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post #1 of 27 Old 09-08-2016, 10:37 PM Thread Starter
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New Airstream Basecamp Trailer

Received an email today from Airstream, announcing their new Basecamp travel trailer. Pretty attractive, and I think it would look great behind my '15 Magnetic Metallic Escape.

It's 16' long, is fully self-contained, weighs 2585 pounds dry weight, maximum GVWR of 3500 pounds, and has a tongue weight of 410 pounds. The design seems like the 5X10' trailer front wall restriction wouldn't be a problem because of the curved front end. It's a stylish trailer, and bears further investigation. No idea how outrageous the price is, but it's Airstream, so I know it won't be cheap.

So what do you guys think - would a 2.0 4WD Escape with the factory hitch haul one safely? Seems so to me, but you all know more about this stuff than I do. Probably have to add electric brakes.

Here's a link to the Airstream site so you can see it. Weight specs are shown in the brochure, if you opt to download it. https://www.airstream.com/travel-tra..._hsmi=34046039

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post #2 of 27 Old 09-08-2016, 10:50 PM
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New Airstream Basecamp Trailer

This is kind of on the high side for weight. Time you get all your cargo in. You'll be pushing your max tow capabilities. I think the rule of thumb is your trailer weight should only be 80% of the max tow of the vehicle. This is trailer weight plus all your cargo. You will also get wind resistance from the trailer, which will effect towing. With all of this being said, the Escape will be able to tow it. Would be harder on the Escape though. And would be on the unsafe side. I believe the tongue weight of the factory hitch is only 350lbs.

You can also check out this thread. Might give you some more help.

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post #3 of 27 Old 09-09-2016, 02:42 AM
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When you tow 'near the max' it's a weight and balance juggling game for both the car and the trailer. Look at a few factors ....

+ Max Escape recommended tongue weight is 350#; exceed that and you push the limits of the car suspension and front/rear weight bias which affects handling to a surprising degree. Exceeding a 350# rating by 60# is not insignificant. Unfortunately that really manifests itself in 'emergency' situations (debris avoidance, potholes, crosswinds, big-rig wakes, etc). The effects can range from 'adrenaline boosting' to disastrous.

+ Most guides recommend at least 10% of the trailer weight on the tongue with closer to 15% being preferable to reduce the potential for sway (too-light front bias is the number 1 cause of trailer sway, all else being equal and good)

+ 350# is 15% of 2333#, so if your trailer weighs more than that and you keep the tongue at 350# you are inviting higher risk of sway

+ The Basecamp invites poor (rear biased) loading habits with it's open cargo floor to the rear and rear hatch - discipline and attention is required.

+ you can employ tricks like trailering with the fresh-water tank empty to help with weight issues (fill the 22 gal tank and you've added 184# to the weight); take realistic* stock of what you would add with groceries, gear, toys, etc, etc.

+ take realistic* stock of what you carry in the car, including yourself and passengers, which reduces its towing capacity; play with the calculator here Trailer Towing Estimator

+ *most of us tend to underestimate the weight of all the stuff we end-up carrying when we go RV-ing

+ Towing at the edge of your rig's preferred weight and weight-bias limits (both/either car or trailer) means you have used-up all tolerance/latitude available to respond to situations that inevitably arise on the road .... passing big-rigs wake-induced sway, emergency maneuvers to avoid road debris causing sway, bump/pothole suspension bottoming, etc, etc.

Leaving the 'can you/can't you' (should you/shouldn't you) question for your determination, I will offer the following opinion as a lifetime trailer-tow-er and son of lifetime Airstreamers ....

Much more often than not, 'towing at the edge' means the driver is never able to relax at the wheel. They can 'feel' the fact that they are at the limits of their rig and find they're 'tense' when driving and fatigued at the end of the day. They know or will quickly learn that absent a 'performance cushion' they must stay especially attentive to 'the rig', much more than when towing comfortably within a rig's limits, to avoid disaster. That quickly takes the 'fun' out of RV-ing, it spoils the whole experience.

