The secret behind a genuine Expedition Vehicle's design is the interface between the truck chassis and caravan body, the Subframe. It allows both twisting and flexing independently.
Subframe, critical part of your chassis.
Frame of modern trucks are not rigid, but twist: for delivery trucks, not leaving the asphalt, it is not a problem. But 4x4 conditions, such as axel crossing, twisting becomes enormous, with a corner booth / cell that can exceed 18º !
A sandwich cell can not absorb such deformation, it is necessary to isolate the chassis with an element that absorbs the deformation: the subframe.
At Zocama we know that subframe is critical and complex so improvisation has to be avoided as it leads to either :
- undersize, which indicates that the cabin will not be immune to the distortion and will risk breaking
- have a tendency to put too much metal "in case off " that leads to increase weight.
There is not a unique subframe design fitting all the needs: we take into account the type of truck, dimension and the weight of the body to recommend you either a 3 points, a diamond, a axial, cardanic flex bearing. .. subframe. This is part of the tailor made work we are doing in any project.
In order to define and design the right subframe we use Solidworks, a very powerful software that allows to simulate the efforts you need to coop in order to design accordingly all your parts.
( foto FC3 tobe done : aitor and andrei )
Subframe build up
1 – MODELING -
First we need to model the truck chassis, with his particular flexibility. Next step is modeling the overall volume of the caravan body along with an evaluation of the total weight, including water, food, equipment …
At this stage, we need to integrate all the exteriors elements that could interact when the chassis is twisting: water and diesel tanks, rear bumper, mudguard, stairs … we will define for each element its maximum displacement.
2. – SIMULATION -
Modeling done we can start the hardest part of the process, the simulation. We will check all the work done by simulating the geometry between the wheel and the chassis when they are moving to their extreme point: we will iterate until reaching none interaction between all the parts
FC6 + FC7
Because driving in rough track induce strong effort to the truck, we have to introduce an "effort factor" in our calculation, to reflect the real conditions. This means a 100kg will feel as 400kg : this is big change ! If the caravan body weight 5 tons fully load, we have to size the subframe for a force of 4 x 5 = 20 tons !
Here you see an example: Solidworks will calculate the efforts and will show in a colored diagram the areas that are suffering too much in Yellow. Yellow means that due to the effort the metal will not come back to its previous form after the effort. We will need to redesign and iterate the modeling until we have the whole diagram in Blue.
3. – OPTIMISATION -
Using the power of Solidworks, we adjust some thickness, the quality of the metal , move some element, add new ones and delete other useless. Step by step, we improve the design, and reach at the end a perfect solution.
Once we're done, the software will generate all the numeric files for each component parts which will directly be used by Computer Numerical Control Machines like a laser cuter machine.
Finally, as a last check, we like to force a Crossing Axel ( “croisement de pont" ) to check our modeling is OK in the real world.
There are many ways of building the caravan body: it’s your travel program that will determine some technical parameters such as thickness of walls, resistance of outer skin , position of reinforcements ... this is very important to get the best expedition camper.
One of the fundamental points is firmly secure the furniture: vibrations of the track are so destructive. For this reason we can integrate a plywood panel inside the wall or integrate metal reinforcements in omega form.
Another critical point is the spare wheel holder for 2 wheels, usually located at the rear side of the cabin. The minimum weight is 350kg, which becomes a vertical force of more than 1500 kg! We need to design a specific metallic structure inside the rear sandwich panel where the spare wheel holder will be bolt.
foto C1 ( to come)
This is why we are working with a company who build themself the sandwich panel. This mean we don't use basic Sandwich panel used for the frigorific delivery trucks, because they will not resist your off road travel. Our partner has a fully automated plant, where a robot first put the external layer (fiber or polyester), then put some glue, place the internal reinforcement exactly where we need it to fix the furniture, integrate some pipe for electric wiring and then come the PU foam panels, digitally mechanized to fit with the Omegas the windows hole. The final layer is the internal skin: you can choose the color. The composite panel is then compressed by a hydraulic press during hours.
