Learning to drive your new motorhome

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mlyon

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On another post you mention the rear axle (once you know where the real axle is) 
Could you please explain. 

Thanks
Mlyon

P.S. And,  "no" I have not driven our motorhome but want to and just like to read up.  I've even considered learning to drive a school bus. The bus company that drives my kids to school also trains people to drive there school buses.
So please excuse me if I ask a dumb question to you experienced drivers.
 

KodiakRV

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I think the reference was to knowing where the rear axle is with respect to the rest of the motorhome.  When you make a sharp turn, you pretty much pivot around the rear axle.  the further your rear end overhangs the rear axle, the further it swings out and can hit something on the opposite side of the direction that you are turning.
 

Bob Buchanan

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mlyon said:
On another post you mention the rear axle (once you know where the real axle is) 
Could you please explain. 

Thanks
Mlyon

P.S. And,  "no" I have not driven our motorhome but want to and just like to read up.  I've even considered learning to drive a school bus. The bus company that drives my kids to school also trains people to drive there school buses.
So please excuse me if I ask a dumb question to you experienced drivers.

Without a Quote or salutaion, am not sure who the "you" is that your reference concerning rear axle location.

Here is the website of the RV Driving School that many of here are familiar with. Jerry Ray, for example, is an active member on this forum and is an outstanding RV driver trainer. You are correct in that driving a school bus would be helpful. However, the RV school would get you into the specifics of the situations one finds while behind the wheel of an RV.
 

Karl

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I think the reference was to knowing where the rear axle is with respect to the rest of the motorhome.  When you make a sharp turn, you pretty much pivot around the rear axle.  the further your rear end overhangs the rear axle, the further it swings out and can hit something on the opposite side of the direction that you are turning.
With all due respect, the problem most often is cutting the corner too sharply and hitting something on the inside of the turn; not the outside. That's why 18-wheelers say "Caution - wide right-hand turns".

Also, as Bob said, it would be helpful to respond to the original post, rather than starting a new topic about the same subject.
Thanks. 
 

mlyon

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To all those you have read my post.  I would really like any and all comments you might have.  Since I have gone out on a limb and now feel like Im a complete dummy.  You know those computer books for dummies.  How about one for RV's.  Driving RV's for dummies.    Sign me up.
Mlyon
 

jerryarlyne

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I don't want to get to personal here but Bob did list the web site for the RV School, you might want to give it a look and see if that can answer some questions for you. If you want to PM me I can answer some questions for you also. If you can get into a school bus training program they will give you all the info on driving you can absorb and probably more then you want or can use but they usually want you to commit to driving for them before they will agree to train you.

Jerry Ray

P.S. Bob, now you gave me a big head  :D  See you in Q/Z my friend.

Jerry
 

mlyon

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This is for Karl    My comment earlier was for Motorhome  and topic was.  When is big too big.   That was what I was refering to about the rear axel comment.   I started a new topic because it was regards to driving a motorhome not about the size of a motorhome.   Sorry it was my mistake for not referring to the right topic.

As for the driving school it is no where near where I live.  Im not afraid to drive just a little cautious and would rather dent someone elses bus than my new motorhome.  My DH would not be very happy with me.   Have you ever seen and heard a husband and wife when there backing up in a campsite and one is trying to give the other directions.  WHOA.

P.S.   I've driven a ford excursion with 7 teenagers in it does that count? I'm not afraid to ask for help. And Im also not afraid to ask directions if I'm lost.

Mlyon
 

Karl

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Mlyon,
Many people practice turning, backing, etc. in large, parking lots without a lot of traffic. That will give you the basics, but only over-the-road experience will make you a better, safer driver. Driving schools cover other important aspects like what to do in case of a front or rear blowout, accident avoidance, and other things you just can't practice but need to know the how's and why's when and if they're ever needed.
 

