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  #1  
Old January 13th, 2015, 08:25 AM
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Expedition camper - tribute to the Defender?

Next fall, my company is starting a 2-year build of a product we, potentially, intend to bring to market in 2017-2019. It is intended to be a slide-in box to go on a flatbed truck, allowing for a 6-person expedition. The base vehicle for the first build will be a Dodge RAM single rear axle 3500 diesel, manual, 4-door as shown.

I'm posting this on here because I am considering designing the rear of the rig to closely resemble the back of a Defender as a tribute to what has always been an icon to me when it comes to adventure. There is nothing quite like seeing a Defender loaded with gear ready for a trip.

My question here... Is a Defender-like tribute (windows, door spacing, and aspects of each thing on the back) cool or tacky?

I attached a few design drawings of the rig so far. You can see a faint resemblance to a Defender already, but I am considering making the resemblance much more noticeable.
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  #2  
Old January 13th, 2015, 09:19 AM
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Great idea. Very few companies are doing it over here, and even fewer are doing it for overland enthusiasts (vs commercial audience). The efficiency of the 130 hicap overland module that you are proposing is just that, efficient. You can see that same still on LC's as well in Africa and Oz, so not really a marque trademark. It just happens to be something only a few vehicle products in the world can accomodate.

expo portal is going to be your target market. that's where all the pickup/crew cab weekend adventurists are playing.

On a side note, how do you plan to accomodate 6 in a crew cab for long range travel? I would think the package you are illustrating is 4 max. If you are planning on 4 in the crew cab, but 6 to include another vehicle traveling with, I think that design makes perfect sense.
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Old January 13th, 2015, 09:30 AM
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Most Americans are probably more familiar with the Hummer H1, so with your near-vertical sides, it'll likely look more like that to them than the Defender, but I like the idea!
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I am talking purely from an aesthetics standpoint.
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  #4  
Old January 13th, 2015, 09:47 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JSBriggs View Post

As for the windows. On a set up like this, it needs to be function over form. Most of the folks i see that are out traveling, dont have any windows in the back. They provide no real visibility, take up valuable space, and are a potential security risk. have a look at Earthroamer.

-Jeff
yes, you don't need any windows in a cargo module. that's why the ideal Troopy and Defender platforms are windowless vans. nobody wants their expensive gear seen or stolen. out of site out of mind.
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Old January 13th, 2015, 09:52 AM
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They don't necessarily have to be windows though (although I know he said windows) - they could just be a stamped design into the rear
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  #6  
Old January 13th, 2015, 09:57 AM
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stamping feux windows is the beginning of how you turn a purpose based vehicle into a poser rig. F' that.

make sure to include an outer hatch that has a compartment in the pod module to keep the trunk monkey. it'll need air holes and positive air pressure. Briggs can give you his measurements for the size and accomodations.
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Old January 13th, 2015, 10:04 AM
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rigidity stamps you guys.
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  #8  
Old January 13th, 2015, 10:07 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Overlander View Post
stamping feux windows is the beginning of how you turn a purpose based vehicle into a poser rig. F' that.
Says the guy who parks his loaded-up 110 with shower, tent, air, etc. at Talbots haha
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  #9  
Old January 13th, 2015, 10:09 AM
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Thanks for all the awesome feedback! I didn't provide a ton of detail in my first post, so to answer some of the posts so far...

Read-end design: full disclosure, I really dislike Hummers. They can do great things off road, but they're massive, inefficient with interior space due to their unique drivetrain design, and are too often the poster child for Hollywood posers who think "bling" makes for a badass off-roader. A Defender, on the other hand, is so much more humble and built with adventure, not being a bad-ass, in mind. Just my opinion...

For that reason alone, I love the idea of building the design to pay a proper tribute to such a great legend. There are camper and expedition builds all over, but I want one that says, "I am a modern rig, but I tip my hat to the great legend who went before me. Cheers, Defender".

I know... Perhaps a little cheesy. But, you make great points... Maybe the design only LOOKS like windows, and could actually be clever access panels or just visual cues without compromising security or function.

