TCM EXCLUSIVE: 2013 Adventurer 89RB
- Thursday, January 10 2013 |
- Written by Gordon White
Based on the success of the Adventurer 86FB, Adventurer launches the all new 89RB non slide with a large rear wet bath and a more open floor plan.
Imagine you work for a truck camper manufacturer and you’ve been asked to redesign a popular but aging truck camper model. The assignment is to modernize the old design while improving the quality, value, and appeal of the new camper. The general floor plan of this redesign shouldn’t stray too far from the original, but new ideas are welcome.
With a pen and napkin you begin sketching out the floor plan. To start, you move the wet bath to the rear. Soon after, you realize the incredible interlocking complexity of what you’ve been asked to do.
If you move the bath to the rear, the holding tanks and plumbing system must be completely reworked and checked for proper flow and drainage. The holding tanks that will fit the available space need to be available from dependable vendors, at the right price. You also need to check that the holding capacity of the tanks will be acceptable to the consumers and that the location won’t jeopardize center of gravity for the final product. Like falling dominoes, changing just the location of the bathroom can mean changing the entire truck camper design.
After you figure out how everything in the camper will work, you also need to make sure the camper hits a price point, meets a weight target, features a forward center of gravity, and fits within the capabilities of your manufacturing plant and the abilities of your production team. It’s no wonder that some successful truck camper designs have been offered for decades. That said, there comes a time when the challenge of new camper design must be met.
To meet the challenge of potentially replacing the Adventurer 810WS, Adventurer enlisted their trusty in-house design duo, Dave Frampton, Product Development Manager, and Dave Catron, Engineer. Dave and Dave have interpreted the decades old Adventurer 810WS design for the future taking cues from their own 86FB, and mixing in a few new tricks along the way. Will the 89RB ultimately replace the 810WS? That’s up to the marketplace to decide.
2013 Adventurer 89RB Specifications:
The 2013 Adventurer 89RB is a hard side, non-slide, wet bath truck camper made for short or long bed trucks. The interior floor length of the 2013 Adventurer 89RB is 8’9”, the interior height is 78" and the center of gravity is 36.5”. The 2013 Adventurer 89RB has a 42 gallon fresh tank, a 25 gallon grey tank, a 22 gallon black tank, and a 4 gallon hot water heater. It can accommodate two batteries and has two twenty-pound propane tanks. Adventurer is reporting the base weight of the Adventurer 89RB to be 2,456 pounds. The base MSRP for the 2013 Adventurer 89RB is $20,433.
The following interview is with Greg Tucknies, National Sales Manager for Adventurer Manufacturing, on the 2013 Adventurer 89RB.
TCM: Does the 2013 Adventurer 89RB replace an existing truck camper in Adventurer’s product line?
Greg: Not at this time. We suspect the 89RB will fade out the 810WS but we will let the market decide. The 810WS has been built for over twenty years and is a proven floor plan, but it’s antiquated in today’s market.
Compared to the 810WS model, the 89RB is a fresh and modern truck camper with a large rear wet bath and a more open feeling floor plan than either the 86FB or the 810WS. The 89RB also offers larger holding tanks and is lighter weight and less money than the 810WS.
Another important feature of the 89RB is its ability to fit short or long bed trucks, even with the generator option. Many short and long bed compatible campers lose their generator option on a short bed. The 89RB is generator ready, short bed or long.
Above: Adventurer 89RB on the left and Adventurer 86FB on the right
TCM: What distinguishes the 89RB from the 86FB?
Greg: The 86FB has been very successful, but we needed a larger camper with a rear wet bath and a more open feeling floor plan to eventually replace the 810WS. When you look at the 89RB and 86FB floor plans side by side, you’ll immediately notice the wet bath in the 89RB is also significantly larger.
Above: The larger 20” x 62” side window in the dinette of the Adventurer 89RB
The floor plan is significantly more open in the 89RB. By putting the wet bath and dinette in the rear, we really opened up the camper. To further increase this sense of space, we went to much larger 20” x 62” side windows as well.
Above: The propane tanks, batteries, furnace, and hot water heater are located as far forward as possible
TCM: Since the 89RB was based on the success of the 86FB, why are the tank sizes different between the 89RB and the 86FB?
Greg: When we designed the 86FB, we used existing holding tanks from other models. We started with a blank slate with the 89RB, including the holding tanks.
In the 89RB, the propane tanks, batteries, furnace, and hot water heater are located as far forward as possible. As a result, the center of gravity on the 89RB has come in at 36.5” making it easily fit into the short bed trucks of today.
TCM: That’s excellent, but why are the 89RB grey and black tanks smaller than the grey and black tanks in the 86FB?
Greg: The 89RB holding tanks are 42 gallons fresh, 25 gallons grey, and 22 gallons black. These tanks sizes give the 89RB the proper blend of transfer to the grey and black tanks. We want the combined capacity of the grey and black holding tanks to be a little more than the total capacity of the fresh tank. For the 89RB, the grey and black holding tanks offer five more gallons than the 42 gallon fresh tank.
