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Can I Make It?


SuiteSuccess
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     Just got back from a several week jaunt with good friends.  Last campground we stayed at was Mayberry Campground in Mt. Airy NC.  Yes, Andy Griffith’s hometown.  Below is a picture of our site—3rd from the top across from the building.  Our site was ~60 ft so wheels were at back of site and tail overhung about 5 feet.  We are 67’ when connected but we fit with truck snugged up.  When leaving we had toy hauler and pickup in site above us where camper is parked in photo.  For perspective the “U” turn at it’s widest was maybe 60’ width of the “U” and to complicate further a camper and car were being stored at the top of the “U” on the left side so getting off the gravel was a no-no.  Now to the question which raised an intellectual discussion with our camping mates.  Could we make that turn?  Turns out we could fairly easily but it was basically “hold my beer and watch this!” rather than up front KNOWING we could.  So my question to the group— apparently urban engineers design roads and have formulas to design u-turn dimensions for semis and busses.  I know there are variables, singled vs. tandem, wheel base, trailer tire position etc. but what is a reliable “rule of thumb” for knowing you can make a 180* turn without going past jackknife to use prior to getting into trouble?  I’m thinking anything narrower than your connected truck-trailer length should give you pause.  If anyone has any of those diagrams, I’d like to see them and the formulas to satisfy my nerd side.

     I’m actually thinking of finding a parking lot, if given the opportunity, and actually making a 180 at different wheel cuts and measure to see how far the trailer tracks inside, tail swing, and outside radius through the turn.  I’m betting that tail swing stays inside the front wheel outside radius and that the turn can be made in about 3/4 the tractor-trailer length measuring between the two arms of the “U”.

PkaRyZ3l.jpg

 

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Most likely the trailer will cut the corner on the inside some even if you have the hitch behind the rear axle. 

Because of this tail swing to the outside might not be an issue but you may want to watch it.

That turn at least looks like it had a wide gravel area to allow you to cut the corner but if it had been questionable for us at 72', I would have pulled out of our site and then backed up to the prior road going that direction. 

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So I'm thinking take the car off the bed of the truck.  Now you can turn even tighter, without worry of tires on gravel,  plus you will be able to jackknife in reverse if needed to pull that trailer further forward to clear anything.  Load your car back when out of trouble!

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Well, you can definitely do a 180 in a smaller area than those with the KW on the hood.  I can easily turn tight enough to have the trailer tires barely rotating with the Volvo, but the KW cuts a broader circle.

Don't try doing tight u-turns on a paved surface if you're hooked up  Grass is much more forgiving on your tire sidewalls. Your neighbor won't mind if you practice on his front lawn.

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At first I was going to say I would have just backed out like SD suggested.  I have done that a time or two knowing ahead of time from scouting.  

Then I mapped my house.....  I basically do that turn every time I park my combo at home.  I am 60' from building to building and my driveway cuts further back than your campground image because my drives parallel each other. 

In my Volvo 630, with a 265" WB and OAL of 30' I can do it with one jack knife.  Staying to the outside of the right hand road I pull forward turning lightly until the hitch passes the grass, then turn hard.  I go until I am close to the building, back up in a medium jackknife move until I can pull straight down the lefthand drive.  In my dually I had to forward/backward 2-3 times to make that same turn. 

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I was heading into a campground late at night several years ago for a quick overnite stop.  The campground was along a service road off the highway, but the entrance was hidden behind some industrial buildings and I missed it.  The service road was a two lane road with nowhere in sight to turn around and I was well past were I needed to be and was pulling my RZR on a utility trailer behind the 5er, so no chance of backing up to get there.  I kept going forward because it was my only choice.  I finally came to a spot that had wide opposing driveways along both sides of the road.  Neither driveway led to anything big enough for me to get turned around in.  I decided to see if I could make a u turn.  I veered into the driveway on the right a bit and then hung a hard left, just getting back into the roadway before I hit the stop sign at the far edge of the driveway.  I kept it hard left and veered into the opposing driveway long enough to get the nose of the truck back into the road going back the other direction before I hit the stop sign on the far side of that driveway.  The 5er was cutting hard and the utility trailer was cutting even harder due to the tail swing of the 5er.  The utility trailer ended up 90 degrees to the rear of the 5er and the front rail on the small trailer just kissed the inside (driver side) rear of the 5er.  It left a small mark, but you have to look for it to see it.  I was thankful I was able to get turned around, but if it had been any tighter, I wouldn’t have made it.  If I didn’t have the utility trailer attached, it would have made it no problem.  My truck is a short wheelbase at 195” (maybe 185” - it’s late and I can’t remember right now).  

