Teardrop Trailer – Table of Contents

WE’RE BUILDING A TEARDROP TRAILER

TEARDROP TRAILER – BUILD DAY 26

I FINALLY GOT AROUND TO THE DOORS!
I knew these things would be a lot of work. I’m including windows and locks so they need to be done right. I chose to construct them as a wood sandwich, a bit like the walls. Inside each door there is a frame of 1/2″ thick board which will be skinned with 1/4″ luan.

GluingSkinDoorSatDOUBLING UP THE LUAN
I needed a 1/2″ outer skin for the door (to fit and secure the locks) so I glued another sheet of luan to the existing door skin. I later trimmed the newly attached sheet to match.

DoorFrameSat
INTERIOR DOOR FRAME
The door frame is glued to the skin and provides structure for the lock, hinges, and window. I’ll go back and round off the outer corners with my jigsaw after I finish gluing all the layers together.

WindowSat
FITTING WINDOW
The window is held in place by the door-frame.

WindowCornerDetailSat
WINDOW CORNERS
I’ll fill this space with some triangles, it seems like the right thing to do, even though this will be hidden by the inner and outer skin.

InsideFrameCornersSat
A COMPLETE FRAME
This door frame is done. I’ve added the corner triangles and cut out a space to install the lock. The clamps are holding everything tight while the gorilla glue dries.

KnottyPineInsideDoorSat
KNOTTY PINE DOORS
Instead of luan I decided to skin the inside of the doors with some leftover knotty pine panels. I think the pine panels will look more finished than plywood and tie in nicely with the ceiling.

LockCutOutSat
INSTALLING LOCKS
I traced out the area for the lock and removed it from the frame with a handsaw and a chisel.

CuttingLockGapDoorSat
READY FOR THE LOCK
The cutout for the lock is a bit rough but should do.

FittingLockDoorSat
LOCK TEST FIT
The lock fits nicely. A backplate with a handle and deadbolt switch covers this from the inside.

FittedLockDoorSat
LOCK FROM THE FRONT
The lock fits snugly in the frame and the plastic flange hides the rough cutout.

LocksFlippedRightAndLeft
FLIPPED ONE LOCK
Because the locks are identical one side has to be installed upside down. Fortunately they have no clear top or bottom and, when installed, you can’t see them side-by-side. These locks were not cheap but feel sturdy, have a deadbolt, and are keyed alike.

TEARDROP TRAILER – BUILD DAY 25

RE-SKINNING THE ROOF
My first shot at skinning the roof went so-so. My second effort was much better and the trailer is now wrapped in sheets of 1/4″ luan.

BendLuanRoof BENDING LUAN
This stuff bends okay. The front curve is the tightest and I had a little bit of cracking as I fit the plywood. Nothing so bad I can’t fix it with a little filler and some sanding.

FittingLuanRoof INSULATED CEILING
This ceiling is fully insulated under the luan.

fillerOnRoof SMOOTHING THE ROOF
I’m puttying all of the screws and seams with an exterior wood filler. I’m hoping to have a very sleek trailer.

StudioArt PEGBOARD ART
It’s all about the bits you don’t draw… Negative space, man.  Deep.

karenInWorkshop MS. KAREN
My beautiful cohort and co-builder, she’s been super helpful with this build. Her patience and thoughtful approach are a nice balance to my wing-it and hope for the best attitude.

ThePlans ORIGINAL TRAILER PLANS
I’m still keeping pretty close to my original plans, though I’ve decided to forgo the rear kitchen for now. It will create a lot of weight and I’m not convinced I want to reduce the cabin space. If I change my mind I can always add it later.

dollhouse OLD PROJECTS ON PAUSE
Awhile back I had begun to build a dollhouse inspired by some of my favorite SF victorians, clearly a project that has been sidelined.

TrailerAndHatch
HATCH
That hatch is nearly complete now. The inside is lined with the same knotty pine as is used on the ceiling and front walls.

HatchInsidePanel
INSIDE OF HATCH
I ‘d like to add some useful hardware to the inside of the hatch. A light would be nice. I’ve also seen people add rods for towels and even install stereos.

LookingOutHatch
INSIDE LOOKING OUT
This hole is where the hatch will go. I don’t plant to immediately build in a galley because I don’t want too add any weight and I like the spacious interior.

In the meantime I plan use some big plastic bins where we can store all of our stuff. These bins will be accessible from the inside at the foot of the bed or from the outside through the hatch. A few screw-eyes and some good bungee cords should hold them in place.

This is a bin I’m considering: Rubbermaid 1172 ActionPacker Storage Box, 24 Gallon.

