What makes a teardrop offroad capable?

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What makes a teardrop offroad capable?

Postby KTM_Guy » Sat Dec 30, 2017 3:25 pm

This has been my life for the last three weeks. So I have had a lot of time (to much) to think about my build and also look at other builds and read some really cool trip reports.
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I have seen (online) the tears like the Moby1,Aventure Trailer and SoCal's. All cool trailers and spendy, some are pushing $25,000+. :shock: Then I there was a guy with a Little Guy that was upgraded with bigger tires and wheels, and I think axle. That guy has been in some cool offroad places and is sleeping 30 nights a year and between 6000 and 9000 miles a year for the last 4-5 years. Then again I saw another Little Guy off road and it was falling apart.

I know I want to build and take my Drop in much rougher terrain than it will ever see. Several reason for that. 1. We still owe way to much money on the TV to do any extreme off roading. :( 2. The TV is still my wife's daily driver, she still needs to get to work on Monday. 3. My wife does well off-roading but doesn't like rock crawling (me either), one lane shelf roads with 1000' drop offs. 4. I respect the wilderness and don't want to be the guy that gets a trail closed because I took a trailer where it doesn't belong.

I guess there are a few levels of off-road camping when it comes to trailers. I know a dirt road up by Sedona that is like a dirt superhighway. Any car with any trailer can get back to so nice remote campsites. So technically that would be offroad. We have other state roads that will show up on GPS's where you would need high clearance and some good traction tires. Forest service roads can be wide and smooth or narrow, rutted, rocky, and washed out. And they can change with the monsoons overnight.

So for me I want my build to handle green and easier blue trails going by the Charles Wells guide books. I will avoid trails with tight switchbacks.

I think its a given that heavier duty axle, hubs, and breaks are must haves, along with bigger wheels and tires. But what else do you think and off-road teardrop should have?

My must have's include, Water storage and lots of it. I live in the desert it's hot and dry here. Arizona requires all back country camping to have a shovel so I need a place to mount that. Some forests are requiring fire extinguisher now too. If it fits in the budget I will do wheels and tires to match the TV with a spare. That would give me 8 tires to do rotations with. Not a must have but more a want is a heater of some kind. That may sound crazy in the desert but it can get cold here at night. This time of year (Dec/Jan) up at the Grand Canyon lows are in the teens and can drop below 0. Head south of PHX and lows can be in the 30's. In the summer we go to Colorado and a favorite campsite is at almost 11,000 in Aug it gets down to the 30's. We would like to go in Sep to see the colors but it gets to cold for my wife to tent camp. Some kind of shade is a must. Not sure what that will yet. Stabilizer jacks that will work with unlevel ground. A plus would be if I could use it to change a tire. I'm sure I'm missing a few things.

What do you think an off-road teardrop should have?

Todd
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Re: What makes a teardrop offroad capable?

Postby NotJammer » Sat Dec 30, 2017 8:10 pm

When the foot heals buy better boots. Ouch! Been there.

Tell us what the TV is.

Matching tires and wheels is a very good idea. Shovel and Hi-Lift jack bolted on with snatch straps. I know how cold the desert is. For desert I am now considering a big freshwater tank INSIDE my TV, an F150. Puts the weight where I want and goes away when empty. You need a hand tire pump and a small compressor with tire plugs. Put shocks on the raised TD. All metal might be good for frame, studs and roof. Twigs are kindling. How much insulation do 2 healthy people need in a TD WITH a heater? I bought Atwood last night but my trailer is huge. Propex? How much kindling is left in the desert? We used our DIY Dune buggy for fetching wood in the Mohave and found lots back then. Big fires. Small woodburner?

Dust and sand storms are a real show stopper. Prepare for that.

In the 70's I camped with a group in the Mohave for 6 weeks, 3 years running. January to Feb. OP guns were a problem. 2 people is not really enough, we learned we needed 3 people and 2 healthy vehicles on every mission, just to get back to base. I hurt my shin big time right through tough boots on an all rocks area. We had Husqvarna and CZ. Premix 20/1 for the heat. I qt any oil to 5 gallon can. Never a seizure.

Take the winter to heal. I am a believer in slow body repair. I just spent 6 months on that.

