Marker Flags for Reversing Car/Trailer Safely




Introduction: Marker Flags for Reversing Car/Trailer Safely

We recently bought our first caravan, so we needed practice in reversing and parking safely and accurately. These marker flags were quick and cheap to make.

We use them for marking where we want to reverse, and for placing on front of any obstacles. They're easily visible from the tow vehicle, so we can line up more efficiently and confidently.

When we're hooking up the caravan, we can place them either side of the tow coupling, and with a line of tape down the back window of our vehicle it's easy to line up and reverse the vehicle straight to the coupling.

The markers are light and can be easily dismantled and packed in the van to take with us, so we can set them up when we need to park in unfamiliar places.

Step 1: What You Need

1. Traffic/safety cones with hole in top - I bought these at the hardware store for $6 each; they're quite lightweight

2. Long, straight sticks- these bamboo canes were about $6 for a pack from the hardware store

3. Thick cardboard from a large carton - you'll need maybe 2 - 2 1/2 ft (60-75cm) long pieces, and about 6 inches (15-20cm) wide

4. White PVA glue (also known as woodworking glue - the kind that dries clear)

5. Duct tape

6. A brightly-coloured plastic shopping bag (fairly firm plastic, not too flimsy)

7. Scissors

8. You'll also need a stapler and a broom or mop handle

Step 2: Dampen Cardboard and Roll Up

Dampen the cardboard strip slightly on both sides to make it fairly pliable.

Put a line of glue on one end to hold it, then wrap around the broom handle (with the glued end inside) to shape it into a roll.

Step 3: Glue End, Insert in Cone and Glue Top Edges to Seal; Leave to Dry

Slide the roll of cardboard off the broom handle and see if it fits in the hole in the cone. Trim some off if necessary (or dampen an extra bit of cardboard and roll it in if it's not thick enough).

Open out the roll of cardboard and add glue inside the end; close up and squeeze into the hole in the cone. Make sure it's tight.

Spread glue over the top edges of the cardboard to seal the edges.

Try the stick on the hole to check that it fits.

Take the cardboard roll out f the cone and leave to dry.

Step 4: Tape Around the Cardboard Roll to Hold It in Place.

When the cardboard roll is dry, insert it back in the cone so that about half is sticking out.

Tape around where the cone and cardboard meet, stretching the bottom edge of the duct tape as you go so that it's a fairly snug fit.

Tape around the top bit of the cardboard roll to neaten it off and make it stronger.

Step 5: Make the Flag

Cut a flag shape from the side of the bag, through both thicknesses, so that the fold of the side is still intact.

Fold it over the stick and staple as close as possible to the stick. You may need to roll the ends of the flag under to fit in the arm space of the stapler.

Step 6: Assemble the Marker Flags

Slot the flags into the cones and check that the sticks are upright. Trim the sticks if they are too long.

Place them where you want them!

You can take them apart to transport them easily (though the cones won't stack neatly with the cardboard plugs in them). You can also use the cones without the sticks when you need them for other purposes.

Note that they are not weatherproof, so don't leave them out in the rain.

The second photo shows the flags either side of the trailer hitch receiver, ready to reverse the vehicle and hitch up. It would be useful to tie the sticks together with a twist-tie where they cross, to keep them steady if it's breezy.

The third photo shows our first attempt at reversing using the 'crossed' flag sticks and lining up with the rear wiper mount on the back window of the vehicle (or we could have put a bit of tape on the rear window, but didn't need it). The tow ball was lined up perfectly and the plate on our tow bar (for weight distribution hitch) nudged the flag poles when the ball was in position, so it was easy to see when to stop.

Be the First to Share


    • Lighting Challenge

      Lighting Challenge
    • Metalworking Contest

      Metalworking Contest
    • Puzzles Speed Challenge

      Puzzles Speed Challenge

    4 Discussions


    5 years ago on Introduction

    I was thinking I'd use some safety cones I have to teach my girlfriend how to parallel park, but had missed this nearly-obvious solution to the height factor. Great idea - especially with lining them to reverse and hook up!

