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Old 02-17-2010, 01:53 PM   #1
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dadof2nc
Towed new camper home/mileage shot

I just joined the group. Question for everyone. My TV is a 2006 Chevy Uplander which gets about 19mpg. I just bought a Saturn 17' with a GVWR around 2400#. My mpg went down to 9 mpg while traveling on the interstate on a non-windy day.

I have towed before, not a camper, but a uhaul about 600 miles and had perfect mileage.

Question is: could there be a problem with the bearings? or brakes hung up? I did not have the controller hooked up(i dont have one yet).

I am pulling the wheels and hub this saturday and either replacing the bearings or re-packing.

but if this gets this bad of mpg, I may have to just fix this one up (remod) and sell again....

any ideas?
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Old 02-17-2010, 02:18 PM   #2
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We tow a 15.5 foot Sunline, also 7 feet wide like your 'new' trailer. The brochure says your's weighs about 2800 pounds empty, while ours weighs about 2200 pounds full. Though not identical, they are similar.

The tow problem is not simply the weight, but rather the frontal area of the trailer.

We tow with our Honda CRV and normally get 28 mpg; when towing we get 20 mpg. I would not be surprised to see an 8 mpg drop.

Though it wasn't windy tow speed is a big factor. We tow at 55 mph. Towing at 65 requires about 1/3rd more energy; 1/3rd less mpg.

Safe travels,
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Old 02-17-2010, 03:21 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Collins
Could you please give us your model year and model number, please. It is a lot easier to reply with useful info if we're all on the same page. We really need to know the real numbers on the trailer just to get started.
I believe based on his other post that it's a 1989 T-1700.

Based on that, the brochure weights are as follows:

Axle Weight (dry): 1985
Tongue Weight (dry): 315
for a dry weight of 2300
GVWR: 4000

It's 17'10" long, 7' wide, and black & gray are both 25 gallons.

It would have tandem axles as well.

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Old 02-17-2010, 03:46 PM   #4
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dadof2nc

9mpg does not sound that unrealistic. There are so many variables that can affect mileage including weather (both wind & temps); road (hilly, flat, curvy, etc.), road conditions (dry, wet, etc.), speed, weight (TV & TT), frontal area drag of TT, just to name a few.

Speed can be a real killer of mileage as Norm indicated.

My guess is that you could expect to get anywhere between 8 – 12 mpg.

So I don’t think you have a problem.

But it’s still a good idea to pull the wheels, inspect the brakes and repack the bearings. That’s just good normal maintenance.

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Old 02-17-2010, 03:59 PM   #5
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thanks for quick replies

yeah.. I think the problem may lie more with my speeds. I guess the TT is much higher than my van and thus more drag.

I also forgot to mention that I was going about 70 or so.... I know its bad, I am not a slow driver.

So if a zone on the interstate is 70, do y'all go 55? seems too slow.. I travel I95 and would get run off the road at that speed.

Do they make deflectors? should I look at fixing this up and going with a different style camper?

I am trading up slowly, cant afford a hybrid right now..
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Old 02-17-2010, 04:22 PM   #6
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Going 70 requires 60% more energy than 55 mph, not to mention that the tires are only rated for 65.

I do understand driving on the Interstate, people are continually blasting by and usually at a lot more than 70 mph. For this reason we generally avoid the Interstates. I must admit that our retired life style allows more relaxed traveling.

We are long distance travelers, typically towing 8-10,000 miles a year but also average about 40 miles a day, driving no more than 150-200 miles in any one day.

I seriously doubt that no matter what you do to your tow vehicle will result in much more than a 10% improvement, hard to justify unless you're towing a lot of miles.

One of the benefits of the sunline 7 foot wide units is that they are not very tall though I wish I had another inch or two of head room. Consider the profile of some of the fifth wheels or even many really tall trailers.

Safe travels and much fun with your T-1700,
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Old 02-17-2010, 04:40 PM   #7
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Re: thanks for quick replies

Quote:
Originally Posted by dadof2nc
yeah.. I think the problem may lie more with my speeds. I guess the TT is much higher than my van and thus more drag.
Yeah, a U-haul probably didn't stick up at all, so you didn't see much change in the mileage. Not to mention the weight was much less.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dadof2nc
I also forgot to mention that I was going about 70 or so.... I know its bad, I am not a slow driver.