Tell us a story, you have the time.

Cheers and Happy New Year!
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What makes a teardrop offroad capable?

Postby Socal Tom » Sat Dec 30, 2017 8:46 pm

I’ve taken mine across mojave Road, an across many other back country trails where 2wd vehicles are not recommended. My recommendations
1) a study trailer frame.
2) axle clearance that is at least as high as the TV. ( in my case 13in tires are enough to match my Jeep Wrangler)
3) a structurally sound “shell” mine follows the generic benroy design, but I have added additional bracing at the corners. And use extra glue everywhere.
4) keep the body about the same width as TV, and if you can keep the wheel track about the same that is good too.
Mine sits inside an angle iron frame. The shell is attached to the floor, and the floor is bolted to the frame. IMO, this reduces the amount of twisting stress applied to the shell. If the walls are bolted directly to the frame, then any twisting of the frame will try and twist the body. Here is a video of my trailer on the worst section of Mojave Road.
https://youtu.be/h6e4jqAEp7E
The trip included 109 miles off road, I was told that my trailer was catching air in one fast section, so I recommend shocks to help control against that.

I’d love to have matching tires size, but it’s not practical for me. My galley is at bar height now, with bigger tires I would need more stuff. I remodeled recently, now I carry 2 six gallon water cans over the fenders. If you want a built in tank, plan on at least 9 ft in length. There should be room between the bed and galley bulkhead for a water tank. Water should be over the axle.
I believe in keeping the weight down, it will be much easier to man handle if needed.


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Re: What makes a teardrop offroad capable?

Postby Esteban » Sat Dec 30, 2017 10:29 pm

I am not an off-roader.

timbren.com/axle-less/ makes an "axle-less" suspension system designed for off-road trailer users. They are manufactured in Canada and available to purchase in the USA from etrailer.com.


Last edited by Esteban on Sat Dec 30, 2017 10:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What makes a teardrop offroad capable?

Postby tony.latham » Sat Dec 30, 2017 10:32 pm

Good tires and good clearance.

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And I'd highly recommend you pick up a copy of Steve Fredrick's Teardrop Builders Shop Manual and use his inside-out build method.
http://www.campingclassics.com/shopman05.html

It'll show you how to build a strong but not over-built box. :thumbsup:

Tony
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Re: What makes a teardrop offroad capable?

Postby Socal Tom » Sun Dec 31, 2017 10:00 am

tony.latham wrote:
It'll show you how to build a strong but not over-built box. :thumbsup:

Tony

Amen, I’ve seen so many overbuilt rigs on Expo. The most well known off road TDs are wood boxes on a steel trailer. I don’t understand why so many make a steel box. They add so much unnecessary weight.
Tom


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Re: What makes a teardrop offroad capable?

Postby slowcowboy » Sun Dec 31, 2017 1:28 pm

I do mild offroading in the local wind river moutains in Wyoming we don't crawl over boulders only on our quads and horses. but. the national forest roads get pretty rough tons of washboards deep pot holes and we some downs get down a 2 track on a rare occasion which we can even do on our flat land lakes. so. . heres my toughts I learned a little trick years ago off some teardrop offroad sites. number one gas shockes on your leaf springs are a biggy it even pulls better on pavement takes the bounce out. weld a large bolt to your u bolt plate and put another bolt though your trailer frame. now I do pull with a harbor freight trailer but is heavly modified. and yes good clearance most tears are not to bad on that. 15 inch wheels mud and snow helps out with good new lugs. saves on flats to as you get heavy good ply thik side walls in your tires that harbor freight tires and most smaller trailer tires and passenger cars tires just don't have saves you on the rocks. so buy mud and snow lts and put on that tear! :D
get a good set of yellow Monroe 12 inch rv gas shocks. you me amazed at how your tear pulls. :R

straight axles help a lot they got more clearance that the normal rv drop axles I got mine off a used pop up trailer I scrapped out. cut it down to fit my harbor freight trailer was simple just welded on new leaf spring mounts ... 3500 lb straight axle beefs it up.

