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Old 02-15-2017, 08:48 PM   #1
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Mini Lite Aerodynamic Concerns

First post here so hopefully I'm keeping things between the lines. I looked around for answers to this question but couldn't quite find what I was looking for. If it's been addressed before, my apologies. I'm somewhat new to the travel trailer game. I've been shopping quite a bit and I keep coming back to the Mini Lite 2104s and 2109s. I'll be towing with a '13 F150 SCrew 3.5 EB, so I'm not too concerned with TV limitations. What does concern me is the loaf of bread shaped front end of these trailers. I know that poor fuel economy is just "the cost of doing business" when enjoying the RV lifestyle, but just how bad will it get with these trailers? Or is the difference compared to more rounded trailers minimal? Does anyone have first hand experience they can share? Thanks in advance.
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Old 02-15-2017, 08:54 PM   #2
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Unless you have the money for an Airstream, more rounded trailers give very little increase in fuel mileage.

Outside of Airstreams, a gasser towing will get a mpg range of 8-11mpg, no matter rounded or not.
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Old 02-15-2017, 09:44 PM   #3
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You pose an interesting question-which I have never seen proven. Will a more aerodynamic trailer yield better fuel economy, and how much?
At highway speeds the overall flat plate area probably factors in more than aerodynamic efficiency. We have a pointy V-nosed Vibe 6501 (out of production and similar in weight to the MiniLite 1900 series) and I would love to see a test of mileage for a V-nose vs a flat face vs a sloped front trailer. According to FR, improved mileage was a selling point for the Vibe series, but they never gave specific figures. Manufacturing considerations probably dictate shape more than efficiency. Second priority probably goes to esthetics-people think our Vibe is a renovated horse trailer and I think led, in part, to the series being disontinued. Sloped noses cut down on headroom and dictate a front bedroom layout. I feel form best follows function, but no one is asking me.
If it is useful, we towed our Vibe with a Toyota FJ Cruiser V6 and over last years 4400 mile trip (FL to the Rockies and back) we averaged 14 mpg. Never towed anything else other than a 1500lb popup for comparison. We averaged 17mpg over a similar trip. The FJ w/o trailer in mixed driving gets 20mpg.
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Old 02-15-2017, 09:49 PM   #4
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While the shape of the front of any trailer makes some difference in mileage it is quickly diminished by the drag of air over the 4 sides of the trailer and around the back of the trailer. That drag on the sides is more than your instincts tell you.
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Old 02-15-2017, 10:06 PM   #5
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While the shape of the front of any trailer makes some difference in mileage it is quickly diminished by the drag of air over the 4 sides of the trailer and around the back of the trailer. That drag on the sides is more than your instincts tell you.
As is the rate drag increases with speed.
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Old 02-16-2017, 01:47 PM   #6
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Mini lite mileage

I have a similar rig but have the smaller EB engine in a 2015 F-150 pulling a Roo17. My day to day mileage is 18 and change. When pulling the Roo I'm down to 10 and change at 65 of so and slightly over 11 at 60. The slower I go the better the numbers get. At about 40 its nearly 14 but can't imagine driving that slow. We are pulling an 8 x 8 nearly flat sail and it takes a lot to pull it along at speed. Hope this helps.
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Old 02-16-2017, 01:52 PM   #7
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I've owned a 2104S for 2 years. Made two long road trips so far and mileage is somewhere between 9 & 10 MGH. It's just the cost of rving. Enjoy the experience and don't worry too much about gas mileage.
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Old 02-16-2017, 02:18 PM   #8
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hidee ho

