Backing Help Needed: Turning Front Vs. Back Of Trailer

Topic 27081 | Page 4

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PlanB's Comment
member avatar

I like to watch how the trailer is drifting and adjust. Naturally if you've got the cab at an angle to the trailer and back straight up, the trailer will drift further and further to the side. I use this to drift the trailer into the spot.

As I'm passing my intended spot I'll turn to the right and pull my trailer tandems just past the spot. Then turn left just enough to get my cab on the left side of the trailer at an angle. Usually now my cab is perpendicular with the spot while my trailer is at angle pointing towards the top of the spot or just slightly in front of it. Now I'll start slowly backing straight back and watch how rapidly the trailer is drifting towards the spot. This is where I will use "Steer towards trouble". If it's drifting to fast towards the driver's side I'll turn the wheel towards the driver's side. This will reduce the truck/trailer angle and reduce the rate of drift. Alternatively if it's not drifting enough and headed towards the passenger side spot, I'll turn wheel towards the passenger side to increase the truck/trailer angle. After making an adjustment I return steers to center to continue backing and again observe how it's drifting, and make further corrections if needed. Get the angle right and the trailer puts itself right in the spot.

It's a more gradual method. I dislike putting the truck/trailer at 90° or similar "jackknife" angles.

Another thing when backing between two trucks. Don't be afraid of getting close to the truck on your driver's side. It's better to be closer to the obstacle that you can see, rather than having a nice comfortable gap on your driver's side while decreasing your clearance on your blind side. This is especially helpful if your trailer tandems are far forward leaving you with substantial tail swing. I'll often back into a spot very close to the driver's side truck, then use a pull up to center myself now that I can clearly see the passenger side truck in my mirrors.

If at any time you are in any way unsure of your positioning, is time to get out and look.

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".

Marc Lee's Comment
member avatar

thank-you.gif Errol, Grumpy, Michael, PlanB!

This all helps. I really need to study yours Michael - maybe even try it with a good model. (Got a cheap mini at Menards while being unloaded - trainer used it to demo in the cab!).

One other thing to share RE: the frustration...

I know I need to "suck it up" but as this is real world there is another stressor.

I continue to make lots of relatively minor mistakes and Vance is good enough to point them out as they happen. (He does also compliment me when I do something well). So trying to be a good student and preferring praise to criticism I do try. But I still drive too fast or too slow. I am too cautious (it can happen), drift in my lane, don't dim high beams, don't put headlights on (from parking lights on lot), etc., etc., etc.. Drove 340 and 300 plus mile days.... (and could have driven more which was a relief as stamina was a concern).

BUT... by the time I get to a back, especially late in the shift I have literally made dozens of "minor" errors. It's hard to not feel a little incompetent by the time that new back comes around. Then if I start out turning the wrong way or oversteer, it just all adds up to a lot of little stressors. And a lot of little ones, well, you know...

Any tips on that?

thank-you-2.gif

PlanB's Comment
member avatar

I used to start stressing out 30 minutes before i got to a location I knew I was going to need to back up at. Hated making mistakes in front of my trainer and holding other trucks up from doing their thing.

My biggest difficulty backing the truck up was getting my mind where it needed to be.

Your purpose is not to impress anyone. Your purpose is to get that trailer where it needs to be without hitting anything. It doesn't matter how long it takes or what anyone else in the area thinks. If you messed up your setup, who cares! Just reset and do it again. I've had bad days where i kept messing up my setup and had to pull out of the lot exit, come back in the entrance and try again multiple times! Sometimes it's a tight spot and you need to make multiple fine adjustments forwards and backwards. Sometimes you'll be doing what seems like a million pull ups trying to fix your angle. You'll have those moments where you just don't know how the hell to fix the problem your in. Get out of the truck and walk around it so you can form a new plan of action. It doesn't matter how long it takes you, as long as you get it done.

Do not let anyone rush you and do not let the opinions of others affect you.

Once I got my mind where it needed to be, my backing improved drastically.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

I used to start stressing out 30 minutes before i got to a location I knew I was going to need to back up at. Hated making mistakes in front of my trainer and holding other trucks up from doing their thing.

My biggest difficulty backing the truck up was getting my mind where it needed to be.

