Lance Camper introduces the all-new 2010 Lance 850 and teases us about four more new models. We talk to Lance’s National Sales Manager and Product Development Manager for the inside scoop.
Lance Camper is ready to announce their all new 2010 Lance 850 truck camper. But that’s not all. Lance also has four more all new 2010 truck campers in the pipeline. And if that’s not enough news, Lance is discontinuing seven existing models in the wake of the new camper introductions. Let there be no doubt that Lance is making bold moves for 2010.
We contacted Gary Conley, Lance’s National Sales Manager, and Les Fowler, Lance’s Product Development Manager, to get the back story on the new 850. The interview covers the design evolution Lance has been pursuing since introducing the Lance 830 in December of 2007.
2010 Lance 850 Specifications
The 2010 Lance 850 is a hard side, non-slide, rear wet-bath truck camper with a basement. The interior floor length of the 2010 Lance 850 is 8′ 11″ and the interior height is 78″. The exterior length is 16′ 10″ and Lance is reporting the dry weight of the camper at 2,170 pounds without options. The tanks in the 2010 Lance 850 are 30 gallons fresh, 20 gallons gray, and 18 gallons black.
The camper accommodates two batteries and two twenty-pound propane tanks. The MSRP for the 2010 Lance 850 is $18,842.
We interviewed Gary Conley, National Sales Manager and Les Fowler, Product Development Manager about the new Lance 850.
TCM: Before we talk about the new models, tell us about the research and development process. When did pre-production start and what were the goals?
Les: The new Lance campers for 2010 are replacing the 815, 835, 845, and 915. We have had these models for many years and they were designed to fit trucks from years ago. Our new campers are designed to fit newer trucks.
Our customers have also requested larger tank capacities in our smaller campers. The need to improve the truck fit and the request for larger tank sizes is how these new campers came about. The older campers were also wood framed. These new campers are all-aluminum framed and fully laminated.
TCM: Are the new campers just updates to now discontinued models or are they completely fresh designs?
Gary: We have five new Lance models. They are the 850, 855, 865, 950, and 950 Slide. The 835 is replaced by the 850. The 845 is replaced by the 855. The 915 is replaced by the 950. The 815 is replaced by the 865. And the 981 is replaced by the 950 Slide.
TCM: So the 981 is also being discontinued and replaced. Are there any campers that are being discontinued, but not replaced?
Gary: Yes. The 1055, 971, and 805 are going away completely.
TCM: Tell us about some of the design breakthroughs that were made during the development of the five new campers.
Les: All of our wood cabinets are now Garnica RV-Ply from Spain. We would purchase the Garnica RV-Ply domestically, but it’s not available. The cabinets are twelve millimeter Garnica RV-Ply and the walls are fifteen millimeter Garnica RV-Ply. In contrast, the US marine grade is only about five ply. The Garnica RV-Ply from Spain is about 30% lighter which is one way we pulled weight out of our new campers.
Since Truck Camper Magazine last visited the Lance factory, we have invested in two more automated CNC machines. By building with Garnica RV-Ply with a CNC machine, we can pull the labor out which is a significant cost savings. Even though the Garnica RV-Ply is more expensive, we are no longer framing, paneling, routing, stapling, and cutting. All of that’s gone away with the CNC machine. Additionally, the fit and finish of our cabinets is much nicer in our new campers. All this and we get the added benefit of the weight savings.
TCM: It sounds like the CNC machines have become a vital part of the Lance Camper assembly process.
Les: They have. With the CNC machines, the mill is not cutting as much. Now a CNC cuts and bores the holes. A ready to assemble fastener pops into the holes with a screw at the right angle. This process takes away the person on the line drilling and screwing. The CNC is doing all of that for us. All we’re doing is assembling instead of building. We used to have jigs, but now it’s all one panel and the CNC machine is doing it.
We started with one large CNC machine two years ago and we were using it for cabinets, side walls, floors, and ceilings. Production is ramping up now that we’re also in the trailer market. So the large CNC machine is running a lot during the day. We bought a second CNC machine a couple of months ago and bought a third CNC machine one month ago. Now that big CNC machine can concentrate on the exterior structures.
Gary: We’re able to route wire runs through cabinets with the CNC. The wires are internal rather through the walls. That means you don’t have places where the walls have zero insulation because you had to route wiring there. We’ve also gone to zero tolerance meaning we’ve eliminated plastics, gimps, staples, and putties, which were a cosmetic eye sore to certain people.