then I went over kill I built like a Sherman tank but never regreted. I got a 2 by 10 in side for a shelf a bove my med. 1 by 6s in my roof hell a grizzle bar can tip me over and not make me collapse. one main thingy... I deleberty tied every thing down hard and fast. my cabnet draws all have solid rooster catches I even stol 2 off the lid of that doner pop up trailer and stuck them on my main large cabnet drawer. so tis keeps every thing from bounceing apart on washbaords.! there ant much left to my habor freight trailer but the frame every things modified. but its all stought. even my 2 and 5 16 t th bull dog hitch... I don't have a lot of weight food goes in with the coolers in the tow rig. some times my battery its mostly my bed and covers getting bounced around back there in the tear! :D that's my thoughts on off road I never really get to camp on road in Wyoming theres always some bush beating involed. slowcowboy
Plans. there was supposed to be plans to be followed when I built this thing. Opps! AH, gee, tum,tee tum. I think I forgot about the plans 2 years ago. ------Tow vehicles, 1995 ford explore, 1994 ford ranger, 1993 ford F-150, 2009 4x9 Off road teardrop, on harbor freight greatly modified frame.
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Re: What makes a teardrop offroad capable?

Postby John61CT » Sun Dec 31, 2017 5:08 pm

I'd like to see "as light as possible" designs from the frame up, like ttnt Foamies, but (just) sturdy enough for long stretches of washboard, logging roads etc.

Obviously the tires/suspension and chassis framing, holding batteries tanks etc need to be robust, but if everything up top were say only 500lbs more I bet that would allow for more reasonable measures than Sherman tank style.

I think making for easy / cheap repairs is another key, big gouge in the side, or rock busts a bit of flooring, NBD, rather than trying to make the whole cage and skins bulletproof.
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Re: What makes a teardrop offroad capable?

Postby tony.latham » Sun Dec 31, 2017 8:39 pm

What's "offroad" mean? Off the pavement? Off the county road? USFS roads aka logging roads? Two-tracks through BLM?

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On most federally managed lands, it's illegal to just take off lilly-nilly for true offroading.

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So what's offroading, when it comes to our discussions? :thinking:

Tony
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What makes a teardrop offroad capable?

Postby Socal Tom » Mon Jan 01, 2018 2:59 pm

Let me take a stab at defining a few “levels” for purposes of discussion.
Level 1 would maintained dirt roads. These have been scrapped by heavy equipment, so they are wide, generally flat, although they may have developed washboards and have small ( less than 1foot) washouts. Level 1 can probably be driven with. 2wd with ground clearance.
Level 2 would be two track paths developed over time as vehicles have driven them , narrow in places so brush damage is likely, washouts may exceed 1 foot, but not more than about 1 foot deep. ( probably spanned by a tire easily). Probably needs 4wheel drive at some points
Level 3 would be a trail with rutted areas, or rocks and undulating areas where the road goes up and down and can get off camber at times. needs 4 wheel drive ( the video above would be a level 3)
Level 4 would be something that required 33 inch tires and 4 wheel drive to get through.
Level 5 probably wouldn’t support bringing a trailer.


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Re: What makes a teardrop offroad capable?

Postby KTM_Guy » Mon Jan 01, 2018 8:36 pm

Socal Tom wrote:Let me take a stab at defining a few “levels” for purposes of discussion.
Level 1 would maintained dirt roads. These have been scrapped by heavy equipment, so they are wide, generally flat, although they may have developed washboards and have small ( less than 1foot) washouts. Level 1 can probably be driven with. 2wd with ground clearance.
Level 2 would be two track paths developed over time as vehicles have driven them , narrow in places so brush damage is likely, washouts may exceed 1 foot, but not more than about 1 foot deep. ( probably spanned by a tire easily). Probably needs 4wheel drive at some points
Level 3 would be a trail with rutted areas, or rocks and undulating areas where the road goes up and down and can get off camber at times. needs 4 wheel drive ( the video above would be a level 3)
Level 4 would be something that required 33 inch tires and 4 wheel drive to get through.
Level 5 probably wouldn’t support bringing a trailer.


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Sounds fair, I would add a new Level 1 and move the other numbers up one. The new level 1 would be regularly maintained dirt roads. With very minor washboards. Road like this would be found in some NP's, Organ Pipe has a nice 50 mile loop any SUV can do. Apache Trail east of PHX is another any passenger car can do when is freshly graded.

