Tom Hanagan, President of Four Wheel Campers, is just back from the 2009 Overland Expo with a brand new camper. It’s time to launch the Four Wheel Camper Eagle Overland.
TCM: What’s the vision behind the new Four Wheel Camper Overland camper?
Tom: We get a number of requests every year for an upscale model that fulfills the need for people who are using their campers for extended off-road conditions. We also get a number of requests for a Four Wheel Camper with more upscale appliances and fixtures. This is the camper for the Four Wheel Customer who wants the best of the best.
TCM: So this is a statement product for Four Wheel Campers?
TCM: The tan soft wall really stands out. Why did you change the side wall color for the Overland?
Tom: Two reasons. One, to show the difference between the standard and Overland models. And two, the tan fabric complements the interior color scheme, cushion fabric, counter tops, bamboo flooring, and paneling.
TCM: For this Overland you expanded the width of the camper six inches. Why did you make this change?
Tom: We made the camper six inches wider than the standard Eagle to better fit the mini trucks the camper is designed for. The extra width also gives the camper additional interior real estate to better fit the appliances.
TCM: Which mini-trucks is the Overland designed for?
Tom: The Toyota Tacoma, Nissan Frontier, Dodge Dakota, and Land Rover Defender. That last truck should raise some eyebrows.
TCM: How did you manage to fit a hot water heater and outside shower into the Overland?
Tom: We increased the width on the driver side by three inches to accommodate the hot water heater and outside shower. We also moved the water tank to the floor against the front wall as we’ve done in our larger Four Wheel Camper models. Propane storage was also dropped to the floor on the rear of the camper to help lower the center of gravity.
TCM: And the water capacity increased?
Tom: Yes. The Overland features a twenty-two gallon water tank. Propane capacity is the same, but now we’re using two ten-pound vertical tanks versus one twenty-pound horizontal tank. This gives the owner the flexibility to change propane tanks. The ten-pound tanks are also more readily available and less expensive.
TCM: Stan Kennedy mentioned that this camper has a radius door.
Tom: We’re using a radius door on the Overland instead of the square corner door we use on our other campers. The radius door is a one-piece aluminum extrusion forming the top and sides which will be even more sturdy and reliable for overland travel.
TCM: The electrical system controls look like something from a high-end Class-A motorhome.
Tom: We used a Blue Sea System circuit breaker instead of fuses for the extra measure of reliability. The Blue Sea System incorporates volt and amp meters so the users can see what voltage they have available and how much power they’re consuming. Customers can get the system with analog or digital meters. There’s no price difference. Some people prefer to watch how their electric system behaves with analog meters and others like the empirical digital meter.
TCM: How did you decide upon an 80 watt panel and BlueSky controller? Is that enough?
Tom: Yes. We found that an 80 watt panel is well suited for the demands of the camper, especially when coupled to an AGM battery.
TCM: The new camper features the new face-to-face dinette.
Tom: The dinette seating has been available for a few months and is available on almost all of our models. It’s an option that’s in very high demand. Couples like that they can sit facing each other. It’s also more comfortable for working at a table on a laptop or writing.
TCM: Tell us about the new counter tops.
Tom: The countertops are a more durable composite surface. The edge molding is exceptionally durable Staron and we’re still using Maple or Mahogany plywood for excellent durability and reasonable weight considerations.
TCM: The Bamboo flooring is a nice touch. Is that a step to use more green materials?
Tom: It’s a combination of the need to increase durability and a being more green.
TCM: Bamboo is more durable than vinyl?
Tom: Bamboo doesn’t have puncture issues compared to vinyl flooring. And Bamboo doesn’t have any off-gassing.
TCM: You’re using a combination of LED lighting and fluorescent lighting. Why not just use 100% LED lighting?
Tom: Fluorescent lighting offers broader light diffusion compared to LEDs, which typically create more focused beams. We continue to look for better quality LED lighting for interior use. Fluorescent light is not as efficient as LED lighting but it’s better for light diffusion. LEDs will be designed in when we find a well designed and reliable fixture.
TCM: What do you think of the Waeco refrigerators you’re using in the Overland?
Tom: I love them. And the solar system in the Overland is enough to keep the Waeco running.
