New guy from Midwest

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New guy from Midwest

Postby Tigris99 » Fri Mar 03, 2017 7:00 pm

Figured I'd introduce myself. Got turned onto teardrops/diy camper trailers buy a fellow mountian biker over on MTBR. Saw what he did, made me curious. Realized that a lot of this is DIY (not just $5-10000 mini camper trailers).

What the guy built was really nice. Much more so than I will be able to do funding wise.

Plan before was to buy a used pop-up but had to find something that was acceptable for weight/size for towing behind our minivans.

Started digging and found these forums.

Being the DIY guy I am these look fairly simple for the basic design and construction phases. And have been putting together ideas. Just gotta sort out how to make it all happen.

Thanks all and special thanks to Mike for putting this place together. I would have never realized that this was possible on a budget or without expensive equipment.

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Re: New guy from Midwest

Postby Scomi21 » Tue Mar 07, 2017 2:41 pm

Check out the cargo trailer conversions. Some of the threads that are 20+ have a lot of good pictures. Flboy has done a lot in his 53+ page build that I'm looking to duplicate on mine. Google and this thread will be great time spent!


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Re: New guy from Midwest

Postby Tigris99 » Fri Mar 10, 2017 3:06 pm

I had thought about that but those are bigger than I want to do, as well as heavier. But biggest thing being at least around here, a cargo trailer used is more than I can build one of these for including buying a new basic trailer from NT (if NT is meaning northern tool as I gather it does) and modifying.

So far what I need is sorted:

Internal space of a queen size bed (or slightly narrower). Gotta have 7ft length. Then rear fold out that gives sleeping space for our boys. I'm thinking a dual vertical door design, first top opens, then bottom opens. Sides I'm not sure on yet. Either find proper heavy canvas material or just chop up one of our tents. Don't need much, probably go a offset bunk style with our 3 yr old on top, possibly internal hatch in case we get a thunderstorm so he can crawl in with us.

Other thought of that was getting one with the little ramp then modifying the ramp to stop and lock level with the trailer to create the lower deck for the bunk or shared bed space. Of course cutting it well shorter than stock form. But long enough that when our toddler gets too tall for the bunk they can share the lower deck sleeping space.

With that, on one side I'm planning on what most would consider a galley but minimal counter space, small basic sink with a small tank for grey water.

May have a small tank for fresh water but that would be filled upon arrival in most cases (I'll install a small filter set up if I decide to do this part). Will have to see where weight is at and trailer balance prior to considering that addition. We already haul a 5 gallon tank on wheels with fresh water when we camp.

Also debating on a "gull wing" design for side access. Should be fairly simple as internal height is only enough we can sit up without me hitting my head. Then use a tent side under it for privacy.

Front will house batteries smaller inverters (one for charging and once out for trailer) and a DIY air handler. Also planning on having solar panels stored inside the trailer that can be quickly attached to trailer.

That's where my coherent ideas and plans stop at the moment. Think planning and saving phase will far exceed build phase lol.

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Re: New guy from Midwest

Postby mtbikernate » Fri Mar 10, 2017 4:52 pm

That person on mtbr wouldn't happen to be me, would it?

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Re: New guy from Midwest

Postby drhill » Fri Mar 10, 2017 6:20 pm

Teardrop trailers and bikes go great together. Since you are a DIY guy you might want to custom build your own trailer with a descent tongue on it so you can go with a tongue mount bike rack. We might have gone a little overboard on the galley, but I like a big meal after a big ride. That oven has put out lots of pizzas. Have a great time with your build.
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Re: New guy from Midwest

Postby KennethW » Fri Mar 10, 2017 10:25 pm

drhill wrote:Teardrop trailers and bikes go great together. Since you are a DIY guy you might want to custom build your own trailer with a descent tongue on it so you can go with a tongue mount bike rack.
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Like the bike rack,very neat way to carry bikes. Look like the bikes mounted that way would not kill your mileage.
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Re: New guy from Midwest

Postby fotooutdoors » Sat Mar 11, 2017 7:43 am

mtbikernate wrote:That person on mtbr wouldn't happen to be me, would it?



Nice trailer. I'm curious what it did to your fuel mileage. I have a Crosstrek as well, and have been toying with the idea of a small camper trailer (though big enough to stick bikes with the front wheel removed inside), but my fuel mileage OCD wants to optimize the trailer shape (boat tail it) for fuel efficiency.
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Re: New guy from Midwest

Postby mtbikernate » Sat Mar 11, 2017 11:51 am

fotooutdoors wrote:
mtbikernate wrote:That person on mtbr wouldn't happen to be me, would it?



Nice trailer. I'm curious what it did to your fuel mileage. I have a Crosstrek as well, and have been toying with the idea of a small camper trailer (though big enough to stick bikes with the front wheel removed inside), but my fuel mileage OCD wants to optimize the trailer shape (boat tail it) for fuel efficiency.

