1st Build, a 5'x8' Foamie Teardrop on a 4'x8' HF Trailer

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

1st Build, a 5'x8' Foamie Teardrop on a 4'x8' HF Trailer

Postby jseyfert3 » Tue Jan 07, 2014 11:44 pm

Man, I jumped right into this. Only been a couple weeks since I first got the idea to get a camper, now I'm building a teardrop (or tiny travel trailer). Haven't decided on the specifics, but I picked up a 1720 lb HF 4x8 trailer today.
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The cashiers at Harbor Freight recommended I don't go to the DMV to register, as they've heard stories from people saying it could be a nightmare. They recommended a small title place, I went there, paid $136, and I have a temp plate right now, and within a month should have my title and real plates. I did some research here, and if a cop asks why I have regular trailer plates and not recreational trailer plates (Illinois has both types of plates), I'll tell him it's a utility trailer hauling my camper, and show him how I could unbolt the camper from the trailer if desired. The cool thing is that once I assemble my trailer I can slap on the temp plate and use it to go get my wood, instead of borrowing someone else's trailer to do so.

I don't have a whole lot planned specifically yet, but I have a general picture floating around in my head of how it will be. Rigth now I think it will be built with 1x1 framing, skinned on both sides with 1/4" ply and insulation in the middle. Will have a 7' long sleeping section, since I'm 6' 5", and will probably be built 5' wide. I plan on having a deep cycle battery, roof vent with fan, LED interior/exterior lights, high mount brake light and amber turn signals, including flashing amber running lights, and a automatic connect/disconnect via relay and microcontroller to charge the battery when my car is running but not when it's off. The electrical part should not be an issue, I dabble with some electronics and microcontrollers. Still a lot to research, and it'll be a week or two before my trailer is running anyway. It will sure be a learning experience, and look for my questions in threads I'll post elsewhere.

Hope to have the trailer built by spring, so I can camp before the summer heat hits. :yes:

<EDIT Jan 22nd, 2014> I changed plans after stumbling across the foamie section, I will now be building a foamie, not a sandwhich ply/foam as described below. Title has been changed to reflect this.

<EDIT Feb 17th, 2014> You can track the costs on my Google Spreadsheet. This will be updated as time goes on. It's split into three sheets (at the bottom). The first sheet is Essential Building Materials, this is a list of all the materials required to build my teardrop. The second list is Optional/User Added Items. This is anything that is not part of the essential building materials but added by choice, such as an AC, interior lighting/wiring, extra outside lights such as different stop/turn lights or area lighting, etc. Please note I'll try to separate the essential and optional materials from between the sheets, but there may be some crossover (I'm adding a Fan-tastic Roof Vent/Fan. Ventilation is essential, but power ventilation is not really essential, depending on who you ask I suppose. See how it could go either way? Finally, the third sheet is Required Tools, a list of tools I needed to build this Teardrop. Obviously this list will not be the same for everybody, as some will have more tools then others. If I have a tool that I use, I'll try to enter it with a special color showing it was one I already owned but didn't buy, so people can get a good idea of what's required to build a Teardrop. This is the least helpful page, because people won't always use the same tools as other people, or will use a different tool because that's what they have and it works.

On the top of each page you'll find a running total of the costs of everything on that page.

Finally, realize the spreadsheet is a work in progress, and can and probably will evolve as time goes on. Once I fill in the backlog of purchases I've already made, I'll try to keep it updated soon after I buy the item. So if you see me mention I bought something, there's a good change it'll be listed in the spreadsheet so you can see the price if you're curious.
Last edited by jseyfert3 on Mon Feb 17, 2014 9:51 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: 1st Build

Postby KCStudly » Wed Jan 08, 2014 10:27 am

Welcome to the forum and good luck with your build! :thumbsup:

My advice would be to first figure out what you plan to do with your camper; I mean, what type of camping you plan to do, and in what weather extremes (rain is a given, but will you be camping in cold weather or high elevations where it gets cold at night). Will you be in improved campgrounds and parks, or boondocking it.

Figure out as many details as you can before you start cutting wood and get the cabin all enclosed. The more work you can do "in the flat" or from the inside working out ("The Steve Frederick's Method" is a good example), the better off you will be. An option would be to study other people's build threads and emulate the one that best fits your needs; learn from other people's mistakes and successes.

