Articles

Scrapyard Rat: Part Mini, Part Chevy, Totally Badass

By Stefan Kotze | October 28, 2020 | 0 Comments

Why buy something new and boring when you can build something awesome and unique? Michael Rebolo didn’t have to ask himself the question twice. As a long-time fan of American car-building television shows like Fast N’ Loud and Overhaulin’, it was only ever going to be a matter of time before Mike embarked on a build …

Project Rough & The DIY Curse

By Ron Celestine | October 27, 2020 | 0 Comments

I have to echo Dino’s recent comments about the SH Garage being one of the best parts of being a Speedhunter. Project Rough, my ER34 Nissan Skyline 25GT-t is probably the furthest away from the being the nicest looking in the fleet (it’s in the name), the most powerful, or even the rarest car. However, having my …

Rolling Like A G: A Datsun 240Z On 305s

By Dave Thomas | October 26, 2020 | 0 Comments

Introduction I don’t think there’s a single person among us that would say 2020 has gone to plan. Feel how you wish about the reactive measures that governments around the world have taken in response to COVID-19, but they’re here for the foreseeable future. Virus ignored, socially and politically it’s also been one hell of a year. I’m …

Building The Ultimate Lotus Sunbeam

By Will Beaumont | October 25, 2020 | 0 Comments

When it comes to modifying cars, or almost any project for that matter, the question is: where do you start? For masters of procrastination, of which I am a skilled practitioner, that question can help you delay projects for years. The answer, regardless of the assignment, is always the same: anywhere, just start. The truly …

Goodbye, Project GTI

By Paddy McGrath | October 24, 2020 | 0 Comments

After five years, three months, and 12 days, Project GTI is officially no longer a thing. That sounds unnecessarily ominous, as it still exists, just in someone else’s ownership. I had listed it for sale earlier in the year, but I didn’t have as much as a single view or enquiry on the car in months. …

Order books open for Mitsubishi Xpander

By MT Digital | October 24, 2020 | 0 Comments

Mitsubishi Xpander seven-seater SUV to launch in November The Mitsubishi Xpander SUV is available to view at the following locations: Date Venue Time 23-25 October Toppen Mall, Johor Bahru, Johor 10.00am-10.00pm 29 October-1 November Ipoh Parade, Perak 10.00am-10.00pm Order books for the seven-seater Mitsubishi Xpander SUV have opened. The B-segment crossover is set to launch …

Meet Estonia’s 1,500hp, 400km/h R32 Skyline GT-R

By Vladimir Ljadov | October 23, 2020 | 0 Comments

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’d have heard news of the SSC Tuatara’s recent 331mph (532km/h) record-setting top speed run. It’s amazing to see what can be achieved when you’re building a hypercar from the ground up to achieve such a feat. But equally impressive in our books is what a bunch of …

Sime Darby launches used car web store

By MT Digital | October 23, 2020 | 0 Comments

Sime Darby Auto Selection’s used cars not limited to franchise brands Sime Darby Motors has launched Sime Darby Auto Selection, a multi-brand used car online store. There are over 300 used cars available for viewing. Every used car will have undergone a thorough inspection to ensure it is in the best possible condition and quality. …

Subaru aftersales & service: by appointment only

By MT Digital | October 20, 2020 | 0 Comments

CMCO SOPs: walk-ins at Subaru service centres in Kuala Lumpur, Cheras and Petaling Jaya will not be entertained Subaru service centres in Kuala Lumpur, Cheras and Petaling Jaya are open during CMCO for service, maintenance and repairs but customers will need to make an appointment in advance, TC Subaru Sdn Bhd has announced. Walk-ins are …

How Lance Camper builds trailers and truck campers from start to finish

By Brandan Gillogly | March 16, 2020 | 0 Comments

The travel trailer market in the United States has been growing almost every year since the economy started rebounding back in 2010, with more than a million sold since 2016. Lance Camper makes up a small portion of that market, building as many as 12 ultralight trailers every day at its facility where it employs about 600 people. Though the market for truck campers is much smaller, Lance is a bigger player there, churning out as many as six each day before buyers drop them into the beds of half-ton or heavy-duty pickups for weekend getaways to places where a normal RV might not be able to venture.
Lance invited us to its facility, grouped in a few buildings in the same light industrial area in Lancaster, California, to see how the company builds trailers and campers. Here’s how it turns fiberglass, wood, aluminum, and steel into vacation homes on wheels.  

