Need Fiberglass Foam Core Panel Recommendation

#16
Very interesting. it sounds like we have very similar requirements - i too want a cab-over bed that can mount on a smaller truck such as a european-spec ford ranger super cab or nissan navara king cab, and I would prefer to go frameless if possible.
Is this the sort of thing you were thinking of?

Ford Ranger.001-min.jpeg

XPCamper has expanded into Europe and our V2 hard sided popup is available to view in the UK, and buy across Europe. It is a clamshell design where each half is a 35mm thick fibreglass foam sandwich, laid up in a female mould with bi-direction glass. When the two composite interior mouldings are bonded in you end up with an incredibly strong, stiff, and impact resistant shell. Because it is moulded it does not have weak points like a bonded composite panel camper would; or cold bridging and condensation issues like an aluminium framed composite camper would.

We are building custom trays with a cutaway design, four storage boxes and a 5ft drawer. They will be as light or lighter than the tub on the standard truck, but of course be much more practical. These trays are designed and built to match the styling of the parent vehicle; either a single cab or king cab variant of:
Ford Ranger
Nissan Navara
Toyota Hilux
Isuzu D-Max
Mitsubishi L200
VW Amarok
Toyota Landcruiser 79 Series
Mercedes G-wagen

The camper lifts off with jacks in 10 minutes. Leaving a flatbed base with 4 receiver sockets. Into these receivers you can fit drop sides, a custom canopy, or any other structure that you would like.

We have partnered with Arctic Trucks to build a demo vehicle using an Isuzu D-Max AT35 extended cab (see my avatar). This is an attractive option because the 35" tyres, suspension and other goodies are all covered by the OEM 5 year 125,000 mile warranty, and dealer finance. We can also build Navara and Hilux AT35s with the same OEM benefits.

Sadly building moulds is an expensive business for a one off camper. But can be economic if used multiple times. Hence we are able to offer completed camper and flatbed packages for a similar price to what it would cost you to build one yourself. You benefit by not having to do the labour, or spend ten years evolving the build process as we have. What you end up with is two yacht hulls: We've all seen those 50 year old neglected fibreglass yachts in marinas yet they are still floating unlike a similarly neglected wooden or aluminium yacht. Consequently an XPCamper has a residual value considerably higher than a homebuilt camper if you decide to head in a different direction. More details on our European website - see my profile for the link. If you need to sleep four people, rather than three, then probably best to give me a call ;-)
 
#17
i would be interested in seeing more layout details, but i'm thinking more along the lines of the Lance 865 or northstar 700scx as a traditional hardside camper - I think I would loose to much storage space going or any kind of pop-up. And as I lead a nomadic lifestyle I need to carry everything with me so leaving parts of the tub or carrying parts of it around loose is not really feasible. Will you be showing at the Utrect camper show next march?
 
#18
i would be interested in seeing more layout details, but i'm thinking more along the lines of the Lance 865 or northstar 700scx as a traditional hardside camper - I think I would loose to much storage space going or any kind of pop-up. And as I lead a nomadic lifestyle I need to carry everything with me so leaving parts of the tub or carrying parts of it around loose is not really feasible. Will you be showing at the Utrect camper show next march?
We are only 50 minutes drive from Felixstowe port where the Dutch ferries dock. Utrecht is virtually on our doorstep so there's a good chance.

XPCampers are built to be lived in full time, wild camping in rough terrain for weeks on end. The V2 we have available for viewing arrived here via Alaska, Patagonia, northern Norway and Russia after 18 months on the road. The owners are taking a half time break before they ship the camper in a container to southern Africa, and the Silk Road across Asia.

Both the campers you have mentioned are built to be used predominantly in summer campgrounds rather than wild camping independently. Both will suffer bouncing around in the back of a pickup tub that does not have a flexible mounting. Added to which the storage they have is up high rather than down low, which won't be great for the centre of gravity. The trucks you mention have a GVW of around 3.2t, which could be upgraded to 3.5t but even so weight is always a serious factor. Surviving cold, wet weather for extended periods comfortably in either will likely require some modifications.

There are many ways to build a camper, and many different styles of use. Every overland traveller needs to consider where their sweet spot is. Northstar and Lance easily out sell XPCamper; they have plenty of fans.

Personally I have no regrets about the V1 XPCamper my wife and I bought in 2012 to wild camp for six months through a Rocky Mountain winter, skiing every day and drying our wet ski kit in the camper.

The image below of a popped up V2 is owned by a professional photographer. He lives in it for long periods in the desert wilderness of Australia. Good insulation is beneficial in whichever climate you dwell.

