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Building a Trailer for Your Teardrop Camper

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My Teardrop Trailer Fantasy Made Real

We have all seen them. Small, quirky little camper trailers towed behind smaller cars. But have you ever wanted to build one? I did, after I saw what the price was to buy one from a dealer. Believe it or not, 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).

So, how do you make a trailer? 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 I needed to buy. I only purchased materials as I needed them (steel for the frame, then wood when I was ready to build the box, etc).

Design note: My design has a 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!

How I Built The Trailer for My Teardrop Camper

Materials for the 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.)
  • Welder's 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

Laying Out and Welding the Trailer Frame

After 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

Next: Attaching the Axles

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: Attaching the Fender, Tongue, and Tongue Arm

It's now time for the "extras" such as the fender, tongue and tongue arm. For me it was just a case of grabbing the part, and starting to weld it in place. A friend held the fenders in place while I welded them to the frame. Then, we held the tongue arm in place and welded it. Then we positioned the tongue, drilled mounting holes, and bolted it in place. We held the chains under the tongue and welded them. Before you know it, you're ready for the wiring!

Primed and Painted frame

Primed and Painted frame

To Be Continued...

In later articles I hope to write about building the teardrop camper itself.

Comments

Catie from Ann Arbor, MI on November 27, 2018:

Thank you, it has been fun and a lot of work! It is my "life mortgage free" plan :)

Jay Baker (author) from Canada on November 27, 2018:

Catie,

Im not an expert, but i would do both. Run a bead of construction adhesive and bolt it down. The bolts would provide a mechanical connection while the adhesive would hold it tight and stop any squeaking.

Sounds like you have a fun project. Let us know how it goes.

Catie from Ann Arbor, MI on November 27, 2018:

I am hoping you can help me. I have an aluminum frame, Vintage, 1978 Holiday Rambler. I am taking her down to the skin to add 2 inch insulation. I have been searching everywhere to find out how do I attach wood panels back on to the aluminum frame. Can I screw it on (using zinc covered screws or aluminum screws) or do I have to glue it on without any screws? Thank you if you can help!

Randy on February 23, 2018:

I need to order a trailer kit and boulder my own trailer!cancel.randall@yahoo.com

Jay Baker (author) from Canada on January 02, 2018:

Part 2:

https://discover.hubpages.com/travel/Building-your...

Part 3:

https://discover.hubpages.com/travel/Building-your...

Alajmi on September 22, 2017:

Thanks witting for part2

Jay Baker (author) from Canada on August 08, 2017:

Part 2 and 3 has been posted

Brett Comley on May 03, 2017:

Thank you so much for this article. It is a great help. Could you please let me have Part 2?

Many thanks

Regards

Brett

Noah Franks from Anderson, SC on April 09, 2013:

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

sradie from Palm Coast FL on September 30, 2012:

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.

catering trailers on July 17, 2011:

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

Used Teardrop Trailers on April 20, 2011:

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

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