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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Last week we completed our first week long trip pulling our new Sunset Trail 20CK travel trailer. Our trip was from Northern Indiana to Townsend, TN to spend a week camping in the Smoky Mountains.

For our weekend break in trip 2 weeks ago, I went to a CAT scale to have the truck and trailer weights determined. The truck was about 5220 lbs, with me, my Dad and all our travel stuff. The trailer weighed in at about 4780 lbs with a full tank of fresh water. For our week long trip, we had full hookups so I didn't take a full tank of fresh water, had my wife instead of my Dad ;), and since it's a longer trip, we did have more supplies. So, my guess-estimate is that the truck was about the same weight, and the trailer weight was somewhere between 4500-4800 lbs.

I never had our old trailer weighed - Fleetwood Orbit 180FQ, but the GVWR was 3600 lbs. I know this new trailer is considerably heavier, so I was curious how that would affect the towing and mpg.

Here is what I found. The old trailer, single axle, would usually require rpms in the 3300-3700 range to keep a speed of 60-65 mph, my preferred towing speed. With some effort, I could feather the gas peddle and sometimes get a shift to high gear and the rpms would drop to about 2500-3000 rpms. However, this was not easy to maintain for very long periods and usually jumped back up to the 3500 range fairly soon. Gas milage was usally between 7 and 8.5 mpg. Never more than 9 in 5 years pulling our previous trailler.

The new trailer is a tandem axle, has more slope to the front, and weighs probably 700-1000 lbs more than the old trailer. But it tows easier. Easier meaning that I rarely have rpms over 3000. Most often, at 60-65 mph, the rpms are 2500-3000, even when climbing some pretty decent hills. On flat road, the rpms sit between 2000-2500 rpms at 60-65 mph and I can even use the cruise control! Something I could never do with the old trailer.

And the best part is that we get between 10-11 mpg with the new trailer which totally amazed me. In over 1000 miles of towing, we had 1 tank at 9.7 mpg when we were in the mountains of TN - Cumberland Gap area, and one tank leaving Gatlinburg at 12.2 mpg. Our normal tank would be between 10.2 and 10.8 mpg.

I don't know why this is for sure. But, based on what I read on this board, from user Kodiak, who I think is the truck engineer (Gary), it's likely due to the new trailer being more aerodynamic. He stated on one of his posts that the trailer weight is less of an issue than the aerodynamics when it comes to mpg.

I'm still in shock at getting nearly 2 mpg better mileage with a heavier trailer. I thought I would share this experience for those who might be shopping for a travel trailer in the future.

The first picture below is the older, lighter trailer. The second is the heavier newer trailer.
 

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Being seriously under-schooled in the quantum mechanics of towing a trailer, I will only point out the obvious based on the pics. Your new trailers aero dynamics in comparison are fairly obvious. :act024:

Nice trailer BTW, and congrats on the new results.
 

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Oh yeah. It's all in the aerodynamics.

Chip H.
 

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This makes me feel better about towing my TT vs my old one. Hopefully my RL gets better mileage too since the new one is more aerodynamic. Nice TT BTW
 

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I would think the Areo Dynamics should make quite a difference, but would also think the tandem axles might also be help. The trailer would be more stable or balanced, so the extra weight probably would be less of a factor once you get up to speed and momentum achieved until you need climb a stiff grade up hill. Just my way of thinking anyway, nice pics !
 

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I would agree aerodynamics plays a part in it, but I would also look at the conditions of the bearings on the trailer as well.

I would surmise the rolling resistance is less with a tandem axle as opposed to a single axle as well.

These are just my thoughts and in no way are they facts.

-Terracar
 

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Nice combo, RL and trailer. Hope you enjoyed our Tennessee mountains. We were there a few days ago. Townsend, the peaceful side of the Smokies!!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
TerraCar - I also thought about the wheel bearings and rolling resistance. It does seem to roll easier than the old trailer.

25 Year Honda Owner - we enjoyed the Townsend area a lot. We camped at the Cove Mountain Resorts campground on Wears Vallley Rd (I think) - very nice campsite and location. We were just 10 minutes from the park and spent every day in the park or driving somewhere within it. I'm a photography buff, so we were in Cades Cove every morning at sunrise when they opened the gate- beautiful part of the park at that time of day and little traffic. We're already considering a second trip sometime in the future.

thanks all for the compliments on the new trailer - we really like it so far.
 

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TerraCar - I also thought about the wheel bearings and rolling resistance. It does seem to roll easier than the old trailer.

25 Year Honda Owner - we enjoyed the Townsend area a lot. We camped at the Cove Mountain Resorts campground on Wears Vallley Rd (I think) - very nice campsite and location. We were just 10 minutes from the park and spent every day in the park or driving somewhere within it. I'm a photography buff, so we were in Cades Cove every morning at sunrise when they opened the gate- beautiful part of the park at that time of day and little traffic. We're already considering a second trip sometime in the future.

thanks all for the compliments on the new trailer - we really like it so far.
Cades Cove, a little piece of Heaven!!!
 
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