Help With BACKING

Topic 26171 | Page 1

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Craig L.'s Comment
member avatar

Ok, so I am trying to get my alkley dock down and my offset. Straight back I can pretty much handle. Are there any tips and tricks I can use??

Tried using the bottom of steering wheel as a reference, tried using the rear tires... Other times I can't see what the right side of my trailer or opposing side is doing in offset or alley.

I know when backing right goes left and vice versa and I know to turn toward my "trouble "

But half the time I can't tell which way to turn the trailer or even to make it move how I want of that sometimes i can't really tell how i am straight with the trailer or how much my wheel is left or right!!!

I need a sure fire way to fix this.

Banks's Comment
member avatar

Offset towards passenger side

Turn the wheel one full rotation left and begin backing. When the cone disappears from the bottom mirror begin turning right until your straight then stop. You should see the cone in the driver side mirror. Back up and bring the tire close to the cone. After you get passed the cone start working on getting your trailer parallel to the cone.

Offset towards driver side

Same thing as above but you're using the top mirror. Ignore the bottom mirror. Once the cone disappears line up your tractor and trailer and you should be able to see what you have to see in the passenger side mirror.

When doing a pull up you want to pull your trailer away from the corner in danger by turning towards it. If your bumper is close to the right side pull up to the right. Same with the left. Pull up towards the left.

Remember when backing left swings your trailer right and right swings it left. Say it before you move to avoid erroneous turns because of instincts.

It's important that you go as slow as possible. Your reflexes and instincts aren't there for speed.

Full disclaimer, this is how I learned to do it for the state test and it worked every time. It's a little more difficult in real situations.

SAP:

Substance Abuse Professional

The Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) is a person who evaluates employees who have violated a DOT drug and alcohol program regulation and makes recommendations concerning education, treatment, follow-up testing, and aftercare.

Old School's Comment
member avatar

Hey Craig, backing will drive you nuts for at least 6 months to a year.

I need a sure fire way to fix this.

If anybody tells you they've got a sure fire way to fix it - you'd better run!

Most people learn a few techniques to get them to the point where they can do the maneuvers and pass their driving test. After that they get into an employment situation and realize none of those ideas are realistic in the "real world" scenarios they are being put up against. Everything about this career is performance based, and the only way to improve your performance is to be continually exposed to the rigorous practices the job entails. In other words, one step at a time my friend.

Keep working at it and pay attention to the instructions you are receiving now. Those instructions are for the present testing you'll go through. You are going to have to repeat these maneuvers many times over until you begin to get a "feel" for how your efforts at the wheel affect what the trailer is doing. Keep in mind, most new drivers tend to oversteer. Small adjustments at the wheel are better, and then you have got to be patient as that 53 foot trailer takes it's time to respond to your directives.

My point is... Don't get overly anxious. Be patient with the process. Everyone of us had your same troubled concerns. It's the curse of being a rookie. Embrace it and keep giving it your best efforts. Eventually, in about ten years, you'll be laughing at yourself when you think about how anxious going backwards was at the beginning of your career. smile.gif

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Bruce K.'s Comment
member avatar

Craig, everybody new has problems with backing. As Old School counseled, be patient because it takes time. It revolutionized my backing when an instructor told me "turn to the trouble", as you already know. In other words, if you see your trailer too far left, turn your steering wheel to the left. If too far right, turn your steering wheel to the right. Most new drivers over-steer. They turn too much and then can't recover. One quarter turn of the wheel will move the trailer 3 inches, if that makes sense. Your safety valve is your ability to pull up and correct the over-steer or to re-position and try again. But never give up and never get discouraged. It will come to you in time.

B_Dawg's Comment
member avatar

I'm afraid the only "sure-fire" fix is repetition. it just takes time. going backwards is not a natural movement. our brains need time to adapt, and that only comes thru repetition. take your time. make sure your mirrors are properly adjusted and focus on your trailer the whole time. yes, watch the tandems but also watch the front of the trailer to see how the trailer moves. you need to steer your tractor to "catch" your trailer before the trailer straightens out. try to picture a line down the center of the cross-member on your landing gear. if your drives pass that mark you're probably over-steering. if you find yourself out of position, don't frustrate yourself trying to save it. just pull up and try again.

