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JohnH240ZOriginal
JohnH240ZOriginal New Reader
6/22/20 10:20 p.m.

I have to agree with 300zxfreak. I just burned a whole evening reading the entire thread. Don't believe I've ever done thatyes

ScottyB
ScottyB Reader
6/23/20 10:11 a.m.
300zxfreak said:

I never thought I'd sit and read through an entire thread about a trailer build, but I did. Hmmm.........

haha, we got another one.  thanks though, i hope it inspires a future project!

 

JohnH240ZOriginal said:

I have to agree with 300zxfreak. I just burned a whole evening reading the entire thread. Don't believe I've ever done thatyes

thanks man.  i'm grateful you wanted to stick around and read it, because i certainly love to share my process with it.

 

L5wolvesf said:

WELL DONE sir. I have an itch for a teardrop and this is the first page I have bookmarked toward that end.

My first question, of many, is - is there anything major you would change?

thats kind of you, i appreciate it!  i know the itch well, it might not go away (wow that sounds horrible out of context).

so to be clear, there's lots i would change, just to make my OCD tendencies happy or because of really small things i know now, that i didn't before.  mostly minor things, but as far as stuff i'd consider major....

  • i would NOT have bought the Northern Tool frame and just had a proper trailer fab guy make me a custom one with the suspension and axle i wanted.  i thought i was saving money with the NT kit, but in the end the bent axle fiasco set me back 6 months of waiting and the overall quality is "OK" but not great.  the axle, even if it wasn't bent, was a source of anxiety with its proprietary wheel bearing/hub size and the fact that you can't buy those parts separate...so spares would be an issue if i cooked a bearing on the road.  mine works fine now with the aftermarket axle but i should have done better up front for a bit more money.  all the experts said this, but i ignored it and now i know better the hard way.
  • i would have gotten MUCH dimmer exterior lights (the ones above the doors).  i didn't realize until we went camping in a tighter campground just how much light they throw.  you really don't need a spotlight on your site at night, just a dim light to help you see the ground.  first time we lit those things up on a really dark night it felt like we turned on the lights to a baseball field.  felt terrible for our neighbors and shut them right back off and just used our lanterns and headlamps instead.  bright lights like that also attract a ton of bugs.

minor things....

  • might have bothered to install trailer brakes.  still don't think i NEED them, but it couldn't hurt if i had the time.
  • i would have used half the reinforcing bars in the hatch construction.  the ribs came out great but there was no need for so much reinforcement in between them.  as a result my hatch is HEAVY and it didn't have to be.
  • 6 or even 4 inch mattress instead of an 8.  takes away headroom, is heavy, and makes it harder to get to the hidden compartment in the floor
  • i should have run wires under the frame instead of inside the roof.  it would have made for longer wire runs, but much easier to deal with.
  • wish i could have made the galley a foot longer.  it was absolutely not a possibility in my case due to how exact of a fit it had to be in my small garage, but if i could have added that length or even a little more it might have made it possible to make room for hatch struts instead of my steel pipe props.  that would have been much more convenient.
  • if i wasn't so enamored with the look of the aluminum skin, it'd be easier and possibly just as weatherproof longterm (if its stored indoors) to just coat the outside with a heavy duty bedliner type of paint.  you wouldn't have to worry about trim, sealing panels, and far less expense.

if you're considering building one, take a good long tour through tnttt.com's project forum.  once you've done that for a few months, hit up DIY Teardrop Campers Community and any other popular teardrop group on Facebook.  they get the traffic these days and people are fast to help.  

