Need tips for backing up a long gooseneck trailer - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 22 Old 03-22-2012, 04:46 AM Thread Starter
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Red face Need tips for backing up a long gooseneck trailer

I'm embarrassed that I have trouble backing up my 32 foot gooseneck trailer. I've seen young cowgirls park their trailer in between two trailers without a problem, but not me. I've been towing this trailer for 5+ years! Every Spring I practice backing down my curving driveway and park by the barn. Sometimes I can do it and sometimes NOT! I've had people tell me to place my hands on the bottom of the steering wheel because that works for them. Well it doesn't work for me! This gooseneck trailer is so slow to respond when I turn the wheel the opposite direction the trailer is still going the wrong way... I can back up the trailer in a straight line for about 15 feet then it starts to wander and I over compensate. I tow this trailer with a 1996 F250 Truck that needs a football field to turn around. I know practice makes Perfect, but I'm like a barrel horse, too much practice, I get sour and want to get the hell outta there! LOL... Tell me what works for you.
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post #2 of 22 Old 03-22-2012, 06:13 AM
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The only things I can think of are practice even if it's not fun, or only go places you can pull in straight. Sounds like you already identified your problems... "This gooseneck trailer is so slow to respond when I turn the wheel the opposite direction the trailer is still going the wrong way... I can back up the trailer in a straight line for about 15 feet then it starts to wander and I over compensate". Practice turning the wheel sooner and not overcompensating when it starts to wander. Pretty soon you won't have any problems.

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post #3 of 22 Old 03-22-2012, 06:49 AM
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Find a huge parking lot somewhere, like a high school or large company. Go when no one's around. Put a relaxing CD in. Burn a whole tank of gas practicing. Bring a set of orange traffic cones or other markers and practice backing in a straight line through the cones.

Seriously? That's the only way to get comfortable.

I taught several of my students to back trailers after they got their own, and this is what we did to get them comfortable and competent. There are some key compenents: trailer is empty, no horses. No one's around to watch. There's nothing to bump or hit. Take all the time you need to figure it out.
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post #4 of 22 Old 03-22-2012, 10:37 AM
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I agree with the above suggestions!

And you are not alone! I see a lot people(men and women) that can't back their trailers. We just went to a ranch rodeo last weekend. One of my team members has been a team roper for years, goes to a roping every weekend. She has a trailer not quite as long as yours but it took her 10 minutes to hit a hole that was big enough for 5 trailers.

I learned backing goosenecks by having to back up to loading chutes or setting up a trailer in a corner of a pasture to load cattle. It has to be done just right. So if it took me a half hour to hit my spot, that's how how long it took.

If I were you I would start out practicing backing straight before worrying about back a curve. This is going to give you a better feel for your response time of the trailer.( I never had luck with keeping my hand on the bottom of wheel either) It just needs to become muscle memory. And like Maura said, don't put any pressure on yourself. Just go out by yourself and play with it. I still get nervous after all this time if someone is watching.

Another tip... setting yourself up for backing up is half the battle! Learning to position the trailer and truck before backing makes it so much easier. Make sure you set yourself up so you can use your mirrors and have enough swing for the truck.

Good Luck!
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post #5 of 22 Old 03-22-2012, 10:41 AM
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True that on the practice. Once in awhile my next door neighbor who used to drive a big rig will get tired of watching me S L O W L Y back my 40 ft. slant load in the driveway to the barn and tells me to get out and let him do it. Zip, zip, done. I really don't mind.
I think he secretly just wants to drive my truck. I think my Amish farrier who tries to help me 3/4 turn to leave his place wants to drive my truck, too.
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post #6 of 22 Old 03-22-2012, 10:47 AM
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This might sound really weird but I love backing trailers up. Doesn't help you much but I agree with Maura, you have to just get comfortable with it. The more you do it, the more confident you become and the better you get.

Now, the only way you will get comfortable is to keep doing it. It's kind of a backwards thing, turning the wheels opposite of the direction you want the trailer and I think our minds tell us it's not working. TAKE YOUR TIME and be confident in yourself. It just takes practice and it will click. If you have to pull forward to straighten it out, do it. There's no shame in re-adjustment! That's the smart thing to do. Oh, and don't be afraid to ask someone to guide you on the blindside.

In public, don't worry if anyone is watching. Most of them are thinking they are just glad it is not them behind the wheel.
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post #7 of 22 Old 03-22-2012, 11:21 AM
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Cowchickz hit it on the head, if you don't position yourself right to begine with prior to backing you are screwed.
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post #8 of 22 Old 03-22-2012, 12:14 PM
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Do you use your mirrors or are you looking behind you? My grandpa made me practice backing the tires of the trailer along side a rail on the ground with the corner touching a pail and told me to never look behind at the trailer but to use my mirrors. Took lots of practice but I am pretty handy at it now. One tip that he did give me was to pull ahead and get straightened out the second I noticed I was heading in the wrong direction. If I tried to correct it while still going backwards I would always end up doing the snake pattern from one side to the other. It was a lot of back up 5 feet, pull ahead 10 feet.

Like others have said practice, practice, practice! Good Luck.
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post #9 of 22 Old 03-22-2012, 04:15 PM
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like said above, make sure you're using the mirrors. ive tought a lot of people to back trailers (i'm a truck driver), but its a lot easier in person lol.

this may not help, since the bottom of the steering wheel didnt help. but if your trying to back straight up, you can try putting your hand at the top of the wheel. watch your mirrors. if the trailer gets bigger in your passenger mirror, move your hand toward the passenger mirror. move your hand toward the driver mirror if the trailer is getting bigger in that mirror.

the big thing is correcting the trailer before it is too far out of shape.

when your backing around a curve, start angling the trailer before you get to it. when your trailer is angled going around the curve, start straightening it out before your at the end of the curve.

now if you're trying to turn the trailer with your hand at the top of the wheel, you'll have to remember to turn the opposite way you want to go...that may get confusing. thats how i do it, but you may just want to use that for straight backing. the main thing is just take your time and make sure you know your turning the right way before you move any farther. even if you have to stop.

i see so many people want to stay moving so they can get backed in faster. but they start getting jacknifed, and over correct and it just turns into a big mess. go so, stop if you need to. backing a trailer is just making a series of corrections, so focus on making minor corrections early, instead of making harsh corrections when its too late. dont fight the trailer.

once you get the hang of it, when turning, you'll set the angle of the trailer, and then you'll basically just follow the trailer in, instead of forcing it
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post #10 of 22 Old 03-22-2012, 04:50 PM
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also, when your just practicing, dont try backing into a spot more than 3 or 4 times in a row without taking a break. pick your spot your going to back to, try 3 times, then get out of the truck for a few minutes. then get back in and try backing into the spot from a different angle.

first, practice straight backing. like i said in my last post, as soon as the trailer gets a little bigger in one mirror, correct it. you should never have to turn the wheel more than a complete turn, if that. it may soud hard now, but i think your just trying too much too soon. just practice straight backing and you will be suprised how quck you catch on to that.

then practice backing into a spot. start by lining up so you can back straight into the spot. try that 3 times. then after ya take a break for a few minutes, try backing into the spot from a 45 degree angle. do that 3 times. alternate back and forth between those to. then just practice whatever maneuver you will need to do.

the breaks are important, because the concentration really wears on you mentally. even after people have been doing it for years and dont realize it, it can still be exhausting even though it may not feel like it
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