John Gish, the founder of Ursa Minor, shares his journey into the industry and showcases his adventure-focused Jeep replacement tops, hinting at exciting developments for Bronco owners. The crew also debates the best horsepower value available, and Lightning faces restrictions on certain matters. Proudly sponsored by Nissan, in association with Banks Power, this is The Truck Show Podcast.



The following transcription of The Truck Show Podcast was generated using a speech recognition software, and will contain errors. Please review the timestamp and listen to the corresponding audio for accuracy. 

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Jay “Lightning” Tilles (0s):

Holman, I am ready to start the show with music. That is, well, it’s delightful.

2 (8s):

Biscuits biscuit.

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (11s):

What do you think? Is that the new hottest jam? Top 40 radios Banging it. No. Holman.

Sean P. Holman (23s):

That’s it. I’m doing the rest of this podcast under protest. Why would you do that? You know that listener’s coming to your house now?

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (30s):

What are you talking about? I didn’t, it’s not Taste the biscuit. This is Christmas biscuit. It’s a totally different song. Well, way, way better.

Sean P. Holman (37s):

You, you should take your limp biscuit and take it off my damn show. Biscuit.

2 (42s):

Biscuit. Christmas biscuit. Biscuit.

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (45s):


Sean P. Holman (45s):

Wants to hear that.

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (47s):

They don’t wanna hear Christmas biscuit.

Sean P. Holman (48s):

No, no. They barely wanna hear you.

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (50s):

Dave Graham. What do you think about a Christmas biscuit? Are are, are they clamoring for on the audience? don?

Sean P. Holman (54s):

Don’t think anybody wants to hear Christmas biscuit. Why?

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (56s):

How did doubt dare you.

Sean P. Holman (57s):

I flew, I flew all the way here to listen to this song. This is the biggest disappointment.

2 (1m 5s):


Sean P. Holman (1m 6s):

Dave. If you see the power strip over there, you can end the whole show by just unplugging that from the wall.

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (1m 14s):

So we had you on the last episode, Dave, and you were out here for some work and we said, Hey, stop by the, the pod shed and you, and you

Sean P. Holman (1m 20s):

Did. And for some reason you came. I showed up and there were chili dogs. You’re welcome. And Dr. Pepper, you’re welcome for me welcome. This is awesome All, right? so we have to ask you just like we ask everybody. Pod shed. It’s pretty badass. I mean sweet. What did I get? We can, we’re swearing now, right? That

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (1m 37s):

No, I’m trying to, we we used them all up. Yeah. We only had like 10 beeps allowable. Oh. And by the Apple police.

Sean P. Holman (1m 44s):

It really is put together. Well, I tell you, I walked in door. Sounds like chili dogs right now too. It’s kind of nasty. So I walked in the front door, And

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (1m 51s):

It. You Hold on. You can’t call the smell nasty when you ate two of ’em.

Sean P. Holman (1m 55s):

Well, I didn’t say I didn’t have part of the smell. See, we all stink. This is horrible. It is horrible.

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (2m 1s):

But yeah,

Sean P. Holman (2m 1s):

So I walked in and it’s like eerie how quiet It is in here. You guys did a really good job putting this together. Oh,

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (2m 7s):

That’s all Holman. It’s, I, I wish I could claim some of it, but I can’t. No, it’s a hundred percent that guy.

Sean P. Holman (2m 12s):

A lot of, a lot of work. But we got, we got our studio. So hit the big screen here on the, on the wall. We’ve got climate control in here, which is super cool. And so anyway, welcome

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (2m 22s):

And. it just, it makes everything sound better including biscuit.

2 (2m 26s):

Biscuit s

Sean P. Holman (2m 28s):

All stop that. I was reaching for the board. Please don’t ever do that again.

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (2m 34s):

Well, how do you not think that? That’s funny. It’s

Sean P. Holman (2m 36s):

Not funny. Truck. Show Podcast at

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (2m 38s):

How’s Miss Biscuit not funny.

Sean P. Holman (2m 40s):

It’s it’s not, there’s nothing funny about that.

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (2m 42s):

I can’t wrap my head around it not being funny. Right.

Sean P. Holman (2m 45s):

Truck Show Podcast at We’ve got lots of emails to get to and we will see how many of them start with Hold. Lightning

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (2m 53s):

Lightning. Stop playing to

Sean P. Holman (2m 54s):

Biscuit songs.

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (2m 55s):

Taste the biscuit. Yeah. Hey,

Sean P. Holman (2m 57s):

You, you must be excited this week

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (2m 60s):

Because I lived through my London trip.

Sean P. Holman (3m 4s):


Jay “Lightning” Tilles (3m 4s):

Okay. Why would I be excited? Why

Sean P. Holman (3m 7s):

I mean seriously? You can’t put anything together about why you would be excited about this particular week. Something you’ve been talking about for years feels like decades. But I know it’s only been years.

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (3m 21s):

No, I don’t know.

Sean P. Holman (3m 22s):


Jay “Lightning” Tilles (3m 23s):

No. I, I don’t, I, what, what, what have I been, what have I been waiting

Sean P. Holman (3m 26s):

For for years? You paid a hundred dollars for the privilege of this.

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (3m 29s):

Oh, oh, this week. And then cyber trucks are hitting the streets.

Sean P. Holman (3m 32s):


Jay “Lightning” Tilles (3m 32s):


Sean P. Holman (3m 32s):

And then

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (3m 33s):

I have no email from Tesla. Nothing to say that my order’s coming due this

Sean P. Holman (3m 36s):

Week. I believe in two days is when the very first customer deliveries happen.

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (3m 42s):

I wouldn’t know. They haven’t reached out to me. I

Sean P. Holman (3m 45s):

I, I might get some audio I’ve been invited to to an event and I might go see one in person.

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (3m 51s):

Okay. Or not. Did you see the one in San Francisco that got towed away? It was a parked in a no parking zone.

Sean P. Holman (3m 56s):

I can see That one. Yep. And did you see the one at one of the SoCal dealerships that was better than the release candidates, but still had plenty of odd panel gaps and fitments?

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (4m 5s):

No, I didn’t see That one. Yeah,

Sean P. Holman (4m 6s):

That one was all over this week too. So

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (4m 8s):

I saw the one that everyone sent us links to where the, they were trying to off road And it just,

Sean P. Holman (4m 13s):

And then yeah, Ford Lightning came right behind it on the same trail. Went, watch me do this. Hold hold my, hold my beer.

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (4m 20s):

Yeah. So it’s, do we have any idea what the production is like? How many they’re rolling off at what speed? No, no clue. Huh? It’s

Sean P. Holman (4m 28s):

Tesla. They have no PR department. They literally don’t care about you as a customer. As a customer or they don’t care or as a media outlet. How

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (4m 35s):

Are they choosing who to ship to first? I don’t

Sean P. Holman (4m 37s):

Even know. I was hoping that you were gonna come to the show and say, I got my email from Tesla.

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (4m 41s):

Yeah. I mean, I I logged in the other day looking in the end. Nothing. Nothing. They still have my a hundred bucks.

Sean P. Holman (4m 47s):

Yeah, you’re never getting that back. It’s

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (4m 48s):

Gone. That’s sad. I don’t, I don’t, I don’t know if they send me an email and said, okay, you can buy one.

Sean P. Holman (4m 55s):

What do you think? They would send you something and go, Hey, production is entering, let’s, the, the journey has started and then placate you with like a, a launch sticker or something. You’d think

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (5m 4s):

That they subscribed to like a $29 a month MailChimp account so they can blast their, you know, their their fans. Those who gave them a hundred dollars, but no, don don’t know. So

Sean P. Holman (5m 15s):

Here’s what I’m worried about with the Tesla conversation and your Christmas biscuit.

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (5m 19s):

We, everyone’s bailing, right?

Sean P. Holman (5m 20s):

We’ve just alienated, I literally put out 40 truck Show Podcast stickers at the El Auto show in the OVR booth with our, with our QR code on it. I captured people using it and taking pictures of, of the, of the sticker and going to our

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (5m 36s):

Website. And you’re saying that I’m driving them away?

Sean P. Holman (5m 38s):

Yes. Pretty much. So I. Just wanted to apologize to all of our new listeners. The show usually doesn’t start off this awful. Mostly

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (5m 45s):

Yes it does. By the way, Dave, does it start off this awful most of the time?