The interior has a split level design, so one of the windows would be in the shower / bathroom. A little fresh air in the bathroom and natural light could be nice. The other window is into a closet. An LED inside could provide light, and a window is probably just a security hazard more than anything.

Crew size... The intended design is for two couples primarily, or some other combination of four, to make trips very quickly, efficiently, and easily. When I mentioned 6, I should have been more clear... 6 would be its maximum capacity, both in the truck enroute and for sleeping accommodations. That's the reason why the target truck is a 6-passenger RAM instead of a Tacoma. Since it CAN safely accommodate 6, the typical crew of 4 would be much easier than in something smaller. I also have a daughter and, with her in mind, am considering children as the 5th and 6th members on the trip.

As I do not have any access to a Defender does anyone know where I can find some detailed dimensions, particularly of the rear end? Ideally, I would like to even match the thickness of trim around the windows and placement of lights and other visual cues.
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Old January 13th, 2015, 10:19 AM
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I forgot to mention a few other requirements I am trying to accommodate.

Base vehicle (in this case, the RAM 3500), is a useable daily driver when not used for an expedition. The pod slides off and you're left with a useable flatbed pickup.

Price - I do not want to compete with the Earthroamer nor Global Expedition Vehicles customer base. Including base truck, I am targeting $100K for the completed rig, plus or minus a profit margin and overhead costs TBD. That budgets $60 for the pod and $40 for the RAM 3500.

Other requirements attached in the photo below. Thoughts on the requirements? Things missing or unnecessary?

I haven't gone to the expedition portal with this yet. I posted here first primarily to get your Defender-owner thoughts on designing this to pay tribute to a Defender.
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  #11  
Old January 13th, 2015, 10:22 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rijosho View Post
Says the guy who parks his loaded-up 110 with shower, tent, air, etc. at Talbots haha
Hey, have you ever been to the mall on black friday? Seriously!
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  #12  
Old January 13th, 2015, 10:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TELOS View Post
Thanks for all the awesome feedback! I didn't provide a ton of detail in my first post, so to answer some of the posts so far...

Read-end design: full disclosure, I really dislike Hummers. They can do great things off road, but they're massive, inefficient with interior space due to their unique drivetrain design, and are too often the poster child for Hollywood posers who think "bling" makes for a badass off-roader. A Defender, on the other hand, is so much more humble and built with adventure, not being a bad-ass, in mind. Just my opinion...

For that reason alone, I love the idea of building the design to pay a proper tribute to such a great legend. There are camper and expedition builds all over, but I want one that says, "I am a modern rig, but I tip my hat to the great legend who went before me. Cheers, Defender".

I know... Perhaps a little cheesy. But, you make great points... Maybe the design only LOOKS like windows, and could actually be clever access panels or just visual cues without compromising security or function.

The interior has a split level design, so one of the windows would be in the shower / bathroom. A little fresh air in the bathroom and natural light could be nice. The other window is into a closet. An LED inside could provide light, and a window is probably just a security hazard more than anything.

Crew size... The intended design is for two couples primarily, or some other combination of four, to make trips very quickly, efficiently, and easily. When I mentioned 6, I should have been more clear... 6 would be its maximum capacity, both in the truck enroute and for sleeping accommodations. That's the reason why the target truck is a 6-passenger RAM instead of a Tacoma. Since it CAN safely accommodate 6, the typical crew of 4 would be much easier than in something smaller. I also have a daughter and, with her in mind, am considering children as the 5th and 6th members on the trip.

As I do not have any access to a Defender does anyone know where I can find some detailed dimensions, particularly of the rear end? Ideally, I would like to even match the thickness of trim around the windows and placement of lights and other visual cues.

I didn't realize that you were proposing that people eat, live and sleep in that pod. Most crew cab flat-bed pods used on med-size overland rigs in the flatbed area are cargo/storage modules, and the people sleep in RTT's or ground tents.

Saying you are going to sleep 6 in that pod for a defender, or gelandewagon, or troopy, or JK is like saying you can fit 5 in a porche 911 because it has seats in the back. You definitely need to think about the market you are selling too.

