Introduction: How to Steampunk a Teardrop Camping Trailer (Part 2)
This instructable follows an earlier build from August 2015 on How to Steampunk a Tiny Teardrop Camper. I will refer to it as Part 1 and it can be found at this link . This is Part 2 and, for the most part, has just been recently completed during May 2016. Like many of my larger projects, that are used for their daily enjoyment, they are first built, then re-built and then subjected to adjustment and continual tinkering.
( This teardrop has been sold )
I started with a rescued and partially built teardrop trailer that was in serious need of repairing a bit of floor and a lot of hatch rot. The ceiling leaked (found out it too was rotting) and needed an entire rebuild along with the hatch galley roof. Weatherstripping was replaced and in some places added, the wiring was redone and the kitchen galley was rebuilt. The tongue was reinforced and extended by 18". New rims and new tires. Next, after cleaning the aluminum skin, I decided to paint the fenders and the wheel caps. (see part 1) Although I was now pleased with the structural improvements, I decided last autumn to incorporate a steampunk theme to the trailer.
Part 2 of the Teardrop Project continues with adding an eclectic steampunk element to the camper. As with Part 1, all of the changes and the construction have been completed by myself and are doable by most people comfortable using common tools and following basic wiring instructions for a utility trailer. Conducted throughout the spring of 2016, the changes are largely decorative since the basic trailer structure was completed last year. I have included suggested materials, a few instructions and suggestions, pictures of my modifications to the trailer and an approximate cost. Since my sources for new materials, and for the most part re-purposed materials, will likely be different than what others may have available, this instructable serves more as an inspiration for ideas than as a step by step description.
Each of the steps that follow will focus on a new and specific alteration or decorative change to the camper.
1. Replacing the exterior door latches
Some of the steps have very few pictures as I neglected to take them as I was building. Feel free to contact me should you need more clarity.
Step 1: Exterior Door Latches
Exterior door latches
The original black plastic latches that were on the salvaged trailer had to go. One was broken and the other would not lock. Besides plastic and steampunk, do not go together. Vintage trailer latches from the 40’s and 50’s cost an absolute fortune and so I decided to assemble my own. I purchased 2 chrome finished cabinet handles from Lee Valley as well as 2 cams. The latch stop was crafted from a piece of aluminum. One of the interior handles was an old glass door knob; the other from a broken storm door. With the old plastic latch removed, I filled the 4"x4" hole with ¾ plywood, and then surfaced each side of the door with a slightly larger 4.5” square piece of aluminum sheet metal and attached them using SS screws.
The I drilled some new holes, assembled the latch and adjusted the fit by bending the latch stop just a wee bit. Total cost $26. Not too bad. And both of them lock and look good. I gave the inside of the doors 2 coats of marine varnish before doing any work on the doors.
Step 2: Interior Door Trim and Cushioning
Interior door trim and cushioning
Decided to add curtains and pad the interior of the doors. Gives it a dark, yet warm, den look to the inside of the camper. The curtain frame was built from ½ X 3” poplar, cut on the band saw and painted chocolate brown. I took the curtain off to show the detail. The padded portion is faux leather with ½” foam and lots of brass upholstery tacks. Hint: Be sure to pre-drill the holes for the tacks, as brass will sometimes bend when hammering directly into hard plywood. Total cost $14.
Step 3: Interior Sidewall Map Collage
Interior sidewall map collage and Magazine rack
Continuing with the dark den look, I purchased 4 sheets of old world map theme paper (8.5 X 11) from a local craft store on sale for 33 cents each. As you can see the maps were cut to fit the wall in a collage fashion, glued and then top-coated with one coat of spar varnish. Total cost $1.33 not including the varnish.
The magazine rack (lower left of second picture) was made from ¼ inch hobby oak. Cut on the band saw, applied 2 coats of polyurethane and then secured to the wall with 2 screws. Also serves to store my flash light.
Step 4: Rear Wall Collage With Steampunked Receptacle Cover
Rear wall collage with Steampunked receptacle cover
I decided to add a steampunked theme collage to the back wall by grabbing six images from a google search. I do not have a colour printer and so I printed the images in black and white but on yellow paper. After the collage was complete, the varnish coating turned the yellow parts of the background a golden brown. I experimented with this and decided I liked the old vintage photo look. The receptacle cover is the steampunked plate I made earlier. Here is the instructable for the plate.
Step 5: Tongue Battery and Storage Box
Tongue battery and storage box
The basic box was built last summer from 3/8" plywood for the front, lid and back panels. The base was cut from a used piece of 1/2" ply. The sides were 3/8" cedar veneer ply. As you can see, the top and front face were covered with aluminum sheeting (from a piece of fascia flatstock). During the winter I trimmed it out by adding oak strips over the aluminum sheeting, copper corner brackets and a few decorative brackets for the front face. They were cut on the bandsaw. The replicate license plate was from a local flea market. The lid is currently secured using a bungee cord.
Step 6: Teardrop Brake Lights From Wine Goblets
Teardrop brake lights
The new brake lights I added utilized the existing brake lights but with brighter LED bulbs, 2 silver plated wine goblets and 2 brass acorn nuts. The basic light housing was painted copper with a coat of spray lacquer. A hole was drilled in the center back of the housing so that a 3” long bolt could be inserted. I cut the stems off the goblets and drilled a second hole in the center bottom goblet to accept the bolt that protruded through. The mating surfaces were siliconed and then attached using the bolt and a decorative brass nut. I applied Loctite to the end of the bolt to give it a secure attachment. So far everything is holding tight and the lights are really bright.
Step 7: Custom Copper "Eyebrow" Drip Edge
Custom Copper Eyebrow Drip Edge
Liking the look of custom drip edge, I chose to make my own out of two pieces of 3" by 24" sheet copper. I do not have a brake and so I decided to try forming the 2 required bends using a bench vice, a short length of 3/4" dowel and a small soft headed mallet. Go slowly, lots of small taps and the soft malleable copper will yield to your design. Approximately $20 including stainless pan headed screws.
Step 8: Trolley Top With Faux Portholes
Trolley top with faux portholes
The trolley top was built last year but I decided it needed a Jules Verne ( Nautilus ship) look. Hence the faux portholes. I was quite pleased with how this turned out using glass lids from dollar store mason jars and 2 brass toilet flanges on the clear-out table at a local building centre. The most difficult part was cutting the holes to accept the glass which were then held in place using generous applications of clear caulking.
The brass toilet drain flanges just happened to compliment the size and proportions I was looking for. Later I realized the chrome ring that goes around the heating element on an electric stove would probably work just as well. Each of the brass flanges are secured using 3 #10 brass flat headed screws. The fourth flange hole has a brass painted wooden door knob attached from the backside.
Total cost for the port hole addition approximately $20.
Step 9: Changes to Galley
The galley has had the wannigan (chuckbox) added which holds cooking related items and also serves as a picnic box. The link for constructing the wannigan is here . A few other steampunk inspired items include the lantern and decorating the cabinet doors. I added a cotter pin to the hatch supports to safely secure it in place.