So if a zone on the interstate is 70, do y'all go 55? seems too slow.. I travel I95 and would get run off the road at that speed.
For me, it really depends on the road and traffic conditions. Some people here do choose to go 55. I think a lot of this has to do with either being retired and not having time deadlines or they are too scared to go any faster. I knew a guy who used to pull our Boy Scout troop trailer...he would never ever go above 55. We'd have to let him leave like 15 minutes early for a camp out so that he wasn't too late when we all got there...

My preferred speed is about 62-65. 65 is easier for me because with my gearing situation, I shift much less the farther I get away from about 55. If I tried to do 55 all day long, my transmission would be toast unless I locked out overdrive. 62-65 seems to be about the optimal position for my hitch too, as the sway control seems to be in the most "control" there. Over 68ish and any slight gusts can send the trailer moving around just a little bit, which is enough to make the journey a little longer for me. But then again I'm the type who is constantly analyzing anything that's happening and why it is and what I can do to fix it.

I do kick it up to about 68-70 depending on conditions. If it's an open highway with very little traffic (like in Northern MI), I may kick it up. Also, if I'm on a four lane highway (two one way, two the other) with moderate to heavy traffic, I will kick it up. My main reason is I actually experience less sway because all the vehicles passing me are doing so at a much slower rate, so they don't cause a huge air movement that pushes me around. Not to mention it creates a much easier experience for not only me, but for all the other drivers on the road.

Here in MI, we are known for having crazy weekend vacationers heading up north. I-75 North can have normal speeds of between 75 and 79, so towing a trailer at 55-60 along there is really almost dangerous, especially if people behind you can't judge how slow you are going. In fact, I remember a time this past summer I was heading north and was getting back on from a rest area. I ended up getting in a caravan of myself, another about 30' TT, and about a 30' fifth wheel and we just kept about 68 for about 70 miles or so. I actually had no intentions of going that fast when I got on, so I figured I'd just follow them to hopefully create a bit of a draft so I wouldn't shift so much. Then I got up to speed and find out they're doing 68!

I know a lot of it comes with the area too. Out east there's no way I could do 68 on a regular basis. I remember out on the NJ Garden State Parkway, the traffic around was so crazy that it would be dumb to try to go fast because they were all so unpredictable. So 55 there is really the norm, based on my experience. If there's an area where cars are really going fast, I only try to kick it up some if the area is somewhat rural, as is the case of northern MI. Exits are spread apart and there isn't much at them, so people are in for the long haul. On something like the GSP, there are so many exits, toll booths, etc., that it would be dangerous to go faster.

Another thing to keep in mind is that most trailer tires are only rated to 65 mph. Many people do go much faster with them and rarely have troubles, but that is something to keep in mind, especially if it's a hot, sunny day when heat can build up quicker with them.

I know many others will have various reasons for the speeds they do, but I suspect many of them have to do with locations.

Jon
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Old 02-17-2010, 04:45 PM   #8
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thank you for the advice

I think because of us being young (thirties) and young boys, we are in a hurry to get from point A to point B.

I am afraid to make a road trip with this to PA from NC about 550 miles. But I will definately try slowing down and see what happens.

Other than the mileage, I can't really tell the camper is there. So I will see how the bearings look, and change if necessary. Might just replace anyways. They are more than likely twenty years old.

Can't wait to get this thing all fixed up and on the road to try it out again.
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Old 02-17-2010, 04:55 PM   #9
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Re: thanks for quick replies

Quote:
Originally Posted by dadof2nc
So if a zone on the interstate is 70, do y'all go 55? seems too slow.. I travel I95 and would get run off the road at that speed.
I typically drive between 60 - 65 mph, mostly try to stay closer to 60 than 65 when driving interstates. Primarily because that speed feels a lot safer to me then 65 – 70. Though I do get A LOT better mileage at 55.

It was real interesting when driving out west and the speed limit was 75, with most people driving 80+ and me scooting along at 60-65. So I can relate to what you said about I-95.