Get your ideas down on paper to scale (...or in a model; real or computer) so that you can start to see the true relationship of things (sometimes our mind's eye plays tricks on things and we see everything with rose colored glasses). It will save you wasted time and materials in the end when things fit the way you expect them to.

Have your major purchased components on hand before you finalize details (cooler, roof fan, storage totes, camp stove, DO, etc.). Things will fit better the first time and you can get a better understanding of trailer balance/tongue weight.

Last piece of advice: keep things simple. The temptation will be to add every feature and all of the whiz bang doodads, but those can really add to the cost and time that it takes to get one of these projects done. For example, even a relatively basic (not simple) electrical system takes a lot of planning and forethought (where to run the wires, put the battery, locate the switches, etc.).

In a small structure with many integral parts competing for space and, hopefully, contributing to the unit strength of the build, you want each aspect of your build to tie together and contribute both functionality and strength, without wasting space or material.

Build light and strong. Think airplane not tank. :thumbsup:
Last edited by KCStudly on Sat Mar 17, 2018 12:19 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: 1st Build

Postby AlgoDan » Thu Jan 09, 2014 5:24 am

Hello and welcome aboard, plenty of great info and people on this forum. We love pics of the build process, so we'll be waiting. Good luck :thumbsup:
Here now but Camping later.............Dan

Build Journal
http://www.tnttt.com/viewtopic.php?f=50&t=54681
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From .................Paper...........................To.......................... Pavement............................
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Re: 1st Build

Postby jseyfert3 » Wed Jan 22, 2014 2:16 am

AlgoDan wrote:Hello and welcome aboard, plenty of great info and people on this forum. We love pics of the build process, so we'll be waiting. Good luck :thumbsup:

Warning: You just said that to a guy that owns a DSLR, you might get picture overload from me. :D Although I hate the built in picture managing. I know it's sometimes best to keep the pictures hosted by the forum, so people can browse the galleries, but as far as I can find, it requires you upload each picture one by one (no selecting 10 pictures at once), and they have to be resized to 640x480. I'll use Flickr, as I do on the other forum I'm active in. Much quicker, no need to resize, easy to copy links that are already in BBCode. Rant over. :lol:

Well, here we go. I slid the axle mount back until the front top hole of the mount lined up with the carriage bolt hole in the front of the rear side rail. This will put my axle at 38" from the rear, or 40% for my planned 8' TD, which is a "reasonable compromise for an average teardrop".
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Positioning The Axle Mount by jseyfert3, on Flickr

Following Nobody's plans here, I put one of the middle crossbeams inside the side rail. This will provide the support between the front and rear side rails that the axle mount provided before I shifted it back. I decided to align it so that the rear of the two bottom middle holes lined up over the carriage bolt hole show in the above picture.

Since the second of the trailer's crossbeams will be in the same position on the left front and rear side rails, I will have a shaped 1x4 or 2x4 to take the place of them, similar to what Nobody did.
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Crossbeam Clamped, Ready to Drill by jseyfert3, on Flickr

The first hole I drilled. I used Titanium-Nitrate coated drill bits, which are the called "Titanium" and have a gold color. I first used a center punch to get a spot for the bit to go, then I step drilled with 3/16", 5/16", and 7/16" drill bits, applying thread cutting oil three to four times per hole. I used a hand drill and went slow with liberal pressure. The bit had a tendency to jam up near the bottom of the hole, if that happened I had to back it out, apply some oil, and use high speed and very light pressure to clear the jam. A drill press would have been preferred, but I do not own one at this time. Overall it went fine.
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First Hole by jseyfert3, on Flickr

Next I drilled the hole for the outside edge, rear side carriage bolt on the axle mount. I used a scratch awl to make the cross in the paint you see, to line up the center punch, then used the punch to make the tiny hole in the center.
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Carrage Bolt, Rear Axle Mount on Side (1) by jseyfert3, on Flickr

Step drilled as described above.
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Carrage Bolt, Rear Axle Mount on Side (2) by jseyfert3, on Flickr

