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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi.

I have been motorhome-ing for a few years now and before that I used to tow a rather large boat around Europe and sail that whenever I met useable water! So I'm quite happy about towing things and reversing/manoeuvring when needed.

In order to "stay safer" I have invested in a Fiat 500 and an A-Frame. Tonight I took it down to the local industrial estate and vied with the motor cycle training schools to find a quiet bit of road to practice reversing by camera.

In a straight line there was no issue. I could get up a reasonable speed. BUT to reverse around a tight-ish corner became a big issue. As I rather expected the "negative" castering on the tow car took over and slammed into opposite lock with a fair bang. To try to reverse in a more gentle fashion needed a huge turning circle. Achievable but not really practical...

is there a trick to this manoeuvre?

Do you:
a) Flick it into adopting the correct but full castered lock before trying to turn it? or
b) Do you, when taking off the overrun brakes before starting the reverse, put on some lock in the right direction and then withdraw the key to set the steering lock and keep things in the right direction?
c) or what?

Any help would be most gratefully received as I don't like to be the "P...t who can't reverse his vehicle when the need arises.
I could get Sandra to drive the Fiat 500 away while I turned the motorhome but that doesn't seem very professional!!

Thanks

Geoffrey
 

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Due to the front wheels having a caster angle it is, for all intents and purposes, impossible to reverse a car on an A frame in anything other than a perfectly straight line (as you have discovered)

A car on an A frame is, by legal definition, a trailer. Trailer regs have two very specific requirements. To be able to reverse "a reasonable distance" (whether that's in a straight line or around a corner isn't specified) and be able to carry out that reverse without any intervention from the driver to disable the trailer brakes, the system is built into caravan and horsebox trailers, but cannot be fitted to cars. If the A frame simply operates on the over-run system then there is no way the "trailer" brakes cannot be disabled without intervention by the driver (or other vehicle occupant)

Don't be tempted to tow on an A frame in Spain, it's a big no-no and will probably result in a hefty fine AND not being able to continue without someone to drive the car.

Have a read of this
https://www.ntta.co.uk/law/trailers/brakes
Especially D
 

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Thanks Kev. Thats how NOT to do it as it will wreck the cars geometry.

Ray.
 
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IMO the simple answer is DON’T unless it’s a very short distance in a straight line.

We have a similar reversing problem behind our garden tractor with a four wheeled trailer. Due to the pivot at the front it is impossible to reverse more than 1/2 metre in any reliable direction. Much easier for me to let it jack-knife and then lift the empty trailer round where I want it, but not a task I even contemplate when it is loaded with wood......

and that’s without ANY brakes being involved....

I can reverse a car and camping trailer or car and boat or car and caravan without any problems having done it for the last 50+ years, three point turns ? No problem, reversing in straight line ? Easy. Garden tractor and two wheeled trailer ? Easy and I do it often.

But the garden tractor and four wheeled trailer is a challenge that is not worth tackling due to the physics of multiple pivots and leverage- the rear end will happily do its own thing.... so I let it.
 

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I think I have seen you at our 'dump' Dave. If I'm not first in line I sit and watch the antics of people trying to manoeuvre trailers behind cars who really haven't a clue and shouldn't be behind a wheel. Then after clogging the whole parking area up unhook the trailer that promptly takes over and drags them towards the shute.

Ray.
 
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Or, even better, is badly loaded with all the weight at the back so as soon as they unhook it, the back end plummets and the jockey wheel goes up past their chin... just....

Good spectator sport I agree Ray. 😀

Watching people try to launch boats is just as amusing..... sometimes the boat takes over and tries to launch the car...... 😢

Recovery of heavy boats can result in the car sliding down the seaweed covered slip into the sea - panic ensues and then the driving wheels can’t get the grip - life gets better and better....🤣

Meanwhile the boat is probably now sideways on across the trailer and sorting that mess out requires some real skill (often not in the armoury of Sunday boat drivers). Wearing a wet suit while watching often results in free drinks once they are given the assistance they desperately need. 😇👍. 🥂 🍷 🍺
 

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Best to say nothing.............................

Ray.
 