All that has nothing to do with the Basecamp per-se. We have a member in my motorcycle racing club that tows a Basecamp; he likes it a lot as a paddock accommodation. He tows it with a full-size pickup that hauls his motorcycle in the bed so the tongue weight/overall weight is not an issue for him ..... in his case the 'rig' is very comfortably within all of its rated and rational capacities with plenty of cushion to spare.

Yes, the Basecamp comes standard with electric brakes; IMHO it would be very imprudent to tow it without installing an appropriate electric brake controller in the tow vehicle, no matter what that vehicle is.
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post #4 of 27 Old 09-09-2016, 10:47 AM
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Too heavy if you plan on towing long distance, up long hills etc.

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post #5 of 27 Old 09-09-2016, 11:33 AM Thread Starter
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Ok. So the answers to the can/should questions are pretty clear, and I completely understand. (Although I still like the styling of the Basecamp.) Turning this thread upside down, are there any hardsided trailers you guys think ARE suitable to tow with an Escape? I like RVing, but the Escape is my only vehicle. Upgrading to something bigger so I can tow more isn't an option. Tents, tent trailers, and such are not something I want to do. (Been there, owned several, don't want to go back.) Any suggestions, or am I stuck with renting?

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post #6 of 27 Old 09-09-2016, 12:12 PM
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Now that's a good Question!

Two approaches to consider ....

1. The 80% of capacity 'rule of thumb' @jshel101 mentioned has its roots in the 'towing comfort cushion' I described. So, applying that as a starting point, you'd look for a trailer that, at most, weighs in the range of 2800# fully loaded for travel with a tongue weight of 280# (10%) to preferably much closer to 350# (12.5%). Personally I'd prefer a bit lighter trailer with the tongue weight closer to 15% (but within the FE's rated capacity).

2. Make a list of your "requirements" and "wants" (different things)
+ number of campers
+ weekends or weeks-long ventures ?
+ plan to spend lots of time in the trailer or is it just a sleeping & eating place with most days spent 'away' ?
+ need air conditioning when/where you travel ?
+ bathe in the trailer or use campground facilities most of the time (e.g. how important is the shower) ?
+ tackle steep grades a lot ?
+ do you carry major (weight or bulk) 'toys' in/on the car or trailer (kayak, bicycles ...) ?

Making that list first can help make the process of finding your 'best match / least compromise' a bit more efficient.

Just for comparison .....

I have a 17' Casita Liberty Deluxe with most all the options http://casitatraveltrailers.com/liberty-16-17/
It comes in at about 3200 on the scales fully loaded for my travel; I keep the tongue weight high (Honda Eu2000 generator on a tongue rack) because I tow it with my pickup and it tows great, never a hint of sway in any condition at any speed. Even without the generator I would not consider towing it with the Escape even though it would be slightly under the car's 'rated maximums'.

The smallest Casita is the 13' Patriot http://casitatraveltrailers.com/patriot-deluxe-13/
Perhaps a 'candidate' for the Escape but note a compromise .... the interior height is only 5'10", it does not allow full-stand-up room for some folks (it does not have the 'aisle roof bump' of other models).

One 'advantage' of the Casita is its relatively narrow 6'8" outside width for all models - many stand-ups are wider and that affects the size of the 'hole' they must punch in the wind to a surprising degree. Gross frontal area is proven to be much more significant than 'shape details' in terms of towing drag (which just like the car drag, increases exponentially with speed), it's the laws of aerodynamics.

I bought my Casita new in 2005 and can attest that it is supremely well-built and will hold its condition and water-tightness better than any 'stick-built' trailer on the market, no questions asked. Long-term water tightness is an issue with many RV roofs.

Having said that, I've not seen any stand-up RV that I'd personally pull with any '13+ Escape, but I'm obviously a dedicated proponent of that 'comfortable and relaxed towing experience' mentioned above. I enjoy RV-ing too much to have it spoiled by days spent 'driving at the edge' and acting as the 'rolling road-block' in hills and headwinds.

Sometimes rental is the best of everything, especially if not spending too much time on the road .... no capital investment, no storage, no maintenance, get exactly what you want for the needs of each trip, etc, etc. I travel twice a year with a group that rents a 'Class C' to accommodate us .... it's great fun and well worth the cost of rental.

