Towing a a fibre vs conventional trailer - which is easier? - Fiberglass RV


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Old 09-06-2012, 12:37 PM   #1
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Towing a a fibre vs conventional trailer - which is easier?

My first post here.

I've been reading a lot on the travel trailers recently. Please correct me if I'm wrong but once you are up to speed on highways, wind drag becomes the biggest factor both in stability and in gas cost.

I'm currently looking at Escape 19 vs Rockwood 1904. GVWR are similar (Escape - 4000lb, Rockwood - 3900lb). Would these two be comparable in terms of ease of towing? I'm hearing how it is easier to tow fibre trailers because of their rounded edges but I have no hard facts. Escape looks like a typical fibre traveler with rounded edges while Rockwood looks like a typical conventional trailer with flat sides and somewhat rounder front area.

I haven't purchased the TV yet, but I'm looking into a used V8 JGC or Tahoe.
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Old 09-06-2012, 01:39 PM   #2
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Hello John and welcome to the forum. Be aware, we're all a little biased here. I have never towed anything that large so I won't comment on tow ability, but I promise you the Escape will be on the road long after the Rockwood is buried in the landfill. Structurally, molded fiberglass is far superior to anything else. I also expect the Escape wil cost more and 20 years from now sell for more. Take care, Raz
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Old 09-06-2012, 01:57 PM   #3
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Its always a tough choice. The Rockwood seems like a very nice conventional trailer, and with a slide will seem bigger inside. But....I'd agree that the Escape will last longer (and look better longer) due to its molded fiberglass construction ...that also means that it will hold its value better.

In terms of towing, both have similar weight, length, witdth, height and cross sectional areas - as you pointed out, the Escape has rounded edges (good for fuel economy and helps in a crosswind or when big vehicles are passing) while the Rockwood has a slightly more aerodynamically shaped front end. All in all, I'd expect that they will tow fairly similarly.

I'd point out that the Escape has a dual axle while the Rockwood has a single axle. There are pros and cons to both which give rise to a never ending debate as to which is better.

The biggest difference is cost - the Escape will cost almost 1 1/2 times as much if you consider the discounts available from dealers for the Rockwood. The Escape being available only directly from the manufacturers is never discounted except for a 1-2K seasonal discount for winter delivery.

I guess that my view is that if you wish to keep the trailer for many years, the Escape has the clear advantage in the long term. In the shorter term, the choice is much harder.

Good luck and let us know what you choose.
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Old 09-06-2012, 01:58 PM   #4
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You mileage will increase about 20% with f/g over conventional trailer. Very similar to Airstreams vs conventional.
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Old 09-06-2012, 03:23 PM   #5
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Hi John, to FiberglassRV, we're glad you're here!

I'm not certain if "easier" is an appropriate word because so much depends on the driver of the tug. Are you the type that likes to go the speed limit... even if that's 75 mph? Will you be willing to slow down and improve (perhaps greatly) your MPG? Do you live in the hill country or mountain area? Or perhaps an area that's prone to winds?

Anytime you're towing something that weighs close to two tons, it's going to be different... maybe really different depending on the questions I posted above.

As far as brand? You get what you pay for and if you want any of that back in 5 to 10 years or 20, I'd say buy the Escape. YMMV
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Old 09-06-2012, 04:24 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cpaharley2008 View Post
You mileage will increase about 20% with f/g over conventional trailer. Very similar to Airstreams vs conventional.
Airstream (which is much more rounded) makes the "UP TO" 20% claim in comparison to "standard BOX trailers". The Rockwood has a lower weight, width, height, and cross sectional area than most conventional trailers of equivalent length, and with the rounded front end it is not a box, so I wouldn't expect to see that much (20%) of a difference. I would love to see real world testing change my mind, but have yet to find this. Similarly, I never see head to head comparisons between molded fiberglass and conventional trailers - I'd love to see those too.