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I think caravans are best. I saw some amazing reversing when I was helping out on the aire next door.

The very worst might have taken half an hour, trying to reverse into a space. Massive family rows were common. I couldn't have videoed without making it much worse. I used not to watch, if possible, so as not to make the nervous worse.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thanks for the advice

Thanks

I agree that the "Smart" car video is very "unsmart". Even the one with the "Suzuki" slams onto full lock at the end of the reverse.

I get the general advice that reversing in a straight line is acceptable but for anything else it's time for Sandra to get in and reverse the car away from the motorhome. It's her car anyway!!

I could just about do a three pointer last night but it was a huge wide junction and you could feed it very gently. While I was managing that I upset the local motorcycle school who obviously wanted to use the same junction to practice "u" turns!! Shame...

Thanks chaps, I will apply the advice on the first "trip" (to Cumbria) next week.

Geoffrey
 

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Look what happens to the front wheels in the second video!

Something not quite right there, the Smart cars front wheels suddenly go onto partial not full lock and then the front tyres scuff. Bearing in mind that a Smart car doesn't have a steering lock fitted (the ignition locks the transmission in reverse) I do wonder what's going on ?
 

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I wonder how much damage will be caused if a little sense is used when reversing and not just go for it, if the steering goes to full lock I don't really see a problem if it happens slowly, and I think the tyres will cope, just wear down a bit sooner, no biggy.
 

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I've seen an RV dozing the tow car backwards into a space while it was on full lock. It was nothing to the RV though I'd say the car and the Aframe were under substantial and unusual stresses.

I'm not sure a Euro van would be able to push a car in that way as easily as an RV can. You wouldn't want to be slipping a Fiat clutch to do it I'd say.
 
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Thanks

I agree that the "Smart" car video is very "unsmart". Even the one with the "Suzuki" slams onto full lock at the end of the reverse.
The video with the Suzuki is of me reversing it behind my Swift Bel-Air :smile2:

The full lock at the end of the reverse is intentional in order for the car's steering to face the correct way for pulling forwards again - it then follows the tail swing of the motorhome.

Reversing is a difficult thing to do and like other difficult things it just requires loads of practice.

The braking system in the Suzuki was an RVi2 electronic setup so complied with trailer regulations for reversing.
 

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I'm not sure about any damage to the steering, I'm sure driving on rough roads, speed bumps and potholes would do much more, all that happens when reversing is the car goes on to full lock, which you might do when driving it anyway so why would that damage anything.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Advice please

The video with the Suzuki is of me reversing it behind my Swift Bel-Air :smile2:

The full lock at the end of the reverse is intentional in order for the car's steering to face the correct way for pulling forwards again - it then follows the tail swing of the motorhome.

Reversing is a difficult thing to do and like other difficult things it just requires loads of practice.

The braking system in the Suzuki was an RVi2 electronic setup so complied with trailer regulations for reversing.
Thanks for that neilmac. Maybe you can advise me further. The car I tow is a Fiat 500 Twinair and having owned a Suzuki GV TD for 150,000 miles I am fairly sure that the steering is a tad stronger than that of the Fiat!!
How do you reverse in, what appears to be, a fairly tight circle without it locking over to the opposite lock? I can do a wide three pointer but if I get it even slightly tighter, it locks over with a bang even at a very slow speed. It's sufficient to stop the 4,500kg motorhome dead. I have not tried to force the issue by reversing against the lock. The brake over-run system on my A-frame is sufficient that I can reverse it gently without having to get out and disconnect the brake but as soon as it goes to a full lock I would have to get out and sort it before reversing further. I accept that this is contrary to the definition of a trailer.

I have just got back from the Lake District where on one fairly narrow part of a road alongside Ullswater, we came across a huge low loader and overhanging excavator. Luckily I could slot back enough to get partly up the bank and the other driver was good enough to be able squeeze past. Otherwise it would have been fun as we both had a queue of vehicles behind us!! So I would like to get some more practice in before the next trip.

Any further advice would be useful. I used to be a professional driver so I am used to most forms of driving but I hate not being able to master this issue.

HyFy
 
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