Sean P. Holman (5m 51s):

Occasionally. Yeah, that’s

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (5m 52s):

What I thought.

Sean P. Holman (5m 52s):

It’s slightly better than mediocre, I think is what we call it. Well the problem is you think lighting who went on vacation to Europe for a week and a half with his kids would come back refreshed and all ready to go. Oh my

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (6m 2s):

God the time change totally messed me up. By the way

Sean P. Holman (6m 4s):

That the

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (6m 4s):

Great It is the greatest slogan for a t-shirt ever. Slightly better than mediocre. That’s awesome that Dave just came up with, I I

Sean P. Holman (6m 11s):

I feel like, I feel like Lightning has come back more rusty. Like he has to do a function every week. You know how you, what is it when you lose? You have diminishing skills if you don’t use them. Most things are like, I haven’t done that in a year. I Wonder if I could get back on a bicycle lighting’s like, I haven’t done that in eight days.

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (6m 29s):

No, totally rusty. I need some, some good penetrance, some some coil lubricant.

Sean P. Holman (6m 34s):

All. right? So while you were away in Europe, I was off installing the, the new roof rack on the, on the Wrangler. So that’s all done. I

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (6m 42s):

Saw that and there was some concerns. I think you gotta admit that you were a little concerned with drilling holes in your brand new truck.

Sean P. Holman (6m 50s):

Well I’ve done it before. It’s not the holes I It is just, I had a blacktop before, which makes it really easy if you mess up and then now I have a painted top and it’s just like, oh, do I really wanna do that?

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (7m 1s):

I loved the video that you shot with the drill bit going through going,

3 (7m 5s):


Sean P. Holman (7m 13s):

When we were drilling the holes, I’m like, people have to understand how painful this is ’cause most people are gonna take their Jeep, drop it off, go out to lunch and then come back. And I was there the whole time because I was shooting the install for the Magazine and

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (7m 25s):

Some guys look away when their wives were giving birth. No Holman is right there with a catcher’s mit

Sean P. Holman (7m 30s):

I was right there. Oh, were you right? Oh yeah. In fact on both kids the, the nurse was very impressed with how I got the umbilical cord, so Oh

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (7m 36s):

Really? Yes I did. Yeah. See my wife had a C-section twice and they’re like, you don’t want to see this So I had a, I had to, you left

Sean P. Holman (7m 43s):

Away so you left.

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (7m 44s):

Yeah, no I didn’t leave. I was on the other side of this little curtain.

Sean P. Holman (7m 46s):

So anyway, put a Rhino Rack pioneer platform on a backbone. So the backbone system and the Wrangler basically supports the roof load through the top of the tub with these really cool panels that go around the windows and then it can carry a higher, a higher load. And they sent me an awning for it. So I’ve got a bat wing awning with quick release mounts

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (8m 8s):

On it. So, it goes around what,

Sean P. Holman (8m 10s):

2 70, 270 degrees So. it comes out from the driver’s side And, it goes basically back over past where the spare tire would would be if the tailgate is open. And then have you spread

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (8m 18s):

It out

Sean P. Holman (8m 19s):

Yet? I have not even unpacked it outta the box because I’ve been so busy. So we’ll get that done and then I’ll be able to put a bunch of stuff up there. They sent me mounts for my max tracks. Bernard Lightener over at Lightener Design has his cool new boxes that open up from the side. So he is gonna send me one of those So I can get those up up there for my next long trip.

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (8m 39s):

Yeah, I’m dying to get those lightener, those new lightener boxes that open up sideways and then mount them to the new Lightener ECS. That active cargo system that goes on top of the, the to cover.

Sean P. Holman (8m 51s):

Yeah, because your EGR system has the t slots in it. So should be compatible with Bernard’s.

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (8m 57s):

I think Bernard had a an EER tunnel cover on his TRX. So if he did cool Shit should work for me So. it

Sean P. Holman (9m 4s):

Will be, it will be awesome. I like it because with the side opening boxes, especially on the top of the Jeep, you don’t have to climb up to open ’em and get down into it. You can open ’em from the side to access ’em. So, you know, and they’re quick release. His bracket system is so awesome because all the hardware, there’s a bracket that lays flat on the, on the rack itself and all the hardware to tighten It is inside the box which locks. So unlike other rack system where you have to have this big ugly bracket where the box snaps in and then you need to have some way to secure it and then you need to have extra locks for it. Bernard includes all that with his, his new boxes, which is, which is awesome. So I look forward to, to playing with that. And I’ll be able to get my max tracks off the spare tire and put ’em on the roof and let the roof take some of that load.

Sean P. Holman (9m 45s):

So, I’ve got a a few longer trips planned So I think for everyday stuff just gonna be, the rack’s just gonna be on there and it’s gonna be smooth, slick, top style. And then when I go on the longer trips where it’s more than two or three days, like on our old traction road retrace, that would be the perfect trip to have a box and kinda get some stuff up, you know, lighter stuff that you don’t need access to all the time out of the cargo compartment so it’s easier to find other things. So

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (10m 10s):

Unfortunately you would not be a good candidate for an Ursa Minor tent system because we’re gonna be talking to John Gish, the founder of Ursa Minor on this episode. And I can’t, I can’t offer you up as being a Guinea pig for one of his, his rooftop tapes.

Sean P. Holman (10m 28s):

Well I’ve been looking at his campers for a long time and I love him. If I was building 3 9 2, a little bit different than how I envision it now, I probably would’ve considered it. Hmm. But for the right person, that’s like the setup and I’m glad we’re getting ’em on the podcast because I’ve been following them ever since the jk and then they do things like Ford Transit and Honda Elements and all that kinda stuff and

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (10m 50s):

They’re like, wait a minute, they just overheard you say Honda Element. They’re like, what?

Sean P. Holman (10m 54s):

Yeah. so we,

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (10m 54s):

It’ll make sense. Yeah,

Sean P. Holman (10m 55s):

Yeah, yeah. Think of a, a Volkswagen West Folly, a sort of a setup, but on a element, a transit, a Wrangler jk, a Wrangler JL or something else that will, will ask him about when he is on the phone. Ooh,

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (11m 7s):

Teaser. Okay. But first we want to thank Nissan presenting sponsor, by the way, Holman, I I heard that they had something special at the LA Auto Show.

Sean P. Holman (11m 14s):

I saw my very first Nissan Frontier Hard Body in person. And I gotta tell you, production, you’re

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (11m 20s):

Talking about the new one that coming,

Sean P. Holman (11m 21s):

Right? Yeah, yeah, yeah. And the wheels are freaking awesome. They’re

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (11m 25s):

Retro wheels.

Sean P. Holman (11m 26s):

They’re so cool. Yeah, it’s, it’s really close to the concept. And I was super stoked. I was like, man, the problem is is that it’s a lower trim level than the Pro four X. Right? But it looks better than the Pro four X. So you’re sort of like, oh man, I kind of wanted to have the hard body looks, but I kinda wanna have like the, the, the bigger, you know, head unit screen and some of the, you know, pro four X and there’s one, they’re parked right next to each other and I’m like a me because in our booth at o the OVR booth n smo off-Road had a display with another frontier. So it’s funny, the, the hard body I think is built off the SV platform and then they had the Pro four X, which is the, the top tier.

Sean P. Holman (12m 8s):

And then over in our booth we had a standard SV non hard body that had the full compliment of N smo offroad stuff. And I’m thinking ’cause it, it upgraded to the bilstein 61 12 and 51 50 NMO shocks. It had Nissan’s really cool looking upper control arm had, you know, lights and all that. And I’m thinking, okay, instead of a Pro four XI wanna see that SV that was in our booth be a hard body with all that stuff on it. I think that’d be cool Anyway, All, right? If you guys are looking for a brand new truck, whether it’s a midsize or a half ton check out the Nissan Frontier, the Nissan Titan and the Titan xd. Both of the Titans offer the industry’s best five year, 100,000 mile warranty. Head on down to your local dealer where you can check out the new Nissan hard body soon.

Sean P. Holman (12m 50s):

Or you can go to Nissan USA where you can build and price.

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (12m 54s):

Now if you upgraded your truck and you threw on some bigger wheels and tires and all of a sudden you go, it’s not responding the way I’m used to. It’s feels a little bit sluggish. But Don don’t want tune the truck because maybe it’s still under warranty. What do I do? How do I get that acceleration back? That throttle response. What’s the answer? Holman. That’s where you say Banks pedal Monster.

