Jump to content

How to prepare to drive a new MH?


kudzu

Recommended Posts

My only experience driving a MH are the few miles I test drove an Allegro 31 with a calm, patient salesman at my elbow. My reaction to that was, "Hey, this is not as bad as I expected." However, that is an entirely different thing than being handed the keys, wished well, and waved goodbye! My wife and I, having ordered an Allegro 31MA, plan to get professional driving instruction ASAP. Since I know of no way to get instruction before we have our MH, there is that awkward period between delivery and connecting with a competent instructor. How can I best prepare myself for those first scary miles? Also, feel free to comment on the insanity of my actions!

Me, a stranger? Nah, just a friend you haven't met.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

kaduz, your experience mimics mine.  I will be following this thread closely.

My only driving experience was a result of the technician on our short test drive being a bit nervous about handing me the keys since I have never owned or driven a RV.  He let me drive about a mile, straight line, on the very low traffic access road back to the dealer.  While we were writing the check and completing the paperwork, he attached my towed vehicle.  We walked out of the office and he said "You're good to go."  Then we pulled onto I-35 in Denton, TX and went through Dallas, lots of construction with narrow lanes, and to top it off, rain plus driving after dark.  We are still alive.  In hindsight, would have been more comfortable setting up a driving school session to coincide with my purchase.

2019 Jayco 5th Wheel 28.5RSTS  2017 Ford F250 Super Duty 6.2L

Link to comment
Share on other sites

9 minutes ago, Aggie79-82a said:

..."You're good to go."  Then we pulled onto I-35 in Denton, TX and went through Dallas, lots of construction with narrow lanes, and to top it off, rain plus driving after dark...

That scares me, and I am sitting safe in my house!

Me, a stranger? Nah, just a friend you haven't met.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The videos referenced above are excellent. 

One thing in noticed when I first started driving a class A was, I felt sure I was to close to or even on top of the center line on road.  Then I looked at my passenger side rear view mirror and noticed I was riding on the line to the right of the RV.

This generally doesn't happen with a Class C or large truck as you perspective is pretty much the same as it is in a car.

The first video, in the last minute or so, shows how to look in your mirrors to be sure you are in the center of the lane and not to far to the right or left. 

Quote

Driving Tips: Mirrors & Lane Control
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ldekjpYQ7Qw

If you have some sort of registration or inspection sticker on the lower left side of your windshield note where the sticker is in relation to the center stripe of the highway. Of if there isn't a sticker, put some sort of sticker or marker on the windshield so that when you are in the center of the lane the marker is right on the line on the hwy.  Much easier to see the sticker and hwy line than to look for the lines in the rear view mirrors. 

Al & Sharon
2006 Winnebago Journey 36G 
2020 Chevy Colorado Toad
San Antonio, TX

http://downtheroadaroundthebend.blogspot.com/

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In my experience driving numerous RV's, buses, and other large vehicles, looking farther ahead than you would with a smaller vehicle makes it easier to stay centered in the lane.

Dutch
2001 GBM Landau 34' Class A
F-53 Chassis, Triton V10, TST TPMS
2011 Toyota RAV4 4WD/Remco pump
ReadyBrute Elite tow bar/brake system

Link to comment
Share on other sites

13 minutes ago, Al F said:

...One thing in noticed when I first started driving a class A was, I felt sure I was to close to or even on top of the center line on road.  Then I looked at my passenger side rear view mirror and noticed I was riding on the line to the right of the RV.

The first video, in the last minute or so, shows how to look in your mirrors to be sure you are in the center of the lane and not to far to the right or left...

My test drive was long enough that I got used to looking in the mirrors to position myself in the lane. The salesman who was coaching me encouraged me to hug the centerline because of mailboxes and roadside objects that might project into the lane. That, of course, would not be a consideration on larger highways and interstates. I realized I was spending way too much time looking in the mirrors, to position myself in the lane, but it will take me a while to get comfortable checking it on a routine quick scan, and even longer to just know where the wheels are. I will stick a couple reference dots on the windshield.