ScottyB
ScottyB Reader
6/23/20 11:53 a.m.

we made a run for the coast last week.  its been a longstanding tradition every year that we join family at the beach for a week and obviously those plans were erased this year due to the COVID risk.  my son in particular loves the beach and that vacation is the only time of the year he gets to enjoy it.  we decided the camper was a chance for us to go do our own trip, in a new way, away from the typical hotel or rental home.  we knew we were taking a chance with visiting a sub-tropical island in June in a non-airconditioned camper, but the hell with it.  turns out in a massive stroke of luck, we had unseasonably cool weather.  Low 80's during the day, mid 60s at night.  don't know how it worked out like that but we're sure glad it did.

we had a chance to visit Jekyll Island here in GA a few years ago and loved it.  really quiet, well maintained place that is essentially a big nature park.  we noticed they had a campground and kept that info in the back of our minds, and realized now was a great time to check it out.  

i'm absolutely not attracted to most campgrounds that i would normally describe as "RV Parking Lots", where everybody fits in a slot and the view is a slab of motorhome to each side of you.  Jekyll's campground is borderline that, yet it was really peaceful, under a canopy of incredible live oaks, and spaced out enough you felt like you had room to breathe.  i thoroughly enjoyed it and the access to biking trails and interesting beaches was fantastic.  

a shot of the entrance (this is us leaving, but you get the point).  we had a pretty easy ride, and cruising down I-95 at about 75 the teardrop did just fine.  you'll notice we added bike racks to the top!  i bought these Yakima Aero Raptors used for cheap, did a little refurb work and added our own lock cores.  i also had to get some larger bar mounts made for mounting off road lights, to mount one rack to the passenger side where the bar is too large for Yakima mounts (the rack has 2 different sized crossbars that slide one into the other so you can adjust the width to your vehicle).  ah the fun of having to find custom solutions for your peiced-together camper....anyway we're glad we took them.  chucked our son's little bike in the 4Runner and i bet we probably did 10 or 20 miles on the trails.

the setup.  no need for a screen room this time, we didn't have any bug problems and the pup was boarded because his fur + sand and ocean water would be a complete mess.  we did bring a box fan and plugged it into our extra outlet, and made hanging out under the awning really pleasant.  after touring the campground, aside from the tents, i can tell you we were without a doubt, the smallest camping rig there!  made for a lot of fun conversations.  people were very cool and we generally kept our distance while talking.  

have a look at those trees!  spanish moss everywhere.  truly a unique experience.  you could bike for days around this place.  my wife said it felt like touring Jurassic Park.  

Driftwood Beach on the north end of the island is probably the only place of its kind on the east coast.  can you imagine having to tell someone you had a surfing accident where you ran into a tree?

how weird is it that these were everywhere, AND the only shells on the beach at all?  strange.

its a natural rule of law that any dinner tastes better over hot coals.  

the beauty of the marshes....

if you can go, do it sometime.  i'd recommend the campground too, they do a nice job with it and the sites towards the back are quiet and pretty, and you can't beat the access to trails.

camper performed flawlessly.  i was nervous about all the weight on the rack and stability at highway speeds but things worked as they should have.  we dipped a bit in MPG's with the bikes on there, they make more drag than i'd expected but otherwise you wouldn't know they were there.  still love that awning and would recommend it to anyone building a small camper like this.

L5wolvesf
L5wolvesf Reader
6/23/20 9:57 p.m.

In reply to ScottyB :

No worries I have many itches that seem to be a constant uhmmm . . . thing.

 

Given what you said about frames I may go a slightly different route the former truck frame chopped to the size I want – I need a king mattress. It should also accommodate the idea that popped into my head (a scary place). I’m thinking the trunk of an older Ford sedan, one like the 1955 Ford I have, would work similarly to the back hatch you have. Then build the forward area like you did into a teardrop-ish shape. I would then tow it with my ‘55. Of course the reality would likely be that I build one like you did on a pickup frame and use Ford tail lights and bumper.

 

Axle wise I would go with a bigger one too, with brakes, – for the added weight and so the bolt patterns and wheels would be the same on the trailer and the car.

 

I do like the bare aluminum look but if I keep thinking I’ll end up with 20 different ideas.

 

I will learn for your input – Thank You

WRXguy
WRXguy
7/13/20 4:07 p.m.

As a few have said above, I never thought I'd burn 2hrs reading a full build thread on a teardrop camper. You sir, are a rockstar. The attention to detail and craftsmanship is amazing. Bravo!