The crossbeam which is now a side rail support is too long, it will interfere with one and/or both of the front-middle or rear-middle cross beams, depending how you positioned it. As I positioned it, it interferes with the rear-middle crossbeam. I marked it with a sharpie. Note I had bolted the side rail, inner crossbeam, and axle mount together on accident. Don't do this, as it has to be unbolted to remove the inned crossbeam for cutting. Or (now I think of it) just measure and cut before you drill the bolt holes in the first place, that works too...
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Needs to be Cut (1) by jseyfert3, on Flickr

Removed and marked all the way around.
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Needs to be Cut (2) by jseyfert3, on Flickr

I also marked on this and other parts with orientation and piece information. Because I was modifying parts, cutting and drilling holes, I did not want to put the wrong piece in the wrong place and drill wrong holes on it later.
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Can't Get Mixed Up Now by jseyfert3, on Flickr

After cutting the both the left and right inner crossbeams with a cutoff wheel on an angle grinder, I re-assembled the parts and checked fit. Looks good!
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Cut and Fits by jseyfert3, on Flickr

Then I had to loosen the three bolts I had installed, cause I couldn't fit in the front side rail on with them tight... After doing that, I aligned everything by clamping, and tightened the three bolts I installed previously. You can barely see the joint between the right front and right rear side rails, almost exactly in line with the left of the shock mount.
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Time to Assemble by jseyfert3, on Flickr

This picture shows both right side rails together, as well as the axle mount and all three bolts I installed previously. The frontmost bolt is one of the longer bolts 10x30 mm bolt supplied with the kit, while the other two are the two carriage bolts, all three being used in the holes in the axle mount as per the plans. I didn't drill any holes in the axle mount (yet, anyway), only in the side rail and inner crossbeam.

You can also see the two bolt holes in the angle iron on the topmost part of the axle mount. These holes are next.
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Drilling Front Axle Mount Holes (1) by jseyfert3, on Flickr

Nice chips. After drilling a 3/16" starting hole part way, I experimented by switching to the 7/16" bit instead of step drilling. Worked fine, just took longer. I'll stick to step drilling until I get a drill press.
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Drilling Front Axle Mount Holes (2) by jseyfert3, on Flickr

And finally, the right front and rear side rails where assembled, along with a shifted axle mount. You can see the two bolts and nuts at the front of the axle mount, in the holes I drilled above. Even with the added thickness of the crossbeam inside, the supplied (and specified) 10x25 mm bolts were long enough, just barely. I'm not quite done with this, the inner crossbeam need to have a side and bottom hole drilled and bolted near the front of it, and perhaps one on the rear, on the bottom near the side bolt near the end I cut off. This will need 2-3 more bolts, so I'll be getting some more grade 8.8 ten mm bolts and nuts from the local hardware store. Unfortunately, nylon locknuts are sparse for the metric bolts, so the new bolts may just have regular nuts and Loctite. Not a problem, just means if I bolt something and need to unbolt it cause I forgot something, like I did today already, I'll have to re-apply Loctite. Not a big deal.
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Right Side, Finished by jseyfert3, on Flickr

Tomorrow: Drill a the holes and bolt as I mentioned (pics). After that, repeat everything in mirror image on the left rail (no pics). Then start the assembly process (pics). They say starting is half the battle, so I'm off to a good start. But I'm going to spend half as much time working as I do taking pictures and writing my build thread. :shock: :lol:
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Re: 1st Build, a 5'x8' Foamie Teardrop on a 4'x8' HF Trailer

Postby jseyfert3 » Mon Feb 03, 2014 7:23 pm

I drilled one or two holes on two separate occasions, but most of my free time was busy removing the texture of the ceiling in one of my bedrooms then painting. That's done, so I'm happy to say progress has resumed. I plan on devoting a lot of time to getting this done now, because I need it in 2 or 3 month. Hopefully it's ready to use.

Today, I drilled the rest of the holes I needed to complete moving the axle back. Both the right and left side rails are now completely drilled and bolted together. I need to run to the hardware store and get a couple washers (you'll see why later), and after I return and get something to eat I plan on bolting together the rest of the frame. I don't foresee that taking too long to do, as it is all now a simple bolt together process. What will take a bit longer is pulling the bearings, cleaning them, repacking, then re-installing them. I think the HF frame will be together within another day or two.