Sean P. Holman (13m 16s):

But you just said it.

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (13m 17s):

Well I wanted you, I’m gonna throw it to you. Ready? What is it? Holman? I’m queuing you up

Sean P. Holman (13m 21s):

Some product from Banks that I can find at pedal com.

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (13m 24s):

Monster pedal. Monster Pedal

Sean P. Holman (13m 27s):

Pedal Monster. Yes. Pedal Monster.

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (13m 30s):

The patented device connects to your OB plus

Sean P. Holman (13m 33s):

Oh oh. That’s the one where it, it, it has full 100% power in reverse. So the slightest touch of your pedal sends you straight into

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (13m 42s):

The lake. No Holman. That is every other throttle controller that you’re gonna find on Amazon or your Facebook feed Banks pedal monster. Yeah. Put you to stock throttle seamlessly when shifting into reverse so you back up slow like a granny like you’re supposed to and not, you know, end up on qualified captain or jackknife your trailer or whatever. Right. Supposed to go slow backwards. But as soon as you shift back into forward, it gives you the throttle response that you had pre-programmed

Sean P. Holman (14m 9s):

All. right? So let’s say I get a pedal monster, but I already have an ID dash in my truck.

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (14m 13s):

Well then you can control the pedal monster using the ID dash. So you don’t even have to use your phone, you don’t have to bother with the mobile app. You just up down Level control right there on the I dash as you drive.

Sean P. Holman (14m 24s):

Oh gosh. Lightning, I really like that. Especially in my 3 92 wink.

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (14m 28s):

Type in your year make and model at Banks Power dot com to find yours.

5 (14m 33s):

The truck show. We’re gonna show you what we know. We’re gonna answer what The truck because truck rides with the truck show. We have the lifted, we have the lowered end. Everything in between. We’ll talk about trucks that run on Diesel and the ones that run on gasoline. The truck show. The truck show. The truck show. Whoa, whoa.

6 (15m 4s):

It’s the truck show with your hosts Lightning and Holman.

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (15m 11s):

Alright, Lightning, are you

Sean P. Holman (15m 13s):

Ready to call our guest for leaving?

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (15m 16s):

I am. Are we gonna talk Ursa Minor tents? I wanna say rooftop tents, but that’s not right. Right. I mean it

Sean P. Holman (15m 22s):

Sort of is but it’s more than that. like

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (15m 24s):

A camper. Yeah. ’cause a rooftop tent, you feel like we just sit on the roof. This becomes the

Sean P. Holman (15m 29s):


Jay “Lightning” Tilles (15m 29s):

Part of the vehicle, right? Part of the roof. Yes.

Sean P. Holman (15m 32s):

Well, I Think we need to call John Gish who is the founder of Ursa Minor

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (15m 36s):

All. right. Let’s do it dial and, oh wait, can I say dial and smile

Sean P. Holman (15m 39s):

Please? Stop. Listen, I’m gonna put a new Dave. If you look over here, you can see on the wall is a whiteboard and I’m gonna be racing what’s on it right now. And on that whiteboard it’s gonna be things Lightning is not allowed to say anymore or do anymore. So one is gonna be dial and smile, one is gonna be anything that has to do with biscuits. And I’m taking, I’m taking listener emails Holman at truck Show Podcast dot com for your suggestions of what we can How

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (16m 3s):

Dare you

Sean P. Holman (16m 4s):

Ban Lightning from

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (16m 5s):

How. dare you. No, don’t, don’t, don’t be like that. All. right.

Sean P. Holman (16m 11s):

I am gonna show you something Dave, because this is your first time at The. Truck Show Podcast. And you will see as we call John over at Ursa Minor, this sign right here may come out.

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (16m 22s):


7 (16m 23s):

Yep. Great big stop sign. Like I’m driving on an old country road right

Sean P. Holman (16m 26s):

Now. Now in, in my own defense, people will say like, why are you so mean to Lightning? Slow down. Let’s have a slow down sign. Yeah. So I’m not always telling you to stop.

7 (16m 35s):

I’ll tell you if, if this whole podcast fails and OVR fails, at least you have a job.

Sean P. Holman (16m 39s):

I could be a crossing guard. You could be

7 (16m 40s):

A crossing guard.

Sean P. Holman (16m 42s):

Why don’t you just dial without the smile. Lightning

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (16m 45s):

All. right. Here we go. Hello, It is John John What up? Lightning and Holman truck. Show Podcast. How you doing? Hey, pretty good. Thanks for reaching out guys. Fantastic. Absolutely. Hey, we wanna talk to you, but first we have an intro. Don’t move. What does it take? Entrepreneur? What does it take? Entrepreneur. Don’t let anyone it takes to be an entrepreneur.

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (17m 25s):

Oh my gosh, we have so much to get to. Well,

Sean P. Holman (17m 28s):

We are actually really excited to be talking to you. I am a big fan of Ursa Minor and having worked for MotorTrend and Four, Wheeler Magazine and all those places for 20 years, I sort of saw the, the rise of you guys down in San Diego with the JK was I think the first thing that drew my attention. and then you guys single handedly raised the price of every element Honda element in Southern, California and then followed you on into the JL platform.

8 (17m 56s):

Yes. You’ve been along for the ride then.

Sean P. Holman (17m 58s):

I have, I’ve I’ve actually crawled in a few of them at, at Overland Expos and every time I I I’ve, I thought you guys had the best solution. So four listeners who aren’t familiar with Ursa Miner, it’s a company that makes a, we’ll, we’ll stick with Jeep for now. Think of a JK or a JL hard top four door. You would take the hard top off as if you were going to go convertible and you replace it with their camper that looks exactly like the hard top, except it can be outfitted with a whole bunch of different accessories. And the top pops up with a rooftop tent built inside the Beauty is you don’t have to worry about your, your your hard top and a rack supporting a rooftop tent up top.

Sean P. Holman (18m 41s):

And I’ve done that with a JL where it’s not a great experience through the fiberglass and, and dealing with that and you guys sort of solve that problem. Plus your center of gravity is lower because you’re not putting stuff up on top of the roof and the quality is awesome. and then you guys have all sorts of different accessories and, and options that you can build into it to make it more user friendly. So did, did I get it close? Am I did Are we, are we on the same page with my explanation?

8 (19m 6s):

Yeah, you’re hired man, All, right?

Sean P. Holman (19m 8s):

Yeah. Well I’m looking for a new job, so No, because

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (19m 10s):

This one does not pay. Yeah.

Sean P. Holman (19m 11s):

Does not pay. Not a lot. No,

8 (19m 14s):

We can work with that.

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (19m 16s):

So John, how did you get started in this thing? If you can rewind the clock for us just a little bit, we always wanna get the backstory. Oh sure. At what point did you decide to cut open the roof of said vehicle And? it said, I, I I’ve got, I’ve got the idea

8 (19m 32s):

Man. That goes back a ways. I started out camping out of VWs, camping in general, camping out. I had old VW Van, one of those things where you get to a point in life and you’re like, man, I love that thing but I’m not sure I drive a hundred miles on it anymore. I was kinda looking at buying a VW back in like 2003 and that’s about when VW dropped it. And that is right when Honda launched. And I think that to be frank, when the first time I saw Honda Element, I was like, that thing’s kinda ugly. That sucked. You know, I you, I literally looked at a photo like back in 2002 or So I Oh, my God. What are you guys doing? It’s like an Aztec.

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (20m 10s):

Oh, and an Aztec, my gosh. That is a butt ugly vehicle.

Sean P. Holman (20m 13s):

I would say the element was a, at least half a step cooler than azt.

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (20m 16s):

I mean a little bit, but Hold on a second, John. But it’s, it’s, but it’s small. The element’s really.

Sean P. Holman (20m 21s):

Yeah. But the way forward did the inside, it’s all rubberized and made for heavy duty and the rear seat is back. So there’s a room where between the first and second row where it’s actually really roomy and I can imagine it’s a lot easier to crawl up and, and also elements low to the ground. So getting in and out with the suicide doors is probably pretty easy.