ScottyB
ScottyB Reader
7/13/20 6:38 p.m.
WRXguy said:

As a few have said above, I never thought I'd burn 2hrs reading a full build thread on a teardrop camper. You sir, are a rockstar. The attention to detail and craftsmanship is amazing. Bravo!

thanks brother!  appreciate the words and your time.

pimpm3 (Forum Supporter)
pimpm3 (Forum Supporter) UltraDork
7/13/20 9:15 p.m.

I stayed at the Jekyll island inn and club for a class at FLETC pre covid.  It was really nice and was by far the nicest accommodation I  have been put up in for work.

Jekyll island is beautiful and is a really cool destination.

Normally they put me up in a holiday inn or something similar.

Love the camper!

ScottyB
ScottyB Reader
7/13/20 11:52 p.m.
pimpm3 (Forum Supporter) said:

I stayed at the Jekyll island inn and club for a class at FLETC pre covid.  It was really nice and was by far the nicest accommodation I  have been put up in for work.

Jekyll island is beautiful and is a really cool destination.

that's awesome!  strangely in the 2 times i've been to Jekyll now, i still haven't seen that part of the island.  i'll have to check it out, that building looks beautiful.

i see you also found Tortuga Jack's...we grabbed some tacos from them for lunch our second day there.  they make some good stuff... 

ScottyB
ScottyB Reader
9/15/20 2:45 p.m.

took a ride north to South Mountains state park in NC, sort of between Charlotte and Asheville.  we were desperate to get out of the heat, pick some apples, and enjoy some mountain scenery after a long hiatus over the summer.  the ride up went without a hitch, although the super haggard SC roads had me a bit nervous that the camper was going to shake apart.  we made it to an orchard just north of the park right before closing and were rewarded with the most intense crop of apples i've ever seen.  the branches were so laden that just picking an apple would shake about 5 right off onto the ground.  a bit hot, but worth it.


personally i showed up for these guys.  cider donuts straight out the fryer.  DAMN.  so good.

set up camp.  highly recommend this place, excellent facilities, strong ranger presence (in terms of helping with info, cleaning, and maintaining the sites) and quiet.  there are only 2 "RV" sites where you have electrical hookups.  we got the only one left, right on the river behind our tent pad.

next morning we set off on a hike to see High Shoals Falls.  from our site its about 3-3/4 miles out and back, and its graded as "strenuous" and they are not screwing around.  very flat an easy until the last half a mile and then its STRAIGHT up the rocks.  i'm talking like the secret stairs in lord of the rings.  even more alarming were the condition of the people who were attempting this as it began to rain.  tourists in flip flops holding their infants with both hands, i don't even want to imagine what could happen if they slipped.  people are stupid.

beautiful trail though.


doggo ain't care

made it.  the whole observation deck was packed with people trying to take selfies for their insta-clout and generally not giving anyone any space but we were able to get through and enjoy a minute of seeing this awesome rock face.  what's out of shot here is the super old growth timber that had roots below the splash pool but still towered higher than the waterfall.  amazing how ancient it all is.  

hooked up on this lil ripper on the way down.  amazing how these guys will flourish in the smallest pools thanks to such high quality water and lots of food sources.  he went back to fight again, we almost never keep 'em.

it opened up on the way down, i mean full soak right through the rain jackets.  we rolled with it though and just kept having a good time.  the downpour cleared but unfortunately from here on out we had heavy fog and things never really dried out, which was annoying for trying to get our clothes not-soaking.

got back and Link was like...listen pal i'm not in the mood for your crap and i'm going absolutely nowhere

we did get nice weather that evening though, so time to get the fire going.  i sat in the awning room and honestly, just sitting there listening to some drops fall on the roof, hearing the river going past, staring at the woods with nothing else to do was wonderful.  kinda like in Office Space...."i did absolutely nothing, and it was everything i dreamed it could be"

retired sore, worn out and with burger bellies early.  kiddo read his book, then we all played cards.  camper got its leak test for sure and we haven't seen any problems yet....

hit the road Sunday at lunch after a pretty relaxed, but wet pack up session.  hit the visitor center on the way out for the requisite sticker to put on the cooler.  4Runner worked great considering i was holding it in 3rd and 4th up many of the grades on I-26 both coming and going.  if you're OK letting it rev, it'll move out of its own way pretty well despite so many media outlets talking like its slower than an aircooled bus.

another good one in the books.  we're seeing if we can fit one more trip in this fall before calling it a year.