I do personally prefer molded fiberglass units for their exterior style and longevity.
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Old 09-06-2012, 05:04 PM   #7
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I had a Trillium 4500 and wanted more room and a bathroom so I sold it and went with a 19' Aljo 5th wheel. I pull with a Chevy Colorado 5 cyl which gets 22 mpg on the highway without towing. Pulling my Trillium, approx 1200 lbs, I got 18 mpg while pulling the 4000 lb 19' 5th wheel I got approx 11 mpg. I recently sold the Aljo because I do a lot of traveling and need decent mileage. I then bought a 19' Scamp 5th wheel, under 2000 lbs, and now I'm averaging about 16 mpg. I've done both and very much prefer the fiberglass but in your case the weight is fairly even so I'm sure you won't have as drastic a result.
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Old 09-06-2012, 05:28 PM   #8
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Towing my current conventional, boxy travel trailer yields about 12 mpg (US gallons), compared to towing my former 17' widebody Burro at 14 mpg. Those are actual numbers figured over a long trip to the mountains and back, with the same tow vehicle. A Scamp or Casita would probably have been 15 mpg, I believe. You are correct, wind resistance is the biggest factor, and the rounded egg trailers do better in that regard.
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Old 09-06-2012, 05:40 PM   #9
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Thanks guys, very informative!

Seeing real MPG numbers help a lot. I'm surprised that you get such a good MPG on a smaller pickup + Scamp 19.

Given that the trailers I'm considering is in the range of 4000lb, would a crossover with 5000lb rating do the job? I would prefer to get something like a Highlander (5000lb), Pilot (5000lb) or Traverse (5200lb)? Or should I stick with the original plan of getting V8 JGC/Tahoe? I don't need huge amount of space in the vehicle but better MPG (with and without towing) would be nice...
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Old 09-06-2012, 05:46 PM   #10
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I get 14 mpg towing with my Jeep Liberty and 13-15 with my Ram1500. Both of these # are better than 10-12 pulling my Lance 1575 which weighs same as my Escape but is more traditional box shaped. You do the math...
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Old 09-06-2012, 05:51 PM   #11
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We have experience towing a box trailer, a Casita 16 and a Scamp 16. The box trailer was the licghest of the group by about 10-20 %. All trailers were pulled with a 4 cyliner, manual transmission Honda CRV. No trailer was pulled less than 4,000 miles. Towing the box trailer we got 20 mpg; towing the almost identical Scamp and Casita 16s we got 22-23 mpg.

The box trailer and Scamp both made similar loops of the USA so the difference was not the route but the trailer.

Generally in non-towing driving on major highways we get 28-30 mpg with the Honda.

Towing MPG is a good measure of the load on the tow vehicle so besides getting better mileage with the fiberglass trailer we are placing less of a load on the tow vehicle.

Our box trailer was about the same age as our present Scamp, both in their 20's. The box trailer seriously leaked, the Scamp is totally water tight.

I will say the box trailer was bigger inside, lots more usuable space, though the box was a 1/2 foot shorter outside. Also all molded fiberglass trailers are not the same, some are much boxier than others but all hold their value and can last a lifetime.
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Old 09-07-2012, 07:31 AM   #12
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Hey there John. The previous posters are passing along the good info about the advantages of aerodynamics. This chart also explains....
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Airstream Windtunnel Testing.JPG  
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Old 09-07-2012, 07:34 AM   #13
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Also be aware of the TV. An aerodynamic TV in front of an aerodynamic trailer works best. When you place a boxy TV in the front of an aerodynamic trailer it will reduce the advantage of the trailer.
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Old 09-07-2012, 08:57 AM   #14
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What is interesting is these numbers say it takes 3 times the amount of power to go from 30 mph to 55 mph. Maybe things were better back in the old days when it took 10 hours to go to grandma's house, at least it used a lot less gas!!! Why do we need to go 55, isn't that why airplanes were invented? Just think, if we slowed down, the price of gas would be cut in thirds!!
Anyway, back to the subject at hand, I'm done commiserating.
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