Building your own teardrop camper - Part 1

PART 1 - The Trailer

We have all see them. Small, quirky little camper trailers towed behind smaller cars. But have you ever wanted to build one? I did, well, after I saw what the price was to buy one from a dealer. Believe it or not but it wasn't really that hard to do. With some basic skills and tools I was able to build one for half the price of a new one. Approximate cost, $2500 (CAN).

Plan

So, how do you make one? Well first you need a plan. There are a lot of pictures and plans on the internet. For me, I just drew up my own. I wanted something that I can sleep in and have a kitchen in the back. After a quick sketch on graph paper (roughly to scale - one square per six inches) I was able to estimate the amounts of material needed to buy. I found that I only purchased materials when I needed them (steel for the frame, then wood when I was ready to build the box, etc).

DESIGN NOTES: My design has one major feature, The camper is removable from the trailer frame to give you a flat bed trailer for hauling items. This feature gives you two trailers for the price of one!

Materials

Trailer Frame

  • Steel tubing - Main support beam (2 inch by 2 inch by 1/8 inch thick)
  • Steel tubing - rest of frame (2 inch by 2 inch by 1/16 inch thick)
  • Trailer light kit
  • Trailer chains
  • Trailer hitch
  • Trailer wheel/tire assembly
  • Trailer torsion bar axle assemblies
  • Steel Wheel fenders
  • Pressure treated sheet of plywood (4 foot by 8 foot by 1/2 inch thick)
  • Trailer tongue arm (some move up and down to allow you to position the tongue at the height of the ball on your truck. Some also have a wheel to allow you to move easier if your backing skills aren't up to par)
  • Primer in a spray can
  • Gloss Black spray paint cans

Tools

  • MIG Welder (and accessories such as mask, gloves, etc)
  • Welders Aide (the magnetic angle used to hold the pieces in place during welding)
  • Grinder
  • Chop Saw (with metal cutting blade)
  • Drill (with metal drill bits)
  • Measuring tape
  • Soapstone marking stick
  • Primer in a spray can
  • Gloss Black spray paint cans
  • two jack stands

Step one - Building the TrailerAfter your design is completed and you've ordered your steel, then you can start to cut it up and start laying it out prior to welding it. Make sure the thicker beam runs the full length of the trailer to add strength. The main beam will also act as the trailer tongue. This should be as long as possible to aid in backing up the trailer.

  • Cut the steel for the frame
  • Grind all the ends and areas to be welded
  • Weld the steel together
  • Grind down the welds until smooth
  • Once cool, prime, then paint the frame

All the metal cut and laid out before welding
All the metal cut and laid out before welding
Welding and grinding
Welding and grinding
Primed and Painted frame
Primed and Painted frame

Next it's time to attach the torsion bar axles. Before you start welding them on, you will want to make sure they are positioned in the "center point" of the trailer. Actually, you will need to position them at the "center point" of the camper. Now that is the point where the trailer is balanced on both sides of the axle. You do not want the weight to be too heavy on the tongue or on the back. The best way to do this is by positioning the two jack stands under the frame where you thing the wheels would go. Then move them forward or backwards until the frame is balancing on the stands. Once you have found the center point, make a mark at their location. Now, position the axles at this mark.

Once in position, ensure the axles are straight and even with the frame. You do not want your trailer to driving down the road sideways! Then, weld in place (don't forget to pre-grind the area to be welded).Next its now time for the "extras" such as the fender, tongue and tongue arm. In my case it was just a case of grabbing the part, and start welding it in place. The fenders are held in place by a friend and welded to the frame. The tongue arm is held in place an welded. The tongue is positioned, mounting holes drilled and bolted in place. The chains are held under the tongue and welded. Before you know it, you're ready for the wiring!

See my next hub for Part 2 - The Camper...

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Comments 4 comments

Used Teardrop Trailers 5 years ago

Wow! thanks for sharing this very informative and comprehensive post about Building your own tear drop camper - Part 1! keep posting!


catering trailers 5 years ago

Nice! this is such a very wonderful post about Building your own tear drop camper - Part 1! I really enjoyed reading!


sradie profile image

sradie 4 years ago from Palm Coast FL

Very interesting. I have been thinking about this for awhile. Where we live, we can't park RV's or boats in our driveways or yards. A teardrop trailer would fit in the garage nicely or be small enough to hide in the fenced backyard where no one would see it. I have all the tools and skills needed to do this. I just might. By the way, for readers with space issues, a folding tongue kit can also be a great addition. I have one on my boat trailer and it works great. Nice hub.


franksg384 profile image

franksg384 3 years ago from Anderson, SC

This is a really cool article, thanks for taking the time to make this hub!

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