-Empty nesters go on long overland trips
-families do weekend camping
-wives, by majority want space. and with kids this magnifies by a factor of 10. this leads to a trailer conversation.

you're market in the US is for dudes going outdoors on a guy weekend, or empty nesters traveling overland in the US using US road networks and some offroad.

beyond that, you go very niche or you are competing with existing mature market pickup campers.

so what is the target demographic you are going after?

------ Follow up post added January 13th, 2015 10:39 AM ------

PS, you really need to go to Expo East on Oct 18 in Asheville, NC to asses your potential market and competitors.
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  #13  
Old January 13th, 2015, 11:13 AM
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Given the platform size, I suggest routine sleeping for 4, with perhaps fold down bunks for 5th/6th person. Keep cooking and even toilet facilities external, save for a cassette toilet for night time use. Otherwise a separate tent for toilet/shower.

A big advantage would also being able to drop the camper whilst traveling. Say you hit a 3 day destination, but want to explore without breaking camp. Provide hydraulic legs to lower the camper pod, and allow it to function freestanding.

We traveled across Central America last year with a family of 4, and used the 130 for transport only- stayed in in platform tents/hotels/etc. If a similar unit to yours had been available- and removable, it would have been ideal.

This year we are headed out west 6 weeks via Sprinter Navion, diesel, self contained, but not the best for exploration. Your proposal would be ideal once again. I have tried truck popup campers, trailer (Conqueror and Kimberly), and all have compromises. Your proposal would allow to trailer a Defender if using a full-size truck, or mount on a 130 for 4, or even a 110 HCPU for 2. Hope it happens!!

Forgot to mention, don't omit a budget for the flatbed- check with Ute in Seattle, as I went that route for my Power Wagon.
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  #14  
Old January 13th, 2015, 11:21 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JSBriggs View Post
What calendar are you looking at? Too much rum in your flavored (girly) coffee this morning?

OVERLAND EXPO WEST
May 15-17, 2015
Mormon Lake Lodge, Flagstaff
Arizona, USA


OVERLAND EXPO EAST
October 2-4, 2015
Taylor Ranch, Asheville
North Carolina, USA

-Jeff

yep, trunk monkey is correct. I'm not sure what I had in my mind with the 18th. This is an example why we keep him around.
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Old January 13th, 2015, 11:33 AM
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Copy all on the expo dates. I plan to attend and hope to bring some of my team as well. I'm posting from the road and can't figure out how to quote responses using the iPad app.

For the truck monkey, does that compartment need its own air supply or can I just vent that through the pods cabin air? And damn, I completely forgot to factor in banana storage.

Target audience: couples (or families with one or two kids) who want to go places where you cannot pull a big trailer and sleep with safety and amenities you cannot get from a tent.

Cooking and living inside the pod: only if inclement weather dictates. The kitchen and storage has a slide rail mechanism allowing the vast majority of cooking, living, and eating to occur outside. I do not have the awnings shown in the drawings I sent out, but the typical "living" space is the area immediately outside the driver side of the rig. Inside is typically reserved for sleeping. During inclement weather, the kitchen equipment rails slide upward and into the countertop inside the pod, allowing for (cramped) use inside.

Sorry... The designs I attached don't really illustrate that without a little explaining.

The awnings are a special design altogether. The solar panels on the roof slide and lock onto the awning to provide power as well as security. Unlike a tent or roof top tent or roof top tent on a trailer, the only way someone or something could harm the occupants while sleeping is to get up and around a 10-foot awning and solar panel array 9 feet in the air.

Flexibility and safety are two huge things I am trying to build into the design.

