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Improving my tow rig mileage for my trip to Frazee, MN by R Runner
Started on: 06-15-2010 09:16 PM
Replies: 45
Last post by: Synthesis on 07-12-2010 05:22 PM
R Runner
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Report this Post06-15-2010 09:16 PM Click Here to See the Profile for R RunnerClick Here to visit R Runner's HomePageClick Here to Email R RunnerSend a Private Message to R RunnerDirect Link to This Post
I have been working on ways to improve my gas mileage of my tow vehicle in order to save money on the trip to and from Frazee, MN in July. I have done all of the normal things to the truck including a larger air dam (actually 2 airdams), better muffler, ram air with K&N as well as a mileage ECM chip. The biggest problme I see is the trialer I am pulling. It is like pulling a big brick through the air. Through some reading, I have learned that basically trailers that are over 48" away from the tow vehicle have nearly the same drag as one that sees a full frontal area.
With that in mind, I began to look for a nose cone for my trialer to improve the air flow and help avoid the air resistance caused by the frontal area problem. I wanted to make it a long as possible without have a problem hitting the truck. This improves the angle of attack for each of the surfaces. Also with a nose this big on the trailer, I could not open my rear truck doors. Big problem.


I do not have the fiberglass skin on it yet, but, here is my solution.

Truck and trailer...



Nose Cone.....

.



MAGIC.....

.
And the door can open with no problems!



I know it seems simple, but it was a lot tougher to make happen than I thought. About 4 weekends to get to this point. I figure I have 2 more to go.
It also doubles as a sun shade / unbrella. Need to put a small water gutter on the front to keep water out of the truck while the door is open.

What to you think? Good idea or crazy?

------------------
Paul

My IMSA Build: http://www.cardomain.com/ride/789315
HHP Adjustable Sway Bars: //www.fiero.nl/forum/Forum4/HTML/036556.html

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Report this Post06-15-2010 09:35 PM Click Here to See the Profile for fierofurySend a Private Message to fierofuryDirect Link to This Post
Cool idea...I don't think its a crazy idea at all.


You might already know about it but check out: www.ecomodder.com
They have quite a bit of mods that remind me of what you are doing.

Let us know how it turns out!

[This message has been edited by fierofury (edited 06-15-2010).]

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Report this Post06-15-2010 09:39 PM Click Here to See the Profile for 17CarSend a Private Message to 17CarDirect Link to This Post
Nice, I like it!
Just make sure that it does not hit the tow vehicle when making sharp turns :P
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R Runner
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Report this Post06-15-2010 09:47 PM Click Here to See the Profile for R RunnerClick Here to visit R Runner's HomePageClick Here to Email R RunnerSend a Private Message to R RunnerDirect Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by 17Car:

Nice, I like it!
Just make sure that it does not hit the tow vehicle when making sharp turns :P



Thanks. Yes, I checked and acutally did many measurements at near jack-knife conditions. I can hit it if I try, but not by driving forward. If you look closely I have intentionaly bowed the lower out board corners to allow for more clearance.

I also took a test drive and it seems to be fine.

Glad you guys like it.
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KurtAKX
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Report this Post06-15-2010 10:04 PM Click Here to See the Profile for KurtAKXSend a Private Message to KurtAKXDirect Link to This Post
why not make a corresponding mating surface on the roof rack of the truck; a spoiler like those 5th wheel and semi trucks have to go along with this?
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Report this Post06-15-2010 10:06 PM Click Here to See the Profile for KurtAKXSend a Private Message to KurtAKXDirect Link to This Post

KurtAKX

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The trailer appears a fair bit W I D E R than the truck as well, perhaps you could address that in some way as well?
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R Runner
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Report this Post06-15-2010 10:11 PM Click Here to See the Profile for R RunnerClick Here to visit R Runner's HomePageClick Here to Email R RunnerSend a Private Message to R RunnerDirect Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by KurtAKX:

The trailer appears a fair bit W I D E R than the truck as well, perhaps you could address that in some way as well?


I can barely squeese my IMSA into it now. I only have about 3 inches of clearance on each side. The car is about 76" wide.

Edit... forgot to mention the workbench and cabinets up in the nose. It would be nice to have a new trailer with the nose built in, but this will have to do for now.

[This message has been edited by R Runner (edited 06-15-2010).]