Shayne

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Karl is giving you some of the best advice you can get.  Take someone alone to assist you,.  Your spouse should know these features too.  Just in case,  you never know.  2 working together and getting your signals together makes for much safer and happier camping.  JMHO
 

Marsha/CA

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Mylon,

If you can find someone to give you driving lessons, i.e. the school bus program, then do that.  They will give you tips to use and the experience and exposure you are looking for.  I drive our 35' diesel pusher pulling a tow car.  I've gone through tight downtown situations, 2 lane winding roads and freeways.  There are certain things I watch for and keep in mind as I'm drivng such as: how much swing the rear end will make if I make a tight turn.  How low overhead things are such as gas stations; and I rely heavily on where my rear wheels are when making turns or parking.

The best advice I can give you in regard to husband and wives parking the RV is to get a set of hand held walkie talkies at first.  That way you can talk to each other and give directions without shouting or having to run back and forth from the end of the coach to the driver's window so you can hear each other.  After a few times with the walkie talkie you get a feel and then can develop hand signals and not need the walkie talkies at all.  You also have to learn to trust each other to follow the other's directions.  That takes time; but it does come.

It was very important for me to learn to drive the rig.  I wanted to know that I could get out of any situation if something happened to my husband.  And, we had that situation last March in Tucson.  He was having some physical problems and could not share the drive from Tucson back to San Diego.  I unhooked the coach from all the campsite hookups, attached the little car and drove home with him asleep in the passenger seat most of the way.  I was very glad I knew how to do every thing.

Marsha~
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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Mlyon,
"Dumb" questions are welcome and I hope we didn't discourage you from asking more of them.

A school bus course is probably overkill sinc eit has to deal with school laws & regulations as well as actual driving, but would certainly give you some hands on experience and there is no doubt that would be useful. Check with driving schools in your region, including truck driving schools - some of them may be able to help with RVs as well.

You might also check with some local RV dealers - sometimes the larger ones sponsor or have access to RV driving seminars or even actual classes.

But let me reassure you that a motorhome is actually quite easy to drive - in some ways even easier than a large car or pick-up truck. Mostly you need to get familiar with the extra length when making turns. With the long wheelbase, the coach will tend to cut the corner (cut short) while the overhand behind the rear axle swings out wide, so you have to do your turns a bit differently (pull out further before turning the wheel) and watch carefully. You will also tend to crowd the right side of the lane, both because of your initial fears and the different view perspective from the driver's seat. The view perspective is a factor in Class A but generally not in Class C, which have a perspective much like any passenger car, van or pick-up. Last, people who are not accustomed to using their side view mirrors extensively need to learn the habit of frequently scanning both sideviews, since that is your primary means of seeing what is around you.

Hope this helps some...
 

mlyon

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San Jose, California
Thank you Gary your response was helpful.  Also Marsha good to hear from a womans point of view.  I find this forum is mostly men.  Because lets face it. Usually the men drive the motorhomes.  But I want to drive and be comfortable driving our motorhome should anything happen to my husband. As for when we back up in campsites our new motorhome has a backup camera.  Im sure all of you an one time or another had heard spouses have loud conversations while one is helping the other back up.  And sometimes it doesnt help when well meaning neighbors come out and give there two cents. 

Living in the BayArea there are not alot of Rv dealers that are helpful with driving the rv.  They just want to sell it to you.  Did I mention are new Rv has been in for repairs 32 days since we've bought it the end of September? Thats another topic and story. 

But thanks for the help on the tail wagging affect of turns

Mlyon
 

Ned

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There are quite a few women here that also do the driving, in some cases, all of it.

The camera isn't sufficient when backing into a tight site.  Having a knowledgeable person to guide the driver is by far the best way to get it parked without any scrapes.
 

John From Detroit

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Davison Michigan
I agree Ned, nothing like a helper who knows their stuff when you are backing into a tight spot... Wish I had one

I find that when turing onto a side road, or into a parking lot, I tend to drive till the rear wheels are almost to the curb of the side street and then start my turn.  Have not taken out any sign posts since using that method.  And I have a tight-right-cheater in that I put in the gas-cap cam (A camera at the same point (Front to rear) as the gas cap, the gas cap is just behind the rear wheels so in a really tight situtation I can use it instead of the rear view to see where my axle is

I will say this. in my younger years I've driven everything from riding lawn mowers to full size semi trucks.  And NOTHING prepared me for driving this rig.  My first few trips out with this were serious learning expierences and I'm still learning
 

ArdraF

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The camera isn't sufficient when backing into a tight site.  Having a knowledgeable person to guide the driver is by far the best way to get it parked without any scrapes.

