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Post Info TOPIC: Newbie - How best to park caravan


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Newbie - How best to park caravan


Hi, I'm new to the site and to caravaning/towing.  I've just bought a secondhand caravan.  It measures 3.6mx2.16m, so it's quite small as far as caravans go.  I've done a lot of reading online, including how to reverse and tow it and I'm going on a towing course as well.  So far I've managed to reverse into my driveway, it went ok for a first attempt, I think.

I have quite a wide driveway (as in wider than a car needs), with a single garage door at the end, leading into a carport.  The driveway's not wide enough to fit the caravan and car side by side.  At the front, there's a low wall, letterbox and inside that, garden for a few metres (5-ish) and then some brick paving outside the front verandah/house.  On the other side of the driveway is a hedge next to the fence on that side. 

I was/am hoping to park the caravan next to the driveway on part of what is now the garden (although what was there has been dug up and moved, I intend to get the brick paving extended over but at the moment it's just dirt), ie parallel to the driveway.  Although it seems that it would be easier to go at right angles, reversing in and turning (assuming that's possible given the hedge?), there's a huge rose and a tree that prevents using that side of the garden.  I don't really care if I lost the tree, it's always struggled a bit, but it's a really nice rose and it might not survive transplantation, given how big it is.  Also, side view of caravan right across the front of the house is not that good of a look, compared to the narrow side of the van taking up just the 2m.

So, the question:  how should I park this thing?  I've also discovered that the driveway has quite a slope on it.  It looks reasonably flat, but it isn't.  I've got a "trailer valet" to be able to shift the van.  The instructions say you can push up an incline but not pull up an incline.  I'll probably be able to manoeuvre the caravan over after the paving's extended by attaching the trailer valet down the carport end of the drive and pushing it up and over/around, but is there a way I can use the car to get it parked or help get it parked or help reduce how much lugging about I need to do manually with the trailer valet?  If I were to go in (reverse) diagonally (if that's an option), I'd probably need to extend the brick paving further?  

Any help appreciated.  



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My brother in-law in Germany has the system where drive wheels clamp onto the caravan wheels (most caravans have this setup over there). He got is because he had both hips replaced, but also uses it to park the caravan back the front under the carport. You just use the remote control, actually his wife usually parks it & she's very good, I've seen her do it!



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Thanks, yes, I considered that, but was convinced by the "shop people" that I didn't need it. I'll see how I go with the trailer valet seeing as I've got it now. If it's too much effort, I can always get a motor mover later on. They aren't cheap and then there's the installation costs on top.

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Welcome to the forum. Reversing a caravan or trailer must be the single most significant cause of divorces. If you are to reverse your caravan, you need someone to guide you, and you need CLEAR DIRECTIONS AND DISTANCES. Reversing our caravan into our driveway is a problem because of angles and gradients, and after many years of frustration, I have worked a system of signals which primarily ignores my wife's gestures and directions. It is only when the caravan is about to hit something that she really gets agitated and then I take notice....

Many years ago, we were driving in America, and SWMBO was giving directions as to which roads to follow etc. For some reason, she got confused and would say "Turn Left", , but she meant turn right. I put this down to the fact that they all drive on the wrong side of the road over there and she was meaning turn from your own side of the road ie a left turn here does not involve crossing against oncoming traffic, and the equivalent turn in America (and a significant portion of the world) this would be a right turn. Well, when we returned back to Oz, the confusion continued and to this day I do not trust her directions of Left or Right. Compound all this with reversing a caravan, and it all goes to sh1t very quickly. You need clear, precise directions - Left, Right, Straight on etc, and you need distances until you have to stop in the form of a countdown - 20 feet, 10 feet, 5 feet, 3, 2, 1, Stop. Mostly I get 'Keep coming, Keep coming, STOP, the STOP coming in the most panicking voice. I have found that directions "towards the house " or towards the Fence" are clearer, as long as SWMBO is telling you she want the REAR of the caravan towards the fence or wherever. Left or Right is not clear enough.  A problem with many people, mainly women, is that they cannot appreciate that you need a certain distance to get your rig from being near jackknifed to the right to straight ahead again, and my wife can in no way estimate that. All I get is "Keep coming - that's good now straight back". Except that my car is still at a wide angle and will take another 10 or 15 feet to get it back to straight again. To overcome this, in really tight situations, I get out and put her in the driver's seat and walk along beside her saying "half turn left, straighten, left half, straighten, right half, full lock right etc. We get the caravan into the garage in one go this way and it is a lot less stressful. The only problem is that the clutch gets a workout when she is reversing the rig because she revs the engine too hard, but I am working on that too. Once in the driveway, all that is needed is the engine at idle speed, but somehow this doesn't happen.

A reversing camera would help, but where we put our van is so tight that even the camera will be useless - we have no more than 1 inch in width to play with at times. All you can do is practice, practice and practice until you get a system which works for you. We have been married (and caravanning) for nearly 50 years, and we still haven't got it right, but we are getting there....

If you are reversing into a caravan park site, I find it necessary to get out and check the location of the power socket, the drains and the water tap. Almost every time, I get set up and bring out the drain hose or the water hose and it is 1 foot short. Power leads are no problems - I have a couple of leads and one is 25 m long... The more you go out and do it the better you get.

