AU2013101059A4 - A vehicle with an underfloor storage receptacle - Google Patents

A vehicle with an underfloor storage receptacle Download PDF

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Publication number
AU2013101059A4
AU2013101059A4 AU2013101059A AU2013101059A AU2013101059A4 AU 2013101059 A4 AU2013101059 A4 AU 2013101059A4 AU 2013101059 A AU2013101059 A AU 2013101059A AU 2013101059 A AU2013101059 A AU 2013101059A AU 2013101059 A4 AU2013101059 A4 AU 2013101059A4
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Australia
Prior art keywords
panel
vehicle
side skirt
storage receptacle
chassis
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AU2013101059A
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AU2013101059B4 (en
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Colin Robert Maclean
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Paradise Motor Homes Pty Ltd
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Paradise Motor Homes Pty Ltd
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Priority to AU2012227161A priority patent/AU2012227161B2/en
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Priority to AU2013101059A priority patent/AU2013101059B4/en
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Publication of AU2013101059A4 publication Critical patent/AU2013101059A4/en
Publication of AU2013101059B4 publication Critical patent/AU2013101059B4/en
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Abstract

A vehicle comprising, a chassis, a body supported by the chassis, the body having an internal space with a floor and opposing side walls, a side skirt panel (32) extending at least partially along one or both sides of the body and below a respective side wall, wherein the side skirt panel has at least one storage receptacle (44) integrally formed therein and at least part of the or each storage unit is located beneath the floor. Figure 2 C\j 0_ C

Description

1 A VEHICLE WITH AN UNDERFLOOR STORAGE RECEPTACLE FIELD OF THE INVENTION The present invention relates to a vehicle having an under floor storage facility. In particular, the present invention relates to a motorhome having a side skirt panel having an integrally formed storage receptacle. The present invention also relates to a side skirt panel for mounting to a vehicle. BACKGROUND TO THE INVENTION Recreational vehicles of the type having a chassis with a body housing a living space built onto the chassis are widely used in many countries around the world. Such recreational vehicles may be self-powered in that they have their own engine and do not need to be towed. Vehicles of this type are commonly referred to as motorhomes. Motorhomes have a front seat area for a driver and a passenger and a living area behind and adjoining the front seat area. Often the front seats can be turned around to provide seating at a table within the living space. Most motorhomes are made by taking a commercial base vehicle such as a cab chassis truck or van having a two door cabin at the front and an exposed chassis at the rear and building a motorhome body onto the chassis. Cab chassis designed for motorhome conversion are generally open at the back in what is known in the trade as a cutaway cab chassis. A typical motorhome body has a metal frame that provides support for the floor, side and rear walls and roof of an interior living space. The interior space is fitted out with the usual living amenities that enable it to be lived in. The walls and roof are generally constructed of an insulated laminate. A laminate with a fibreglass outer skin is particularly preferred. The outer skin is suitably coated so as to provide a smooth aesthetic appearance to the motorhome.