We were able to properly size the tanks in the 89RB and design a camper with more storage and a much better center of gravity. More importantly, using the proper size tanks removes weight and cost from the camper.
Above (click to enlarge photos): Center of gravity is measured on every camper at the end of the production line. Then a COG sticker is placed on the camper.
TCM: Speaking of center of gravity, how does Adventurer calculate center of gravity?
Greg: When an Adventurer or Eagle Cap truck camper is completed on our production lines, it is weighed on a calibrated scale before leaving the building. That weight is then posted inside a cabinet in the truck camper. That’s your dry weight with options. Of course any options added by your dealer after the camper leaves Adventurer add weight to the camper.
When we weigh each camper, we also put a fulcrum on the scale to find the exact center of gravity for that camper, including factory installed options. We then mark that center of gravity on the camper exterior with a red arrow.
TCM: Do you often see the same model truck camper, with different options, having different center of gravity points?
Greg: Yes, we have seen the center of gravity move from camper to camper based on the options that were added to the camper.
At an RV show last year I noticed that two of the same model Adventurer truck campers had stickers for center of gravity in different places. I came back to the factory and said that the stickers must be wrong. That’s when I found out that we measure center of gravity for every camper we build.
A few months ago, we tested a camper with full fresh water to see what happened to the center of gravity. The fresh tank was located all the way forward and the center of gravity actually moved forward four inches with the full tank. With the way we designed the 89RB, I have no doubt the center of gravity would move forward with a full fresh tank.
Above: The interior of the Adventurer 89RB
TCM: Too many manufacturers fail to even weigh each truck camper before it leaves the factory, much less measure and mark center of gravity. It’s outstanding that Adventurer is making this a standard practice. Tell us about the design and development of the 89RB.
Greg: As I said earlier, the 89RB was a complete clean slate design. Dave Frampton, Product Development Manager, and Dave Catron, Engineer, start a new model design by asking for a wish list including what our dealers want, customers want, and what we want in a new truck camper model. That wish list includes what the camper should weigh, what options customers want, preferred tank sizes, the ideal floor length, and a target price point.
Dave and Dave then crunch the numbers, add their own ideas, and come up with a combined list for the camper. Once we agree about what makes sense, Darrel our new addition in engineering will make a three-dimensional CAD drawing. We finish the design, do the math, and then go into production.
Above (click to enlarge photos): The 89RB coming down the production line at Adventurer.
TCM: When did the 89RB begin production?
Greg: The first 89RB came off the line on December 21st. Our first run of 89RB models is forty-five units.
TCM: Let’s talk about materials. Is the 89RB aluminum or wood framed?
Greg: We use the same proprietary True Composite Construction (TCC) process on all of our truck campers. The bonding process of the TCC construction, not the framing material, is what gives our truck campers their strength and durability. This is why we offer a three year warranty on all of our truck campers, whether they are wood or aluminum framed.
All of Adventurer’s non-slide truck campers are wood framed. The 89RB frame is actually 95% wood, and 5% aluminum. Some of the floor and basement framing is aluminum. Wood framing is lighter than aluminum framing, and it helps to keep the cost of the camper down.
Typically, we only use aluminum framing in our slide-out models because slide-out designs need the additional strength and rigidity of aluminum. We always use 2x2 and 2x4 box aluminum in our slide-out models.
TCM: There is a perception in the marketplace that aluminum is superior to wood. Would you care to address that perception?
Greg: If we had problems building with wood, we would not have a three year warranty. Our True Composite Construction reactive hot glue lamination process truly bonds the frame (wood or aluminum), closed cell block foam insulation, composite Azdel substrate, exterior fiberglass, interior luan, and the interior finish panel. The materials become a bonded wall unit and gain structural strength.
The closed cell block foam insulation we use is like a coffee cup. Water does not penetrate through it. With a standard foam unit, you can have water damage, but because of our process, it doesn’t allow water to penetrate.
Consumers often think aluminum framing is lighter than wood, but that is simply not true. Most aluminum framed campers insert wood in the aluminum framing to provide a strong anchor point. Aluminum units are typically heavier because of that.
Above: The Comfort Step on the 89RB
TCM: Does the 89RB have a Comfort Step standard?
Greg: The 89RB comes standard without a step, but includes a Comfort Step for our standard build option. That means most of the 89RB campers at dealerships will have the Comfort Step. If you custom order the 89RB at an Adventurer dealership, you have the option of scissor steps, the Comfort Step, or the Super Step.
TCM: Why would someone option for scissor steps?
Greg: For someone who only needs a basic camper, scissor steps are the right answer. For someone who wants a more traditional step system, our Comfort Step and Super Step are available. Like the 86FB, most 89RB models will have the Comfort Step.
TCM: Does the 89RB feature the exterior service center that first appeared in the 980RDS?
Greg: Yes, it does. The service center puts the shore power cord, outside shower, black water tank flush, city water connection, fresh tank fill, and other utility ports into one convenient compartment with an insulated lockable door.
