Friday, March 19, 2010

Pulling A Fifth Wheel

I can drive just about anything. My grandfather taught me at an early age to drive. I was driving his dodge van conversion and a tractor at the ripe age of ten. I have always loved driving! As an adult I drove a school bus. I have driven dump trucks when needed at one job. Our first RV was a thirty-two foot motorhome and I towed a car behind it. I have pulled utility trailers, horse trailers and goose neck hay trailers. But I had never pulled a travel trailer.

We purchased the fifth wheel before we bought a truck, as recommended. We decide to purchase a used truck. We were having difficulty finding a good used, clean truck that was capable of towing that kind of weight. After a week of serious searching, we decide to have the dealership deliver our new fifth wheel to our house.

Anyway, I thought it can’t be any more different than pulling any other trailer. Boy, was I wrong. Pulling a large fifth wheel is different. First of all, you have to get used to the fact that you are now connected to the trailer from the bed of the truck verses the bumper! I do like the fact that you seem to have more control with a fifth wheel hitch. I really like the fact that there is no fish tailing effect when large trucks pass. I do have to make adjustments in my turns. That is easy enough. The backing part, well that has taken some getting used to.

The fifth wheel is a beast. Backing can be somewhat intimidating. The motorhome was like backing a school bus, plus I had a nice little backup monitor with sound. I feel like I’m blind when backing the fifth wheel. Dawn does a great job giving directions. I trust her directions and judgment but I guess I have a control problem. I want to see the big picture! The truck mirrors are large and do a great job. I just can’t see what is directly behind me and that causes a problem.

The first time I had to back that beast straight down our long driveway into our storage building I was a bundle of nerves. First of all, the driveway grade drops a few feet before reaching the building. Second of all, the building is a large forty by twenty foot building but the door is only sixteen feet tall by twelve feet wide. The trailer is thirty six feet long by thirteen feet tall. That doesn’t leave much room for error! In the past few years I have pulled it out and backed it in many times and now it isn’t that big a deal. The problem I do have is when we have to back into a camping spot that is short and narrow. I have little patients with myself and get frustrated when I can’t get it right the first time. I keep telling myself with time I will get better at backing the beast.