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tear drop camper project

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  • tear drop camper project

    Not really a welding only project, but there’s plenty of welding that went into it. Built the frame, shortened the axle and had some aluminum that needed modification and some trim that needed fabbed up. Wasn’t too awfully impressed with the commercially available trim for the rear hatch, so I made it. There is an AC that is built into the main cabinet inside, which sits in a stainless pan I built. Finished it about 3-4 weeks ago. Fun and expensive project. Might sell it. Might keep it. Not sure yet. Waiting for the title to arrive in the mail.
    Attached Files

  • #2
    Nice project! And you even painted it! Used to see a lot of them up north here in the 50s and 60s, then they seemed to fall out of favor. Never understood that; always thought they were a great solution to traveling light. Now, I'm beginning to see a good number of them again. A rediscovery by the new generation, I guess.

    Assume you bought the doors?


    • #3
      I painted the frame and hated every second of it. Had I the chance to go back and do it again, I would’ve probably used the powder coater. The yellow and white is painted aluminum sheets from a sign supplier.

      The doors were my biggest mistake on this build. I had originally planned to use a cutout from the plywood side to make the door for the hole it came from. But in this extremely humid environment, they warped like crazy almost instantly after cutting them out. The problem was that now I have a very odd shaped hole that needed a door in it. I ended up having to get custom sized doors made that are 4” taller than stock doors. Stock doors generally cost around $300ish each. My mistake cost me about an additional $200 per door. But at the end of the day, having a little taller door is nice. Caused a few other issues that cost some money, but I won’t bore you.


      • #4
        Great job !

        Seems today very few people want to make their projects a showcase for their skills or business.

        Got a call to add sides and a floor to a trailer for a lawn service (not my landscaper buddy).

        Worked up s design using alum diamond plate due to the wear and tear that wore out the old plywood pieces.

        Even got s local sign shop to quote painted lettering on the sides for his business.

        He ended up just replacing the plywood to his trailer with no lettering or info..

        Wonder how he gets customers.
        Miller Dynasty 350, Dynasty 210 DX, Hypertherm 1000, Thermal Arc GTSW400, Airco Heliwelder II, oxy-fuel setup, metal cutting bandsaw, air compressor, drill press, large first aid kit, etc.

        Call me the "Clouseau" of welding !


        • #5
          Looks very nicely done. I'd keep it... unless you plan on building another off what you learned in building this one, keep it around. On the off chance you find your self sharing the dogs house, you'll both be happier with the up grade.


          • #6
            My original plan was to make one, learn the ins-n-outs, sell it and make another one out of all aluminum, frame and all.

            This one is a 4x8. I think a 5x8 or 5x10 would be most excellent.

            This one has a steel frame and a wood body. The floor is a double sheet of 3/4” plywood with foam insulation between them. The walls are solid 3/4” plywood and the rest is hollow with r-13 insulation, luan (inside and out), FRP on the inside and .040 aluminum on the outside.

            Weighs 1,120 lbs empty. Tongue weight is 190 lbs. 5,000 btu AC, maxxair vent fan, 20” smart TV and oak trim inside. I’ll get some pictures of the inside one of these days. It turned out pretty good I think, for my first try at one.

            No water tanks, but it has a hookup for the sink and a drain, cable TV jack (not sure why you’d need that, but who knows) and a Coleman 2 burner stove.


            • #7
              I looked on line in my area for tear drops after seeing the post and found a $2g unit, home built that you have far surpassed. A manufactured unit for $8g that yours is an equal to or possibly better. Sound like the inside is as nice as the outside. Well done.


              • #8
                Thanks. After owning an RV, and anyone else that does, it’s easy to say that the commercially available campers are built like junk. Cheap, flimsy, junk. This one has some over-engineering in it, of course, and I think I tried to pay attention to details.


                • #9
                  Very Nice!


                  • #10
                    Gotta ask, why plywood walls? Double 3/4 floor and plywood walls + mucho extra weight.
                    Weight = expense.

                    Have you got a commercial lath & plaster supplier in the area? Look for lather channel, both 3/4 and 1.5" massive strength and easy to form & weld.
                    1.5" chanel + gussets + 1/8 Masonite with cloth & resin over top will withstand 80mph all day.

                    You could probably mount a rubber bladder under the floor and turn the roof into a massive evap cooler. Wet roof on the coach usually meant only 1 AC unit had to run. Spraying the roof of my Astrovan sucked 15° out of the van and made the pup comfortable. Monster still loved to sit parked and con some woman into calling 911 for the canine in danger. I almost felt sorry for the cop standing downwind when the sprayer kicked.


                    • #11
                      In hind sight, I would not have used double 3/4 on the floor, but I was spending so much time figuring out what I wanted and how others are made and looked at commercially available ones, etc. I had the foam board and I had the plywood, so that’s what I went with. To do it again, I would utilize that space under the floor for a purpose, like dry storage or a water tank.

                      The metal frame is fairly light weight, so I wanted to add some rigidity to the whole thing and I had already settled on a dead tree carcass frame. Again, I already had the plywood. I attempted to buy some composite boards for the sides, but the salesmen didn’t want to deal with some schmuck that just wanted to buy two sheets and it was pretty expensive.

                      As far as keeping it’s so small, that 5,000 btu AC pretty much turns it into a meat locker.


                      • #12
                        That's quite the project, looks really good, waiting to see the inside. Nice job Ryan
                        West coast of Florida


                        • #13
                          Got thinking about the shepherd's wagon Engels rebuilt. You could make saddlebags for yours and even use 1 for an external water tank.


                          • #14
                            Some more pictures....saddlebags notwithstanding.
                            Attached Files


                            • #15
                              Interior. The little roll up doors are super cool and very easy to install. I got them from an outfit in England. I had some wood ones but they had a spring you have to wrap around a dowel and they were just far more complex, good quality, but much more labor intensive to install. I like to build things so they’re easy to repair if needed. If anyone is interested in those tambour (roll up) doors, let me know and I’ll send you the link. They say they can make any size.

                              The AC is a 5k btu and is more than enough for that tiny space. The TV (for those nasty days when you’re stuck in a tiny camper) is a 20” smart TV....whatever that means. I only turned it on to make sure it powered up.

                              The brown box is the electrical control panel. It charges the battery, converts 120v AC to 12v dc and distributes the 120v shore power to the three circuits on board. It’s pretty much the entry level model, but it was the smallest and cheapest at the RV supply locally.

                              Above the brown box is a control panel I made that has a 12v power meter with an on/off button so you can use it as a night light or leave it off, a usb socket, a 12v socket and the AC cabinet ventilation fan override. This is southeast Texas, there is no doubt the temp inside that cabinet will get hot in the summer, even with everything off. So the vent fan is operated off an adjustable 12v thermostat and this switch will bypass that for when the trailer is sitting and you don’t want to run your batter down. It’s hard to see, but I had laser engraving done on the control panel that labels the spots and gives a warning to not operate the AC with the override in the off position.

                              The front is some stretchy net stuff I bought in bulk and cut the sizes I needed for those cubby holes. In the middle is a 750 watt heater/fan and it’s 120v socket behind it. That net comes completely out so it’s not in the way of the heating elements. That’s probably the fireman coming out.

                              The fan in the ceiling is frickin awesome. If any of you guys have an RV, replace those junky vent fans with these, they really move the air!

                              The floor is just a wood grain linoleum.

                              The walls are FRP and the trim is oak.

                              Not much room for a hot tub or a dining room table, so that’s pretty much it.
                              Attached Files