I decided in November 2017 that I was going to take on the challenge of building a travel trailer. It is an ambitious project but I'm excited to take on the challenge. My original goal was to be complete for August long weekend 2018. As you will see, I missed that deadline. Hopefully August Long Weekend 2019!
Step 1: The Planning Phases
November 2017: Here is the planning and design phase. I wanted it to be large enough that my girlfriend and I, as well as our black Lab (Kella) and Golden Retriever (Gus) could all sleep comfortably. Inevitably, One dog will be on our heads, and the other on our feet.
I also wanted to build it tall enough that we could sit comfortably in it. Many of these are built very small and I was worried about feeling claustrophobic in there, so we went 5' wide and 5' high. I think this will give us plenty of room to breathe.
The rear hatch opens up to provide a cooking area, known as the Galley.
The walls are plywood sandwich style. This will be explained a bit more later on but essentially, you have an interior layer of good plywood, a middle layer of cheaper plywood that gets 'skeletonized' to reduce weight and add insulation cavities, and then another good sheet of plywood on the exterior.
Step 2: From Digital Mockup to Scale Model Full Scale
December 2017: I started out in Sketchup, then decided I needed to make a scale model, so I did that and decided I like the shape and size, so I moved on to a full scale cardboard model. It allowed me to sit in it and actually feel the size. It felt comfortable so I decided to proceed with the actual construction.
Step 3: The Frame
January 13, 2018:I got a base to build on! Found this decommissioned tent trailer frame on Kijiji (Canadian Craigslist) for $300. Talked him down to $150. Sold!
it needs some cleaning up but it'll do. It is currently the wrong size as well, but I'll modify it to fit my needs.
Step 4: Floor Framing
January 30, 2018: I still haven't cleaned up the frame yet. It's been too cold and grinding in the garage is a bad time. Need to wait until it warms up a bit to do that outside. I did get a start on the floor though. You can see it on the saw horses above the trailer frame. I need to work on top of the frame so I can keep the other half of the garage clear so my girlfriend can still park. It's the Canadian winter after all. My car lives outside...
Step 5: More Floor Construction - Prepping for the Walls
March 24, 2018: A bit of a jump here, some minor stuff took place in between but not a lot of work was done in February. Here I have a piece of aluminum extrusion that will be attached to the edge of the floor. It will receive the sandwich walls. More on that next. I work for an aluminum window company, so I was able to get this for free. It normally is T shaped but I ripped off one of the legs so it'll fit better.
Step 6: Sandwich Walls Explained
So in doing research on how to build teardrop trailers, I was informed of the "Sandwich Wall Method". Basically, it's thin, good faced plywood "Bread" with a thicker, construction grade plywood "meat". You'll see later that instead of having a solid plywood "meat" section, I'll remove the bulk of that wood and fill the voids with insulation, creating a skeleton interior. It will maintain the shape and rigidity of the wall, add some thermal properties and reduce the overall weight.At the point of writing this post, I'm still not sure if I'm going to do a wood exterior or an aluminum one but you can see it there on the exterior of this mockup.
Step 7: Insulating the Floor
April 10, 2018: When I picked up the insulation, I had gloves only, and I found myself pretty itchy for the next day, so I decided to suit up and minimize the risk. I got all decked out and then decided I wanted to take a picture, so instead of taking my gloves off, I pulled down my respirator and used my nose to unlock and navigate my phone, set it to take a picture after 10 seconds and this was the result. Look ma, no hands!
Yes, I'm wearing plastic garbage bags. It worked... okay..the second picture you can see the floor is now insulated. Time to screw it down and stain it.
Step 8: Floor Staining
April 12-17: Here you can see it stained and the comparison of stained to unstained. You can also see my colour test board.
Step 9: Frame Dismantle
June 27, 2018: Damn... over 2 months between working days. I was finally able to tear down the old trailer. I worked on 4 old, rusty bolts for a couple hours and finally freed the frame of it's old wheels. Then I managed to leverage the frame up onto those 4 sawhorses by myself. Wish I had a video of that. it was a scene. I also vacuumed out the edges of the frame. Hopefully I got all of the bugs out. Since I moved the trailer frame into the garage, there has been an influx of spiders... I think I have it sorted out now though.Don't tell my girlfriend about the spiders.
Step 10: Frame Resizing
August 4 2018: Back on the trailer train! I got the frame hacked down to size. Now to hit up one of my many welder friends to help me get it back into shape. It seems that everyone I know also knows a welder who would be happy to help.
This was the August long weekend. When I started this project, this was my end goal date... I wanted this thing to be ready to camp in for this weekend. Wow. I was not even close. Maybe August Long Weekend 2019
Hopefully this will come together faster over the winter when the nights are long and I'm not playing slo pitch and flag football 3 nights a week.