8 (20m 41s):

Yeah. I mean it’s a classic compromised vehicle. It’s interesting to go back to, you know, all this on the internet, but you know, obviously I have a unique interest in this particular subject. But if you go back to the internet, when they were designing the element, one of the things they were doing is they looked at the Suzuki and said, man, we wanna do something that competes with that. And Honda just didn’t have the four Wheel drive platform at the time to take on like the old Suzuki, you know, Jimmie and some of the other versions that came over the US but they wanted that experience. And so they went out and were gonna slot somewhere between a, a Jeep TJ Wrangler and the Jimmy and backed off and said, you know, our customers are probably not that hardcore, let’s drop the low range.

8 (21m 23s):

But they gave it that functional interior. And I think that’s what drew me in additionally was, you know, again, aesthetically I’m like, yeah, it’s gonna have to grow on you, but you get into the thing and you’re like, holy crap, this thing’s pretty big inside. And they had these check boxes they hit because they were chasing this camping outdoor market. Like it’s all rubber inside. It’s super simple. It’s a flat floor, you know, they’re the pictures of people camping in the thing that was Honda did all my marketing ’cause they was like, oh you can camp in this thing, but they didn’t take it that next step. And that was one of those sort of moments where you’re like, man, I, I should make this into a pop top. That’d be pretty cool. And that lined up, you know, one with some of the other stuff I was pursuing at the time, which is I ended up in the fiberglass industry, you know, making stuff and So, it was like, oh this is this.

8 (22m 10s):

If we could design the thing and you know, it’s the, the trade off, right? Is it gonna cost too much? Are there enough people are gonna buy it? Will it work ergonomically and built the first one. And I, I would say it’s kinda a standard story. It was not the whole bread and butter of the business at any point in those early days. But we just did a fun project and we’re like, these are pretty cool, we’ll sell a few of ’em. And you know, I think you always go for that feedback, which is like when people ask you about it, Hey, oh, you like it all? What would you pay for it? Yeah. Would you buy one? And we had a pretty good response rate. You know, as soon as we built the first prototype, which you know, I say prototype, we, we built it, but I camped it for probably two years before I actually moved into a production unit.

8 (22m 56s):

But it kind of resonated with a lot of just outdoor folks. Maybe not Jeep owners at the time. They weren’t selling their Jeeps to buy Honda Elements, but they were definitely people who were like, my vote, my VW van’s too old. And I would say, God, the first couple years if you did a survey, I bet most of our owners were coming out of ews.

Sean P. Holman (23m 17s):

I, I I think that makes sense. And when you look at the element, it was based on a civic or a modified CRV platform. And what made it interesting is the rear seats kind of folded up against the side. And the back hatch was also a clamshell. So there was a tailgate. So getting in and out was real easy. And it, they made it so you basically had an unobstructed, you know, rear cargo floor area, which would make it really easy to access the, the tent. And again, with the pop top, unless you have a trained eye, you can almost not tell that it’s not a standard element. And I’ve seen them, the secondary market is pretty robust for those things. And I’ve seen ’em a lot in SoCal usually with mountain bikes or surf rack on it with boards, things like that.

Sean P. Holman (24m 1s):


Jay “Lightning” Tilles (24m 1s):

You’re not gonna kill it. I mean the engine by the way. And I think people know that that Honda’s gonna go for half a million miles and it’s not like a, you know, a GM product that the, the door panels will fall off and all the interior bits start just literally coming apart while the engine’s still taken right along. The Honda just lasts.

8 (24m 18s):

And, and that engine is used in so many vehicles that even today I get people like, oh, don don’t know, you know, should I still bring one in for conversion? Are you still doing it? Like Yeah, yeah. We’re still converting them. I mean if you’ve got a Honda element, bring it in. We’re happy to turn into a camper. But you know, people ask like, when’s this Honda gonna fail? And I’m like, seriously? You’re gonna get tired of driving it before the Honda fails. Like, here’s me, I’m done, I’m I’m ready for another car. You know, we see people pulling engines out and like nothing dates you like having a customer call and be like, Hey, I’m thinking about starting a resto shop and restoring Honda elements in your campers. And I’m like, oh, how long have we been doing this? Yeah, seriously.

Sean P. Holman (24m 55s):

So, so what was the natural progression from the Honda platform into jk? ’cause that’s basically about the time that I picked you guys up on my radar because I was doing JK projects. We had one of the very first ones for Four, Wheeler Magazine. And then we had another couple after that. And I was, you were always in like my periphery. I’m like, man, I would so like to do that more than let’s say a, a rooftop tent. But then the project maybe went a different direction, but I, I never lost sight of what you guys were doing because I was amazed that you could just take the factory top off or start with a a, a soft top and then plop this whole self-contained camper assembly on the back And. it looked really close to stock. And I just love that about it.

8 (25m 34s):

We, we got into the Jeeps honestly in 2007, you know this running back the years here we did the LA Auto Show with a couple of Honda Elements And. it was, it’s a long marathon show but you get about a zillion people coming by talking to Ear off. That was when the FG Cruiser launched. The JK was pretty new for that show. I mean they were out there but that was, you know, one of the bigger launch I don Dunno if it was the launch, but it was one of the bigger shows for Jeep. And I remember going up to the Jeep booth and talking to the guys there and you know, literally standing in one of the Jeeps and like, ah, maybe I can make this work. It seems kind of cramped in the back for like standing room and maybe in the middle.

8 (26m 18s):

And I kind of had that in the back of my mind. I’m like, Oh, my God, we don’t have to cut the sheet metal on this thing. And ironically I talked to the, the Toyota guys came outta the booth and I went up and looked at an FA cruiser and I was like, ah, ah, the roof lines a little short. So of course, yeah, I had a tape measure. I think I ran out to Home Depot and bought a tape measure and I was like doing one of those guys that’s wandering around the show like doing weird stuff, like measuring things. That’s a nice deal. But I remember measuring up the Jeep and like God yeah, the four door could work. And honestly it kind of went on the back burner ’cause we were getting really busy on the Hondas, but then we ended up kind of loosely affiliating with a bunch of other companies for the SEMA show and ah, I must be 2011. And what happened was Mopar reached out, it was like, we’re gonna try to build this camper thing out for the show.

8 (27m 4s):

And I jumped in with a couple other companies and we kinda looked at, said, yeah we Think we could probably pull this thing off. And, and I did the classic novice to Seema move of like, we’ll totally get this thing done. Yeah. And like no time we,

Sean P. Holman (27m 17s):

We’ve all been there

8 (27m 17s):

Photos. Yeah. 3:00 AM in the morning, we’re like this mu for LA by 6:00 AM we’re still working on it. That’s what you’re hearing. Yeah. That’s it. So and that was the first few, the first Jeep cameras we built were actually that fold over style. And what happened was, you know, we, we had seen the flip packs, you know, classic old SoCal camper. Yep. But nobody had done it on the Jeep platform And. it was like, wow, you know, let’s, let’s just go for it. And I designed the whole torsion bar in the springs and framework and then, you know, we, we decided to build the molds. So I went out and honestly bought, I bought this used Jeep off a car lot ’cause I’m like, I gotta have one in the shop to work on.

8 (28m 2s):

And we f that Jeep camper up and we, we, we built the first one for SEMA and That one didn’t actually have a torsion bar in it ’cause I couldn’t get it done So. It was sort of like open carefully. ’cause there was no spring pressure on That one. I sewed that whole tent in our little shop down in San Diego, like literally on my, on my machine. And we got the thing built and out there and then, you know, people were like, well that’s, that’s great. You know, you did this camper for the Jeep. And so, you know, there was, we kind of ramped up into making those for a couple years. But because we were making the the Hondas, everyone’s like, why don’t you just make a popup version? I’m like, well, well I can, but I’m kind hoping to sell the one we already designed really about a year after that was when we launched the popup version And. it sounds like we really had our game plan together, but honestly by the time we got it done we’re like, why didn’t we just start out with this thing?

8 (28m 47s):

We could have done it years earlier, but it hit a lot of good notes for us in the sense that because it was a replacement top, we could ship it. so we were, you know, we could ship it out to a Jeep dealer, we could ship to a customer that lived on the far side of the country. It’s removable. So people were, oh you know what if I buy a new Jeep, what am I doing with this? Like, well you can move it to a new jk. It opened up a lot of avenues. so we really started building them. Yeah. Early 2011. and then, you know, in hindsight it looked like a very natural progression from where we started. But I will say at the time we were sort of pretty busy on the Hondas and we’re like, oh, I don know if we want to get distracted, but gosh, people keep calling us so let’s, let’s get that thing going. And that, you know, we kind of transitioned into that Ironically Honda canceled the Honda element in 2011, so,

Sean P. Holman (29m 34s):

So you actually had a diversification of product and if you wouldn’t have pursued the Jeep you probably wouldn’t have had a business.

