F: Product Evaluation – V-Spoilers

As a full time RV’er for the last 13 years, it’s necessary for me to visit, rather frequently, RVing web sites that have many RV’ers posting their latest RVing issue in order to pick up on the latest gossip and random fixes that apply to brands, systems, devices, and functioning of these large, complex machines.

A result of that is occasionally I’ve run into suggestions regarding improving stability of these big machines on the road. Especially during windstorms, or while being overtaken and passed by large vehicles, or while being passed by large vehicles coming from the opposite direction while on two lane roads. It appears from reading forum posts over the last decade that many Class A rigs have stability issues…so much so that people have spent literally thousands trying to made it safe and easy to maintain their rigs posture rolling down the center of the lane. Without bouncing, sway, porpoising, or battering by wind gusts.

When I had my ’94 Bounder, I just sort of put up with the kind of bullying the wind did while on the road. It tracked nice and straight, had a slight slope to the big front windshield that I figured aided the rig’s aerodynamics, but it would rock, side to side sway, quite a bit in the wind. Passing trucks would cause it to slip towards the truck and then back into my lane as it passed. Sometimes, with surprising aggressiveness. Trucks coming towards me would often require both hands tightly on the steering wheel. And a long trip with winds along the route was not something I looked forward to.

With my ’02 Winnebago Journey that I bought in early 2016, going by it’s flat nose, I expected that sort of buffeting by traffic and winds to be even worse, but luckily it has not turned out that way. The suspension seems fairly robust and the weight distribution seems to take care of most of those rocking and swaying issues. Turns out it’s quite comfortable to drive in nearly all conditions. But I tend to time my trips these days when there’s not a lot of super bad weather either.

I have noticed with my Journey though, that yes, it’s still affected by wind gusts on the highway caused by other vehicles, and by winds from various directions. Gusting winds can rock the rig, especially when coming from the front quarters. But stability is good enough that I’m not too exhausted when the days travel is over like I was in the Bounder.

With that background, I’ll say that I have thought about getting some work done to improve stability over the years, on either rig, but the cost was always prohibitive for something that might improve road stability. Besides, most of the forum complainants owned gassers so I was unsure if any of the sway bars, or steering stabilizers available would have any effect on my diesel vehicle’s sway (side to side), steering, or directional stability with side or quartering winds.

During all those years of reading RVing forums, I’ve occasionally run into people asking forum members if anyone had tried the small plastic devices that are attached to the trailing edges of trucks but also offered to RV’ers as a solution to instability. In order to get a recommendation or not. But users were few and far between and their evaluations weren’t very detailed so it was difficult to get a handle on whether they’d be a good investment or not. The V shape of the devices is such that when it’s in an airstream, pointed in the right direction, it causes the air to be swirled around in a way that causes air vortices. These vortexes of swirling air, if there’s enough of them, cause chaos in the slipstream behind a large vehicle. This is a good type of chaos, as it tends to decrease the suction caused by a laminar flow of air behind a boxy shape. Reducing drag. Most semi trucks, cube trucks, buses, and RVs cause a laminar flow, and a device to cause turbulence behind any of them would be a good thing, for both stability, and economy.

So I’ve been aware of them for years, always wanted to try them, and when a representative of V-Spoilers contacted me via IM regarding renting advertising space on my blog, I jumped at the chance to try them out since they offered to supply a set free for the ad space. Pretty typical arrangement for a blogger with my kind of visitation numbers, and the types of readers I have. In addition, they didn’t ask me for editing rights for any evaluation I might do on my blog or other venues. I gladly accepted their offer.

In February of 2017, I had them installed while I was down in Mexico. The installation is simple, all that’s required is a clean RV, a ladder, and approximately an hour of time. I hired a local guy to do the job for me so I could get pictures. I was unsure of where exactly they should be placed on the back of a typical RV, and took my best guess…which turned out to be slightly inaccurate. I’ll get to that later.