------ Follow up post added January 13th, 2015 12:41 PM ------

Quote:
Originally Posted by rovertrader View Post
Given the platform size, I suggest routine sleeping for 4, with perhaps fold down bunks for 5th/6th person. Keep cooking and even toilet facilities external, save for a cassette toilet for night time use. Otherwise a separate tent for toilet/shower. A big advantage would also being able to drop the camper whilst traveling. Say you hit a 3 day destination, but want to explore without breaking camp. Provide hydraulic legs to lower the camper pod, and allow it to function freestanding. We traveled across Central America last year with a family of 4, and used the 130 for transport only- stayed in in platform tents/hotels/etc. If a similar unit to yours had been available- and removable, it would have been ideal. This year we are headed out west 6 weeks via Sprinter Navion, diesel, self contained, but not the best for exploration. Your proposal would be ideal once again. I have tried truck popup campers, trailer (Conqueror and Kimberly), and all have compromises. Your proposal would allow to trailer a Defender if using a full-size truck, or mount on a 130 for 4, or even a 110 HCPU for 2. Hope it happens!! Forgot to mention, don't omit a budget for the flatbed- check with Ute in Seattle, as I went that route for my Power Wagon.
I figured out how to quote....

A co-worker of mine did a flatbed mod to his RAM 2500 diesel similar to your Power Wagon (sweet setup, but the way! I like what you did with yours!) and was kind enough to let me get under his truck and see some of his handiwork. I have some special ideas for the flatbed I think will be pretty cool.

Hydraulic legs - definitely. That's a huge benefit of the flatbed, being able to easily ditch the pod at home or at the campsite and still have a capable, useful truck.

I might be making a trip out to Seattle this March. I'll see if I can fit in a visit to Ute. Thanks for the tip!
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Old January 13th, 2015, 11:50 AM
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Regarding trunk monkey, the vent is so he doesn't asphixiate. The positive pressure is so you don't get dust into the compartment-it's not for the monkey's comfort. regarding bananas, briggs can live off banana chips and tap water. he don't need no stinking fresh fruit.

inside inclement weather short periods and outside primary living for 2-4 is the right spec in my opinion. you definitely have a product that has potential. being into overland for a while now, and heavily on expo portal, and also having been to 2x expos,, I can say that the pickup overlander market is growing, and there is still alot of space for the weekender solution between full onboard setup and trailer. few have come up with solutions there. and each of those spectrums have their advantages and disadvantages. my recommendation is to also think about entry versus deluxe vertical product lines. don't just have one.
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Old January 13th, 2015, 12:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Overlander View Post
Regarding trunk monkey, the vent is so he doesn't asphixiate. The positive pressure is so you don't get dust into the compartment-it's not for the monkey's comfort. regarding bananas, briggs can live off banana chips and tap water. he don't need no stinking fresh fruit. inside inclement weather short periods and outside primary living for 2-4 is the right spec in my opinion. you definitely have a product that has potential. being into overland for a while now, and heavily on expo portal, and also having been to 2x expos,, I can say that the pickup overlander market is growing, and there is still alot of space for the weekender solution between full onboard setup and trailer. few have come up with solutions there. and each of those spectrums have their advantages and disadvantages. my recommendation is to also think about entry versus deluxe vertical product lines. don't just have one.
Sweet... Banana chips don't take up much space. Sounds like a scrappy little monkey.

Right now, I have 4 variants in mind for TEV-1 (this model). From a business perspective, they will be bespoke for a couple years before licensing out the design for production, which is when we would lock down about 4 different variants.

We spent a week with a RAM 3500 out in Colorado a few weeks ago to do some testing and take some measurements. I am super impressed with that truck and excited to see what we can do with it as the base vehicle.
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Old January 13th, 2015, 12:01 PM
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my recommendation is to also think about entry versus deluxe vertical product lines. don't just have one.

I agree totally Mark!!
The thought of a single vehicle being a chameleon/erector set is the essence of a Defender...
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Old January 13th, 2015, 12:04 PM
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the hot tomale right now in the expo world is the Tacoma. You may also want to think about versions for medium and large style pickups. A smaller version for 2 on a tacoma or F150 size would be great.
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Old January 13th, 2015, 12:13 PM
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F-150- largest selling vehicle for what, 35 years??? And 700# lighter this year, which they did add to payload thankfully!!!

F-150/250 flatbed with your new POD trailering a D-90 to Moab for hardcore trails, then load up and diagonal across Utah- epic trip!!

Not to mention the wife can use the 150 (drop the POD) whilst you are wheeling if she so chooses- extending the time spent in Moab ;-)
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