Good luck!

Tandems:

Tandem Axles

A set of axles spaced close together, legally defined as more than 40 and less than 96 inches apart by the USDOT. Drivers tend to refer to the tandem axles on their trailer as just "tandems". You might hear a driver say, "I'm 400 pounds overweight on my tandems", referring to his trailer tandems, not his tractor tandems. Tractor tandems are generally just referred to as "drives" which is short for "drive axles".

Tandem:

Tandem Axles

A set of axles spaced close together, legally defined as more than 40 and less than 96 inches apart by the USDOT. Drivers tend to refer to the tandem axles on their trailer as just "tandems". You might hear a driver say, "I'm 400 pounds overweight on my tandems", referring to his trailer tandems, not his tractor tandems. Tractor tandems are generally just referred to as "drives" which is short for "drive axles".

Grumpy Old Man's Comment
member avatar

Old School said:

“Most people learn a few techniques to get them to the point where they can do the maneuvers and pass their driving test. After that they get into an employment situation and realize none of those ideas are realistic in the "real world" scenarios they are being put up against. ”

Took the words righ out of my mouth.

And again, B Dawg does the same:

“I'm afraid the only "sure-fire" fix is repetition. ”

Your instructors will teach you a method to get you through school and get your CDL. No one can give you a magic fix, I am fairly certain I practiced parallel parking st least a thousand times. I did many many 4 hour shifts of simply doing it over and over. And I still didn’t think I was doing it right, but when I took my test, the examiner was pulling up the cones before I could GOAL.

One thing that did help me was watching someone else do it from outside and behind the truck. Watch how the truck responds to steering wheel inputs. And don’t sweat losing sight of the trailer for a second or two in the offset, it is going to happen, you just need to learn where it is going to appear on the other side, and as long as you started the maneuver correctly, the point where it disappears doesn’t matter.

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.

SAP:

Substance Abuse Professional

The Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) is a person who evaluates employees who have violated a DOT drug and alcohol program regulation and makes recommendations concerning education, treatment, follow-up testing, and aftercare.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Big T's Comment
member avatar

Is this school or on the road? If in school: I would recommend asking the instructor to show you one more time. Most schools have a "formula" that works for most people to complete the maneuver for their set up and where you're going to test at.

If you're already out on the road then, like Old School said, practice is the only real answer. There is no sure fire fix because every back is different. Your set up will change depending on the dock, space, and obstacles.

Ok, so I am trying to get my alkley dock down and my offset. Straight back I can pretty much handle. Are there any tips and tricks I can use??

Tried using the bottom of steering wheel as a reference, tried using the rear tires... Other times I can't see what the right side of my trailer or opposing side is doing in offset or alley.

I know when backing right goes left and vice versa and I know to turn toward my "trouble "

But half the time I can't tell which way to turn the trailer or even to make it move how I want of that sometimes i can't really tell how i am straight with the trailer or how much my wheel is left or right!!!

I need a sure fire way to fix this.

Jeremy's Comment
member avatar

For what its worth what i feel truly changed my backing skills was learning to use my convex mirrors both side and hood mounted effectively

Don's Comment
member avatar

It is just going to take time. Practice coordinating your steering movements with the trailer response in a big open area where you do not have to worry about hitting anything. Soon you will wonder what "was the big deal?". I took it as a personal challenge when backing into docks, etc., and it motivated me. I still do.

Bruce K.'s Comment
member avatar

It is just going to take time. Practice coordinating your steering movements with the trailer response in a big open area where you do not have to worry about hitting anything. Soon you will wonder what "was the big deal?". I took it as a personal challenge when backing into docks, etc., and it motivated me. I still do.

The key word Don used is "PRACTICE". I used to practice at delivery locations if I had some time to kill. There was no pressure and I could get out and step off distances, measure distances and set-ups. Anybody watching me probably wondered what that crazy old man was doing. If somebody was super focused and did this, they could even keep a notebook of backing data, recording distances and other information that would make successful backing "repeatable". Backing is almost a scientific thing. Good backers keep track of what works and what doesn't. At first, they experiment in their free time and hone in on the skills they need. Then they refine their skills by "one back at a time". Pretty soon they have their master's degree in backing.

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