Additionally, the CNC allows us to mount towel racks and other accessories to the walls because we’re using solid wood. Wherever the customer wants to put something, they can because it’s solid wood. If we can put it on a CNC table, we can cut any design. With the CNC machines, the sky is open as far as creativity.
TCM: Other than using Garnica RV-Ply, talk to us how you reduced the weight of these new campers without reducing their structural integrity.
Gary: The new campers are all laminated; the floors, side walls, front and rear walls, plus the basement gets its strength through the trusses.
With all the changes, the old models compared to the new models are like comparing a World War II plane with a modern plane from today. The two planes might be the same size, but the modern plane can carry five times the cargo. Things have evolved. We have been building wood framed campers since 1965. The last wood framed camper left our factory three weeks ago. It’s the end of an era. Wood framing has served its time and now we’re off to something better.
TCM: Is this a new approach to aluminum framing or an evolution of the aluminum framing Lance has been doing for a few years now?
Gary: We started building with aluminum frames with the Lance Max in 2004. A lot of what we did then is carried over into what we’re doing now. Those campers have been in the field for five years. The lamination also makes the camper considerably stronger.
We took elements of the 830 and 1040, along with elements of our higher line, and put them into our new camper line. Essentially, we took the two series of campers and blended them.
TCM: What features of these new campers are you most excited about?
Gary: We’ve increased the headroom inside the cab over bed area by nine inches. We’ve also added pull out pantries in the lower section of the camper without getting rid of wardrobe space. There’s also a double door refrigerator in our smaller campers. No one has bigger refrigerators in non-slide truck campers.
The new campers have increased bathroom sizes and tank capacities. Our new eight foot camper tank capacities have gone up 150% from our old eight foot campers. Those are huge items when you look at them. The new campers also have the storage capacity for a 2,000-watt generator that can run your air conditioning. These campers also include a fully ducted furnace that runs into the bathroom, living, and cab over areas.
In the 850, the queen bed in the cabover and the dinette converts to a seventy- two inch bed, a bigger single sink, and we’ve increased counter space by a couple of square feet. In the cabover, we have four and a half feet on each side or nine linear feet of total wardrobe hanging area. There’s no other truck camper in its class that has all those features. Even with all of those added features, the weight of the 835 and the 850 are basically the same.
TCM: Are there any changes to the interior materials or aesthetics?
Gary: The new campers are very warm and have a West Coast flair. The interiors come in three interior colors; gold rush, red rock, and white water. They are very tasteful interiors. And the outside graphics are great. You’re going to look at our new units and go, “WOW!”
The countertops have all changed. There’s edge banding, so no more plastic edges. Everything is glued on now, so there’s no creeping or gaps. Basically there’s no place that water intrusion can get in.
Les: Like Gary said, we’ve got all new graphics and interiors. And with the bathroom, we’ve gone to sliding doors instead of hinge doors in every model. We found that when people made their dinettes into beds they had an issue getting into the bathrooms, so now they are all sliding doors.
TCM: How about the exteriors? Other then the graphics, are there any changes to how these new campers will look?
Les: The new models are the same basic size and exterior look as the 830 and 1040. They’ve got the same basement as the 830 and now all of our campers have rounded, aerodynamic noses.
TCM: When will the new models be available to see at Lance dealerships and RV shows?
Gary: The 850 will on dealer lots in mid-December. We’re just going into production now on the other camper models. They will ship in mid-January.
TCM: What’s in store for your larger camper models like the 1181 and 1191? Any changes to these campers for 2010?
Les: Basically we’re upgrading the entire product line. The rear awnings will now be flat against the rear wall. The external speakers are now on the curbside wall. The noses are more aerodynamic. All units have sliding bathroom doors, new decor panels, and new accent panels. The upholstery is camel back or rounded across the top.
One important change is Atwood’s new remote control system for our electric jacks. They have a new controller and remote that will operate the slide-outs.
Gary: The new Atwood controller is unique to each camper. In order to operate jacks with the remote, you can’t use any Atwood remote.
TCM: Talk to us about what trucks these new campers are designed for.
Gary: We build to a class of truck when we build a camper and each new camper is going to fit a specific truck. For example, the 850 is going to fit 2500 series long bed trucks or bigger. The 865 is built for 1500 series short bed trucks. The 855 is built for 2500 series short bed trucks. And the 950 is made for 2500 series long bed trucks or larger.
TCM: We can’t wait to see the 850 at Louisville and share it with our readers. Thanks for the interview Gary and Les.
Gary and Les: See you in a couple weeks.
To learn more about Lance Campers, visit their website at www.lancecamper.com.