2 The outer side walls of the body generally extend downwards and terminate at a bottom edge that is generally in line with the bottom edge of the cabin body, suitably the bottom edge of the door sills. This provides a continuous line to the bottom edge of the whole vehicle and also shields the chassis and running gear from view. Typically, the bottom edge of the side wall is about at the level of the wheel axles. In some, but not all, motorhomes wheel arches are cut out from the side of the wall. This arrangement may provide a streamlined and clean finish to the motorhome. In many motorhomes the outer lowermost sections of the side walls are painted in a contrasting colour to the main body of the walls. It will be appreciated that motorhome buyers are also guided by the aesthetics of a motorhome. In recent years, motorhome buyers are becoming more discerning and sophisticated. Cutaway cab chassis are also purchased for conversion to other types of vehicles such as delivery trucks, ambulances, minibuses and the like. Caravans are not self-powered and require towing behind a towing vehicle. Fifth wheeler caravans have an extension on the front end that extends over the tow vehicle and rests on the tow vehicle. Contrary to vehicles based upon a commercial cab chassis, caravan chassis are often custom built for a particular caravan size and design. The present invention will be described with particular reference to motorhomes, however it will be appreciated that the invention is suitable for use in both powered and unpowered vehicles built onto a chassis and no limitation is intended thereby. It will also be appreciated that space is at a premium in the interior space of vehicles built on to a chassis and in particular a recreational vehicle such as caravan or motorhome. This is particularly so in a motorhome that has a short body length and/or short wheel base. Optimization of storage space is a constant challenge to motorhome designers. One manner in which to provide additional 3 space is to mount underfloor storage bins to the motorhome. Such underfloor storage bins are generally used to house generators, batteries, tools and general storage items. The industry standard for under floor storage is to mount storage bins beneath the floor of a motorhome. The bins are fabricated according to conventional joinery techniques. This is a time consuming process that requires a degree of skill and craftsmanship. The bins may be fabricated from a range of materials including aluminium and steel. Still further, the doors that can be mounted to such fabricated bins are supplied in fixed sizes. This means that the bins must be fabricated to fit the door, which further limits the options available to a motorhome builder. Supporting arms and frames are built onto the chassis or floor frame to which the storage bins are mounted. As discussed above, the side walls of most motorhomes extend downwards to about the level of the wheel axles. Thus, prior to fitting the bins, it is necessary to cut access holes in the sides of the lower section of the motorhome walls into which the bins are placed. After the bins have been installed, doors are fitted so as to be able to open close the bins. The total process for fitting a bin involves, (a) manufacturing an aluminium bin, (b) cutting suitably sized holes in the lower section of the body walls, (c) building a bin holding frame onto the chassis or floor frame, (d) mounting the bin onto the frame, (e) sealing the edges of the bin against the edges of the wall against water and dust ingress and (e) mounting a door to the bin. It will be appreciated that this is a labour intensive and time consuming process. However, the present inventor is unaware of any commercially viable alternative. It is clearly desirable to be able to provide alternative storage facilities to those currently available.
4 SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION A vehicle comprising: a chassis; a body supported by the chassis, the body having an internal space with a floor and opposing side walls, a side skirt panel extending at least partially along one or both sides of the body and substantially below a respective side wall, wherein the side skirt panel has at least one storage receptacle having a top face, a bottom face, opposed side walls, a rear wall and a front opening defined by an opening in the side skirt panel wherein the storage receptacle and opening in the side skirt panel are integrally formed with the side skirt panel and at least part of the or each storage receptacle is located beneath the vehicle floor and a storage receptacle closure member is provided for closing the or each front opening of the or each storage receptacle. The vehicle may be a recreational vehicle such as a motorhome or caravan in which case the internal space is a living space and is fitted out with living amenities such as a bed, cupboard, kitchen area and seating area. Suitably a side skirt panel is located on both sides of the body. Preferably, the or each side skirt panel extends along the full length of each side of the body. The side skirt panel may include cut outs for wheel arches and doorways. By substantially below a respective side wall means that all or the majority of the side skirt panel is below the bottom edge of the side wall. Suitably the upper edge of the side skirt panel overlaps the upper edge of the side skirt panel. The side skirt panels may be moulded as a single panel having a length corresponding to that of the body. Preferably however, the side skirt panels are modular in that they comprise two or more side panel modules. There are a 5 number of working advantages associated with a modular construction that make a substantial contribution to the working of the invention. These will be discussed in further detail below. The number of side panel modules that form a respective side skirt panel can be selected depending upon a number of factors such as the length of the vehicle. In the case of long vehicles it may be easier to manufacture and fit two or more modules rather than a single length panel. Another factor to consider when designing a modular side panel is the location of doors and wheels. For example, a module may be placed on either side of a doorway or wheel arch. Typically, the side panel modules are dimensioned such that they can be mounted contiguously across the full length of the vehicle body so as to give the appearance of a single continuous panel. Further, providing a number of different module lengths that can be added together in different ways to conform to different vehicle lengths can reduce the total number of modules required thereby reducing moulding costs. Another advantage of modular construction is that if a section of a side panel is damaged, a module may be easily replaced. This may be of particular importance where a recreational vehicle is in a remote location where body work that would be required to repair a conventional vehicle and storage bin cannot be carried out, or if so at considerable expense. A side panel module may be freighted to a desired location and can be replaced with minimal skill and tooling. Each side skirt panel has at least one integrally formed storage receptacle. In the aspect where the side skirt panel is modular, typically, each module has at least one storage receptacle. However, a side skirt panel may also include one or more modules that do not have a storage receptacle. Panel sections that do not have a storage receptacle may be in the form of a conventional body panel.
