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Old 01-28-2013, 11:41 AM   #29
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Originally Posted by blmitch5 View Post
I think there is some confusion here. They are towing a 23' CCD not a 28'. Unless its a V6 they should be in the safe zone for towing. I agree a diesel would greatly improve their up hill towing.
There also seems to be another confusion. As best as I can tell, the post has nothing to do with the OP's original question/concerns. Perhap it is just a trolling post.

If so,he has caught two of us so far.


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Old 01-28-2013, 11:51 AM   #30
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To answer another aspect of the OP's query: No, changing trailer payload won't make that much difference to highway mpg. And it would only be incremental to stop'n'go or mountains. A lighter TT might be a bit better, but highway mpg is nearly all about aerodynamic resistance.

For any combination there are concerns:

The weight-distribution hitch needs to be set up properly; both vehicles need axle alignment and proper tire pressure. Brakes should be adjusted on either so that there is no drag.

All of these are details which need investigating in themselves. Take nothing for granted. Too many steering corrections, for example, versus an optimal minimum over 100-miles is a significant contributor to reduced fuel mileage.

MPG is kind of a game in knowing how well the vehicles are performing . . . but the gains have to do with the driver.

One does not drive to "keep up with the flow" of traffic, per se, but is respectful of distances needed for acceleration, turns, and braking. It's primarily a safety concern, but mpg also benefits from smooth application of vehicle controls.

Absolute numbers don't mean much . . it's the percentage gain from the baseline mpg that counts.

Start with records.


1990 35' Silver Streak Sterling; 9k GVWR.
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Old 01-28-2013, 12:05 PM   #31
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Towing over mountains will kill gas mileage of any vehicle. You make up some going downhill, but not enough. Since fuel mileage standards are going up, things will get better in several years, but buying new to save a few mpg is usually not economical. Diesel trucks cost a lot more than a gas truck and a decent modern gas engine should be plenty powerful to drive over mountains; any truck can and should be geared down to go downhill and save brakes.

For some assignments, your wife could take a tent and save a lot.

The bigger problem is that you may not be able to afford either the trailer or motels and eating out—either option is expensive. And, if you sell a 2009 trailer that you bought new, you will take a big hit on depreciation; after 4 years, it should depreciate much less and your investment profile improves over the years. And maybe you can move to Longmont and live in Ken's backyard.

It looks like you are boxed into a situation which is hard to improve. Cutting expenses in little ways that add up plus finding a way to get more income may be your best answer.


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Old 01-28-2013, 12:40 PM   #32
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Originally Posted by tmarquis View Post
My wife and I bought a 23' 2009 Airstream International. My wife a writer/film maker spends a good amount of of time on assignment in the National Parks and the Airsteam has been a great mobile office. We have had MANY fun adventures with it. But we find it more and more difficult to afford to take it anywhere much farther than an hour or so outside of our home town (Boulder,CO). The price of gas and the measly 12 or so mpg my 2006 F150 gets is seriously holding us back. It may be cheaper to drive a car and get a hotel room. (I know not the same experience) So some questions for everyone:

Am I alone?
No. For longer distances and fewer nights away from home, there comes a point where gas costs predominate.

Would a new F150 ecoboost get me any farther (new car payment aside)
Maybe, but not enough to make a big difference.

Does anyone have any insight for tow vehicles in the future that might be more efficient.
No. The biggest thing you can do, if gasoline prices are a big deal to you, is slow down.

I hear the vintage Airsteams were a lot lighter. What is it about the new ones that make them so damn heavy?
1. Vintage Airstreams were not as light when new as is typically believed. The published weights you're no doubt using as a point of comparison do not include any optional equipment, and on vintage Airstreams, everything was optional: fridge, propane tanks, water heater, spare tire, battery, TV antenna, etc.

2. New Airstreams have a good deal of standard equipment that was hardly ever ordered, or in some cases, simply not available, in 1960. Among these: Dual batteries, electric tongue jack, zip-dee awning, air conditioner, television, microwave, greywater tank, fantastic fan, shower door.

3. Many newer Airstreams are wide bodies (though yours is not) which adds weight.

4. The structural changes to address the rear end separation in early years, and to allow for the addition of items listed above in point #2, has added weight.

5. On some models the interior buildout is heavier, adding weight.

Do you think airstream has considered making lighter trailers? (I believe the sport model maybe the lightest?)