When I got back to the campground, the layout was not favorable for the site we had to get into.  I needed to make another u turn at the end of the park to get facing the right direction to get into the site.  It wasn’t quite as tight as the one on the road, but it was close.  I came close to kissing the side of the 5er with the utility trailer again.  All of this was going on at about 11:00 pm after a very long travel day.  I was very happy to get to bed that night with no major damage.  Towing doubles can be an adventure sometimes, especially when making TIGHT turns late at night. 😱

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8 hours ago, Star Dreamer said:

Most likely the trailer will cut the corner on the inside some even if you have the hitch behind the rear axle. 

Because of this tail swing to the outside might not be an issue but you may want to watch it.

That turn at least looks like it had a wide gravel area to allow you to cut the corner but if it had been questionable for us at 72', I would have pulled out of our site and then backed up to the prior road going that direction. 

Had options of backing down the road or actually turning LEFT out of our site and cutting the trailer tires across the grass but I posed this question to get an idea what it would  take to get out of a difficult situation before it happens.  For example, what if your GPS led you down a road for a mile that ended in a cul-de-sac.  Could you make the turn around or do you have to back out for a mile?  Just something to think about.

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3 hours ago, Chad Heiser said:

I was heading into a campground late at night several years ago for a quick overnite stop.  The campground was along a service road off the highway, but the entrance was hidden behind some industrial buildings and I missed it.  The service road was a two lane road with nowhere in sight to turn around and I was well past were I needed to be and was pulling my RZR on a utility trailer behind the 5er, so no chance of backing up to get there.  I kept going forward because it was my only choice.  I finally came to a spot that had wide opposing driveways along both sides of the road.  Neither driveway led to anything big enough for me to get turned around in.  I decided to see if I could make a u turn.  I veered into the driveway on the right a bit and then hung a hard left, just getting back into the roadway before I hit the stop sign at the far edge of the driveway.  I kept it hard left and veered into the opposing driveway long enough to get the nose of the truck back into the road going back the other direction before I hit the stop sign on the far side of that driveway.  The 5er was cutting hard and the utility trailer was cutting even harder due to the tail swing of the 5er.  The utility trailer ended up 90 degrees to the rear of the 5er and the front rail on the small trailer just kissed the inside (driver side) rear of the 5er.  It left a small mark, but you have to look for it to see it.  I was thankful I was able to get turned around, but if it had been any tighter, I wouldn’t have made it.  If I didn’t have the utility trailer attached, it would have made it no problem.  My truck is a short wheelbase at 195” (maybe 185” - it’s late and I can’t remember right now).  

When I got back to the campground, the layout was not favorable for the site we had to get into.  I needed to make another u turn at the end of the park to get facing the right direction to get into the site.  It wasn’t quite as tight as the one on the road, but it was close.  I came close to kissing the side of the 5er with the utility trailer again.  All of this was going on at about 11:00 pm after a very long travel day.  I was very happy to get to bed that night with no major damage.  Towing doubles can be an adventure sometimes, especially when making TIGHT turns late at night. 😱

Chad, this is the exact nightmare scenario this situation brought to mind.  I’ve had my truck over a decade and regrettably still don’t know all it’s capabilities or pitfalls.  I pose these questions so I can continue to learn from other’s experience.  As an example, camping trip last October took me down my first 10% grade with sharp switchbacks.  I drive the Appalachians a lot but most of those grades are 6-8% and comfortable.  Turns out down and up that grade was simpler than I thought but had never done it so learned from it.  (Now just waiting for some smarta** to say if you can’t drive steep grades with switchbacks, then you shouldn’t be driving.)