6 By integrally formed, it is meant that the storage receptacle is moulded as one piece with the side skirt panel. Typically, the side skirt panel has a front panel section that defines the opening of the storage receptacle, that when mounted to a vehicle presents the outer face of the side panel. The storage receptacles may be of any suitable size and shape. The shape and size of the storage receptacles may be customized to fit a particular cargo such as a generator or battery bank or the like. A particularly preferred customized space is to house or hold a barbeque. The dimensions may also be guided by the relative location of intrusions such as wheel arches and doorways. The depth of the storage receptacle may be limited by the location of the chassis or running gear. In some cases, the storage receptacle may extend across the full width of the vehicle body. The storage receptacles are located at least partially below the floor. In some embodiments, the storage receptacle may have a top portion that in use extends through a recess in the floor. Recesses in a motorhome floor may be located in hidden areas such as beneath a bed frame or in a cupboard or other hidden area. The vehicle may be fitted with any suitable combination of modules with no storage receptacle, a storage receptacle located completely beneath the floor or at least partially located beneath the floor. The lower rear sections of the body of recreational vehicles are often designed with an upwards taper. In this case, if it is desired to have a storage receptacle in the rear wall area, the rear portion of the storage receptacle may be inclined so as to conform to the angle of the taper. The storage receptacles may further include drawers, slide outs or other suitable storage accessories such as internal walls or compartments. The storage receptacles may have internal brackets, rails, frames or other storage holding or 7 retaining devices. These devices may be integrally formed or suitably mounted within the storage receptacle. Doors or other suitable closures may also be fitted. The side skirt panels or modules can be formed of any suitable material or construction that allows storage receptacles to be integrally formed therein. Most preferably, the side panels or modules are moulded from fibreglass with a gel coat coating. They may also be made from other suitable plastic materials such as those known for use in the manufacture of plastic car body panels such as impact modified PET resins. Suitable materials are within the scope of the plastics moulders art and need not be further described. The side skirt panels or modules may be mounted to the underside of the vehicle floor using the storage receptacles as mount points for mounting to the underside of the floor or floor frame. In a preferred form of the invention, the tops of the storage receptacles are planar so that they can be affixed to the underside of the body floor. The storage receptacles may be affixed by any suitable means and may be glued and/or bolted. According to a further aspect of the present invention there is provided a side skirt panel for a vehicle having a body with opposing side walls mounted to a chassis, the side skirt panel having a front panel portion, a storage receptacle formed integrally therein with an opening defined in the front panel portion and the receptacle body extending behind and away from the front panel portion. The side skirt panel may include two or more side panel modules, wherein at least one module has a storage receptacle integrally formed therein. According to a further aspect of the present invention, there is provided a method of manufacturing a vehicle comprising the steps of: providing a vehicle chassis, 8 building a body defining an interior space onto the chassis, the body having side walls and a floor; providing a side skirt panel having a storage receptacle integrally moulded therein and mounting the side skirt panel to a lower side of the body such that the storage receptacle extends at least partially beneath the floor. The vehicle chassis may be a cab chassis. The cab chassis may be a cut-away chassis. The interior space may be a living space and the vehicle may be a motorhome. Typically, the side skirt panel is mounted to the body by affixing an upper face of a storage receptacle to the lower surface of the floor or floor frame. In another form of the invention, there is provided a side skirt panel that has an opening for receiving a storage receptacle integrally formed therein. Such a side panel also has the advantage that cutting openings for receiving a storage receptacle as per the prior art is not required. It will be appreciated that the steps of mounting such a side panel and a storage receptacle may require an additional step as compared to the first aspect of the invention, there are other advantages such as being able to match different storage receptacles with the same side skirt panels. This may allow for even further customization for a buyer. The desirability of customization by buyers is also increasing. For example, customers may specify whether they want standard storage receptacles, receptacles with draws or pull-outs or receptacles with customized internal compartments, fittings or the like. Internal customization may be desirable for storage of specialized sporting or other recreational equipment such as ski gear, canoe/kayak accessories and the like.
