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Teardrop Trailer Plans : How to Build a Cheap Camper

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Step 3:

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When tackling a project like building a teardrop or ANY camping trailer, you have to plan a bit ahead.  I tend to be a “forge forward, and learn as you do” kind of guy, but that works a HECKUVA lot better in drawing and painting than it does with expensive projects like this.  Besides that, I didn’t want to spend too much on this project.  You can honestly build one of these for around $500 (or less!) if you are savvy and budget-conscious.

The Teardrop Construction Stage

Anyway, after adding the rails on the bed, I tacked the 1/2″ plywood sides up in order to line things up and get them straight for framing the interior and “skinning” it with the 1/4″ luan.  Plus, it makes you feel like you’re making progress.

I’m not going to show every single step in the build (because I honestly didn’t have the presence of mind to take a photo at every little step), but I can tell you that I added  a framing of 1×2 “furring” sticks on the inside of the 1/2″ ply, and stuck 3/4″ thick hard foam insulation pieces in between the furring strips as insulation, and as a structural alternative to a void behind the 1/4″ luan plywood interior walls. I added the furring strips with screws and then I laid the luan up against the furring strips and insulation and attached with pneumatic staples. NOTE: I suggest you glue ANYTHING you’re attaching to something else.

I attached my sides to each other with lengths of 2×2 wooden spars (which also offered attachment points for the roofing material I used). You should add as many as possible to it, and cram the space in between the spars with more insulation.

Making the Roof

The roof of any camping trailer is very important.  It not only insulates you from the sun’s heat and the cold wind, but it also keeps out water. For my roof, I opted to bend several sheets of 1/8″ luan and laminate them to the wooden spars.  Now, I would recommend you spend a bit more and buy either aluminum or fiberglass for the roof.  Laminating, sanding, and painting luan to make it weatherproof can take more time than if you just went and bought the quality stuff.
NOTE: when bending luan, it is important to bend it along the grain of its thickest ply (usually the one in the middle).   If you bend it against that grain, it will probably snap in half or at least give you an ugly crease.

The Galley and Doors

These two areas are a sore spot with me.  I designed my doors fairly traditional, and, if I could do it all over again, I would have ordered actual door units.  Instead, I used the cut out pieces from my original teardrop outline profile, and screwed them together to make a roughly 3/4″ thick door.  I attached them to the trailer with stainless steel piano hinges, and used basic screen door type handles from Home Depot to open and lock it. For the windows, I used a piece of glass with silicone caulking to adhere it.  It makes for a fairly tough door, but I don’t like the rounded top, and I would rather the window could open.

The galley is a basic counter with some cupboards below.  It is all designed to be removed, so someone loading the trailer with camping gear or changing the mattress can access the main compartment with relative ease.  The galley hatch on the back is meant for propping it up and serving as a roof for whomever is cooking or preparing food in the galley. Frankly, this was a pain in the neck, and I think that a galley on a teardrop just takes away from more space inside the camper.  I would not make another one again.  Camping is meant to be done outside, and I think the teardrop serves more as a storage and sleeping cabin than a mobile cooking kitchen. That can be done outside, at a campsite.
 
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Rob O1 year ago
Great 'ible Jason. I strongly agree with you about the doors. The only thing I really dont like about my trailer is the doors. I wish I had used pre-made door units. They are expensive but will seal and behave better than the approach you describe (which is same thing I did).
I also recommend the teardrop trailer build forum here: http://www.tnttt.com/