Me, a stranger? Nah, just a friend you haven't met.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

10 minutes ago, Dutch_12078 said:

In my experience driving numerous RV's, buses, and other large vehicles, looking farther ahead than you would with a smaller vehicle makes it easier to stay centered in the lane.

That makes sense. I learned the value of focusing well down the road riding motorcycles. There are instances in which it is magic. I will try to carryover that skill to MH's. 

Me, a stranger? Nah, just a friend you haven't met.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

7 hours ago, kudzu said:

My only experience driving a MH are the  few mles I test drove an Allegro 31 with a calm, patient salesman at my elbow.

3

That is pretty typical for most of us, although I had previously owned two pop-up trailers and a 24' travel trailer and I had towed equipment trailers some, but not recently. Our first class A was only 25' long and 96" wide but it felt like I was driving a battleship in a canoe pond! The video's and marking the windshield are great advice. I suggest that you take the MH to a large local parking lot when it is empty and drive around, back up, and just practice. While there, park in a place where you can center between two white lines and then use some painter's tape to mark where they each show on the windshield from the driver's seat. Those will be somewhat narrower than are the lanes on a street, so keep that in mind. 

I would also suggest that you keep your first travel days short and drive only when you are well rested. That will help to lower your stress level. If you have a backup camera, keep it turned on at first, just so that you can see what is close behind you. Avoid streets with heavy traffic and rush hour traffic as much as possible. Always remember that every person who travels in an RV had no experience when they started. 

Good travelin !...............Kirk

Full-time 11+ years...... Now seasonal travelers.
Kirk & Pam's Great RV Adventure

            images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQqFswi_bvvojaMvanTWAI

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Take it slow and easy at first. Kirk has some good advice. We've owned this coach for more than four years now, and have been full-timers for nearly three years. Even now we generally keep our travel days to less than 250 miles. If you are tired it is time to pull over.

Your biggest problems won't be going down the Interstate but getting into campsites. Work out a short route near the dealership that will let you practice with narrow streets. Figure it out in your car or on foot, so that you aren't going to be too surprised or finding yourself in a dead end. Drive it a few times in the car before you get your MH, then drive the MH down the same route without your car attached. Finally, drive it with the towed.

You might want to keep your first few travel days to only a few hours so that you can scout out the next day's route in the car IF that might be appropriate. If you are going from a campground right at in Interstate interchange to another one 150 miles down the same Interstate at another interchange you probably won't have any problems. If you are going to drive through a small town that's having their annual festival you probably will want to check it out first.

Best thing is practicel

David Lininger, kb0zke
1993 Foretravel U300 40' (sold)
2022 Grand Design Reflection 315RLTS

Link to comment
Share on other sites

34 minutes ago, kb0zke said:

Your biggest problems won't be going down the Interstate but getting into campsites.

A very good point. When the time comes to park most of us try for a pull-through at least at first but you will need to back in eventually so try that as well while you are in that parking lot that I mentioned. I never back without a ground guide. When communicating with the ground guide, use terms like driver-side & passenger-side and never right or left! Take your time and if you are in doubt, stop and go look as it won't hurt a thing to take just a little longer. Develop your own communication pattern between the two of you and always use the same terms and in the same way. Never trust a park employee completely but have your ground guide out there to stop you if the director makes a mistake. Be sure that your guide looks up as well as down since things sometimes get in the way that are well above the eye level of the guide. 

Good travelin !...............Kirk

Full-time 11+ years...... Now seasonal travelers.
Kirk & Pam's Great RV Adventure

            images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQqFswi_bvvojaMvanTWAI

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Kirk Wood and kb0zke, a lot of good advice! I am taking notes, and you can bet I will try my best to heed your words of wisdom.

