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Case Study: Off-Road Vehicles Go the Distance with Structural Adhesives

( 02/03/2021 ) Written by: Anonymous

Erik Petroni, director of Never Quit Never LLC—an organization that hosts free U.S. Military health and fitness events around the world for U.S. armed service members, with a focus on supporting Service members in war zone areas, as well as locations around the United States—was in need of an 4x4 off-road recreational vehicle (RV) that could travel through deserts, jungles and other harsh environments, carrying items to support these events. off-road white vehicle with camper and headlights

In keeping with his Never Quit can-do philosophy, Erik Petroni designed his own custom prototype camper and flatbed. That design proved so popular that many have asked Petroni how he was able to use aluminum to build his camper with such tight tolerances by using adhesives vs welding.

Petroni has explained how a focus on using LORD adhesives vs welds, allowed for the ultimate 4x4 Camper, as LORD adhesives provide the ultimate bond and stretch to eliminate the need to weld, which causes cracks during extreme off-road experiences.

As of 2021, Petroni will have this final updated 4x4 RV camper brought to Overland shows and military bases around the nation. This will allow Petroni to show his camper to others and explain the benefits of using LORD Adhesives in the manufacturing of campers, and beyond.off-road vehicle camper

The features Petroni is most proud of is that his camper is an all-aluminum camper that is not welded, but bonded, using LORD 852 Toughened Structural Acrylic Adhesive with LORD Accelerator 25GB.

This final camper is being built on a 2021 Ford F-550 4x4, with the all new LiquidSpring.com 4 Link suspension along with Buckstop Truckwear’s bumpers and wheels, Military Goodyear G275 MSA - 42” tires and Line-X Ultra painted on all of the Aluminum camper and flatbed.

The Challenge
Initial iterations of Petroni’s off-road vehicle relied on typical welding. However, the 2019 and now new 2021 off-road vehicle was bonded using adhesives for the entire floors, sidewalls, roof and cross-members.

Petroni desired several improvements as he refined his design, including better aesthetics and an assembly process that would require less labor. Bonding, as opposed to welding, offered a solution to these problems. Moreover, vehicles that are used in all-terrain environments experience a great deal of impact and vibration, which can cause welds to eventually crack or “pop.” LORD Adhesives flow into hard-to-reach areas, creating a noise and vibration damper and eliminating problems with cracking. 

Finding a Solution
Petroni attended the 2018 Work Truck Show, a major annual gathering for the work truck industry. At the show, he had conversations with truck-body and trailer manufacturers who were already using Parker LORD products, and these manufactures were proud to share with others that they were LORD Adhesive fans. They recommended that Petroni call Parker LORD to address his bonding needs and to choose LORD Adhesives over welding.

Taking the advice, Petroni reached out to us and we worked with his team to select the best adhesive. After comparing options, the 850 acrylic adhesive series was chosen for its high elongation and impact resistance.off-road vehicle camper

Petroni built his first version of his overland vehicle in which the floors, roof and sidewalls were bonded together using LORD 852. By switching to adhesives instead of welded connections, Petroni was able to build with aluminum and take advantage of that material’s many advantages (such as its lightweight, natural corrosion resistance and recyclability). Furthermore, in addition to its high elongation and impact resistance, LORD 852 offered ease of use and extreme strength.

The first 2019 vehicle featured a box-style cab-over configuration and an interior measuring 15 feet long, 7 feet wide and 7 feet tall – yet it had an exterior length only slightly greater than an extended Ford cargo van. Petroni took the truck to the Overland Expo®, an annual event series that offers classes, training and vendor demonstrations, where it received rave reviews.

Following the expo, Petroni continued to finesse his vehicle’s design. The updated 2021 version is being built on a 2021 Ford F-550 chassis 4x4 with a flatbed, with work being performed by the same valued tier aluminum fabrication supplier. A major new feature of the updated design was a floor unit composed of individual aluminum extrusions, bonded completely together with LORD 852. The new design gives the floor, walls and roof added strength and less weight as they are all glued as one unit, with no needed welds, compared to using thicker sheets of metal being welded. 

"I am so grateful for the many manufactures that I met at the Work Truck Show, because without their enthusiasm for LORD Adhesives, I would not have believed such a process was available, being so superior to welds and other forms of bonding. I immediately called LORD and explained that various companies recommended that I call LORD.

I was transferred to a senior representative, Dan Pomerleau who listened and gave me the best LORD adhesive options for my build and sent many videos and articles so that we could better understand their products and the superior advantage of their adhesives over others and welding. Dan then did test studies on the aluminum we were using to do a comparison between other LORD adhesives.

I was surprised to learn about the many top tier companies that use LORD Adhesives within the civilian community, fire and rescue and for military vehicles used in the most extreme situations.

Dan and a teammate drove down to the fabrication shop, and taught the team how the products worked and how to use them, giving detailed hands on classes.

With their great advice, the factory now enjoys this new and far better method of adhesives over welding, which is allowing a transition to use LORD products for additional service bodies and campers.

What has been so incredible is the ease of use, the time and cost saving advantages, and best of all, the elimination of welds cracking. LORD Adhesive has truly fixed all past hurdles, and is now helping so many others to change the Service Body and Camper industry for the better, with big cost savings and no more cracked welds.

I now truly understand why the leading Service Body manufacturers, seen at the Work Truck Show, all switched to LORD Adhesives over the past few years and why LORD’s glued products are superior to the rest. I am so grateful for these companies recommendations to contact LORD Adhesives, and best of all, that we have had unlimited and detailed support from Dan Pomerleau and fellow LORD team members. You have changed our ability to live in the extreme outdoors, far better than we ever thought possible.

Thank you, from all of us."
Erik Petroni | Director, NEVER QUIT

We have a long history of helping vehicle manufacturers solve design challenges, and we’re proud to have helped Petroni develop unique, customizable solutions for the overland RV market. We feel the timing couldn’t be better. Heading into the great outdoors has always been a popular American pastime, and outdoor activities got an even greater boost from the restrictions on indoor gatherings that began in 2020. Using LORD 852, Petroni and Never Quit Never LLC can continue to let others know how to create an even greater range of off-road camping vehicles available to all adventurers and workers.

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