The first trip was a doozy

Dlyrius

Member
Oct 11, 2020
30
Portland Oregon USA
The first trip my pup made was from the lady's property where I rescued it and OH BOY was that a trip. A friend of mine hooked it up to his truck and I followed because she doesn't have any lights yet. We got about 2 miles away from my place on I5. Traffic was medium and all of the sudden there was a shower of sparks and the trailer wildly fishtailing back and forth up on one wheel, then the next. I swear the traffic parted like the Red Sea and I had a hiney pucker so tight I had to peel myself out of the seat of my truck. All I could see was my brand new old trailer spread all over the freeway before I even got to use it. Thankfully we had put the safety chains on and he managed to get it under control very quickly and pulled over safe.

We discovered that it had popped off the ball. He forgot the pin to lock the hitch onto the ball. We managed to muscle it back onto the ball and pulled into a large parking lot to see what happened. The only damage was to the connector for the propane, so we got VERY lucky. We managed to slip a hook on a bungee cord through the pin hole, wrap it around the hitch latch then use the other hook to hold the handle down.

I know one thing, I will NEVER forget to pin that hitch! Talk about newbie lessons learned :)
 

jmkay1

2004 Fleetwood/Coleman Utah
Oct 10, 2013
7,402
Northern Virginia
I know one thing, I will NEVER forget to pin that hitch! Talk about newbie lessons learned
. Scary moment indeed. Also don't take anyone's word everything is hooked up, always double check yourself as well. Had a RV shop hook my camper up to my car and told me I was all set to go. However I decided to double check and discovered he forgot to hook my safety chains and pigtail. Now I act like a pilot doing a pre flight check every time.
 

Dlyrius

Member
Oct 11, 2020
30
Portland Oregon USA
LOL, yeah, I knew about the chains, and even asked him why he didn't cross them. He said it wasn't really doing anything which I accepted because, well I've never pulled an rv. I didn't even know there was a pin for the latch, nor did I know there was a button to push to release it to unhook. The truly sad thing is that we are both retired big rig drivers. 5th wheels I know well, ball hitch I'm a total noob. I've learned so much already it's crazy and I know I have a ton more to learn before next spring when I take her out for our maiden voyage.. which will be Camp Driveway! I learned that from you guys, THANKS!
 

jmkay1

2004 Fleetwood/Coleman Utah
Oct 10, 2013
7,402
Northern Virginia
5th wheels I know well, ball hitch I'm a total noob.
. :) My cousin shows horses and hauls those huge horse trailers for a living all over the country. Called her asking for tips and tricks when I first started towing and she responded exactly as you “5th wheels I know, ball and hitch nope”. She did say the smaller the trailer the harder it is to back and you know what I think she may be right. So when you get to that point just don’t be too hard on yourselves. It’s a steep learning curve when you first start out and mistakes will be made. You just learn from them and continue on.
 

Dlyrius

Member
Oct 11, 2020
30
Portland Oregon USA
That smaller trailer thing is right on the money! 53' is way easier than 15'. I did read a helpful tip here.. put your hand on the bottom of the steering wheel and just push it the way you want the trailer to go. I was like THAT'S GENIUS! Thankfully my truck has a backup camera on it LOL.. Thanks for your encouraging words, they are appreciated and I'm sure something will come up that drives me nuts at first :)
 

Grandpa Don

Super Active Member
Sep 5, 2018
1,595
Southern California
I always do a last minute pre-flight of the camper and tow vehicle before I start out. I had pulled trailers before so I was extra cautious. So far the only thing I forgot was when I was on my first trip out with the popup. I got everything packed up and was ready to drive away. As usual, I did a last minute walk-around checking things. Sure enough, I had left one of the rear stabilizer jack in the down position. It is so easy to forget things! I double check the camp site as well. I will generally stop again within about a mile or so and check once more. I think this over-cautiousness comes from my days as a pilot. After I did my pre-flight, I always made one more walk around the plane and then walked about 10 feet out in front of the propeller and just looked at the airplane again. I was just looking for anything that didn't look right.
 

Dlyrius

Member
Oct 11, 2020
30
Portland Oregon USA
Not a thing wrong with being overly cautious, especially when your actions (or lack of them) could affect someone's life in a negative way. I drove school bus as well as long haul truck so I am used to pre-trip checks. Only problem here was I didn't know what I was suppose to be checking. That's one of the things I love about you folks, you are all not just full of helpful hints, you are happy to share them with everyone!
 

Grandpa Don

Super Active Member
Sep 5, 2018
1,595
Southern California
Not a thing wrong with being overly cautious, especially when your actions (or lack of them) could affect someone's life in a negative way. I drove school bus as well as long haul truck so I am used to pre-trip checks. Only problem here was I didn't know what I was suppose to be checking. That's one of the things I love about you folks, you are all not just full of helpful hints, you are happy to share them with everyone!
I have gone so far as to make up a three page check list to set-up, prepare to lower, and take-down. I have on several occasions left the door in the down position after I slid the bunks back in. I then had to put the support poles back in place and slide the bunks back out so that I could get back in to stow the Damn door.
 

Toedtoes

Super Active Member
May 28, 2018
2,840
California
I use plastic slap bracelets. I write things like "hitch, stabilizers, roof, hookups, compartments, etc., on them. I slap them all on the steering wheel after the last drive before the trip.

Then when I'm getting ready to go, I do my prep work and then do a walk around and check off by removing the bracelets from the steering wheel.
 

Michael J

Member
Aug 9, 2018
97
Yep, had help hooking up a tandem axle work trailer behind a stake truck one time the guy forgot to latch the hitch all together drove 30 mi swung around to back in, the trailer separated and ran right into the truck was a little pissed with myself as a rule I would always walk the truck and check everything but the guy who hooked it was the bosses son.......
 

Dlyrius

Member
Oct 11, 2020
30
Portland Oregon USA
OUCH! Sounds like a time I was hired on to haul containers. I was suppose to ride a long with one of the guys. He hooked the 5th wheel, checked the hitch to make sure the jaws were shut. We took off and the trailer popped off the 5th wheel hitch and it hit the back of the cab. Took a couple of forklifts to get it back on the tractor. Painful. Weird thing was, I watched him check the connection. He even did a tug test so NO clue why it came off. Needless to say when I was out on my own, I made dang sure I was latched tight lol
 

Econ

Super Active Member
Aug 18, 2019
1,499
Deep South
To be super precautions, you are aware that hitch balls and receivers come in different sizes ? I have two 2" receivers and one 1 7/8" receiver. I have put a 2" on a 1 7/8" ball just around the yard.
 

Karen McGinn

Member
Jul 22, 2020
46
Maryland
My first trip was last weekend. Few lessons I learnt:

Buy air compress that reaches trailer without needing to unhitch.

Ensure that compressor actually rates to my PSI. It did on the box, but not IRL.

Using bungee cord on criss-crossed chains will alleviate chains on pavement. Don't need bungee too tight. Any thoughts on that concept?
 

Sjm9911

Super Active Member
May 31, 2018
11,505
Nj
As long as its only a link or so the bungee cord shouldent be a problem. Linger then that get the chains cut. I used zip ties on mine. I also zip ties up the swing away jack, never trusted that it wouldn't bounce loose. Probably overkill but 1 less thing to think about.
 




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