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How Not To Tow Or Back Up A Trailer

I like oldstuff

Subscriber
Similar to the Family guy vid but real.

A number of years ago I stopped for lunch at a lake restaurant a block from my house with a boat launch. I'm munching my sammich and notice a bunch of people hanging around a car. Two teenage girls backed a boat in too far or fast and it was sinking while on the trailer.

I'm going to sound like the comedian Vic Di Bitetto here but that's what ticks me off. 3-4 people watching while these kids were freaking and crying and nobody was helping. I was driving my old '48 Dodge Power Wagon and I told the one girl to just sit in the car and step on the brakes. Yes the whole thing was slowly sliding into the water with the bumper just getting wet.

I back the old truck around and hook a cable hook to the A arm of the car. In 4 low I just slowly inched the car and boat out. Stopping often so the boat could empty as I figured all that water weight could break the transom off.

When I had it all out the kids gave me a hug and were scared shitless what dad was going to do to them.

And nobody else helped them out.
 

Addem

New member
Before testing for my CDL, the testing company required that I spend a couple hours with an examiner and the machine I'd be renting for the test, so I could get a feel for it.

While there, another guy was renting the other machine. I listened to him talking when he first arrived, and I got the sense that he probably shouldn't be behind the wheel. He wasn't intoxicated; he just wasn't suited to it.

So, I start moving my machine around, practicing the required maneuvers. The examiner is sitting shotgun, chatting. He tells me that this other guy has taken the six week course and failed the test twice. He says that he's kind of worried because the guy can't be trusted on the road.

Eventually, my examiner jumps out of the rig to make sure that I don't cross a backing boundary, which was a yellow line on the pavement. (Crossing the boundary=fail that part of the test.) I proceed to practice my alley backs, which is backing at 90 degrees into a space. The examiner wanders off to advise the other guy, but he's glancing over now and again to make sure that I'm fine.

Half hour later, he jumps back in. He says,"Watching these trucks is like watching time lapse pictures. Every time I look up, yours is in a completely different spot, but his hasn't moved." It hadn't either. Poor guy couldn't even back straight with out stabbing the brakes.

I hope he found better work before testing.
 

FWurth

One Millionth Post
I used to have the task of road testing new hires for the company. The dispatcher had previously done it but decided to stick me with it for a time, not a very rewarding career path. One fellow pulled out the lot and immediately started driving the rig down the center line! Had people running off the road to keep from getting hit. When I pointed out the folly of that, he simply stated that they would get out of his way! The company still hired him against my better judgement. After him destroying many thousands worth of equipment they fired him a year later. One other guy was so busy talking that he nearly side swiped another dump truck. The final straw was an older guy that the boss had already hired. He had his CDL and claimed that he had for years been a truck porter for a large heavy truck dealership. He was doing well enough till it came time to back into the dock. We sat on the lot for a few minutes after coming in off the highway, he just sat there. I asked if there was a problem, you could see the fear on his face after I suggested he dock it. Still no response, then he finally questioned if I was serious. I mentioned that it might be easier to load at the dock rather than try to convince the fellows to carry the product out to the lot to load. Still no movement, really looking worried now, I suggested he line up the truck with the marked lanes in his mirrors and ease it in. Still no move, finally he tried but he was lined up between the 2 docks instead with where he needed to be. Tried to get him to stop and line up better but no he kept going. I had to reach over and pop the air to keep from messing up the truck. Got him out and showed him where he actually was and then proceeded to dock it myself to show how simple it was. We waited till the weekend and had him and another worker helping him practice a few weeks before he got on to it. After that one I gave that duty back to the dispatcher! I'll never forget that look on that fellows face when asked to back in!
 

Frank DeWitt

Subscriber
I have learned that if it isn't going anywhere near right I am better off driving completely away and starting over.

I once parrellel parked a big Buick and pop up camper on a busy street, first try and it was perfect. Surprised me.
 

dependable

New member
Not a trailer, but I sold my '61 Mack B-61 ten wheeler to a guy who was going to drive it to his farm 150 miles away. Problem is, I live on an island.

I get a call from the buyer to please come down to the ferry dock. I get there and the freight boat loading was held up, because the guy was afraid to back it on the boat, and the two stick and other controls were apparently too odd for the boat crew to handle.

The truck was last one on, and on a ramp tail of boat. I get out of the truck and tell the boat crew, "better block this good, it has no maxies and the air leaks down". I was glad it was not my truck anymore, and buyer's plates were on it.
 
My brother told me of watching two guy's at a boat launch. Unhooked the trailer from the tow vehicle and tried to walk it into the water. :bonk: Not! :eek:
 

dalmatiangirl61

Subscriber
Even going forward can cause problems.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-RvzVCU1wIo
That is what happens when people try to balance the trailer so as to have minimal tongue weight, and it never ends well:eek:. I learned that lesson years ago, the hard way. Blew up engine in race car, pits were too crowded to load car normally, so we loaded it on backwards, I was impatient and just wanted to get out of there. Got on the freeway and trailer started whipping, took up all 3 lanes:eek:. Chains/straps whatever we were using came loose and car ended up sideways on the trailer, it was a major pia getting it back straight.
 