Quartered V2 Picture.jpeg
 
#19
i didn't say i was considering buying one of those brands, but they are more the layouts that are inspiring me for a self or custom build. i agree 100% about height, COG, weight and insulation. I'm only interested in a 3 season build - i prefer to rent an apartment for my ski winters and be able to carry skis in the tub and pick visiting friends up at the airport - but I would still go for good insulation so that any minimal cooling i could install with the weight limits could hope to be effective at night in hot climates
 
#20
Powered fans set to blow 'out' from the peak of the roof, coupled with an air inlet lower down and close to the sleeping area works great in hot climates. During the day it is most effective if you draw the fresh external air from a shaded area ie under the awning or even better beneath the vehicle.

V2 Layout-min.jpeg V2 Dimensions-min.jpeg

Something you may not be aware of is that the EU has a rule about the maximum rear overhang a vehicle can have beyond the rear axle line; it is 60% of the wheelbase. When we build a V2 on a Toyota Hilux Xtra Cab we are very close to this rule. The Navara and Ranger have 135mm longer wheel bases which will give you another 3" to play with for the campers maximum floor length.

Maximum axle weights are also a limiting factor. If you think of the rear axle as the pivot point, a camper that is carrying significant weight/structure right at the back will be heavily loading the rear axle.

The tray I am building into our Isuzu D-Max will take 4 pairs of downhill skis in the drawer, and 2 pairs of cross country skis in the forward storage box compartment. All locked away out of sight.
 
#21
Powered fans set to blow 'out' from the peak of the roof, coupled with an air inlet lower down and close to the sleeping area works great in hot climates. During the day it is most effective if you draw the fresh external air from a shaded area ie under the awning or even better beneath the vehicle

Something you may not be aware of is that the EU has a rule about the maximum rear overhang a vehicle can have beyond the rear axle line; it is 60% of the wheelbase. When we build a V2 on a Toyota Hilux Xtra Cab we are very close to this rule. The Navara and Ranger have 135mm longer wheel bases which will give you another 3" to play with for the campers maximum floor length.

Maximum axle weights are also a limiting factor. If you think of the rear axle as the pivot point, a camper that is carrying significant weight/structure right at the back will be heavily loading the rear axle.

The tray I am building into our Isuzu D-Max will take 4 pairs of downhill skis in the drawer, and 2 pairs of cross country skis in the forward storage box compartment. All locked away out of sight.
i was aware of the 60% rule and axle loading - that is one of the reasons for wanting to base on the shorter cab/longer load bed of a king/super cab so it can move the camper COG forward, and rear overhand will be kept to an absolute minimum, less for legislation, more just to reduce the overall length of the vehicle. and as much travelling weight will be forward of the rear axle to reduce load on it.....i'll be removing the tailgate and replacing it with a fibreglass mesh one that can double as a tabletop and sand ladders when the camper is on board, but i'll be trying to keep the overhand to around the length of the tailgate anyway......
 

Stumpalump

Expedition Leader
#22
I was at the IBEX marine manufactures convention in Tampa last month and met with the vendors of all these products. They are all the same. None of the high end boat builders brag or mention that the product they use is better in any way with one exception. Balsa wood coring. Still the strongest and lightest with no close second despite marketing. I'd buy synthetic based on price and availability as long as the product does what you need. They were all so similar that I could not tell a difference. They all were made to take resin well, cut easy and are flat. Maybe a vendor near you can make a better deal on resin, mat and materials to make that vendor the best for you. The ones I saw need to be covered with glass and resin on both sides in my opinion and dont forget about glassing over good old fashion plywood or any wood if you think fits a particular area well for you. If your worried about water intrusion on screew holes then drill a 3/8 - 1/2" hole thru the core and fill it with resin. That technique into a wood core is not the way manufactures typically do it but the way boaters fix the leak problem later. If you have the time and dont screew a million things directly into the glass thats the strongest and best sealing way to mount stuff to it. Watch out for the MEK and fumes. Thats the stuff that will make you have 3 legged kids.
 
#23
I was at the IBEX marine manufactures convention in Tampa last month and met with the vendors of all these products. They are all the same. None of the high end boat builders brag or mention that the product they use is better in any way with one exception. Balsa wood coring. Still the strongest and lightest with no close second despite marketing.
Balsa might be a great way to go brand new; but balsa cored boats suffer worse depreciation than other GRP builds. If water gets into that core it can rot easily and be expensive to fix. Having worked as a professional yacht captain for 15 years I wouldn't choose to build a balsa cored camper. I might be tempted by a cold-moulded cedar strip one though if I were looking for a complex curvy shape.
 

rayra

Expedition Leader
#24
How do these 'composites' compare to the expedient of glue-laminating some 1" EPS foam sheets with 1/4" luan/plywood?

