This page documents the building of my first TearDrop trailer
First a Quick Note about my Building Philosopy
A ton of my parts were scrounged, traded for, or
“found” in the garage or another storage place we have. I tend to keep a lot
of weird stuff just because it’s weird. But dang if it doesn’t come in
handy every once-in-a-while! I’ve also had really great luck trading
goods and services for other goods and services, like the frame, (THANKS
Ralph!). My windows were salvaged from a cab-over camper that was being
trashed due to rot, and I found a lot of stuff on eBay.
As soon as you make up your mind to build one, go ahead and start to rat-hole
parts. Some of them take a while to find, others you can get at the big
As soon as you make up your mind to build one, go ahead and start to rat-hole parts. Some of them take a while to find, others you can get at the big box stores.
Email me anytime for pictures, bad advice, and incorrect instructions att
Email me anytime for pictures, bad advice, and incorrect instructions att firstname.lastname@example.org
First off, the plans I used to build this are available from www.desertteardrops.com
How about a frame to build on?
The frame is made of 2” channel iron, but a lot of them are made from 2” tube. As previously mentioned, I was lucky enough to trade out some work for the frame.
Here are some pictures of the building in progress.
Here is the frame being painted.
This picture is after the frame is inspected by my quality assurance agent, the infamous Inspector 12. Nothing gets past her nose for perfection. Frame inspections are terribly hard work as you can tell by how hard she has to rest afterwards.
Now we move on to installing the possum belly (a storage space built into the frame). Possum bellies are serious work as you can tell by the look on my face. If we had audio for this section I would probably be saying, "I have been to the belly of the possum..."
Here is another shot of Inspector 12. This time she is meticulously
eyeing the axle and hubs to make sure every detail is how it should be. I
sleep better knowing Inspector 12 is on the job (hopefully I'll get to sleep better
in the trailer before too long). If you are thinking about doing this too,
be sure to get the E-Z Lube spindles for your
hubs! Since I had to
order the axle, I went ahead and spec’d six-hole hubs like my truck so the
Here is the frame with the floor, possum belly, and floor covering all
installed. I used ¾” treated pine plywood for the floor. All of
the wood attached to the frame is treated, and heavy!
Now we need some sides to keep out the wind
Here is a shot of Tricia staining the sides. The sides are quarter sawn white oak plywood with "A" quality on both sides. Besides being pretty, white oak is naturally water resistant and makes a good choice for this kind of application. While most people would have used 1/2" plywood for the sides, when you drive like I do, the more rigidity and stability in your unit the better, so I used 3/4". Tricia used Zar stain to finish the wood and topped it off with five coats of Minwax Spar Varnish on the outside and three coats on the inside. (I am sure Tricia would rather have a picture of herself in an evening gown on the net, but the day I had the camera with me, she wore jeans instead.)
Now we have the sides raised and clamped. These pictures just do not do justice to the how pretty that wood is after staining.
The sides are up and there is a stack of ribs neatly stacked and awaiting installation.
Now we move on to the Memorial Day Weekend 2005
Memorial Day Weekend had a lot to do with a stack of ribs too, but Trisha cooked those ribs and boy were they good. But we were still able to spend a day rubbing our bellies and doing some serious teardropping.
Now we have the headliner in it in preparation of putting a roof on it. This headliner is 3/8" birch bead board. Not one of the easiest things to bend to the shape of a teardrop, but the results are worth it. The first piece of birch bead board managed to split at a knot rather than take the shape of the trailer. So a prudent person might want to examine the backside of the bead board for imperfections before carrying it to the checkout stand. You can also see the wiring going through the ribs. Get the location of these kinds of things worked out before you get too far into the game.
How about some insulation to keep the heat out. A note about the insulation. This insulation is a 4x8 sheet of foil backed Styrofoam. When you cut it to fit between the ribs the stuff goes everywhere. Some quality time had to be spent with a ShopVac cleaning up afterwards. It was even mentioned that the roof probably needs to go on as fast as possible in an effort to contain the massive outflow of Styrofoam every time a breeze passes over it. Maybe the type insulation with solid foam sandwiched between foil would be easier to cleanup after. Regardless of the type you use, you have to make sure that your insulation is no wider than the ribs. Uh, that is the ribs in the roof, not the ribs that Trisha cooked (which were probably wider and certainly much better tasting than the ones in the roof).
Anyone who has watched Blazing Saddles knows the importance of having a good exhaust fan after spending a night around the ole campfire. It is also appears to be very important to choose helpers with a beard that matches your own in color when working on a teardrop.
Houston we have a wheel. Or really we have a space saver spare. This lets us know where the fender needs to be and will allow us to get it to the tire store for a mean set of dubs.
Now we move on to June 11th and 12th
These two days we spent a lot of time getting the roof on it and we got started on the hatch.
The twins (a pair of Dewalt 14.4 volt cordless drills) really made these things possible. With one twin with a drill bit in it, the other with a screwdriver bit in it, and a pair of extra batteries waiting in an recharger in the wings, a lot of work can be done.
Here is the headliner after staining.
Now we are attaching a layer of Masonite as an underlayment for the aluminum roof.
Inspector 12 carefully keeps tabs on the number and placement of screws holding down the underlayment.
Here we have the ceremonial first cutting of the last piece of underlayment.
Now we have the second cutting of the last piece of underlayment. Uh, maybe that was not the last piece before.
The aluminum sheaving is carefully measured and marked. We took this piece into a machine shop and had it sheared to the correct width and broke over so it would wrap around the bottom.
Now we have the final trimming of the last piece of underlayment. That one was a bugger. We were glad it was the underlayment that gave us that much trouble and not the aluminum itself.
The molding must be installed to keep everything from leaking. Conforming the molding to the roof requires a steady hand and a rubber mallet. Attaching the molding was made short work by the Dewalt twins.
A remaining chunk of the plywood used for the sides was cut up to provide four ribs for the hatch. They were clamped together and sanded on a belt sander to get a consistent shape.
This is the hatch in its raw form, not a stack of ribs from Fred Flintstone's favorite drive in.
Here we are bocking in the ribs of the hatch with pieces of 2x4 for rigidity. Note how one twin is posing for the camera while the other is shy and trying to hide behind some blocking. Whether shy or outgoing, the twins enjoyed their work and did an outstanding job.
The TearDrop was finished in time for the First Annual Gathering of TearDrops. More information on the exciting finishing of the teardrop will be here soon. Information on the trip to the gathering will be in the Trips section soon.