Building our teardrop trailer

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I used Google Sketchup to design the shape and layout all the features. The steel trailer frame started out as a pre-built 5′ X 8′ trailer with no floor from Northern Tool. I added some 2 inch square tube to strengthen the frame and tongue of the stock trailer. The floor is framed out of 2X4 then coated in a creosote sealant. Everything attaches to the floor and can be completely removed from the frame if needed. It ended up weighing around 800 pounds when done.  The walls are a one inch thick plywood sandwich made from a 1/2″ thick CDX sheet for the center core, and a 1/4″ thick ACX sheet on both sides. Since the overall length is over 8 feet, the plywood had to be stretched using a router and some 3/16″ plywood in the slot to put two pieces together. Foam sheathing is stuffed in the cutouts of the center sheet. The three parts are glued together with Tiebond II. The roof is .05″ thick 5’X10′ sheet aluminum. I laid the aluminum over the top of the cross ribs and screwed it down on the edges using trim from the local RV dealer. I used two layers of Styrofoam sheathing between the outer roof and inner ceiling for sound and thermal insulation. Total thickness is 1.75 inches. The doors are pre-made doors specifically for teardrops that I bought from Little Guy Teardrops.

I wanted all of the electrical to consume as little as needed so it doesn’t have to be plugged in everywhere we camp. So I converted the lights inside to use LEDs that draw 0.2 amps. The bulbs that came in the light fixtures drew 1.3 amps at 12 volts. It does have one standard 120 volt outlet in the galley and two inside the cabin. I added them mostly to recharge the battery but it might be useful for watching movies on the laptop or powering a toaster oven.  I found the radio at the thrift store for $6. It has outputs for two speakers instead of the usual four and receives AM, FM, weather band, and it has a line-in for any other source. I used a set of 4 inch Infinity speakers. The roof vent is also a powered three speed fan capable of pulling air in or out. I’m adding solar panels to make it a true off grid, backwoods camper.

For sleeping comfort it has two different types of foam mattress toppers as padding. The bottom layer is a denser foam and the top is an egg carton type memory foam. Its only a couple inches narrower and about 6 inches longer than a queen size mattress. The upholstered headboard doubles as a couch. Upholstery work was done by my girlfriend Amanda.  Perfect for us and the two dogs.

We were able to get out and use it twice before it got cold outside. There are a few things like the cabinet doors and some trim work that are not finished in the pictures. Ill post more pictures after I finish the loose ends and get some more use out of it.

If you’re interested in building one, check out this forum


5 responses

  1. p8

    Damn cool project!

    November 17, 2011 at 1:30 pm

  2. Looks nice! Quite an accomplishment! Woul love to go campin with you guys sometime!!!

    Love, your sister… Megan 😉

    January 15, 2012 at 12:52 pm

  3. What the god are you doing. Really smart design, I like that be careful to use its.

    June 23, 2012 at 12:56 pm

  4. Lauren

    I looked up the trailer you mentioned and the tires looked smaller than the ones you used and it had an A frame tongue. Did you modify anything on the frame? Was looking for a 5 X 8 frame with 13″ tires and I only found 12″ at northern tool. I was also thinking of building on 2X4’s so the floor would clear the wheel wells, but still in the planning stage. Thanks and beautiful teardrop!!

    September 28, 2013 at 9:10 pm

    • Thanks! I did modify the frame of the trailer I used. I added 2 inch square tube from the tongue to the frame just behind the wheel. Its a flimsy trailer without it. Northern tool doesn’t seem to list the one I used on its website but I know they still sell them. I think mine does have 12 inch tires.

      September 29, 2013 at 7:43 pm

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