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Rookie Towing question


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We are picking up our Ollie next week and planning out our drive home.  Ideally a pilot or Flying J with RV fueling lanes is in the ideal spot to fuel up but I am wondering if in general most "normal" gas stations have enough room to pull through and gas up (note we do not have diesel engine)?  or if we have to use end pumps and a lot of google sat map/street view investigation to make sure we can get in and out while towing the ollie.  If so are corner gas stations  better then ones set parallel to a street?  are there any red flags  that would make you keep going if you saw at a gas station?


This will be our first towing experience so what the combined turning radius will be,  rear end visibility end swing are all theoretical right now :)


Towing Vehicle: 2019 Lincoln Navigator   so we are about 41'  from the front of the lincoln to the back of the elite II.



spacer.pngLEII Hull #517    |   Lincoln Navigator Reserve with Heavy Duty Trailer Tow Package


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Usually the stations on the highway have plenty of room. We were newbies to towing when we got ours as well, and at first we were fairly picky about which stations we'd venture into. But over time, as we got used to the dimensions of the Ollie, we started gong into smaller and smaller stations. Now, I'd say that it's something we're obviously cognizant of, but not overly worried about.


The Flying Js, Loves, and similar mega stations like that are almost always a cinch to get through. We usually look ahead for those, but mainly for the discount rather than the space. And the RV lanes are nice, though not a must. Sometimes if they're super busy, then traffic can still be a problem at the main pumps, even at a large station. On our trip back from the rally this spring, we went to a station around noon (only one around and we really needed gas) and there were lines of people in front of every pump waiting to get a spot. We finally got a pump but almost immediately I got blocked in by a cop who decided to park his cruiser at the pump in front of me and then go eat lunch. Rude. With a line of cars behind already annoyed at the trailer guy, it was one of those moments when you're calculating what might be worth a night or two in jail.


Generally, I always look at the distance from the pumps to the parking in front of the building. If it's particularly tight, then we'll keep looking. But usually they've given enough room. I try not to pull up super close to the pumps and that can help make the turn getting out.

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I agree with everything Overland says above. You'll get to where it is almost second nature with your ability to spot potential "trouble" spots. I almost always use the regular gas pumps versus those specifically labeled as for RV's. The RV pumps are almost always busy or out in the sun or placed in a relatively out of the way location. I pay particular attention (as Overland does) to the area between the pumps and the station/store. If it is too tight or if there are simply too many people/vehicles there I will either look for a pump on the end or simply go to another station. I also pay close attention to those "guards" that have been placed at or near the pumps to protect them. This is particularly important when exiting - don't cut it too close as those things simply don't move and they are not necessarily as visible as the pumps themselves. Finally, I pay attention to just how I plan to exit the station. Will I have to cross four lanes of traffic? Is there a traffic light that will make it easier and safer to get back to where I need to go? Are there alternate exits in the event someone or something blocks the most obvious one? Particularly until you get some experience, I'd chose ease and convenience over price. Better to pay a few cents more than get yourself into a situation that could be rather costly - call it the price of acquiring knowledge.


2023 Ford F150 Lariat 3.5EB FX4 Max Towing, Max Payload, 2016 Oliver Elite II - Hull #117 "Twist"

Near Asheville, NC

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It helps for the passenger to visually scope out the approach and departure “lanes”  for obstacles like a disabled car or a blocking fuel truck or police car (!!!). Old urban stations are by far the worst offenders, with tight spacing and often a serious lack of concern for oversized vehicles.


Long ago I got blocked by a beater pickup truck that broke down and was completely in the way. I had to back out onto a busy road, not fun at all. This was before cell phones, but a pair of walkie talkies saved the day. My wife walked out into the road and stopped traffic so I could get out. I highly recommend a pair of them for those times your cell doesn’t work.


Do not hesitate to skip a station if it just feels wrong.


You also have to worry about too-tight parking lots, again they are usually in urban areas. Sometimes it is physically impossible to make the turns. ALWAY check them out ahead of time, either on foot or by using Google Earth if you have a strong signal and a good data plan. Every now and then even a big Walmart parking lot will have challenging turns with clueless shoppers not helping at all. If you don’t swear now, you will quickly learn how to.


Good luck and have fun.


John Davies


Spokane WA





SOLD 07/23 "Mouse":  2017 Legacy Elite II Two Beds, Hull Number 218, See my HOW TO threads: 

Tow Vehicle: 2013 Land Cruiser 200, 32” LT tires, airbags, Safari snorkel, Maggiolina Grand Tour 360 Carbon RTT.

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As others have stated, fueling up is not usually an issue, especially if you do just a little recon as you pull into the station.

