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Old 02-20-2013, 07:39 PM   #1
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Camper Shell or No Camper Shell for Pickup TV

Do trucks with camper shells get better fuel mileage towing than trucks without camper shells? Without a camper shell I'd go with a hard tonneau cover.


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Old 02-20-2013, 07:44 PM   #2
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look up myth busters, they did an episode on this topic

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Old 02-20-2013, 10:12 PM   #3
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Myth Busters did test tailgate up and tailgate down that I saw. In their test the truck with the tailgate down ran out of gas 1st. This was a surprise to everyone including me.

I did not see Myth Busters test cap vs no cap. What happened?

I read somewhere that a cap will improve MPG as it is more areo dynamic.
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Old 02-20-2013, 10:17 PM   #4
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Well, I think there ought to be a nylon inflatable (with one of those 12volt blowers) connection between truck and trailer - that would keep the air drag down, I think.

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Old 02-21-2013, 04:32 AM   #5
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While it seems logical a cap should help in practice I can't say I can prove a significant difference and I have towed lots of miles both with a cap and also an open bed.
What I can say for sure is i can carry more stuff with less worry about packing and organization with the cap,
If you do go that route get lift up side windows for easy access. Much better than a long stick with a hook for snagging stuff out of the front
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Old 02-21-2013, 04:53 AM   #6
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When I changed from a tonneau cover to a cap I noticed a slight improvement in highway mileage. I do not have actual figures but make the claim based the amount of gas used on a 500 mile trip that I have made twice a year for many years. This is without towing however. With the AS in tow I'm not sure if a cap vs. tonneau will make much difference in aerodynamics, which is likely a strong influential factor of fuel economy.

I like Bart's idea. Fill it up with Helium and call it the Flying Zepplin!
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Old 02-21-2013, 05:15 AM   #7
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I did some towing and driving without our cap, but most of our trips have had the cap in place, and I haven't noticed any change in mileage with the cap on. They're fiberglass (or, at least, mine is), so it really doesn't weigh very much, so the only question would be about the wind resistance factor, which I can't judge because there are so many factors at work. Honestly, for the usefulness of the cap - that is, being able to keep things out of the rain and lock them up easily - any minor drop in mileage is worth it for us.
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Old 02-21-2013, 06:16 AM   #8
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My old ranger pickup used to get better mileage with the cap on than off, but it does add some weight to the whole rig. I don't see nearly as many pickups with caps on today as I did 10-20 years ago, guess the proliferation of bedliners or spray in liners has caused folks to not use them. I haven't had one on the last three trucks I've owned.

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Old 02-21-2013, 06:35 AM   #9
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Cap on or cap off: you will probably notice a very slight increase in milage with a cap on but that being said it may only be 10ths of a gallon in milage but over an extended period that adds up. However during towing it you get one of the caps with the slight aerodynamic wing built into the cap it should increase your milage towing. It will cause the airflow to not be hitting directly onto the face of the camper, but to go up and over the face. Airstreams are already aerodynamically designed so you may not see as much of a gain as you would towing SOB of trailer.Hope this helps. "REMEMBER JUST BECAUSE YOU CAN TOW IT DOESN"T MEAN YOU CAN CONTROL IT OR STOP IT.
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Old 02-21-2013, 07:05 AM   #10
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Camper shell provides a more aerodynamic flow as determined in our unscientific observations with yarn telltales ... hence our slightly improved fuel efficiency (the weight gain did not offset that).

Try it yourself and you will be amazed at the rotor / eddy currents in the rear box area without a topper.
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Old 02-21-2013, 07:47 AM   #11
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Good subject, especially the comments about how useful the shells are. I have a soft cover but thinking about a shell to get more covered space.

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Old 02-21-2013, 08:00 AM   #12
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Becaise I carry a scooter with a windshield sometimes, I am thinking of one of these...

Softopper | Soft Top Truck Caps and Canvas Camper Shell Tops

Anyone have experience?

"If the women don't find you handsome, they should at least find you handy." - Red Green
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Old 02-21-2013, 08:04 AM   #13
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Fall City , Washington
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Pick up canopy?

I've owned a number of pickups with and without canopy since the early 1970s. IMO there is little discernible difference between the with or without the canopy in mpg. Maybe a little improvement.

However, the usefulness of the canopy is so evident I wouldn't be without one. It carries everything from golf clubs to BBQs dogs and lawn chairs. they also look good when color coordinated with the TV.

My current combo:
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Old 02-21-2013, 09:05 AM   #14
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I have had several pu trucks with camper shells. I have a frame that allows me to easily remove the shell when needed. I have driven many miles with the shell both on and off of a variety of 1/2 ton and 3/4 ton trucks I have owned. I really want to believe that the shell will improve mpg, but I have not seen any evidence of measurable mpg improvement with a shell on.

The shell is a very handy item to have when you own a pu truck. The ability to easily remove as needed makes it even better.

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