8 (29m 41s):

It, yeah, would’ve been a little, we’ve been back making rowboats or something again. But you know, we sort of, we sort were like, oh that worked out pretty well. We meant to do that. Totally meant

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (29m 50s):

To do that. So I’ve got, I I’ve got a couple questions we need to rewind a little bit because we’re, I don’t think we’ve painted the picture appropriately for, for people who are listening. It’s audio only our, our podcast. So the popup is angled, right? So

Sean P. Holman (30m 2s):

Think of a wedge rooftop tent on anything. And that’s what it looks like when the top is popped. So if you think of like a VW West Flia that has a straight popup, this has an angled popup. So the back of the vehicle, the tent’s higher than where your foot would be at the front of the vehicle. The front row.

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (30m 18s):

Sure. But the front’s not hinged. The front is articulated on it. No, the front,

Sean P. Holman (30m 22s):

The front is hinged. It’s, that’s what allows it to pop up high. So there’s

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (30m 26s):

N no but it’s not, not like a piano hinge. I don’t want them to think there’s a piano hinge on the front. There’s not, no,

Sean P. Holman (30m 30s):

There’s a mechanism that lifts it. So you have more foot box space. Is

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (30m 33s):

That called like a six bar? What, what is that, what is that mechanism called that lifts up?

8 (30m 37s):

They actually call it a scissor. Hinch is acis HCH history term for it. And it’s, you know, it’s a multi bar linkage that again, it’s not, it’s not a pure pivot like you’d see on a, like some of the wedge campers. It actually gives, you know, about a foot of lift at the front of the camper while keeping that angle on the top. So you have the headroom at the rear.

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (30m 53s):

And the reason I brought that is because something like, like GFC and some of the camper guys that we’re, or the, the rooftop tent, they do have a piano like hinge on the front

Sean P. Holman (31m 1s):

And there’s also rooftop tents that have the same sort of scissors too. Oh they

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (31m 4s):

Do? Okay.

Sean P. Holman (31m 4s):

There’s all types. So you can go straight up, you can go with a scissor, you can go with a wedge, you can do a fold over, you can do a slip over

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (31m 10s):

So I like this because you have a lot of headroom. If you’re laying with your head towards the front of the truck, you’ve got an extra, you know, probably 18 inches in there between the,

Sean P. Holman (31m 17s):

The benefit of this style tent is that it’s a short compact floor plan. It’s within the footprint of the vehicle. There’s nothing overhanging an edge. So wherever the vehicle fits your tent fits having the scissor basically mechanism to raise the front that foot. What happens on some of the wedges like a GFC is that for taller people your toes will hit the, the roof because it doesn’t go up high enough. So basically with the Ursa Minor on their J 30 camper, you’ve got a, a maximization of efficiency of space so that you, you know, have room for taller people within that footprint of the, basically the length of the roof. And

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (31m 53s):

Then the other question I had, John was about the access So I can’t picture on the element, am I crawling through the sunroof and if it doesn’t have a sunroof, do I have to put one in and and what’s that? And then how does that differ from the other applications as far as just pure going up into the tent?

8 (32m 12s):

So on the Honda when we first got started, the four Wheel drive version of those Hondas had a rear sunroof, which was really unique. It’s not over the front seats or the second row, it’s over the rear cargo area. The background of that was when Honda designed it, they had this kind of marketing concept and one of it was if you’re a surfer and you wanna change, you’ll open the sunroof and then you can stand in the back car and change with your head sticking out. And like things happen by the time they got in production, it wasn’t a sliding sunroof anymore, it was a popup. So you know, it was actually you could take the sunroof out but it’s not easy. But they kept the feature and they kept it at the back of the car. So when we designed the camper, one of the sort of tweaks we had was the idea of like, hey we we’re gonna build this camper but we don’t modify the car because there’s a sunroof already there.

8 (32m 57s):

so we do, we’ll use that for the access into the camper. So like when we convert a Honda element with the rear sunroof, it just drops on and you climb through the sunroof at the very rear of the car and then there’s two panels that drop in to give you the full bed length later in production. Towards the end in 20 2009, they drop the sunroof completely from the Honda element line. At which point we bought some cool tools to shear some sheet like alright,

Sean P. Holman (33m 21s):

Don’t fear the saw all Oh. no. So then you had to redo the headliners as well.

8 (33m 25s):

And then we do, yeah, we had a little, we made a little trim ring and we had to kind of go back in and come up with a framework to kind of support everything. But we, we kind of stayed with the same access size because we’re like, ah God we don’t wanna have two versions of this thing So. it made it a little more expensive to get it done ’cause now we’re cutting a hole like a conversion van would. When we got to the Jeeps, we basically stood back and looked at it and said, okay, with a Honda we could, we can keep it the same and go through the back or we can go through the second row And And it was, you know, it was an intentional decision to create an opening above the second row in the Jeep. ’cause one the camper generally sleeps two people. Not saying you can’t cram more in down below if they’re kids, but you know, for the most part it’s a soloist or a couple are going out.

8 (34m 7s):

And so you fold that second row seat down, climb up and that’s your standing room and the camper and there’s two panels that cover up that hole. So for folks who haven’t seen one, imagine standing on your second row seat gives you your standing room in the camper and then to make the bed up you kind of pop yourself in or push yourself off the roll bar. You drop a panel in to make the bed up. We didn’t keep the entry at the rear because on Jeeps most folks, you know, again, everybody has their own habits but most folks are loading the back of the Jeep with, you know, other accessory companies are like goose gear. They’re building the sliders and drawers and things that go back in or that’s where you keep your ice chest or frankly just all your gear. So it makes it much easier to use the camper ’cause you don’t have to unload the back in a Jeep, you just go into the second row.

Sean P. Holman (34m 50s):

So when you guys build the J 30, like we said before, it’s a direct replacement. You take your old top, whichever, whether it’s a one-touch sky or whether it’s a hard top or whether it’s a soft top that goes away. You put yours on there. And the cool thing is you actually have a rear window wiper defrost on your camper just like stockwood. and then you also have the ability for your side rear windows to be glass, a sliding window within the glass, which is super trick. I know like some of the early JK ones were a window frame and they looked a little bit more like an RV or something. Whereas the new ones have a very OE look. It looks like the, like the back window of a pickup truck where the glass slides behind the main glass or you can have it solid or, or a access point there.

Sean P. Holman (35m 36s):

So that’s pretty cool because you’re able to access your gear And, it makes it more useful for other parts of the Jeep. It’s not just the top is not just about having the camper and a hole in it. You guys are also offering reinforcement so you can hang awnings and brackets and all sorts of things. Roof load bars on top And. it really adds to the functionality of, of the setup.

8 (35m 57s):

Yeah, we’ve honestly, we’ve learned as we went. So you know, we go with like most companies, you get the customer a question. Okay, yeah we can, yeah, we can do that when nobody’s ever asked us. so we do have, you know, we can mold in kind of a setback or insert if you will, in the side of the camper, which is where you drop a rotax. So there’s certainly companies that make that as an accessory. But in our case, ’cause we build everything in house, we mold that right into the mold if somebody orders it. So it’s completely laminated into the fiberglass when we build the camper. So when we texture it or finish it, it looks like it was, you know, it’s made that way from start. And I’m and and we get a lot of customers that just go with the solid walls because once the back of the ca jeep’s filled, you can’t see outta the windows anywhere anyway.

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (36m 38s):


Sean P. Holman (36m 38s):

I, I personally love the glass and the access just ’cause I like it looking as stuck as possible. And I think that’s one of the benefits of having It is the casual observer isn’t gonna know anything special with your vehicle. Whereas if you, you know, have the panel of the Rotax inset in the window, somebody’s gonna go, oh, I wonder what else is in that thing. So for me, I like it and I like that you have options and you guys have actually quite a few options. Not only Can, you get it color matched, you have your standard black texture, you can get gel coat, you’ve got the, the glass, you know, delete or you know, opening. You’ve got racks available, a power package with 12 volt and USB outlets, a headliner organizer rear load bay, LED lighting, you’ve got awning selections.