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On the way to Alaska, we were in down town Calgary, on a Friday afternoon.  The Friday kicking off Canada Day weekend.  We got directions from locals who had us go down a side street that ended in a VERY small cul-de-sac.  After getting out and stepping off distances, we developed a plan to pull up here, back in there, etc.  It wasn't fun.

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Howdy All,

This is something I have to deal with every time I leave from home on a trip.  The way our driveway is relative to the road that goes past our home I can't drive into my parking spot, I have to drive past our driveway and then back up a 2% grade while making a slight curve about 200 feet down our tree lined driveway which is about 15 feet wide.  Then when we leave from home I drive out of our driveway, down the street about 300 yards, make a left at the "T" drive a quarter of a mile and then make a 180 degree turn in a cul-de-sac that has the truck-trailer nearly jackknifed as the tires on the trailer are buckled over to where you think they are going to pop off the rims.

When I towed with the singled Freightliner, it was hard parking at home and turning in the cul-de-sac doing this with the Pete, is a challenge to be sure but like a lot of things in life it has to be done.  When it comes to camp grounds, many times I have walked the roads in the camp ground and scouted out the site before entering.  Something I have found to be invaluable is "Google Earth"  I use this all the time to recon camp sites and places like a Walmart I have never been too, after driving the Freightliner, for 6 years and the Pete, for the last 3 I have a pretty good idea of what I can get into or out of, that said that "Hood" can still pose a problem at times.

Dave

Edited by mr. cob
kus ikantsqel
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1 hour ago, mr. cob said:

Howdy All,

This is something I have to deal with every time I leave from home on a trip.  The way our driveway is relative to the road that goes past our home I can't drive into my parking spot, I have to drive past our driveway and then back up a 2% grade while making a slight curve about 200 feet down our tree lined driveway which is about 15 feet wide.  Then when we leave from home I drive our of our driveway, down the street about 300 yards, make a left at the "T" drive a quarter of a mile and then make a 180 degree turn in a cul-de-sac that has the truck-trailer nearly jackknifed as the tires on the trailer are buckled over to where you think they are going to pop off the rims.

When I towed with the singled Freightliner, it was hard parking at home and turning in the cul-de-sac doing this with the Pete, is a challenge to be sure but like a lot of things in life it has to be done.  When it comes to camp grounds, many times I have walked the roads in the camp ground and scouted out the site before entering.  Something I have found to be invaluable is "Google Earth"  I use this all the time to recon camp sites and places like a Walmart I have never been too, after driving the Freightliner, for 6 years and the Pete, for the last 3 I have a pretty good idea of what I can get into or out of, that said that "Hood" can still pose a problem at times.

Dave

Thanks for your perspective Dave.  I use Google Maps (Satellite mode) to look at campgrounds also.  You can actually measure the site length on a PC by right clicking and choosing measure from the drop down menu.  Taught that trick by GeorgiaHybrid.  Can’t figure out how to do measure using Google Maps on iPad however.

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This is very enlightening for me as I am venturing into the acquisition of an HDT.  

Chad-  If you had a platform extension ALA Idaho Tote style, would it have made it easier or harder to maneuver in your scenario?  It would eliminate a pivot point which you have double towing but would increase your tail swing.

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I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest that unless your hitch is crazy far behind the axle, on a truck with a very short wheelbase, tail swing is very unlikely to ever be an issue.  The trailer wheels will track inside the radius of where the front truck tires tracked, and so will the rest of the trailer.  I can see it happening with a short day cab, but not something with a sleeper hauling a smart.

Has anyone ever heard of a trailer hitting something because of tail swing while moving forward?

