Inaugural Rockin' Tear

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Inaugural Rockin' Tear

Postby clear82star » Mon Feb 11, 2019 7:20 pm

Hello all Teardroppers and Tiny Travel Trailer Enthusiasts!

I've been scouring these forums for over 3 years now, have watched countless YouTube videos related to teardrops and woodworking in general, and purchased several plans (Frederick, Kuffel Creek, etc), to prepare myself for my own build. So thank you so very much to all the contributors and comments, to help me gain the necessary knowledge. Admittedly, because I ultimately didn't know what I was doing, I think anxiety has kept me from delaying my build for so long. But I now am moving confidently forward!

I started my build with an aluminum utility trailer, trying to keep the weight light. I was initially hoping that I could keep it light enough to tow with my 1984 Jeep CJ-7, but I think the short wheel base would make towing (and truly the braking aspect) somewhat dangerous.

My utility trailer mostly stripped:

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My CJ that I wanted to tow with:

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To get started, I had to remove all the utility hooks, etc from the inside of the bed:

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I then cleaned, degreased, lightly sanded, and cleaned again the surface to prepare for sealing. I started by filling the gaps with silicone caulking, which I chose because I knew I was using silicone to seal the trailer floor. Painted the trailer bed with Henry 887 Tropi-Cool 100% Silicone White Roof Coating.

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The backed up picture doesn't show it well, but this is after one coat:

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So I applied 2 coats.

Next up was the stick floor frame, complete with holes drilled for the wires to pass through:

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Fit into place, with 4 scrap pieces of 3/4" ply to verify fit:

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I ended up shaving off a bit from the edges of the frame, because I thought at the time I would want the aluminum siding to drop down passed the lip of the utility trailer.
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Re: Inaugural Rockin' Tear

Postby saywhatthat » Mon Feb 11, 2019 7:32 pm

Great start
Il suffit de le faire
D.I.Y Light weight sleeper using D.I.Y rail top components.
viewtopic.php?f=50&t=66751
50 HR. Build 4.5 by 8' using Railtop fiberglass Components
http://tnttt.com/viewtopic.php?f=50&t=70729
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Re: Inaugural Rockin' Tear

Postby clear82star » Tue Feb 12, 2019 11:26 am

Next up was picking up the 3/4" plywood for the walls. Since this would never show, I was ok with CDX grade ply. (you'll see my old F-150 that I traded in for the truck below):

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I wanted a 5'x10' profile, so I cut the plywood into (per side) 2-4'x5' sections, and 1-2'x5' section for towards the front. This worked out best so the door (my largest cut-out) was on a larger 4'x5' section. I originally planned to just splice these joints with wood glue and pocket holes, for a butt joint, but I mis-calculated the drill bit length when drilling for the pocket holes and the screws didn't reach. I freaked out while the glue was drying, so I placed 4" sections of ply over the joint to act as a sort-of "overlap" joint. This has worked out fairly well, IMHO, and I am quite content with the "mistake"/"redesign", you'll see more why later.

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The door cut out, using the trim piece as a template:

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The rest of the cut-outs were made just to save weight (no windows or anything, will be filled with 3/4" sheet foam cut to size later). You can see my rough lines on the inside of the ply, to mark where I thought cabinets, etc, would go. Notice I left a 1.5" relief at the bottom of my overlap joint, to account for the floor framing:

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The outside of the first wall:

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Tracing outline onto other wall, to cut same reliefs. The dumbbell on top was to account for some bowing of the top piece of plywood.

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The 2 finished walls. Here you can see my Honda Ridgeline in the background. This is what I'll likely be towing with:

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Walls and floor frame connected (with the stellar help of my friends Aaron & Brooke!). In a couple of the photos, you can see the factory cut-off of the rear hatch, installed in place to ensure square. And yes, I double-checked the factory edge with my square before installing. You'll also see some temporary roof spars in place. I had planned to pocket hole those in place, but the CDX plywood I used to make my "2x2's" were splitting when driving the pocket hole screws. So I picked up some right angle brackets to hold them in place (I ended up removing these later):

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And gently put in place on the trailer:

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And tucked away in the garage for the rest of the build:

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Re: Inaugural Rockin' Tear

Postby clear82star » Tue Feb 12, 2019 11:54 am

Once I checked and adjusted for square, I bolted the floor frame to the trailer bed with stainless steel carriage bolts, fender washers, and nylock nuts. For sealing the bottom, I used Henry's white silicone sealant in a caulking tube, the brother to the floor coating:

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Next up was running the wires through the floor frame to their respective location, filling the floor frame with 1.5" sheet insulation, and then the voids around the wires with spray insulation:

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Then flush cut with the flush-cut saw you see in the second photo:

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I think I originally sprayed the insulation too fast, because there were a lot of voids left, similar to this, that I had to come back and fill-in and then re-flush-cut. I would also recommend putting some (evenly-distributed) weight down near the edge of the sheet insulation. The spray foam wanted to creep under the edge and lift the sheet insulation to where it was no longer flush with the top edge of the floor framing. I then had to fix that, which took some time.

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Then covered the floor in 3/8" CDX:

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Finished installing the roof spars. Pre-drilled for 2.5" Spax construction screws from the outside of the walls, using construction adhesive to also secure the joint:

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Dry fit my nerf bars for the roof rack (these were originally going to be used on my old F-150 as side bed rails). This way I can ensure proper placement of roof reinforcement for the added weight:

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Re: Inaugural Rockin' Tear

Postby Mr. Lahey » Sun Feb 17, 2019 11:21 am

Really love the aluminum trailer frame. Wish mine was the same.

