Backing up a dinghy

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New member
Oct 20, 2012
Hi Everyone,

I am new to this forum but from what i have reading on other topics there is a lot of great information here which is why i joined.  I am new to flat towing a  vehicle.  while i consider myself experienced in the rv world this is really new to me.  Rumor has it that you CAN NOT back up a vehicle that you are towing.  While i examined the tow bar i have (Demco / Excaliber) and its components and cant understand why a person can not back up a towed vehicle.  I have no problem threading a needle while backing up but this piece of information has puzzled me greatly.

If anyone has any information supporting this rumor that would be greatly appreciated.

It's true Brent.  The reason is that because that the front wheels of the tow vehicle are unlocked allowing them to track behind the MH.  Thus when you back up the toad the front wheels of the tow vehicle will instantly go full tilt left or right.  That jams up the tow bar, and may cause permanent damage to it.  You may be able to back a toad a few inches at best on a flat level surface. Any more than that and you are risking damage. 
Well that is great info and it certainly makes sense i knew it didn't have to do with the tow bar.  So another words don't put yourself in that situation or you have to unhook.  Thanks for the info
You can back up with a towed vehicle, but how far depends on the towed vehicle.  When you back, you go very, very, slow.  Don't turn the motorhome steering wheel at all.  That's the most important thing to remember.  You have to back up in the same track you came in forward.  Have a spotter watch the front wheels of the towed vehicle and as soon as they start to caster, you have to stop.  We've backed up several motorhome lengths this way with 2 different towed vehicles.  It can be done, but must be done with care and understanding of the physics involved.  Best not to get in that situation, but if it does happen, you can do it.
Great Horned Owl said:
Is it not possible to put somebody into the toad to steer it?

Nope, that won't work.  We tried it, once :)
It is somewhat possible to have someone steer while backing, but it takes more than a little finesse and the engine needs to be running because they will definitely need the power steering. If backing straight and the toad is already straight, they merely need to hold the wheel straight and steady. For any other situation, figuring out how to turn the wheels to track correctly can be challenging. You may think you are doing ok but still be putting tremendous stress on the tow bar and the chances of bending it are excellent.

This is one of the cases where the general advice has to be "don't do it", but a skilled & experienced pair of drivers could probably manage it with many kinds of toads. Trouble is, most of us aren't as expert as we might think! And it is not something we practice much, either.
We find it easier to unhitch if needed. My wife and I have that drill down pat and can unhook in one minute, move the two vehicles as needed, and then reconnect in another 1.0-1.5 minutes.
I have heard of people putting the MH in neutral and pulling the MH backwards with the toad.  I'm not sure what I think about that, perhaps someone more knowledgeable will jump in on that.
Great info but i think i speak for the majority when i say DIVORCE if i attempt to back it up and bend the tow bar.  Its kinda like backing up, give me a camera and mirrors and leave my wife out of it. 

Like Gary said, most of us who have been motorhoming for a while have gotten pretty good at unhooking quickly.  We've all been in the "can't go forward or backward" situation, probably more than once!

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