I should have emphasized.  When driving my truck & pup, I would never drive into a street that I was not sure I could drive out of or turn around in.  Backing into traffic without a spotter can be a bugger.  That phrase (don't ask how I know) is one of my favorites Larry!
Nick, Marian & our 3 fur babies
(make that 5, now have 2 kitties that go with us)
1995 Thor Residency 36M
460 Ford w/Banks Exhaust System
Hydraulic Jacks

steveblonde

  • ---
  • Posts: 2227
Re: Towing a 5th wheel for the first time
« Reply #11 on: December 28, 2015, 08:55:13 AM »

True, but with emphasis on the "If you can" since it's easy to get into a situation where 3 left turns puts you onto streets you shouldn't be on, perhaps with not enough room to maneuver, or in some places the streets aren't square or cut through, so be sure what's available before you do this (don't ask how I know).

been there done that too funny
2015 Voltage 3305 Toy Hauler - loaded
2017 Ford Escape my Daily driver - first Ford in 25 yrs
2017 Black on Black F350 Diesel Dually loaded (First Ford Truck after 17 GMs) 5200lbs cargo/weight capacity named Kong


" If you're not living on the edge you're taking up too much space"
From Canada Eh?

2 Buckeyes

  • ---
  • Posts: 13
Re: Towing a 5th wheel for the first time
« Reply #12 on: December 28, 2015, 09:09:04 AM »
Thanks everyone for all the input. Like most things in life it seems extremely intimidating mostly because it new and unfamiliar. What you build up in your mind is usually much worse than the reality of it. We plan to full time in 3 1/2 years so were very excited to begin this next chapter. Glad to know there's such a good resource with folks like you to turn to with questions. Thank you all again!
2016 Thunderbolt XLR 385
2016 F350 6.7 power stroke diesel DRW

Jbcain

  • ---
  • Posts: 23
Re: Towing a 5th wheel for the first time
« Reply #13 on: January 03, 2016, 05:59:15 PM »
Find someone you know with a 5vr and drag it around.

steveblonde

  • ---
  • Posts: 2227
Re: Towing a 5th wheel for the first time
« Reply #14 on: January 03, 2016, 08:24:30 PM »
Find someone you know with a 5vr and drag it around.

Sorry i wouldn't lend my $100k trailer to anyone to drag it around, not going to happen, but you make a good point - see if the dealer has one thats a piece of crap he would lend you for a few hours or take a commercial truck driving course.
2015 Voltage 3305 Toy Hauler - loaded
2017 Ford Escape my Daily driver - first Ford in 25 yrs
2017 Black on Black F350 Diesel Dually loaded (First Ford Truck after 17 GMs) 5200lbs cargo/weight capacity named Kong


" If you're not living on the edge you're taking up too much space"
From Canada Eh?

Houston Remodeler

  • ---
  • Posts: 347
    • Our website
Re: Towing a 5th wheel for the first time
« Reply #15 on: January 03, 2016, 09:53:47 PM »
Or ride as the passenger towing a 5er as the driver explains
2015 Starcraft Launch 24RLS
2014 Ram 2500 4x4 SRW
Guarded by 2 Jack Russells
www.CabotAndRowe.com

Arch Hoagland

  • ---
  • Posts: 1545
  • Clovis CA
Re: Towing a 5th wheel for the first time
« Reply #16 on: January 04, 2016, 01:18:24 AM »
rockman...Do you use a spotter?
2004 Monaco La Palma 36 DBD
W22, 8.1 gas,  Allison 1000 Transmission
7.1 MPG over 80,000 miles

2000 Lexus RX300, 4020lb
U.S. Gear Braking System

rockman

  • ---
  • Posts: 221
Re: Towing a 5th wheel for the first time
« Reply #17 on: January 04, 2016, 09:42:53 AM »
At work I do if there is one on the job.  Mostly just me, so I walk the job first to look for hazards/issues both on the ground and overhead (like power lines, since the box on my truck goes up over 22 feet) and pick landmarks that I can see in my mirrors for turning, stopping etc.  If I get part way backed into my dump location & am not sure of something, I stop, get out and look. With the motor home, my wife is my spotter if I am going into a tight spot or anything blind.  I always look everything over pretty well before backing in, unless it is just a wide open space.  Even with a wide open space you need a mark you want to stop at.
Nick, Marian & our 3 fur babies
(make that 5, now have 2 kitties that go with us)
1995 Thor Residency 36M
460 Ford w/Banks Exhaust System
Hydraulic Jacks

