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Old 02-15-2017, 08:56 PM   #1
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Ever heard of airtabs?

This is Hubby.
Buddy of mine visited today and I noticed he has some unusual wishbone looking things stuck all over his rig .
They are called airtabs and supposedly they reduce air buffeting and help increase fuel mileage. He says they really help when a large truck passes him and increased his MPG about 1.8 mpg.
I found the website for them and of course it is full of positive testimonials . Airtab | Aerodynamic Fuel Savers | Welcome
Anyone ever heard of them?
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Old 02-15-2017, 09:00 PM   #2
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I saw a video on them a while back, but kinda forgot. Not keen on the look of the, but if they work......
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Old 02-15-2017, 09:03 PM   #3
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Those things have been around for years. I've got screen shots that go back to at least 2006. So.... your MPG increases a smidge. How long does it take to clean the trailer and rewax with those pieces attached? I'm retired, but I still think time is money. Now show me something that increases fuel mileage a bunch... and I'll pay attention. Snake oil... not so much YMMV

In the end, if these were all that great, don't you think big carriers would have these mounted on trailers? They don't... must be a reason.
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Old 02-15-2017, 09:39 PM   #4
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I figured the same but hey, you never know.
He has a few add-ons like that, the only one I've ever seen used by anyone were the centramatic wheel balancers. We had them on some of our trucks. It was easy to tell if they were on by the shoop shoop noise as you went slow by a wall.
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Old 02-16-2017, 12:47 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Donna D. View Post
Those things have been around for years. I've got screen shots that go back to at least 2006. So.... your MPG increases a smidge. How long does it take to clean the trailer and rewax with those pieces attached? I'm retired, but I still think time is money. Now show me something that increases fuel mileage a bunch... and I'll pay attention. Snake oil... not so much YMMV

In the end, if these were all that great, don't you think big carriers would have these mounted on trailers? They don't... must be a reason.
Well .... semi trucks do use foils. In the last few years truckers use big foils between their trailer axels (fore and aft). Not sure of the whole story here as I have never looked them up. No, not the little tabs, but truckers also use fairings both on the front of their cabs and trailers as well as behind the last trailer. Those guys with big surface areas want big results.

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Old 02-16-2017, 01:15 AM   #6
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Those fairings ( if that's what they are called ) along the side of the trailer ahead of the trailer wheels are there for cyclists and pedestrians to bounce off off, instead of getting run over. 'Tis true.
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Old 02-16-2017, 01:45 AM   #7
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I think a great source of drag is the air underneath the vehicle and trailer. It gets compressed against the ground pushing upward and increases drag increasing fuel consumption. I think those fairings along the side of the semi trailers which go a little inboard at the front actually remove a lot of air from underneath and do increase mileage. Something like that on a smaller scale may be more effective than Airtabs.
Still, if mounted in laminar flow near the back of the trailer the Airtabs may help slightly but may also help reduce the splash back of mud and debris on the back of the trailer.
Which brings up some thread drift. Does the solar panel on the roof do anything to decrease the splash back of mud on the rear of the trailer? Back when I had a SUV the rear windows were always getting trashed. I eventually bought an air deflector which directed air downward and it reduced the problem. Now that seems standard on a lot of SUVs.
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Old 02-16-2017, 02:05 AM   #8
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Here is a story about side guards.
After Cyclist Death, Brother Pushes For Truck Side Guards | Here & Now
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Old 02-16-2017, 02:44 AM   #9
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Those fairings ( if that's what they are called ) along the side of the trailer ahead of the trailer wheels are there for cyclists and pedestrians to bounce off off, instead of getting run over. 'Tis true.
Well, they may help with cyclists and pedestrians, but trailer side fairings (or belly fairings) really are for aerodynamic drag reduction - there are lots of online articles about them from suppliers and publications in the trucking industry. Due to the different shape, I can't see them having much potential for use on an Escape.
Green Wing Aerodynamic Side Skirts
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I like the SmartTruck under-tray, mostly because it looks like it shouldn't be effective but works, and partly because the approach may be helpful for travel trailers such as Escapes.

baglo, you may be thinking of side guards, not skirt-style fairings...
From The Toronto Star - Truck side guards may not be safer for cyclists
Quote:
Many people confuse side skirts, which are frequently used on tractor-trailers in Canada, with side guards, which are mandatory in Europe but seldom used here.

Side skirts fit between a trailer’s front and rear wheels to improve aerodynamics and are not intended for pedestrian protection. They’re usually made of fibreglass, aluminum or plastic, and have to be flexible so they don’t break off on snowbanks or other obstacles. They can improve fuel economy by as much as 6 per cent, but only at speeds above 70 km/h. As a result, they’re almost exclusively fitted to long-haul highway trailers, which are seldom used in downtown areas.

Side guards are specifically intended to prevent pedestrians or cyclists from going under the truck and are usually made of steel, placed between the wheels but not over them. They’re generally only found on one-piece straight trucks that are more likely to be used for inner-city deliveries. Skirts and guards are not used together.
That article is referring to rail-style guards.