If you both do a towing course, you both will learn a lot and be better and safer for it. I have reviewed this post and already I can hear quite a few men mumbling Here Here...



-- Edited by erad on Thursday 8th of October 2020 07:07:35 PM

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Thanks erad, I think I'll be ok with reversing, I'd rather trust myself than somebody who can't tell left from right :D (is your wife a member of the forum?if so, shhhhh :D) I'm sure you're right about reversing being a source of marital discord, but I suspect that being confined in a caravan is also a stressor on relationships. In any case, there is no guide, just me. My driveway is wide so there's plenty of room, I don't really have to worry about running into anything.

I will have a rear camera eventually. I've only driven the van home, but it really bothered me not having the rearview mirror any more. The caravan mirrors were good, I could see around, but I am so used to using the rearview mirror that I didn't like it not being there. There's actually a rear vision camera on the van BUT to get the monitor to go with it I'd have to buy a whole new kit or if I got another brand, I'd have to not only wire up the car but re-wire up the caravan part as well. Expensive to get the new kit and have the monitor installed in the car, even more expensive to pay for rewiring up the caravan again on top of that.

When the brickpaving is extended, I may be able to reverse in, turn the van on a bit of a diagonal and then swing the drawbar around with the trailer valet, rather than try to move the whole thing over from the driveway. It really depends on whether I can do that given the confines of the front garden wall and hedge. I'll just have to get the brickpaving done and then experiment, I don't think I've got any mathematical skills to work it out beforehand. I thought I might need to figure it out because to park it diagonally and not straight could need more brickpaving, but I think I'll just have to decide on the width of the brickpaving and figure it out after it's done.

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Hi hufnpuf,
I have a narrow carport with a short step up to th e flat floor. I reverse the van up our driveway, then use a ratchet sheet to manoeuvre the wheels up to the step. Then I push the van up that with the car, then manoeuvre again to the final position with the ratchet wheel.

When reversing, I use my mirrors, rev camera on car & wife with her pointing the direction (left or right). If reversing up levelling blocks, I ask her to indicate reverse or forward with her four fingers (she gets a bit rusty with this after a while - walks down to the car to tell me I've not gone far enough!! (*!*! useless women).

I can't divorce her at the moment as I'm in hospital, laid up useless!!

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Thanks, I'm lucky in that I've got a wide and open driveway, don't have to get anything into anything confined (frankly, I don't think I'd have bought the van if I had to do that, I'm hoping it will be less fiddle-faddle than the tent I went away with, not having to pack and unpack everything each time). My issue is more to do with geometry or trigonometry (can't really remember what that was, something to do with angles, I think :D). I'm going on my towing course today, I'll ask the instructor about efficiently getting the van "sideways", but I think it won't be too much drama after I can actually try things out when the extra paving is down.

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Firstly ... Don't worry about transplanting the rose.  They are extremely hardy & usually transplant successfully.   Just soak the root area well, give it a severe pruning & using a fork, dig it out with as reasonably large circumference hole as practicably.  Reverse the procedure in the new spot & mulch it well.  A light fertilizing might help.  They grow easily from cuttings too.  Use a few of your older wood prunings or even a bit of root for this.

 

In a manual vehicle when doing a difficult and protracted reverse, especially if there is an upward incline, I always select 4wd low.  Much easier on the clutch & everything is done more slowly.  I use hard corrections to get the rear going where I want & then go forward a little to straighten up the rig.  It is then usually a matter of small corrections. I may have to go forward slightly now & then to re-straighten the rig.  (I have never had transmission lock up manouvering on hard surfaces.  But minimise the distance you go on hard ungraveled surface when you can).

The simplest process is to have the person assisting walk beside/level with the driver window and direct the way they need the back of the van to go by the command 'Left Hand down' if the back needs to go the left and 'Right hand down' for it to go right.  The driver places the steering hand on the top  of the wheel moving it down to their right or left as commanded.

The person assisting is responsible to command 'Stop'  to allow them to check the rear for potential collisions.

In some occasions the assister may need to give (final?) directions while standing at the rear of the van.  In this case they must stand in a oisitio where they can see the reversing mirror or the driver and facing the driver use a finger pointing command to direct the direction the rear of the vehicle is to go and a flat hand stop signal.

 

Easy peasy.

 

BTW .. Just to confuse the issue .....  If I am doing it solo I hold the wheel at the bottom and turn it in the direction I want the rear of the van to go



-- Edited by Cupie on Saturday 10th of October 2020 04:27:39 PM

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See Ya ... Cupie




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Cupie wrote:

Firstly ... Don't worry about transplanting the rose.  They are extremely hardy & usually transplant successfully.  

.......

 

BTW .. Just to confuse the issue .....  If I am doing it solo I hold the wheel at the bottom and turn it in the direction I want the rear of the van to go

 

I know roses are hardy (the gardener's already moved 2 to create the "van area" parallel to the driveway), but this one is huge.  Having to cut it right back to move it would be a shame, it really is good-looking as it is.   It's not just the rose, there's an arch thing next to it, I'd probably need to move that as well.  It's also not wanting the caravan sideways across the front of the house.  