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Old 02-17-2010, 06:07 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sunline Fan
Axle Weight (dry): 1985
Tongue Weight (dry): 315
for a dry weight of 2300
GVWR: 4000
The '06 Uplander is rated to tow 3,500# max.
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Old 02-17-2010, 06:57 PM   #11
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GVWR

I just got home and looked at the tag on the camper. It is a model T1661 and the only info is the GVWR is 3,000. what is strange the title says 2,000, but not worried about that.. Going by the tag on the camper itself.
The TV towed like wasnt there, just couldnt get going fast or get good gas mileage, pulled out of mud like nothing, and down the side roads fine. just not good on the highway.

anyone have any suggestions on the repair side.

I think I can get around the mileage if I slow down. After I get the repairs done and the new fabric etc I will go to the weigh station and get the facts for myself.
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Old 02-17-2010, 07:17 PM   #12
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When you pull the wheels check for the tires' date code. It is usually only on one side and so may be hidden. Five or six years is really pushing it for trailer tires, regardless of how much tread they have, as they sit in the sun so much and dry out. I've even heard of car companies recommending no more than 6-8 years between tire replacement.

I know Norm gets amazing mileage, but I venture to say that his numbers are the exception. In my personal experience, and also in reading various sources, trailer weight has the biggest impact on mileage in stop and go driving while air resistance has the biggest impact at steady speeds. Many of us are old enough to remember the 55 mph national speed limit. That number was not chosen arbitrarily--that's where mileage really does start to drop off significantly. See especially the section under Physics and also the whole article for an interesting read.

What's interesting about your experience, and I've seen that with others over the years too; a smaller V6 powered vehicle does not necessarily get a worthwhile improvement in mileage when it's towing a brick. I towed the same pop up with a 3.0L Ranger and later with a 4.8L Chevy. I got almost exactly the same mileage towing and had way more power and room in the 1500 extended cab. My 1500HD with 6.0L V8 towing a 6000 lb. brick is averaging 10.5 mpg (and that's US gal.) over 30,000 mi. of mostly long distance towing. On individual tanks, my absolute best mileage solo is 17.7, and the absolute worst towing into a head wind is 7.7. With a tail wind I can get 13-14 towing.

Another way of looking at it: In a 3000 mi. trip I'll buy 300 gal. of gas. That's not a whole lot of money for a 4 week trip for two people. I'll spend more on 4 week's worth of camping fees.

My point here is, the only way you'll get better mileage is by towing one of the new bullet shaped trailers or a pop up.

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Old 02-17-2010, 07:51 PM   #13
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Henry has a great point about the size of the tow vehicle in relation to the trailer and mileage.

When I towed the 2453 with a '98 5.2 L V8 Dodge with 3.53 gears, I got 10-12 mpg and the thing really struggled in the hills and mountains. When we swapped the '98 for an '02 diesel dually with 4.10 gears, the mileage actually went up when towing. We now average around 13+ mpg, even in the Adirondacks. Keeping up with traffic on the interstate nibbles into the average mileage more than the hills of the Adirondacks. If I stay off the interstates and keep the speeds around 55, the drop in mileage while towing is less than 1 mpg.

The cab of the '02 Ram is identical in size and seating to the '98, but it has an 8 foot bed and can carry 4,700# in that bed, in addition to a huge increase in towing capacity.

With a GVWR of 3,000# on the trailer, your Uplander seems a decent match to the 1661.
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Old 02-17-2010, 09:01 PM   #14
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Re: GVWR

Quote:
Originally Posted by dadof2nc
I just got home and looked at the tag on the camper. It is a model T1661 and the only info is the GVWR is 3,000. what is strange the title says 2,000, but not worried about that.. Going by the tag on the camper itself.
The TV towed like wasnt there, just couldnt get going fast or get good gas mileage, pulled out of mud like nothing, and down the side roads fine. just not good on the highway.

anyone have any suggestions on the repair side.

