Introduction: Teardrop Trailer Aluminum

Picture of Teardrop Trailer Aluminum

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

Picture of  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

Picture of  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

Picture of  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

Picture of 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

Picture of 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

Picture of 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

Picture of 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

Picture of 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

Picture of 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

Picture of 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

Picture of 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

Step 12:


scooters2 (author)2017-11-15

very cool. Did you order the metal to size or is it off the shelve? I could only find it 4 foot wide needed 4ft. 3 in. Maybe on the next one.

kristin.howard.169 (author)2016-12-27

Now this is my idea of glamping! I wonder if I could make one light enough to tow behind my Yamaha Majesty Scooter (400cc). Great photo diary, you got my vote. I don't fish but I'll raise a cold one to you!

mihes (author)kristin.howard.1692017-11-14

Dear Kristin,

Almost a year old--your post about pulling a teardrop trailer with your 400 CC scooter. That might be a possibility you build it very light. And don't attempt to pull it up any meaningful incline. You can test the engine power by giving a ride to any overweight friends--you'll be surprised at how "gutless" 400 CC is!

Also, because no matter how lightly you build it, it will weigh much more than you and your scooter together, be sure to build it with a "surge" braking system built into the trailer tongue. This will automatically apply brakes to the trailer wheels to prevent the heavier trailer from pushing your scooter when you need to stop!

As Frostbite said 400cc may not be enough to pull a small Teardrop. I could have lightened up my Teardrop by using lighter materials. Using 1X2 framing and thinner plywoods. I would even go to an aluminum trailer to lighten the load for a motorcycle.

I don't know about towing one with a 400cc scooter, but years ago I built a teardrop I towed behind my Harley Davidson Electra Glide and loved it. You just have to be sure you get a full motion hitch for a motorcycle.

Fishbum Frank (author)2017-11-13

Hi Naturrsvr
I now have over 10000 miles on her. I do not have CAD files for the biuld but do have drawings. I can post them here or send them to you. Whats your pleasure?
I will need a couple of days to find them, as I'm busy working on a music and lighting computer show for my wife. (tough boss) LOL

naturesvr (author)2017-11-13

Hi Frank, well done and with 4000 miles on her well built. Do you have CAD or pdf layout files available for this young lady to build one too?

garg11 (author)2017-11-13

is it well protected against bears?

Fishbum Frank (author)garg112017-11-13

I have not had any break-in. I've seen bears rip doors off of cars to get inside. A few well place rounds through the door usually deters anything.

While in West Yellowstone many years ago, they had 1/4 inch steel plate garbage receptacles that weighted 800 pounds. This is not 1/4 steel plate.

camping world (author)2017-05-24

How much did it cost to make?

All in with used trailer, building supplies and scrounging. $2800.

I could have done it cheaper with a light duty trailer and cheaped out on the insulation and other building products. I built it to take on the elements, rough conditions, and customized for me.

I had a Queen sized mattress, I have since put a Full sized in for more inside storage space.

All in with used trailer, building supplies and scrounging. $2800.

I could have done it cheaper with a light duty trailer and cheaping out on the insulation and other building products. I built it to take on the elements, rough conditions, and customized for me.

All in with used trailer, building supplies and scrounging. $2800.

I could have done it cheaper with a light duty trailer and cheaping out on the insulation and other building products. I built it to take on the elements, rough conditions, and customized for me.

treymartin82 (author)2017-09-17

I'm curious about the total cost and what size mattress that you have in there?

dimensions (author)2017-05-23

Thanks for posting this build. You build inspires me to build my own. I think I can handle every area but the aluminum installation, looks really tricky. Are your wired for exterior power and battery power?

Fishbum Frank (author)dimensions2017-05-23

I am not a metal worker and have no experience with large metal installation. I learned a lot about it and I can tell you work from the center out.

The TT is wired for 120 AC and 12 DC. I just arrived home from a 5 day camping trip where I used the radio and charged my phone, with no outside hookup. Also used FAN-tastic sparingly. Volts were 13.3 when I left and 12.1 after I got home. If I can hookup to 120 AC I can use the TV and the now Media Server that I installed.

radnoc (author)2017-05-19

hi mr frank, where did buy the aluminun sheeting that you use?

