Each step is one day.

Please visit my website: http://www.teardropdiy.com.

First of all, my day job is software programmer. This is my first build. I have basic knowledge of wood working and I have some tools. The build is going to take a while (a month? two?). I only have time to work on it from 8PM until I go to sleep (about 3 hours) and in weekends when we have nothing else planed.

My plan is to keep the price under $1500 $2000. You can buy already made teardrops for $4000-$11000.

My Hyundai Sonata can pull a trailer of 1000lb max. My plan is to make the teardrop be under 700lb with all the equipment inside.

The only size of plywood that I can bring home is 4'x8', so everything that's made of plywood should fit in that size.

Here is how the side wall of the trailer should look like.

A list of parts with links from where I got them:

  • Trailer. I'm going to use the 4x8 Super Duty Utility Trailer from Harbor Freight Tools to built the teardrop on. On the time of creation of the website, the trailer was on sale for $350. I got in mail a %20 off coupon and that made the price $280. Note: If 4' wide is not wide enough for you, you can use this trailer . It's a little more expensive, but 1 foot wider.
  • Doors. You can build your own door. I won't. I'm afraid that I'm not going to be able to make it water tight, so I'm going to use already-built doors. I was lucky enough to find two brand new doors for $230 both, from someone who builds teardrop as a business. Here is his business website, he sells anything you need for a teardrop, including kits and custom made teardrops ( http://www.dnmteardroptrailers.com/ ). Note: You can use only one door on one side, and a window on the other side. I got two doors because they were cheap and I won't have to step over my wife if I have to pee at night. You also can get them from eBay .
  • Vent. I need a vent to put on the top of the trailer. I need one that's able to move lots of air (the door windows won't open on my doors). From my research the best vent is " Fan-Tastic Fan ". I already ordered one from eBay for $120.
  • Hatch hindge. For the big door that lifts open at the back of the trailer. This should be water proof. I'm using a " Hurricane Hinge ". Already ordered from eBay for $71. You also can get it from here .
  • Porch Lights. I need two porch lights to install above the doors. Ordered 3 from eBay for $63. 12V LED.
  • Dome Light. I also need some dome light for the inside the teardrop. Already ordered from eBay for $17.99. 12V LED.
  • Water pump. The best pump I found is the 12V Whale GP1352 submersible water pump. You can buy it from eBay for as low as $25.
  • Hatch handles. Got those from eBay .
  • Aluminum. I called around all the sheet metal places that I found in my area until I got the best price. I got mine from http://www.ircalum.com , they are from Portland Oregon.
  • Aluminum Molding. Go here and click "Online parts catalog" then go to "Moldings"
  • Sink/Stove combo. Got it from here .

Tools I use:

  • Box cutter
  • Pencil
  • Framing square
  • Wrenches. Big ones. You'll need for the trailer 16mm, 17mm, 18mm wrenches (I suppose this depends on what brand of trailer you are using)
  • Wireless drill
  • Jigsaw
  • Chop saw
  • Table saw
  • Sander
  • Belt sander

Cost so far:

Vent (Fan-tastic Fan)$120
Hatch hinge (5' hurricane hinge)$71
12V LED Porch lights (3 pcs)$63
12V LED Dome light (1 pcs)$18
Black spray paint (2 bottles)$12
1/2"x4'x8' Birch plywood x 3pcs (one for the floor and 2 for the side walls)$120
5mm Utility plywood 4'x8' x 2pcs (for side walls interior)$23
2x4x96 x 8pcs (for the frame, not sure if I'll use all 8 of them)$22
Exterior screws (1box)$8
Henry Asphalt Emulsion (1 gallon)$12
Bolts & washers & lock washers & nuts to bolt the floor frame to the trailer (3/8" x 3" 20pcs)$26
Bolts & washers & nuts for spare wheel (1/2" x 6" 2 pcs)$6
Hard foam insulation 1/2" 4'/8' (one sheet)$10
Hard foam insulation 3/4" 4'x8' (3 sheets)$30
Sink-Stove combo$187
12V Cigarette lighter socket (2 pieces)$16
Automotive Fuse Holder Box Holds 6 Blade Fuses$14
Electric Facet & Pump System$50
1/8" birch plywood (3 pieces)$70
Wood stain$12
Aluminum sheets 4x8 (1 pcs) 4x12 (2 pcs)$170
Aluminum molding, plastic insert for molding, External Drip Cap$160
1 Gallon Contact Cement$10

Step 1: Day 1 - February 8th 2012

Feel free to click on the pictures to see them in full size for more details.

The trailer box opened.  Looks small. 

Lots of screws and parts. 


Here are the doors I bought. Is two of them in that box, shiny and new.


Hmm.  All the trailer parts look the same.


The trailer starting to get shape . 


I had to go buy some more wranches, mine are too small. Enough for tonight. 



I woke up in the morning with muscle pain everywhere. I discovered some muscle that I didn't know I had. Crawling on the floor trying to put a trailer together is not easy :-)

I'll have to paint the trailer frame black. Red with aluminum gray won't go nice.


