TCM: Tell us about the basic materials and construction of a Rugged Mountain RV truck camper.
Jesse: Rugged Mountain truck campers are wood framed with hung wall construction. The fiberglass sidewalls are vacuum-bonded to a 1/4-inch luan backer by Crane Composites. This was the construction method used to build the original Northland truck campers, but we are using higher quality materials.
The fiberglass from Crane Composites has a better look and higher gloss than other fiberglass vendors offer. Their vacuum seal lamination process is also superior. The cost to have their product shipped from Indiana is higher than the California-based alternative, but we worked with local manufacturers and split the shipping costs.
TCM: Why not frame with aluminum?
Jesse: Before we started Rugged Mountain production, I built camper walls with aluminum framing. What I found is that the metal on luan separated the adhesive in cold and hot weather. The lamination adhesives holding the fiberglass skin to the quarter-inch luan backing were letting loose on the aluminum side.
I could not find an adhesive that didn’t suffer this problem. Here in Idaho, we have cold winters and hot summers. I do not want a de-lamination problem, so we decided to stay with wood framed campers.
TCM: When some people hear “wood framed” they will be concerned about potential rot.
Jesse: Rot only happens if you have a leak and don’t take care of it. De-lamination happens a lot faster and causes damage long before rot takes place. In my opinion, de-lamination is a much greater problem.
To avoid a potential leak, our truck campers feature a one-piece fiberglass nose cap. We also wrap our TPO roof around the overhangs by a full 3/8-inch all the way around. We also carefully seal every camper that leaves the building. As with any camper, it’s important for the owner to maintain the seals.