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4 hours ago, rickeieio said:

I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest that unless your hitch is crazy far behind the axle, on a truck with a very short wheelbase, tail swing is very unlikely to ever be an issue.  The trailer wheels will track inside the radius of where the front truck tires tracked, and so will the rest of the trailer.  I can see it happening with a short day cab, but not something with a sleeper hauling a smart.

Has anyone ever heard of a trailer hitting something because of tail swing while moving forward?

I have heard of one and seen one. The Watts on wheels posted an issue they had with trailer swing with their tote that was on the back of the trailer and we saw a bumper pull trailer hit a show car while we were loading our show vehicle up at the Indy World of Wheels show a few years ago. They tried driving between a couple of parked cars and then turned sharp to drive out and the back of the trailer hit one of the cars. 

We came close to hitting a tree while pulling out of a campground in Florida but I had the wife watching just in case and she said we cleared by about 6". I had to watch a sign post and low hanging branch on the other side and landscape timbers in front. Was a very tight manuever but took it slow and only had to do a short back up motion once. 

Edited by Star Dreamer
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10 hours ago, rpsinc said:

This is very enlightening for me as I am venturing into the acquisition of an HDT.  

Chad-  If you had a platform extension ALA Idaho Tote style, would it have made it easier or harder to maneuver in your scenario?  It would eliminate a pivot point which you have double towing but would increase your tail swing.

I don't know if I could have made those turn with an Idaho Tote or similar extension.  I'm pretty sure the tot would have taken out the 2 stop signs in the driveways based on how I had to maneuver around them.  I have considered an Idaho Tote before, but with the long extensions past the rear axle on most large 5ers (so LGT's can tow them and not get buried by pin weight), I think they would limit my maneuverability too much in tight situations (I have seen Watts on Wheels video when they had an issue with their tote and tail swing).  It would be nice to be able to back up though.

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A place for information in the planning stage is commercial vehicle dimension regulations. 

"Maximum box length" is the dimension from the center of the rear axle or rear axle group to the rear of the vehicle.  It is intended to account for body swing in turns. 

Of course the vehicles turning radius is the other factor. 

RV trailers with their teeter totter axle placement design have yuuuge body swing if they are towed by a sharp turning commercial truck made for deliveries to 1880's infrastructure. 

A booster axle extension like an Idaho Tote adds itself to the box length because it is not a trailer it is a frame extension so off it goes in the other direction when you carve around that tight corner. 

Anyways, there is a solution - steering trailers:

Simard Suspensions video - steering trailers

A Big Fiver could have it's wheels back where they belong on a semi trailer and still get into the best spots ever. 

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4 hours ago, noteven said:

A Big Fiver could have it's wheels back where they belong on a semi trailer and still get into the best spots ever.

Although I work in warehouses and distribution centers, I never really gave that a thought, but you are right.  With pin weight not being the limiting factor, esp with 5er RVs, the axles could be moved way back and add a totally different approach to control and backing.  Hummm??  Good point.

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1 hour ago, geodog1 said:

But then the only market for the trailer would be an HDT owner.

 

ShortyO

 

Not to start a fight, but that is exactly what should be towing these larger, heavier, longer 5ers these days.  My original 05 Teton was a 39' stretched custom built with the original owner knowing he was going to carry Harley off the rear of the trailer.  He had the wheels of the trailer placed 18 inches towards the rear so that he would be more balanced with the bike loaded.  Yes, without the bike he had a 7,000 lb. pin weight which my hdt and hitch could handle!  Tracking of the trailer was better, and it cut down on tail swing.

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On a windy day it is quite interesting to tow a long tail weathervane RV "fiver" and then hook up to a stock trailer of the same length and weight with the same won ton. 

One can be like your truck got drunk and the other is like you are on rails. 

 

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For us, regarding u-turns; with the deck long enough to support 90 degrees then the u-turn limit will be the turning radius of the hdt.  (going forward singled mid I can't go 90 degree's moving forward).

I know if I can make sharp turns by driving the path with just the hdt first.  If I don't have to back up and any room to spare exists on the inside all is goodness.  If I have to back up to make the turn with the hdt then the 'hold my beer' event starts :)

 

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