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Future Shock: A Bold Vision For RV Power Systems

Steve Hericks advances the state-of-the-art in RV power systems far beyond anything we’ve seen before.  What he does next could power an entire camper; no propane or generators required.  His test bed?  A Lance truck camper.

Future Shock Lance 1131

In January we received an email from a Truck Camper Magazine reader that totally upended our thinking on RV power systems.  Honestly, it took us the better part of a day to fully grasp what Steve Hericks had sent us.  Then we looked up Steve’s work experience on LinkedIn and realized we had a major story on our hands.

Steve graduated from MIT in 1984 with a Bachelors of Science in Mechanical Engineering.  After college, Steve served in the US Army obtaining two diplomas in Engineering from the US Army Engineer School and graduating with honors.

In the Korean demilitarized zone, Steve was a Heavy Equipment Platoon Leader, Combat Engineer Platoon Leader, Combat Engineer Platoon Leader, Company Executive Officer, Battalion Maintenance Officer and a Division Engineer Liaison Officer.

After Korea, Steve served a Battalion Maintenance Officer in Southwest Asia and Company Commander and Battalion Logistics Officer in Germany.  Throughout his military service, Steve was responsible for the maintenance and logistical support of hundreds of vehicles and major equipment systems, and the combat engineers that serviced them.

In mid-1993, Steve retired from the service and went to work for Safari Motor Coaches as Manufacturing Engineer Manager.  At Safari Motor Coaches, Steve developed advanced efficiencies and improvements to the equipment, manufacturing processes and quality control across the entire company and its product line.  This included implementing Lean manufacturing and launching the use of CNC equipment.

After Safari, Steve worked for an industrial grade printing product company, a high-performance seal and connector manufacturer, and other mission critical equipment manufacturers.  At each company he set out to revolutionize their manufacturing and process.

Today, Steve describes himself as semi-retired, but he’s not sitting.  What follows is Steve’s complete reworking of a 2000 Lance 1130’s power and appliance systems. Nothing is left off the table.  And the depth of his vision and plan is beyond anything we’ve seen before.

Did I mention Steve owns a M1088A1 Stewart and Stevenson 5-ton military tractor that he plans to make into a 20-foot fiberglass expedition vehicle?  This Lance 1130 rebuild is just a warm-up to the main event.

Future Shock: A Bold Vision For RV Power Systems

by Steve Hericks

I bought a 2000 Lance 1130 as a base to begin experimenting with my own idea of what a truck camper should be.  My final goal is to build a custom camper from scratch with all of my successful experiments integrated.  This article was written to share what I have done to redesign the power system to support my plans.

The factory-installed Lance 1130 electrical system consists of a 3.4kW propane generator, 105Ah lead-acid battery and a 110-volt shore power cord.  In addition, the Lance has a roof mounted air conditioner and a microwave that require either a generator or shore power.  Even today, this is a fairly typical factory power and appliance system.  And it’s nowhere near adequate for what I want to do.

The Goal: Full-Time Off-Grid In Comfort

We all want something different from our RV.  That’s one of the reasons why there are so many different styles and floor plans.

I travel to enjoy the sights and wide-open spaces and do not want to live elbow-to-elbow with my countrymen in an RV park.  With a truck camper and four-wheel drive diesel truck, I can go where almost everyone else can’t go.

I grew up backpacking in Montana and lived in tents all over the world serving in the Army.  I can rough-it with the best of them, but long ago overcame needing to prove it.

Now I enjoy my comforts and intend to ensure that I have an RV that supports a comfortable lifestyle on the road.  I’ve been a practical engineer long before I earned my degree and spent my second career in manufacturing and engineering.  I recently retired with the goal of working my way into full-time RVing.

The Objectives

If I am going to live in a small footprint long-term, I want equipment that performs well, efficiently, and reliably.  To begin to plan the system, I set some clear objectives:

1. Dry camp almost exclusively.  No hookups.
2. Heat the camper and water with diesel fuel sourced from the truck’s tank.
3. Operate any 12-volt or 110-volt on-board equipment at will.  No shore power required.
4. Ability to operate multiple on-board appliances simultaneously.
5. Change to energy efficient appliances.  Eliminate propane furnace and three-way refrigerator.
7. Eliminate the weight, maintenance, noise and space of the on-board generator.
8. Eliminate the weight, space and refill hassle of the propane system.

To achieve these objectives, I needed to make a considerable redesign of the way some of the RV systems were originally conceived by the manufacturers.  After considerable thought, I came to the following conclusions:

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