Fishbum Frank (author)radnoc2017-05-22

All the aluminum I purchased at a tractor trailer repair shop. It is the roofing for the trailer

laurendaisyprops (author)2017-04-10

Have you ever found problems with leaks? What did you do on the seams to ensure waterproofing?

No I have not found any leaks. I used Butyl / putty tape and Sikiflex. All exterior hardware is stainless steel, so it wont rust. I have about 4000 miles on it now and I'll keep watch.

Airman1 (author)2017-03-11

I'll vote !

Fishbum Frank (author)Airman12017-03-12

I appreciate it but its over. Thanks

Airman1 (author)Fishbum Frank2017-03-20


Ag800Hans (author)2016-12-30

Thank you for sharing, it looks great, & im sure it functions just as great as it looks. A couple questions - where did u get the B/C exterior plywood? Is that sold at the big box stores? Also, i imagine/am guessing that you like some privacy in there, as well as shielding view of inside from ripoffs, so what did you do for privacy for your windows? And how much did all this cost? One last thing - if you were/are to do it over again, what would you change, as well as what would you definitely do the same/recommend/worked very well for you? What's your favorite part/s, as well as least favorite? Sorry if im asking questions that you may have already addressed, whether in the 'ible or questions/comments below. Whatever contest this is entered in, i think im gonna vote for you, prolly definitely! Thanks again, & keep up the great work, & keep sharing it, too!

Fishbum Frank (author)Ag800Hans2016-12-30

Thank you for the compliment. The B/C plywood can be found at any big box store. I have a local lumber yard that I have been doing business with for 40 years and find the quality just a bit better than the big box stores.

The privacy issue was solved by my wife by hanging a shock cord over the doors and installing curtains, they can be pulled to one side.

All in with used trailer, building supplies and scrounging. $2800.

I could have done it cheaper with a light duty trailer and cheaping out on the insulation and other building products. I built it to take on the elements, rough conditions, and customized for me.

If i were the change anything I would build my next one a little larger that I could sit inside on a rainy day and tie fly for fishing.

One of my favorite things is what I'm doing right now. I'm am installing a RASPBERRY PI with 128G thumb drive loaded with movies. This will be a media server to stream movies to the TV on rainy day days that I feel lazy. I looking at mounting a fold up monitor to the galley hatch so it will be view-able by many and have a movie night at camp.

Thanks again Frank

scott oconnell (author)2016-12-27

stellar from inception to completion..i am surprised i do not see offer's to buy it..since it is real heavy duty you can add some batteries somewhere under the trailer and some solar pack even more of a punch..and also will deflect even more sun off the alum.... peace to the gods...

Funny you say that. I have been contacted to build some Teardrops for others and still weighing the time investment. I did consider the solar option, but could not find suitable output from the panels I check out. If I could charge the battery that I have on board, that would be a plus.

Thanks for the compliments.

WayneH36 (author)2016-12-27

Very nicely done, indeed!

Fishbum Frank (author)WayneH362016-12-27

Thank you sir.

jimmcneil2 made it! (author)2016-12-27

vary nice work, I built mine in 2014 and have slept in for a total of 3 months + in temperature's ranging from high 90's in the middle of summer in Alabama to the low 30's in rest areas in Pennsylvania in the middle of winter with snow on the ground and never had a bad nights sleep plus you must have found out by now that the aluminum reflects the sunlight and the inside never get to hot and keeps the interior comfortable on the hottest days, an electric blanket running off the 1000W inverter makes cozy in the cold, here are a couple of pics on a test drive at 90% complete

Fishbum Frank (author)jimmcneil22016-12-27

You are so right. As I get older I like a little more comfort in my life and getting off the ground was just right. The aluminum is very reflective and this Teardrop stays cooler then others that are sheathed with other materials. The MAXX vent is the best also, nice and cool inside.The electric blanket is a good idea, I do enjoy my sleeping bag. I enjoy it being cooler.

I like your design and the extended galley door. I see you added an exterior light as I did. It's a great feature that keeps you from wondering around in the dark.LOL

r5473c (author)2016-12-23

You absolutely rock. I haven't finished checking out all the entries for the contest, but of the ones I've checked out up to this point, hands down, no one else comes near you for initiative, quality, hard work, and impressive results. Great, great job. You deserve to be super proud of a job well done. I love your Tear Drop Sleeper Camper/Trailer.