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aaronkoch
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Report this Post06-15-2010 11:20 PM Click Here to See the Profile for aaronkochClick Here to Email aaronkochSend a Private Message to aaronkochDirect Link to This Post
Just a suggestion, but does it need to be fiberglass? Why not just get some canvas, cut to shape, eye-hole it, and attach with cable to tension around your frame? Lighter weight, and it will still deflect wind. Also easier to lift..
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R Runner
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Report this Post06-16-2010 12:37 PM Click Here to See the Profile for R RunnerClick Here to visit R Runner's HomePageClick Here to Email R RunnerSend a Private Message to R RunnerDirect Link to This Post
I made a canvas convertable top for anonther car hauler some time ago. I have gas struts on this thing so weight is not really an issue. Currently I need to tie it down to keep it tight to the trialer.
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Report this Post06-16-2010 12:54 PM Click Here to See the Profile for Tony KaniaSend a Private Message to Tony KaniaDirect Link to This Post
Pretty cool idea there. You are going to have to tell us how she pulls after the surface of the frame is applied.

Awesome link fierofury. I checked it out a bit, then saved it in my favorites. Some good reading there, and some great ideas.
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Report this Post06-16-2010 12:58 PM Click Here to See the Profile for AkursedXClick Here to Email AkursedXSend a Private Message to AkursedXDirect Link to This Post
Good idea! You should also look into Airtabs. They are little vortex generators that help reduce drag along the trailing end. www.airtab.com

Between the two, you should be able to reduce drag by a decent amount.

------------------
'88 GT- 3800 Turbo 11.367@121.03mph
gmtuners.com -Build info

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Report this Post06-18-2010 12:31 PM Click Here to See the Profile for R RunnerClick Here to visit R Runner's HomePageClick Here to Email R RunnerSend a Private Message to R RunnerDirect Link to This Post
Does anyone have experience with the AirTabs? I have read mixed reviews. Some say they work and some say they don't.

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Report this Post06-18-2010 05:24 PM Click Here to See the Profile for currie68Click Here to Email currie68Send a Private Message to currie68Direct Link to This Post
300,000 with them they work well
for my 53 ' dry van. about .3 to .4
miles better to the gallon
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Report this Post06-18-2010 05:53 PM Click Here to See the Profile for PURPLE REIGNClick Here to Email PURPLE REIGNSend a Private Message to PURPLE REIGNDirect Link to This Post
Add a Turbo HP to weight ratio always wins in MGP
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R Runner
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Report this Post06-18-2010 08:14 PM Click Here to See the Profile for R RunnerClick Here to visit R Runner's HomePageClick Here to Email R RunnerSend a Private Message to R RunnerDirect Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by currie68:

300,000 with them they work well
for my 53 ' dry van. about .3 to .4
miles better to the gallon


Wow. That IS pretty good. Did you put them across the top and the sides of the back of the trailer? How much spacing in between them? My trailer box is about 90" wide and 84" tall.
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Report this Post06-18-2010 11:59 PM Click Here to See the Profile for Gokart MozartClick Here to visit Gokart Mozart's HomePageSend a Private Message to Gokart MozartDirect Link to This Post
fender skirts on both trailer and suburban
What about having another cone on the sides of the trailer where the diamond plate is? Have them hinge on the vertical at the corner.
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Report this Post06-19-2010 04:57 AM Click Here to See the Profile for R RunnerClick Here to visit R Runner's HomePageClick Here to Email R RunnerSend a Private Message to R RunnerDirect Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by Gokart Mozart:

fender skirts on both trailer and suburban
What about having another cone on the sides of the trailer where the diamond plate is? Have them hinge on the vertical at the corner.


I think that is a good idea. I had thought about that and if it restricted access. I think I can do that but will need to give the hinge some thought. It could swing out of the way so the nose cone could be lifted.
On a side note, I am running out of time before the show. I still need to finish the nose cone, prep the IMSA, prep the truck for camping (ie make curtains, etc..) replace the A/C compressor and accumulator, fix a buddies car, replace the ball joints in my daily driver (87 GT), and a bunch of other odds an ends while working 60 to 70 hour weeks. Sorry to get off track. Yes. It's a good idea. Thank you for mentioning it.

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Report this Post06-19-2010 08:27 AM Click Here to See the Profile for CoolBlue87GTClick Here to Email CoolBlue87GTSend a Private Message to CoolBlue87GTDirect Link to This Post
Very interesting post. Looking forward to the finished project. Looks like it should work. Good luck with it.