9 According to a further aspect of the present invention, there is provided a vehicle comprising: a chassis; a body supported by the chassis, the body having an internal space with a floor and opposing side walls, a side skirt panel extending at least partially along one or both sides of the body and below a respective side wall, wherein the side skirt panel has at least one opening integrally formed therein; and at least one storage receptacle is located at least partially below the floor having an opening defined by an integrally formed opening in a respective side skirt panel. The vehicle may be a recreational vehicle such as a motorhome or caravan as described above. Suitably a side skirt panel is located on both sides of the body. Preferably, the or each side skirt panel extends along the full length of each side of the body. The side skirt panel may include cut outs for wheel arches and doorways. The side skirt panels may be moulded as a single panel having a length corresponding to that of the body. Preferably however, the side skirt panels are modular in that they comprise two or more side panel modules. There are a number of working advantages associated with a modular construction that will be explained in further detail below. The number of side panel modules that form a respective side skirt panel can be selected depending upon a number of factors such as the length of the vehicle. In the case of long vehicles it may be easier to manufacture and fit two or more modules rather than a single length panel. Another factor to consider when 10 designing a modular side panel is the location of doors and wheels. For example, a module may be placed on either side of a doorway or wheel arch. Typically, the side panel modules are dimensioned such that they can be mounted contiguously across the full length of the vehicle body so as to give the appearance of a single continuous panel. Further, providing a number of different module lengths that can be added together in different ways to conform to different vehicle lengths can reduce the total number of modules required thereby reducing moulding costs. Another advantage of modular construction is that if a section of a side panel is damaged, a module may be easily replaced. This may be of particular importance where a recreational vehicle is in a remote location where body work that would be required to repair a conventional vehicle and storage bin cannot be carried out, or if so at considerable expense. A side panel module may be freighted to a desired location and can be replaced with minimal skill and tooling. Each side skirt panel has at least one integrally formed opening. In the aspect where the side skirt panel is modular, typically, each module has at least opening receptacle. However, a side skirt panel may also include one or more modules that do not have an opening. Panel sections that do not have an opening may be in the form of a conventional body panel. The panels may be formed form materials as described above. The storage receptacles are also typically moulded in a similar fashion as described above also. However, in this further aspect of the invention, it will be appreciated that the storage receptacles may be made of different materials. The side skirt panels may be mounted to the vehicle either before or after the storage receptacles are fitted. Typically, the storage receptacles are mounted first and can be glued or otherwise fitted to beneath the floor as described above. The 11 side skirt panels or modules may then be mounted such that the openings are aligned with the storage receptacles. Alternatively, the side skirt panels may be mounted first and the bins fitted thereafter. According to a further aspect of the present invention there is provided a side skirt panel for a vehicle having a body with opposing side walls mounted to a chassis, the side skirt panel having a front panel portion and an opening for a storage receptacle formed integrally therein. The front panel portion of the side skirt panels or modules of either aspect of the invention may be moulded to include body styling. The body stying may be aesthetic and/or functional. An example of a functional body styling is to mould the lower panel section such that it is inclined inwardly towards the chassis when fitted to a vehicle. This can prevent damage from small stones or the like on either the vehicle itself or to a following vehicle by redirecting dislodged stones and debris back towards the road surface. In addition, the body styling may present a more streamlined and aesthetically pleasing appearance. The body styling may also be selected so as to conform to or compliment the shape or styling of the towing vehicle for non-powered vehicles or vehicle cabin in the case of a self-powered recreational vehicle. The front panel portion may also have a profile that is aerodynamic. This can reduce drag, thereby improving fuel efficiency. According to a further broad form of the invention, there is provided a vehicle comprising: a chassis; 12 a body supported by