Ned, you are so right!  This summer in Canada we pulled into a crowded campground on a holiday weekend.  Oh my, what a parking job!  I happened to be driving and Jerry was my director.  Thankfully we've gotten all our hand signals worked out because it's among the toughest backin sites we've ever had to squeeze into during 35 years of RVing (we don't use radios because sometimes you need both hands for turning, etc.).  The row behind us was also backed in.  We had to position not only for the hookups and the slides, but we were within maybe two or three inches of the rear of the trailer on the passenger side.  Before that, however, was the need to avoid smashing the bushes next to the swimming pool and not messing up their grassy knoll.  I felt like the world's eyes were upon me as we went through this process because everyone at the pool stopped what they were doing to watch.  After getting parked four different women came by to tell me what an outstanding job we did.  One said that in two months she had not seen anyone successfully back into that particular site and she was amazed that we did it.  Thank you Jerry Ray and the RV Driving School!  It was worth every penny.  Just like when we go out four-wheelin' you sometimes have to have a reliable person out back to lead you in because there's no way you can see everything behind you.

ArdraF
One of the other women drivers on the Forum
 

Marsha/CA

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Mylon,

As Ned says, you would be surprised at how many women drive the motorhome.  Sometimes I think this forum is technical and so more men jump in on the conversation; but you will find a few women who do.  I for one.  I'm the manual reader in our family and I've learned a ton since being part of this forum.

Also re the driving, I don't just do it when a bad situation comes up....my husband and both want to drive and we butt heads with who gets to drive.   ::)  I actually love driving the coach.  The only time I "sucked" in my breath while at the wheel was when we were heading to Moab to meet up with lots of people on here and as we went over a high mountain pass, it started sleeting and snowing.  I haven't driven in that kind of weather conditiions since we moved to San Diego from Chicago.  I just slowed down and took it easy.

You'll be just fine driving.

Marsha~
 

jerryarlyne

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Palmdale, CA.
Hi Ardra,

Gosh, I don't know if I could have backed that thing in myself. Of course If I just let Arlyne do it, no problem.
Glad to here you are still driving and that at least some of it has stuck.  :)

Say hi to Jerry and hope we run into you somewhere,

Jerry & Arlyne
 

ArdraF

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.my husband and both want to drive and we butt heads with who gets to drive.  Roll Eyes  I actually love driving the coach. 

Yes, so do I, Marsha.  When we got the Exec Jerry pouted a lot because I was "hogging" all the driving.  We finally decided to split the driving so now Jerry gets to drive too.  :D :D  He prefers to drive in the morning and I prefer the afternoon so it works out pretty well.  Actually, on longer driving days we tend to switch off every two hours so neither of us gets too tired.  The nice thing about being retired is those long driving days are fewer and farther between.  ;D

ArdraF
 

Marsha/CA

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Hi Audra,

ArdraF said:
  Actually, on longer driving days we tend to switch off every two hours so neither of us gets too tired.  The nice thing about being retired is those long driving days are fewer and farther between.  ;D

ArdraF

That's how we do it too.  On the long days, which aren't long anymore {yippee}, we trade off every two hours also.  When Tim first retired two years ago, it took us a while to "settle" down and not feel guilty that we weren't pushing it.  We used to do 500-600 miles days.  I don't want those days anymore.  Now we are more 250 ish.  We need time to get settled in, put our feet up, walk around the campground and have a little glass of wine before dinner.

Marsha~
 

mlyon

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San Jose, California
Marsha  Im only speaking from my experience but my husband doesnt read manuals? wink wink.  As for the backup camera.  It helps because before we didnt have one and I had to rely on my husband seeing me in the side mirrors to back.  I ALWAYS help my husband back up by standing outside.

Mlyon
 

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