Thursday, July 28, 2011

How to back up a trailer

There are skills, every day skills, that our parents have taught us to make sure that we are self-reliant adults when they finally send us out into the cruel, harsh world.  Some of these skills are universal such as how to change a tire, how to read a map, how to swim, how to sew a button and how to parallel park a car. 
One skills that I'm glad that my dad taught me was how to drive a standard transmission. It amazes me that more people don't know how to do that. My dad gave me one or two lessons and then handed me the keys to our 1970 Ford Maverick. It wasn't 'four on the floor,' but 'three on the tree.' By the time I had access to the car, my three older sibs had already driven it, so shifting really only required the use of two fingers to change gears.

This past month, I have found that I lack a skill that would be extremely helpful to have. And I've learned that many of my girlfriends also lack this skill. For some reason, I've never been taught how to back up a trailer. Granted, I never needed to know how to back up a trailer until this past month, but that's besides the point.  

This past month has been all about moving. Moving into my new place, moving stuff to storage and moving stuff out of my Saint Paul condo. My brother-in-law Paul has a nice sized trailer and was letting me use it.  And as long as I didn't have to back it up, it wasn't a problem. Except there were going to be times when I would have to back it up. 
The first day of moving into my new place, I had the trailer filled with boxes and stuff to be moved into the new locale. I was on my own that day and I was going to have to back up the trailer eventually.  I made arrangements with my nephew to stop by at a pre-arranged time to back it up.  About 30 minutes prior to his scheduled arrival, I sent him a text telling him that he wasn't needed, I was able to turn the trailer around. 

It's important to notice that I said I turned the trailer around and not that I backed it up. There's an open field next to my new place and instead of having to back it out, I could just turn the trailer around by driving through the field. 

This past Sunday, my sister Sue and I were going to be taking the final trip up to the Saint Paul condo to get move out a few remaining pieces of furniture. We wouldn't need the big trailer, we could use an old van from Paul's business. The night before, Paul asked Sue what we were moving and then reminded her that the van had shelves! We would have to use the trailer. Sue doesn't know how to back up a trailer either.

Big points to my brother-in-law; Sunday morning, he checked the Northern Tool + Equipment website and found a solution. (Kudos to Northern Tool + Equipment for being open by 9 a.m. on Sunday morning) He got a swivel wheel for the hitch and a trailer dolly.  Once we got to our location, we unhooked the empty trailer from the SUV and then hooked the dolly to the trailer and Sue and I (okay, mostly Sue because I was giving directions) were able to turn the trailer around, re-hook it up to the SUV and we no longer needed to have the skills to back-up the trailer. 

I still would like to learn how to do it, there's just no rush right now.  

I would also like to have a standard transmission in my next car. I miss that clutch!


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