the chassis, the body having an internal space with a floor and opposing side walls; a side skirt panel extending along both sides of the body and below a respective side wall, wherein the side skirt panel has an upper part and a lower part and the lower part of both panels is inclined towards the chassis. The vehicle body may also be fitted with a rear skirt moulded in a similar manner to the side skirts. Suitably the rear panel is moulded to have a profile matching that of the side skirt profile. Further the rear profile may be moulded with openings integrally formed therein for receiving fixtures such as lights, recesses for number plats and the like. Suitably, the upper part has a longer cross sectional length than the lower part. The upper part may have a length 2 to 3 times that of the lower part. Suitably the lower part has an inwardly facing lip. The storage receptacle closures such as doors or front drawer panels may be moulded so as to have the same side profile as the front panel portion. This provides a continuous profile along the entire side skirt panel. The storage receptacle closures may be fitted with locking means as known in the art. Such locking means may be manually or electronically operated. The side skirt panels or modules may be moulded or coated with any desired colour that may match or compliment the main body wall. The side skirt panels or modules may also have service conduits or the like moulded therein. Such service conduits may allow the passage of electrical wires, 13 and pipe fittings for potable, grey or black water. Alternatively, or in addition to, one or more of the top, bottom or side walls may be moulded to have a shape to compliment any obstructions behind, below or on top of the bin. Such an obstruction may be a service conduit, fuel line, or a part of the chassis or running gear. It will be appreciated that constructing a conventional metal box having such features would be difficult, time consuming and be cost prohibitive. BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES Figure 1 is a schematic perspective view of a prior art motorhome; Figure 2 is a schematic side view of a driver's side wall of the body of a preferred recreational vehicle of the present invention; Figure 3 is a schematic perspective view of the driver's side wall as shown in Figure 2 as seen from the rear of the vehicle; Figure 4 is a schematic perspective view of the driver's side wall as shown in Figure 1 as seen from the front of the vehicle; Figure 5 is a perspective view of the inside of the driver's side wall as shown in Figure 2; Figure 6 is another perspective view of the inside of the driver's side wall as shown in Figure 2; Figure 7 is a rear perspective view of the side wall panel modules that form part of the side wall panel as shown in the side wall shown in Figure 2; Figure 8 is front perspective view of the side wall panel modules that form part of the side wall panel as shown in the side wall shown in Figure 2; Figure 9 shows the end profile of the panel section of a preferred side wall panel module; Figure 10 shows a perspective view of a side panel module according to another aspect of the invention; Figure 11 is a schematic side view of a driver's side wall of the body of a preferred recreational vehicle of the present invention; 14 Figure 12 is a schematic perspective view of the driver's side wall as shown in Figure 11 as seen from the rear of the vehicle; Figure 13 is a schematic perspective view of the driver's side wall as shown in Figure 11 as seen from the front of the vehicle; Figure 14 is a perspective view of the inside of the driver's side wall as shown in Figure 11; Figure 15 is another perspective view of the inside of the driver's side wall as shown in Figure 11; Figure 16 is a rear perspective view of the side wall panel modules that form part of the side wall panel as shown in the side wall shown in Figure 10 Figure 17 is front perspective view of the side wall panel modules that form part of the side wall panel as shown in the side wall shown in Figure 10; Figure 18 is a rear view of a further preferred motorhome of the present invention; Figure 19 is a driver's side view of the motorhome shown in Figure 18. DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES Figure 1 shows a prior art motorhome 1 that includes a front seat section 2 where a driver and passenger sit and a body 3 behind the front seat area 2. The body 3 has opposing vehicle side walls 4 defining a vehicle interior with a living space. The motorhome is mounted on wheels 5 in the usual way and is powered by an engine located within the body towards the front of the vehicle. The motorhome has front doors 6 providing access to the front seat section 2 and a side door 7 providing access to the rear living space. The vehicle also includes a slide out 8 moveable between a retracted travel position and an extended camping position. The side walls 4 extend below the floor level and have a lower section 9 with a bottom edge 10 terminating at about the level of the wheel axles. This