As for your second quoted point above, the course this afternoon did it that way, holding at the bottom, but I've already got my head around pulling down on the opposite side and if I try to change to something different, I'll lose all of it.  I am not good at absorbing (or figuring out) different things to do with movement.  If I learn one way, I'm better off sticking to it otherwise I'll always be confused and not absorb either way (it's happened before :D)



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Hufnpuf ,hi, go to your nearest large empty carpark ,or farmers field ,,put a few markers down and practice!! for gods sake ,it aint rocket science . Suddenly it WILL click in the brain ,and peace will be achieved .
Or else sell the bloody caravan .?? get yourself a pair of roller skates . Just a thought mate ,are you sure you should be driving at all .

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AndyCap100 wrote:

Just a thought mate ,are you sure you should be driving at all .


 Just a thought mate, do you have any clue what this thread is about?  :D  If you go to a public library and start reading, comprehension might suddenly click in your brain.....



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Hufnpuf ,have YOU actually read your first post .I lost the will to live after you digressed to path widths ,carports ,letter boxes ,rose bush transplants ,trees in the way ,the list just goes on . Stick to the point ,thats what i meant ,
AND PRACTICE .

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AndyCap100 wrote:

I lost the will to live 

 So why didn't you run with that instead of posting nonsense and abuse?  There's a thing called a "back button", there's no obligation to read or post.  If you PRACTICE it will click in your brain.  



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erad wrote:

... after many years of frustration, I have worked a system of signals which primarily ignores my wife's gestures and directions. It is only when the caravan is about to hit something that she really gets agitated and then I take notice....

I understand entirely, erad. That describes my experience to a tee. I have a reversing camera (with microphone) on the van and when at a CP I get SWMBO to stand where the middle of the rear of the van is intended to stop. That way I can do all the necessary manoeuvring to line her up in the middle of the video screen and wait for "STOP!" to be heard. My driveway executes a tight S-bend so SWMBO goes into the house (to avoid the shouting match) and I do it all by myself climbing in and out of the tug to see what progress I'm making until the distance is covered or I get sick of reversing and leave it for later. I am fortunate in that I can get the van right down the wide sideway to the back of the house. 

However, living in Melbourne means all I could do this year was dream about caravanning in warmer climes.cry  The van is sitting there deteriorating.

Doing a trailer training course is a good idea. I was looking at booking a course for SWMBO at the start of this year. For some odd reason it got cancelled. Try again next year.

If holding the wheel at the bottom doesn't work for you, When using your side mirrors and reversing straight back, you should see equal amounts of the van in left and right mirrors. If you see more of the van in one mirror, move the top of the wheel (gently) towards that mirror. 

 



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StewG wrote:
erad wrote:

However, living in Melbourne means all I could do this year was dream about caravanning in warmer climes.cry  The van is sitting there deteriorating.

Doing a trailer training course is a good idea. I was looking at booking a course for SWMBO at the start of this year. For some odd reason it got cancelled. Try again next year.

If holding the wheel at the bottom doesn't work for you, When using your side mirrors and reversing straight back, you should see equal amounts of the van in left and right mirrors. If you see more of the van in one mirror, move the top of the wheel (gently) towards that mirror. 

 


 I feel so sorry for Melbourne people being under lockdown for so long. :(  Hopefully you'll be able to go somewhere soon without the worry of infection or having to quarantine.  We are very fortunate to be able to still go places. 

I did the short towing course (hour and a half) I mentioned above.  The RAC is doing them, it tells you some information about towing safety requirements on the road and then you get to have a go reversing in their carpark.  I was lucky to get in straight away due to a cancellation but they are in huge demand as so many people are hitting the road because of the border closure and no international travel.  Booked up, and they are adding extra dates to try to get more people in, but demand is probably still exceeding supply.  There are SO many new van owners.  The caravan place woman told me they'd sold every new van they've got there and they aren't taking any bookings for repairs/maintenance because they are booked solid for months. 

I'm ok (as ok as I can be at this stage) with reversing itself, as long as I think and don't try to do it quickly, it goes ok.  I've watched a lot of instructional videos on youtube and I know what I'm supposed to be doing.  The thing is that none of the instructional videos, or the course I attended, tell you what to do when you are confined by (say) a letterbox or a carport and don't have room to do a full lock because you don't have a wide open space to turn the car like that.  There's a private course where it's one-on-one, that would be good to do and those sort of questions would no doubt get addressed, but it's quite expensive and I'm pretty broke at the moment having had to pay for all sorts of things (like a parking area!). 

I was just trying to figure out what I need to do to extend the driveway.  At this stage, I'm going to add a fairly wide area, but that may depend on cost.  A couple of tradies are coming to quote late this week, hopefully it won't be too horribly expensive.... Most of the cost is probably in the compaction and base so probably wouldn't be able to save much going more narrow an area.  We shall see.  When the new brickpaving is in, I'll be able to experiment with how to to best get the van over onto the parking place, I just don't want to extend the driveway "the wrong way" or not far enough.



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