TCM: Wow. The solar system is enough for the Waeco?
Tom: Yes. Keep in mind that the rest of the camper isn’t sucking up a lot of juice.
TCM: Tell us about the German Truma furnace. Stan says it’s more efficient and quiet.
Tom: It’s a CE certified product that’s distributed all over the world. We’re importing it specifically for our Overland campers. It draws an exceptional low 1.1 amps. The next lowest we’ve ever found is 3.9 from the Atwood models we use in our other campers. The Truma is also extremely quiet. It’s undoubtedly the best quality furnace made.
TCM: The photos show your four-inch thick cushions and gas strut lift assists. Are those standard on this camper?
Tom: The four-inch cushions and mattress are standard on the Overland and available as an option for our other Four Wheel Camper models. The strut assists are an option for all Four Wheel Campers as well.
TCM: We used the gas struts on a Four Wheel Camper last summer. It does make the roof a lot easier to lift. Has that become a popular option?
Tom: Yes, very popular. The gas struts are especially popular with people who have items stored on the roof or experience a physical challenge lifting.
TCM: The mini-Heki in the cabover seems made for a Four Wheel Camper. Tell us about that feature.
Tom: The Heki offers a larger vent than the standard Four Wheel Camper as well as a built in screen and shade. It’s also nice to be able to open it up and pop-out for a picture.
TCM: Tell us about the German appliances. Are those from your trip to the European RV show?
Tom: Actually no. They are the result of our exposure to working with international customers for many years. Cramer Appliances have been used in our units for export to Australia, New Zealand, and Germany for some time now. We have experience working with them and they provide more efficient use of countertop space. The stove is a three-burner model and electric ignition. The faucet folds flat for better space utilization. And they’re very sexy.
TCM: Sexy German appliances. Oh my. So what’s the Overland going to cost?
TCM: And what will the Overland weigh?
Tom: The weight on the Eagle Overland model, mounted on truck and ready for travel, is 1,220 pounds dry weight. This includes all upgraded items plus or minus five percent for atomic clock error and theory of relativity allowance for rotational aspect of earth rotation.
TCM: That’s funny. Maybe all manufacturers should have that disclaimer with their camper weights. Will the Overland features find their way into other FWC products?
Tom: There are standard upgrades and there are model specific upgrades. Model specific upgrades are not going to go into a production model, no matter how much you ask. The Overland features will be available for the Eagle, Hawk, and Grandby.
TCM: Is there anything I didn’t ask you about this camper that you want to add?
Tom: We opted to use double pane glass windows rather than acrylic Seitz windows because of how the Overland will be used. Seitz acrylic windows are vulnerable to scratching. The glass windows are still dual pane and insulated.
Oh, and the Overland comes standard with a Sirius satellite radio receiver. Satellite radio is great for when you’re in remote overland locations.
TCM: Before I let you go, what did you think of the Overland Expo? Was it a good event?
Tom: The Overland Expo was a fascinating and rewarding experience. We value the experience highly and look forward to next year’s event. Four Wheel Campers was very well received and we were a title sponsor of the event.
TCM: Thanks for the camper announcement Tom.
Tom: You’re welcome.
For more information on Four Wheel Campers, visit their website:
Eagle Overland Model Upgrades:
Front opening window
Yakima roof rack system
Rear wall steps
Water heater with outside shower
Lift assist – gas springs
Marine grade fluorescent light fixtures
Jensen Marine AM/FM/CD/iPod input stereo system
Model specific upgrades:
Double pane windows
Cramer glass top three burner electric ignition stove
Cramer glass top sink with fold down faucet
Premium quality countertop with Staron edge molding
Midi-Heki roof vent with retractable insect screen and shade
Low amperage super quiet forced air heating
Waeco 80-liter Danfoss compressor refrigerator with freezer
LED reading and supplementary light fixtures
LED rear wall floodlights
Blue Sea electrical system with voltage and amperage meters
Sharp 80-watt solar panel
Blue Sky Solar Boost 2000E solar panel controller
Kenwood speaker system
Sirius satellite radio receiver
Bamboo solid flooring
Sugatsune Japanese positive lock cabinet latches
Anodized extruded aluminum radius corner cabinetry moldings
Radius corner entry door
Price $27,600 – complete