edge 10 is 15 at the same level as the sill 6(a) in the door 6 of the front seat section. It will be appreciated that having the side walls extending downwards to this level provides an aesthetic appeal by providing a continuous lower line from the sill of the front seat section 2 through to the rear of the body. Although not shown, the lower section 9 is painted in a contrasting colour to the remainder of the wall. The vehicle has four underfloor storage bins sealed by hinged doors 11 (a), (b), (c) and (d). The actual bin bodies are hidden by the lower section 9 of the side wall. Each bin is of rectangular cross section and is constructed of aluminium. The bins are mounted to the chassis by means of mounting arms or brackets. It can be seen that in order to provide access to the bins, access openings had to be cut into the lower section 9 of the side wall. This cutting out process is labour intensive and also the cut out portions are of no use and must be disposed of. This represents a waste of materials and money. Figure 2 is a schematic view of the driver's side 12 of a preferred motorhome body of the present invention that defines the living space of the motorhome. The front seat space of the home is not shown. The body has a front section 13 that adjoins the front seat space, a driver's side wall 14, rear wall 16 and a roof 18. The body has a transverse slide out 20 that enables part of the side wall 14 to be displaced outward i.e. along at least part of its length, whereby to increase the interior space within the body and particularly the lateral width thereof. The side wall 14 has windows 22, 24 and service/socket outlet portals 26, 28. The bottom periphery of the living space is defined by floor 30. The lower edge 15 of the side wall 14 terminates at the floor 30. Below the side wall 14 is a side skirt panel 32. The side skirt panel 32 has a top edge 34 shown in phantom that overlaps the outside of the bottom edge of the wall 14. The side skirt panel 32 comprises a rear 36 and a front 38 side panel 16 module. The modules 36 and 38 are moulded from fibreglass with a gel coat. Although not shown, the gel coat is of a contrasting colour to that of the side wall 14. The front module 38 has a front panel surface and two storage receptacles 40, 42 integrally moulded therein. The rear module 36 also has a front panel surface and storage receptacle 44 integrally moulded therein. The rear module 36 has an upwardly inclined rear lower edge 37 that conforms to the angle of the lower rear corner 46 of the body 11. Also shown in Figure 2 is the outline of a wheel arch 48. After the modules have been mounted to the vehicle, the wheel arch is suitable cut out along this outline. Figures 3 through 6 show the driver's side 12 in perspective. The overlap of the top edge 34 of the side skirt panel and the lower edge 15 of the side wall section 19 may be more easily seen in these figures. Figures 2 and 3 also show the wheel arch 48 after having been cut out. The storage receptacles have bottom and top faces and side walls. The top faces are at floor level and are glued to the lower section of the floor (not shown). Figures 7 and 8 show perspective views of the respective modules. The front of the panels and the doors have a side profile as shown in figure 9. The doors also have the same profile. The profile has an upper vertical section 50 and a lower section 51 inclined towards the chassis. The lower end terminates in an inwardly facing lip 52. The inwardly angled profile represents a departure from the traditional vertical wall profile of a motorhome as shown in Figure 1. First, the inward taper provides an aesthetically pleasing design as opposed to the "boxines" of the prior art design. Second, the profile may have a working advantage in that the taper may redirect dirt, dust, water and the like kicked up by the wheels back towards the chassis or towards the road surface. Further, the 17 profile may be aerodynamic to reduce drag, thereby allowing fuel economy to be improved. A still further working advantage of the inwardly tapered profile that makes a substantial contribution to the working of the invention is that it allows easier access to the wheel nuts when changing a wheel. Although not shown, each of the storage receptacles shown in figures 2 to 8 have a front door that is connected, suitably by hinges, to the front panel portion of the side skirt panel. The doors may be moulded from the same material from which the side skirt is moulded and in the same colour. Further, the doors are moulded to have the same side profile as the front panel of the side skirt so as to provide a seamless and uniform appearance across the lower section of the motorhome. The doors are suitably able to be locked by mechanical or electronic means. The electronic locking may be electronically connected to the vehicles main electronic locking system so as to provide additional security. Figure 10 shows a preferred module 60 of the invention. The module 60 has a front profiled panel portion 62 and a storage receptacle 64 