How to Steampunk a Teardrop Camping Trailer (Part 2)




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...

This instructable follows an earlier build from August 2015 on How to Steampunk a Tiny Teardrop Camper. I will refer to it as Part 1 and it can be found at this link . This is Part 2 and, for the most part, has just been recently completed during May 2016. Like many of my larger projects, that are used for their daily enjoyment, they are first built, then re-built and then subjected to adjustment and continual tinkering.

( This teardrop has been sold )


Currently I am completing a number of modifications to a new teardrop that readers may be interested in seeing. Some of them might work with your camper.



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 (found out it too was rotting) and needed an entire rebuild along with the hatch galley roof. Weatherstripping was replaced and in some places added, the wiring was redone and the kitchen galley was rebuilt. The tongue was reinforced and extended by 18". New rims and new tires. Next, after cleaning the aluminum skin, I decided to paint the fenders and the wheel caps. (see part 1) Although I was now pleased with the structural improvements, I decided last autumn to incorporate a steampunk theme to the trailer.

Part 2 of the Teardrop Project continues with adding an eclectic steampunk element to the camper. As with Part 1, all of the changes and the construction have been completed by myself and are doable by most people comfortable using common tools and following basic wiring instructions for a utility trailer. Conducted throughout the spring of 2016, the changes are largely decorative since the basic trailer structure was completed last year. I have included suggested materials, a few instructions and suggestions, pictures of my modifications to the trailer and an approximate cost. Since my sources for new materials, and for the most part re-purposed materials, will likely be different than what others may have available, this instructable serves more as an inspiration for ideas than as a step by step description.

Each of the steps that follow will focus on a new and specific alteration or decorative change to the camper.

1. Replacing the exterior door latches

2. Interior door trim and cushioning

3. Interior sidewall map collage and Magazine rack

4. Rear wall collage with a Steampunked receptacle cover

5. Tongue battery and Storage box

6. Teardrop brake lights from Wine Goblets

7. Custom Copper Eyebrow Drip Edge

8. A trolley top with faux portholes

9. Galley changes

Some of the steps have very few pictures as I neglected to take them as I was building. Feel free to contact me should you need more clarity.

Step 1: Exterior Door Latches

Exterior door latches

The original black plastic latches that were on the salvaged trailer had to go. One was broken and the other would not lock. Besides plastic and steampunk, do not go together. Vintage trailer latches from the 40’s and 50’s cost an absolute fortune and so I decided to assemble my own. I purchased 2 chrome finished cabinet handles from Lee Valley as well as 2 cams. The latch stop was crafted from a piece of aluminum. One of the interior handles was an old glass door knob; the other from a broken storm door. With the old plastic latch removed, I filled the 4"x4" hole with ¾ plywood, and then surfaced each side of the door with a slightly larger 4.5” square piece of aluminum sheet metal and attached them using SS screws.

The I drilled some new holes, assembled the latch and adjusted the fit by bending the latch stop just a wee bit. Total cost $26. Not too bad. And both of them lock and look good. I gave the inside of the doors 2 coats of marine varnish before doing any work on the doors.

Step 2: Interior Door Trim and Cushioning

Interior door trim and cushioning

Decided to add curtains and pad the interior of the doors. Gives it a dark, yet warm, den look to the inside of the camper. The curtain frame was built from ½ X 3” poplar, cut on the band saw and painted chocolate brown. I took the curtain off to show the detail. The padded portion is faux leather with ½” foam and lots of brass upholstery tacks. Hint: Be sure to pre-drill the holes for the tacks, as brass will sometimes bend when hammering directly into hard plywood. Total cost $14.

Step 3: Interior Sidewall Map Collage

Interior sidewall map collage and Magazine rack

Continuing with the dark den look, I purchased 4 sheets of old world map theme paper (8.5 X 11) from a local craft store on sale for 33 cents each. As you can see the maps were cut to fit the wall in a collage fashion, glued and then top-coated with one coat of spar varnish. Total cost $1.33 not including the varnish.

The magazine rack (lower left of second picture) was made from ¼ inch hobby oak. Cut on the band saw, applied 2 coats of polyurethane and then secured to the wall with 2 screws. Also serves to store my flash light.

Step 4: Rear Wall Collage With Steampunked Receptacle Cover

Rear wall collage with Steampunked receptacle cover

I decided to add a steampunked theme collage to the back wall by grabbing six images from a google search. I do not have a colour printer and so I printed the images in black and white but on yellow paper. After the collage was complete, the varnish coating turned the yellow parts of the background a golden brown. I experimented with this and decided I liked the old vintage photo look. The receptacle cover is the steampunked plate I made earlier. Here is the instructable for the plate.