Sean P. Holman (37m 20s):

I mean, just on and on. There’s just a, a, a ton of different things you can really customize it for exactly how you plan to use it. Well let, and

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (37m 26s):

I wanna talk about chubby fat asses, like us high

8 (37m 29s):

Point no finger cells.

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (37m 31s):

So how does this work? I’m trying to picture what the, what the bottom looks like. What am I sleeping on and how is that load dispersed across?

Sean P. Holman (37m 40s):

John, you’ve never met us before. So I want to assure you that at least one of us is more felt than the other one. Yeah. I’ll let you decide

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (37m 47s):

How, how much you weigh right now. You’re, you’re husky, how much you weigh right now. We’re all good.

Sean P. Holman (37m 51s):

No, you know, Lightning just came back from Scotland where he said he gained four pounds. I’m like, whoa,

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (37m 55s):

No, no. Whatcha talking about I lost four pounds? Sure

Sean P. Holman (37m 57s):

You did.

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (37m 60s):

I weighed myself. I did. I lost four pounds when I was over in England. The food sucks over there by the way. That’s probably why you lost weight now. We walked, we walked a lot and English food blows. If you’re lucky, it tastes like sourdough. I mean. Wow. It is just, it’s just so bland. Paint tastes better.

Sean P. Holman (38m 17s):

Alright, back to camper options.

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (38m 20s):

No, but so John, how, tell us about the, the the loading surface.

8 (38m 24s):

Well you’re sitting on a fiberglass bed. In other words we have, you know, the, the bed surface itself is part of the camper that we mold up. so we mold it in house. The big difference you’re gonna see over an OEM top is cheaps purpose. I think they even put it in writing in a couple spots, is this top is here to keep the weather off your head. It is not structural in our case, since we build the whole camper in house, it’s a cord composite. So what you’re sleeping on is some layers of fiberglass and carbon, some coring, it’s some more layers of fiberglass and carbon So. it makes for a pretty stiff bed structure. And then the rest of the camper, what we’d call the base unit, which looks a lot like your original hard top, that thing is pretty solid. I mean it, it’s probably thicker it needs to be, but it’s all reinforced to take the load of people lying in the bed.

8 (39m 8s):

Early days we sort of thought, oh, well make a provision to have some b brackets to tie the bed to the roll cage and things like that. And we really haven’t seen a need for it. You know, if you get a couple people up there and they’re solid hu Husky, it may bounce a little bit. They’re husky models. We kind of had a, we, we had a sort of comet, which is in general, we’ve never had anyone really call us back and say it broke. And that may be just a relationship to, you know, fundamentals of getting two people up into the bed at some point you’re sort of self-selected out. He has

Sean P. Holman (39m 40s):

A worn wage that bolt on the end. It’s pretty solid inside of the camper to the ceiling, And it and you just hook it to your belt buckle And, it witches you right up to the top floor. Yeah. You middle of you first. Yeah, just the middle just folds you right in half like a taco going right up in there. You haven’t had any failures yet

8 (39m 56s):

Because you haven’t had Lightning and Holman

Sean P. Holman (39m 58s):

Over for a sleepover, nor will you ever. Well, and, and And, it can’t be understated about the Jeep top. I I know a lot of people are, you know, with the gel, the tops became thinner to save weight. They’re a little bit noisier and boomer than a JK and the rails on the side have no metal or reinforcement in it. They’re actually just part of the mold. So most rack manufacturers will say like, don’t put more than 50 pounds on it because you can rip your, your rain gutters off. Of course a j all their full length were as a jk they were only partway. And then even when you get into like a Rhino-Rack backbone or something like that, you end up having like a dynamic load of about 250 pounds and then maybe 700 or so static.

Sean P. Holman (40m 41s):

What would you say your rating is? I’m guessing you’re beating that with a camper since it’s a fully reinforced part that you’re making.

8 (40m 47s):

We would generally say in the static mode, like if you’re part and you’re gonna put stuff on the racks, the limitation is really gonna be driven by the big rack manufacturers. So, you know, we’re gonna defer to Yakima or two Leader Rhino Rack to say, hey, if they rate the bars that, but you know, 150 pounds, we, who are we to tell you to put more up there? Sure. The whole camper itself runs about 300 pounds right now, give or take a little bit. You know, we always see a little bit of variation production. But,

Sean P. Holman (41m 12s):

And so by the way, stock hard top for example, I just wanna point out one of the heavier style, like an xl let’s say a James bar, fiberglass rooftop tent is somewhere in the low two hundreds, two 20 ish roughly for the that size. So for people listening, trying to figure out is 300 a lot? No, 300 is really good when you consider the glass, the the top itself, the, the camper part of it because you’re gonna be, you know, that’s not that far off stock. So he’s got a steal mechanism in the, in there as well. Yeah. I mean that, that’s really efficient as far as weight goes.

8 (41m 45s):

And you know, a stock like a JK top runs about 150 pounds j’s a little lighter, eh 140 or something and we’ve weighed ’em out. So when they put the hot headliners and some things in ’em, they decline a little bit. But my usual baseline for people who are, you know, worried about the weight is it’s gonna add about 150 pounds to the vehicle. The total weight is gonna be much lower than a comparable rooftop tent because our weight is mostly concentrated in the lower section where we’ve reinforced it for the bed, not in the actual part that pops up. And it’s also lower to the vehicle center of gravity because there’s no rack gap where you have the top plus a rack plus the tent, you know, the, the bed is as close as we can get it to the rollbar as we can. So the overall height’s pretty low and that keeps that weight and the center of gravity down.

8 (42m 31s):

I think when I ran the numbers back when we first started, I think it, it takes some tolerance here, but it moved the center of gravity on a Jeep about a quarter of an inch. And I usually say if you tip the Jeep over based on the rooftop tent, you were already gonna tip it over anyway. Oh for sure. That’s, it’s that close, it’s, it’s way different than having two hundred fifty, a hundred eighty pounds or something sitting on top of six inches of rack all the way on top of the Jeep. So it’ll definitely be a lower center of gravity than that.

Sean P. Holman (42m 54s):

So would you say the driving experience is gonna be a lot closer to stock? And as far as handling, obviously if the, if the weight differential’s not that much and the center of gravity is not changed significantly, and then also the question would be how is it to drive? Is it quieter? Because now you have that mattress, everybody puts these little thin headliners up there like I have on my 3 92, oh you hear this or you hear the, or you hear the rack whistling. Yours is one solid component that the, the air goes around. So, I would imagine it’s probably quieter than a stock Jeep.

8 (43m 27s):

I think It is, there’s a, it’s a compromise. I usually, I kinda walk through the noise factor. So a couple things we’re sticking up above the windshield. You’ve get a little bit of turbulence coming off the top of the windshield. We’ve got a couple latches a lot of times people putting racks up there. So you know, a stock camper with no racks on It is about the quietest you can get in terms of what we build. As you start putting racks on, you’re picking up that noise. We’ve changed our sound dampening over the years of production. So I think they’re getting quieter. We have a full headliner inside. So comparably, you know, the whole interior of the camper is lined with the automotive felt. I think it’s a lot quieter than any stock chief I’ve ever owned.

8 (44m 7s):

But obviously a little bias in there. But one of the things I’ve noticed is, you know, over the years we’ve had a couple scenarios scenario. One is Oh my God, I put the top on its way ladder and I thought, and we, you know, oh well let’s check that out. And they come in and we’re like, yeah, you’re hearing that box of wrenches you got underneath your

Sean P. Holman (44m 21s):

Load bay banging around

8 (44m 23s):

And sorry about the service s trucks too. But we took the camper off to look for that. Yeah. So I, I think it’s a lot quieter. I hear like accessories in my vehicle. I can hear that fringe when it turns on and off when I’m driving. I’m not sure I would’ve heard that in the stock hard top. Oh,

Sean P. Holman (44m 38s):

I, I can guarantee you I’ve got a Dometic 55. Im in the back of my 3 92 and I couldn’t tell you when that thing starts or doesn’t start. Or even if my kid’s talking to me in the back. Well,

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (44m 47s):

You’ve got exhaust noise and you’ve got your,

Sean P. Holman (44m 49s):

I got all the noise, I got the button. That makes it even more loud.