<p>Great job! So inspiring!</p>
<p>Im so gonna make one of these!!!! December 2016 </p><p>Ill post once its done XD </p>
<p>It's a lot of fun making it. Make sure to post pictures for us to see ;-)</p>
<p>Great instructable... maybe one day...</p>
Thanks for posting your instructable and answering all the questions I had. I took your initial plan and went a little overboard but I am truly happy with the results. The only suggestion I would make to anyone would be to replace the axle with a beefier one and just buy the doors. Doors were a pain to build and really hard to make them not leak. Our first trip was 2400 miles and we had an awesome time. I am also going to post an instructable of my build since it was a little different from yours but I will give credit where credit is due. I would have never built this without your detailed instructable.
<p>I found your instructable around May or June of 2014 (along with a couple of other how to's) and used this instructable to convince my fiance (now wife) that we could build this and use it for our honeymoon! Thank you so much for posting this, this was definitely the most comprehensive build guide that we used for our trailer, and I don't think I would've gotten the green light to build it without this instructable! Thanks again!</p>
<p>It looks great! Congratulations!</p>
<p>Your Instructable/blog was what got me hooked - this is our Escape Pod!</p>
<p>Very nice! Congratulations!</p>
What a great job building this trailer. <br>You did an even better job of documenting and presenting this build. <br>People would do well to learn from your work. <br>I have just 3 suggestion for you: <br>1 - a solar panel to help keep your battery charged. <br>2 - I would recommend some struts for your hatch <br> (the kind that minivans use for their hatches). <br> This way you don't have too lift the hatch up. <br>3 - I would have started the aluminum lower to cover the trailer. <br> It would just look nicer and prevent water from the sides getting <br> between the floor and trailer. <br>Great Job!
Thanks! <br> <br>1 - I have in plan to get a 30 watt monocrystalline solar panel <br>2 - That was my original intention, but I decided to make it this way to have more control on how to do it and how it looks like <br>3 - the aluminum sheets I had were only 4' wide... there was no way to put them lower.
Do you remember what gauge sheet metal you used? i.e, thickness
<p>tonoos</p><p>Hi, I have thought of building a tear drop for years. Not in my ability scope. If was to venture, your work in progress would make it possible. We over here Australia, don't have the same access to the parts that you mention so I am looking for a ready made one. Your $3000, even American, is way off our prices. As you said $4000/$15000 range. Ours are more $10000/$18000. </p><p>Great read and project. </p>
I was also thinking of some sort of axle mount alternator on the trailer that would catch some of the energy while driving to your campsite to charge the deep cycle battery. Love the Solar panel idea very much, might do a suction mount vertical axis wind turbine as well...
You can connect the trailer battery in parallel with the car battery and that way the towing car will charge the both batteries in the same time while you drive. Just pull a wire from the positive from the car battery, put a 30A fuse on it and connect it to the trailer battery. The negative from the trailer battery goes to the ground of the car. This is how the trailer shops are doing it. Just don't forget to disconnect when the car is stopped (else you use the electricity from both batteries). <br> <br>A second option is to use a continuous duty solenoid, this way you don't have to disconnect the two batteries when the car isn't running. <br> <br>I'll make 2 schematics and post them on the last page on how to connect the trailer battery to be charged by the towing car.
<p>What a wonderful thing you have done, and what a wonderful service you are providing your followers like me.</p><p>You may cover my questions in your addition on wiring so I will look at that. I would like the tailer to draw from the car only when the car ignition is on, or in fact only when the motor is running. Will the solinoid you suggest solve this problem? Can I just connect the wire to the cars 12volt plug on the dash, which on my car only works when the key is on?</p>
<p>Love to make this, I can't get all the pictures when I download the PDFs , am I missing something?</p>
<p>An impressive build and workmanship. Your documentation is outstanding. It would be a bit clostrophobic for me; I think I'd like to do a hatch similar to your kitchen space with a nylon/screen adaptation for cooler sleeping. you have inspired me to CONSIDER building my own utility trailer.</p>
<p>Looks like a nice trailer, the type I would like to build. You do nice work and write a very good and well illustrated article. However; it would be very helpful if you would show some pictures of the finished interior, cooking area, etc at the beginning so I could have decided if it suited me without having to scroll through the whole article, which I gave up on and never got to see completed unit. Just a suggestion. Thanks</p>
<p>Very cool and well documented. I am impressed.</p>
<p>Excellent job. You did prove yourself and are now a master homebuilder (except for concrete work).</p>
<p>really great build , starting to be back in vogue here in the Uk </p><p>Just picked up a great second hand teardrop but will use some of you great ideas </p><p>Thanks again </p>
Where did you get the aluminum finis doors? All I can find are painted.
<p>What did you use for the seal on the rear hatch, have you had any issues with leaking from there?</p>
