Pop-Up Tear Drop Camper Build

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Pop-Up Tear Drop Camper Build

Postby MatHanz » Wed Mar 06, 2019 3:36 pm

One of a kind tear drop pop up. Built on a 1990 Starcraft frame. Started December 2017 and I’m still tinkering, mostly with the interior. Pulled it from Texas to California and back in May 2018.

Many thanks to my buddy Eric who provided hours and hours of help and expertise.

Check out the build pictures of “Sauntering Sunshine” here: https://pin.it/fk6wyedlunx5wy

Poor man’s fiberglass skin. Too heavy / overbuilt, but it was my first.

Let me know your thoughts and questions!
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Re: Pop-Up Tear Drop Camper Build

Postby S. Heisley » Wed Mar 06, 2019 10:25 pm

Thanks, Mat. I added it to our Teardrops & Tiny Travel Trailers with Lifting Roofs thread, here: http://tnttt.com/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=50969
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Re: Pop-Up Tear Drop Camper Build

Postby MatHanz » Wed Mar 06, 2019 11:02 pm

Thanks! Sorry if I put it in the wrong place.
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Re: Pop-Up Tear Drop Camper Build

Postby MatHanz » Thu Mar 07, 2019 9:27 am

I’ll try to add thoughts and lessons learned as I get time.

My first thought is that I would think long and hard before I made it a pop up again. That probably doubled the difficulty of the whole project. However, I wanted to be able to tow it behind my vehicle with a little wind resistance, but I also wanted to be able to open it up to get supplies in and out, as well as pop it up to have more standing space inside.

I believe I spent about $2000 on it, which was over my budget, but looks pretty good for a $2000 budget.

One of the most difficult aspects also was building the door and I still don’t have that just right.

Future projects to it include adding a new axle. It has the original axle. Also I’d like to give it a good sanding and a fresh coat of paint. The final paint I used on the outside was Behr Marquee which is incredible paint and has a lot of elasticity and sticking power.
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Re: Pop-Up Tear Drop Camper Build

Postby les45 » Thu Mar 07, 2019 10:00 am

I converted an old Jayco popup to a portable hard wall popup and it was a neat project (see my avatar pic). However, after camping in it a couple of seasons, we found that the set up and take down were just not worth the effort. It took an hour on each end and was a bit of a chore. It wasn't that difficult, but it just took a lot of time. The portable wall panels were bulky and it was definitely a two person job. I kept it a popup for primarily the same reason to be able to see over it while towing. And I was never fully comfortable with the hoisting system. Even though I totally re-built it, the skinny legs were real shaky until you got all the hard walls in place. Now I'm again converting the same popup project to a retro style standy using most of the lower shell that I had built/re-built on my previous project. You can see some of the background and my current status in my journal at this link: http://tnttt.com/viewtopic.php?f=50&t=70991
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Re: Pop-Up Tear Drop Camper Build

Postby MatHanz » Thu Mar 07, 2019 12:51 pm

Yeah, I came across your work in the many, many hours of reading I did on TNTTT prior to undertaking my project. You did good work there, but I understand wanting to go a different route. I actually built hard walls as well to put into place when popped up but they were very heavy and bulky so I ended up doing a canvas wall that Velcros into place, but I rarely use that because it doesn’t stay like it should. Next I’m going to try a canvas wall that zips into place. When mine is in the up position it’s actually very solid. All the dove tailed joints made it quite strong.

We actually have camped in it more in the down position as a teardrop than in the up position as a pop up. This is mostly because we’ve camped primarily in the cold and it stays pretty comfortable in there, especially with a tiny ceramic space heater that runs every now and then. It can get cramped though and I’m sure will get moreso as our two kids get bigger. I’m still looking for the right temporary wall solution for when it’s popped up.
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Re: Pop-Up Tear Drop Camper Build

Postby les45 » Thu Mar 07, 2019 3:03 pm

MatHanz wrote:Yeah, I came across your work in the many, many hours of reading I did on TNTTT prior to undertaking my project. You did good work there, but I understand wanting to go a different route. I actually built hard walls as well to put into place when popped up but they were very heavy and bulky so I ended up doing a canvas wall that Velcros into place, but I rarely use that because it doesn’t stay like it should. Next I’m going to try a canvas wall that zips into place. When mine is in the up position it’s actually very solid. All the dove tailed joints made it quite strong.

We actually have camped in it more in the down position as a teardrop than in the up position as a pop up. This is mostly because we’ve camped primarily in the cold and it stays pretty comfortable in there, especially with a tiny ceramic space heater that runs every now and then. It can get cramped though and I’m sure will get moreso as our two kids get bigger. I’m still looking for the right temporary wall solution for when it’s popped up.


I used the 5mm Revolution plywood with a 3/4" foam center for my wall panels. The frame was a simple 1X2. The average size was about 3'X4' and they weren't that heavy (about 25 lbs each) but it was just a lot of work to install all nine panels plus all the vinyl corners and other stuff it took to get set up. If I had it to do over I would have gone straight to my current project and made it a retro standy in the first place. I really didn't lose much by changing since I'm re-using the entire bottom end which had been re-built with new axle and all new AC and DC electrical systems including the running lights. The new project is basically just adding a taller top end to it.
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Re: Pop-Up Tear Drop Camper Build

Postby S. Heisley » Thu Mar 07, 2019 7:50 pm

MatHanz wrote:Thanks! Sorry if I put it in the wrong place.


You didn't put it in the wrong place. I try to keep my eyes searching and other members sometimes catch things that I don't, too. It works....
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