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Old 03-27-2010, 09:56 PM   #19 (permalink)
slowmover
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Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Fort Worth, Texas
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2004 CTD - '04 DODGE RAM 2500 SLT
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Most travel trailers only travel about 500 miles a year. Unless you are one of those exceptions that travels more. The aero advantage is not worth the sacrifice of cost and interior space.

Travel trailers vary greatly in design and application. Most are sold, these days, to those with time (older, no children at home). Since the de-regulation of airlines in 1978, the tremendous increase in commercial truck traffic at the same time, and the decline in the average Americans income (since 1972; against increased fixed costs), the day of all-aluminum, aerodynamic trailers has pretty well passed. Cheaper, easier to fly & rent for many. But such was once not the case, as the better trailers were bought by families for extensive travel. This is to say that the high end travel trailers were meant to be used for decades, with excellent road manners, and low overall cost of ownership.

I'm third generation, looking for yet another. My folks kept theirs for 27-years. As to the "practicality" of the right travel trailer (TT), aero has significant advantages not only in fuel economy. Rounded edges/corners/fully enclosed undersides means winds just roll off of them. I have seen ordinary "boxes" heeling over like sailboats, and accidents from strong winds are not rare. Same for being parked. More than once I have seen an aero trailer advertised as being a survivor of multiple hurricanes (FL) where others blew away or blew apart.

Most important is in handling the headwinds of tractor-trailers, especially when on a two-lane and several trucks coming the other way are traveling close together . . the effect of multiple bow waves is an accident coming at you (if the trailer is a box). A "sway-eliminating" hitch is only just good enough (such as Pro Pride).

Aero-formed with light, strong construction has no equal. When the trailer also has independent suspension, the combination cannot be beat (assuming also disc brakes) for roadworthiness.

I am aware of no space reduction on trailers from, say, 1960 to 1990 (the ones from the 1930's to the early 50's were towed behind seriously underpowered cars).

A fuel economy gain of 20% is ordinary. When the TV (tow vehicle) is intelligently matched, the gains can be better if one is perfectionistic about all details related to "steady state" highway operation (my term). A turbodiesel is the best in that case. (The Europeans received the Chrysler 300 in wagon form with a near-perfect TD engine that could have been a heckuva TV for North America, at a reasonable price).

The gains are in fuel economy, unit life, and on-road performance. They must be balanced. (And you would never see me buy a square white box as they fall apart after a half-dozen years, have terrible road manners, poor insulation, etc).

The better ones (Arctic Fox) may last a bit longer, but suffer from the shoebox design that never allows one to feel as if he were sitting outside once parked. Unfortunately the AWARD trailers had serious deficiencies. CASITA is one brand of tiny trailers that is well received.

If someone were so inclined, a good project helpful to all would be to design an alternative air-conditioner shroud, as those roof units are used on all types. That the manufacturers have low-profile units now only illustrates the problem.

There are plenty of us (a small subset, granted) who have, or will, travel full time with extended parking contemplated for living. Also, being on the Gulf Coast I see a good trailer as being nothing more than prudent. The number of people in the future needing affordable portable housing will only increase, IMO. Aero is part of that. One should not need a pickup to tow a 7,000-lb trailer.
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