    A couple ideas:

    When the cones are stacked, what's the height between them? Get something round (plastic jug lid, hole saw cutout, galvanized washer, etc.) that's a bit larger than the hole in the top of the cone, but small enough that it won't prevent stacking. Drill a hole in it the size of your pole, then glue (or silicone caulk/adhesive) it inside the cone. Then you'd have weatherproof and stackable.

    Have a spot on the trailer that you line the poles up with. Use a couple pieces of PVC (a T connector, cap, and length of tubing) or other type of contraption you can place on the pole at a 90° angle ( horizontal, and preferably something snug so it will stay pointed the direction you want). Ideally, something that could even stay on the pole, and just collapse, but that's getting way too complicated for my three-second idea. Make it a length that you know when it touches your back window, the ball is directly under the tongue.

    Okay, I guess you could also just measure the distance of your hitch and place the flags a little farther forward and watch to hit the poles. But that would mean measuring each time you're hooking up, since even half an inch can mean you need to re-position, depending on how easy your trailer is to move and how picky the mechanism is.


    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    Hi e-foo, thanks for your thoughtful comments- I like the way you think!

    I did try various round things (different-sized lids, coffee cups etc. inside the cones, but it was too difficult to get the sticks to stay upright without adding something extra at the bottom (and the cones still wouldn't have stacked anyhow).

    I have 4 cones, but have only done the cardboard 'plug' in 2 of them - then the others can still stack properly on the plugged ones, so it's not too bad space-wise. I worry more about adding extra weight to the trailer, as space isn't a big issue but weight is.

    Reversing the vehicle to the coupling was pretty easy, with a partner to help with the last few inches - it was my 1st go at reversing the new vehicle and at coupling a trailer so if I could do it OK I figured it worked! I actually opened the tailgate and put a cone inside the back of the car with a 1ft long roll of cardboard sticking up from the cone so I could see the top of it and line up with the flag 'poles', but this would only work if you have a hatchback-type vehicle and the back was empty- so I thought the line on the window was more generally useful.

    People have told me to get a reversing camera but the cones and sticks were a lot cheaper than the camera (and easier for me to see without finding my reading glasses to peer at the little image in the mirror). I like the tennis ball idea - have heard of it for parking in a garage but then it's easy to set up as it's permanent... would be tricky with a trailer, as it would need to be pretty accurate, and it would be a challenge to set up accurately on the trailer itself unless you could attach a set-length (detachable) 'fishing rod' set-up to the A-frame.

    As far as the last half-inch is concerned, it doesn't seem to be a big deal for a 'smaller' trailer (ours is a 17-ft pop-top, around 2000kg, and my husband easily adjusted the last inch or so by hauling on the A-frame and winding the coupling down onto the ball.

    You can buy a 'hitch guide' to put on the tongue that guides the hitch onto the ball but it gets complicated- you need an extra plate on the tow bar to stop movement undoing the tow ball, then you need a tow ball with a longer shank...

    So for now I'll keep working with the cones and maybe come up with a more practicable 'plug' to hold the canes.... all ideas welcome :)

    cones stacked - 2 with plugs sd.jpg

    Reply 4 years ago

    I just came along this beautiful idea searching for something else and read the comments. Maybe you could use funnels, if you can find a size that fits your flagposts. This arrangement should still be somewhat stackable and also guide your flagposts pretty well. To fix the funnel to the cone, working with fiberglass and epoxy would do the trick (but might as well be overkill, depending on the point of view). However: Great idea, which is really only obvious once you see it done. Thanks for sharing!


    Reply 4 years ago

    Thanks for your great comments! I like the idea of adding a plastic funnel, though I suspect it would be tricky to fit as they tend to be a fair bit wider than the top of the cone.... maybe a smaller cone made from flexible plastic, around a cylinder from the same plastic... hmmm, you've got me thinking.

    Stacking them hasn't been an issue for me- I just stack the 2 plain cones on the 2 'plugged' ones, and shove them in the boot in odd corners, so they fit OK.

    I've also actually found the cardboard seems to last OK so far, even though I've left them outside ;)

    I'm now working on a solar oven made from cardboard (free or dirt cheap materials, free power - just got to get it to actually cook lol)