35 Mile Per Gallon Tear Drop Trailer Rig

Mike and Nancy have come up with this unique and very efficient camping arrangement.  They pull a tear drop trailer behind their Honda Insight hybrid.  They achieve an amazing 35 mpg and have full sleeping and cooking facilities — they even have a shower!

Honda Insight pulling "Little Guy" teardrop trailer.

Honda Insight pulling “Little Guy” teardrop trailer.

Thanks very much to Mike and Nancy for sending in the description!

Here are all the details from Mike and Nancy…

I thought I’d share our “RV” with you.  We  have a 2001 Honda Insight with a cvt transmission that I  built a hitch for in order to tow our 500 lb “Little  Guy” teardrop trailer.    The Honda Insight with the  cvt gets about 55 mpg with normal driving, but drops to  around 35 mpg when towing.  The trailer sleeps two  comfortably and the hatch back opens to provide access to  the kitchen area.  The main feature of the kitchen is a  small microwave that sits on a built in shelf.

The Kitchen

The Kitchen

We bought the trailer from another owner and it came with a  small air conditioner/heater unit that can be set outside
the trailer.  Dryer-like hoses connect to a plexi-glass  insert that is placed into the window of one of the doors.   We have a small Yamaha generator we can bring along for  power if we’re boon-docking it.  Both the A/C-heat unit  and the generator are easily stored in the camper when not  in use.

The only modification we’ve made to the trailer so far  is to add some aluminum wheel adapters to convert the  trailer wheels to Honda Insight wheels.  The main reason  for this is the car’s spare will now fit the trailer,  and the Insight wheels provide for some weight reduction as  well.

The latest addition is a small nylon privacy tent (about the size of a port-a-potty) we purchased for $25.  We also
acquired a 2 gallon garden pump sprayer, painted the tank flat black, and with a brass fitting and a hose clamp the
garden spray wand was replaced with a kitchen sink hose/button sprayer nozzle assembly.  It makes for a really nice
solar shower that incorporates the pump and the on/off feature all in one device.  We also carry a small plastic tarp
for flooring in the nylon tent when we plan on using the shower for an extended period, and a 5 gal bucket with a
modified toilet lid and trash can liners for personal hygiene.

The least expensive personal solar shower I’ve made was  a 1.5L soda jug painted flat black.  Drill a series of  eight tiny holes in the perimeter of a spare cap, and by  exchanging the drilled cap onto a filled jug that’s been  sitting in the sun for a few hours, you have a nice warm  personal shower for next to nothing.  An added benefit to  all of these shower devices is they are quite portable,  store water easily, and provide double duty for dish washing  and other general cleaning as well.  On a cold cloudy day  we can always heat water in the microwave if need be.

 

Some additional notes from a recent trip…

We just got back from Roanoke, VA and took a few more pictures.

We drove from Atlanta to Stony Fork Campground just SE of Roanoke, VA.  Actual mpg averaged round trip was 35mpg.

I did add a tranny cooler to the Insight in preparation for mountain climbing.  I’ve been measuring the hot coolant line coming out of the tranny and the highest temp I saw was 173*F in the mountains.  Typical temp was 135-140*F on rolling hills with ambient temps in the low 90’s.  I’ve also included a pic of the hitch I built to tow the camper with since no one offers one for the Insight.

Honda advises against any towing with the Insight, but I have no trouble keeping up with highway traffic towing the 500 lb trailer with the A/C on.  I try not to exceed 5-10 mph over the limit.  Acceleration from a dead stop is excellent.  Braking feels typical or average, similar to my F150 when towing a boat, but I do plan on investigating trailer brakes just to see if I can improve on it.  The bottom line is I feel the CVT Insight is definitely up to the task.  I do notice the Hybrid battery gets more of a workout when towing.  My gauge drops to 50% capacity when towing as compared to 80-90% when not towing.  Exercising the battery is not harmful at all.

The floor covering in the privacy tent pics are some left over Sterilite container tops.  The tops help keep the feet clean when showering, but usually we camp where there is a bathroom facility available.

Wishing you all the best.

Cheers,

Mike & Nancy

Atlanta, GA

 

Comments? Questionos?

6 Comments

  1. I believe the A/C unit is out of production, but you can buy a similar one made by ClimateRight (Model CR5000ACH). 5,000 btu cooling, 4,300 btu heating

    Mike

  2. Mike and Nancy, I also had a Little Guy. Mine traveled behind a Toyota Yaris for nearly 20,000 miles and averaged about 34mpg. Then upgraded to Prius C. The Little Guy made about 6,000 miles behind the hybrid, with an average mileage of just over 44 mpg. I made no alterations to the C except the hitch, and had no ill effects. That hitch now holds a bike carrier. I recommend Etrailer in St. Louis to anyone looking for hitches for ‘unusual’ tow cars. I’d still be running around the blue roads of the USA and Canada had not age taken it’s toll on backs and bladders. Little Guy did not accommodate 3am bathroom breaks. We have upgraded(?) again to an old Toyota motor home. It’s getting about 17 mpg (yuk) but we’re pushing 70. One note about the Little Guy: the shelf in the galley need reinforcing. The factory job did not survey a trip up the Labrador Highway to Newfoundland.

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