If I removed everything from the trailer that I don't need to save weight would it make much of a difference?
Most of the MPG hit is from wind resistance. In practice a moderate change in weight (a few hundred pounds) will result in a modest change in MPG (1 mpg or less). Is it worth it?

Driving over the Colorado mountain passes is killing my mpg. Maybe I should have gotten a diesel?
I did the math and concluded that the additional depreciation and maintenance costs exceeded the fuel savings. Maybe your situation is different.

I've been thinking of selling the airstream and getting something more practical like So-Cal Teardrops - Home or a light weight egg shell trailer.
It depends how you want to travel and how far you go. You could also consider pop-up pickup campers or a B van if MPG is really your thing.
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Old 01-28-2013, 12:48 PM   #33
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Originally Posted by tmarquis View Post
Would a new F150 ecoboost get me any farther (new car payment aside)
I think the only reason for getting a Ford EcoBoost engine (aside from paying out a lot of money for a new truck) is that, in the mountains, it will not be affected by the altitude, since it has a turbocharged engine.

In other words, you will still only get something like ~12MPG towing, but it will be more satisfying going up, while no different going down, the mountains.

One could raise a good argument for only towing in mountains, if you had one of those!

Say, this thread could be a good information source for writing a magazine article. Oops, did I say that out loud?
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Old 01-28-2013, 01:57 PM   #34
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On the topic of mileage, I get the sense that the advent of clean diesels in large size SUVs is going to be a towing game changer. I love my 2011 Dodge Durango V8 (seven seater family SUV that's an awesome tower), but when I saw the specs on this beauty, the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Diesel:

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee: New Diesel Delivers 420 Lb-Ft, 30 MPG | News

I started planning for my next TV. The Grand Cherokee V6 Diesel matches my Durango V8 gasoline tow capacity at 7,400 lbs, at more that DOUBLE the gas mileage of a whopping 30mpg on the highway (currently I get maybe 11-12mpg towing, I'm sure the Jeep will do better than 24 mpg). That plus the sweet eight speed transmission likely makes this my next car. I'll look for one used after 2016.


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Old 01-28-2013, 03:10 PM   #35
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That new Jeep V6 diesel sounds real good. Hopefully it won't be priced out of the hemisphere.
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Old 01-28-2013, 03:34 PM   #36
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Originally Posted by Airstream Dad View Post
The Grand Cherokee V6 Diesel matches my Durango V8 gasoline tow capacity at 7,400 lbs, at more that DOUBLE the gas mileage of a whopping 30mpg on the highway (currently I get maybe 11-12mpg towing, I'm sure the Jeep will do better than 24 mpg).
I love my Durango as well, and am greatly looking forwards to trying a GC diesel. While I wish the diesel would get 24 mpg towing, it won't. (Most folks with Mercedes or VW diesels seem lucky to hit 16 mpg towing.)

That 30 mpg highway compares to the 22 or so I can eke out of the Durango Hemi when cruising without the trailer.

Now: 2007 Safari SE 23' "Anne" towed by 2011 Dodge Durango "Herman"
Before: Argosy Minuet and T@B, towed by various Honda Odysseys
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Old 01-28-2013, 04:40 PM   #37
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If you want to maximize fuel economy towing an Airstream then the best tow vehicle is a Sedan. Blocking more air for the Airstream with a truck does not help like it does with a box trailer.

We have about 150,000 miles of towing experience with Jetta TDI's now and have delivered a couple of 23' Airstreams out west with them. You do down shift on hills but the performance is more than respectable and you can quite easily exceed 20 miles per US gallon towing and 50 solo. What ever time you loose on hills will be easily saved in gas stations.

The new Jetta is not as good a towvehicle as our 2010 model but the new Passat has the same drivetrain with a longer wheelbase and wider stance. Its an option if you don't need the pickup's storage space.

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Old 01-28-2013, 05:29 PM   #38
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You stated that you are using it for your business. Consider the tax deduction, the convenience of being on site, time driving to a motel plus the associated costs. Another idea would be a small motor home, class D???
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Old 01-28-2013, 05:40 PM   #39
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When I read this title I think of how expensive new A/S trailers are and I was going to respond. "Me Either". I can not afford a new one either.

When you wife is 'on assignment' does she get reimbursted for expenses? Or is she a freelancer?

Usually when you trade a truck or a trailer you lose big $$$ The most economical action is to keep what you have.