First a few pictures of where we’ll be mounting the V-Spoilers on my Journey. Note the nice straight line the sidewall to the endcap makes. First a couple shots of the passengers side,

And than a couple of the drivers side. This side presents a slight issue as the air scoop for the engine is sort of in the way. First step is a wipe down of the previously washed and waxed paint. I selected the positioning of the V-Spoilers based on a best guess of where the spoilers would do the best job.  Then Israel pulls the protective tape off the strip of double sided sticky tape that’s used to attach the spoilers. It’s important that the segment of V-Spoilers is not dropped at this point so that the tape stays clean. Otherwise it won’t stick.I had him trim off a bit of the edge on the top section of four spoilers to match the profile of the rear of the RV so it wouldn’t stick out unsupported.

For some areas it was necessary to cut a spoiler into individual air flow sections. For that we used a right angle straight edge, black marking pen, and a pair of sharp scissors. This shot shows the mark where we’ll cut off one spoiler form, and two rows of sticky tape that holds the spoilers to the RV. With the passengers side done, it’s onto the driver’s side. Filling the gap with a single Spoiler form. And then it’s on to the roof.  And a final couple shots after the job was completed. Turned out nice. Very easy to do. Israel had no trouble coming up with the appropriate cuts in the material for a nice fit everywhere that was needed.

After completing the job, I sent some pictures to the manufacturer’s rep and she pointed out that they didn’t need to be that close to the rear of the RV, that I could have just put them along that straight seam only on the forward edge instead of the rearward edge. Would have made for a more finished appearance. Doh! Well, now I know.

Testing the V-Spoilers…

First Test…

It was a couple weeks after installation that I thought would be a good time to test drive the V-Spoilers as we had a fairly brisk wind coming from the north, 16 to 18 MPH, which was handy as the road out of town heads north, and is straight, flat, and two lane a few miles from town. So off a friend and I go to watch and listen for any effects that might present themselves during a drive.

First thing that happened was that the wind died as soon as we were 5 miles outside of town. Next, we did not pass or even see any semi’s, cube trucks, cabover trucks, buses, RVs or similar that I was hoping for, going in either direction. No testing luck. Did not see a single large vehicle the entire trip 45 miles north, and 45 miles back again. Even so the ride was smooth, no sway or shaking, the RV held the road with little effort. Bah. Not a very eventful test so I didn’t glean much useful info from it and couldn’t draw any conclusions about the effectiveness of the V-Spoilers.

Second test…

About three weeks after that test, it was time to head back to the US from Mexico. The trip was to be from San Felipe, Baja, to Gila Bend, Arizona. This is a one day 300 mile trip and the first half of the travel distance would be heading north, the 2nd half heading east.

There were two diesel pushers on this trip, both Winnebago Journeys, similar in design, both pulling toads. Mine and my friends who lives in San Felipe, I was just heading North, she was heading back to Vermont where she runs a B&B. Mine has the V-Spoilers installed, my friend’s RV did not. During this trip I did pass several semi’s coming towards me and noticed right off that my RV would not sway hardly at all as they passed. Our speeds on this wide open lightly traveled highway averaged 50 MPH. As we got further north, the wind picked up from the west, blowing eastward which would hit the driver’s side of the RV. I could see plants and the occasional creosote bush or tree top in this sparse desert area swaying in the breeze. Again, I was not fighting the steering and I did not have that bias that many RVs get with a strong side wind where the center of the steering wheel is off center from normal. This is beneficial for steering tire life. I also noticed very little sway from gusting winds, that the wind was gusting occasionally was obvious from the signs shown by roadside plant life.

After we crossed the border and started heading east, we stopped for a break and I noted that the wind was strong and gusting, while mainly blowing eastward, so this portion of the journey the wind would be coming from the rear of the RV and pushing us along. I estimated 18 MPH with gusts to 22 MPH or so. While stopped and while on the road, there were obvious signs of numerous swirling wind events, which would make for a great test of the V-Spoilers.

