Need Some Help With 90 Degree Alley Dock And Offset

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Jake B.'s Comment
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I have been practicing the offset and 90 degree alley dock and have successfully completed them but I am just not developing a feel for it. I know it really comes with time and experience but I am getting frustrated that i seem to only be completing the maneuvers by chance than by skill or understanding.

The offset:

Say I have to offset to the right. I turn my wheel all the way to the left and look at my trailer and try to envision when the corner of the drivers side of the trailer is pointing toward the middle set of cones then turn the wheel to straighten the truck to see how I’m angled. 90% of the time the corner of the trailer on the drivers side isn’t even exposing so middle set of cones which means I didn’t cut it enough, or the inverse happens and I’ve cut it too much. Since I don’t have a feel for it I feel like I’m shooting blind and it’s just a 50/50 chance.

Is there anything I can reference or guide to get more consistent so I get my trailer more aligned between the cones?

Now for the 90 degree alley dock:

My main issue is that I am not getting the hang of which maneuver would work best to get the trailer in the set of cones. We are doing the drivers side alley dock so I initially start by cranking the wheel to the right to get a “V” angle then straighten my wheels out. I get the rear of the trailer near the opening of the cones and I need clarification when I should follow the trailer as opposed to keeping the wheel straight.

It seems when I keep the wheels straight the trailer begins to push the trailer on a pivot point. When I follow it the trailer it seems to continue moving backwards and also pivots but does so slowly.

Is there a general sense of when I should use each maneuver: the hard right turn, straight wheel, following the trailer? I feel like that is what is keeping me from successfully doing the 90 consistently.

Sorry for the long post but I wanted to list what I was doing so hopefully someone could point what I’m doing wrong.

Thank for the help!

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

BardTale's Comment
member avatar

I have been practicing the offset and 90 degree alley dock and have successfully completed them but I am just not developing a feel for it. I know it really comes with time and experience but I am getting frustrated that i seem to only be completing the maneuvers by chance than by skill or understanding.

The offset:

Say I have to offset to the right. I turn my wheel all the way to the left and look at my trailer and try to envision when the corner of the drivers side of the trailer is pointing toward the middle set of cones then turn the wheel to straighten the truck to see how I’m angled. 90% of the time the corner of the trailer on the drivers side isn’t even exposing so middle set of cones which means I didn’t cut it enough, or the inverse happens and I’ve cut it too much. Since I don’t have a feel for it I feel like I’m shooting blind and it’s just a 50/50 chance.

Is there anything I can reference or guide to get more consistent so I get my trailer more aligned between the cones?

Now for the 90 degree alley dock:

My main issue is that I am not getting the hang of which maneuver would work best to get the trailer in the set of cones. We are doing the drivers side alley dock so I initially start by cranking the wheel to the right to get a “V” angle then straighten my wheels out. I get the rear of the trailer near the opening of the cones and I need clarification when I should follow the trailer as opposed to keeping the wheel straight.

It seems when I keep the wheels straight the trailer begins to push the trailer on a pivot point. When I follow it the trailer it seems to continue moving backwards and also pivots but does so slowly.

Is there a general sense of when I should use each maneuver: the hard right turn, straight wheel, following the trailer? I feel like that is what is keeping me from successfully doing the 90 consistently.

Sorry for the long post but I wanted to list what I was doing so hopefully someone could point what I’m doing wrong.

Thank for the help!

Backing in general can be a rather fustrating experience for new drivers. It's one of the few skills in our toolset that requires experience to be halfway decent at.

However, if you are like myself, using a visual aid may help. Buy a toy truck and practice backing with it. It won't give you the mirror view, but it will give you the idea of how to visualize where the trailer should be and how to manage / maneuver it.

My other common advice is: watch other drivers and notice how they're moving the trailer around with the tractor.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Dave in Tulsa's Comment
member avatar

When I was in school, we used our landing gear as reference when we did our offset and parallel backs. Try your offset right...we would crank the wheel all the way left and back slowly until we could see about half of our landing gear (the bar that runs across your trailer) in the mirror. That's when we would turn the wheel back right until we were straight. Then we'd straight back until we reached the cone marking the parking spot before we turned the wheel all the way right, again looking for the landing gear, then left and we were straight again. Hopefully you can picture those moves in your head, but that's how I remember it and those marks were pretty reliable. The 90 is different everytime and takes more practice but your instructor should demonstrate how it's done and talk you through it.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Big Scott (CFI's biggest 's Comment
member avatar

It takes 10 feet for your wheels to rotate one full revolution. For the ally dock try to keep moving very slowly, this way you can more easily see what the trailer is doing. Try to keep the trailer closer to the cones on the driver's side. You can see them better and you won't hit the cones on your blind side. Just remember we have all been there. Good luck.

Errol V.'s Comment
member avatar

Dave is close to what I teach. The main points for the offset are to watch the landing gear till you see half (that's easy - watch for the bottom of a "V" made by the support struts). Then turning the wheel all the way to the other side and straighten your truck out.

A key point: Whenever your tractor and trailer are straight (you can see a side of the trailer in both mirrors at the same time), stop and decide what to do next.

One thing to learn while you practice the offset is how the trailer bends as you turn the steering wheel. You'll learn about the "10 foot delay" Big Scott talks about and that's important.

Turtle's Comment
member avatar

Dave and Errol are both close to what I teach. My method is slightly different, eliminating one of those steps.

OFFSET RIGHT

Pull forward to the boundary line.

0366870001569178680.jpg

Turn the wheel all the way to the left and reverse until in your passenger mirror you see the outside of your drive tire line up with the outside point of the landing gear sandpad.

*passenger mirror looking at drivers side landing gear.

0373358001569178908.jpg

Your truck will look like this:

0300564001569179550.jpg

Stop exactly on that point, then turn your wheel completely in the opposite direction to a full right turn. Reverse until in your driver side mirror you see the outside of the drive tire line up with the outside point of the landing gear sandpad.

*driver's side mirror looking at passenger side landing gear

0239623001569179176.jpg

Your truck will look like this:

0091615001569179758.jpg

Now a full turn completely back to the left again. Reverse until you are straight with your trailer, and you will be lined up in the Box you're aiming for. Now it's just a simple straight back to get you in the hole.

0540211001569179874.jpg

It's pretty foolproof. Follow your reference points, and you can't miss. I've never seen anybody have trouble with this method.

And yes, that's a miniature Prime truck and flatbed. What?!?

smile.gif

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

0600260001569180177.jpgdancing-dog.gif

Errol V.'s Comment
member avatar

One more thing: your trailer will always like to eat the "inside" cone. So if you make an adjustment tightening the back-up turn (aiming closer to the come), stop sooner rather than later.

If you decide you do need to get closer to the inside cone it's better to have "not enough" rather than be too close because you won't be able to move away from your trailer's favorite cone.

Rob D.'s Comment
member avatar

0600260001569180177.jpgdancing-dog.gif

Got my own in the mail today:

0563565001576203166.jpg

Turtle's Comment
member avatar

double-quotes-start.png

0600260001569180177.jpgdancing-dog.gif

double-quotes-end.png

Got my own in the mail today:

0563565001576203166.jpg

Ha! That's awesome.

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