Our '53 Flying Cloud and the Ridgeline
After working with Trailerworks in Beaufort, SC for over a year, we finally picked up our totally renovated 53 Flying Cloud this Spring. I'll use this thread to tell the story of our Flying Cloud with many photos to follow.
This first post will be about towing our Cloud home with the Ridgeline. We were pleasantly surprised by the gas mileage we achieved. We towed the Cloud 1395 miles using 90.8 gallons and averaged 15.4 mpg. We started out averaging 16.0 to 16.3 mpg in the Carolinas and Delmarva, then it dropped to 14.0 to 14.2 going through the hills of Pennsylvania up through Vermont. Still we were very happy with these results. The Ridgeline normally gets 21 mpg, so if we only drop 25% while towing then we are doing well.
I think the key to our fuel economy was a couple of things - first and foremost we drove very steadily between 55 and 60 mph trying to keep the rpms as steady as possible. Second I think the Cloud offers slightly less resistance compared to newer Airstreams. We are only 7.5 feet wide and just over 9 feet high. Third the total weight of the Cloud with a full fresh tank, lp tanks and assorted luggage came in at 3480 on the scales.
For this small and lightweight vintage unit, the Ridgeline seems like a good match, with a couple of caveats. We use an Equalizer hitch with 600 lb bars (more on that later) and we were rock steady traveling along I-95. On the flats we were cruising at 60 mph with the rpms around 1750. On the hills the Ridgeline had plenty of pulling power to keep us between 55 and 60 mph, but on the steepest hills the rpms were around 3400. Going back down the steepest hills I would have liked more engine breaking power. For the majority of our travels along the East Coast this combo should serve us well. When we do head out West we'll be careful about what grades we go up (and down).
Here's our first photo (I hope)...