With the exterior shower being behind an insulated door, it is more weather proof, and you can use it throughout the entire year.
Above (click to enlarge photos): Some interior photos of the 89RB; notice the rounded bathroom wall and the dream dinette table
TCM: Adventurer debuted a number of changes to its line up for 2013 including 100% LED lighting inside and out, the new generation Happijac jacks, new interiors, friction hinged rear door, and a foot flush toilet. Are all these features in the 2013 Adventurer 89RB?
Greg: Yes, they are. The 89RB also has the dream dinette which is wall mounted, and standard in every camper we build with a face-to-face dinette.
Above: The 89RB has umbilical power cord that is located in the rear of the camper
TCM: We also saw from the pictures you sent that there is rear umbilical cord on the 89RB. Please tell us about that feature.
Greg: The rear location of the umbilical power camper cord was a suggestion that we had received from several customers and a couple of dealers. That made sense to us, so it was one of the ideas we added to this ground-up new floorplan. The benefit is that you do not need to add an additional seven-way plug to your truck. You can just use the stock one that comes with most new trucks. This saves the customer the cost of an additional plug that would need to be added. If the customer wants to tow they can still add the additional plug or just add a readily available "Y" adapter when towing. We are always listening to our dealers and retail customers. Wherever we can add positive suggestions to our new models we like to do so.
Above: The Adventurer 89RB with options came to 2,736 pounds.
TCM: What is the dry weight of the 89RB?
Greg: We predicted 2,425 pounds from the CAD drawings. The actual weight came in at 2,456 pounds which is pretty darn accurate and shows the detail we go into in the planning stages.
TCM: What trucks is the 89RB designed for?
Greg: We strive to give accurate information to help our customers make intelligent decisions. We would never say the 86FB or 89RB could fit a half ton truck. Because it fits one particular half ton, doesn’t mean it will fit all or most half tons. It won’t. We typically say it will fit three-quarter ton trucks because most of them have over 2,400 pounds in payload capacity.
TCM: What is the MSRP of the 89RB?
Greg: $20,433 is the base price. $26,170 is the standard build option price. Of course you can use our Build Your Own system to option and price the 89RB, or any of our Adventurer and Eagle Cap truck campers.
TCM: Is the 89RB available in the Adventurer Build Your Own system?
Greg: Yes, it is and we invite you to go build an 89RB in our Build Your Own system.
TCM: How did Truck Camper Magazine readers respond to the Build Your Own system announcement?
Greg: The response was record setting. It was probably a fifty percent increase over our highest ever web traffic hit. It was huge!
One guy went through a two month process who just recently made a purchase. He built about twenty-five different camper configurations on the Build Your Own system. He started off building an Eagle Cap 950, then an Adventurer 910, and then went to an Eagle Cap 1160.
He was supposed to put down a deposit, and then decided the Eagle Cap 995 was for him because he was comfortable using that camper with the truck he currently had. He was able to make intelligent decisions by utilizing our Build Your Own system.
TCM: When we debuted the Build Your Own System in November, you were excited about possibly offering a Build Your Own system weight guarantee; a guarantee that the Adventurer Build Your Own system weight results would match the actual weight of an ordered camper. Has there been any progress towards that goal?
Greg: I haven’t been able to pursue that yet, but I’m still excited about the idea.
TCM: Any developments for Eagle Cap since your 2013 Eagle Cap announcements mid-September?
Greg: We’re still not planning any new Eagle Cap models for 2013. We’re sold out through June right now so we need to focus on production. Production has already increased twenty percent since September. There will probably be no new Eagle Cap models until 2014.
TCM: In your 2013 Adventurer announcements, you said there would be three new floor plans to announce in 2013. The 89FB is one. Can you tell us about the other two yet?
Greg: Stay tuned. Adventurer is going to be building two new exciting floor plans in 2013 and we’ll share them exclusively in Truck Camper Magazine.
It’s not a new model, but we are going to build a limited edition 89RB from this first production run. Actually, we’re only building one, so it’s a very limited edition.
For that camper, we are going to a new exterior graphics style and new exterior color, among other things. It is going to be a unique and special unit that I will take to shows. It will probably be at the Pleasanton, California show on January 11-21, 2013. Come out to the show in Pleasanton and give me your feedback.
TCM: Anything else going on at Adventurer you would like to share?
Greg: Sales for both Adventurer and Eagle Cap are through the roof. There was a twenty-seven percent increase in sales for Adventurer this year, and we project a thirty-two percent increase in 2013.
We are adding a new lamination machine to speed up production. We also are putting lamination in a new building so that we have improved flow on the production lines to accommodate our increased production for 2013.
It’s exciting for Adventurer to see strong growth for Adventurer and Eagle Cap. We actually had to stop production of the 2013 retail motorhomes because of the increase of truck camper sales.
For more information on the Adventurer 89RB and other Adventurer campers, visit their website at www.amlrv.com.