Well, you're towing a brick no matter how you slice it. Another idea is a topper for your truck which I did and after having towed several times with it on the truck our trailer, a 25' Forest River Surveyor, had noticeably less sway from passing semi's and seems to track better. Gas mileage probably didn't change much but it sure tows better and I can hide all my stuff in the truck now. It is a pricey alternative, mine was $2K, but for me it worked out just fine. The only thing that really works for better mpg is slow down. I tow at 60mph most of the time and it's easier on the equipment and me. Good luck!
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Old 02-16-2017, 02:23 PM   #9
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Hi All, I'm not an aerodynamics expert by any means (but I am an avid motorcyclist and B757 pilot), any conversation about drag has my attention. Does anyone remember Gordon Jennnings? He was an automotive journalist back in the day; truly brilliant. He once related a wind tunnel experiment where a basic brick was modified on one of the short ends by rounding off the corners to yield a hemisphere (I imagined a tennis ball cut in half and attached to one end of the brick). The brick was placed into the airstream with the rounded end facing forward; this resulted drag reduction of roughly 8 percent (iirc). Next, they turned the brick so that the rounded end faced away from the oncoming air... roughly 30 percent drag reduction. All that said, I wouldn't worry about the front of your trailer being rounded or not. Cheers!
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Old 02-16-2017, 03:14 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by R.LeVatte View Post
Hi All, I'm not an aerodynamics expert by any means (but I am an avid motorcyclist and B757 pilot), any conversation about drag has my attention. Does anyone remember Gordon Jennnings? He was an automotive journalist back in the day; truly brilliant. He once related a wind tunnel experiment where a basic brick was modified on one of the short ends by rounding off the corners to yield a hemisphere (I imagined a tennis ball cut in half and attached to one end of the brick). The brick was placed into the airstream with the rounded end facing forward; this resulted drag reduction of roughly 8 percent (iirc). Next, they turned the brick so that the rounded end faced away from the oncoming air... roughly 30 percent drag reduction. All that said, I wouldn't worry about the front of your trailer being rounded or not. Cheers!
As well as the obvious Airstream RV effect, the product "Air Tabs" comes to mind. Look it up on this forum or Google it.
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Old 02-16-2017, 03:37 PM   #11
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I sold a 30 foot Award TT that was more than 1,000 pounds heavier. MPG with the Award was about 1-2 better per gallon. Please note that this is not my old TT.
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Old 02-16-2017, 04:09 PM   #12
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Something about Ford trucks, at least F150s, no matter what your towing 9-12 miles per gallon. Have a 2011 F150 EB heavy duty tow 11,200/payload 2,393 XLT 4X4 towing 9,850 5r, gets 9.5-10 average (no constant hill climbs), great truck.
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Old 02-16-2017, 07:43 PM   #13
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Thank you all for your time and insight. Some very good information being shared. As I narrow down my choices I've been very mpg conscious as I never want to have to limit my travel because I don't want to spend the money on fuel. Initially I was convinced I wanted an r-pod for ease of towing and economy, but after research realized that might only translate to 13 mpg. Maybe a little more but who really knows. And if I make too many sacrifices to achieve only perhaps a 3 mpg gain I wonder if I'd really be satisfied. I'm probably better off letting go of any expectations along those lines but still want to make the best choice for me. If the difference isn't that great I may pull the trigger on the Mini Lite. Again thanks to all for the info.
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Old 02-16-2017, 07:54 PM   #14
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yea; I finally get to say it
.... a v-nose is more aero turned backwards. With square sides and square back end, what you do to the front matters very little. Frontal area is worth 25% ... space between TV and trailer, another 25% with the rear worth 50%.

If i get 10mph pulling my 29HFS, pulling the same length in an Airstream could easily be 12 to 13... possibly more.

If you pulled 100K miles a year that is a factor... the distance most of us tow its a non issue. To make your trailer 20% to 40% more fuel efficient would simply not be economically feasible; and it isnt practical... the ROI isn't there. Now if you are really concerned a Trailmanor (i.e.: 2619) adds 1 gallon for every 100 miles traveled. or, so their brochure says.
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Old 02-16-2017, 08:30 PM   #15
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Interesting. I'll admit I've never sat down and put pen to paper and calculated the difference in potential fuel economy based on various efficiency scenarios vs expected miles driven per year. 3k-4k miles per year at most might not be as dramatic as I'd imagined. That's my next step. Good stuff. Thanks.
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Old 02-16-2017, 08:49 PM   #16
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I bought the Mini Lite 2109S Oct last year. We took a long trip to Carlsbad NM and I noticed that we got about 10-11 mpg on the truck. When not towing, I only get about 13 mpg anyway. I have a 2012 Titan V8 Pro4X. That truck doesn't even know the camper is behind me really. Unbelievable.
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Old 02-16-2017, 09:05 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AFGunner View Post
Thank you all for your time and insight. Some very good information being shared. As I narrow down my choices I've been very mpg conscious as I never want to have to limit my travel because I don't want to spend the money on fuel. Initially I was convinced I wanted an r-pod for ease of towing and economy, but after research realized that might only translate to 13 mpg. Maybe a little more but who really knows. And if I make too many sacrifices to achieve only perhaps a 3 mpg gain I wonder if I'd really be satisfied. I'm probably better off letting go of any expectations along those lines but still want to make the best choice for me. If the difference isn't that great I may pull the trigger on the Mini Lite. Again thanks to all for the info.
If you truly are worried about fuel mileage, get something low profile.
A high wall foldable trailer or a Trail Manor folding TT.

Otherwise, if you really want something like the Mini Lite, you need to forget about gas mileage or get a diesel tow vehicle, which will get better mileage.
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Old 02-16-2017, 09:15 PM   #18
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All of the resident mathematicians pretty much nailed it-for the miles most of us pull our campers the increased fuel cost is not a deal breaker.
The same can be said for your daily driver. Unless you drive a tiny (or super efficient diesel) vehicle, most cars and trucks deliver mileage figures that only vary your annual fuel costs by a few hundred dollars. IMHO, drive what you like.
Also, a very astute observation was made regarding the interface between the tow vehicle and the camper and how big a difference that can make.
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Old 02-17-2017, 10:45 AM   #19
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A Trailmanor being pulled by a Chrysler Town and Country that gets 18MPG by itself (flat land) will, in theory, get approximately 15MPG. But, I failed to add I have owned a 2619. My Silverado 1500 never got better than 17 by itself and actually averaged 13 for the entire 8K mile trip out West in 2011. There would have been a low percentage of solo miles, but included pulls up grades that held the MPH to under 25, on the wood in second gear (6spd auto). The highest individual tank average pulling was 15... which was on staight gas without ethanol.
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Old 02-17-2017, 11:11 AM   #20
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My view is similar to the classic response to the guy looking to buy a Ferrari and asking how much it costs:

"If you have to ask, you can't afford it."

If the mpg is really an issue, you need a pop-up, not a TT.
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