I think I can get around the mileage if I slow down. After I get the repairs done and the new fabric etc I will go to the weigh station and get the facts for myself.
Welcome to the club.
I think with your TV (V6 app.200hp) 9mpg doing app. 70mph is about what you can expect, unless you lower your speed like you said.
Pulling app. 3,000 lbs w/ a 200hp V6 pulls your milage down more than if you had a 320 hp V8

Not towing I get app. 18mpg.@ 62-65mph
I pull a 7'wide 17'7" QUE..... I tow @ 62-65mph and got 11.4mpg avg. (12,000+ mis.)
Worst was 9.8mpg & best was 13.2mpg

I find it very relaxing going 62-65mph (on 65 or 70mph speed limit roads)
I stay in right lane almost everone passes going app.70-80+mph. I have very few vehicles to pass that are going under 60mph.
But, I do not have to worry about time, I am retired.
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Old 02-17-2010, 09:02 PM   #15
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I frequently read a European tow vehicle site and find the mileage discussion interesting. European rigs are typically lighter than ours - 2500 to 4000 pounds, yet their tow vehicles get very good mileage. A portion is due to the larger gallon, another portion to transmissions with more gears, and certainly the small 4 cylinder diesels. Hopefully some of the cars reserved for Europe will get here.

Part of Eurpoean RVing may be their history of smaller cars and few trucks leading to trailers with lighter designs, though I'm not sure because I've never been an a European trailer.

As to fuel costs we have kept track of all our costs over the last 9 years of RVing. A trip around the US in our Bounder covering some 8,000 miles over 7 months costs us about $3000 for fuel at $3 per gallon, or about $400 a month. A similar trip towing our Sunline the fuel cost is about $1,000.

The extra $2000 is not insignificant but it amounts to an extra $300 a month or about $10 a day more when we take the Bounder. This compares to about $100 a day we spend while traveling. These cost include everything,,, food, cell phone, insurance, ....

For those who are interested, we have a manual transmission and mostly tow in 5th gear, having to drop to 4th on some hills and rarely to third. In some of the more rugged terrain like Larador we spent more of the time in third, primarily because we were driving slower on the gravel roads.

I admit to feeling safer at lower speeds. As we meet more RVers I'm surprised by how many people have had significant accidents towing or driving their motorhomes, mostly finding it difficult to handle surprises in front of them, generally not being able to respond to a changing situation. As I age I also find that even when I'm not towing I drive slower than I used to drive. I think that in retirement that their is no reason for me to rush, saving 10 minutes an hour n longer matters.

Safe travels
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Old 02-18-2010, 10:05 AM   #16
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these are great tips

I love all these tips and how everyone drives. I will be analyzing all the details on the mileage once I finish tearing apart the bathroom. It is horrible and the previous owner could have saved so much heartache if they had only sealed the roof and taken care of anything that looked bad.

But anyways, I will be doing the bearings saturday and replacing the tires maybe the next weekend.

So much to do on the inside. Wait till I post some pics. not only for the mechanical and structure. but the cosmetics for before and after...

so much to do and so little time... hope to set out camping end of march or easter break.
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Old 02-19-2010, 06:03 PM   #17
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Just one more note on milage. I had a 6 cyl Nissan at 23mpg. Towed 3800# and 9mpg was the best I could get. It stayed in a lower gear most of the time. The TV was rated for 5500#.
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Old 02-20-2010, 01:39 PM   #18
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You are now officially in the towing/MPG loop.

-Buy a better tow vehicle, getter better mileage......only when towing.
-Worse mileage around town (not to mention payments/interest etc.)
-Downsize to pop-up, can almost guarantee better mileage, as it not a giant square box behind your TV
-Move to something like a Hi-lo, probably increase mileage, but your TV will still be working hard.
-Slow down, increase MPG with no $. Probably safer, I think people exaggerate the "danger" of slow driving with the lunatic fringe.
-Get a tent and a motorcycle save big $$ [/list]
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Old 02-20-2010, 02:13 PM   #19
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Getting soft

We are getting soft, not that we are going back to a tent, but!
Went with my parents and a cousin through Northern Europe in a VW Beetle.
Yes, the stuff on the roof rack did affect gas mileage.
Took a trip with tent and sleeping bags in a Ford "T". No effect on mileage!
Went to Acadia NP with tent in a Neon. No effect on gas mileage. Got lucky, - no rain.
Bought an old 18ft. trailer off DW's parents.
Like I said, - we are not going back!
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Old 02-21-2010, 09:28 PM   #20
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Tow world/vs MPG

yeah.. the pop up was barely noticeable. But with 2 boys and a dog and the boys wanna bring friends, a pop up is just not gonna do it. Plus wife hates campground showers and toilets. So we will give this a shot.

How is the burg? We live there for 7 years. Still own a house there. Its much warmer down here.. Love it.
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