In late spring, it's entertaining to go to one of the local boat ramps and watch the newbies attempt to launch their brand new boat that they bought at a boat show in January. Watched a guy start backing down the ramp only to have his boat roll off the trailer and land on the concrete before it got to the water line. In addition to removing the tie-down straps, he had also disconnected the winch hook. Lifes hard learned lessons...:shrug:
 

FWurth

One Millionth Post
Some ten years back, I was heading out I-70 to Kansas City. I had loads for some of the major big box stores on board, so I would leave at 3:00 AM to get there before the big rush hour traffic. I got to just east of there and it was sunrise, there was a major incident happen just in front of me. Seems a older fellow was transporting vehicles for dealership. He was using a wheel dolly to tow said car pulled by a large GM Suburban. He got into one of those whip lash situations at 70 MPH, he thought that if he sped up it would straighten out. The rig was so wild that at one point the tow vehicle was straddled on top of the guard rail and shearing off the signs on that overpass. The tow vehicle ended up on it's side blocking both lanes, the towed dolly and car broke the hitch and were sitting beside it with no noticeable damage. I helped him out of the suburban and he related the reason he accelerated, some one told him that it was the thing to do if it swayed! :bonk: When looked at the towed car the rear(on the ground) tire was pushed off the rim. He also related that it was flat when he picked it up and they had just aired it up, 100 miles back. Obvislously that was the reason it started to sway, and he never thought to check if the tire was staying up once he pulled out, said it never occurred to him that it might need to be checked!
 
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Junkologist

Subscriber
Even going forward can cause problems.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-RvzVCU1wIo
Reminds of a time a number of years ago when a friend arrived at a show with a couple of busted up engines. He had a small single axle trailer hitched behind a camper trailer that was hitched to his pickup. Doubles like this are legal in Ohio, I guess. Anyway, the single axle started fish tailing behind the camper, and before he knew it, he could see the entire trailer in one mirror and then the other. The tie downs on the engines broke and at least two were launched off the trailer. One of the engines was found about 150’ off the road! I guess he was doing about 70 mph when it happened.
 

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Scotty 2

Active member
Years ago we lived not far from the Victoria Point boat ramp. It was a busy boat ramp.
We used to walk down on a Sunday arvo, getting an ice cream on the way, and sit down and watch the antics at the boat ramp. I think that's where the term 'ramp rage' originated from.
Our house in town is next to an old caravan park that's been closed for years. It's at the end of a cul de sac. People still turn up with caravans and drive right up to the end and then can't back back or turn around. We've had them go through our fence a couple of times and our gate has battle scars from them.
The local tip is another good place to watch trailer antics.
People buy a trailer and just don't learn how to back the thing. Why??

Cheers Scott
 

DustyBar

Subscriber
... whip lash situations at 70 MPH, he thought that if he sped up it would straighten out...
From my own experience... I was pulling a plow with a pickup, moving it down a gravel road about 6 miles to where I needed it next. Of course the plow weighed at least double that of the pickup. I never exceeded 30 mph but the swaying started on a long down hill stretch. Since it was gravel I had no ability to slow things down and I could see the narrow bridge at the bottom approaching much too fast. Oh, I got to the bridge all right where the whole rig swapped ends. Nothing went off the road but I had to drive back up that hill to where I could turn around and start it over again. That time I kept it to 5 mph.
 

Frank DeWitt

Subscriber
He was using a wheel dolly to tow said car pulled by a large GM Suburban.!
My worst towing experience was with a car on a wheel dolly in the mountains of PA when I hit snow. It didn't matter what speed I drove or how I drove, every time I hit the slightest down hill and let off on the gas that car in tow would try to pass me. The only way around it was to outrun the tow. I was never so glad to make it to the well salted four lane.
 
Reminds of a time a number of years ago when a friend arrived at a show with a couple of busted up engines. He had a small single axle trailer hitched behind a camper trailer that was hitched to his pickup. Doubles like this are legal in Ohio, I guess. Anyway, the single axle started fish tailing behind the camper, and before he knew it, he could see the entire trailer in one mirror and then the other. The tie downs on the engines broke and at least two were launched off the trailer. One of the engines was found about 150’ off the road! I guess he was doing about 70 mph when it happened.
A real recipe for instability is a trailer towing a trailer, especially a short one playing crack the whip.

I like going a little slower when towing. If anything bad happens, it'll happen more slowly.
Some here might remember passing me on the westbound OH turnpike after a Coolspring
show almost 10 years ago. I'd come to a nice safe stop after losing the driver side rear
wheel on my truck. I didn't know I'd lost it until it passed me on the left, & then merged
in front of me. That struck me as odd. (The road was a bit rough, so I felt nothing out
of the ordinary.) I looked back, & saw a shower of sparks coming from where the wheel was.
My hefty load remained safe & in control.
Considering how bad that could've been, I thought it was a pretty darn good day.

Btw, I've found it really useful to weigh the trailer hitch to ensure I have 10%
to 15% of gross trailer weight. Occasionally, this means moving engines around.
I know what an underweighted hitch feels like...& I never want to feel that again.
Weigh-Safe inserts are a real time saver. And I use Sherline scales to weigh the load.
 

I like oldstuff

Subscriber
Then there's the time I loaned my 5x8 trailer to a guy at work that was moving. Another guy loaned his pickup for the weekend.

Monday came and he returned both. Seems he had a bit of a jacknife issue when backing up. My trailer had a busted up wood side, 2x4's and 1x6 panels. and a magically destroyed tail light that one of his kids used as a step. The truck had a mashed in box corner where the trailer hit it, bent in so the tail gate was jammed closed and the tail light was destroyed. Needless to say neither of us were pleased. It cost him about a grand to fix the truck and $50 to fix my trailer.
 

78Loadstar

Subscriber
I used to fish with a guy and we always used his truck and boat. When we got to the lake he got out and had me back the boat down the ramp. Same thing on taking the boat out. It amazes me that somebody would spend big money to buy a boat or trailer of any kind and not go to a parking lot and practice backing.

Dennis
 
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