<p>Good information, Nice job! I'm starting mine now and plan to have it complete by May 2017 and hit the road for a year. Sites like yours sure do help us. I am scanning the internet finding good information, materials lists, and videos. My plans are for a reverse teardrop style but extend it to 10 or 11 feet inside (I'm 6'5&quot; tall) I have good DIY skills and am looking forward to the end result. Thanks for doing this for us. Very good looking Tdrop, have fun in yours</p>
<p>Impressive!</p><p>How much did it cost? And how long it took time to build? </p>
<p>Very well done. You have answered lots of my build questions. I have 2 bathrooms to do first (for the wife) then I plan to make a simple light weight one for hauling gear and camping. </p><p>How much does your loaded trailer weigh? </p>
<p>I want it, I want it, I want it, I want it, I want it, I want it</p>
<p>you're amazing! bucket listed</p>
<p>As MarkH48 posted below, I also am not planning on building a teardrop camper (3 kids and wife wouldn't work). However, your approach and story were so compelling that I read the entire article. Congratulations on your build and I hope you have many years of enjoyment with it!</p>
<p>I don't plan on building a tear drop trailer but still couldn't stop reading about your build. Like a good book I wanted to see how it finished. Not only was the documentation good but the final product looks great! Keep up the good work and let us know how the kitchen turns out.</p>
<p>How thick is the aluminum that you used?</p>
<p>Can you provide the make/model of that stove? I'm having difficulty location it. </p>
I don't remember exactly the model, but the brand is SMEV. If you search on google &quot;smev stove&quot; or &quot;smev stove sink&quot; you'll find it.
<p>Can anyone clarify why 4x12 Al are nedded, rather than 4x8's? In Michigan, I am having problem getting 4x12's. ?? Thanks</p><p>Ioan, still interested in a cnc router? Thanks John - I am making one of these for a Prius...weight and wheel bearings have me concerned.</p>
Yeah, still interested in a CNC router.
<p>yet another reply to this. I have been looking at acme lead screws, and they are cheap. Nuts can be made by heating acetal plastic to thread. etc. It's a bit early, but I'm speculating it's possible to make a 4x8 cnc router for &lt;1000$, excluding PC and router body itself. I have been studying eliminating the PC, via manually inputing the derivative of the circle (gives tangent and therefore stepper ratio.) Certainly a lot of savings may be had by creating a 4 foot Y axis lead screw which is manually positioned on a steel frame to do cuts on a 4x8. Just a few thoughts. The 4-8 k$ expense is something I'd like to avoid. A 4 foot cut range makes things much easier, but an 8 foot range certainly possible also. Here in Michigan, I can pick up a 1/2 inch x 3 foot lead screw for about 15$. </p>
<p>Ioan</p><p>Perhaps diy the router? The kits look over-priced. (abt 8k) And if you want say 3 feet travel instead of 8 feet, that's a 8' table machine where you change the 'zero' manually. I bought a nema 34 plus driver board and had no trouble driving it with a Picaxe emitting pulses. I favor lead-screws and these can be diy'ed. Many ways to go, some low cost. </p><p>haiticare2011 aht geemale doht kom. </p>
<p>I sent you email, did you get? I think it was email adr on your website.</p><p>JB</p>
I used 4x8 on one side, 4x12 on the other side (48 inches were left unused). The other 4x12 went on top (front to the kitchen hatch). The 4' left from one side I used for the kitchen hatch which is just 47 inches.
<p>possible to use 4 foot on front, then 8 foot back towards kitchen. then 4 on hatch. Another seam, but the more visible 8 foot is all along the top. </p><p>I am going to just build a shell - no interior finish or insulation or kitchen. </p>
<p>Hi, Great job! Did you screw the walls into the side of the floor or did you sit the walls on top and screw them down to the floor?</p>
The walls are glued and screwed on the side of the floor.
<p>Hello I too live in Oregon, so I am building a teardrop as well and i screwed the walls into the side of the floor as you mentioned, it looks as if when you put the roof plywood on it covers to the outside edge of the plywood walls. could you elaborate on how you did this since the distance between the walls was 4ft...the floor was 4x8..attached 1/2 in to the side..you gain an inch over space..</p>
<p>I'll jump in on this one. I'm guessing Ioan &quot;leaned in&quot; the walls to get the fit to 4 feet. I calculated the angle he got - sin X abt = x for small angles. A 1/2 inch difference/ 48 abt = .01 angle or .01 x 360 = 3.6 degrees 'lean.'</p><p>OTOH, it's easy to just make the bottom frame 1 inch narrower, extra work.</p>
<p>Here is a concern I have about the bearings from Harbor Freight. Some have reported failures. BUT I know that Chinese bearings are often shipped dry, because they don't want the grease leaking out during transit. So you MUST re-pack the bearings in grease (clean before in kerosene or solvent.) I am generally paranoid about the bearings, tho, on a 2000 mile trip, say. </p>
This is a wonderfully put together post! My husband and I plan to do something similar someday. Did you find the wheels on the trailer to be sufficient for extended travel? Also, with it all said and done, is there anything you would have changed? The aluminum skin you used it beautiful but seems like it might be quite difficult to install, is there anything in your research you found that would work instead? Thanks for any input!
If it was to build it again, I would use a 5' wide trailer (from http://www.northerntool.com/). The installing of the aluminium it's not as difficult as it looks, you just glue it to the walls and then cut it at the edges with a router :-)

About This Instructable




More by e1ioan:Grape Arbor Rubberband Handgun Teardrop Trailer 
Add instructable to: