Truck Camper Magazine visits the Adventurer factory in Yakima, Washington. After forty-one years, it’s time to meet the new Adventurer.
Most of the manufacturers we’ve visited so far on our 2010 industry tour have made changes to their facilities, teams, or manufacturing processes since we last saw them three years ago. Some companies have even made changes in all three categories. That said, no manufacturer has made more changes all three categories than Adventurer Manufacturing.
The changes actually began in the Spring of 2008 when Adventurer announced it would be moving from Abbotsford, British Columbia to Yakima, Washington. The previous Fall we had visited Adventurer in Abbotsford and, like many in the truck camping industry and community, we could not have been more surprised by the announcement.
Two years after their move to Yakima, we pulled into the new Adventurer plant in our 2010 Adventurer 90FWS. We were excited to see Adventurer’s new facility, meet their new management and production teams, and learn about any new manufacturing processes. It was time to meet the new Adventurer.
LEFT: Adventurer’s offices, lamination, and production lines are located under one roof in a building previously set up for camper production by Western RV. Having the building already set up for camper production allowed Adventurer to get their new production line up to speed quickly.
CENTER: Adventurer’s camper production line runs straight back and through the building. Here you see 2010 Adventurer 950B campers emerging from the production line and waiting for a final quality control inspection.
RIGHT: About two dozen completed campers were waiting for delivery in front of Adventurer’s building. Most of this inventory is already sold to Adventurer dealers throughout the United States and Canada.
We interviewed Dave Frampton, Product Development Manager, and Dave Catron, Engineer, when Adventurer debuted the 80SK back in February. During our visit in July, Dave and Dave were working on a new camper design. Naturally we asked if we could see what they were up to and take a few photographs.
LEFT: Pictured here is Dave Frampton’s AutoDesk design station with the new camper on his monitor. Burk Morgan, Adventurer’s Director of Sales and Marketing, told us that we should be able to announce the new camper sometime in September. Until then, it’s a secret.
CENTER: Dave Catron showed us how he models camper systems in three dimensions using AutoDesk Inventor. Here he’s showing us a tank system for an Adventurer truck camper. Dave explained that three-dimensional computer models allowed him to see how the system would work and improve the design before building a prototype.
RIGHT: Then Mr. Catron showed us this model and explained that it was a, “knife valve” for a camper tank system. Of course anyone could see that this is clearly Darth Vader’s Tie-Fighter from Star Wars. Nice try Dave. May the farce be with you.
LEFT: There are quite a few Adventurer team members who came over from Western RV when it closed in the Spring of 2008. One of the team members from Western RV who made the move is Marvin Kern. And just as he did at Western RV, Marvin works the CNC aluminum and wood saw at Adventurer.
CENTER AND RIGHT: Adventurer always builds campers in runs of ten. For example, they will build ten Adventurer 950B’s and then ten Adventurer 80W’s. When we were at Adventurer, they were completing a run of ten 950B’s and starting a run of ten 80W’s. As those two models were on the production line, the welding team was preparing ten aluminum frames for a run of ten 90FWS campers.
To build a set of ten aluminum frames, Axel Guido first builds one frame on a jig table. Then he stacks the aluminum pieces for nine more frames on top of that first frame and welds all ten frames at once. Behind Axel Guido in the center photograph, Andrew Catron, Dave Catron’s son, is building roof vent frames.
Adventurer uses a polyurethane hot melt roll coater and pinch roll system for their lamination. This lamination system is common in the truck camper industry and has proven itself to be fast and reliable.
LEFT: To begin the lamination process, Ryan Bettis, the lamination team supervisor, runs sheets of interior luan and exterior filon fiberglass through the roll coater where the polyurethane has been heated to a specific temperature.
CENTER: This photograph shows the lamination area from above. In the center right you can see Ryan and the roll coater. In the center left you can see the lamination table where camper walls are built and then run through the pinch roller located in the center right of the photograph. Here the lamination team is placing panels onto the table adhesive side up to receive the next layer of the wall build.
RIGHT: With the adhesive coated luan panels in place on the lamination table, the team then brings over the aluminum frames. This is a roof frame for an Adventurer 90FWS.
LEFT: With the roof frame now placed onto the adhesive coated luan panels, a second layer of panels is run through the roll coater and carefully placed onto the frame.