The current level 1-2 would be less frequent maintenance, likely after storms. Two vehicles can pass in most places. Washboards but not filling loosening bad.

Current 2-3 would be the same but with plenty of places to pull over to pass or oncoming traffic can get by.

Current 3-4 would add fewer places to pass and backing up to let oncoming traffic get by could happen. Remember uphill traffic has right-of-way.

Current 4-5 would include Lift, armor, and still some body damage could happen, switchback that can be done without removing the trailer

Current 5-6 would include switchbacks that the trailer would have to be removed and manhandled to make.

Good stuff so far, love the pictures and video. :applause:
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Re: What makes a teardrop offroad capable?

Postby KTM_Guy » Mon Jan 01, 2018 9:43 pm

Thanks for the replies so far. I don't want this thread to be about my build, I should start a build thread since I have got started. Maybe this week I can see what I got for pictures, and get something started.

One of the things I have noticed with all my free time and watching Vlog's (ugh), trip reports, and Expedition Portal forum, so many people buy into the Overland hype. I was doing it too, but caught myself. I hope. :thinking: Whats the hype? It seem like everyone is building (mostly expo trailers with RTT, but some teardrops) to explore 3 world countries. How many of these people will see anywhere close to what they are building for?

A few examples, a guy had a new expo trailer built with all the bells and whistles. He then went to add mods like more water storage Rotopax, 10 gallons of gas in Rotopax mounted to the back of the trailer. He had to have $500 in Rotopax cans and mounts. He almost tore them off on his first trip. The funny thing is he lives on the east coast, Can you really go anyplace east of the rockies that you can't get from gas station to station on a tank of gas? Even out west there are probably few places you "need" extra fuel but having extra is smart. But put it in a protected place.

Another guy was building an Expo trailer and the frame was 2X4X3/16 tube? :? I think the same guy did a cool trailing arm with air bags. I could see running over a rebar or fence post and popping the air bag. I know they said the same thing about torsion axles and Timbren.

I have really cut back on what I thought I wanted to do to what is more practical. Probably pick a level from above and build/buy to the next level up.

Todd

PS I'll admit I was planning on 10 gallons of trailer mounted gas so I could fill them with $2.14 gas and not pay the $4.65 in Panamint Springs in Death Valley. :? I'm cheap that way. :oops:
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Re: What makes a teardrop offroad capable?

Postby Socal Tom » Mon Jan 01, 2018 11:13 pm

There was a thread a while back on Expo. “You know your an Overlander when..”. My favorite was “ When you carry cast iron pots and titanium spoons”.... I have to fight the “titanium spoon “ urge myself from time to time. What worked for me was to focus on a specific trip. In my case Mojave Road. I made some upgrades necessary to do that route, but I tried to restrict myself from going much beyond that.


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Re: What makes a teardrop offroad capable?

Postby John61CT » Tue Jan 02, 2018 8:17 am

LOL brilliant.

Super light is fine but at least be consistent 8-)
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Re: What makes a teardrop offroad capable?

Postby kokomoto » Tue Jan 02, 2018 9:25 am

What is "offroad capable"? I don't know.

I simply wanted a teardrop that would go anywhere that my Cherokee could go. I never wanted to be in a position to go somewhere, but have to back down because my trailer wouldn't handle it. With that in mind, I installed quality 15" steel wheels and tall, skinny tires mounted on a 3500# axle with a simple leaf spring suspension under a stout trailer frame with ample ground clearance. Overkill? Probably. Are there better suspension solutions available? Absolutely.

I live in the southeast, but plan to take my TD out west and to Alaska someday. I have no idea what I type of road/trail surfaces I might encounter out west, but I'd like to think that I can get to the places I want to go without my TD being the weak link. Additionally, I saw very little downside to designing my TD that way. Having quality wheels and tires is never a bad thing. The HD axle is simple to maintain/repair, and the larger trailer brakes have less maintenance issues than the smaller units on the 2,000# axles according to my local trailer supply shop. I'm sure that I would be just as pleased with one of the other axle systems.
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