When To Know How To Start Your Backing

Topic 28376 | Page 1

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Sparky's Comment
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Soni was with my mentor and he always said "go this many trucks past" but I still never understood when to stop. If I want to do a offset doni just align my mirror to the center of the spot I want to back in and pull away until I am facing 12 o'clock then 9o'clock then just start backing in? How do I know when the setup is complete? He always said "go past this many trucks then start turning away" but what if I'm at the end and there are no trucks to measure that with?

I would keep asking "okay but how do I know when I am at the point when I want to start setting up for my back? How do I know how to set up?" And he just always said "past this truck start turning " but that didn't help me. Any advice would be appreciated.

Rubber Duck's Comment
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You can go off of your drive tires. I believe the technique is at about the second drive tire cut it all the way to the right and go out and then hard to the left so that you’ve turned it into as much of a 45 as you can. When you do this you need to be watching the back of your trailer as if it’s the new hood of your truck.

PackRat's Comment
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Keep practicing, because with experience, you will figure out what works for your setup.

Too many variables for it to be the same thing, every time, in real world situations.

Cwc's Comment
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Sparky if I read it right you already have a truck right? I'm guessing they thought you are good enough. I mention that because it seems like your asking for a specific way to line up a hole in one so to speak. That's typically not the case in the beginning. It can happen but for the most part. You learn basics in a class and then with a trainer. After that it's just doing it poorly but safely till you get the mechanics done. I get the feeling your probably doing ok but just wanna skip a step... Yep people might laugh or honk but... Earn it... Laugh with them.

If I missed my mark/ I usually try and wait till my door is about the middle of the truck past the spot I wanna back into.

Also if you try and think of it as backing bobtail into the spot next to the one you want it kinda helps with your setup.

*Disclaimer* I pull a 48ft trailer, and I think I have been pulling it for longer than I've pulled a 53ft trailer?😕🤔

Bobtail:

"Bobtailing" means you are driving a tractor without a trailer attached.

Rob T.'s Comment
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Honestly it's just something you get a feel for and I can usually just have that feeling of " ok time to turn" without thinking too much about it. If I'm trying to back into a spot in our yard or a loading dock that you can't straight back for a sight side back with tandems all the way back If I have the space available I typically will try to go approximately 1 to 1 1/2 truck widths past, crank my wheel hard right then hard left to get an arch when the back end is where I want it. I usually am pretty close to the trailer on my sight side but atleast I know I'll be clear on the other side. If my tandems are forward it changes. This is how I've found works for me, others may do it differently. The other day I had a P.I.T.A. dock to hit. My setup was a little off and it took a few pullups to be completely straight in the dock. The pouring rain didn't help either. Are you still with your trainer? If not how long have you been alone? If you have a load that will allow it find a truckstop in the middle of the day and practice hitting a specific spot. I'd suggest taking one in the very back to avoid holding anyone up and becoming rushed, you're also more likely to have several empty spots clustered together to lessen the likelihood of hitting something. It's just a matter of seeing what works and what doesn't.

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".

Andy Dufresne (a.k.a. Rob's Comment
member avatar

Keep practicing, because with experience, you will figure out what works for your setup.

Too many variables for it to be the same thing, every time, in real world situations.

I agree with Packrat. With our flatbed trailers you have several different factors. And it depends on whether the drop axle is down or not. With a 53' trailer and the drop axle up your pivot point is almost all the at the end of the trailer. So I'll go more than 2 spaces beyond the space that I back into.

What works for me is go further rather than shorter. I can always backup to get my set up better if I'm further away from the spot. The key though is to make sure that the driver's rear corner of my trailer is close enough to the line of trucks so that I can maneuver back to get my pivot point right.

Steven E.'s Comment
member avatar

For what it may be worth, I used to have problems with backing in the past, and I figured out the primary thing I was doing wrong was, not pulling far enough forward. Believe it or not, I actually learned a lot by practicing backing with my Econoline van, as I drive only periodically. I have never counted the number of truck lengths, but as someone said earlier, go further rather than shorter and use your mirrors. Get out and look if you have to.

Papa Pig's Comment
member avatar

I think others have said this about their trainers in the past and my trainer said it to me. They can teach you techniques but can’t teach you how to back. That’s on you for repetition. He said “one day it’s just going to click, or it’s not” I’m a shave tail rookie myself so I feel you. What I have realized is the distance when you have to turn depends on what’s around you. You will not always be able to do a 45 or 90. Something that has helped me is to Try and understand what the rear of my trailer is doing when I pull forward. When I’m in the yard and it isn’t busy I will practice different things .there is a good YouTube channel called “my trucking skills” the guy does some pretty I’m depth explanations of his backs. With drone footage.

Don's Comment
member avatar

I drive a day cab , but I usually get about 5-10 feet away from a cab or trailer and drive "2 spots" past my hole before making a hard right, then left. I'll usually drive forward a little more than necessary, so I have more room for error when backing.

How you set up is also determined by your surroundings and how wide of a space you have. Distrubution centers are cake; small lots in a city neighborhood, not so much.

Learning how to set up appropriately just takes repetition/experience. The important thing is, watch your trailer tandems AND G.O.A.L. You also need to pay attention to the right side of that trailer, especially if you find yourself going too deep into the hole. The number ONE rule is STOP if you sense you are not going in right You are not penalized for G.O.A.L., but you WILL BE penalized if you hit something because you are in a hurry, or get complacent.

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".

Yuuyo Y.'s Comment
member avatar

I just improvise it a lot without a direct formula in mind. In my head it's like I'm sitting at the rear of the trailer driving fowards. And then when I got the trailer where I want it to go, and the tractor is still out of wack, I might just pull up and back and up and back like 4-5 times to get the tractor where I want it.

But this comes from foodservice backing; I don't have much experience at big distribution centre type things with actual docks.

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