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Old 02-22-2014, 09:08 PM   #1 (permalink)
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hello! interested in homebuilt travel trailer for high MPG.

So I have been searching around the web on areomods and this site keeps coming up and it looks like a cool communy. I'm a happy mailman now and longtime mechanic and spent 10+ years as a nuclear power plant operator. I don't know jack about aerodynamics. I have long wanted to build a high MPG car out of simple, inexpensive, peices, but I really don't drive more then 5000 miles a year so it has never been a "need". My family an I do like to camp but not so much in a tent on the ground anymore. We have had all sorts of campers and tow rigs through the years with mixed results. They get so expensive to buy, then use so much gas, we can't afford to enjoy them as often as we would like.
So lately I've been obsessed with building my own travel trailer. We have a 2007 KIA Sedona, the main family car, which isn't terrible mileage wise and has good power, and a 2002 Subaru Forester, my commuter, manual which does even better and has AWD but less power and room. The camper needs to sleep 3+dog, have standup room, a bathroom, and be all weather. We have had popup campers but they are a pain. We almost pulled the trigger on a light but completely boxed new Jayco for $10,000. It was 2300# dry but I know it would stink for towing. Although their smallest it seemed larger then necessary. Then I started looking at the homebuilt teardrops and converted v-nose cargo trailers started getting ideas. I believe I can make something personalized for less then $5000, be under 2000#, but actually work with the KIA van's aerodynamics.
I'll try to get some sketches of what I'm thinking and take them to the areo section so I guess this is just a long winded hello!

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Old 02-22-2014, 09:16 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Thats asking a lot. I know some geo metro owners love their tear drop trailer, but it isnt big enough for what you mention. Ive been interested in the solar homes that are like 200 sqft and under, but they are rather square.

I guess the old aluminum streamliner is an alternative?
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Old 02-22-2014, 09:29 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Airstreams are great but very expensive.
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Old 02-23-2014, 04:35 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Shouldn't be all that difficult. Start with a good chassis from a two axle trailer, and just go from there:
How To Build A Teardrop Trailer For Two

Or just google "teardrop trailer"....

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-1UskXSVKo0...0/DSC02979.JPG

http://www.pinterest.com/atmattson/tear-drop-campers/
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Old 02-23-2014, 11:27 AM   #5 (permalink)
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The thing is, I'm not convinced the popular teardrop builds & plans you see all over the web are all that aerodynamic. They only fit the popular stereotype of what "should be" aerodynamic based on their appearance to the uninformed. At the rear of the ones I've seen, there's far too much curvature -- like a VW Bug, excessive curvature at the rear = terrible drag.

They may not be any better than pulling a box of similar height. Even if they're marginally better, they're faaaaaar from optimal. They sure are cute, though.

If you're going to do it from scratch, I would design something that is perhaps a "semi-pop top", so that the height is close to (no more than) the height of the van at the front, tapering down toward the rear respecting maximum taper/curvature to preserve attached flow.

You could have a roof/upper section which is hinged at the front end and opens to give you standing headroom through the middle/back: think "clam shell" rather than
"pop-up".
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Old 02-23-2014, 11:58 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Old 02-23-2014, 12:06 PM   #7 (permalink)
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You may consider building the trailer frame out of aluminum and also the panels with Inrekor . You can assemble your own Inrekor panels yourself by using polyethylene foam boards.
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Old 02-23-2014, 12:48 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Metrompg,

I thought I wanted no popups but that is so incredibly simple it begs consideration. I don't like weird folding doors or the inability to access the camper while folded but the door and kitchen area could be in the front, bath middle, dinette/bed at the back. Thanks for the great visual!
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Old 02-23-2014, 12:56 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Giovanni LiCalsi View Post
You may consider building the trailer frame out of aluminum and also the panels with Inrekor . You can assemble your own Inrekor panels yourself by using polyethylene foam boards.
Ideally I would like an aluminum frame trailer but think that might push costs up a bunch. The composite panels were already the plan but I would like to use prebuilt ones meaning they would be flat. There is a supplier out side of Olympia, WA that does aluminum clad 4'x8'x2" for under $200 each. If I homebuild the panels in place I could do gradual curves but I have not actually tried to build my own. I want to keep the weight under 2500# loaded, preferably under 2000#.

Shouldn't a single axle be better in this application?
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Old 02-23-2014, 12:57 PM   #10 (permalink)
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You'll note I also deleted the van's roof racks

When designing your trailer, remember, put a generous radius on all thoses edges too.

Oh, and fair in the wheels. Have fun!

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