steveblonde

  • ---
  • Posts: 2227
Re: Towing a 5th wheel for the first time
« Reply #18 on: January 04, 2016, 10:31:50 AM »
just remember driving a 50 ft motor home is different than driving a 50 ft combined long truck and travel trailer, which is also different then driving a 50 ft long truck and 5th wheel, they are 3 totally different animals and a 42ft x 8.5ft x 13'6" tall toy hauler behind a 22 ft truck has a total length of 55-60 ft approx they turn different both right and left from each other all three back up different from each other, turning radius is different with all three

before backing into a camp spot i always get out and look for trees, posts, sewers, overhead branches, kids etc etc
« Last Edit: January 04, 2016, 07:18:49 PM by steveblonde »
2015 Voltage 3305 Toy Hauler - loaded
2017 Ford Escape my Daily driver - first Ford in 25 yrs
2017 Black on Black F350 Diesel Dually loaded (First Ford Truck after 17 GMs) 5200lbs cargo/weight capacity named Kong


" If you're not living on the edge you're taking up too much space"
From Canada Eh?

rockman

  • ---
  • Posts: 221
Re: Towing a 5th wheel for the first time
« Reply #19 on: January 04, 2016, 06:13:42 PM »
Definitely all different animals, but the procedures for driving them safely are the same.  I have found that if a driver is able to figure out how to drive the really big stuff, all things being equal and some more equal than others, the rest is not too difficult.  It all comes down to space management, knowing your equipment and watching out for the idiots that try to occupy spaces they shouldn't.
Nick, Marian & our 3 fur babies
(make that 5, now have 2 kitties that go with us)
1995 Thor Residency 36M
460 Ford w/Banks Exhaust System
Hydraulic Jacks

kwbush

  • ---
  • Posts: 533
  • South Jersey
    • The Buschs of Ruscombmanor Township and beyond...
Re: Towing a 5th wheel for the first time
« Reply #20 on: January 19, 2016, 08:45:57 AM »
It all comes down to space management, knowing your equipment and watching out for the idiots that try to occupy spaces they shouldn't.

Well said, rockman, well said...

Keith
Keith & Laraine Bush

2005 Fleetwood Prowler 270FQS
1995 Chevy Silverado C2500

Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.    Mark Twain

scottydl

  • Admin assist
  • ---
  • *
  • Posts: 7691
  • Central IL
Re: Towing a 5th wheel for the first time
« Reply #21 on: January 19, 2016, 09:29:41 AM »
If you can't see your spotter, STOP! Hand signals that you both understand for left, right, backup and stop are required.  If you want, I can tell you what I use.

A spotter is a must (and a good way for the wife to be involved), although I've found a cheap set of 2-way walkie talkies are the best way to communicate.  They are a nice item to have around campgrounds too, for those rural spots when cell phone receptions is iffy.

For directional instructions over a radio, use the terms "driver's side" and "passenger side" instead of "right" and "left" since it's easy for the driver to get confused when backing, using mirrors, and turning the steering wheel opposite.

When backing, until you get used to it, put your hand on the bottom of the steering wheel, not the top and move it in the direction you want the trailer to go.  When it starts to turn the correct direction, be ready to stop turning the steering wheel, and follow the trailer with your truck thru the turn or you will turn it too tight.

Before I started towing, this was the craziest advice I ever heard... except that I found it WORKS PERFECTLY.  At the end of last season (my first year towing a large-to-me 32' trailer) I was just starting to get decent at it, getting into campsites and then backing into our extra driveway when arriving back home.  When we start up again this season, it'll probably be like starting over again but I should pick it up again pretty quickly.  ;)
Scott, wife, 3 boys... and the dog
- 2008 Forest River Wildwood 32BHDS
- 1995 Chevrolet Suburban C2500 tow vehicle
- 1994 Thor Residency motorhome... owned 2007-2012

TravlinOn

  • ---
  • Posts: 175
Re: Towing a 5th wheel for the first time
« Reply #22 on: January 19, 2016, 09:57:49 AM »
Do you have slides on the service post side?  Step off the distance each slide stands out from the trailer wall and when placing your spotter be sure to put a marker down more than that distance away from where you think you want the trailer to wind up.  Not doing so might end up with pushing a slide into the service post.

