For many RVers, the thought of backing a trailer into the campsite can make your palms start to sweat and your stress level go off the chart. When I worked for an RV dealership we were constantly rearranging the sales lot, moving and backing trailers. When we set-up RV shows, in an effort to use all available space, we would back units within inches of walls, RVs and other obstacles.

The technique we used for backing trailers was almost fool proof, when there were two people working together. If you have trouble backing your trailer or pop-up try this. First decide who will drive and who will spot and give directions. Let’s say your wife is driving. For this technique to work, you are her eyes, and she needs to do exactly what you tell her to do. This, of course, also means if there is an accident it’s your fault!

First conduct a thorough inspection behind the trailer where you will be backing. Always watch for children and pets. (If children are in the area ask somebody to watch the back of the trailer) When you are ready to back it in, you stand off to the side, in front of the vehicle where you can see the trailer and communicate with your wife. With the window down and the radio off, she puts her hand on the top of the steering wheel and slowly turns the wheel in the direction you tell her. If you want the back of the trailer to go to your right you tell her to slowly turn the steering wheel to her right. If you want the back of the trailer to go to your left tell her to slowly turn the steering wheel to her left. You can stop whenever necessary to check the opposite side of the trailer and behind the trailer.

The key to driving is slowly turning and backing in the direction the spotter tells you to. The two biggest mistakes made are turning the steering wheel too much and holding it in the turned position too long. If either of these mistakes occurs it will require greater correction to get straightened out, and if you continue backing while holding the wheel in that position for too long the tow vehicle and trailer can jackknife.

Don’t get upset if you need to pull forward and start over. With a little practice you’ll soon be backing like the pros, practice being the keyword. The more you practice the better you’ll get.

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Happy RV Learning,
Mark Polk

RV Education 101

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About Mark Polk

Mark is an RVer and has a very extensive background in the RV industry. He began at age 15, washing RVs at a dealership in North Central Pennsylvania. It wasn't long before he was working as an apprentice RV technician under the guidance of the RV service manager. Mark then entered and served a full career as a ‎Maintenance Warrant Officer in the United States Army. He managed the operation of the motor pool, where he not only had ‎to understand vehicle maintenance, he had to teach young soldiers how to maintain and operate ‎motor pool vehicles. These soldiers came to him from very different backgrounds, and their prior experience with heavy equipment and mechanical skills were similarly varied. Mark had to learn how to ‎communicate with all of them clearly, concisely, and effectively, and he found that he had a ‎talent for teaching. The Army agreed, and eventually he was asked to produce written ‎instructional materials, including driver training manuals and operating procedures for motor ‎pools.‎ When he retired from the Army in 1996, Mark went to work for an RV dealership in ‎sales and service. He talked to customers about their needs and desires and helped them select ‎the right RV for them. He inspected used RVs for trade-in, he serviced customer RVs, and he ‎educated customers how to operate and enjoy their vehicles. As an RVer himself, through out the years, he has owned and used all the classifications of RVs (travel trailer, motorhome, pop up, 5th wheel and truck camper). He even restored from the ground up, a 67 Yellowstone travel trailer. It became clear to him that there ‎were limited resources available to RV owners who wanted to learn more about how to maintain ‎and operate their vehicles. Owners’ manuals provide limited information, and most consumers ‎find them confusing. Anecdotal information learned around campfires from other RV owners is ‎incomplete and can be unreliable. Mark realized that he had the knowledge and teaching ability ‎to fill that gap, and so in 1999, he began writing articles and books about how to choose, buy, ‎maintain, repair, and operate a variety of RVs. To date, he has authored more than 500 educational ‎videos, 15 e-books, 3 paperback books, and more than 1,600 articles educating millions of RVers. His best-selling book, ‎entitled The RV Book, has sold over 50,000 copies to date. ‎Mark's first priority is the safety of his audience. To Mark, ‎this means anticipating the risks and challenges RVers will encounter when following his ‎instructions, ensuring that the information he provides is complete and accurate, and providing ‎enough information so that his audience can make informed decisions about when to tackle ‎maintenance tasks themselves and when to take their vehicles to professionals. His second ‎priority is his audience’ empowerment. He sends his students out onto the road with confidence that they are equipped, prepared, ‎informed, and ready to enjoy themselves.‎Producing material that achieves those goals is a very difficult thing to do. RVs come in ‎a bewildering variety of different types, makes, models, and vintages, and when Mark writes ‎about tasks such as winterizing a water system, as we know there are many ways to winterize an RV, his instructions, need to guide his readers through the process ‎regardless of which RV his reader happens to own. Like his soldiers, his RV students come to him ‎with widely disparate levels of expertise, experience, talent, and motivation, and his instructions ‎must speak to all of them. Mark’s writing and video presentations are accurate and comprehensive. It is also clear, ‎concise, and easy to understand. He breaks complex, intimidating tasks down to easy steps.

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