Your purpose is not to impress anyone. Your purpose is to get that trailer where it needs to be without hitting anything. It doesn't matter how long it takes or what anyone else in the area thinks. If you messed up your setup, who cares! Just reset and do it again. I've had bad days where i kept messing up my setup and had to pull out of the lot exit, come back in the entrance and try again multiple times! Sometimes it's a tight spot and you need to make multiple fine adjustments forwards and backwards. Sometimes you'll be doing what seems like a million pull ups trying to fix your angle. You'll have those moments where you just don't know how the hell to fix the problem your in. Get out of the truck and walk around it so you can form a new plan of action. It doesn't matter how long it takes you, as long as you get it done.

Do not let anyone rush you and do not let the opinions of others affect you.

Once I got my mind where it needed to be, my backing improved drastically.

Easier said than done but definitely something to work on!

It's a good GOAL, anyway!

smile.gif

Couple of things I am doing which seems to help: When someone impatient is driving behind me I just say "Sucks being you!" and "Should have left earlier!" We both laugh. He gave me some "moves" for a tailgater. Slowed from 55 to 50. When that didn't work it was flashers and 45. He backed off a bit, then repeated it and so did we. After someone else passed us both he finally passed us.

I also now "tell on myself". First time I said "Stay in your lane!" When questioned I said I was saving him the trouble! Lightens the mood, one less criticism from him and at least he knows I am paying attention and trying. (Gusty wind warning sign or blowing trees help). "Slow down" or "55" may also come out of my mouth from time to time.

wtf-2.gif

Have I mentioned lately how much I am enjoying this?

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Marc Lee's Comment
member avatar

I like to watch how the trailer is drifting and adjust. Naturally if you've got the cab at an angle to the trailer and back straight up, the trailer will drift further and further to the side. I use this to drift the trailer into the spot.

As I'm passing my intended spot I'll turn to the right and pull my trailer tandems just past the spot. Then turn left just enough to get my cab on the left side of the trailer at an angle. Usually now my cab is perpendicular with the spot while my trailer is at angle pointing towards the top of the spot or just slightly in front of it. Now I'll start slowly backing straight back and watch how rapidly the trailer is drifting towards the spot. This is where I will use "Steer towards trouble". If it's drifting to fast towards the driver's side I'll turn the wheel towards the driver's side. This will reduce the truck/trailer angle and reduce the rate of drift. Alternatively if it's not drifting enough and headed towards the passenger side spot, I'll turn wheel towards the passenger side to increase the truck/trailer angle. After making an adjustment I return steers to center to continue backing and again observe how it's drifting, and make further corrections if needed. Get the angle right and the trailer puts itself right in the spot.

It's a more gradual method. I dislike putting the truck/trailer at 90° or similar "jackknife" angles.

Another thing when backing between two trucks. Don't be afraid of getting close to the truck on your driver's side. It's better to be closer to the obstacle that you can see, rather than having a nice comfortable gap on your driver's side while decreasing your clearance on your blind side. This is especially helpful if your trailer tandems are far forward leaving you with substantial tail swing. I'll often back into a spot very close to the driver's side truck, then use a pull up to center myself now that I can clearly see the passenger side truck in my mirrors.

If at any time you are in any way unsure of your positioning, is time to get out and look.

Got it Michael! Makes sense AND addresses a big concern I have - ESPECIALLY when driving a sleeper - which is up next (after another week in day cabs) - running the cab extenders into the trailer!

Day Cab:

A tractor which does not have a sleeper berth attached to it. Normally used for local routes where drivers go home every night.

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".

Errol V.'s Comment
member avatar

Marc Lee cops an attitude:

When someone impatient is driving behind me I just say "Sucks being you!" and "Should have left earlier!"

This is the right thinking when you seem to be in someone's way. I learned this in a motorcycle safety class: Drive Your Own Road, meaning that you should not be intimidated by another driver's actions. Whether they are tailgating on the road or honking their horn b/c you're taking to long backing up, you want to be safe, or that's the speed your truck is governed at. Most importantly, the other driver doesn't know your story and you don't need to explain why.

Yes, on the flip side, don't get upset when another truck impedes your progress. Sure, you can find a way to get past the other guy, but once you get them behind you, it's over with and you'll probably never see them again. Life is Good.

