TCM EXCLUSIVE: 2014 Palomino SS-550
- January 03, 2014
- - By Gordon White
It’s truly disgraceful how many trucks drive around naked; without even a proper topper to cover the indecency of a rudely exposed truck bed. Most of these imprudent trucks are half-tons, parading around like no one cares if their bed liners are showing for all the world to see.
Thankfully, Palomino RV has an answer. Recognizing that the most popular truck configuration sold in America is a short bed, four-door, half-ton, they have designed a pop-up truck camper that will bring decency back to the highways, byways, and boulevards of this great land.
While the core mission of the 2014 Palomino SS-550 may not have been to cover up these truck beds in the buff, we applaud Palomino for trying. For the rest of the story, we interviewed Pat Hines, Director of Truck Camper Marketing for Palomino RV.
2014 Palomino SS-550 Specifications:
The 2014 Palomino SS-550 is a pop-up truck camper made for short bed trucks. The interior floor length of the 2014 Palomino SS-550 is 6'9”, the interior height is 6’4” and the center of gravity is 22”. The 2014 Palomino SS-550 has a 16 gallon fresh tank, a 6 gallon hot water heater, and no grey or black tank. It can accommodate one battery and has one twenty-pound propane tank. Palomino RV is reporting the base weight of the Palomino SS-550 to be 1,580 pounds. The base MSRP for the 2014 Palomino SS-550 is $10,500.
Above: The passenger's side of the Palomino SS-550
TCM: Does the new Palomino SS-550 replace any older models in the Palomino line?
Pat: For 2014, we have discontinued the 1250 in our pop-up truck camper line and debuted the all-new SS-550. Technically, the 2014 Palomino SS-550 is not a replacement for the 1250, but rather an entirely new pop-up camper for Palomino.
Above: North-south cabover in the Palomino SS-550
TCM: What distinguishes the 2014 Palomino SS-550 in the Palomino product line?
Pat: Quite a bit actually. It’s our first north-south cabover in a pop-up truck camper. It’s also our first truck camper specifically designed for super short bed, quad-cab trucks. This happens to be the most popular configuration of truck in America right now; six foot bed or shorter, and four doors. The SS-550 fits these trucks perfectly.
Above: The interior of the Palomino SS-550 with the 2014 updates
TCM: It sounds like the SS-550 started with a clean slate.
Pat: Yes it was. The SS-550 isn’t really like anything else in our line. From layout, to design, to the round versus rectangular table, the 2014 Palomino SS-550 is unique.
Of course the SS-550 has a lot of the same features as our other 2014 pop-up truck campers including the new for 2014 Rieco-Titan electric roof lift system with optional wireless key fob remote, our new lower profile one-piece vacuum bonded pebble fiberglass roof, one piece seamless sidewalls, 55” one-piece entry door, new shore power cord with LED indicator, the new power port for convenient battery trickle charging, and standard battery disconnect. The SS-550 is an all-new camper with a lot of brand new 2014 upgrades and features.
Another great thing about designing the SS-550 fresh from the ground up was being able to design the camper around a hot water heater and outside shower.
Above: The exterior shower is on the driver's side of the Palomino SS-550
TCM: The hot water heater and outside shower?
Pat: Yes. Previously, our smaller pop-up truck camper models did not have room to incorporate a hot water heater or outside shower. This was often a criticism we heard from customers.
When we started the design of the SS-550, the hot water heater and the outside shower were a requirement. In a way, we designed the camper around the hot water heater system. We always start with crazy brainstorming sessions to figure out what we want in a new camper.
Above: The floor space of the Palomino SS-550
TCM: What else was mentioned during the crazy brainstorming sessions for the SS-550?
Pat: As I already said, we wanted a smaller floor plan that would fit on super short bed trucks with crew cabs. That meant a seven foot floor, which is not a lot of space.
Above: Storage under the bed area
During our brainstorming, we challenged ourselves on what we could do to maximize a camper with a seven foot floor.
Above: Storage in the Palomino SS-550
That’s when we came up with the north-south cabover and footlocker storage on both sides of the bed.
Above: Under bed storage the Palomino SS-550
TCM: Is there also storage under the bed?
Pat: Yes, all Palomino pop-up truck campers feature under bed storage.
Above: The Line-X underbody and a 48" wheel well width
TCM: It would be neat to see under bed storage on a hard side. No one does that anymore. Were there any adjustments needed once the prototype was completed?
Pat: We actually had some significant changes. The biggest change is the wheel well width. The prototype had a 40” wheel well width. Our dealers told us that the SS-550 was a little too heavy for a Toyota Tacoma or smaller truck and suggested that we go to a wider 48” wheel well width and aim the camper at full-size trucks.
The standard build for the SS-550 now has a 48” wheel well for half-ton trucks and above. Customers can special order the 40” wheel well as part of a Tacoma option, but we always advise our customers to carefully match their trucks and campers. Not every Tacoma has enough payload capacity for the SS-550.
Above: The Palomino SS-550 sports a round table
TCM: Tell us about the new table and dinette in the SS-550. That looks like a large dinette for a seven foot camper.
Pat: The camper features a round table specifically made for the SS-550. We wanted a user friendly dinette that two people can sit around easily. Our typical long rectangular table made it less convenient to get in and out of the dinette and wasn’t as comfortable to sit around. The custom designed round table works well.
Above: The dinette can be made into a bed
The dinette can also be made into a bed using the slide-out gaucho sofa. The camper comes with a section of wood to cover the center of the dinette seating and an extra cushion to complete a seven foot long bed.
Above: The dinette made into a bed
TCM: A seven foot long dinette bed?