Due to the height of my garage door, I had my trailer built lower than most, which due to dumb luck, (no planning) aids in pulling the trailer down the road with less resistance as it's about the same height as the Suburban.



AkursedX , Thanks for the info in the Airtabs, very cool.
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Report this Post06-19-2010 11:41 AM Click Here to See the Profile for R RunnerClick Here to visit R Runner's HomePageClick Here to Email R RunnerSend a Private Message to R RunnerDirect Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by CoolBlue87GT:

Very interesting post. Looking forward to the finished project. Looks like it should work. Good luck with it.

Due to the height of my garage door, I had my trailer built lower than most, which due to dumb luck, (no planning) aids in pulling the trailer down the road with less resistance as it's about the same height as the Suburban.



AkursedX , Thanks for the info in the Airtabs, very cool.


The angled nose on the front of your trailer will help quite a bit too. I purchased my trailer cheap and have come to love the work bench and tool box storage in the nose. My Suburban only gets 11 MPG with out the trailer (possibly 12 with all of the recent modifications). I wish I had a good base line without the nose cone and this turck to see how much I improved the overall MPG.

My only "long" pull was about 70 miles each way at about 65 to 70+ MPH into a 10 to 15 MPH head wind both ways + 35 to 45 minutes of stop and go traffic on the interstate. In addition I had to pull one of the hardest hills I have taken my rig on. Last year my 91 full size bronco nearly overheated from a cooler than normal temperature on this 1/2 mile hill. Even with my new truck (454, 4.10 locker towing gears) I had to drop to 2nd gear and pull at 25 mph. On this total trip of 170 miles I got about 7.8 mpg. My Bronco would only get 8.0 mpg at 55 mph while "riding" the hills on the interstate. I am estimating that at 58 mph and cruise control with my Suburban I should get 9 mpg without the nose cone. Ultimately I would love to be getting about 10 mpg or better yet 10.5 mpg.

I am working on this project heavily this weekend.

Thanks for the advice everyone!

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Report this Post06-24-2010 01:33 AM Click Here to See the Profile for CoolBlue87GTClick Here to Email CoolBlue87GTSend a Private Message to CoolBlue87GTDirect Link to This Post
Here's a better view, getting 14 - 15 MPG while towing.


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Report this Post06-24-2010 09:30 AM Click Here to See the Profile for blackramsClick Here to Email blackramsSend a Private Message to blackramsDirect Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by R Runner:
My only "long" pull was about 70 miles each way at about 65 to 70+ MPH


Realizing time is essential in virtually every trip, drop that mph to 60-65 and you'll normally see a mpg increase.
My rig's mpg goes up approximately 1/2 a mile per gallon (or more) with every 5 mph I drop in speed.
Ensure tires are inflated appropriately and when you have the opportunity, draft.

Ron
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Report this Post06-24-2010 12:20 PM Click Here to See the Profile for R RunnerClick Here to visit R Runner's HomePageClick Here to Email R RunnerSend a Private Message to R RunnerDirect Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by blackrams:


Realizing time is essential in virtually every trip, drop that mph to 60-65 and you'll normally see a mpg increase.
My rig's mpg goes up approximately 1/2 a mile per gallon (or more) with every 5 mph I drop in speed.
Ensure tires are inflated appropriately and when you have the opportunity, draft.

Ron


Yes sir. That is the plan. I was trying to see what the worst case would be. I'll post more pictures this weekend.

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R Runner
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Report this Post07-02-2010 09:25 PM Click Here to See the Profile for R RunnerClick Here to visit R Runner's HomePageClick Here to Email R RunnerSend a Private Message to R RunnerDirect Link to This Post
Here is an update........


I was sick last weekend so I did not get much done. I am starting to panic a little considering that the Tyler Shipman Show is so soon. I have not preped the car or truck yet. I began putting on the skin. I have the upper and lower in the correct shape with all of the attachment holes drilled. The lower is completely attached. I will continue by fabricating the sides tomorrow and hopefully will have all of the skin complete by the end of the day. On Sunday I will mount it to the trailer for a test fit and to see how where the adjustment feet will be placed as well as the best way to hold it in place.