Maybe trade for an A/S Sport and tow with a mid-size truck. Tow a Sport with a VW diesel car like what was mentioned before. If that would work great!!
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Old 01-28-2013, 05:55 PM   #40
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Originally Posted by Foiled Again View Post
Have you checked into a hotel lately? The $30 per night room rate usually includes all the cockroaches and bedbugs you can eat. Local taxes often add 10% or more to the motel's posted rate. Decent rooms start at $50 or $60 especially in tourist season.

I'd worry a bit about a F-150 and a 28 footer in the mountains of Colorado - easily doable on the flatlands of Eastern US, but in the west... ?

There is ONE big factor you apparently aren't considering or aren't taking advantage of - COST OF PREPARED FOOD. If you have to eat out because you're staying in a hotel... there's your gas money. I enjoy eating out, but let's face it you can have a better balanced diet with less salt and fat and controlled portion size if you do it at home. At the average restaurant, the cost of FOOD is 20-28% of the bill you receive. Really simple things can save a bunch of money, but planning really helps too.

I'm solo and full time, but I still make spaghetti sauce to feed 10 people - then Freeze a bunch in sealed boiling bags. With limited storage in the freezer I DO eat the same dinner two or three times a week, but just change up the pasta, cheese and sides for variety.

A diesel won't save you that much - because for no logical reason - diesel fuel (a less refined product) is higher priced than gasoline. AND mine needs synthetic oil - 9 quarts at every tune up.

Reducing weight - certainly won't hurt, but don't kill yourself over a .5 mpg improvement. Putt along at 55 miles per hour, and you'll save a lot more. Of course planning your travel times to avoid heavy traffic with it's stops and starts is key too. SOB's with their poor aerodynamics usually screw your gas mileage worse than the bigger Airstreams, so just be smart, plan ahead, search the internet for campground bargains, and food bargains to offset the cost of the Airstream.

Ho! Yes the beauty of good food...I am Canadian and i don't want to be rude but it is hard to eat well and healty in lost of place in USA and Canada. So for us it is a great think to prepared our food.... Whit a Airstream, you have your little house and do what you want. It is priceless...
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Old 01-28-2013, 06:22 PM   #41
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3.55 equals lower RPM equals "lugging along"
4.10 equals higher RPM equals "revving along"
They were recommending the lower ratio over the traditional one. The way it was described is that the engine has great torque already but that the higher gear ratio (traditionally chosen to increase torque for towing) was unnecessary. I must have flipped the lug and rev! Just revisited the thread and their point is to keep the turbos from spinning. There is mention of a gauge. Uh, also found another thread on selecting the 3.73 over the 3:55 with mixed results. No misinfo intended. On topic, I agree with mojo, just slow down to save if possible.
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Old 01-28-2013, 06:46 PM   #42
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TT Aerodynamics

" . . If you want to maximize fuel economy towing an Airstream then the best tow vehicle is a Sedan. Blocking more air for the Airstream with a truck does not help like it does with a box trailer."

There are two schools about economy with combination RV's (towed trailers) and the first is that one treats both vehicles individually, that they perform as well as possible from the standpoint of design, without reference to the other.

The second is to "close the gap" (as with tractor trailers, where anything above 24" starts to become a problem). As the boxy SOB's have no relevant aero qualities, this makes more sense.

The gap on my last TT (and likely on this one) is a full five feet. Far beyond what is easy to bridge. Luckily, an essentially aero TT even if not quite as good as an A/S.

To get back to the OP's concern, I was wondering if fuel economy was acting as a stand-in for frustration in general. If the exigencies of setting up camp, taking down camp, and the relevant daily chores were seeming more trouble than a hotel & restaurants. If so, the amount of time dedicated before & after the trip itself might be looked at. There are many chores which need not be done the first or last day of a trip.

To that end, the place of storage might be changed. It's locations or it's amenities. Plus, there are those who specialize in cleaning or servicing RV's in their many small, but time-consuming requirements.

As is suggested above, a sedan is the better choice for all-around fuel economy. If this means leaving some tools & equipment behind (chores now contracted out or done at a different time & location) so much the better.

Indeed, if a sedan is the better choice for solo miles, then it would be an all-around win.


1990 35' Silver Streak Sterling; 9k GVWR.
2004 DODGE Cummins 305/555; 6-manual; 9k GVWR.
Hensley Arrow. 12-cpm solo, 19-cpm towing (fuel)
Sold: Silver Streak Model 3411
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