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Old 05-16-2021, 11:52 AM   #1
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Default Tips for first time owner? 2008 X189FD

After a lot of years of tenting, we decided it might be nice to still get out with the kids but also be have a bit more quiet, dark, and warmth at night so we could actually sleep. My wife really wanted to go small/light so we picked up a very well-maintained 2008 X189FD. We have an equalizer hitch and mirror extensions coming, and my to-do list today features heading for an empty parking lot to re-train my brain how to back up!

This is our first TT, and I'd love to hear if you have any tips to share in general or things to keep in mind specifically for this model (it's one without a slide). Thanks!
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Old 05-16-2021, 05:00 PM   #2
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You are going to love this trailer -- congratulations!! Where are you located, and where are you going to be camping?

Key suggestions, in no particular order --

Be sure to laugh at your mistakes, because they will happen. There is a steep learning curve, but it levels out pretty soon.

Don't practice backing up till you have your mirror extensions -- and make sure you bring your spouse to help you learn how. Backing up is very counter-intuitive, but it is a learnable skill. Be patient with yourself.

Don't make your first trip a big one -- maybe even start with some driveway camping so that you are familiar with all of the subsystems.

By the way, what's your tow vehicle? And what sort of anti-sway or weight distribution hitch do you have?

Final suggestion, for now -- ask LOTS of questions. Us old-timers love to answer them, especially if we can help you avoid our mistakes.

OK, one more suggestion/caveat -- be sure to check out rv.net and irv2.com. Lots of valuable discussions on those forums, with good search functions. But the caveat is that there are a few folks on those forums with bad attitudes, unlike this one, which is user-friendly!!
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Old 05-16-2021, 10:03 PM   #3
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Quote:
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You are going to love this trailer -- congratulations!! Where are you located, and where are you going to be camping?
Thanks! Had my first backing up experience today as we dropped the trailer off at the storage lot... my wife looking out and giving directions and me kind of following them. In a very short time we discovered that:
  1. "your back end needs to go that way" is less helpful when it may mean back end of the trailer or back end of the tow vehicle
  2. circular, swirling arm motions may not convey to the driver what the spotter intends them to mean
  3. it's not entirely clear if it's better to have kids out of the car (where they may get run over) or in the car (where they may feel compelled to provide helpful advice). This afternoon, I was leaning towards "home" as being the best place for them during the backing up process.
  4. ordering the backup mirrors was a good idea... even if they haven't arrived yet

We live in Calgary, Canada, so most trips will either be into the rockies or East to visit family in Manitoba (Canada's mid-west). We hope to go quite a bit further once COVID let's up... west coast of Canada and the US (down to California and perhaps up to Alaska, though likely not in the same trip), Canada's east coast, and maybe down to Arizona when it gets cold and nasty here. We homeschooled our kids this year to try to avoid some of the COVID chaos and it went really well, so we plan to do that next year as well, which gives us lots of flexibility, and I have a backlog of vacation time at work I'm supposed to use up, which seems like it all adds up to a pretty good time to get out and explore.

We traded in the very comfy and roomy Grand Caravan to get a vehicle that could tow, and picked a 2009 Mercedes ML320. It's not huge, but has a gutsy 3 liter turbo diesel, so it's got a towing capacity of 7200 lbs. With this trailer coming in under half of that I'm hoping we'll be able to handle the mountains once we're loaded up... as it is, getting up to highway speeds is pretty effortless, so I'm hopeful.

We weren't sure what would come with the trailer (buying used) so didn't want to pick too much up before buying. This just has a basic hitch, so we have a weight distribution hitch coming... so far the side to side doesn't seem to be an issue, so I don't know if we'll end up adding sway bars or not. We'll give it a shot and see how it feels, I think. What do you think? Is that a real game-changer?

Oh, and I'll check those forums - thanks! Thankfully, I've been on discussion boards for a lot of years, so I'm pretty troll-proof...
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Old 05-17-2021, 08:03 AM   #4
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Being a 2008 unit - check the date code on the tires as they may have good tread but need replacement due to age ... usually after 5 - 7 years for trailer tires.

Backing hint - put your hand on the bottom of the steering wheel and turn it in the direction you want the trailer to go.
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Old 05-17-2021, 08:56 AM   #5
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Quote:
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Being a 2008 unit - check the date code on the tires as they may have good tread but need replacement due to age ... usually after 5 - 7 years for trailer tires.

Backing hint - put your hand on the bottom of the steering wheel and turn it in the direction you want the trailer to go.
Thanks! The tires have recently been replaced, but it makes sense that it will be more of an issue for trailers than for cars if they're not used as often.

And that backing up hint may just save my bacon, and a whole lot of trees - I'll give it a try!
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Old 05-17-2021, 10:32 AM   #6
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If you are getting a WD hitch, you will not need a friction anti sway bar.

And if you put your hands on the bottom of the steering wheel, have your wife sweep her hands left and right, parallel with the ground, rather than making circle motions. (We evolved this method via trial and error.)

Also, if the trailer starts to jackknife, pull forward slightly to straighten out.