Also, check where the trailer's electric and sewer connections are and learn how far your sewer hoses and electric service lines will reach before you get that trailer so nicely placed, leveled, and unhitched but toooo far away.

Don't forget to check if the grounds crew left your site's picnic table right in the middle of your turning radius.

Don't forget to have fun ;D
2015 F350 SuperDuty, Diesel, 4x4, Dually, LB, MORryde Pin Box, Reese Elite
2010 Keystone Montana 3400RL

Joe_T

  • Posts: 4
Re: Towing a 5th wheel for the first time
« Reply #23 on: January 25, 2016, 08:13:41 PM »
One more thing: Don't forget to look up! I've seen people come within inches of roof overhangs. Watch for trees on side roads that lean in over road that have bark pealed off 12 feet off the ground.

You'll be nervous the first few times. Everybody is. And you'll find it hard to believe that you'll fit in the lane. But if you have a good truck trailer combo - and it sounds like you do - it'll track nicely. Enjoy.

TruckeeGirl

  • ---
  • Posts: 14
Re: Towing a 5th wheel for the first time
« Reply #24 on: January 28, 2016, 09:15:29 PM »
Well, since I travel alone I don't have a spotter and I'm  thinking my little terrier Wiley Coyote would be no help lol.   I am not the best at backing in but I am persistent.  I take my time, get out frequently to see where I am and invariably some friendly RV'er will wonder over to assist.  If not, I just take deep breathes and try to center myself and my mind and keep at it until I am finally parked.  It's taken 45 min to an hour unassisted at times!

Good luck!  don't be nervous, be zen!
Kim
2015 30 ft Dutchman Kodiak TT
2013 GMC Sierra CC Denali 6.6 Turbo Diesel 4x4
2 fur children: Wiley Coyote and Jasmine

Derby6

  • ---
  • Posts: 674
Re: Towing a 5th wheel for the first time
« Reply #25 on: January 29, 2016, 12:00:05 PM »
All good advice.  Going from never towing ANYTHING straight into a rig that big will be a challenge.  At least you don't have any bad habits to break...lol
2015 Ford Explorer (Wifes Ride)
2011 Ford F350 4x4 Lariat Crew Cab/Long Bed/SRW
2011 Honda Civic-- (Beater with a heater)
2007 28' Desert FOX Toy Hauler             
TOYS:
01 Yamaha Kodiak 400
09 Yamaha Grizzly 550
12 Yamaha Grizzly 450
13 Yamaha Rhino 700 (Wifes Ride)
13 & 14  144" & 155" SKI DOO

HappyWanderer

  • ---
  • Posts: 1595
Re: Towing a 5th wheel for the first time
« Reply #26 on: January 29, 2016, 12:59:26 PM »
Do you have slides on the service post side?  Step off the distance each slide stands out from the trailer wall and when placing your spotter be sure to put a marker down more than that distance away from where you think you want the trailer to wind up.  Not doing so might end up with pushing a slide into the service post.

I have a short piece of rope cut to length for this purpose. Just stretch out the rope, no guessing involved.
I don't have gray hair. I have wisdom highlights.

Wigpro

  • ---
  • Posts: 1298
    • Capt Jim Lucas
Re: Towing a 5th wheel for the first time
« Reply #27 on: January 29, 2016, 04:23:26 PM »
Get yourself about a 6 foot length of bright orange or green pool noodle and lay it down on the drivers side about where you want the wheels near the utilities...then back in right beside it....that's what I do and it works great, easy to see and even if you run it over no damage...just a bright backing guide...

Good Luck,

Jim
Full time traveler, fishing guide and photographer!

Travel Blog: http://captjimtravelblog.blogspot.com

Website: www.captainjimlucas.com

Photo Site: http://captjim.smugmug.com/

rockman

  • ---
  • Posts: 221
Re: Towing a 5th wheel for the first time
« Reply #28 on: January 29, 2016, 08:04:12 PM »
Get yourself about a 6 foot length of bright orange or green pool noodle and lay it down on the drivers side about where you want the wheels near the utilities...then back in right beside it....that's what I do and it works great, easy to see and even if you run it over no damage...just a bright backing guide...

