How did you learn to back a trailer?

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brahmergirl

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Joined
Feb 10, 2007
Messages
86
Location
Parsons Kansas
You know, I was thinking the other day, I've come a long ways on backing the trailer.  That was absolutely the biggest dreaded thing of the whole show animal thing.  Now remember I grew up in the city and never lived on the farm.  The most horrifying thing I had had to encounter in helping my son to start 4-H was the trailering of the animals.  Now remember, my husband grew up in a non-4-H family meaning cows were for butchering and money and not pleasure was the attitude of the family that he came from so I had very little help.  He told me if I wanted to take animals to the fair, there was the truck and there was the trailer, figure it out.  Now remember also, that he is a Semi driver for" a large brown truck company" who can have no accidents and must be able to back two 50 ft. trailers within inches of obstacles. 

So with tears streaming down my face, I headed out to figure out how to back up to the trailer hitch and 50 passes later and a few dents in the bumper, me and the 7 year old got it hooked up.  Then off to the pasture we went, we backed by the fence, between t posts, next to trees, we were feeling pretty confident then.  Then we went home and had to pull in the driveway, now keep in mind this was a single wide one horse trailer so pretty short turning radius and can jackknife very easily.

So three days before the first fair I began the praying ritual to the lord above "please dear lord, let me haul that poor little bucket calf to the fair, let everything be allright, do not let me run off the road going 60 mph and turn this sardine can on wheels over.  Please have mercy on any small animals that should happen to run out in front of me and I won't be able to stop for them for fear of slamming the poor bucket calf into the front of the trailer.  Please do not let some idiot park in front of me, too close beside me or tell me to move my trailer after I get it there.  Please do not let me have any blowouts or any other equipment malfunctions and do not let me get pulled over by the highway patrol.  And most of all, please oh, please let me find a nice parking spot where I can pull straight in and be able to pull straight back out without having to back between two trailers for fear of removing their fenders. " 

So we load up that morning, get on the road, the whole way there, I am sweating profusely with my knuckles  a nice white color on the steering wheel, just fearing that something terrible is going to happen in the whole 6 miles to the fair.  We get there and YESSSS!  Straight parking spot, able to pull in, no backing and will be able to pull straight forward out!!  My lucky day!  Thank you lord for answering the small prayers in life!  Unload the bucket calf, the panels, the show box the feed get the little critter settled.  Then one of the fair board guys comes up to me and says "is that your little blue trailer"  I said "yes", he said those dreaded words.  You'll have to move your trailer.  I instantly got nauseated.  I then tried to argue "why, what's wrong with where I parked, everyone else is there?  I'm sure he saw the panic on my face, "because we're not letting trailers park there this year"  Well, then where do they park?  "down the hill by the river.  You'll have to back in and you better hurry, the places are filling up fast.  the big lump then developed in my throat, I thought I was going to cry.  OK, I did cry but no one saw me.  I went back to the truck, sat there for a bit, looked at the 25 ft wide area that they had left for me and told myself, "you can do it, You can do it"  Just don't hit anything.  Well, I backed it down that hill put it within 5 feet on both sides of the trailers next to me that got impatient from waiting for me to back in and backed in while I was trying to back in.  Felt good about the whole thing and then I decided I should probably unhitch it.  Drat!  That's what I forgot!  ???The concrete block to put it on!!!!  Did I mention it was on a hill???  Well, I had no blocks for behind the wheel either so oh well, it will just have to work.  Unhitched and left it, pulled my truck up and parked up by the barn.  Then 30 minutes later, the same fair board member said, uh, do you need some help with your trailer.  I put my chest out and loudly boasted "I do not!!! I backed it just fine!!!"  He said yes, you did do a good job of backing it in there but you forgot to block it and it is hanging by one wheel over the cliff by a tree.  Would you like some help? 

Yes... 

He found bricks and we saved the wide one horse from plunging to it's death on the side of the river bank. 

Just had to share this story for all those first time 4-H moms who fear the backing of the trailer.  You know you're out there, you just don't want to admit it. 

Brahmer
 

knabe

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Joined
Feb 7, 2007
Messages
13,630
Location
Hollister, CA
marcia brady method, pretend the back tires are the front wheels and typical methods.  and knowing i was going to have to back up at the feedyard made me practice.  also, i learned real well when i lived in an apartment and had to back the trailer up with a hard kink and about 6" on each side.  also i learned going down a muddy hill backwards in the mud with a gooseneck full of lambs with a cliff on my right side.  i didn't put it there, just got it down the hill and turned around at the bend forcing the trailer to bottom out for a while.  still my corrections are too large to be any real good to make a good arc or straight line like the semi drivers.
 

red

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Joined
Jan 20, 2007
Messages
7,850
Location
LaRue, Ohio
You just never fail to brighten my day! ;D
Since I don't drive anymore, that is one thing I don't worry about! I was terrible though when I did attempt it though!
The harder I tried the more nervous I got & of course a crowd would just have to gather. I believe they were secretly taking wagers on whether I'd get it done!
I also used to have to haul around a weigh wagon for measuring test plots during harvest. That also was an experience in it's own!
Did I mention that I also would drive around the block just so I didn't have to parallel park?


Red
 

brahmergirl

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Joined
Feb 10, 2007
Messages
86
Location
Parsons Kansas
We have since then graudated to a 16' stock trailer and my husband kept trying to tell me the bigger the trailer, the easier it was but there was no way I was going to fall for his words of advice.  This is the man that would try to come out and help a few years later and it would just make it worse because I would watch him and not  the trailer and inevitably, would definately hit something.  He would just stand there and point and when it wasn't far enough, point harder, when it was too far, threw his hands up and shook his head.  I finally got to the point where I made him go to the house so I wouldn't be intimidated or he would stand on the nerf bars and would guide it in but not anymore.

