Introduction: How to Steampunk a Tiny Teardrop Camper

About: Life 2.95 achieved! Former teacher and college instructor currently enjoying my workshop, outdoor cooking, traveling and camping, woodworking, rebuilding small vintage campers, steampunk crafts and mods, and f…

How to Steampunk a Tiny Camper?

This Instructable includes an introduction, suggested materials list, a few instructions and suggestions and pictures of my steampunked trailer project. Since my re-purposed materials will likely be different than what others may have available, the instructable serves more as an inspiration than as a step by step description.

Part 2 of this project can be found here.


Why would anyone want to Steampunk a Tiny Camper?

Modified small campers, teardrop trailers and restored vintage ‘canned hams’ are, in some ways, an artistic self-expression of the owner or builder …. counter to established camping norms. Outdoor enthusiasts who prefer a wheeled off ground camping experience may gravitate to a simpler and less ostentatious camping experience that a tiny camper offers. In some ways steampunking compliments a simpler technology, a technology that is not hidden beneath an array of microprocessors and luxury gadgets that demean the outdoor experience.

Steampunk is perhaps best described as a type of science fiction that integrates advanced steam-powered technology of the 19th century into present day and blends it with design and fashion that draws on an industrial aesthetic. Utilizing pipe, valves and gears … and building with copper, brass, glass and leather … completes the steampunk design.

And besides all of that, it is highly creative and a whole lot of fun collecting and incorporating all these bits and pieces into the design..

Here is an example of how I incorporated a steampunk theme into my tiny teardrop trailer.

Step 1: The Teardrop As I Received It

I started with a rescued and partially built teardrop trailer that was in serious need of repairing a bit of floor and a lot of hatch rot. The ceiling leaked and needed rebuilding. Weatherstripping was replaced and added, the wiring was redone and the kitchen galley was rebuilt. Next, after cleaning the aluminum skin, I decided to paint the fenders and wheel caps. Although I liked the effect I decided several weeks ago to add a steampunk theme to the trailer. If you are interested, here is how you can do something similar.

Step 2: Materials and Tool List

Suggested Materials List

  • Copper pipe ( ½ and ¾ inch copper pipe) – used is cheap or free, new is easy
  • A variety of copper fittings
  • Copper offsets and or pipe straps
  • Copper or brass taps, faucets, drain pipes, towel brackets
  • Copper or brass items (frames, barometers, gears, hinges, handles, clock parts etc … ( source out the local Restore or flea market)
  • Gloss copper paint or copper lacquer
  • Clear (gloss) lacquer spray
  • Stainless steel screws or other fasteners
  • Caulking specifically for aluminum flashing


  • Copper soldering equipment
  • A selection of wrenches, screw drivers, a drill and drill bits

Optional Tools

  • Table Saw
  • Drill Press
  • Riveting tool

Step 3: Collect and Prep Materials

Begin by gathering an assortment of parts, bits and pieces that you may or may not use as you design and build a steampunk theme. I wanted to include a couple of steampunk elements on each side of the teardrop as well as the front and galley end. Pieces of used copper pipe, fittings, taps and copper offsets will be useful in creating an industrial 'plumbed' look.

Copper pieces can be cleaned by immersing them in a solution of water, vinegar and salt and letting them sit for 10 minutes. This should remove most of the oxidation. Assembling the copper will require cutting the pipe, prepping each of the connections and the fittings and then soldering. If you have not soldered before here is a link with simple clear instructions.

To attach the copper pieces I used copper standoffs (offsets) from Lowes. Copper pipe and steel fasteners should never come in contact with bare aluminum and so I used copper fasteners, stainless steel or separated the dissimilar materials with a wood backer. This will minimize galvanic reaction with the aluminum skin on the trailer.

Step 4: Assemble, Paint and Attach

Here you can see a few of the pieces I built and incorporated into the steampunk theme.

Step 5: Be Creative

This is the fun part. Now that the exterior is nearly complete, it is time to go camping.


Checkout part 2 of the steampunked makeover at

Recently this camper was sold to an enthusiast from the East Coast. Since then I have acquired a commercial brand of teardrop camper. As you might guess, I have begun a number of modifications that make the new camper (a 2017 LittleGuy) fun and practical while camping. Check out the mods to the new S.S. Tearjerker here.