8 (44m 53s):

We’re like everybody, it, one of the things that really surprised me over all the years we’ve been working on Jeeps is just fundamentally the windshield moves, the doors come off. And so what we see is on Jeep that came in on Monday, the camper’s quiet I mean it’s, it’s like driving in the library and the Jeep comes in on Tuesday. We’re like, Oh, my God, this one’s got wind gaps, it’s got some noises. And you start looking and you’re like, oh well this, you know, this, this particular windshields sitting forward a little bit or Oh that door’s been moved. Yeah. ’cause it’s come off on and off. And so we kind of have to go through that cycle of like, there’s a lot of variables with time. We can really knock it in. You know, a lot of times we install up, the customer drives off. Next thing I hear he is in Alaska. He’s like, I’m getting a little rattle and I’m like, you’re in Alaska.

8 (45m 35s):

It’s a little late for that. But let’s check a couple things to tighten up. You know, we’ve, we’ve definitely had, you know, we had one car that came through and you know, hey it’s a Jeep. The guy had flopped it once and we put the thing on, we’re like, Oh, my God, this is, hey man, your whole windshield short. He’s like, oh, that’s a whole new windshield. And I flopped this thing and it’s got three new doors on road. Oh my

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (45m 52s):

Gosh. It’s brother. It’s all, yeah,

Sean P. Holman (45m 54s):

You’re just gonna have to live with this

8 (45m 55s):

One. I mean, it was just, it was tweaked. We’re like, yeah, just sign here because this one gear down the road, don’t call us. Yeah. But

Sean P. Holman (46m 0s):

Unless you wanna buy another one for your new Jeep,

8 (46m 4s):

Usually they come in pretty quiet. Again, if it’s loud, we usually Think, we can chase it down after a cycle, you know, oh, this is touching a little bit here. And that’s just some of the variations, you know, it’s the tolerance stack I think is the engineering expression we’d use. Like the Jeep’s big in this area and our camp are small in that area and okay, these things are touching where they shouldn’t and we can usually, you know, tweak that out and get the thing quiet again.

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (46m 25s):

So we touched on guys putting roof racks on top of the tent that articulates up. So how do you attach, does it depend on the, the rack or may drilling holes through your top to put a rack on? Or does it have clamps around the, around the sides where there would be a drip rail, but in case, in in, in the case of yours, there is no drip rail. And then the follow up is how much weight can your fancy articulating hinge mechanism, your multi bar link set up? Hold as it You mean? Lift? Lift, thank you.

8 (47m 2s):

Question number one, we mount and it’s a Drake, it’s, we just drill straight through the top. It’s pretty heavy duty lamination right there. ’cause we know where the rack mounts go. And so we just, you know, we, we build a fireglass pretty solid right there. Some of the areas we throw in a little Kevlar and carbon just to stiffen it up and make it easier to kind of take the loads. So it’s a straight drill through sealed and that’ll give you the rack mount where we can mount the rails if you want the adjustability that’ll give you the capability, putting things on the roof. Either you know, bars for carrying your canoe or we see a lot of folks putting a rigid panel up there which is attached to the rail system. So then we get into the sort of the dynamics of it. When you go to open the camper, as much as we try, we can’t change the lot of gravity feasibility, you can put probably 30 or 40 pounds on the roof and you’re still okay to open and close it.

8 (47m 50s):

It gets less fun as you add more. I like this

9 (47m 53s):

Positive, I like this positive spin by the way. It’s not hard. It’s less fun, fun,

8 (47m 57s):

Fun. I usually try to walk folks through the, the scenario which is you get that big load on the roof and you’re like, yeah, you know, I’ve been watching keyman episodes, I could push this thing up and sure enough you’ll pop the camper all the way up ’cause it’s a good solid push with your thighs and arms. And then we do have a mechanical safety pull that drops down to hold the top open just for these kind of unexpected loads or snow or whatever when you’re camping. The thing people don’t expect is once you have that load open, it’s really the closing that gets you. And the reason is all rooftop tens, this isn’t unique to us. If you have that load up there and you go to close it fundamentally that camper’s wanna go, it’s gonna want to close on you, which means you have to hold it as it comes down. Yeah.

8 (48m 37s):


Sean P. Holman (48m 37s):

Coming down. So you don’t wanna lose an arm

8 (48m 38s):

And you’re also Yeah. And you’re also trying to tuck the tent in So I usually tell folks you could push it up with two hands ’cause you don’t have to worry about the canvas, but on the way down you gotta tuck the canvas in a little bit. That’s just the nature of the fabric walls, which means you’re actually holding a whole load with one hand in, unless you have a friend around, which can’t help. But you know, generally that’s where people get in trouble is they’re trying to lower the camper And. it wants to come all the way down ’cause it’s got that load up there. So my standing advice to folks is we could upsize the struts on the camper if they’re gonna run something pretty much all the time. And that would be a non-dynamic load, like a solar panel, which is, they’re mounted, they’re screwed in and wired. You’re not taking ’em off next weekend. A dynamic load for us would be something more like a canoe or a kayak where you know you can pull it off because you’re gonna use it while you’re camping hopefully.

8 (49m 24s):

And so we don’t change the camper for that dynamic load for a solar panel. We can go back and upsize the pneumatic struts that hold the camper open to give you a little more up push when you open it. ’cause they’re higher rating on the struts and that takes some of the back and forth off. It’ll give you a little higher capacity on the roof. You know, knock on wood. My general rule is keep as much weight off the top as you can. That’s what we tend to see on some of the build outs with this. You know, we put panels and things like that up there or max tracks where you’re, most of the time they’re up there. That’s one way to get around it and that’ll help you when you’re closing as well just because it’s taking more of that load for you.

Sean P. Holman (49m 58s):

So where did the Ursa Minor name come from?

8 (50m 4s):

Well I was A-U-C-L-A guy and all the California systems

Sean P. Holman (50m 7s):

Are Oh okay.

8 (50m 7s):

Yeah. Bear related. And so yeah, kinda that was kind of the background there. But you know, SA major, obviously the Big Dipper is for anybody who camps the first thing you learn how to, you know, sure. My Cub Scout son can pick out the Big Dipper and it’s, you know, the little Dipper actually gives you your North Star. And our goal initially was the Hondas and small campers and we’re like, yeah, we’re kind of small camper guys that seems to fit a little better and that is that North Star when you’re camping. So I. That’s awesome. That kind of seemed to fit what we were doing.

Sean P. Holman (50m 37s):

I love it. That’s that’s super cool. I also noticed while ping the website that you guys are working on a version for Bronco.

8 (50m 45s):

That is, that is the effort right now. Yeah, that is literally while I was waiting to talk to you out, I was working on my CAD program.

Sean P. Holman (50m 52s):

Awesome. And and I’m guessing, did you have Jeep customers who were previous who got a Bronco and said, I I need to have a, a camper? Or was that just a, a market that you saw as natural progression because of the construction of a Bronco?

8 (51m 7s):

We have a few Jeep folks switching over. There’s I I mean I’m always amazed at brand loyalties. Sure. What really came on our radar is as soon as Ford announced that there was always that question of if they’re gonna have removable tops, So I was kind of keeping an eye on it, had some insight. ’cause we’ve been building Ford Transit connects their little vans. We’ve been building pops for those. And we worked pretty closely with Ford on those. And So I had a few calls I could make to kind of early indications of like, yeah, I think that’s gonna be a removable top. So then it was like, okay, that’s gonna be a, a pretty good match for what we’re doing. And then all the Bronco guys were sort of like, Hey, you gotta make one of these things for Broncos ’cause I’m a Bronco guy. And that was like, okay, yeah, that’s that we’re all aligned on That one.

8 (51m 47s):

It’s a great product for us. And, it hits all the high notes we’ve seen with the Jeep. I mean one, we’ve been building the Jeeps long enough now, you know, we kind of said like, oh we, we could totally do the Bronco. It’s design wise, it’s a completely different product ’cause you know, there’s no real part that’ll come off a Jeep and fit on a Bronco. So not to underestimate it’s a different car, but the functionality of it, of like, Hey, we’re gonna have a scissor hinge and it’s gonna pop open and you’re gonna climb in through a hatchway and it’s gonna weigh about this much and cost about that much. You know, those sort of things lined up really well for us. I mean it’s, it’s a, a really nice fit for where we’re headed. You know, we get calls about like the new Land Cruiser and we’re like, oh, we could do a Land Cruiser, but that’s not a market we’ve worked in. And that’s more like our Honda work where we’re zipping a hole in the car.