Brandan Gillogly
Each Lance camper or trailers begins with a computer model that helps engineers automate several stages of construction. The models include wiring, HVAC, and interior furniture and appliances—even the placement of pocket screws that will hold furniture to the walls.

Brandan Gillogly
While wood is used on the floor and interior, Lance uses synthetic materials on the exterior of its campers and trailers to minimize the potential for water damage and rot. Here, workers are gluing down thin sheets of Azdel, a synthetic sound-deadening and insulating panel, on top of a fiberglass outer layer.

Brandan Gillogly
The material that will comprise the ceiling and walls goes through rollers that squeeze them together before a layer of foam insulation is glued down and the entire thing is rolled again. The open floor plan of the building is maintained at a specific temperature and humidity level to ensure proper curing conditions for the glue.
Here’s what the three layers look like once lamination is complete.

Brandan Gillogly
Wiring harnesses are assembled on panels, each one labeled to correspond with the specific floorplan of the finished product.

Brandan Gillogly
Internal framing and wiring run through the ceiling and wall panels and, to allow these systems to be sandwiched between the outer and inner layers without diminishing the insulation too much, CNC routers cut passages in the foam. The leftover foam is returned to the manufacturer (a third party) to be recycled into the next batch.

The frames of Lance campers and trailers are made of rectangular aluminum tubing. The tubes are bonded to the Azdel and MIG-welded to each other. Some of the tubing ends are filled with wood, where they will be bolted together.

Brandan Gillogly
With the frame and wiring in place, an overhead laser projector shows workers where plywood or aluminum sheets will be installed before the interior walls are laminated. The position of the reinforcing sheets is determined by the placement of the internal cabinetry and furniture. The backing plate you see here is for a speaker in the ceiling.

Brandan Gillogly
An interior wall of marine-grade Lauan plywood with a vinyl wallpaper is bonded on before it heads to another CNC router that cuts all the layers to create openings for the door, windows, slide-out, and access panels. These trailer side walls will soon move next door, where the rest of assembly occurs.

Brandan Gillogly
At the final assembly building just down the street, trailer frames start with open-channel frame rails and crossmembers that are riveted together before torsion axles are bolted on.

Brandan Gillogly
Depending on the size of the travel trailer, tanks for fresh, gray, and black water may be insulated individually or, as is the case for this trailer, insulated along with the whole undercarriage. Either way, heater ducts are routed to the tanks to ensure they never freeze.

Brandan Gillogly
The “basement” of a camper has much less room to work with than a trailer and requires custom-molded water tanks; otherwise, the plumbing is similar.

Brandan Gillogly
Trailer floors are made from an insulated laminate like the roof and walls, but it’s topped with a seamless flooring that’s similar to linoleum.

As the frames and floors are coming together, workers in the upholstery area hand-cut and sew the trim.

Brandan Gillogly
Like the ceiling insulation and walls, cabinets and furniture also get cut using a CNC router. Careful planning makes the most out of each tough, lightweight poplar or maple plywood panel and minimizes waste.

Brandan Gillogly
Workers assemble furniture into sub-assemblies and install hardware before it is placed in the camper or trailer.

Brandan Gillogly
One place where cutouts can be reused is the subfloor for the shower/bathroom. Exterior wall sections initially cut out for doors, windows, or slide-outs come together to make a stand for the bathroom insert.

Brandan Gillogly
Furniture, cabinets, and appliance wiring is installed on the trailer deck before the walls go on.

Brandan Gillogly
The construction process is similar for campers. Most of the interior is installed, including HVAC systems and generators, before the side walls are bolted in place.

Brandan Gillogly
The nose cap on campers is formed as one piece to help prevent water leaks. It’s one of the last pieces to be added.

Brandan Gillogly
While trailer roofs have a slight crown to promote water drainage, camper roofs are flat in profile and slope from front to back. Here, this camper roof gets coated in adhesive before the TPO roofing membrane is placed on it.

Brandan Gillogly
The roof panel is lifted in place by an overhead crane. The roofing membrane wraps over the sidewalls and is heat-formed to maintain its shape. There are no seams to leak.

Slide-outs are the last major step of assembly, as campers and trailers get the slide-out hardware installed and the slide-out, assembled in one of the perpendicular assembly lines, finally meets its camper or trailer.

Brandan Gillogly
Once inside a camper, especially one with a slide-out, it’s easy to forget that its footprint fits in the bed of a pickup.