Buckminster Fuller used to ask “how much does your house weigh?” It is still an important question, a reflection of the size and amount of material going into our buildings. In the Recreational Vehicle (RV) world, it is particularly important, since every extra pound you pull behind your car reduces your gas mileage. It’s one of the reasons that the RV world is so interesting; they are at the forefront of designing for small spaces, using transformer furniture, using fewer resources in fuel and water and electricity, since you have to carry them all with you. There are a lot of lessons to learn from these things.
Teardrop Trailer Panel
The Alto 1713 is one of the more interesting trailers around. It starts as a teardrop, the aerodynamic trailer design that has been around forever; they are easy to pull. With the help of lightweight trailer panels, the teardrop drag is 75% less than a conventional trailer. The builder writes:
Faced with the steady increase in the price of gasoline and the social responsibility we all share to save non-renewable fossil energy, Safari Condo wanted to design ultra-light travel trailers with the lowest possible drag coefficient. Travel trailers meeting these two criteria could then be readily towed by smaller vehicles. Even more environmentally conscious, Safari Condo also wanted its materials selection to be not only lightweight but for the most part recyclable.
This thing is seriously light. Built with aluminum bed and sandwich panel walls, the whole thing weighs in at 1683 pounds. With that weight and that minimized drag, just about any four-banger could pull it. Everything inside is built with ultra-light materials, even the furnishings; “Rigid and ultra-light sandwich panels are integrated into the bed cushions, while the entire bed structure is made of aluminum extrusions.”