To the OP, you're basically describing SIPs in design, but those are far too thick and heavy.

But I realyl think you could readily construct your shell from in improvised SIP panel using ready made styrofoam panels glue-laminated and with some particular care taken in how your joints are structured - again, look at SIP construction techniques - you could create a fairly sturdy structure even before mechanical fastening and fiberglassing are done.

2" styrofoam 4'x8'
https://www.homedepot.com/p/R-Tech-2-in-x-4-ft-x-8-ft-R-7-7-Rigid-Foam-Insulation-310891/202532856

7/32" ply 4'x8'
https://www.homedepot.com/p/R-Tech-2-in-x-4-ft-x-8-ft-R-7-7-Rigid-Foam-Insulation-310891/202532856

A sandwich of those materials - with glue - would be about $60 for 32sq'. Call it $2/sq'. Plus hardware. Plus glassing. Flatbed-sized module, 400sq' for 6 sides? Heading over $1000 in a hurry just for the box.
 
#26
Starboard is great stand alone material, but too dense for laminating. Cant recall if they have thinner materials, but I think .5" is the thinnest and its very heavy. FRP/GRP or wood is the most practical, another option that isnt discussed much is aluminum. Aluminum composite panels 2 mm uses .012 aluminum with PE in between weigh less than a 2 mm GRP per SF and could be laminated with foam cores. Just another option...
 

rayra

Expedition Leader
#27
well the subject seems to be building a frameless box and that takes some material with some structure strength, enough to attach it to itself, anyway. And very thin panels make that difficult without some sort of frame. Be it angle iron or 1" square tubing. There's got to be some sort of minimal framework to hand really thin panels from. Elsewise you are going to wind up with something very heavy made form 3/4 plywood and some form of pocket hole joinery like a Kreg jig. And while heavier, such a thing might be strong enough overall without being TOO heavy*. And then you just need to laminate the exterior with something waterproof, be it metal, fiberglass or some form of HDPE.

3/4ply is a 1.75-2.25#/sq', call it 2# and mentioned earlier a box on a full size is at least 400sq', a midsize might be 300. So you are burning a lot of load capacity just for an empty shell.

It all seems like a lot of effort when there are 'off the shelf' structures that hinge open or pop-up or things like ground tents with a fly that attaches to the rear end of a camper shell or the like.

Cheap, Light, or Easy, pick one and only one, because you aren't going to get two of those choices at the same time. Unless you want something really crude or really ugly.
A very long time ago I 'camped' in a dry lake bed waiting for a space shuttle to return to Earth, with little more than some thin-walled PVC sprinkler pipe bent into hoops stuck in the stakebed holes of my pickip, with a blue tarp bungee-corded over the hoops to the bottom edge of the bed sidewalls. It was very ugly but it kept the cold wind off.

We've got a member here, in Alaska or the PacNorthwest IIRC, who's built his own big box on an old GM pickup. The back is highly angled and IIRC forms a loading ramp of sorts. I always thought of it as 'the Poor Man's Landmaster'. I think he skinned it in sheet alumnium, too.

And also a long time ago I built Arty Fire Direction Control CPs in the back of 5-tons using 2x4s and plywood. Ugly as hell but they did the job. Not enough unit funds for the pre-built shacks the Army used.

But thin very costly panels with no frame. That's 'SpaceX' sh*t. If one has the budget for that, one has the budget for a ready-made product.
 
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#29
XPS (the pink stuff) is much better.

I'm not sure what the OP is looking for, but the typical method for joining edges when using premade skins is aluminum angle bonded inside and out. If it's wet layup skins then just use more FG on the edges. There are many examples of campers built this way.
Just an FYI. I looked at foamular 650 for a clients custom 18 foot build and decided against it. I spoke to the SE Sales manager and he said from sheet to sheet it could be 1/4" off in either direction off the 2". If doing large panels EPS is better in tolerances as they cut from a large foam block.
Kevin
 
#30
sheet to sheet it could be 1/4" off in either direction off the 2".
I haven't seen that much variation with Foamular 250, but different batches have been a little off. 1/8" or less. If you buy from the same batch they are quite close to each other. They way I'm buildng (or was!) it isn't a big deal. Dow (blue foam) makes better tolerance XPS called "Panel Core" in 20 and 30 psi. I think Owens makes something similar.

Getting back to joining edges, Styromax just glues them.

Doesn't seem structurally sound to me, but these guys should know what they are doing.
 
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