See, I now find it a challenge to try to back it within inches of an obstacle, preferably on his side of the truck. ;D  I now do all of the hauling and driving and fear no trailer backing.  I now go to all of the shows by myself and he knew i was totally independent when I loaded all of those brahma's and headed for Tulsa to show for a week, just my son,me and a trailer load of brahmas.  It was then that he knew he had created a monster!  I was an independent trailer backing 4-H mom! 
 

justme

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Joined
Jan 29, 2007
Messages
2,871
Location
Missouri
I'M ABSOLUTLY TERRIFIED OF BACKING!  At Maine Jr. Nationals in Springfield 2 years ago, it was my first long trip with the trailer.  I was so scared, I parked in in BFE and carried everything.  Man was I tired,  my daughter was only 7 and nervous so she could only help so much! lol

I gotta practice...a lot of shows coming up and I'm stressed already about it! (lol)
 

chambero

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Joined
Feb 12, 2007
Messages
3,207
Location
Texas
I sank a standard transmission pickup one time in high school while helping an adult friend unload his new boat.  With a whole of people watching.  Who weren't merciful at all.  It wasn't the backing that got me, it was the taking off going uphill with a standard.  Someone had to help me tie a chain to the front bumper to get the whole rig out.  The truck wasn't completely submered, but it was up over the windows.

At least men will have mercy on women with trailer difficulties.  I'm still a legend in my hometown for my misadventure nearly 20 years ago.  You just don't ever live some things down.
 

Show Heifer

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Joined
Jan 28, 2007
Messages
2,221
This sure brings back a bunch of memories! I grew up with a bumper hitch trailer. After several trips to the salebarn where I would hop out of the truck and ask the guy behind me to back my trailer in, Dad set up some bales in a hay field, and spent the afternoon backing. I always did pretty well unless some "not so nice" expert person was behind me and was being impatient....Ok, so maybe I screwed up a bit just to make them mad, but I can back a bumper hitch anywhere, including getting hooked up to it!!
Now I have a 20 foot gooseneck. Whole new ball game! Nothing like the bumper hitch! But being that I am stubborn, and I figure I have as much right as anyone else to hog the unloading chute, I learned how to back it while unloading stuff!
I can back somewhat confidently if I have plenty of room and no one is honking. If I am pinched for space or have some impatient butt head behind me, I get pretty frustrated in a hurry, but I have found that EVERYONE, regardless of how they act, learned how to back a trailer (it wasn't a God given gift at birth!). And if your willing to laugh at yourself, most people will laugh WITH you, instead of AT you!!! (clapping) (clapping)
 

genes

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Joined
Jan 29, 2007
Messages
392
Oh my goodness Brahmergirl I can just imagine your poor little trailer hanging off a cliff.  At least you got it back....try explaining to your husband that it was "somewhere in the river"  (lol)

I am an extremely nervous driver, so I don't attempt pulling (especially with backing) of any sort.  And Dad doesn't try to make me either, since fixing that dent in the auger. ;)
 

cowz

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Jan 10, 2007
Messages
1,492
My 2 cents worth here.  If I were alone in the middle of nowhere, with no witnesses or commentary, I can back up and get the job done.  One critic along will render me a horrible trailer backer.  Stage Fright?  You betcha!
 

stick

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Joined
Apr 23, 2007
Messages
388
trailers were a piece of cake. Just like backing a spreader. The real challenge was backing the loaded wagon into a corn crib alleyway. Always could do it with no problems until someone was standing there watching you.
 

desertcattle

Member
Joined
May 16, 2007
Messages
6
Location
Southern California
My Dad started all of us kids out early we would move the trailer just to move it. I have started my son out early he's 14 and can back any trailer up better than I can. It started with a two horse and a 4 acre field and then the gooseneck and up to the 1 acre field with lots of pens and other things in the way.
 

cowz

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Joined
Jan 10, 2007
Messages
1,492
Hey Guys,
I found this from our friendly state patrol website....(pay those tickets early and often!)

Trailer Backing

Backing a trailer can be frustrating for inexperienced owners. The most important item to remember is that the trailer will go in the opposite direction of the tow vehicle. It is helpful to have another person help you back the trailer.  :)))

Here are two methods for backing trailers:

Turn the vehicle's wheels to the right to make the trailer go left, and vice versa.

Put your hand at the bottom of the steering wheel. The trailer will go in the same direction your hand moves (moving your hand to the right will cause the trailer to go right, and vice versa).

Sharp steering wheel corrections will cause the trailer to jackknife and may cause damage to the rear of the tow vehicle or the front of the trailer.

Can you image how stressed we all would be if we had to back a trailer for a state patrolman!

 

brahmergirl

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Joined
Feb 10, 2007
Messages
86
Location
Parsons Kansas
You know, that's how my friend's husband told me to back one.  He said put both hands on the bottom of the steering wheel and whichever way you want the trailer to go move your hands in that direction.  Worked like a charm but then I graduated and just turn the wheel from the top now and look out my mirrors.  I used to have to turn around and look while I was backing.  Used to drive my semidriver husband nuts! 

 

red

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Joined
Jan 20, 2007
Messages
7,850
Location
LaRue, Ohio
My biggest problem is that I get mixed up on left & right, please don't laugh! ::) I still have to look at which hand has my wedding band on it. I think it's the left  ;), now you understand why I have such problems!!!

Red
:)))
 
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