Fishbum Frank (author)r5473c2016-12-23

Thank you so much for the compliments.

Percebegallego (author)2016-12-04


Thank you.

David the R (author)2016-11-18

NIce job. Using a heavy duty trailer is a good idea.

Clean, simple, useful, well done.

Thank you. Had to go with the heavy duty trailer. some of the off road places I fish are to rugged for a light duty

Plus, if you catch a really big fish……..

And sometimes it's the skunk.

ARJL (author)2016-11-21

Beautiful work and workmanship. Very clean design. Looks like you put a lot of thought into where things go and make use of all the available space. I was wondering how cold it can get outside and still be comfortable since the insulation is 1/2". Can you do winter camping with this? Did you use insulation under the flooring as well?

Fishbum Frank (author)ARJL2016-11-21

Thank you. Since the teardrop will be exposed to the elements I used all rigid insulation. The floor is 1 1/2"= R7.5 and 3/4" plywood and vinyl flooring plus 4" foam mattress. The walls are Aluminum exterior-5/8 plywood-3/4 "=R2.89- 1/4 birch on the inside. The FrontRoofRear is a combination of 1 1/2" and 1"=R5.0 thicker on flat areas and thinner or shaved down where I had to go around corners. I made a hot wire cutter to do this, much easier than trying to cut with a saw. The high reflective properties of the aluminum and the insulation help keep it cool during the summer also.

Yes. I do winter camping and have a small ceramic heater inside the Teardrop that I keep on low when I'm hooked up to electric. The inside of the Teardrop is just over 132 cubic feet, I actually leave the window and vent cracked open to help vent the moisture. I do have a good North Face sleeping bag that I will be replacing in the spring when the sales of winter stuff happens.

Hope this answers your questions


ARJL (author)Fishbum Frank2016-11-22

Thanks. That gives me a pretty good picture of the interior environment. Happy camping!

Paulo B.M (author)2016-11-21

Thank you for sharing!

DavidL138 (author)2016-11-21

I am working on a very similar. It will be 48" wide and 7' long. It will only be a sleeper. The rear will be a hatch-back type opening with a canvas or nylon screen to enclose it. I like what you did here.

Fishbum Frank (author)DavidL1382016-11-21

DavidL138 Thank you. I am always interested in other builds please post your pics. With canvas and or nylon watch for moisture build-up in the galley area from water penetration.

DavidL138 (author)Fishbum Frank2016-11-21

Mine will not have any side door. Only way in will be through the hatchback. I will add two side windows and the cloth will also be screened. I'll take photos and post here.

dannew (author)2016-11-20

Great job, Frank!

I have a question about two of the curves. In Figure 5, on the right side, you have what looks to be a supporting beam on edge, and it's curved to fit the side. How did you do that?

And how did you bend the plywood sheathing? Is it wiggle wood?

Fishbum Frank made it! (author)dannew2016-11-21

This might help visualize the curved piece.

Fishbum Frank (author)dannew2016-11-20

Thank you. Once I started I realized that there would be parts that I would have to make many times. So I made patterns out of 1/4" MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard). I would clamp or screw the pattern to the plywood, rough it out with a jigsaw and finished up with a flush trim bit in my router. Perfect every time. I could then screw and glue different thicknesses of the plywood to get the thickness of the laminated beam that I needed. I lastly contact glue a piece of white formica and trimed it off with the router.Than screwed to the outer walls. This part needed to be thick to tighten up the hatch opening and because the long screws that hold the hatch supports are under a lot of pressure.

My first attempt at heating and steaming the plywood met in miserable failure. Yes this is wiggle wood, wacky wood, or whatever they call flexible plywood in your part of the world. This stuff is great so easy to work wit, I wanted to use 1/4" but used 3/8" because a availability. There is a flat section in the front of the camper that I was able to use regular plywood. Flexible plywood is expensive about $40 a sheet, I used 4 sheets.

dannew (author)Fishbum Frank2016-11-20

Great tips - thank you!

About This Instructable




Bio: Hi I'm a retired Firefighter from New York. My hobbies are Fly-fishing,kayak fishing,camping and building things. Now a days I hang out ... More »
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