Insideoutback Campers on an innovative project, known intriguingly as “Bruce”.
Underway on Sydney’s Northern Beaches, the project is a new mid-size 6 berth-plus 6 seat motor-home with the guiding principal of using only environmentally friendly components and without fossil-derived materials.
At the centre of the design and engineering is Dick Clarke, Director of Insideoutback Campers, a building designer and self-described “designer of things”.
“I run a small architectural practice,” he explains. “Most of what we do is building design, but I have a history of other things as well, including designing camper vans and motor homes during the 80s.
“Fundamental to my work since that time was the aim to reduce fuel consumption and carbon emissions. It has to be about the eco-impact of the materials you’re using as well. In 2016-17, I built a motor home that was vacuum bag foam sandwich construction, extremely light and strong, but with conventional materials. When I was looking to make an awning cover, I discovered these new organic composite materials and fell in love with them and decided to work with them on a prototype motor home for our kids and grandkids to travel with us.”
The relationship with ATL has its origins years ago, when Dick worked with Ian Wright from Norman R. Wright & Sons on his modular home, dubbed “Eco Casa”, constructed with the DuFLEX panel system.
Dick contacted Mac Dalton, ATL Technical Sales Manager and the sustainable campervan project began.
“The days of big heavy campervans and motorhomes are numbered; The era of the compact fold-out campervan and motorhome has arrived,” says Dick. “We have three guiding principles: agility, economy, connection. Agility refers to compact campers and motorhomes that can travel light on the country with ease, low centre of gravity, low wind resistance, low tyre wear.
“Economy means lower capital cost, vastly lower fuel and maintenance costs, lower depreciation: keeps you on the road longer, bank balance healthier. Connection refers to keeping you in touch with the land you came to explore, not cocooned in a boofy hot-box with project-home decor. We design ultra-compact expanding vehicles that work from the inside out.”
Dick’s dream of building the ideal eco-camper is close to fruition.
“This has some carbon fibre as well, used strategically in the high stress joint areas. The bio-epoxy resin combined with the flax on a balsa core makes for a motorhome body built almost entirely from biologically derived materials – grown in a forest or a paddock. There are still net emissions, but much less than products produced using materials made from fossil fuels. We’re combining hi-tech sustainable, eco-friendly products (flax, bio-epoxy, balsa) with a bit of carbon fibre.
East Cape Marine 24m Whale Watching Vessel - Spirit of Hervey Bay
Designed by Noah Thompson, Noah Thompson Design, New Zealand, and built by Wayne Jones at Streamline Catamarans in Hervey Bay, the 24m EC160 Spirit of Hervey Bay was specifically designed for Glen Dorn to charter as a Whale Watching Vessel.
3 stories high, the EC160 was engineered by ATL Composites to meet Australian Standard USL 1C/1, to carry 245 passengers on her 3 decks, and to cruise at 22 knots.
“This is the way of the future,” declared Noah. “In a world where fuel economy is now king, this boat proves that composite construction is becoming the alternative to aluminium. The combination of an efficient design, the use of ATL Composites materials and engineering services, and a superb build, has led to the creation of a commercial vessel that has exceeded all expectations.”
pirit of Hervey Bay took only 15 months to build. The hulls were strip planked in DuraKore over male frames while the remainder of the vessel was manufactured and supplied by ATL as a DuFLEX Component Pack, including hull topsides, tunnel, transom, bulkheads, soles, decks and superstructure. ATL Composites also manufactured and supplied lightweight non-structural Featherlight panels for the ceilings and supplied the fibreglass reinforcements throughout. Their high performance KINETIX Professional Epoxies were used for additional laminating applications and WEST SYSTEM resins/hardeners and powder modifiers were used for structural bonding, filleting and fairing on the project.
“ Compared to traditional boat-building where you so often see a major cost over-run, this ATL product proved to be exceptional with the ease of assembly; the CNC routed DuFLEX has every part numbered, so when it arrived at the Streamline factory, each piece could be easily identified and fitted into place during the assembly process.”
DuFLEX structural panels require fewer frames and ring frames to form the structure of the composite vessel, in comparison to a similar size aluminium vessel. The reduction in frames and also the light weight properties of the Duflex Panels, adds up to a significant weight savings overall. This allows the vessel to run with smaller engines and less fuel capacity, to also help with weight reduction.
The design specification for Spirit of Hervey Bay required a service speed of between 18 and 20 knots with 245 passengers on board. Currently she is achieving 21 knots at 1800rpm, and there is ample evidence of a massive saving in fuel costs compared to other similar sized boats. Incredibly, the vessel is performing equally well at light-ship as it does at full displacement, with only a slight change in speed or rpm.
In endorsing the DuFLEX system, Noah Thompson said: ‘My personal view is that ATL Composites creates a superior boatbuilding product. ‘
Grahame Parker Brisbane CityCat - Gootcha
Designed by Grahame Parker Design, Sydney, the Brisbane City Council’s CityCats are lightweight, power-efficient, low wash vessels designed for rapid boarding and discharging of 162 passengers to meet the City of Brisbane’s growing transportation needs.
The Brisbane City Council, in conjunction with Grahame Parker, chose composites to reduce weight and maintenance, and also to allow for the inclusion of compound shapes to the vessels.
Built by Norman Wright and Sons, Bulimba, Queensland, second and third generation models of the CityCats have incorporated DuFLEX panels that were CNC kitted to reduce the build time for the manufacture of the bulkheads and centre support girders. A combination of cores – structural foam and end grain balsa – were used in the panels, each chosen for the mechanical properties required in the specific areas of the structure.
Super lightweight Featherlight panels, with ply inserts included to provide a pre-finished edge, were supplied as routed kits for the internal fit-out to maintain control over finished weight to increase overall performance while providing superior levels of stiffness, and thermal and acoustical insulating properties.
ATL’s FRP Bonding Angels were also used extensively for 900 bonding applications, in place of standard wet fibreglass lamination.
The 26m CityCats styling and construction are testament to designer Grahame Parker and the skilled team at Norman R. Wright and Sons, and if you are looking for ways to beat the traffic, or simply looking for ways to explore the Brisbane River, the Brisbane CityCats are the perfect way to do both.
CityCat Gootcha # 16 bears an indigenous name and features artwork by acclaimed local artist Judy Watson.