10mpg drop for a 1600mi drive from AZ to IN. Didn't get economy driving out, but probably less due to the climbing and headwind. That is with bikes on the roof, too. I suspect that is the biggest hit to economy and that the reduction due to aerodynamics of the trailer itself is relatively small.

Plus, the loaded trailer is close to the 1500lb towing capacity of the car. On flat ground just cruising, engine rpm would stay pretty low. But for any little hill, the car pushed hard. That tells me wind resistance is not the primary factor.
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Re: New guy from Midwest

Postby fotooutdoors » Sat Mar 11, 2017 12:36 pm

Thanks. That is very useful. Fwiw, on the highway I usually get around 28-31 mpg without anything on the outside, 27-29 with bikes on a hitch rack, and 23-24 with them on the roof. All those numbers are based on driving in the relatively flat Midwest. So, some of the hit come from the trailer, but from our composite numbers, it looks like I could expect something in the low to mid 20's with a trailer in tow.

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Re: New guy from Midwest

Postby drhill » Sat Mar 11, 2017 1:31 pm

This talk of fuel mileage is interesting and not to hijack the original posters thread, but what has been posted does show that getting the bikes off the roof is the way to reduce the fuel consumption. I do keep a fuel and maintenance journal and have been meaning to analyze the numbers for awhile. I tow with a 2005 Equinox V6 AWD. It is rated at 17 m/usgal city and 23 m/usgal highway. Last 4 months of mostly highway but cold weather I have averaged 20.5 m/usgal (no trailer). When towing on a 5250 km trip last spring I averaged 16.6 m/usgal. That trip was with 3 adults and bikes and tent and associated gear. The speed does make a difference for sure, I averaged 18.75 m/usgal on 745 km return trip to Fernie with 5 adults, 6 bikes, two tents and extra coolers, water beer etc. Trailer weight at a self weigh scale was 2400 lbs (2100 axle and 300 tongue weight). So a LOT of weight, but better mileage as I did slow down from my usual speed.
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Again, good luck with your build. There are some pictures here somewhere of a teardrop with a 2 bike garage at the front of it. I'll see if I can find a link to it.
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Re: New guy from Midwest

Postby drhill » Sat Mar 11, 2017 1:35 pm

That was easy to find - he does call it a bike garage so the search worked. If I could just atick to two bikes, this would be awesome.

http://tnttt.com/viewtopic.php?f=27&t=55299
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Re: New guy from Midwest

Postby Tigris99 » Sat Mar 11, 2017 6:45 pm

No Harold not at all lol, this is RAKC

Your fuel mileage was strongly effected on flat ground, but suburu is good about high torque engines, so drastically increased room on flat isn't needed to maintain. Obviously nothing like towing up hill but that's just the same as us on bikes. Heavy bike we notice real fast on a climb.

That "bike garage" is freaking awesome!!!

The one DIY tool I don't own is a welder. Doing small things at my buddies shop isn't a problem but building an entire trailer is neither cost efficient or easily done for me. I can weld great but material is going to be pricey here. I live an hour from anything that you can really count as a city. Population 10k industrial town access the river doesn't count.

I am not against modifying a trailer as that's my intention. Premade trailers that are a good base and modifying is still far cheaper than sourcing everything and the time/expense of going to get it.

That damn garage really has me thinking, though I'd want at least 3 bike capacity.

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Re: New guy from Midwest

Postby mtbikernate » Sun Mar 12, 2017 11:47 pm

I'll be honest - I'm actually glad I didn't build mine myself.

Couple reasons for that.

First, I just wasn't excited about the overall quality of a bolt-together trailer like the HF models. Nope. Just not at all.

Second was with the build itself. I would have had to buy a decent amount of tools and learn a good bit along the way. I'd have made mistakes, and had basic quality stuff I wouldn't have been happy with on the first run. I've built a good bit of stuff myself and I know how that stuff works.

I feel like I got a much nicer final product out of the deal by having it built for me. The trailer is absolutely better (all welded and powder coated, IIRC, by a place in Iowa). Wheels and tires are absolutely better than what I'd get on a HF trailer. I've got electric brakes with a brakeaway safety setup. I would have been really doing a lot of learning when it came to the electrical system. So not having to figure out and wire all that stuff up saved me lots of hassle. The body of the trailer itself is clad in aluminum and diamond plate, which is definitely not something I'm equipped to mess with.

I was more or less stuck with the body plan of the builder I chose, so that can be seen as a negative (no bike garage, for example). But on the flip side of that, I feel like this particular body plan offers a lot of capability for customization, particularly with the galley. I've got some plans to tweak the organization in there to make it easier to get my kitchen set up and operational once I hit camp. One biggie I want to set up is a cooler slideout. I will probably also add some sort of modular drawers on the middle shelf, too. And I'll probably try some stuff that I don't like and I'll change it. I'm also working out in my head a sort of meal prep station. Something with bins I can use for dishwashing, but can cover up with cutting boards. It will be some sort of exterior shelf or standalone table that I can fold up and stow in the galley for transport.