We were now on a freeway heading due east rather than a mostly 2 lane road heading north so I didn’t have any semi’s passing opposite my direction of travel, but I did have many passing me on the drivers side going the same direction since I normally travel at 55-60 MPH. What I noticed is that my RV would still sway into the semi and then back out as they passed, but not with the same aggressiveness I’d gotten use to before installing the V-Spoilers. I did not have to strongly grip the steering wheel though two hands were seemingly necessary on occasion. Now I could lightly rest them on the wheel rather than gripping tightly as in the past. All in all a good test of the V-Spoilers. I’d been in strong frontal winds without the spoilers when I drove from Portland, Oregon to Rosamond, California along I-5 trying to avoid a large wind and rain storm, and I noticed that this trip was easier, not nearly the battering I experienced before. After we arrived in Gila Bend and settled into our RV sites, my friend (unsolicited) complained about her RV being buffeted around by the wind, while in my case it had been a smooth trip, I’d hardly noticed any wind effects while driving though I could see the effects on roadside objects. That’s something I kept noticing while I drove, hardly any buffeting by wind causing the RV to be difficult to keep centered in a traffic lane, and I could see that the winds were strong and swirling. Also had many large vehicles passing me. With the V-Spoilers installed, I did not expirience nearly the wind caused battering I’d experienced in the past.

Third Test…

I stayed nearly a month in Gila Bend, but eventually it was time to head north to avoid the blistering heat that was beginning to raise it’s blazing face so I planned a trip up into the mountains. Gila Bend to Beatty, Nevada is a nice long trip across desert, through a major city (Phoenix), than into the foothills, on into high desert, and then into low mountains. Almost 440 miles where I could test the V-Spoilers. I won’t go into the minutia about every twist and turn of the route, suffice to say that it had every event I could have hoped for, went on for two hours longer than I normally drive, without, it turned out, road fatigue.

But the best part of the trip for testing was the winds…varied and strong right after I got to Phoenix. The first 35 miles after leaving Gila Bend the wind was mild if not non-existent, just what I expected at 6:30 AM in the desert. As the sun rose, the winds picked up as they dropped down from the hills and later in the afternoon, with nearby foothills affecting them, the winds came from every direction along the travel route. Along with having gusting winds, there were also micro bursts and swirling winds with no discernible direction. All in the 10 to 20 MPH range.

Results of testing…conclusions.

As far as I’m concerned, the V-Spoilers are a success.

First,  I will note that one time I had a semi that had that giant cowl behind the driver’s cab but no trailer pass me heading the same direction I was, and the wind from that did move my RV a bit more than expected. I thought it was the semi’s large cowl and lack of a trailer that caused that. So the V-Spoilers don’t stop each and every wind event, and don’t totally stop sway caused by being passed by other large vehicles. And there were a couple large semis pass me heading in my same direction on freeways that would first suck the RV towards them, then push it away. That tended to be mild compared to before the V-Spoilers were installed though.

But overall, I’d say the V-Spoilers made travel in my RV smooth in nearly all road conditions, and under the various wind situations I encountered during these tests. There were many times when I shook my head in disbelief as a large semi passed me going the opposite direction on a two lane road and I could hardly tell it happened. This occurred multiple times, at various wind speeds and directions. And one section of the trip, I could hardly tell I had a wind from the passenger’s side as there wasn’t the type of sway I had noticed before installing the V-Spoilers.

I expirience a couple microbursts of wind that hit and shook the RV, moved it a bit while causing a loud noise (which I believe were the vent lids opening slightly and slamming closed), and I can only imagine how forceful those events would have been without the V-Spoilers. But neither of them caused the rig to sway excessively or jump lanes. All I know is that those wind events rattled and shook the RV, but I really didn’t have to react or change my driving style. Most of the trip, I rested one arm on the armrest instead of the steering wheel. Before the V-Spoilers, when in winds as strong as during this trip, I would have both hands on the wheel waiting for the next strong bump from the winds. When this longer than normal trip was over, I was tired, but not exhausted from battling winds and traffic as I expected. That is a plus in my book.

So, I’d recommend V-Spoilers for Class A’s, 5th Wheels, and travel trailers if you have stability issues while driving. And at $267 for a set large enough for a typical RV, this solution is much more economical than those chassis stability fixes I’ve seen for thousands of dollars. As always though, make sure you have balanced tires, weigh your rig and adjust your side to side weights so they are fairly equal,  properly air up your tires according to weight, and have your alignments checked, especially if you show signs of strange wear patterns on your tires. If after all that’s done, you still expirience some stability issues on the road, consider the V-Spoilers as an economical way to mitigate them.

Good driving!

 

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