Marc Lee's Comment
member avatar

Marc Lee cops an attitude:

double-quotes-start.png

When someone impatient is driving behind me I just say "Sucks being you!" and "Should have left earlier!"

double-quotes-end.png

This is the right thinking when you seem to be in someone's way. I learned this in a motorcycle safety class: Drive Your Own Road, meaning that you should not be intimidated by another driver's actions. Whether they are tailgating on the road or honking their horn b/c you're taking to long backing up, you want to be safe, or that's the speed your truck is governed at. Most importantly, the other driver doesn't know your story and you don't need to explain why.

Yes, on the flip side, don't get upset when another truck impedes your progress. Sure, you can find a way to get past the other guy, but once you get them behind you, it's over with and you'll probably never see them again. Life is Good.

Sort of... but not really!

It is the other driver who cops the attitude! I am merely pointing out the obvious facts!

Because they are clearly upset, it must suck to be them! I am being paid to drive an awesome beast. And since no one wants to be behind the "big slow truck" I (sort of) even feel their pain. But the only answer I have for this is "they should have left (or gotten up) sooner!" (I like to mix it up for variety!

I think both riding a motorcycle and flying an airplane helps with trucking - especially the professional training received and especially when it comes to looking far up the road / tarmac. Still need to work on keeping eyes moving near to far and back and all those darn mirrors! Trucking truly allows one to make use of pretty much everything one knows about a lot of things. (Just have to resist the urge to think I know much of anything about trucking itself).

Life IS good!

smile.gif

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
G-Town's Comment
member avatar

Marc wrote:

We both laugh. He gave me some "moves" for a tailgater. Slowed from 55 to 50. When that didn't work it was flashers and 45. He backed off a bit, then repeated it and so did we. After someone else passed us both he finally passed us.

I’d like to hear what Veriha’s Safety Director would say about the above “move”. I doubt “laughter” would be a part of his assessment.

It’s neither smart or safe; and can serve only to escalate into a potentially dangerous situation for you Marc. Our job is to stay out of trouble on the highways and interstates, not provoke or antagonize. Also realize that an overzealous LEO can write a citation for obstructing the flow of traffic if they observe something like this.

I encourage you NOT to practice this type of behavior no matter how funny it may seem and focus primarily on managing the space in front of you, next to you and not become distracted by a tailgating 4-wheeler or CMV.

Be safe.

CMV:

Commercial Motor Vehicle

A CMV is a vehicle that is used as part of a business, is involved in interstate commerce, and may fit any of these descriptions:

  • Weighs 10,001 pounds or more
  • Has a gross vehicle weight rating or gross combination weight rating of 10,001 pounds or more
  • Is designed or used to transport 16 or more passengers (including the driver) not for compensation
  • Is designed or used to transport 9 or more passengers (including the driver) for compensation
  • Is transporting hazardous materials in a quantity requiring placards

Interstate:

Commercial trade, business, movement of goods or money, or transportation from one state to another, regulated by the Federal Department Of Transportation (DOT).

Errol V.'s Comment
member avatar

G-Town points out:

It’s neither smart or safe; and can serve only to escalate into a potentially dangerous situation for you Marc. Our job is to stay out of trouble on the highways and interstates, not provoke or antagonize.

Errol suggests:

Drive Your Own Road, meaning that you should not be intimidated by another driver's actions.

"Road rage" is not part of a trucker's job description. I actually describe this kind of distraction as you allowing another person - the tailgater or whoever - to take control of your vehicle!

Think of it: you are slowing down simply to affect another driver but your job at the time is to deliver the freight as safely and as efficiently as possible.

Interstate:

Commercial trade, business, movement of goods or money, or transportation from one state to another, regulated by the Federal Department Of Transportation (DOT).

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Marc Lee's Comment
member avatar
"Road rage" is not part of a trucker's job description.

"

Please do not run the two thoughts together.

Yes, we laugh at "It sucks being you" and "should have left earlier." That is actually confirmation that I own my space which, unfortunately for him/her happens to be the big slow truck in front! Even confirms I know they don't like it. But the "moves" he taught were designed as space management and had NOTHING to do with road rage.

Interesting discussion about what is correct, safe, proper... what safety and LEO might say/do, etc. but the intent was clear and proper IMO.

Road rage was never a part if it!

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