The other major slow down last week (besides getting sick) was the fact that the two gas cylinders I planned on using were too weak to lift the load. I had to add two more. Not as easy as it sounds since they only can be in parallel. Check out the pictures for my solution. It took many hours to figure out the ideal position. I determined that it needed to be within 1/8" of the correct spot or either I would not have enough lift height, or not enough angle to lift.






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Report this Post07-02-2010 09:41 PM Click Here to See the Profile for blackramsClick Here to Email blackramsSend a Private Message to blackramsDirect Link to This Post
Well, I glad to see you survived that weekend. The project seems to be moving along, I hope it works out for you.

Ron
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Report this Post07-02-2010 09:55 PM Click Here to See the Profile for matchmadeSend a Private Message to matchmadeDirect Link to This Post
You're a genius Paul, and one heck of a fabricator. That looks like a cool project.
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Report this Post07-02-2010 10:03 PM Click Here to See the Profile for Tony KaniaSend a Private Message to Tony KaniaDirect Link to This Post
I want your garage!
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Report this Post07-02-2010 10:57 PM Click Here to See the Profile for CoolBlue87GTClick Here to Email CoolBlue87GTSend a Private Message to CoolBlue87GTDirect Link to This Post
Here's your finished (photo-shopped) photo



Good luck with the build.

[This message has been edited by CoolBlue87GT (edited 07-02-2010).]

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R Runner
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Report this Post07-03-2010 04:50 AM Click Here to See the Profile for R RunnerClick Here to visit R Runner's HomePageClick Here to Email R RunnerSend a Private Message to R RunnerDirect Link to This Post
Very cool PS! Thanks guys for the encouragement. I thought the idea was simple, but it turned out to be much more difficult to build than I expected. Not quite as bad as the front clip on the IMSA, but pretty close.
I just hope that the gas struts will be able to lift the finished product. It looks like it will be close. I may have to use an additional strut if I can figure out where to put it.
Thanks again!
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Report this Post07-04-2010 05:57 PM Click Here to See the Profile for R RunnerClick Here to visit R Runner's HomePageClick Here to Email R RunnerSend a Private Message to R RunnerDirect Link to This Post
Here is the progress I have made so far. All I have left is to make a latch to hold it down, make the stand offs on the lower outboard corners for support, paint it and permanently mount it.
You may notice that the panels are not fully attached in the pictures. The assembly in the picture was a mock up. One of many that I did. Also there will be panels covering the spare tire.











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Report this Post07-05-2010 05:51 AM Click Here to See the Profile for R RunnerClick Here to visit R Runner's HomePageClick Here to Email R RunnerSend a Private Message to R RunnerDirect Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by currie68:

300,000 with them they work well
for my 53 ' dry van. about .3 to .4
miles better to the gallon



Air Tabs....

I decided to give them a try. I have ordered them for my trailer so hopefully I will get some advantage. Unfortunately it will be hard to tell since I am adding the nose cone at the same time. Not a good test / experiment, but I like the Air Tab idea.

http://www.airtab.com/en/
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Report this Post07-05-2010 10:17 AM Click Here to See the Profile for chadwilkinsClick Here to Email chadwilkinsSend a Private Message to chadwilkinsDirect Link to This Post
How much $$$ did you spend on all those accesories to save a few bucks in gas?
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Report this Post07-05-2010 10:56 AM Click Here to See the Profile for California KidSend a Private Message to California KidDirect Link to This Post
You might want to consider covering the frame work with a "Chicken Wire" type material, before you mount panels to frame. It would help eliminate pressure oil canning of the panels at road speeds. There might also be a spray on bonding agent (like structural foam) you could spray on the entire backside for more strength to the cone.
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Report this Post07-05-2010 11:54 AM Click Here to See the Profile for R RunnerClick Here to visit R Runner's HomePageClick Here to Email R RunnerSend a Private Message to R RunnerDirect Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by chadwilkins:

How much $$$ did you spend on all those accesories to save a few bucks in gas?


The purpose was not only to save gas, but also reduce wear and tear on the truck, give me more usable HP while driving and to improve cross wind stability. I have spent about $350 total in materials for the nose cone with some left over for other projects. If I gain 1 MPG on the trip to and from Frazee, I will save $60 in gas alone. But then again, that is only 1 trip. 2 or 3 shows per summer and this mod will pay for itself by the end of next year.
The Air Tabs on the other hand..... It may take quite a bit longer for them to pay for themselves. Keep in mind that the gas mileage is largely dependant on the vehicle pulling it. My Suburban gets about 11 MPG with city/HWY driving. All highway, perhaps 12 MPG. Towing I am hoping for 10 MPG. That would be a serious improvement over my Bronco.