8 (52m 28s):

Sure. It’s gonna be a lot harder to mount it. The car will have to come to us. So yeah, when we look at other stuff, sure. But the Broncos like, whoa, this is our bread and butter. Yeah, we’ll definitely do something for that. So you’re,

Sean P. Holman (52m 38s):

It really seems like a natural progression from, from the Jeeps.

8 (52m 40s):

It’s like any business, you kind of read your newsletters and who’s working on what and boy, as soon as that Bronco came out, like, oh that’s gonna be a nice one for us. And you know, it’s gonna line up. Unlike when we switched from Honda Jeep, the Bronco is just another product in the same sort of generation. We’re not, you know, the Jeeps aren’t going away, so we will still keep making Jeep campers and it’s not like a, a big jump for us. For us this is total additive of hey, this is another vehicle that’s gonna work really well with what we do.

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (53m 7s):

So you’re taking a hundred percent refundable a hundred dollars deposit and you are putting those, I guess that puts ’em in the queue, right? Correct. Do you expect to have these to market And? it looks like they’re gonna be about 72, 50 7,250 bucks.

8 (53m 24s):

Yeah, I’m, I’m struggling with the pricing, to be honest. We thought we could hit that number. We’re kind of seeing where suppliers are and that’s, I I think in execution we’re probably gonna standardize some stuff we had optional on the Jeep, just based on, you know, 80% of our Jeep Warners order this option. We’ll probably make it standard on the Bronco from the get go that bring our, that’ll probably bring our price up a little bit. As far as production goes. I, I kind of say every week we’ll have one soon, but we’re just about ready to start making our first prototype on the Broncos, so. Gotcha. You know, we’ve, we’ve, we’ve been taking reservations for a while. I mean as soon as Broncos did it, we’re like, oh, we’ll let’s see what the interest level is. We’re like, Oh, no, we got a couple years of production.

8 (54m 4s):

So, you know, we’ll, we’ll we’ll see what the uptake rate is when we go from reservations to actual orders. But one thing I’ve learned, we make a unique product, it’s, I’d be the first guy to say it’s not for everybody. You know, we’re not building any, you know, flushed oils in these things. There’s no couches. It’s gonna work for some people and not for others, but for us, we kind of know there’s a core group of folks that wanna get out there and, and use the vehicle, you know, as both a camper and as an exploration vehicle. And so for us on the Bronco, that’s that same crew we have. So, you know, it’s just a matter of getting ’em in production and then, you know, getting ’em out to folks. And I think, you know, in the longer term we’ll go back to our Ford dealers we work with on the Transit Connect and being able to, you know, hopefully offer that through the Ford system as well once we get in production.

8 (54m 47s):


Jay “Lightning” Tilles (54m 48s):

By the way, that’s, that’s my favorite of all these so far. I

Sean P. Holman (54m 50s):

Was, yeah, the transit,

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (54m 51s):

Yes. don don’t know like So, I lighting, likes

Sean P. Holman (54m 53s):

Little vans.

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (54m 54s):

I got really close and not, not the shoes, like the actual ones you drive around. I got really close to buying a little Ford Transit Connect. I just love them so much. ’cause I had a full size, I had a a, a Durmax powered Chevy Express 2,500. That was one of my favorite vehicles I’ve ever owned. But it was, it was pretty big And it, I wasn’t always using that cargo area. So I thought let’s downsize it and go to Little Ford. I didn’t really like the cockpit as much, but I loved the van overall and it’s just so nice to keep stuff inside, not have to worry about the elements. And that’s the perfect combo for me because there’s nothing, if you’ve got like a cargo van, which you make a, a tent for the cargo van as well, not just the seated van.

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (55m 36s):

That’s like the ultimate camping mobile.

Sean P. Holman (55m 39s):

Yeah. You’re not going necessarily camping or overlanding in it. You may go to the beach and park there and hang out all day and take a nap.

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (55m 47s):

That sounds really good. Right now by the way,

Sean P. Holman (55m 50s):

So I noticed that you guys are have some sort of office or location now in Portland. Is that something that’s new?

8 (55m 58s):

We opened the Portland shop actually in 2016. Okay. Really based on a couple things. We had just tried to figure out, out, you know, any business, like how do we expand this thing, what are we doing? But we just saw that like a, so many Hondas are being sold on the west coast, ended up out here on the west and the west. You guys know this is where all the trails and BLM land is. And you know, I had data from what, by that point, about eight years of production and just was like, wow, you know, we got like a third of our customers are coming from three states up here. You know, Oregon, Washington, Montana, Idaho, you know that, that Nexus Northern California and So. it was kind of a question of if we wanted to expand along I five up to the northwest or head out on I 70 and look for Denver or maybe Salt Lake City.

8 (56m 45s):

We were trying to figure out really what the best way was And. it was driven really by our conversion business because the Hondas have to come into our shop. We don’t get those particular vehicles out. And we were working on the transit connect the time. It was kind of early stage. We were like, okay, we we’re gonna be rigging these cars through our shop in San Diego is not a big spot and So, it was just a question of like, hey wait, let’s address these customers closer, shorten their commute to our shop. and then, you know, with the Jeep it was just a win because obviously we can install ’em, we can ship ’em out. so we can do that anywhere. so we we opened the Portland shop up in, yeah, 2016 is about when we started taking cars through there. And then we were doing our transit connects up here in Portland and the Hondas.

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (57m 25s):

So all the And,

8 (57m 25s):

It obviously we still do Jeeps.

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (57m 26s):

So for the most part, all the installations have to happen at one of your shops. Right. I mean Well not the hard top. All, all the conversions were metal has the conversions. Oh, okay. The Jeep tops just ship out and, and, and, and so

8 (57m 36s):

The Jeep tops go all over.

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (57m 38s):

How many of these are per permanent installations versus seasonal? I want to take it on and off for summertime or for winter or whatever. Or I mean when, when I’m cutting the metal. Like that seems very permanent to me as opposed to the Jeep. Yeah,

8 (57m 51s):

The Hondas are one way that’s a conversion just like a VW van I mean it, it never comes off again except for service or repairs. Same thing on the transit connect. They’re, they’re permanent installs. It’s a conversion van type approach on the Jeeps and the upcoming Bronco. It’s pretty easy to get ’em off. You know, folks usually ask, and I, you know, it’s, it’s three steps. It’s on a Jeep, your eight bolts. Second step is disconnect. We got, once it’s been installed the first time we have quick disconnects on the wiring harnesses. So you just reach up, disconnect them, wiper and the power for the camper. And then step three is this little gravity problem, which is either, you know, three neighbors before you give ’em the beers. You know, he it off of there for the folks. You know, I, I wish I knew how many came off often.

8 (58m 34s):

I don’t think it’s a lot. I’ve got a few customers who are acknowledged, you know, like, Hey, I rock crawl, I don’t want a camper on it for that weekend. And they’ve kind of dialed in their home garage with, you know, lifting points, what have you. It’s pretty easy to get it off if you’re gonna do it every week. You, you know, you set up four hang, you know, cinch straps or winch lines or something and you know, pluck it off on the corners. Or we’ve seen some of the Jeep hoist companies Yep. Have some of their little higher spec just for our campers. Again, once your garage is dialed in, you can pull it off pretty quick. Our shop here in, in Portland, I, I kinda have a cheat, which is hilarious because now that every car has a backup camera and they all have those little dotted lines on it, I’ve matched the dotted lines on the floor of the shop.

8 (59m 15s):

So I just back it into all the red lines line, line up. And I know I can pluck that thing right off of there.

Jay “Lightning” Tilles (59m 20s):

If I wanna buy

Sean P. Holman (59m 21s):

A camper, what’s the process? I go to Ursa Minor I can spec out, I can do you guys have it really well organized by dropdown for Jeep Ford Honda. and then you can go and see the camper customize it. So once I get to that photo of, let’s say it’s a Wrangler J and customize and add to cart, the Wrangler jail starts at $10,000 or so.

8 (59m 44s):

It’s gonna be around there. Yeah. When you factor in the shipping, the sales tax and things like that.

Sean P. Holman (59m 48s):

And then from there I can add those other options that we were talking about earlier. Now what’s the, what’s the lead time? What do you require from somebody? Do they send you an internet order and you call them to verify that every I mean? Obviously if you’re choosing, you know, which parts do you want painted and textured or which options, that’s probably pretty important to follow up with a, a, a, a customer on. But what’s the entire process from the time I hit the order button to when I show up at the shop For installation,