By Dave Helgeson
Ever since man first attempted to back a horseless carriage up to the coupler of a trailer he has been trying to devise an easier way to make tow ball and coupler come together in harmony.
Wives have used hand gestures in futility, convex mirrors have been mounted on trailer tongues reflecting a (distorted) view of the tow ball to the driver, “V” shaped deflectors have been mounted on bumpers in the hopes of guiding the coupler over the ball, verbal instructions between spouses via two-way radios have led to division, even tennis balls mounted on fiberglass rods have been employed to solve this age-old problem.
The digital age, which has made life easier in many other of life’s arenas, has also solved the problem of hooking up a trailer. Relatively inexpensive (compared to radios, damaged bumpers/tailgates and broken marriages) backup cameras are now available to RVers everywhere.
There are two basic varieties: wired and wireless. The wired varieties are attached via your license plate frame mounts with power being supplied by your vehicle’s backup lights. The wireless system is powered by alkaline batteries and attaches temporarily (magnetically) to your vehicle. With either variety, the video screen viewed by the driver is powered by the 12-volt outlet in the vehicle’s dash. The screen can also be programmed to rotate the image so you don’t have to reverse what is left and right in your mind as you back up. Now hooking up is a breeze — just turn on the camera and guide the tow ball under the coupler with no fuss or confusing hand signals from your significant other!
An added advantage of the wireless camera is they can also be “stuck” on the steel bumper of travel trailers to view what is behind your rig as you back into tight campsites.