As you already know, the Canadian Rockies are camping heaven. It takes us a week of driving from California to reach your back-yard!
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Old 05-17-2021, 12:43 PM   #7
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Your 'spotter' wife guiding your backing .. should ALWAYS be able to see YOU in the mirror. If she can't see you - you can't see her visual directions
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Old 05-17-2021, 05:41 PM   #8
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Eagle -- the trick that I use to let her know that I can't see her is to stop in my tracks, until she reappears in the mirror. (Often, she can't tell from where she is standing whether I can see her or not.)

At night, we use walkie talkies.
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Old 05-17-2021, 05:54 PM   #9
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profdant139

Yes, stopping and not moving will bring a response.

I've never had to park once it's dark as we always stop for the night before it gets dark so don't need walkie talkies.
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Old 05-17-2021, 07:24 PM   #10
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Rhythm, here's a little something to get you motivated -- this was in mid-September at Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, after a stormy night. This was the view that greeted us as we stepped out of the trailer at sunrise:


Click For Full-Size Image.
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Old 05-17-2021, 07:28 PM   #11
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And speaking of stormy nights, this should appeal to you as a former tent camper -- there are few sounds as sweet as the rain on the roof of your trailer, while you are buttoned up warm and dry inside.
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Old 05-17-2021, 08:14 PM   #12
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Oh, that's a beautiful picture - I'm glad you showed me... I think sunrises are beautiful, but unfortunately they always seem to be scheduled at a time when I'm still sleeping! Every once in a while we forget what we have just a couple if hours away, but this will make it much easier to enjoy.

The walkie-talkies are a great idea - we have some we usually bring along anyways, so we'll make sure they're handy for parking if needed!
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Old 05-17-2021, 08:17 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eagle View Post
profdant139

Yes, stopping and not moving will bring a response.

I've never had to park once it's dark as we always stop for the night before it gets dark so don't need walkie talkies.
Unfortunately in my case, I think the most likely response to me stopping would just be a lot more volume, which I'm sure will set us up nicely to meet the neighbors in the morning...
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Old 05-17-2021, 09:32 PM   #14
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Rhythm, we also started out with a lot of loud directions and soon realized that they didn't work and often drew an audience.

Now, the whole process is totally silent. She waves left when I need to move the back of the trailer left. She raises a fist for me to stop. She pushes away when she wants me to pull forward and straighten out. When she wants me to come straight back, she signals by pulling both hands toward herself.

It takes some time to develop a set of signals and to become proficient. Let her know when she does well!
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Old 05-23-2021, 06:23 PM   #15
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"Eagle" gave you the best advice that can be had when backing up, especially when frustrated.

- First, pull your vehicle and TT to the side of the desired parking spot, put the emergency brake on and walk to the spot and check out where you want things to "end up", as in your power/water, etc., check for clearance for any slide-outs!!!! (this is easy to forget when starting out), and look for any obvious un-levelness to the area so you're aware of what you may be dealing with to level your trailer enough to run your fridge and A/C.


- Stop and take a breath

- Pull forward to straighten out if are currently at a sharp angle.

- Stop and take a breath, again. The world can WAIT ... and true RV'ers will wait also and have "been there before". You're going to be alright.

-Put your hand at the bottom of the steering wheel and turn it in the direction you want the back of the trailer to go .... and NOTE to not switch between using your mirrors and looking over your shoulder, because your hand will AUTOMATICALLY reverse on the wheel .... it's how the human brain works. Use your mirrors exclusively if possible ... but use one or the other, not both.

- You'll get it done. It will be okay. You'll get better and better, and soon be helping others. How COOL is THAT??? ; -)

Enjoy.
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Old 05-23-2021, 10:33 PM   #16
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Just after your 1st step my wife and I always give a quick kiss before proceeding. Just in case it doesn't go well!
Otherwise, great advice.
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Old 05-24-2021, 07:34 AM   #17
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Place your hand at the bottom of the steering wheel and turning the steering wheel in the direstion you want the rear of the trailer to go is taught in professional truck drivers schools....because it works.
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Old 05-24-2021, 10:11 AM   #18
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Always watch the caulking on those older trailers. Any cracks and fix immediately. Pay attention to the marker lights up top and the diamond plate at the front. Well known area of water egress.
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Old 05-24-2021, 01:16 PM   #19
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On the rare occasion that I have someone assist me with backing up I have them call me on their cellphone so I can talk to them through the sync in my truck. Their directions are “drivers side a few inches” “need to go more passenger side” things like that.
Had my shake out weekend last weekend and learned a valuable lesson. I don’t often hook up to water but this time I did. I also turned on my water pump. All that pressure caused my pump to leak and the kitchen faucet to drip. Checking on the pump this afternoon to make sure I didn’t ruin it.
Look up some good hitching, setup and tear down checklists. I updated mine so I’m going out again this weekend.
Have fun, laugh at your mistakes, talk to neighbors about their biggest mistakes and again, have fun!!
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Old 05-24-2021, 06:47 PM   #20
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Now that's awesome! Great step to add!
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