ValourUnbound
ValourUnbound Reader
9/15/20 5:52 p.m.

Add me to the list of people who came accross this thread and read it all at once.

It's not just that the project is interesting, it's the pictures and the narative too. You log your mistakes and how you dealt with them. It makes for a good story.

I'll admit, after seeing your tools list, I am awfully tempted... Trailers have been on my mind a bit recently, but I guess I'm not the only one! 

I'd love seeing your budget :) 

MadScientistMatt
MadScientistMatt PowerDork
9/16/20 8:00 a.m.

Wow, I'll have to check out this High Shoals trail myself.

ScottyB
ScottyB Reader
9/16/20 11:17 a.m.
ValourUnbound said:

Add me to the list of people who came accross this thread and read it all at once.

It's not just that the project is interesting, it's the pictures and the narative too. You log your mistakes and how you dealt with them. It makes for a good story.

I'll admit, after seeing your tools list, I am awfully tempted... Trailers have been on my mind a bit recently, but I guess I'm not the only one! 

I'd love seeing your budget :) 

thanks!  i appreciate that.  one of the things i really value about forums that's going away these days is people being able to construct a story.  i really wanted to do that for this project, and i'm glad you enjoyed it.

also glad you mentioned the budget.  i've been meaning to add that to this thread and just keep forgetting.  i think i've avoided posting it because its quite sloppy, since there were a ton of little things involved and i recorded them as i bought them vs organizing them by type (yet).

but in any case, here's a link to a PDF of the costs sheet

tack on about another $600 for the cost of the roof rack, ARB awning/screen room and refurbing the Thule Raptor Aero's. we pay like $100/yr to insure it on an agreed upon value through AAA.

as mentioned earlier, we probably could have cut $2-3k bucks off the cost had we not insulated, done rhino liner vs aluminum skin, axed the solar system, super simple galley (no cabinetry), no stereo, cheap walmart marine deep cycle battery, etc.  but in the end its what we wanted and its still far cheaper than buying a commercially made one, or stepping up to a larger travel trailer that has a bathroom and kitchen inside it.  

 

MadScientistMatt said:

Wow, I'll have to check out this High Shoals trail myself.

certainly do it if you get the chance, the falls are beautiful as well as the trail itself.  there is a vast trail network throughout the whole state park, that would take you days to fully explore.  just be aware that during the fall you probably shouldn't bother unless its a weekday or very off hours.  being so close to Charlotte and Asheville it packs up fast.  we were stepping off the trail constantly to give space to let others pass by in the other direction.

ScottyB
ScottyB Reader
11/5/20 11:40 a.m.

As most campgrounds in the southeast are now in a state of closure after Halloween with the dropping temps, i've got my last trip to share for 2020.  we got our final trip in a few weeks back over the weekend of October 16 at Unicoi State Park in the little alpine town of Helen GA.  COULD NOT have asked for better weather.  after a sweltering Sept and early Oct here in Augusta i seriously felt like i was back in my element with the nighttime temps dipping into the high 30's and a distinct lack of humidity.  we had planned to camp further away from people given the insane leafer/octoberfest/harvest season tourists that always plan their mass exodus from Atlanta in autumn, but as it turns out, you can't wait until the last minute to reserve a campsite in the fall like we somehow did, and by pure magical timing we managed to grab a great spot at Unicoi that someone must have cancelled on.  what luck!

picked up the kiddo after school on Friday, and towing was a no-drama affair but we got in after dark that night.  getting settled was a bit of a PITA because our site wasn't level, but as it so happens i keep a grungy collection of bits of lumber in the underfloor storage for leveling and we were able to park the camper on top of those to jack it up to the necessary heights.  we brought a ton of blankets to prepare for the cold, and it turned out our insulation was good enough to keep us nicely cozy even with the windows open.  we were greeted with a blast of sunlight in the morning as it rose over the mountain range.

