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Old 12-23-2023, 10:48 AM   #1
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Safe Comfortable Towing: Frontal Area Versus Weight

As we've discussed before with TT we are pulling a sail behind us. If that is a big part of the equation, than given the same frontal area, will there be a big difference between a 4,000 and 5,500 pound TT? If it was truly just the weight then the difference would be bigger than if weight is a secondary factor.

In my case my tow rating is 12,000 so I'm comfortably under the specifications in either case.
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Old 12-23-2023, 11:04 AM   #2
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While there are mathematical equations that can help determine the drag coefficient (most often used in the design of aircraft) it is hard for any RV'r to know what the effect of the frontal area wind drag is. I will add though that what I believe Truck manufactures consider over other aspects is primarily the weight of the trailer and the truck's ability to handle that amount of weight both in starting and stopping. If one could remove the wind drag and the drag of the tires/axles then keeping a very heavy trailer moving would take very little energy. ~CA
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Old 12-23-2023, 12:04 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by craigav View Post
If one could remove the wind drag and the drag of the tires/axles then keeping a very heavy trailer moving would take very little energy. ~CA
Yep. That's why speed also plays a major factor in fuel economy. Wind resistance has a steeper curve between 70 & 80 than between 50 & 60.
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Old 12-23-2023, 03:15 PM   #4
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When I towed my TT, the fuel economy wasn't that much different than when I towed my enclosed utility trailer. Their frontal areas were similar, both larger area than my truck. The weight of my TT was at least double that of my enclosed trailer.

With my class C RV, I didn't see any difference between flat towing my Jeep Wrangler or my enclosed trailer. Both have a frontal area less then my class C.
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Old 12-24-2023, 03:42 PM   #5
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frontal area is primarily just a concern for aerodynamic drag. The faster you go, the more the sail matters. It doesn't really affect stability (as much as other factors), braking, or dynamics.

That far under the limit, weight is almost the least concern for towing once you're up to speed (where frontal area matters) but it does play into almost everything else. Braking most obviously, stability (especially the distribution), etc. Assuming a safe distribution for both, you'd be hard pressed to tell that difference in weights other than one accelerates slightly worse than the other.

With campers though, the weight is probably a result of a larger/longer trailer which may affect the stability and dynamics to feel heavier.
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