Welcome to the "Learning Curve"

...ask your questions in the appropriate forums BUT document your build here...preferably in a single thread...dates for updates, are appreciated....

Welcome to the "Learning Curve"

Postby Lou.Catozzi » Sat Aug 13, 2016 8:08 pm

Ahh - a new build thread. After lurking here for the past few months and reading many build journals and checking out many different designs and plans I have learned a lot about teardrops trailers in general and the people who build them but I decided to jump in and build one anyway.

I settled on the Grumann2 profile and a stock NTE 5x8 trailer kit as the foundation layer. I am sure I will learn a lot more about teardrop trailers and the people who build them during the life of this project so I decided to call it "Learning Curve" as in - I am somewhere very near the bottom of that curve!

Two weeks ago I ordered the trailer kit and this morning I stopped by my friendly neighborhood NTE location and picked it up. It came in three boxes, two long narrow ones and another one for the tires, hitch, attachment hardware. None of them were light but I managed to get them into the truck and headed on home.

Since the two long boxes were both somewhat torn up I decided to open everything up and check all the parts against the parts list. Everyone does that, right? Well, everything appears to be there although one of the cross rails was slightly bent.

Image

Since I had everything all spread out in the driveway anyways I might as well get started and see just how bad the directions really are. I've read several comments about these kit assembly instructions. The writer obviously assumed an experienced audience and the drawings are a little small but I think I am doing okay until I notice that I am assembling it right side up instead of upside down as they show in the picture but failed to mention in the text. Hmm. Side rails and five cross rails and it is already too heavy to flip over on my own. Now where did I put that teenage son of mine. Okay, now I can continue. BTW - that slightly bent cross rail (you can see it in the picture) was successfully beaten back into shape with a rubber mallet. I will leave all the bolts loose until I get the floor built so I can be sure everything is nice and square.

Lessons learned today:

1. Assemble the trailer on a soft surface, like the lawn, so it does not get all scratched up as you drag the pieces around.

2. Nuts, bolts, and washers are hard to find if you drop them in the grass.

3. Have someone nearby to assist with moving heavy assemblies around.

To be continued...

Lou
Last edited by Lou.Catozzi on Sat May 13, 2017 7:20 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Welcome to the "Learning Curve" - Build Day 1

Postby retep » Sun Aug 14, 2016 9:40 am

Good Luck Lou. I hope your build goes well. I will be watching your progress.

Kindest Regards Peter
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Re: Welcome to the "Learning Curve" - Build Day 1

Postby capnTelescope » Tue Aug 16, 2016 1:27 pm

All Right, Lou! :thumbsup: I've been anxiously awaiting this first build post. I'm looking forward to another Round Rocker teardrop build. 8) Needs a pic of the final product.

Like the absent-minded skydiver once said, "So far, so good." :laughter:
I'll burn that bridge when I come to it.

Brad
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Re: Welcome to the "Learning Curve" - Build Day 3

Postby Lou.Catozzi » Mon Sep 26, 2016 7:19 pm

Wow! It's been a month since I last posted. Where has the time gone? Well, Learning Curve has progressed. On day 2 I finished assembling the trailer frame. On day 3 I got all the lights wired up and I got it registered and titled.

While looking over the plans for the camper my wife asked about our ability to bring our bikes along on camping trips. I agreed that that would be a nice feature so before I have even cut the first piece of wood I have a project upgrade to work on.

The current NTE 5x8 trailer design has a v-shaped tongue that ties into the rectangular frame at the first and second cross frame members. Several builders here have mentioned that this seems a little weak and a little too flexible and our bike rack attaches via a 2" receiver hitch so I have decided to buy a 14' length of 2.5" square steel tube and run it the entire length of the frame from the rearmost cross member forward between the two angled pieces of the original tongue and out another 24" from the original hitch position. At the aft end of this long tube I will add a receiver hitch for the bike rack.