Here they are, among the mess. Things get a little messy squeezed into a one car garage. :lol:
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Side Rails Completed; Messy Garage by jseyfert3, on Flickr
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Re: 1st Build, a 5'x8' Foamie Teardrop on a 4'x8' HF Trailer

Postby jseyfert3 » Tue Feb 04, 2014 1:53 am

I have the trailer as evenly level as I can get it, which means as level as my concrete floor is. Propped up on 2x4s in the same places on each side. The majority of the bolts are in place and wrenched until they are almost touching. I will begin tightening once I have the last bolts in and I'm checked for squareness.
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Majority of Bolts in Place; Not Tightened by jseyfert3, on Flickr

I do not have all the bolts for the main part of the frame in place yet caused I missed drilling a hole. I thought I was done with the drilling...sigh. Ah well, just one left on each side. The reason I missed this hole is because it is somewhat hidden and did not need to be bolted until now, when I was putting in the crossbeam. This hole was originally not covered, but became covered by the angle iron on the axle mount piece when I slid it back.
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Forgotten Hole; Needs to be Drilled by jseyfert3, on Flickr

One thing I noticed when I got the crossbeams installed inside the side rails was that they were smaller, there was what appeared to be a rather large gap at the top. Normally, I figure this may not matter much, both the side rail and the crossbeam would get bent towards each other a bit when tightening the bolts down. However, with the crossbeams inside the side rails running lengthwise, it just seemed like too much of a gap, as I had clamped the crossbeams to the bottom of the side rails, so the top would have to bend as the bottoms no longer could. I'm sure this sounds confusing, but the pictures should show what I mean. These fender washers are 2.4 mm thick. Some places there was still a slight gap, some places I had to push the washer in a little, but overall it was just about a perfect spacer. I used 14 of them, one wherever I used a bolt at the top of the trailer. That's 8 to connect the tops of the remaining 4 crossbeams, and 6 on the top bolts between the side rails and the crossbeams I slid inside the side rails.
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10 mm Fender Washer Used as Spacer (1) by jseyfert3, on Flickr

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10 mm Fender Washer Used as Spacer (2) by jseyfert3, on Flickr

I can't finish drilling the two remaining holes as my roommate is now sleeping so I can't use the drill or shop vac. So I'm done for tonight. I'm happy to see some progress finally. :)
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Re: 1st Build, a 5'x8' Foamie Teardrop on a 4'x8' HF Trailer

Postby Gunguy05 » Tue Feb 04, 2014 11:24 am

Following along looks like you are off to a good start.
Brian


Checkout my buildThe Regal Eagle Bow front for 4
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Also my teardrop updates from blog on Dad Rambles
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Re: 1st Build, a 5'x8' Foamie Teardrop on a 4'x8' HF Trailer

Postby jseyfert3 » Wed Feb 05, 2014 12:46 am

When it came to attaching the coupler tube and plate on the opposite side of the coupler at the front of the trailer, I did not like the slotted holes, that meant less area right up next to the bolt head, unlike most of the other holes. Because of this, I used some washers on all ten of these bolts. This picture shows the slotted holes vs a regular hole found almost everywhere else on the trailer.
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Washers Used Over Slotted Holes by jseyfert3, on Flickr

When it came to the spring mount bolts, I had heard you don't want to torque these down, the spring needs to be able to rotate/slide to work. If you notice, cranking it down wouldn't close up the gap at the bottom anyway. Also note the gap between a finger tight nut and the safety wire. Obviously, this isn't a bolt that needs to be close and tight, or they would have used a castle nut and safety wire instead.
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Space Between Safety Wire and Nut by jseyfert3, on Flickr

However, I don't like the idea of relying solely on the safety wire, safety wire is supposed to be a backup. So I put on a little bit of threadlocker, put on the nut, and tightened until barely snug. Again, these don't have to be and shouldn't be torqued down like you normally would on a bolt this size.
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Threadlocker Used on Spring Mount Bolts by jseyfert3, on Flickr

Following that, I put the safety wire in and bent it around.
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Safety Wire on Spring Bolt Bent Over by jseyfert3, on Flickr

Next I attached the axle with the U-bolts and backer plates. One odd thing I noticed here was that the U-bolts had a tendency to tear out some of the locking nylon in the bolts. My only guess is they were not as smooth as the regular bolts, or because the threads didn't start as gently as the regular bolts did.
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U-Bolts Pulling Nylon Out by jseyfert3, on Flickr

So, here it is now. Every nut/bolt that's on the frame is tightened, all 62 of them. And just 24 more to go. :shock: Four on the coupler, four on each fender, the two axle castle nuts, and the five lug nuts on each tire.