I'll also probably be adding a propane tank holder in front of the tool box that'll fit one of those 20lb cylinders (I have two that I'm not using at the moment). Then I could run an extension hose from it to my camp stove, and maybe even one of those splitter trees I can put a lantern on. One of those 20lb tanks would last forever and would avoid the trash of those green 1lb cylinders (that's what I used on this trip 'cause I had a few laying around).

With better organization, that'll mean less time in setup/takedown, and more time relaxing or riding. Where the bikes go will probably depend on the vehicle I use to tow it. I'm considering putting a hitch on my Honda Fit so I can use the trailer for solo trips close to home. I wouldn't drive more than an hour or two pulling it with the Fit, but I think it can handle that much.

tigris, you might consider these guys. http://www.tcteardrops.com/ It sounds like they're based up your direction. I was considering them for my build, but I found a builder even more local to me, and TC Teardrops sounds like they've got a longer wait time than the builder I used (TC has ONE shop whereas Hiker has TWO).

I am extremely happy with how my Hiker tows. Yeah, it may make the Subie eat gas, but it's barely noticeable on flats or even on most downhills, which is something I really can't say about every other trailer I've pulled in my life. Some have handled like pure crap. I attribute the majority of that to the well build base of the trailer itself. It's got good balance. I think the wheels being outboard of the trailer body helps quite a lot with lateral stability. I don't have crappy skinny wimpy trailer wheels/tires.

I have a friend who has built a few trailers. He had a homemade teardrop a couple years ago. He's got one now he calls the "Gypsy Wagon" that's a standee and he's just finishing up a whole suspension overhaul on it. Moving the axle back to put a little more weight on the tongue. Beefier axle/suspension. New, wider axle to put the tires outboard of the trailer body (he almost doubled the axle width). Wider wheels/tires for more contact with the ground. The last time he pulled it, he had a pretty terrifying experience with it, so it needed work. That's all stuff I just don't want to have to deal with. Particularly the terrifying towing experience if you get something wrong.
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Re: New guy from Midwest

Postby Tigris99 » Mon Mar 13, 2017 1:21 pm

I'll keep that in mind definately. Who's the Iowa company because I can bet their closer to me than they are to you :p. I walk out my front door and look the the right and there's a river then Iowa on the other side. True distance I'm close to the WI border but drive time is almost 2 hours headed north.

I have the tools, skills and experience to build one (minus the welder but that because I'm not paying a stupid amount to get 220v service added here, were only going to be in this house another year at most).

I can mill small aluminum parts, rebuild an engine for a car/about any auto repair or damn near build a house out of my garage (need a bigger garage! Too much crap in a small space, plus my bikes).

My life has been cars since I could see over the hood (been an ASE tech since I was 21), union carpenter for a few years for a change in scenery which I loved the work, hated union political drama and seasonal paychecks.

Cheap trailers I'm trying to avoid as I know they won't last. The balance issue i am used to as well. I can fix the cheap trailer issues but not so cheap at that point. So watching for used like a hawk. I laugh at idiots selling the cheap trailers for what they cost new having a rotted deck, flat tires and such.

Nice thing about where I live is that stuff like that pops up CONNSTANTLY. Just many morons watch too much TV and think their crap is worth its weight in gold.

Biggest thing is that I'm not your typical diy guy. I like learning the right way to do things when it's something new. For these it's sealing things properly to last and chasing down materials.

Oh and if doing my trailer here at home is outside what I have, my parents place has a carpentry shop and father is a 30+ year journeyman electrician and power plant instrumentation specialist. I already asked him to see if any of his buddies have a trailer for sale, he got excited that I was doing this as he had never considered building a tiny/teardrop style trailer. So he wants to help lol.

Trust me a pro built I'd love, just not keen on adding more debt right now and not having it be exactly what I want.

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Re: New guy from Midwest

Postby mtbikernate » Mon Mar 13, 2017 2:46 pm

I wish I knew the place that built the base trailer. The Hiker Trailer shop here locally uses them as a supplier. I'm not sure if the Denver Hiker Trailer shop uses the same supplier or not.

Sounds like you've got more of the base knowledge to start with than I do. And resources to cover the stuff that aren't your area of expertise. I probably could have leaned on my father for help, but it'd have been pretty heavy leaning. He welded up a trailer for his Harley a few years ago. It's currently set up as just a cargo trailer, but he has plans to set up some kind of popup or rooftop tent for it eventually. He has a welder at home, and has been teaching me to weld. But I'm far too inexperienced and unskilled to weld up this kind of project yet. I'd like my first real welding project to be a flatbed bicycle cargo trailer, actually.

I considered finding a used trailer, too, but I also couldn't believe the prices people were asking for POS rusted out stuff with no deck, flat tires, and probably in need of new axles/hubs, too. I saw plenty of that on the local CL. I am in a larger city, but also close to a lot of rural area, so I can source just about anything if I look hard enough. Too much junk.

One positive is that I was patient enough with this project that I own my trailer outright, even though I bought a pro built one.
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