Image

I drove the trailer down to NTE in Austin and picked up a 6" length of receiver tube and a rotating caster wheel for the front of the trailer and then I drove to Metals4U and got some steel tubing for the rest of this upgrade. My neighbor has agreed to assist with welding the receiver tube to the 14' tube then I'll either drill some holes in this assembly and bolt it onto the trailer frame or we will weld it on. I haven't decided yet which way I will go for attachment.

An interesting side note on pulling the trailer for the first time. I have read of people describing their first tow as "the TV didn't even know it was there", well, that was certainly true, but also, I could not see any portion of the trailer in the mirrors so I had to keep turning corners just so I could see it and know that it really was still there!

Lou
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Learning Curve - Build Day 4

Postby Lou.Catozzi » Sat May 13, 2017 7:18 pm

Well, it's been a while since I last did anything like actually work on Learning Curve. That's not to say I haven't been busy. While on a family vacation over Christmas and New Years I managed to damage my 25' travel trailer by cutting a corner a little too closely - okay, way too closely - in the dark and hitting a thick wooden post. The apparent damage was all cosmetic. Wrong! About 100 miles west of Phoenix the lead tire on that side blew. Apparently the axle had been tweeked just enough to cause the tire to be out of alignment enough to overheat. I put on the spare and then limped into the nearest town and left the trailer with a mechanic we found and drove on home in the TV.

3 weeks and $1700 poorer I got the trailer home with a new axle and new tire. 6 weeks after that I had repaired most of the damage caused by the blown tire - wheel well liner and a lot of very thin plywood interior to trailer. I sure could have used the repair money for building Learning Curve - oh, well!

While all that was going on my neighbor welded up Learning Curve's frame modification so now I have the foundation complete.

Image

I have also been purchasing materials for the tear's body - two doors from Challenger Door, http://challengerdoor.com/, baltic birch plywood and poplar framing lumber from Fine Lumber, http://www.finelumber.com/ in Austin, and fiberglass cloth and epoxy resin from Raka, http://www.raka.com/.

Learning Curve went thru a bit of a redesign also. Instead of a traditional tear with a mattress taking up the entire cabin floor and then a bulkhead separating it from a galley with a large hatch it now will feature a full cabin with floor space in the front and a raised bed platform reaching all the way to the rear of the teardrop. A smaller hatch will open in the back and a kitchen counter will pull out from under the bed platform.I'll post a design drawing after I work out a few more details.

Today I actually worked on the build! I laid a couple 2x4's down on the frame and the laid out the bottom of the floor panel and the framing for the foam sandwich.

Image

Now it is off to spend some more money and get the XPS foam insulation and really get going on this thing.

One thing I learned today is NEVER go to Fine Lumber and Plywood with a credit card. Get a quote for what you NEED and bring cash or a check. It is WAY too easy to find a whole bunch of other great wood that wants to follow you home.
Last edited by Lou.Catozzi on Mon Mar 12, 2018 8:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Learning Curve - Build Day 5

Postby Lou.Catozzi » Sun May 14, 2017 11:18 pm

Today was Mother's Day so I didn't get too much done today. I did drill out some cavities on the underside of the floor so that it would rest flat on the trailer frame with the bolted-together frame's bolt heads recessed into the floor. I also started gluing up the frame layer between the floor's top and bottom. The top and bottom layers are both 1/2" baltic birch plywood and the frame will be 3/4" by 1.5" poplar on edge with 1.5" XPS foam filling the cavities for insulation. I have decided to use epoxy for almost all my gluing on the project. It is more expensive but also can be used for more, if not all, of the bonded joints I need to make as well as being used on the fiberglass roof.
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Re: Welcome to the "Learning Curve"

Postby aggie79 » Mon May 15, 2017 7:59 am

Hi Lou,

Glad to see you're back on your teardrop. :thumbsup: :applause: :thumbsup: Sorry to hear about your travel trailer. :cry:

Take care,
Tom
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Re: Welcome to the "Learning Curve"

Postby KCStudly » Mon May 15, 2017 2:11 pm

Good to have you back.