integrally formed therein. The storage receptacle 64 is rectangular in cross section and extends behind the front panel portion 62. A sliding drawer 66 is mounted within the storage receptacle 64 on slides 68. The draw 66 has a front draw panel 68 having the same profile as the panel portion 62. The profile is the same as that discussed above with reference to figure 8. Slide out draws are also available on current commercially available motorhomes. These slide outs have runners mounted directly to the underside of the motorhome. A disadvantage of this arrangement is that should the rails fail, the draw or slide out can become dislodged and fall form the bottom of the motorhome. It will be appreciated that travelling long distances over bumpy roads 18 can cause a considerable degree of stress to moving parts such as rails. However, with the module of the present invention, should the rails fail; the draw will be retained within the storage receptacle. Figure 11 is a schematic side view of the passenger side 70 of the motorhome body that is shown in figure 2. The same reference numerals are used to refer to the same features. The passenger side of the body has a side wall with a doorway 86. The side skirt panel is comprised of three modules 74, 76, 78, each module having a storage receptacle 80, 82, 84 integrally formed therein. Figures 12 to 17 show perspective views of the passenger side and modules. The side skirt panel is similar to that of the driver's side except that a module is located on either side of the doorway. Figure 18 shows a rear view of a motorhome 90 body of the present invention. The motorhome 90 body is of fibreglass construction with has vertical side walls 91, 92 and lower side skirt panels or modules 93, 94 extending below the lower edge of each side wall. The side skirt panels 93, 94 have a side profile as shown in Figure 9, in that they have a vertical section 50, an inwardly tapered lower section 51 terminating in an inwardly facing lip 52. It may be seen that the inward taper provides the illusion that the body is narrower than a prior art body having vertically walls. The rear vertical edges of each side wall 91, 92 are angled inwardly to meet the vertical edges rear wall 96. The rear vertical edges 97 of the side skirt panels or modules are also angled inwardly. This provides an aesthetically pleasing appearance and further contributes to the appearance of the size of the body being smaller than what it actually is. A common perception of motorhome bodies is that they are bulky and difficult to drive when compared to a car. Similarly, the rear horizontal edge of the roof 98 has a similar inwardly angled portion that 19 angles down to meet the upper horizontal edge rear wall. This further contributes to the overall visual appearance of the vehicle. The vehicle also has a moulded rear panel 100. The rear panel 100 is moulded from the same materials as the side skirt panels. The rear panel is moulded with recesses integrally formed therein for receiving tail lights 101 and a number plate 102. The inwardly facing lip 52 cuts in to meet the lower edge 95 of the panel 100. Figure 19 is the driver's side view of the motorhome shown in Figure 18. Installation of the side skirt panels and modules is conducted after the walls have been built. The modules are placed beneath the floor and the top sections of the storage receptacles are glued to the bottom of the floor. The front panel is placed over the body side wall and a suitable seal may be applied. After the modules have been fitted to the vehicle, wheel arches and the lower part of the doorways is cut out. It may be appreciated that there are a number of working advantages that make a substantial contribution to the working of the invention that may be realized by using the side panel modules of the present invention and method of manufacturing a motorhome. First, the steps of individually manufacturing an aluminium storage bin, installing mounting frames and cutting out holes in the side wall are not required. This enables labour costs to be reduced. Further, the cut outs from the walls are waste, again increasing material costs. The side panels may be moulded in a contrasting colour to the wall section. Motorhomes are generally painted with exterior colour and graphics that not only appeal to buyers but come to be associated with a particular motorhome manufacturer. Some colour schemes also have a functional advantage. One such colour scheme is where the main body of the motor home is painted in a light 20 colour and the lower part of the walls are painted in a darker colour. An advantage of the darker colour is that dirt and dust tends to accumulate more at the lower parts of the walls and the darker colour can hide at least some of the dust. Painting the entire wall with the darker colour is not considered aesthetically pleasing and also makes the interior living space hotter as a result of the darker colour absorbing radiant energy. However, painting the walls of a motorhome body in dual colours means two separate