TEARDROP TRAILER – BUILD DAY 24

INSTALLING THE CEILING
Today Karen and I put in the ceiling panels. We’re using tongue and groove knotty pine touched with a light coat of tung oil finish. The panels are nice and light which we hope brightens the small interior.

ceilingPanels
KNOTTY PINE CEILING PANELS
These panels went in nice and easy. Way easier than trying to bend luan into a tight space.

InstallingCeilingHAMMERED INTO PLACE
We hammered the ceiling panels into place. We’re attaching them to some wooden edging, which we fixed to the top of the walls with glue and screws.

GluingCeilingRailEDGING TO ATTACH CEILING
Here is the edging which is being held in place with some handy clamps while the glue dries. The edging is made of 2″ x 2″ cut to fit between the framing.

HammeringInCeilingPanelsTHE CEILING FROM ABOVE
We’ll put some insulation between the ceiling and the roof skin, just as soon as we get all of these panels into place.

KarenAtWork
PLACING INSULATION
Here is Karen cutting and placing our foam insulation. I picked up some more insulation this morning (I used up the first batch on the walls) and this time I chose the higher quality stuff. I figure the top will take the most direct sunlight and benefit from some denser foam.

hammer_time
TOOL MAINTENANCE
A well loved tool will love you back. Or not. I dunno. I’m just winging this whole thing.

InsideCeilingFinished
CEILING PANELS
The ceiling is almost done. Now it just needs a light sand and a bit of trim.

A_Ceiling2
HOLY SNAP – IT’S COMING TOGETHER!
Here is Karen pointing out our newly installed ceiling while simultaneously enjoying our also newly installed foam headboard. We’re really getting down to the last bits…. Finally.

TEARDROP TRAILER – BUILD DAY 23

INTERIOR

Karen and I got busy on the interior today. I’m starting to get really excited about how this might come out.

IMG_9543
TWO INCH FOAM HEADBOARD
We’re using a medium quality 2″ foam and some grey fabric to construct a headboard.

IMG_9533
KAREN LAYING OUT THE FABRIC
Karen and I found a nice grey (our favorite color!) fabric and some 2″ foam at Discount Fabrics in San Francisco.

IMG_9537ALFIE “HELPS”
The cats enjoy involving themselves in our projects, particularly when there are bits of string and foam to chew on.

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SETTING UP THE MACHINE
Karen’s sewing skills far exceed mine, here she is getting her Singer ready for action.

IMG_9557
SEWING THE HEADBOARD
Expertly done! You can really see the fabric texture in this shot, it’s almost something you might use for a men’s coat.

IMG_9579HEADBOARD TEST FIT
Fits like a charm. It’s wrapped in plastic to keep the sawdust off, things are pretty messy in the workshop right now.

IMG_9561
STAINING CEILING PANELS
We picked up some knotty pine wall panels from our local Home Depot which we’re going to use to line the ceiling. They turned out to be a pretty good option, well priced and fairly light. Also, they look great. Here I am adding some tung oil finish.

IMG_9576
LOTS OF CEILING PANELS
And here is Karen helping to varnish some more panels. It’s a bit of a sticky job, next time we’ll wear gloves. After a little bit of internet research Karen discovered you can remove tung oil finish from your hands with rubbing alcohol or nail polish remover.

We need 14 feet of these panels to cover the inside of the trailer, we’ve stained and cut about half. I can’t wait to install them, they are far classier than the plywood I had initially planned for.

TEARDROP TRAILER BUILD – DAY 22

INSPECTION AND REGISTRATION
A brief bit of bureaucracy and we’re square with the fuzz.

IMG_9529
INSTALLING LIGHTS
Here I am wiring the side-lights. Once all of the lights and fenders are installed and working we should be DOT approved and road legal.

towdmv
WAITING FOR INSPECTION AT THE DMV
And, passed! We now have a registered 5’x8′ Ironton trailer. It was a pretty easy process, just a short drive and a bit of waiting in line. The drive to the DMV and back was also a good test run for the new trailer and hitch. Everything worked great.  The lights do their blinky thing, the wheels go round and round, the trailer goes where the car goes, and we arrived with all the same parts we left with. Time to wrap up the teardrop body now that we have a legal rolling platform.

roadmaster
WHEEL AND TIRE UPGRADE
I swapped the provided 12″ steel wheels with bias ply tires for some 13″ aluminum wheels with radial tires. These should roll smoother and cooler. The provided wheels were only recommended up to 55mph, certainly not fast enough for today’s freeways.