Introduction: Recycled Teardrop Trailer
I was obsessed with Teardrops and looked at pages of them all the time. Finally, I decided I wanted to build one myself. My father had just retired and was intrigued by the idea, so he offered to help. Together, we went through the following process of building my teardrop.
Step 1: Choosing a Trailer
Step 1 in our case was finding a trailer. Since I didn’t have a lot of cash and wanted to do this build as cheaply as possible, I bought an old, run-down tent trailer with good bones for $50 and tore it down to the flatbed. Everything on the trailer that could be recycled or used in the new trailer, we saved or recycled.
Step 2: Flooring
We lay vinyl flooring that looked like hardwood over the plain plywood and trimmed off the excess. We then wiped everything down for the next step. Here it is in the shade of our back yard.
Step 3: Cutting the Walls
Dad stacked two sheets of 4’ x 8’ plywood ¾” thick on top of each other and screwed them together in a couple of places so they would not moved while we did the cuts. I used a pencil and drew out the shape of the teardrop and Dad cut it out with a saber saw. He did the same with a thinner board and cut about an inch from the bottom and screwed each piece to the inside of the sides He did the same with a 4’ by 3’ piece for the front. You can see one of the sides in the picture above.
Step 4: Putting the Walls Up
With the extra inch overlapping the bottom, we screwed the walls to the base then to each other as in the pictures below.
Step 5: Framing
Once we had the main walls set up, we had to do something to make sure they STAYED up right. For this, we made a frame of 1x4s and 1x2s cut to the width of the back. We also added several 1x4s to frame the roof.
Step 6: Siding
Our siding is a special paneling they often use as back splashes or shower enclosures. If I were to build another teardrop, I would not use that because it cracked and does not stick well. That is what we applied next.
Step 7: Roof
The most expensive part of our materials was the tin we got to use for the roof as we wanted something that definitely wouldn’t leak. We got it from a tin shop that specializes in making metal ductwork. They spliced two sheets together to make it big enough. We made marks on both sides so we would know where each of the 1x4s were and screwed it down. The hardest part was the curve at the front of the teardrop.
Step 8: Trim
Before we could make a door for the back, we needed to make sure the trailer was water tight, so we used some of the trim from the tent trailer to do the roof edges. There is a special putty tape that they use under the trim and it is available at most RV supply stores. We used it under the corner trim, but also under the trim we put on the front to frame out the pieced together front wall.
Step 9: Doors
Now we were ready to do the doors. For the side door, he used an old storm door from our home that had been replaced. The wind had damaged it, but we were able to use some of it to frame out the door and the door frame. First, however, we had to measure my backside. That way, we would know how wide to build the door so I could sit comfortably in it. Once we had that measurement, dad carefully cut out the door. He trimmed about an inch or so from each side and put the storm door hardware on it and in the door frame. He used the latch from the tent trailer for the door latch. It even locks since he had a key made for it.
For the back door, he cut a piece of plywood to a size slightly smaller than the size of the door. Another scrap from the tent trailer was cut to size and covered the door, folding it over. We drilled a hole in the middle and installed a standard trailer latch. We used a piano hinge to attach the frame, but not before we installed lights to not only the door, but other areas of the trailer where it would be needed. To seal the door from water that might try to push its way in, we use standard weather strip around the edges.
Step 10: Window
What my teardrop needed next was a window opposite the door, so we measured the perimeter of a used trailer window dad got somewhere and drew it in on the side before cutting it out. It was easily installed and made waterproof with the mentioned putty tape. We also installed fenders over the wheels/tires. With that, the outside of the trailer was basically finished.
Step 11: Inside
Inside, we made sure all the wiring from the lights was tucked into the framing and used paneling to cover the inside of the ceiling. We marked each 1x4 with a pencil on the walls to tell us where each was then used screws to attach it. Once we got that done, we cut a hole for the vent and installed it.
Step 12: Finishing
For this step, actions can vary. You can decorate the trailer inside and out with paint, decorations or whatever you like. Me, I added a clip to hold the door open if I wanted and a folding plant hook so I would have a place to hang a lantern or light. We also installed a new bumper since the original one had been damaged. Inside, I hung curtains in the window and a screen over the door. A shelf was installed for storage. I also used my old full-sized mattress and an RV cushion to sleep on.