here's a view of the galley mid-breakfast.  we carry 2 water containers that store 2-deep into the cabinet; one is "potable" the other is "filtered".  we keep the potable on our picnic table as a wash station, the other stays in the galley for cooking and tea/coffee.  the Yeti makes a pretty handy prep counter and our go-to breakfast is hot ham + cheese on a toasted english muffin (you can make the whole thing in the skillet).  i know its sacrilege but i prefer ham over bacon when camping, its way less messy and you get more meat out of it.

next up, hiking!  did a 3 mile loop down to the Smith Creek.  i love the crunch of leaves underfoot with a clear October sky above.

unfortunately, at the sight of water my wife and i cannot deal with keeping the fly rods dry!  after lunch we geared up, and went up to a different spot and fished until sunset.  ideal conditions. 

wife landed a great looking trout nearly as long as her forearm (no shot of that unfortunately).  my trophy was of a different sort; my son is too young to have his own rod outfit yet but he is super interested and has his own waders.  so, i've promised him for some time that whenever i hook one, i'm letting him land the fish.  last time out we got nothing, so the pressure was on for me to deliver on my side of the bargain.  i sent a cast right to a nice, deep cut that i just KNEW had something in it.  cast after cast, i was off just enough that i knew i wasn't presenting the fly right but stayed glued to the spot.  after about 8 casts i got my drift just right and with a silver flash deep in the water, the rod tip started dancing wildly.  i quickly passed it back to my son and let him play the fish into the net.  he was so overzealous that he ran the line up under a rock and it got stuck; i felt awful for him as i was certain the fish had freed itself at this point.  i reached down to unsnag the line and sure enough the line went alive again, fish on!  we were able to net this modest little guy but neither of us could care less about the size, it was "his fish."  we admired it briefly (they are amazing animals, superbly adapted and very colorful up close but disappear in the water) and like nearly everything we catch, sent it back home after dislodging the delicate barbless hook. 

phew.  after all that bushwhacking to get up and down the stream, i had to kick back a bit after some burgers.  one of the great rewards of fall camping is being able to warm up next to a fire as the night air cools off.  no bugs, no sweating, and your beer stays colder longer!  This weekend's flavor was Sweetwater "Guide Beer."  make that 2, bartender.

another glorious cool night and clear skies.  doggo slept next to me both nights in the camper to keep him warm.  woke up and headed to the north end of the park for a short, but beautiful hike up to Anna Ruby falls.  a little crowded for my liking, but i'll pay that price to see something like this.

after lunch we called it a wrap and headed out.  on the way out though, we hit up Unicoi's archery range.  My wife is an experienced shot (who just got a new bow for her birthday) and my son is picking it up too, so we couldn't miss it.  their facility is awesome!  standard target lanes + full 3D gallery with a raised platform.   nice bathrooms and everything.  met some super nice people there as well.

this is why i need to keep my head down around my wife.  she's deadly!  the circled part are the feathers of the arrow as it flies to the target (a pretty good shot it turned out to be)

you can see my son working out the range of his bow as he walked a dozen arrows to his target laugh  top 2 came from my wife's bow.

Link didn't want to leave...

leaving town was a disaster - traffic was so bad due to Octoberfest, it took us almost an hour to go about 2 miles.  i should have known better but, deep down i didn't want to go home anyway.  we packed a lot into 2 full days and had the ride home to really think about the adventures we went on this year.  

we had planned for maybe 2 or 3 trips this year but turned out to be 5, as the wild events of this year forced us to pursue the only options we really had for socially distanced family time - being in the great outdoors.  we never thought we'd end up on all these adventures this year, and we're certainly grateful for it in light of so many other social things being denied to all of us these days.  from the mountains to the coast, we had a unique experience each time and we've really started to perfect our setup now.  

i have a few small projects over the winter: some better fastening on the fenders, better waterproofing over the hatch hinge, and keeping an eye on the frame around the tongue (more in-depth story on that another time).  i'm also preparing for my inevitable eviction from my nice mattress onto a cot in the awning room as my son outgrows his bunk in the next year or two.  probably temporary though since he'll want his own camping space as a young teen as mom and dad become seriously uncool.  

anyway, hope you enjoyed the adventures this year.  next year...let's go west!