Pat: Yes. The dinette and resulting bed goes from the front wall to back wall of the camper. That was another requirement of the SS-550 design.
Above: The Rieco-Titan electric roof system is now available in Palomino pop-up campers
TCM: Tell us about the new pop-up roof lift mechanism and roof on the Palomino SS-550.
Pat: In the 2014 Palomino Announcement article we recently did with Truck Camper Magazine, we introduced our all-new Rieco-Titan electric lift system. With the new Rieco-Titan system, you simply push a button to raise or lower the roof automatically. There is also an optional key fob remote that lifts and lowers the roof.
Above: The 55" one-piece door
Once the roof is raised, customers enjoy the panoramic view made possible by our new 55” one-piece door. Now that the door is no longer part of the rear soft-wall area, our pop-up campers have windows in the front and back of the camper. You can literally see out of the camper in 360 degrees.
Going to the one-piece door also strengthened the structure of the camper. Honestly, no one misses the old two-piece doors. The one-piece door and solid rear walls made a really big difference.
Above: The kitchen area of the Palomino SS-550
TCM: Tell us about the size of the holding tanks and why you made the tanks that size.
Pat: The only tank you have in the SS-550 is the 16 gallon fresh water tank and the 6 gallon hot water heater. There is no grey or black tank in the SS-550 because there is no bathroom.
The fresh tank is 16 gallons because that’s the size we use in our other pop-up truck camper models. It’s the perfect size for someone who’s just using the sink and the outside shower. Truck camper people know how to minimize water usage.
TCM: We certainly do. How many batteries does the Palomino SS-550 have, and where are they located?
Pat: There’s an onboard vented battery box under front cabover step. There is just one battery, but there is room for second battery if you’d like one. With all-LED interior lighting, the SS-550 should be good to go with one battery.
Above: LED lighting is standard in the Palomino SS-550
TCM: Add a solar panel and I couldn’t agree more. How difficult is it to access the battery if a customer wants to remove it for winterization?
Pat: There are hidden screws on the cabover step. Once the step is removed, the battery box is right there. For winterizing, you can also use our exterior charge port if you don’t want to take out the battery. Also, a battery disconnect is standard. With the charge port you can trickle charge your battery all winter long.
Above: The charge port is a new feature of 2014 and standard across the board
TCM: The charge port is a wonderful addition, especially for those who have access to a power outlet where they winterize their camper. Unfortunately, we do not which is why we need the ability to easily remove camper batteries.
Pat: The electric lift and charge port are features that people might overlook, but make the camper much more user friendly. Now you can just push a button and the roof goes up and down.
Above: The battery disconnect and electric lift switch are by the back door
The battery disconnect and exterior charge port make such a difference for keeping your battery heathy, and convenient winterizing.
Above: The twenty gallon propane tank compartment is on the passenger's side
TCM: What are the propane tank sizes on the SS-550?
Pat: There is a single twenty pound propane tank on the passenger’s side. When we assessed the propane requirements of the refrigerator, stove, furnace, and hot water heater, one twenty pound propane tank made the most sense. Having one twenty pound propane tank also helps to maximize space, keep weight down, and improve center of gravity on the SS-550.
Above: The driver's side and roof of the Palomino SS-550
TCM: Can the optional air conditioner run on a portable Honda EU2000i generator?
Pat: Yes. We use 11,000 BTU Dometic air conditioners. In our experience, not too many customers order pop-up truck campers with air conditioners, but some do. For 2014, all of our truck camper roofs, pop-up and hard side, are braced, pre-wired, and laminated for an optional air conditioner. A Fantastic Fan is standard.
Above: Torklift GlowSteps are a factory option
TCM: Tell us about the entry step system for the 2014 Palomino SS-550.
Pat: We offer the Torklift GlowStep as a factory option, but most dealers order the campers without a step system. We recommend the Torklift GlowSteps because they are lightweight, sturdy, and offer plenty of different heights for different truck combinations.
TCM: What was the weight and center of gravity target for the Palomino SS-550?
Pat: We wanted the 2014 Palomino SS-550 to be in the 1500 pound range, which is typical for a camper of this size. The actual standard dry weight is 1,580 pounds.
To determine center of gravity we run a bar under the camper. We set the camper on the bottle jack system and get an accurate center of gravity. The center of gravity for the SS-550 is 22”.
TCM: Does Palomino weigh each camper before it leaves the building?
Pat: No, but we do have scales at the factory. We weigh each camper to get a base weight. Our production runs are so similar that they don’t weigh every camper. They come out around the same weight.
Above: The passenger's side of the Palomino SS-550
TCM: Is the center of gravity marked on the side of the camper?
Pat: We don’t, but it’s on our wish list.
TCM: That would really help the consumer. We would also like to request that each camper gets weighed and marked with that weight. What is the MSRP for the 2014 Palomino SS-550 with standard build features?
Pat: The base MSRP with pearl color, the remote key fob, and hot water outside shower is $10,500 before freight.
TCM: What is the warranty for the 2014 Palomino SS-550?
Pat: We have our standard one year warranty on the camper itself. The new Rieco-Titan roof lift system has five year pro-rated warranty. The first three years are a 100% warranty and the last two are parts only. The vinyl soft sides have a five year warranty. And the appliances, including the refrigerator, microwave, and stove top, have their own individual warranties.
TCM: When will the 2014 Palomino SS-550 be available?
Pat: The 2014 Palomino SS-550 is available at Palomino dealers right now. Of course customers should always call ahead to make sure they have one in stock before making the trip.
TCM: Thanks, Pat.
For more information about the Palomino SS-550, visit their website at http://www.palominorv.com/Productinfo.aspx?page=floorplans&model=backpack.