Campgrounds are a concern, but not as much so as gas stations. I figure campgrounds anticipate the arrival of motorhomes. Any given gas station may not care a bit about my width, height, wheelbase, or measly 80 gallon gas tank. 

Our plan is to lean on the salesman to accompany us on a little longer excursion in our motorhome, and then camp the first night, at least, adjacent to the dealership. If all the stars align perfectly, we will then travel directly to connect with a competent driving instructor.

I believe, if I take my time and proceed carefully, I can do this. Once I know the basics, and have practiced to the point I am confident I can execute them, driving the motorhome will no longer be intimidating. However, the anticipation of those first few days and miles is daunting!    

Me, a stranger? Nah, just a friend you haven't met.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

5 hours ago, Kirk Wood said:

If you have a backup camera, keep it turned on at first, just so that you can see what is close behind you. 

In our previous Class A the only thing we could see in our backup camera was our toad. But, it was nice to have confirmation it was still following us. :)

Linda Sand

Blog: http://sandcastle.sandsys.org/

Former Rigs: Liesure Travel van, Winnebago View 24H, Winnebago Journey 34Y, Sportsmobile Sprinter conversion van

Link to comment
Share on other sites

One tip for driving a big rig is to take the room you need. If you will be turning right from a 4-lane street into a narrow 2-lane street it is OK to start by straddling both lanes of the street you will be leaving to keep from taking out anything mounted on that corner. Do turn on your right turn signal, though, and watch for anyone trying to sneak up beside you.

Linda Sand

Blog: http://sandcastle.sandsys.org/

Former Rigs: Liesure Travel van, Winnebago View 24H, Winnebago Journey 34Y, Sportsmobile Sprinter conversion van

Link to comment
Share on other sites

When we got our MH, we took it over to the school (university) on a Sunday and used a big parking lot for doing figure 8s, backing up, making turns using planters between rows as 'curbs', etc.  Get some orange cones and practice backing up using backup camera and mirrors.  It is all about practice, practice, practice, practice.

Barb & Dave O'Keeffe
2002 Alpine 36 MDDS (Figment II), 2018 Ford C-Max HYBRID
Blog: http://www.barbanddave.net
SPK# 90761 FMCA #F337834

Link to comment
Share on other sites

18 minutes ago, sandsys said:

In our previous Class A the only thing we could see in our backup camera was our toad. But, it was nice to have confirmation it was still following us. :)

Linda Sand

When I replaced the failing monitor and camera system in our coach, I used a two camera system with both cameras mounted high in the rear. One camera is aimed low with a view from the coach bumper back to the toad windshield, and the other camera is aimed high for view from the toad windshield back to infinity. The lower camera is very handy for checking on the toad hookup while underway, and also for watching the back when backing into tight quarters. I can back the coach up to within inches of obstructions without a spotter.

Dutch
2001 GBM Landau 34' Class A
F-53 Chassis, Triton V10, TST TPMS
2011 Toyota RAV4 4WD/Remco pump
ReadyBrute Elite tow bar/brake system

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We picked up our motorhome in a western state and our first drive with the dealer was up and down a curvy mountain road.  His first comment was not to grip the steering wheel so stiffly. Let it flow somewhat freely in your hands and it will follow the curves more easily.  Amazingly, it did!  As it turned out we absolutely loved mountain driving.

Full-timed for 16 Years
Traveled 8 yr in a 2004 Newmar Dutch Star 40' Motorhome
and 8 yr in a 33' Travel Supreme 5th Wheel

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The best advice someone gave me for those first hundred/thousand or so miles was to not let ANYONE behind you or next to you or wherever push you to drive faster than you feel comfortable or do anything that makes you feel uncomfortable.