Step 5: Tongue Battery and Storage Box

Tongue battery and storage box

The basic box was built last summer from 3/8" plywood for the front, lid and back panels. The base was cut from a used piece of 1/2" ply. The sides were 3/8" cedar veneer ply. As you can see, the top and front face were covered with aluminum sheeting (from a piece of fascia flatstock). During the winter I trimmed it out by adding oak strips over the aluminum sheeting, copper corner brackets and a few decorative brackets for the front face. They were cut on the bandsaw. The replicate license plate was from a local flea market. The lid is currently secured using a bungee cord.

Step 6: Teardrop Brake Lights From Wine Goblets

Teardrop brake lights

The new brake lights I added utilized the existing brake lights but with brighter LED bulbs, 2 silver plated wine goblets and 2 brass acorn nuts. The basic light housing was painted copper with a coat of spray lacquer. A hole was drilled in the center back of the housing so that a 3” long bolt could be inserted. I cut the stems off the goblets and drilled a second hole in the center bottom goblet to accept the bolt that protruded through. The mating surfaces were siliconed and then attached using the bolt and a decorative brass nut. I applied Loctite to the end of the bolt to give it a secure attachment. So far everything is holding tight and the lights are really bright.

Step 7: Custom Copper "Eyebrow" Drip Edge

Custom Copper Eyebrow Drip Edge

Liking the look of custom drip edge, I chose to make my own out of two pieces of 3" by 24" sheet copper. I do not have a brake and so I decided to try forming the 2 required bends using a bench vice, a short length of 3/4" dowel and a small soft headed mallet. Go slowly, lots of small taps and the soft malleable copper will yield to your design. Approximately $20 including stainless pan headed screws.

Step 8: Trolley Top With Faux Portholes

Trolley top with faux portholes

The trolley top was built last year but I decided it needed a Jules Verne ( Nautilus ship) look. Hence the faux portholes. I was quite pleased with how this turned out using glass lids from dollar store mason jars and 2 brass toilet flanges on the clear-out table at a local building centre. The most difficult part was cutting the holes to accept the glass which were then held in place using generous applications of clear caulking.


The brass toilet drain flanges just happened to compliment the size and proportions I was looking for. Later I realized the chrome ring that goes around the heating element on an electric stove would probably work just as well. Each of the brass flanges are secured using 3 #10 brass flat headed screws. The fourth flange hole has a brass painted wooden door knob attached from the backside.

Total cost for the port hole addition approximately $20.

Step 9: Changes to Galley

The galley has had the wannigan (chuckbox) added which holds cooking related items and also serves as a picnic box. The link for constructing the wannigan is here . A few other steampunk inspired items include the lantern and decorating the cabinet doors. I added a cotter pin to the hatch supports to safely secure it in place.



    • Gardening Contest

      Gardening Contest
    • Tape Contest

      Tape Contest
    • Trash to Treasure

      Trash to Treasure

    11 Discussions


    1 year ago

    Very interesting design! I plan to incorporate some of these when I finally build mine. I loved the small touches that people forget to add when making teardrop trailers!

    1 reply

    Thanks for the compliment. My design was part whimsy, part art and I always kept fun and camping in mind as I built. Sold it in May and I am now working on another. Best wishes with your project.

    Ritland Inc

    1 year ago

    how much does this cost to buy from you


    2 years ago

    Thanks for sending me the link of your finished project! She is a beaut! As with the first part, a few of your inventions are going to be replicated on my Lady Rose. But mine will never be finished. Just as I think I'm getting close, I come across just one more Victorian, or one more Steampunk, touch that I have to add. This year it's Victorian fringed curtains for the front made out of some truly unbelievable upholstery fabric found at Goodwill! We don't own campers, we own rolling Art Pieces! Can't wait until I can roll into you and we can compare notes in person!!!!!!!

    3 replies
    GeorgianBay ScottLynnabelle

    Reply 2 years ago

    Your camper sounds wonderful! Be sure to send me, or post, some pics when you are ready to display your art piece.

    randileGeorgianBay Scott

    Reply 2 years ago

    Yes, Lynnabelle, please post pictures and let me know when you do?


    Reply 2 years ago

    Sorry hit reply before I meant to. Georgian Bay Scott, AWESOME job.


    2 years ago

    OMG. Really neat. I cannot think of anything else to add, but a few nixie tubes indicating the total mileage (kms? You mentionned Lee Valley...) achieved so far...

    Great, gorgeous work!

    1 reply

    2 years ago

    This came out so great! Such a good mod! Thanks for sharing your story, really inspiring! I miss having a trailer, but dream of the day I get to revamp another.

    1 reply

    Thanks for the compliment. It is very satisfying to continue enjoying a fun project by taking it on a road trip.