However, I must admit there are times when it does get a little "tight. On our last trip, My wife pulled into a large Pilot stations regular pump area, we use diesel, and the diesel was on the far side - and once committed, found that for some dumb reason, the far side of the pump area was blocked off - by design, and there was no way we were getting around the turn between the pump and the "curb". And the station was packed - cars, trucks, - every open spot. As JD stated, sometimes one has to get out - stop the unaware patrons - and then slowly back out of the situation. Best to keep your composure and smile - ha.


And - we were once poking along through a state park campground - very tight, trees, and curvy. About 3/4 mile in - on a one way single lane road -- two 35-40' motor homes are stopped in the middle of road - the front one is broken down - will not start. That was a fun - back up until we found a campsite with a large enough parking area to do a - back in and turn around.

Moral of the story - get comfortable with backing up, practice turning around in tight places. And soon the stress turns to confidence and much less verbal consternation....


Good luck and happy trails.



Cindy,  Russell and  "Harley dog" . Home is our little farm near Winchester TN

2018 Oliver Legacy Elite II - 2018 GMC 2500 Duramax 

"Die young - As late as possible"





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The previous posts have certainly provided excellent advice on concerns that arise at filling stations with our Oliver attached. My recommendation is to have a full tank on the day of pick-up and a predetermined open practice area. Have on board an adequate number of cones to replicate obstacles at, in this case, a gas station. Practice the arc you will need to negotiate "wrapping around" an object like a gas pump. When you get into a difficult situation your first reaction should not be to move the cones, but to practice backing out of the predicament. Remember to place cone(s) where obstacles other than pumps, like cars, may be. If you hit a cone it is not a big deal(but understand why) and you will soon learn the radius needed for curbs, gas pump islands and other objects. You will soon learn controlling the Oliver is not that complex. The fact that it is basically the width of your tow vehicle is a huge plus. The best to you. A week after pickup I feel you will ask yourself why was I so concerned.

Take care,


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Please let us know how the Navigator works out -- they are high on our list right now and I have my eye on an "L" when we land back in the states if the dealer is ready to deal.


As far as towing and tight fuel pumps, positioning is key.  If you need to turn into the pump island (ie refueling door is on left, and you need to go left), make sure you make your approach with additional space between you and the pumps.  This will allow the trailer to track inside of your TV's track without hitting the island.  If you need to turn away from the pumps, then being a little closer to the island can be helpful, just make sure you watch that your trailer's rear bumper doesn't swing into the island.


Costco gasoline is another great source, usually they have plenty of space to maneuver in and out, and are setup for one way traffic.  The single biggest problem with your corner/streetside gas station is the swarm of people coming in and out from every which direction in a hurry.  I had people cut off the inside of my turn, then get upset when "I" was blocking "their" way.  Costco prices are also generally very good for fuel and propane.

Between Olivers…

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Just got back home with the Ollie and may post some of our thoughts  on the ollie later but initial thoughts on the navigator was that it worked like a champ.  Towing the ollie from Hohenwald, TH, to Greenville ,SC ( 450ish miles with some stops over three days to test out the Ollie) it did very well even across the mountains.  For the most part it was hard to remember it was back there it was so smooth. I think that is helped by the anderson hitch as I do not think it was tightened enough for one short leg of the trip and I had a bit of bounce but once I got the hang of setting it up it was very smooth.   Ascending hills was barely an inconvenience as the tow haul mode did its job fantastically, on the last leg we had an issue with the tow/haul mode indicator not lighting so I am not 100% sure it was engaged and I had to do a little manual downshifting on a 2-3 mile long 6% grade with one brake push as well but that was it.  So I am very happy with the navigator as a tow vehicle so far.   I  had it on the adaptive cruise control for 90% of the trip and I got about 20ish MPG on the way out and about 14.5 on the way back with the ollie.  It was better then I had expected given the hilly terrain and at that MPG you have about a 350 mile range with the 26 Gallon take ours has.  I expect it would be a bit more through say nebraska. Comfort wise I think the Navigator is also top notch and I think the vehicle weight is a big plus for feeling safe while towing and heck just driving in general it hugs the road wonderfully.  So far the 20 inch tires have been very good, but I think if we were going to do more boondocking we may swap them out for something smaller and more aggressive but so far I have never felt like the tire have slipped no matter what we have done with or without the Ollie.


So that my initial impressions on the Lincoln navigator as a tow vehicle

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spacer.pngLEII Hull #517    |   Lincoln Navigator Reserve with Heavy Duty Trailer Tow Package


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Green river gorge is a beautiful place, and a pretty "exciting" place for someone new to towing. Just guessing that's where you had to manually downshift.

You're good to go now! Congratulations on a successful trip home. Thanks for the info on your Navigator. Glad you are happy with your choice!


2008 Ram 1500 4 × 4

2008 Oliver Elite, Hull #12

Florida and Western North Carolina, or wherever the truck goes....

400 watts solar. DC compressor fridge. No inverter. 2 x 105 ah agm batteries .  Life is good.




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