In other words, focus on YOUR driving, and don't worry about driving too slowly or taking too long to make a turn or whatever you have to do.  You need a lot more space to do stuff, like make turns, so take whatever space you need, even if you have a car or two behind you that are impatient. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have a 40ft DP and have been driving it for several years now but once in a while I get intimidated by narrow streets or a case of nerves. What helps me is to think back to the city bus drivers who wheel those buses up and down streets that they shouldnt even be on by rights. I figure if they can do it so can I.

<p>....JIM and LINDA......2001 American Eagle 40 '.towing a GMC Sierra 1500 4X4 with RZR in the rear. 1999 JEEP Cherokee that we tow as well.

IT IS A CONTENTED MAN WHO CAN APPRECIATE THE SCENERY ALONG A DETOUR.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

5 hours ago, Jimalberta said:

I have a 40ft DP and have been driving it for several years now but once in a while I get intimidated by narrow streets or a case of nerves. What helps me is to think back to the city bus drivers who wheel those buses up and down streets that they shouldnt even be on by rights. I figure if they can do it so can I.

Don't think about the fact that most of those guys are just plain crazy . LOL

Goes around , comes around .

Link to comment
Share on other sites

5 hours ago, Solo18 said:

The best advice someone gave me for those first hundred/thousand or so miles was to not let ANYONE behind you or next to you or wherever push you to drive faster than you feel comfortable or do anything that makes you feel uncomfortable.

Agree! There is always enough time to be careful! 

Good travelin !...............Kirk

Full-time 11+ years...... Now seasonal travelers.
Kirk & Pam's Great RV Adventure

            images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQqFswi_bvvojaMvanTWAI

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Talking about crazy.....we just got back from NYC and were on one of those double decker tour buses in downtown Manhatten. The driver was in a hurry to get back to the start and it was rush hr....what an experience..... he indeed was crazy driving a 40 ft bus like it was a sports car. Honking his horn, opening the door and hollering at other drivers, changing across 2 lanes all the while telling us how crazy the other drivers were....lol.

<p>....JIM and LINDA......2001 American Eagle 40 '.towing a GMC Sierra 1500 4X4 with RZR in the rear. 1999 JEEP Cherokee that we tow as well.

IT IS A CONTENTED MAN WHO CAN APPRECIATE THE SCENERY ALONG A DETOUR.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This website has several helpful videos: RV driving and towing tips

Another useful video is: Backup hand signals for driver and ground guide. When in doubt STOP-get out and look /assess the situation before proceeding.

 Perhaps the most helpful tip I ever received was, "don''t let others rush you into making a mistake" Do things at YOUR pace.

Congratulation for asking Questions about driving, and for getting your new MH!

 

2000 Winnebago Ultimate Freedom USQ40JD, ISC 8.3 Cummins 350, Spartan MM Chassis. USA IN 1SG retired;Good Sam Life member,FMCA ." And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you--ask what you can do for your country.  John F. Kennedy 20 Jan 1961

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 7/27/2017 at 2:36 AM, Jimalberta said:

I have a 40ft DP and have been driving it for several years now but once in a while I get intimidated by narrow streets or a case of nerves. What helps me is to think back to the city bus drivers who wheel those buses up and down streets that they shouldnt even be on by rights. I figure if they can do it so can I.

The very first "big rig" I drove was as an 18 year old soldier stationed at Ft Devens, MA. While I was in a casual company awaiting orders, I was given a 15 minute driving lesson in a 60 passenger bus, and then sent to downtown Boston to pick up a load of recruits at the induction center for transit to Ft Dix, NJ for basic training. White knuckles? Oh yeah, big time! :o:D

Dutch
2001 GBM Landau 34' Class A
F-53 Chassis, Triton V10, TST TPMS
2011 Toyota RAV4 4WD/Remco pump
ReadyBrute Elite tow bar/brake system

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

RVers Online University

mywaggle.com

campgroundviews.com

RV Destinations

Find out more or sign up for Escapees RV'ers Bootcamp.

Advertise your product or service here.

RVTravel.com Logo



×
×
  • Create New...