painting steps, which again adds to labour and material costs. Thus, in order to obtain the above desirable exterior colour pattern, it is only necessary to paint the side wall in a single colour and painting step. The contrasting colour is provided by the side skirt panel. Still further, an advantage of integral moulding is that there are no joints between the sides, floor and top of the storage receptacle. This provides a water and dust free seal. Further, because the storage receptacle is integrally moulded to the front panel section, it is not necessary to provide a seal between the panels outer walls of the receptacle as per the prior art construction where an aluminium bin is mounted behind a cut out in the lower section of the motorhome wall. In the preferred aspect in which the side skirt panel is glued to the underside of the floor, the side skirt panel may serve to increase the torsional stiffness or rigidity of the chassis. Torsional loads may be induced by undulating road surfaces and cornering. Torsional rigidity refers to a measure of the resistance of a frame or chassis to these loads. A further advantage of the moulded side skirt panel is that they are easier to repair than prior art motorhome bodies when the sides are all in one piece. Advantages of having a profiled side panel may also be appreciated, especially when compared with conventional vertical walls of prior art vehicles. Prior art 21 vehicles had a box shape. This created the appearance of a vehicle that is box like and correspondingly large and heavy to drive. This may be undesirable, especially for drivers of motorhomes who tend to be of an older age group. The profiled side skirt can provide a more streamlined appearance that suggests a smaller body and thus easier to drive. There are also the functional advantages in reducing the amount of dirt, dust, water spray and the like. This can reduce the dirt, dust and debris that not only may be generated and land on the motorhome but also onto other vehicles on the road. This may improve safety to not only a motorhome driver but also those traveling on the road with the motorhome. Further functional advantages of a more streamlined shape may improve the aerodynamics of a motorhome, thereby contributing to fuel savings. It will also be appreciated that the ability to mould the storage receptacles from a material such as fibreglass allows for a greater range of versatility in design. Prior art aluminium or other metal storage boxes are limited to being of rectangular cross section. A particular application of this is the ability to mould the storage receptacle to match the angle of the rear section of the body. This allows for a significant increase in storage space. It will be appreciated that various changes and modifications may be made to the invention as described and claimed herein without departing from the spirit and scope thereof.

Claims (5)

1. A vehicle comprising: a chassis; a body supported by the chassis, the body having an internal space with a floor and opposing side walls, a side skirt panel extending at least partially along one or both sides of the body and substantially below a respective side wall, wherein the side skirt panel has at least one storage receptacle having a top face, a bottom face, opposed side walls, a rear wall and a front opening defined by an opening in the side skirt panel wherein the storage receptacle and opening in the side skirt panel are integrally formed with the side skirt panel and at least part of the or each storage receptacle is located beneath the vehicle floor and a storage receptacle closure member is provided for closing the or each front opening of the or each storage receptacle.
2. The vehicle of claim 1, wherein each side of the body has a side skirt panel and one or both side skirt panels including at least two side panel modules.
3. The vehicle of claim 1 or claim 2, wherein the or each side skirt panel has a front panel portion defining the opening of a respective storage receptacle.
4. The vehicle of claim 3, wherein the front panel portion has an upper edge that overlaps the bottom edge of the wall along which the side skirt panel at least partially extends.
5. The vehicle of claim 3 or claim 4, wherein the front panel portion has a side profile having a lower section that is inwardly inclined relative to the chassis.
AU2013101059A 2011-09-30 2013-08-08 A vehicle with an underfloor storage receptacle Expired AU2013101059B4 (en)

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Family Cites Families (4)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
US4746164A (en) * 1985-08-23 1988-05-24 Fleetwood Enterprises, Inc. Motorhomes
FR2592344B1 (en) * 1985-12-27 1988-03-18 Renault Vehicules Ind LUGGAGE HOLDER ESPECIALLY FOR PUBLIC TRANSPORT VEHICLES
WO2006127523A2 (en) * 2005-05-26 2006-11-30 Actuant Corporation Storage container docking system
US7249794B2 (en) * 2005-07-08 2007-07-31 Western Recreational Vehicles, Inc. Opposed drawer assembly for vehicles

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