Good Luck,

Jim

Excellent idea!! If the wind is blowing, take a coat hanger, cut it in half to kind of make 2 staples & staple the bugger to the ground so it can't move.
Nick, Marian & our 3 fur babies
(make that 5, now have 2 kitties that go with us)
1995 Thor Residency 36M
460 Ford w/Banks Exhaust System
Hydraulic Jacks

Wfwilson

  • ---
  • Posts: 60
    • Tiger Communications
Re: Towing a 5th wheel for the first time
« Reply #29 on: January 30, 2016, 08:17:58 PM »
When in doubt GOAL

Get
Out
And
Look

I drive a F350 Dually  crew cab long bed as my daily driver as well as to pull the 5ver

My camper is just shy of 40 feet long put on the truck its huge and my weight can be right at 26k but I try to keep it closer to the 20K mark.

Learn to use your trailer brakes, make sure you understand how to adjust them and what the buttons and knobs do

learn to shift, just putting it in drive is ok most of the time but on steep grades you will need to shift to a lower gear. that being said the down grade can be a challenge learn how you feather your braking and down shift as well.

Backing is what scares most people the most, practice.  Remember the pivot point on the camper is the wheel not where the back of the camper is, you are in a 5th wheel learn how to cut the truck so its 90 defress to the camper and recover with slow easy motions, this will help you gain confidence as well as show you what the rig can do. 

Know you rig height and plan your route.

When fueling if the truck stop has an RV island use it but dont hesitate to use the bug truck islands also. I do it all the time, most gas stations are not set up to get in and out of in a fiver

never be afraid to ask for help. I travel alone most of the time and I have asked a fellow camoer or truck driver to spot for me, I have never been turned down.

Good luck and above all be safe

 
Damon challenger 5th wheel.  Travel for work

rockman

  • ---
  • Posts: 221
Re: Towing a 5th wheel for the first time
« Reply #30 on: January 31, 2016, 09:56:54 AM »
Excellent advice, especially GOAL, 4 of our Western Star trucks at work have a transparent decal on both mirrors that says that.  The only thing I would add is space management.  Always be aware of how much you weigh, and how long you are (plus high as Wfwilson said) and adjust and maintain the space around you to reflect the additional stopping distance and turning radius you need.  I someone cuts in front of you, immediately adjust your bubble needed to stop.  You my be angry at them, but do it anyway.  As Wfwilson knows, after you pull it around for a while, it will become second nature . . .   
Nick, Marian & our 3 fur babies
(make that 5, now have 2 kitties that go with us)
1995 Thor Residency 36M
460 Ford w/Banks Exhaust System
Hydraulic Jacks

TruckeeGirl

  • ---
  • Posts: 14
Re: Towing a 5th wheel for the first time
« Reply #31 on: February 22, 2016, 08:31:48 PM »
I'm a bit late to the party but wanted to add that RV'ers are the nicest and most helpful people on the planet.  I am woman traveling alone.  My truck and trailer exceed 52 feet when hitched.  I have no spotter to hitch up or back up.  I use my back up camera on the truck to back the receiver under the hitch and I get out a lot! to check my four corners when backing the trailer into any spot but 9 times out of ten some nice RV'er moseys over and say "hey, let me help you back in"   Mainly I try not to fret about any of it, I go slow and double check where I am at constantly :-)

How did it all work out for you?

Kim
Kim
2015 30 ft Dutchman Kodiak TT
2013 GMC Sierra CC Denali 6.6 Turbo Diesel 4x4
2 fur children: Wiley Coyote and Jasmine

RVRAC

  • ---
  • Posts: 1072
Re: Towing a 5th wheel for the first time
« Reply #32 on: February 22, 2016, 09:48:44 PM »
Take plenty time to get to the place where you are going.  Take time to stop, change lanes, backing up, etc. With time and practice you will do fine.
2017 Leprechaun 311 FS
Toad: 2016 Jeep Patriot
American Dolly
Home: WI
Snowbird 6 months/yr.

 

Hosted by Over The Network