Also, the label on the front part showing warnings, VIN, and tire pressures is upside down. I do not care to flip that over. :lol:
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Trailer - 90% Assembled by jseyfert3, on Flickr

Coming soon: Packing the bearings, attaching fenders/wheels/coupler, and a picture of the completed HF trailer! :lol:

Then, the fun begins. Attaching stuff specifically for my teardrop, and the construction of the teardrop. :thumbsup:
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Re: 1st Build, a 5'x8' Foamie Teardrop on a 4'x8' HF Trailer

Postby KCStudly » Wed Feb 05, 2014 11:39 am

You're doing a great job and I, for one, appreciate the details that you are sharing. Should be most useful for those to follow. :thumbsup:

Just an FYI, the thing you refer to as "safety wire" is actually a cotter pin.
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Re: 1st Build, a 5'x8' Foamie Teardrop on a 4'x8' HF Trailer

Postby jseyfert3 » Mon Feb 10, 2014 1:53 am

KCStudly wrote:You're doing a great job and I, for one, appreciate the details that you are sharing. Should be most useful for those to follow. :thumbsup:

That is the plan. A number of people have already helped me, especially you, and hopefully this will be helpful to other people as well in the future. For example, the floor mounting method you suggested seems like a great idea, but I couldn't find it myself, even though you mentioned you had probably heard it somewhere. In fact, I couldn't find any mention of how to attached a raised floor like I will have, even though I've seen build journals that have them, but they didn't mention how it was mounted.

Okay, the build has progressed. KCStudly suggested hurricane ties to mount my 1x4's to the trailer, and it seemed like a good way to do it. First I did a test with the piece of scrap I cut off the cross beam that when inside the side rail. I drilled a 9/64" hole, then used #10 x 3/4" stainless steel self drilling hex head screws to attached the hurricane ties. I used my cordless DeWalt drill with the clutch set at 15 (the max), which was nowhere near enough to strip the screws.
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Srewed Tie with Driver Used by jseyfert3, on Flickr

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Backside - Plenty of Thread for Thicker Areas by jseyfert3, on Flickr

For the rear corners, I took one of the ties and bent one of the "flaps" that stick out over until it was flat against the tie. I used a crestent wrench to get the bend started, then used a hammer to finish bending and flattening it. After that, I clamped it in a vise and used a hammer to bend over an entire side 90°.
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Bending the Hurricane Tie by jseyfert3, on Flickr

As in the test, I used a 9/64" drill to drill the holes and #10 x 3/4" self drilling stainless steel screws and attached the bracket to the rear corner. I then repeated this in mirror image on the other rear corner. After starting the screw into the steel, I added a drop of red thread locking compound, before I finished driving the screw in. I didn't want them coming out due to vibration.
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First Hurricane Tie Mounted by jseyfert3, on Flickr

Did the same for the side ties, only they were not bent. I used three screws per tie.
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Hurricane Tie, Mounted by jseyfert3, on Flickr

I did not attach one side per tie for two reasons. I didn't have any more ties, and because of the axle mount I may be using a slightly different type of tie for this one crossbeam, one that doesn't have as much vertical support but would not require me to bend any more ties, as I would have to do for the hurricane ties because of the axle mount. This is the location that does not yet have a bracket, directly over the axle.
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A Different Bracket Will Go Here by jseyfert3, on Flickr

The brackets are spaced so the 1x4s I will use as the sub-floor support will be 18" center to center, starting from the back. This will leave about a 3 3/4" gap between the front of the front 1x4 and the back of the front steel trailer cross beam, which I will be using for trailer ventilation to avoid having visible vents on the outside of the teardrop.
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Only Two Brackets Left by jseyfert3, on Flickr

My trailer does not have the tires mounted because I damaged a bearing trying to get the grease seal out to repack them. You can see more information about that here.
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Re: 1st Build, a 5'x8' Foamie Teardrop on a 4'x8' HF Trailer