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post #7 of 27 Old 09-09-2016, 05:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveNW View Post
Received an email today from Airstream, announcing their new Basecamp travel trailer. The design seems like the 5X10' trailer front wall restriction wouldn't be a problem because of the curved front end. It's a stylish trailer, and bears further investigation.
Dave
the frontal area seen while towing does not care about curved front. you still need to displace that air.

the drag equation is Cd* A. the curved front affects Cd, but only minimally. All you really need to get 99% of the benefit is to have 4" diameter round corners on a square front end. any more rounding is a waste of interior space. Its nice to see they tapered the back end a bit, because that actually has a large effect on the drag coeffecient Cd.

airstream is so good at marketing. but their trailers are actually awful aerodynamically.

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post #8 of 27 Old 09-09-2016, 06:41 PM
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....airstream .... their trailers are actually awful aerodynamically.
That in comparison to other similar H x W x L typical 'square corner' or 'small radius corner' RV trailers ???? That's the only comparison that's meaningful and in that context it's hard to believe they are "awful" in comparison.

When talking about the 'traditional' Airstream the iconic large radius side>top curve eliminates "x" sq ft of frontal area ("A") while sacrificing virtually no normally useful space in the top-back of upper interior cabinets. And many who have towed both 'square corner' RVs and Airstreams suggest that the Airstream behaves much better when dealing with quartering/sidewinds and big-rig 'wakes', all other things being equal.

Not suggesting that Airstream inventor Wally Byam was an aerodynamic whiz, the original was more a function of style and ability to fabricate with materials he wanted to use (sheet aluminum). But by coincidence or whatever, there do seem to be real benefits in addition to iconic unique appearance and marketing hype.

Admitting I'm probably biased, my folks towed Airstreams from Alaska to Mexico and Newfoundland to Baja and I'm the happy owner of a 'copycat shaped' fiberglass Casita, with thousands of happy trailering miles. I don't kid myself about the curves making a meaningful difference with mileage or drag, but I do believe they improve the overall towing experience compared to 'square corners' over the long miles.

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post #9 of 27 Old 09-12-2016, 12:31 AM
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That in comparison to other similar H x W x L typical 'square corner' or 'small radius corner' RV trailers ???? That's the only comparison that's meaningful and in that context it's hard to believe they are "awful" in comparison.
ok, very slightly better than a box, not as good as their marketing implies it is.

Quote:
When talking about the 'traditional' Airstream the iconic large radius side>top curve eliminates "x" sq ft of frontal area ("A") while sacrificing virtually no normally useful space in the top-back of upper interior cabinets. And many who have towed both 'square corner' RVs and Airstreams suggest that the Airstream behaves much better when dealing with quartering/sidewinds and big-rig 'wakes', all other things being equal.
interesting point about the curved side reducing frontal area.

as long as your sides have sufficient rounded corners (not square) cross wind performance could demonstrably improve.

Quote:
Not suggesting that Airstream inventor Wally Byam was an aerodynamic whiz, the original was more a function of style and ability to fabricate with materials he wanted to use (sheet aluminum). But by coincidence or whatever, there do seem to be real benefits in addition to iconic unique appearance and marketing hype.

Admitting I'm probably biased, my folks towed Airstreams from Alaska to Mexico and Newfoundland to Baja and I'm the happy owner of a 'copycat shaped' fiberglass Casita, with thousands of happy trailering miles. I don't kid myself about the curves making a meaningful difference with mileage or drag, but I do believe they improve the overall towing experience compared to 'square corners' over the long miles.
i agree there porbably is a positive difference. my real point is that there could be a Huge difference if trailers were designed by proper aerodynamicists.
I could imagine wheel farings, smooth underbodies, tapered tear drop rear ends. not putting blocky AC units on top, etc.

PS. im not an aerodynamicist. I'm just an engineer who has done some serious reading, and also spends time on Ecomodder forum

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post #10 of 27 Old 09-12-2016, 05:10 AM
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PS. im not an aerodynamicist. I'm just an engineer who has done some serious reading, and also spends time on Ecomodder forum
Fair enough, but your comments suggest you're not thinking like an engineer...
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my real point is that there could be a Huge difference if trailers were designed by proper aerodynamicists.
As you've already indicated that you understand, likely the only way to make a "Huge difference" is to significantly reduce "A" .... but that's in conflict with the primary functional requirements for 'walk-in' trailers! Those willing to accept the functional trade-offs for significantly reduced "A" pull one of the many types of 'fold-down' (either 'soft' or 'hard-sided') or 'crawl-in' (mini/teardrop) trailers, just as some folks drive a small "A" Prius rather than an Escape or a Suburban .... but each has very different tradeoffs involved and they don't meet the same overall user needs/wants.

