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Old 03-09-2014, 10:33 AM   #1
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Travel trailer design

Hello, first post here. I'm new to this board as well as new to the subject. After acquiring a used Buick Enclave with some towing capacity (4,500 lb) last year, I developed an interest in smallish travel trailers (e.g., the 1801 Minnie), but as I read about them and their unique problems, it makes me wonder: why don't designers put a wheel (or a pair) at the corners of the TT rather than in the center? I suppose the obvious first response is cost, but wouldn't such a layout reduce towing problems such as sway and excessive tongue weight? Wouldn't that be of value to a buyer?
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Old 03-09-2014, 10:56 AM   #2
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An interesting concept, but maybe there would be handling issues. You'd definitely need some kind of articulating tongue, or it would get torn apart on dips in the road or inclines.

Probably more workable would be some kind of helper caster for the trailer tongue. There are a few on the market.

For your Enclave, there are still a lot of good choices in travel trailers. The T@B is a good size for your car and you'd probably have an easy time of towing it.
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Old 03-09-2014, 01:26 PM   #3
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An interesting concept, but maybe there would be handling issues. You'd definitely need some kind of articulating tongue, or it would get torn apart on dips in the road or inclines.

Probably more workable would be some kind of helper caster for the trailer tongue. There are a few on the market.

For your Enclave, there are still a lot of good choices in travel trailers. The T@B is a good size for your car and you'd probably have an easy time of towing it.
An articulated tongue seems like it would it only have to move in the pitch plane, which would be simple. Doesn't the ball accommodate trailer motion in the roll and yaw planes?

By the way, I'm new at this: What's a T@B?
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Old 03-09-2014, 03:46 PM   #4
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1. T@B is a TearDrop Style trailer that is commercially available. Known for being fairly light weight.

2. Wheels "in the corners": I assume you mean move the wheels back like a boat trailer. The problem there is then there is more weight on the tongue, and thus causing enough weight to be carried many tow vehicles to exceed the payload capacity. The other problem is the trailer frames are light enough build that they can flex is there is too much weight spread between the axles and the front of the trailer.

Now, if you meant putting another set up front like a farm trailer, that is due to the backing issues. Most people can barely pull of backing a regular trailer. Putting an extra pivot in there would be disastrous to most. It also does not solve the light weight trailer frame flex issues.
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Old 03-09-2014, 06:46 PM   #5
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1. T@B is a TearDrop Style trailer that is commercially available. Known for being fairly light weight.

2. Wheels "in the corners": I assume you mean move the wheels back like a boat trailer. The problem there is then there is more weight on the tongue, and thus causing enough weight to be carried many tow vehicles to exceed the payload capacity. The other problem is the trailer frames are light enough build that they can flex is there is too much weight spread between the axles and the front of the trailer.

Now, if you meant putting another set up front like a farm trailer, that is due to the backing issues. Most people can barely pull of backing a regular trailer. Putting an extra pivot in there would be disastrous to most. It also does not solve the light weight trailer frame flex issues.
I meant one wheel in each corner. Intuitively, it would seem to create a tongue weight of zero--I'm visualizing a tow bar on the front of a car, for example, where 100% of the car's weight is on the four tires.

I guess the answer to frame flex is to build a frame properly engineered for corner wheels. But I didn't consider the problem of backing up. Back to the drawing board...
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Old 03-10-2014, 12:08 AM   #6
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A fifth wheel uses the same principle with the front wheels being the truck axles.
Farm trailers are designed with a tail end beyond the rear tandem axles loading 3 axles equally.
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Old 03-10-2014, 12:43 AM   #7
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I built a boat trailer out of a farm style 4 wheel trailer. The front wheels steered and were controlled by the tow bar. It was a great handling and riding trailer.
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Old 03-10-2014, 09:17 AM   #8
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I built a boat trailer out of a farm style 4 wheel trailer. The front wheels steered and were controlled by the tow bar. It was a great handling and riding trailer.
There you go! Am I correct in assuming that such an arrangement, with a tire in each corner, would reduce or eliminate sway? I'm guessing there would be little or no tendency of the trailer to pivot around the vertical centerline of the axles, as with trailers with an axle and two wheels located in the middle (fore and aft) of the frame. At least that's my impression from the reading about the subject I've done so far.
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Old 03-10-2014, 08:02 PM   #9
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It would be like towing a wagon. If I remember correctly I could get my little brother going faster in a wheelbarrow then the wagon. Seems the front end of the wagon was funky. The handle turned the front wheels...remember?

On a trailer the front tires would need to turn...kinda like on the Red Flyer Wagon.
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Old 03-11-2014, 02:46 PM   #10
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Check out some of the smaller Camplites:

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Old 03-11-2014, 10:03 PM   #11
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Check out some of the smaller Camplites:

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The Camplites look great!
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Old 03-13-2014, 02:57 PM   #12
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I love the Camplites, even the floor is aluminum...nothing to rot...but they are pricey for their size. The Ascend 17 or 19 are in your weight range and seem fairly decent. Even the new Vista is better built than the old Visa model. The floors are protected from moisture underneath and I like the one piece fibreglass roof.
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Old 03-13-2014, 09:48 PM   #13
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The Camplites are spendy, for sure. I'm still fixated on the idea of a TT with a wheel in each corner and the front wheels steerable. I've been googling stuff like farm trailers and have found some with that configuration. Speaking hypothetically and just for fun, what would happen if, say, you had a flatbed trailer in such a configuration and just bolted an appropriately sized TT onto it? Would not such a trailer, with wheels in each corner, be more resistant to crosswinds?

Pardon the goofy questions, but my ignorance of this subject is nearly total.
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Old 03-15-2014, 09:22 PM   #14
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I love the Camplites, even the floor is aluminum...nothing to rot...but they are pricey for their size. The Ascend 17 or 19 are in your weight range and seem fairly decent. Even the new Vista is better built than the old Visa model. The floors are protected from moisture underneath and I like the one piece fibreglass roof.
I just looked at the Ascend 19; very nice. Do any of you who own something like this have a need for a comfortable chair? Not a great big catcher's mitt recliner, but something more comfortable than the low, straight-back dinette seats. It looks like the challenge would be where to put it.
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