Stealth EVO XR range – Hybrid Gravel Roader Caravans

The hybrid gravel roader is a cross over version of the Evo XR range of Stealth products. The H denotes the Hybrid nature of this caravan for on-road and off-road use the 59 is the length 5.9m and 4 is 4 birth thus the XHR533 is the shorter version being 5.3m long a and 3 birth. This van is a cross over van to accommodate users that wanted a gravel road capable van in the Evolution (Evo) range of caravans produced under the Stealth brand by Profibre Products Pty Ltd.

The reason I emphasis the company Profibre Products is that many people are asking who makes Stealth Caravans, with some professing that it is an import. No it’s not an import it is very mush manufactured and supported by Profibre products a company that has been around for the last 25 years and based in Pinetown KZN. We have previously supplied caravan bodies to a well-known South African Manufacturer for more than 10 years. We have a wealth of knowledge in industrial design for Busses, trucks, trains and leisure products. We supply blue chip companies such as Gibela, BAE, MAN, Bell equipment, Marcopolo and many more with high quality original equipment parts for their products. So anyone considering purchase of a new Stealth can be assured of a company with an exceptional track record in industry.

Although the current road vans produced under the Stealth Evo XR range are capable of limited gravel road use up to 50km in a single journey on reasonably maintained gravel road surfaces buyers sought a more capable gravel road van for extended gravel road use thus the birth of the XHR range. This is by no means an off-road product to climb Van Zyls pass but it will be more than capable to get to the more remote locations whilst offering the users levels of comfort offered by more traditional caravan layouts. The interior is the same layout as that of the current road vans with similar option packages.

Our starting point for this van was the testing of a std road going van over 2000km of gravel road use with varying degrees of complexity and condition. Through our testing we improved the road going van to be more capable in the gravel road environment.

The first issue was dust ingress which we contained by adding triple locking systems to the entry door to ensure the door seals effectively. We made sure all points of entry into the van for wires and pipes where effectively sealed for dust. Then to prevent dust entering the open vents on the fridge we added a snorkel pressurisation system in the roof of the van this being controlled by 2 dash type vents. This vent system has a removable and washable filter to prevent dust ingress from the pressurisation system.

During our testing of the road van in some demanding terrain the rear steadies and step well took a bit of a beating so we added some protection bars at the rear and under the step well as well as changed out the rear steadies for the off road type drop down steadies thus tucking them higher under the chassis out of harm’s way. Some proponents wanted us to fit more bars to the front of the van for the more Macho image but we did not see this as necessary for a gravel road van where the intention is not to go rock sliding over boulders etc. In any event this would just add unnecessary weight and cost.

Our duplex steel chassis and axle mounting system have performed exceedingly well during the testing with some minor problems on the A frame that lead to some improvements both on the road going vans and the new Hybrid gravel roaders. As a precautionary measure we have increased the A frame thickness from 2mm to 3 mm on the Hybrid gravel roader thus adding 30% more strength in the area under most stress in these conditions.

Although the current axle proved more than capable without any sign of failure we upgraded the axle to 1.8 ton on the Hybrid van as a precaution. At the same time we repositioned the axle to provide greater ground clearance so with the 15’ alloy wheels and 215 x 15 Goodyear wrangler AT tyres it provides close to 3” of additional lift. With the Kevlar side wall on the Wrangler AT tyres owners can travel many km on gravel at deflated tyre pressures of 1.5 bar a condition of use for the new hybrid and road going vans when you leave the tarmac. To facilitate reduction of tyre pressures the Hybrid vans come with a set of tyre deflation valves which can be installed and reduce tyre pressure while on the move thus mitigating the user being at risk while delating the tyres manually. Our testing shows that high tyre pressure is enemy number one when it comes to heading of the bitumen, in fact our internal video footage of the van illustrates that at reduced tyre pressure on gravel roads there was less vibration and stress than inflated tyres on tar roads. It is therefore advisable to reduce pressures on both the tow vehicle as well as the caravan, a lesson well learn as I had to replace 3 tyres on my tow vehicle due to major punctures which was as a result of being too lazy to reduce pressure on the vehicle during some of the test stages. I did not experience any punctures on the van with the lower tyre pressures. We clearly understand from this testing and the video footage that users must follow the tyre deflation disciple religiously when hitting the gravel if not they can do damage to the caravan and the tow vehicles.

During extensive testing we did not have one hinge or latch failure on internal cabinets largely due to the fact that our cabinet doors are encapsulated inside the carcass frame thus preventing the weight of the door acting on the hinges and latches under stressed conditions. We did however experience problems with our fridge and microwave mounting systems that failed initially thus resulting in both the fridge and microwave dislodging themselves. The fridge was quickly resolved but the microwave proved a little more demanding thus we only managed to resolve that after the 3rdmodification.

All of the current improvement for fixing the fridge, microwave and A frame supports have been done on the current XR road going range to make then capable of limited gravel road use up to 50km on a single trip. The main limitation in this respect being the tyres of the road going van which are designed for on-road use and not suitable for extended use at lower pressures. Stealth Evo Road van users must also tape up fridge vents as they don’t have the benefit of the cabin pressurisation system.

Additional specs relative to the road van range

3 mm A frame with additional A frame supports
Alko 1,8 ton independent rubber torsion axle with 9” brake hubs
GVM 1.6 ton std GVM
Tare estimated at 1275kg for the XHR594 and 1225 kg for the XHR533
Canvas std awning and draft skirt same as road van. Optional side walls, front walls and patio awnings
Stainless baskets in the fridge (freezer and bottom shelf still glass)
Cabin pressurisation cowling and inlet vents with washable dust filter medium
Alloy wheels with 15” x 215 AT wrangler tyres (Kevlar side walls) (Std Spare wheel is steel rim and AT tryre optional alloy available)
Tyre deflation valves.
Rear and step well protection bars
60-70mm additional lift

Conditions of use:

Tyre deflation to maximum 1.5 bar on all gravel roads.
Maximum speed of 80km/h on maintained gravel and 60km/h on unmaintained gravel roads.
Bi annual chassis inspection and annual service by dealers.
6 monthly Inspection and yearly service will be compulsory for all Gravel roaders.
o Chassis must be checked for any loose bolts

o Interior fittings, cupboards to be checked as can be expected with gravel road use.

o Microwave and Fridge fixations to be checked.

It is strongly advisable that customers fit a travel blanket for gravel road use.

Prices on the XHR533 start at R315,000 and the XHR594 at R330,000 with various option packages to choose from. Included in the option list is our unique annex bathroom that can be fitted to any of the Stealth Evolution range of caravans. Enquiries can be directed to our national dealer network which has grown from 4 to 7 dealers since the beginning of 2019 with other dealers expected to come on board later in this year.

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