Quote:
Originally Posted by gbaglo View Post
This is definitely about side guards. Although most side guards are just rails, the flush panel style of side guard shown in the article can be effective aerodynamically as well. I've never seen flush panels like this on a tractor trailer, except in online images.
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Old 02-16-2017, 03:01 AM   #10
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True. I photographed the aftermath of an accident where a woman, wearing earbuds and reading a book, walked into a bus turning left. I'm not sure side guards or rails would have helped.
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Old 02-16-2017, 08:03 AM   #11
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I remember when they started mounting tabs on station wagons and SUVs supposedly to keep the rear window cleaner? They still get dirty.
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Old 02-16-2017, 03:49 PM   #12
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Based on my examination of our under-trailer foam insulation, and its irregularity, and its deterioration, I am inclined to do what Ron did, and add rigid insulation, with a thin aluminum undercover, to improve durability and performance of the insulation, and hopefully, improve gas mileage due to the smooth, regular surface. (Maybe our Escape will be like a giant-thick airfoil, and just float down the road).
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Old 02-16-2017, 04:00 PM   #13
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Since a vortex generator such as an Airtab is used to control the boundary layer of airflow, it seems to me that sticking them on assumes an understanding of what you want the boundary layer to do, and whether you have laminar or turbulent flow. They don't inherently reduce drag, but they are certainly useful in specific circumstances.

Since vortex generators are typically used to keep airflow better attached to the vehicle, they could easily cause more drag and other problems (lift, in the case of a car) if applied where airflow should actually be separated. I suspect that the rear corners of an Escape are a good example of where separation would be better than attachment.

Aside from aircraft and trucks, a commonly discussed application of similar aerodynamic devices (although more commonly as bumps rather than the Airtab shape) is at the rear edge of the roof of a sedan (example: Aerodynamic Drag Reduction of a Car by Vortex Generation). In that case, the idea is to keep the airflow attached down the rear window and trunk lid (rather than separating in a messy fashion), but it still must be cleanly separated at the end of the trunk - the result is vortex generators on the roof and a spoiler at the lip of the trunk, having completely opposite purposes and effects. This makes sense to me, but I don't see anywhere on a travel trailer which is comparable to the rear of the sedan roof.

By the way, the car in the above paper is the Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VIII, and it looks like the vortex generators actually made it to production on some versions of this car and its successor (Evo IX) which were not sold here in Canada. The Evo models were (they're just going out of production after the Evo X generation) some of the most extremely developed cars on the road, with a lot of expensive details which really did improve performance... even at the expense of practicality. It looks like this paper or something similar was previously posted by Mitsubishi, but the link posted in various discussions no longer works.

I need to clear accumulated snow from each of my RVs occasionally during the winter, so I wouldn't want vortex generators on the top.
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Old 02-16-2017, 04:01 PM   #14
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I remember when they started mounting tabs on station wagons and SUVs supposedly to keep the rear window cleaner? They still get dirty.
The deflectors? Those re-directed air into the low-pressure space behind the vehicle, and in addition to being ineffective they are also the opposite of what is needed to reduce drag.


Now the opposite is done at that position on a vehicle: an aerodynamic device (spoiler) leads the airflow over the roof to cleanly break away from the hatch or rear of the vehicle, on both wagons/hatchbacks and sedans.
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Old 02-16-2017, 04:24 PM   #15
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Brian,

Thanks for covering the technical details and answering questions I didn't know I had until you answered them! I invariably find your posts interesting.

Thanks for sharing!

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Old 02-16-2017, 04:37 PM   #16
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Based on my examination of our under-trailer foam insulation, and its irregularity, and its deterioration, I am inclined to do what Ron did, and add rigid insulation, with a thin aluminum undercover, to improve durability and performance of the insulation, and hopefully, improve gas mileage due to the smooth, regular surface. (Maybe our Escape will be like a giant-thick airfoil, and just float down the road).
I plan to use the rigid insulation under my 5.0TA (after I get it) and I like the idea of using the angle aluminum to hold it up. I have been toying with the idea of mounting the aluminum in a slight V shape tapering to the outside of the trailer as a way of removing some of the compressed air (ground effect) under the trailer. I have also pondered mounting storage tubes under the front of the trailer but tapered back in a V so they direct air to the outside. No idea if it will help or hurt and I wouldn't mount the tubes unless I needed to store something under the trailer.
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Old 02-16-2017, 05:43 PM   #17
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Have them mounted on the front underside of my truck camper. Think between the camper and the cab of the truck. Can't say anything about improving mpg but they cut out 90% of the buffeting between the camper and cab allowing normal conversation. My wife loves them so naturally I do too.
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Old 02-16-2017, 08:38 PM   #18
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here's the post by Ron in BC showing the rigid insulation/ Sheet metal install:

Adding underfloor insulation

edit: upon re-reading your post, Ron, it appears that the painted-but-smooth insulation is exposed on the bottom of the trailer.
Do you have any update for us about temperature/comfort differences on the interior?
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Old 02-16-2017, 09:28 PM   #19
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Have them mounted on the front underside of my truck camper. Think between the camper and the cab of the truck. Can't say anything about improving mpg but they cut out 90% of the buffeting between the camper and cab allowing normal conversation. My wife loves them so naturally I do too.


Ricky,

What's mounted to the front underside? Airtabs or something else? Cutting 90% of the buffering seems like a dramatic improvement!

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Old 02-17-2017, 01:24 AM   #20
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Funny, I recall these on Shasta trailers in the 70s but they were called "wings" and were on the rear corners.

If they worked, every semi trailer on earth would have them on their trailers. Gas mileage is crucial for their profit margin. Haven't seen one with them yet.
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