Some people would say, "just get a Diesel". I paid much less than half for this truck as I would have for a compareable Diesel. I can do a LOT of mods for that money.
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Report this Post07-05-2010 11:58 AM Click Here to See the Profile for R RunnerClick Here to visit R Runner's HomePageClick Here to Email R RunnerSend a Private Message to R RunnerDirect Link to This Post

R Runner

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Member since Feb 2003
 
quote
Originally posted by California Kid:

You might want to consider covering the frame work with a "Chicken Wire" type material, before you mount panels to frame. It would help eliminate pressure oil canning of the panels at road speeds. There might also be a spray on bonding agent (like structural foam) you could spray on the entire backside for more strength to the cone.



Tom.... I think I will be okay. I put a lot of support behind the FRP. The only real load will be on the top panel. The proof is in the pudding so I will find out for sure next weekend when I mount it on the trailer for the last time. If for some reason I have problems or break something, the panels are very easy to replace. This is no accident.

Good to hear from you...
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Report this Post07-09-2010 05:09 AM Click Here to See the Profile for R RunnerClick Here to visit R Runner's HomePageClick Here to Email R RunnerSend a Private Message to R RunnerDirect Link to This Post
After some minor changes, I was able to paint it last weekend. Tomorrow I intend to mount it for the final time and give it a test drive. Here are some pictures of the "final" product pianted in wire frame.



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Report this Post07-09-2010 06:20 AM Click Here to See the Profile for billpappsSend a Private Message to billpappsDirect Link to This Post
Awesome idea. Looks great also.

I put canvas on my tool trailer. Lasted almost 2 years. Between workers not caring
and the wind.It was a waist of money.
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Report this Post07-09-2010 07:41 PM Click Here to See the Profile for lynxerClick Here to Email lynxerSend a Private Message to lynxerDirect Link to This Post
You have way to much time on your hands!!!! haha, but I am glad you are making the trip! right before the Tyler Project I kind of got back into the Fiero's and spent about an hour druling over your build. Can't wait to see it in person!!!!!!!!!!
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Report this Post07-09-2010 09:01 PM Click Here to See the Profile for jscott1Send a Private Message to jscott1Direct Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by R Runner:


The purpose was not only to save gas, but also reduce wear and tear on the truck, give me more usable HP while driving and to improve cross wind stability.


That's a cool idea. I haven't yet graduated to an enclosed trailer but if I do it sure won't have a flat front on it.

I'm lucky though that my Avalanche gets 21 mpg by itself and I can get 15-16 mpg towing an open trailer.
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Report this Post07-10-2010 05:37 AM Click Here to See the Profile for R RunnerClick Here to visit R Runner's HomePageClick Here to Email R RunnerSend a Private Message to R RunnerDirect Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by jscott1:


That's a cool idea. I haven't yet graduated to an enclosed trailer but if I do it sure won't have a flat front on it.

I'm lucky though that my Avalanche gets 21 mpg by itself and I can get 15-16 mpg towing an open trailer.


That is pretty amazing and a testament to modern technology. My 454 has towing gears. Pulls great but 55 MPH is 2000 RPM (interestingly just like my 5 sp GT). If I keep my speed down to say 58 or 60 MPH I may be able to get 10 MPG.

Thanks for the info on the Avalanche.
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R Runner
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From: Scottsville, KY
Registered: Feb 2003


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Report this Post07-10-2010 05:39 AM Click Here to See the Profile for R RunnerClick Here to visit R Runner's HomePageClick Here to Email R RunnerSend a Private Message to R RunnerDirect Link to This Post

R Runner

3610 posts
Member since Feb 2003
 
quote
Originally posted by lynxer:

You have way to much time on your hands!!!! haha, but I am glad you are making the trip! right before the Tyler Project I kind of got back into the Fiero's and spent about an hour druling over your build. Can't wait to see it in person!!!!!!!!!!


Thank you for the comment. You will most definately get your chance to check it out. Don't forget that I want to checkout your 'Bird too!

I always need a good project / improvement to work on for a big show.
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