How much space to park a trailer perpendicular to a road

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RV54898394

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Hello.  I am new to RVing and I am considering buying a trailer.  It is my first time posting here.  I have a question, the answer to which will determine if I can buy the trailer or not:

Suppose you have a driveway that is perpendicular to the road. You need to park a 30-foot two-axle trailer, towed with a van. How wide does the road have to be to maneuver? Is it even possible to put the trailer exactly straight, if the trailer and van don't fit across the road? The driveway is wider then then trailer by about 5 feet. Is there any kind of simulator to understand how this would work? Thanks.
 

Isaac-1

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There is a guy over on irv2 that has helped people by doing engineering drawings for turning radius, etc. getting into garages, laying out driveways, etc.
 

TheBar

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If you buy it from a dealer make the purchase conditional on them delivering it and getting it in your driveway. Or find an abandoned parking lot and lay it out in chalk. Then see if it fits.
 

Arch Hoagland

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Won't know until you try.

However I noticed you said a 30 foot trailer to be towed by a van.

Could you tell us more about the van and trailer? 

I'm concerned you are buying too big of a trailer to be pulled by a van.
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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Suppose you have a driveway that is perpendicular to the road. You need to park a 30-foot two-axle trailer, towed with a van. How wide does the road have to be to maneuver? Is it even possible to put the trailer exactly straight, if the trailer and van don't fit across the road? The driveway is wider then then trailer by about 5 feet.
You do NOT have to get the entire rig perpendicular across the road unless maybe there are posts or trees at the corners of the driveway or maybe curbs along its edges.  Generally you could back a travel trailer into a driveway from a typical 2-lane street or road.  I'd start with the rig more-or-less straddling the center of the road (using both lanes) and aim the back of the trailer at the near side of the driveway and letting the angle take care of itself.  The key is to get the trailer axles into the driveway and let the front of the trailer and the tow vehicle follow them.  The back of the trailer is probably going to overhang the edges a bit, at least briefly during the turn-in.

This article has tips and diagrams:
https://www.livinlightly.com/how-to-backup-a-travel-trailer-like-a-pro/

There are YouTube videos on the subject that should help you visualize what has to happen.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fdbGct8EA6E
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VY2lUU_oM7Y
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hSyylWzrOX0
 

Lou Schneider

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When backing a trailer, follow the path of the tires not the rear of the trailer.  Trailers have a significant rear overhang and the rear of the trailer will take a different path than the axles.

Make sure the back end isn't going to hit anything, but it's the tires and axles that determine where the trailer will end up.
 

RV54898394

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Thank you for all the helpful tips!

I am consider a 30' trailer, with gross weight 5300 pounds, towing with a chevy express 3500 passenger LT, which has 9600 pounds towing capacity.  So even loaded, we should be I think about 80% of towing capacity.  Does anyone see any problem with this?

Regarding parking, watching the videos and diagrams it seems to me you need less space to park a trailer+van instead of say a class A of the same length.  Is this right?  This is my impression because you can get more angles with the trailer+van, but I am not sure.

It would be really helpful if there was a place somewhere where you can enter all the parameters, like driveway lengths, trailer length, etc., and you could see a simulation if this is even possible.  There has to be a place that does this, if not maybe it would be a good app to have?
 

Ernie n Tara

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I suspect that your 5,300 lb is supposed empty weight not gross? Either way you seem to be well within limits. I would not count on the tow/trailer taking less room. It may be so, but the MH is easier to park so it probably evens out.

Ernie
 

ChasA

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If the road is wide enough for 2 cars, it's wide enough to park the trailer.
 

PopPop51

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Going down a mathematical rabbit hole, this would make an interesting topological problem.
Some of the variables I can think of in addition to the tow vehicle length and trailer length:
  • Usable road width including shoulders and allowable overruns.

  • Driveway width including shoulders and allowable overruns.

  • Distance from ball to the trailer's pivot axis (if multi-axle) or axle (if single-axle).

  • Overhang behind trailer pivot axis.

  • Trailer width.

  • Distance from ball to TV axle.

  • TV Wheelbase.

  • TV front overhang.

  • TV minimum turning diameter.

  • TV width.

  • Location of any obstacles near the road and driveway.

  • Trailer side overhang (beyond the tire treads).

  • Maximum angle between TV and trailer.

  • Location in 3D of any overhanging obstacles.

  • Trailer height at various points.
Admittedly, some of the above will be minor factors for any particular situation, but would need to be considered when designing a modeling app.
 

TheBar

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One of the main criticisms of a longer Class C is the long rear overhang behind the rear axle. Personally I find the shorter wheelbase to be an advantage. I'm able to make a sharp right hand turn off my basically 1 lane 16' wide neighborhood road onto a standard 2 lane street with deep ditches all the way around, no shoulders, and no radius on the corners. Although I do go over half of the other lane when turning. UPS vans go over the center line when making that turn.
 

Lou Schneider

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Long rear overhangs increase maneuverability at low speeds while decreasing stability at highway speeds.

That's why school buses that spend their lives maneuvering around city streets and secondary roads have short wheelbases and long rear overhangs while Greyhound buses that spend their lives cruising on the highways have the opposite.
 

TheBar

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Granted a long wheelbase is somewhat more stable but some of us want to maneuver city streets and country roads.
 
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