If it hasn't already been said, 1/2 inch top and bottom floor skins are overkill... way. 1/4 inch (3/16 or 5mm) is plenty enough in a sandwich construction.
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Re: Welcome to the "Learning Curve"

Postby Lou.Catozzi » Mon May 15, 2017 3:24 pm

Hi there Tom & KC! Thanks for stopping by.

If it hasn't already been said, 1/2 inch top and bottom floor skins are overkill... way. 1/4 inch (3/16 or 5mm) is plenty enough in a sandwich construction.


Glad to be back (and making sawdust finally). The reasons I went with 1/2" ply for the floor is that I have raised bolt heads on the frame of my trailer and I didn't want to drill completely thru the bottom ply to provide a recess cavity for them. Also, on the top of the floor sandwich I went with 1/2" as there will be actual floor in between the two doors and in front of the bed platform and I was afraid that kneeling on the floor or some other point load would damage 1/4" ply, even with the cavity filled with foam. Most people seem to have the entire floor of their tear covered with a mattress of some sort so not as much of a concern. If I had known how heavy 1/2" BB ply was I might have thought harder about how to deal with these design problems but the materials are purchased and home now I will live with it.

This is why I call it a learning curve. I'll make up for it by not having any ply in the roof, well, just a single layer of 1/8" for a headliner, covered by foam and fiberglass.

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Last edited by Lou.Catozzi on Mon Mar 12, 2018 8:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Welcome to the "Learning Curve"

Postby capnTelescope » Mon May 15, 2017 11:54 pm

Howdy, neighbor. Good to hear things are starting to happen over there.

Lou.Catozzi wrote: ... NEVER go to Fine Lumber and Plywood with a credit card.

I should have warned you about that. :lol:

The trick to that is to go into the front office and tell them what you need. It's a lot less fun than looking around the warehouse.

While you're bolting the floor down, maybe add a jam nut to the corner bolts. I've found that my corner bolts tend to work themselves loose and lose the nut. Oh, and bolt pointing down.

Onward.
:beer:
I'll burn that bridge when I come to it.

Brad
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Learning Curve - Build Day 6

Postby Lou.Catozzi » Tue May 16, 2017 8:25 pm

I put in about an hour on LC after work day and got a few more of the floor inner frame pieces epoxied into place. I'm still looking for some 4x8 sheets of 1.5" XPS for the insulation. If I don't find a local supplier soon I might have to buy some 1/2" sheets at Lowe's or HD and layer them in just to keep making forward progress on the floor.
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Re: Welcome to the "Learning Curve"

Postby pchast » Wed May 17, 2017 9:17 pm

Lou,

I got mine from HD up here in NY.....
You likely may have better luck talking to
commercial roofing contractors. They often
use it under flat laid up roofs.
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Re: Welcome to the "Learning Curve"

Postby Lou.Catozzi » Wed May 17, 2017 9:52 pm

Thanks for the tip. I will start check with roofers in the morning.

Lou
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Learning Curve - Build Day 7

Postby Lou.Catozzi » Thu May 18, 2017 6:44 pm

Woo hoo! The doors from Challenger Door Co. arrived today! After gazing fondly upon them for a bit I managed to get another hour in epoxying in some more of the floor framing.

Image

I am still looking for a supplier of 1.5" XPS rigid foam insulation.

Lou
Last edited by Lou.Catozzi on Mon Mar 12, 2018 8:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Learning Curve - Build Day 8

Postby Lou.Catozzi » Sat May 20, 2017 9:18 pm

Today I finished epoxying in the last of the floor's framing layer pieces and started cutting out and fitting in sheets of 3/4" XPS insulation.

Image

I still have not found a local source for 1.5" thick XPS so I am using two layers of 3/4" thick panels from Lowe's. Unfortunately, the 3/4" panels are actually 0.8" thick so I will have to sand all the insulation panels down level with the poplar framing pieces before I can glue down the floor's top layer of plywood. That sucks but at least the XPS sands down fairly easily. Still, it will create quite a mess of XPS "dust". I think it is time to invest in a good filter/mask.

Lou
Last edited by Lou.Catozzi on Mon Mar 12, 2018 8:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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