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Hardroof Research & Development

PIONEER CAMPERS HYBRID EVOLUTION

At Pioneer Campers we are all about evolution, whether it is continuous improvement of our existing range, the evolution of our brand, or expansion of our range of RV’s, we are about listening to our customers and always seeking excellence in our design, manufacturing and customer service process.

Two years ago Pioneer Design embarked upon a new age in hybrid off-road camper design. We researched the market, trawled the forums, spoke to our dealers and enlisted the help of some of our most valued Pioneer customers. We established an area of the market that was under represented and set to work developing a product with fantastic useability to offer you greater comforts and a more relaxing and liberating camping experience.

THE BRIEF

It was our conclusion that our off-road hybrid camper must do several things. It must offer a comfortable hard roof escape from the elements with the ability to increase this space and aid ventilation when the weather heats up (We are designing for one of the harshest environments on earth!). It must be easier to setup than a soft floor or hard floor camper and it must not skimp on internal floor space to achieve this, and it must be compact and streamlined while utilising all available storage spaces (Because you want to store it in the garage, Petrol/Diesel ain’t cheap and although we all talk of not taking the kitchen sink, we do). And finally we must keep the canvas away from the bedding when travelling.

DESIGN PROCESS

With this brief we set about design. It was immediately clear to us that space and setup were vital. We settled on a rear folding floor design allowing us a huge 1800x2000mm rear floor space guaranteeing room for the children/grand children or internal table and chairs. We developed this further with the use of CAD/CAM to achieve an intricate yet simple folding method, with an extremely quick setup that allows:

  • All canvas to be fully attached to the floor. Reduces setup and allowed us to manufacture a commercial easy clean hard vinyl floor.
  • Fold down gas strut assisted folding floor pod with sealed hinge. Open and fold out with one hand. Its that easy!
  • Gas strut assisted fold up rear hard roof. Assists with setup and increases the hard roof coverage. It also acts to hold all wet canvas off your bedding when closed.
  • Two poles support the folding hoop that extends a manageable canvas extension over the rear of the folding floor for the aforementioned large rear floor space.
  • Rear access to under bed storage when closed, allows you to pack your camper without opening your canvas.

All these points combine to make setup a breeze and really quite enjoyable. No struggles with mountains of canvas, awkward canvas storage and complicated setup!
Add to this the simple latched pop up roof for over 1m of head space above the bed and the camper was beginning to take shape.
Canvas design was complex, due to the requirements of the folding floors and roof. 3D CAD modelling spawned the genesis of the design with scale models created to confirm the concept. First off samples were then created and attached to the early prototype campers. Water testing was conducted with 20 ltrs per minute (1200 ltrs per hour), from a fire hose, spread over the open camper. This water volume far exceeds even the 475 ltrs per hour expected from a “Violent” shower on the same roof area. This testing also showed us the flow of water on the hard roof sections of the camper and allowed us to modify and add gutters and ridges and adjust our rubber seals to control the flow and placement of water run off. With the fantastic foundations of our hard floor evolution the design and profile of the new hybrid was taking shape. On the tough hot dipped gal frame with 2000kg rated stub axels and bearings and utilising Pioneers own Grafta trailing arm suspension, tested over thousands of kilometres on hundreds of campers across Australia the camper was guaranteed to tow like a dream. The unrivalled choice of kitchen designs available on the Pioneer Hardfloor range was included and a new option created to make even the fussiest culinary camper spoilt for choice. A fixed Solar option was added on the expansive front storage solution. Dual 9kg gas bottles, Three 20kg Jerry can and wood storage rounded out the front of the camper all behind the Rhino coated stone protection.
Down the back tie down racking was added to the rear floor pod. With optional slide in tie down fittings available.

MANUFACTURING DEVELOPMENT

There were three complex and exciting components of the new design which enabled us to create such a visually pleasing and functional design.
The Composite panel walls were created after discussions regarding cabin temperature and insulation. They granted us with an extremely solid yet light product (that offers a feeling of) rigidity and safety while keeping the overall camper in a reasonable weight range and cool in summer.
The Fibreglass roof and floor shells employed a cutting edge fibreglass technology called RTM which produces structural, light components with high quality finishes both inside and out. The use of single piece fibreglass shells was a decision based on providing a guaranteed watertight roof solution and allowed us to further streamline the camper and cut down on drag for increased fuel economy.
Lastly we worked with a marine window specialist to develop a water and dust proof window with three internal compression handles, capable of keeping the elements out, but creating air flow when required. The windows are fully strut assisted and are made of marine grade aluminium and tinted Perspex, to keep weight low and protect against stone damage. A roof hatch in the same vein was also developed.
Finally it was time to name Pioneers latest evolution and the Mitchell was born.

REAL WORLD TESTING

You don’t have to look far when canvassing for, volunteers to test a new off-road RV and Ben from our Queensland dealership jumped at the opportunity to make the Mitchell’s maiden voyage from Brisbane to Adelaide (the scenic route – over as many dusty, corrugated roads we could find). This gave us invaluable insight into living in a Pioneer Mitchell and many small but significant changes were made in the following couple of months leading up to customer production. Examples include raising the rear roof height, changes to glazing method, adjustments to floor folding and canvas draft flaps as well as many of the water related changes mentioned earlier. It also focused discussion on the many optional extras to be offered in the Mitchell, including air-conditioning, TV/media players, fans, block out blinds, canvas wall kits, ensuite, kidsroom just to name a few.
Initial marketing and an official Launch at Pioneer Campers HQ showed great interest in the new product and consumer response pointed towards room in the market for a more entry level model, and the Wilpena was born.
So welcome to Pioneer Campers new Hardroof Evolution. We believe you wont find a more compact, easy to setup, feature packed, value for money camper on the market today.

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