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Aerodynamics of a camper shell

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Old 03-23-2012, 01:58 PM   #1
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Aerodynamics of a camper shell

I recently purchased a Forest River R Pod 177. They are sold as being easy to tow. There is a lot of "front area" as they say when towing with the tacoma and I am wondering if a camper shell would help with wind resistance/ turbulence. I know there are some people out there that have the ability to simulate a wind test for a 2008 tacoma. Can someone try it with this trailer and show it with a campershell as well? I am curious whether it will help.
Thanks in advance.
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Old 03-23-2012, 04:40 PM   #2
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It may help you slightly, but the weight of a shell will decrease what you can haul.
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Old 03-23-2012, 05:11 PM   #3
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Given the expense of a fiberglass camper shell ($1000-1600),even if it gave you better mileage, it would take a LONG time to recover that expense. If you have need for the shell beyond better mileage that would be different.
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Old 03-23-2012, 08:43 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wolftree View Post
Given the expense of a fiberglass camper shell ($1000-1600),even if it gave you better mileage, it would take a LONG time to recover that expense. If you have need for the shell beyond better mileage that would be different.


I couldn't have said it any better. I am an Aviation Science major and aerodynamics is a big part of our studies. Looking at the camper itself, it's almost an ideal shape aerodynamically speaking for the least amount of total drag which is "tear drop" shaped. A camper would only help keep the airflow after the hood laminar over the entire setup. As it sits now turbulent vortices are going to develop just after the roof and roll up in the bed and hit the stagnation point on the front of the camper creating large amounts of drag. As the poster above mentioned though, it would literally takes years and lots of miles to break even on the camper shell.
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Old 03-23-2012, 11:43 PM   #5
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Gunga, I own an RPod 175 and towed it for about a year and a half with my '06 Prerunner. I usually got between 10 and 11 mpg, but I tow mostly in a pretty tough area with lots of elevation gains. I've had 5 trailers over the years between 16 and 22 feet. I've towed with everything from a 3/4 ton Ford to a 4.3 liter S10. Except for my 22 foot Arctic Fox, the RPod hasn't given me any better mileage than any other. I get slightly better towing mileage with my current '12 Tundra 4.6 than I did with the Prerunner, but the Tacoma did a great job pulling the Pod.

P/S I towed the Pod with and without a cab high Snugtop on the Tacoma, and saw no difference in mileage. That was hand figuring the mileage and using a ScanGauge, so I was figuring pretty closely. It was great having the Snugtop, though, as the interior storage with our RP175 is at a premium.
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Old 03-25-2012, 08:58 AM   #6
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Thanks for the responses. It seems a shell would help a little but as said it will take forever to recoup the cost. I have a hard toneau cover now and even without the trailer I saw no appreciable gain in mileage versus an open bed.
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Old 03-25-2012, 09:03 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Whiskeyjack View Post
Gunga, I own an RPod 175 and towed it for about a year and a half with my '06 Prerunner. I usually got between 10 and 11 mpg, but I tow mostly in a pretty tough area with lots of elevation gains. I've had 5 trailers over the years between 16 and 22 feet. I've towed with everything from a 3/4 ton Ford to a 4.3 liter S10. Except for my 22 foot Arctic Fox, the RPod hasn't given me any better mileage than any other. I get slightly better towing mileage with my current '12 Tundra 4.6 than I did with the Prerunner, but the Tacoma did a great job pulling the Pod.

P/S I towed the Pod with and without a cab high Snugtop on the Tacoma, and saw no difference in mileage. That was hand figuring the mileage and using a ScanGauge, so I was figuring pretty closely. It was great having the Snugtop, though, as the interior storage with our RP175 is at a premium.
How do you like the RPod?
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Old 02-17-2013, 04:50 AM   #8
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Many, many years ago, the magazine Pickup Van and Four Wheel drive did an experiment with a Chevy Luv (I said it was a long time ago), driving a set route with and without a camper shell. The camper shell improved the mileage of the empty truck by about 2.5 mpg's. I'm currently towing a 2,800 lb. Casita trailer with a 2002 Tacoma v-6, 5 spd. The lowest mileage has been 13.5mpg going over the grapevine and holding 70mph on the flats. I've gotten 17 mpg going 60-65 on level terrain. 15 mpg at that speed is an average. I have a cab high shell and a kayak or two on the roof. The thing about not having a camper shell is that a low pressure area is created in the bed. Look under the popular bedliners and you may find a line of pine needles, leaves, etc. just ahead of the wheel wells, extending across the bed. That crap has been sucked under the bedliner by said low pressure area. Shells will increase mpg's towing or otherwise. Also, that line of crap under the bedliner will hold moisture and cause rust.
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Old 02-17-2013, 03:28 PM   #9
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Tom's Camper Land in Mesa had a Leer shell for me, used, for $750 installed. The big score was the Yakima rack on the roof of the shell. They are available used on Craigslist under car parts for less than Tom's.
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Old 03-11-2013, 05:48 AM   #10
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Here's my "latest" fuel test so far using ScanGauge with a 2003 Tacoma 2WD 2.4L 5 speed manual transmission & Leer Shell:

Getting 32 to 33MPG when averaging between 50 to 55MPH on back roads. Gets 29MPG @ 65MPH on interstate.

When towing high profile CampLite Camper in non-mountain areas with Kayaks on shell & bicycles between pickup & camper (about 2000lb load), gets 16MPG @ 60MPH on the interstate, 17MPG @ 55MPH on the interstate, and 18MPG @ 51MPH on backroads. Best fuel economy so far 19.5 MPG between 45 to 50MPH on back roads. Worst fuel economy so far 55MPH @ 15MPG on the interstate with headwind.

Found (by accident) fuel economy & towing power slightly better with lower camper using 2" drop hitch compared to 3/4" lift hitch towing camper, "guessing" due to better aerodynamics when towing high profile camper.

Towing 1900 to 2000lb low profile boat gets 20MPG @ 65MPH on the interstates.

We like the Leer Shell because it allows for storage the animals can't get to at night while camping and the Thule rail/rack system for hauling Kayaks.

Rig with 3/4" lift hitch:







Rig with 2" drop hitch:

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