2Girlsracing
2Girlsracing New Reader
11/6/20 2:48 a.m.

You've done a really nice job on this! Well done!  I've been thinking about a teardrop to replace our campertrailer now the kids would rather sleep out in their swags so this has been a good one to show the partner. Looks great!

ScottyB
ScottyB Reader
11/6/20 8:40 a.m.

In reply to 2Girlsracing :

thank you, that's kind of you to say!  if you have any particular questions just let me know.  of a few Teardrop builder groups i'm a part of on social media, i've seen quite a few done down under where you are - they seem to be popular there as well.  i'm sure there are builders or models you could check out to see if they fit your needs.

MattGent
MattGent Reader
11/6/20 9:05 a.m.

Wow quite a project and thanks for the nice and thorough write-up.

My girlfriend came equipped with her own T@B so I got the easy-button into teardrop camping.  Just maintenance and upgrades, which so far have been minimal.  We camp through some of the same areas, heading up from FL.

Made it easier to actually have a summer trip with the COVID situation this year.

New York Nick
New York Nick GRM+ Memberand New Reader
11/6/20 11:41 a.m.

This is great, nice work and you completely won me over with a 3D shoot! Thank you for sharing the journey and how you are enjoying it after completion.

NYN

ScottyB
ScottyB Reader
11/6/20 12:57 p.m.

In reply to MattGent :

Thanks, glad you enjoyed it.  Love the TAB btw, those are probably the best made mainstream teardrops out there.  Maybe we'll see you out there sometime.

Since you mentioned you're in FL, i've gotta thank your state for Bahia Honda state park.  this entire camper project began with my wife and i looking at a picture of a little silver teardrop parked on a white sand campsite next to that blue water back in 2016 and my wife was so captivated by how pretty it was, that i got the greenlight to dive down this rabbit hole so we could see places like that.  if we hadn't seen that picture, who knows.

MattGent
MattGent Reader
11/10/20 2:23 p.m.

You may enjoy Little Talbot Island too. Kayaking, biking trails, lots of beach, and fireflies. 

Racebrick
Racebrick New Reader
11/10/20 2:41 p.m.

Nice project. I built one a few years back, and loved it. I ended up selling it after a few years, but the family and I still love seeing them.

ScottyB
ScottyB Reader
11/10/20 3:24 p.m.
MattGent said:

You may enjoy Little Talbot Island too. Kayaking, biking trails, lots of beach, and fireflies. 

noted!

 

Racebrick said:

Nice project. I built one a few years back, and loved it. I ended up selling it after a few years, but the family and I still love seeing them.

that's awesome!  glad to hear it was a fun time for you.

jfryjfry (FS)
jfryjfry (FS) Dork
1/4/21 6:01 p.m.

Very cool!  Another unintended full read here. 
 

One question I didn't see an answer to:

where are the moon hubcaps???

ScottyB
ScottyB HalfDork
1/4/21 9:50 p.m.

In reply to jfryjfry (FS) :

i like where your head's at, solid question - they're coming!  along with trim rings...this year for sure.

plan is to repaint the wheels either black or silver to match the fenders or trim.  i did a crap job on the current blue wheel paint, and it was originally intended to match the camper being built with blue aluminum sides, not orange.  we canned that idea when i bought the blue Si and then we also painted our house blue...much as i like it, i can only handle so much blue.

bigeyedfish
bigeyedfish Reader
1/5/21 11:30 a.m.

First time I've seen this thread.  The timing is spot on.  I'm in the research/design phase of a similar but different build.  I think I'm going to do a living quarters box, that we can drop onto a 6x10 trailer that we already own - gotta have room for three kiddos and two adults.  It will be a lot simpler and less impressive than yours, but I'm definitely snagging some ideas from your work.

ScottyB
ScottyB HalfDork
1/5/21 12:28 p.m.

In reply to bigeyedfish :

awesome!  i've seen some builds like that (dropping a prebuilt "pod" onto the deck of an existing frame) and they are super cool in their own right, and make a lot of sense.  i completely understand the challenges of kid camping, so in my book whatever method is best to get you and the family out there and having fun is what i'm a fan of too.  any questions just shout.

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