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Old 09-16-2011, 11:37 PM   #1
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We are SO inexperienced...

We're just coming towards the end of our first season with the Airstream and it's been a really steep learning curve. Not that we haven't managed, because we have, but sometimes our inexperience really shows.

Last weekend, we'd just driven from home in the far reaches of South Western Ontario (a lot closer to Detroit than Toronto) up to Niagara Falls. We tow our 28' International Serenity with a 2011 Toyota Sienna (V6, 3.5L, six speed - yes we know, you can't tow that with that) and had been watching the van's gas mileage computer ticking over at a very respectable rate, finishing the trip at 12.9 miles per US gallon, doing around 62 mph on the highway, which was 99% of the trip. Feeling very pleased with ourselves we watched the computer on the way back but were very disappointed with a figure of only 12.0 mpg - not a huge difference but for the same trip just in the other direction, I couldn't work it out. The strange thing was that we had a similar thing happen doing the same route in April.

Then it dawned on me, in one of those Homer Simpson moments, Doh! It's uphill on the way back! There's not a vast height difference to be made up but it obviously has an effect. So, now I know why you have to average your gas mileage over both legs of the trip.

You learn something new (and very obvious) every day.
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Old 09-17-2011, 12:01 AM   #2
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You also have predominately winds out of the west most of the time. Niagra to home usually will be a head wind.
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Old 09-17-2011, 07:47 AM   #3
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Yeah, there are a lot of variables that affect mileage. We don't use cruise control - it drops speed too much on hills - so that makes direct comparsions out-and-back difficult.

Anywho, you know - from reading your blog, I'd say you've had a pretty damn good first year. You have a new beautiful (and kind of big) trailer and the confidence to tow it with an alternative tow vehicle, and you've towed it a lot (Florida and back! with lots of awning-induced thunderstorms!). Not bad at all.

Tom
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Old 09-17-2011, 09:06 AM   #4
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Are you concerned about your transmission with that setup?
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Old 09-17-2011, 10:34 AM   #5
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If you haven't do so then find some local Airstream rallys to attend and soak up the knowledge factor from the pros. These are people that have perfected the "art" of Airstreaming and before long you'll loose that newbie feeling and be one of the sage ones.
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Old 09-17-2011, 11:07 AM   #6
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Congrats....no longer a roookie eah.

Enjoy the Falz?

We see it from this angle a lot....


Bob
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Old 09-17-2011, 01:41 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by MrUKToad View Post
We're just coming towards the end of our first season with the Airstream and it's been a really steep learning curve. Not that we haven't managed, because we have, but sometimes our inexperience really shows.

Last weekend, we'd just driven from home in the far reaches of South Western Ontario (a lot closer to Detroit than Toronto) up to Niagara Falls. We tow our 28' International Serenity with a 2011 Toyota Sienna (V6, 3.5L, six speed - yes we know, you can't tow that with that) and had been watching the van's gas mileage computer ticking over at a very respectable rate, finishing the trip at 12.9 miles per US gallon, doing around 62 mph on the highway, which was 99% of the trip. Feeling very pleased with ourselves we watched the computer on the way back but were very disappointed with a figure of only 12.0 mpg - not a huge difference but for the same trip just in the other direction, I couldn't work it out. The strange thing was that we had a similar thing happen doing the same route in April.

Then it dawned on me, in one of those Homer Simpson moments, Doh! It's uphill on the way back! There's not a vast height difference to be made up but it obviously has an effect. So, now I know why you have to average your gas mileage over both legs of the trip.

You learn something new (and very obvious) every day.
A proper installed "airspeed indicator" and a "sensitive aircraft altimeter" are great assests when towing.

The airspeed indicator, when properly installed, will tell you if you have a head wind, or tail wind or any other kind of wind, by comparing it's reading to the speedometer in your tow vehicle. As an example, if the airspeed says 70 and the speedo says 60, you have a 10 mph head wind. If so, slow down. If the airspeed says 50 and your speedo says 60, you have a 10 mph tail wind. Now you can go faster, if you wish. If they both say the same, enjoy the trip.

With a sensitive altimeter, it has graduations of 20 feet. That clearly shows you if you are traveling on a level highway, or climbing, or descending.

Used together, those 2 instruments, when interpreted properly, will maximize your fuel mileage.

They also ease the mind, as to what's happening.

Andy
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Old 09-17-2011, 03:36 PM   #8
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A proper installed "airspeed indicator" and a "sensitive aircraft altimeter" are great assests when towing.



Andy

Hmmmm, I was thinking about an altimeter, just because I'm curious, but never thought about it being a boon to towing. Certainly the air speed indicator would be handy. Are these things available for cars?
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Old 09-17-2011, 03:41 PM   #9
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Are you concerned about your transmission with that setup?
Nope. We have a big cooler on it and no reports of transmission problems from other Sienna users with similar set ups. I'm also pretty gentle on things when I drive, keeping the speed down and trying not to let it change gear too often; of course time will tell but I'm quite confident.
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Old 09-17-2011, 03:43 PM   #10
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Congrats....no longer a roookie eah.

Enjoy the Falz?

We see it from this angle a lot....


Bob
Maintaining a safe distance I hope!

Yup, the falls were good and the weather was very kind for most of the weekend.
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Old 09-17-2011, 03:46 PM   #11
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You also have predominately winds out of the west most of the time. Niagra to home usually will be a head wind.
You're right, and we did pick up a slight headwind on the return leg. Apart from in the spring, the wind has been noticeably absent from our trips this year, for which we are very grateful. Coming back from the Finger Lakes in May were were in the teeth of a gale and the gas mileage suffered as a result.
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Old 09-17-2011, 03:47 PM   #12
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If you haven't do so then find some local Airstream rallys to attend and soak up the knowledge factor from the pros. These are people that have perfected the "art" of Airstreaming and before long you'll loose that newbie feeling and be one of the sage ones.
We will, but will choose our events carefully. Anyway, I just SO want to show off our set up to other Airstreamers!
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Old 09-17-2011, 04:46 PM   #13
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Look for old airplane parts

Quote:
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Hmmmm, I was thinking about an altimeter, just because I'm curious, but never thought about it being a boon to towing. Certainly the air speed indicator would be handy. Are these things available for cars?
Don't know of any for cars, but there were a gazillion aircraft instruments manufactured during WWII and some of these are available on the used market. Snoop around eBay Motors and see what you can find. You'll also need a Pitot tube, but these can be pretty simple. It's basically a piece of tubing rigged so it points toward the forward end of the vehicle (in undisturbed air if possible). Make sure you get one that works, as repair or overhaul will be done at inflated "aircraft" prices.
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Old 09-17-2011, 08:48 PM   #14
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Don't know of any for cars, but there were a gazillion aircraft instruments manufactured during WWII and some of these are available on the used market. Snoop around eBay Motors and see what you can find. You'll also need a Pitot tube, but these can be pretty simple. It's basically a piece of tubing rigged so it points toward the forward end of the vehicle (in undisturbed air if possible). Make sure you get one that works, as repair or overhaul will be done at inflated "aircraft" prices.
What you may think as "inflated prices", needs an explanation.

Those rebuilt aircraft instruments, are rebuilt to certified FAA specifications, not back yard overhauls.

As a pilot, that has great meaning to me.

Andy
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