Introduction: Teardrop Trailer Aluminum
Second Prize in the
Brave the Elements 2016
I have built a Teardrop trailer and will post the steps that I took to construct this camper. These units are easy to build and economical to tow and operate. No matter where I go there is always a camp ground around near where I want to be.
Step 1: the Trailer
I needed some room for storage so I built this teardrop on a trailer that was designed for hauling All Terrain Vehicles(ATV). The trailer weighs in at 1400 Lbs (finished) but can handle tough roads and bad conditions. The Trailer is 6 ft wide (7.3 at the fenders) and 15 ft tongue to tail. The sleeping area is over 7Ft long, kinda important since I'm 6ft 3 in tall.
Step 2: Preparation
Preparation is the most important thing that could be done. Once you mount the teardrop and cover everything it is what it is. If it is rusted it will get worse, if your lighting wires are frayed they will fail. So PREPARE! I ground down any rust and primed and repainted the problem areas. Found wiring that was substandard and replaced. Lastly I covered bottom of trailer with a breathable vinyl product to keep the water out and mounted 4 job boxes to the front of the trailer.
Step 3: the Floor
Measured and matched the framing of the trailer. I then covered the frame with 3 coats of roofing tar. The real sticky, nasty, smelly stuff. The frame was fastened down with trailer deck screws. If you look around you can find them at Home Depot or Tractor Supply; The floor is 3/4 Inch B-C exterior plywood that was butted together and sanded, to make one large surface. All edges were sealed with polyurethane and covered with tar. I covered the plywood with a piece of remnant Congoleum and trimed the edges.
Step 4: The Walls
The side walls are made of 5/8" exterior plywood spaced with 3/4" slats. In between the slats there is ridged foiled insulation. The inside of the walls are 1/4" interior Birch sanded. After fashioning a guide 3/8" smaller then the door opening, I used a router trim bit to cut the holes on both sides. I drilled a hole on the exterior next to the doors for exterior lights and 4 holes for LED running lights. All the wood was plasticized with a 3 to 1 mixture of thinner and polyurethane , 3 coats. after the sides were complete I ran the router around the cut edges to square it all up.
Step 5: Framing and Sheathing
The framing is made out of 2x4s and 2x2s ripped from the 2x4s. I used a Kreg Jig to prepare the 2x4s and mounted the around the walls. I drilled 1/2" holes to run the wires that I ran as I built the frame work. After the framing was up I installed ridged 11/2" and sheathed it with 3/8" plywood and cut out the galley hatch hole and the vent fan hole.
Step 6: Aluminum
Out of all the steps this was probably the most difficult, I am not a metal worker and have never handled large pieces of metal. Again the T&TTT website was invaluable in the advice I received. I started by getting my buddy Jim over to assist with the cutting and mounting. We cut the aluminum into pieces that were just larger then what we needed and applied contact cement to it and the plywood. We aligned the sides and trimmed off the excess with a trim bit on the router. The top was done the same but we had to use straps and 2x4s to hold it down. The holes for the doors, galley, and the vent fan were cut again with the trim bit. All edges of the metal were then stapled with 1"staples, very close to the edges so the corner trim would cover them. I must say we did a fine job and learned much along the way about metal working.
Step 7: Interior
Finished the wires for all the lighting. I covered the inside with luan ply and mounted the doors. I built a bracket for the galley shelf, rear bulkhead and the cabinet frame. The shelf protrudes into the camper and is trimmed with larger angle L trim to form and shelf on the inside.
Tested the vent fan, exterior lighting, exterior switches, ceiling lighting, Smoke/CO alarm and reading light. The ceiling lights have 2 switches and I placed whites lights on one side and red lights on the other, so when I step out in the dark my night vision is not disrupted by bright lights. The cabinet doors where made from scrap pieces of wood and luan ply. The handles and TV came from Amazon and trimmed it out with PVC trim because it is very flexible. The vent fan is so powerful on high that it feels like a wind tunnel inside.
Step 8: Galley and Hatch
I was lucky that I saved a hatch door from an old camper and built sides with the same curves and contours of the hatch.1/2" hollow rubber gaskets were used the waterproof the opening. The hatch weights about 35lbs so I mounted 2 hydraulic assist rods and now it lifts effortlessly. I also installed a LED light strip on the back of one of rails.
The Galley and bulkhead carry most of the utilities AC/DC electrical power unit, audio entertainment unit, AC receptacles and the speakers. I installed a AC/DC meter to keep track of my power usage, Two USB plugs and a 12V lighter plug.
Step 9: Finishing Up and Odds and Ends
Found these fish cabinet handles on Amazon and installed them inside. Finished the TV. The edges on the outside did not look good so I cut pieces of diamond plate and trimmed it out with that. Opened the hatch one evening and realized that it was to dark to do any work in as added lighting by installing an LED light strip and switch, Looks great and lots of light.
Step 10: Tweeks After First Road Trip
I thought about storage for plates, cups and silverware. I had not thought about this till I went out on the road. So I added these cubbies and was able to pickup storage space for napkins and propane bottles for the stove.
Step 11: After Thoughts
There are a few things that I may have done differently, but not to much. Perhaps a bit larger next time. I completed the build on July fourth 2016 and many of my friends and family thought I was crazy. They said it would never get used. I have now used this camper for over twenty nights in five states while traveling. By the way take notice of the stylish T-Shirt. LOL
7 People Made This Project!
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Hi,, looking to build a lighter version of your trailer. Just the hull for transporting with my three wheel motorcycle. What’s your pros and cons for this project? By the way I really light your instructions.
I like building so that was enjoyable. The planning and acquiring the parts was a PITA. I would not start to fabricate until I had all parts on site.
What size sheet metal thickness?
The thickness is .041