Postby KCStudly » Mon Feb 10, 2014 9:22 am

You could leave out the brackets at the axle mount. You have plenty of anchor points with the rest, the wood side rails will tie that xmbr in, and it will be bearing on the steel anyway. IMO, Skip it. :thumbsup:
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Engineering the TLAR way - "That Looks About Right"
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Re: 1st Build, a 5'x8' Foamie Teardrop on a 4'x8' HF Trailer

Postby mgb4tim » Wed Feb 12, 2014 3:51 pm

from experience - paint it now before you get too involved... it'll fade to pink in one season.
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Re: 1st Build, a 5'x8' Foamie Teardrop on a 4'x8' HF Trailer

Postby jseyfert3 » Wed Feb 12, 2014 5:36 pm

mgb4tim wrote:from experience - paint it now before you get too involved... it'll fade to pink in one season.

I plan on doing just that. Thanks for the reminder, I need to get a couple related items to do so. :thumbsup:
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Re: 1st Build, a 5'x8' Foamie Teardrop on a 4'x8' HF Trailer

Postby jseyfert3 » Sat Feb 15, 2014 7:39 pm

Build will continue tomorrow night. Got my miter saw 100% fixed last night, and picked up the 1x4's I need for the raised/extended floor frame. I got clear white pine from a local lumberyard, not a big box store, on the suggestion of GPW. This was $0.85/foot, so an $8 foot section cost $6.80 vs almost $10 at the big box stores. You can also have them cut it to length and still pay buy the foot for what you get, not in 8' chunks. I got three 12' boards, two 8' boards, and one 4' board for $47.60 ($51.53 with tax).

I transported them home in my car, a 2005 Kia Spectra, which will also be my TD's TV. I simply let them hang out the back a little, and used a rachet strap over the the trunk and attached to the hitch safety chain holes to keep the trunk from bouncing.
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Transporting 12' Boards in my TV by jseyfert3, on Flickr

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1x4s for Floor Sub-Frame by jseyfert3, on Flickr

I'll continue working on the trailer Sunday night.
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Re: 1st Build, a 5'x8' Foamie Teardrop on a 4'x8' HF Trailer

Postby jseyfert3 » Tue Feb 18, 2014 10:23 pm

I cut the crossbeams to 64.5" from the 12' 1x4s I had purchased. This is 60" for a queen bed, 2" on each side for the walls to rest on, 2" for room to tuck in the sheets, minus 1.5" for the side 1x4s. I placed them on the trailer to see how it would look. The 1x4 over the axle will not be as long as the others (you'll see later) and is not cut to length in this picture.
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1x4's Cut and Mocked Up by jseyfert3, on Flickr

The hurricane ties are made to hold 2x4s, not 1x4s, so I needed spacers where the 1x4's cross the hurricane ties. I marked up the location with pencil, and then cut some 3" 1x4 spacers from two 15" pieces of scrap I had leftover from the 12' 1x4s. Nothing special about 3", except the two pieces of scrap was 15" and I needed five spaces from each piece of scrap. They are slightly under 3" because of blade kerf. Again, 2" would work just as well.

Before screwing, I wanted the spacers attached to the 1x4s. I laid out aluminum foil to keep glue from sticking to the floor, then laid out the 1x4s and spacers and started gluing.
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Starting the Gluing Process by jseyfert3, on Flickr

I glued and stacked as shown in the picture, and used two bar clamps to clamp all the spacers at once. The Titebond II directions say clamp for 30 minutes, so I'll clamp at least that long, it will probably end up being longer.
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Clamped Till Glue Sets (1) by jseyfert3, on Flickr

Detail of clamping. I probably used a bit much glue, it's all oozing out. No worries, nobody will see this once the floor is on.
Image
Clamped Till Glue Sets (2) by jseyfert3, on Flickr

While that's gluing, I'm going to get my new HVLP paint spray gun from HF ready to go. The reviews mention there is silcone oil on it that needs to be cleaned out and some tweaking to get it to paint good, but that it's worth it to do that for a $13 spray gun. I'll post up the whole cleaning process when I post about painting the trailer. I won't be painting the whole trailer, just the A-shaped part that goes out to the coupler, it'll be the only part of the HF trailer visible.

Stay tuned...
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jseyfert3
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