E.g. the ability to pull off the road, walk into a trailer and make/eat a lunch, stretch-out comfortably and get back on the road with zero hassle, is a convenience that every 'low "A" ' trailer owner has envied at some point in their RV-ing experience.... a convenience they sacrifice in return for 'hugely' better aerodynamics, the ability to tow with smaller vehicles, smaller engines and with less fuel. And then there's the experience of pulling into a campground for the night during a thunderstorm .... :-0 Obviously @DaveNW , based on his BTDT comments in post # 5, understands what compromises he's willing/not willing to make in that regard, as do many others who choose the 'walk-in trailer' solution.
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I could imagine wheel farings, smooth underbodies, tapered tear drop rear ends. not putting blocky AC units on top, etc.
All those things make small incremental differences which even when all are applied pale in comparison to significantly reduced "A". Even then, they all also involve 'compromises' in terms of cost, ease of use/maintenance, and aesthetics. Just to choose one: why don't all cars have skirted wheels and flush hubcaps? Because the market (and you can bet they've done market research on it) won't bear the various cost and function compromises involved even though Mfrs would LOVE what the incremental improvement would do for their CAFE ratings! It's the same for all those sorts of things (FYI, Airstreams have had full smooth belly-pans for decades with only a few waste-drain pipes hanging below). For some it's worth it, but evidence (what people buy) suggests that for most it's not if there's any sacrifice of immediate cost or convenience involved.
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....ok, very slightly better than a box, not as good as their marketing implies it is....interesting point about the curved side reducing frontal area.....as long as your sides have sufficient rounded corners (not square) cross wind performance could demonstrably improve.....i agree there probably is a positive difference.....
So, when a manufacturer employs, within the constraints of the primary engineering requirements, a handful of design features of exactly the sort that 'ecomodders' suggest for gaining incremental improvements, you discount that effort as (and I paraphrase) 'marketing hype'.

C'mon Thenorm, I'm a (retired) engineer, too. Put on your engineer hat and really think about the challenges of meeting the requirements of an always ready walk-in RV and imagine what an aerodynamicist can do with that to make a "huge difference" in terms of towing drag or required towing power within that engineering "program". Don't forget that a significant part of the overall aerodynamic equation is a variable you can't 'fix' (the shape and size of the tow vehicle ranging from SUV to pick-up to van). Think about things like the cost of developing, implementing and maintaining a radically improved AC solution for RVs (which BTW, have become much lower profile in the last few years while still meeting the requirements of 'universal fit' on standard RV vent hatches, minimizing loss of interior space and directing most of the noise 'up' where it causes the least disturbance to neighbors in RV park/campground settings). Don't forget you need substantial ground-clearance to avoid dragging the ends on those nasty gutter-then-steep driveway approaches one encounters.... etc, etc, etc.

I don't mean to give you too hard a time, but I honestly think you've failed to employ your smarts to develop realistic expectations for the engineering challenge at hand and give credit to the RV industry for its efforts in this regard: there are RV's that offer 'Prius-like' aerodynamic performance and function .... just as there are those that offer 'Suburban-like' aerodynamic performance and function. And there's undoubtedly room for incremental improvements of both. But just like with cars, the laws of nature preclude 'having your cake and eating it too' and the laws of human nature legitimately drive the need/want/market for both.

No, I don't think there's much room for "Huge (aerodynamic) improvement" within the bounds of the functional market requirements for full-size walk-in RVs, even with dedicated aerodynamicist involvement in the design. And IMHO it'll take the feds stepping-in to mandate CAFE-like standards to make the incremental aerodynamic improvements that only a few RV manufacturers currently consider more ubiquitous.


@jshel101 will now surely ban me for life for finally going 'off-topic' absolutely too far :-0

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