You've really made great progress and have a nice shape to the camper too. It will be very good looking when your done.

I do see one possible area for a problem I thought I should mention. That is that the camper body sits inside the trailer frame rail.
That leaves a seam between trailer frame rail and camper body down the whole side of the trailer. That seam will be impossible to water seal for the long term.
No matter what you try to seal it with. It will eventually leak and allow water to collect.I don't know how you plane to skin the trailer.
Or if you plan some type of flashing to cover that seam and then skin over it.
My teardrop camper build journal: viewtopic.php?f=50&t=64721
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Re: Inaugural Rockin' Tear

Postby clear82star » Thu Feb 21, 2019 3:30 pm

Mr. Lahey wrote:I do see one possible area for a problem I thought I should mention. That is that the camper body sits inside the trailer frame rail.
That leaves a seam between trailer frame rail and camper body down the whole side of the trailer. That seam will be impossible to water seal for the long term. No matter what you try to seal it with. It will eventually leak and allow water to collect.I don't know how you plane to skin the trailer.
Or if you plan some type of flashing to cover that seam and then skin over it.


Mr. Lahey, thanks so much for post! I appreciate you taking the time to discuss your concern with me. I too have thought about it and have my concerns. I've gone back and forth, but my current plan would be to seal the wood towards the outside floor, bottom of the door, and around the hatch area with "the mix". I plan to skin with aluminum. I thought I could use a corner trim for flashing, with a combination of butyl tape in some areas and caulking in others to create multiple layers of protection. I have a tread aluminum that I'm going to cut 2' high on the front and back of the trailer, and 1' high on the sides, as a sort of kicker panel. This 1'x10' kicker panel on the sides would go over the corner trim "flashing", as well as over the rest of the the trailer's aluminum. I have anodized aluminum in 4'x10' sheets to skin the majority/remaining trailer with (my sides are 5'x10'). Wanting the tread on the outside of the anodized aluminum, I'd still have to deal with a seam that could potentially let water in behind it.
Since reading your concern, I've thought even more of cutting off the trailer frame rail, as well as the fenders (which are welded on, because I might need to move the axle forward or backward anyway depending on final weight distribution). That way I can skin the outside of the CDX with an 1/8" ply to make up the difference and offer a smoother transition for the aluminum skin. This would also allow for better access behind the wheel fender when I do go to caulk the outside.
However, I do like the idea of a thicker "rock guard" if I left the trailer frame rail in place, not to mention the extra weight adding 100 sq. ft of 1/8" plywood would add. In your opinion, could this possibly work using the technique described above and maybe if I planned to re-caulk every 5-10 years? (even though I'd be using a product designed for 30+ year longevity?)
Just some thoughts. Definitely still learning and truly still have no idea what I'm really doing
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Re: Inaugural Rockin' Tear

Postby clear82star » Thu Feb 28, 2019 7:41 pm

Finally got around to mocking up my idea. And after talking with my Papa and neighbor, I think it’ll be pretty slick if I use the aluminum tread plate as it’s own flashing (this will be a kick panel on each side, measuring 1' x 10'). I found a metal fabricator here locally, in Boise, that will do the bends on their 12‘ brake, both sheets, for around $75. Seems a little steep for something that would take minutes of their time, but at the same time I will gladly pay it to not have to try and bend the sheet myself.

The actual side profile:

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My mock-up of the bends in the tread aluminum and the sealants I will be using:

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Re: Inaugural Rockin' Tear

Postby clear82star » Thu Feb 28, 2019 8:00 pm

I started making my false floor that will serve as under-floor storage, as well as house the e-tracks for cargo hauling (I'll mostly be using this to haul my 110L cooler and 3-burner stove before setting up at the campsite).

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I ended up filling the space below the e-tracks with cut-to-size sheet insulation. a 3/4" sheet flanked by 1.5" sheet insulation:

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You can see it if you look closely in this picture:

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Scribed-in lower bulkhead:

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Installed pass-through counter:

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View from front, so you can see all 3 under-floor storage areas:

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New, side-corner profile:

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Dry fit doors:

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And large, front window (which will also house window A/C unit if ever needed):

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Re: Inaugural Rockin' Tear

Postby Mr. Lahey » Thu Feb 28, 2019 8:35 pm

WoW!! You sure are hitting it hard. That's a lot of progress.

Thought I might give you one more idea about the siding/flashing/frame rail seam thing. I think you are on the right track getting the siding bent to cover the frame rail to body seam area.

Another consideration would be to side it with a bit different method. I think in addition to looks part of the reason for the diamond plate is because your siding is only 4' tall but your camper is 5' tall? If so I would seam the siding a bit different. I would bend a flashing for the frame seam into the lower siding panel.
Just like you planned except to the siding, not the diamond plate.

Attach the lower panel to the wall first. Then buy a 18"' wide or less 10' piece of aluminum and attach it to the top of camper. Overlap the top piece on to the bottom. So the water runs over the joint and not in to it. Then if you still want the diamond plate add it right on top of your siding. It would be just a trim piece now and have no need to seal a 10" seam that is facing into the water path.

Old school canned ham trailers had aluminum siding panels lapped like this. It worked well for them. Plus you could do a nice row of screw or nail heads at that seam to add some look to it. You could even move the seam up or down a bit depending on how wide you wish to make the upper siding piece.

I also see that the frame rail heights are different from the sides compared to the front. Have you figured a way to do the corners where those 2 different siding profiles will meet?

Added a pic of some nailed sididing seams

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nailed.png (475.08 KiB) Viewed 175 times


In any case press on, it's really looking good!
My teardrop camper build journal: viewtopic.php?f=50&t=64721
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