During the building process, we integrate the windows, the doors and the roof hatch, perfectly fitting with the hole chopped off with the CNC machine. We can work with any windows brand you prefer ( KCT, Outbound ...)
Assembling the different walls to build the 3D volume is also done with an hydraulic press, including the aluminum profile for the corner (typically 120mm x 100mm x 4mm).
Outside de body - Externals elements of your expedition camper :
The reservoirs of gray water and black water, firewalls branches, spare wheel holder, protective housing are elements that will receive the aggressions of the sun, dust, rain , scratches , shocks .. If the aesthetic part is important, but it is essential to think first of the function. We carry these items systematically Innox water quality and sometimes aluminum.
For tanks our policy is 2.5mm stainless steel, with all separations inland 100l, welding edge-to-edge CO2. To consider the frame of the shearing effect on the bridges crossing the tanks are protected from efforts by a system block silent, and we model all these elements in 3D Solidworks, allowing us to check all interactions. Using technology allows us to double check before you go travelling with your expedition camper to maximise trust.
The daily comfort of an expedition vehicle is to benefit from all the services you have at home. Enjoy full autonomy of electricity, hot water, refrigerator, heating and air conditioning. In order to get there many tecnologies need to be involved and interact. This is the reason why we have in our team a systems engineer bringing us a design of an incredible precision.
In order to integrate all this technologies it is essential to work with 3D design, to be able to accommodate the cable networks, for water pipes of air .. who take an important place, and must be accessible for maintenance.
Best solution according to your specific needs
We have no preconceived system: all will depend on the use that you plan with your vehicle. We do tailor made solutions according to your specific needs and list of requirements, our engineer designer will make a specific proposal, choosing the most suitable materials.
We can also help you in finalising your requirements:
- Is it really useful to install air conditioning, if your planning to travel mostly in the third world where campsites do not exist and therefore you will not have access to 220V to power the air conditioning?
- Installing solar panels does make sense unless you’re planning a trip to the United States or Canada ... where campsites are 110v, a specificity to be taken into account in the design of the electrical system
The key is to stay consistent with your program, but also with your budget.
If you want to use a particular brand, we will integrate in our proposal. And if you hesitate or do not want to choose we will recommend several options, because we are authorized installer of the leading manufacturer of water sports equipment and camping: Victron, Webasto, Frigonautica, Techimpex, Ilse, Aldus, Dometic, Jabsco, Quicknautic, Purion Truma, Eberspaecher ..
Zocama main difference is that we don't have a typical interior design.
We want to design the best distribution that fits yours needs. With our architect, let flow your ideas and enjoy, designing an expedition vehicle is really a nice part of the project. Because at Zocama some of as are native digital and others are carpenters artisans we are not afraid to reinvent the wheel for every project: we use digital simulation and fabrication at a huge level, reaching an unbeatable quality price. For us, Taylor Made is just easy as reproducing always the same schema.
So be creative: if you can dream it, we can build it.
Almost any material is possible for your comfort. For example plywood, HPL, solid wood, bamboo, composite material, corian, stainless steel,….We are also fond of design so we can take care any detail.
We work with most important producers of Camper Van and boat appliances. We also recommend working with Marin Grade.
Have your own design or ask for best recommendation. Colors, materials, functionalities... In this Vehicle there is a choice from the owner of wood, white and red cloth, you can do your choice or we can provide recommendations. Very spacious sitting area for eating, chatting or working.
The living room becomes a second very confortable bedroom at night time if you need so.
We see the kitchen as the central part of the Camper so we work hard to provide design and functionality. Herea a clear choice done by the owner of wood materials.
We can provide you any home appliance and any drawer combination. We use also material from boats as often we have the same constraints in usability and there is a wider offer. You can taylor made storage space depending on your needs as well as worktop and any device you want to have.
This smaller camper has also a fix bed which is very much appreciated. The table can be converted as well in a second bed.
Here you see a choice of steel worktop and white furniture with walls in natural wood.
We can offer you several options for WC, shower,... we can suggest you the design or you can decide it all.
Shower hidden on the left wall you take it out when you need it.
Wood, innox or any other material is your choice, feel as you are at home.