Tear Tips

Here's a list of the most frequently asked questions that I get from e-mail.

If you were to do it all over again, what would you do differently?

  • Not install the receiver hitch for the mountain bike rack because it gets too dusty back there while driving on dirt roads.  A roof rack is more practical.
  • Not install the chassis's center cross member running length wise.  A 4'x8' sheet of plywood fit the floor.
  • Build a custom made gasoline tank behind the axle and have vent & fill tubes built into the body.
  • Make an electrical conduit race way from below the counter top to the top cupboard.
  • Make the door 2" to 4" taller because the 8" high futon mattress shortened the opening.
  • Design the kitchen cabinets for built in 12v swamp cooler and a propane truck camper furnace.
  • Not install the Filon siding in cold or humid weather.  The sides came out great when it was warm & dry but the roof was applied when it was 50 degrees & 90% humidity and the adhesive didn't stick in spots.
  • Install roof bows perpendicular, down the center of the trailer to keep the roof from sagging.  3/4" x1 1/2" poplar would be fine, attaching them to the existing roof bows.

Where can I buy the Filon siding?

  • Kemlite Corporation, makers of Filon will not sell to the public.  Contact Kemlite and see if there is a retail distributor in your area.  If you know someone working at a RV manufacturer, that's better yet.  You can purchase it from All-Rite RV in Hollister, CA but they charge list price and freight will be very expensive.
  • My second choice would have been baked white enamel aluminum paneling.  Tough finish and easy to maintain.

If I use aluminum siding, where can I buy it and what adhesive do I use to apply it?

  • Check your local Yellow Pages for sheet metal suppliers.  Semi trailer manufacturers or repair shops also carry aluminum panels in various sizes and thicknesses.  Baked white enamel coating is available too.
  • Aluminum and plywood expands and contracts at different rates so you should use a adhesive that will stay pliable, otherwise the aluminum skin will delaminate under hot sun.
  • The 1 gallon can of Liquid Nails applied using a notched trowel has had good success.
  • 3M vinyl top spray adhesive used in the automotive industry works good too.
  • Most people do not glue the roof sheet and it's only secured by the edge molding screws causing the sheet to float during expansion and contraction.  Some don't even use adhesive at all and rely on the molding screws to hold the roof and side panels in place.

Where can I get more information on Teardrops?

How much did you spend building your Teardrop?

  • Approximately $5,000, not counting many little items or purchase of tools, drill bits, saw blades, etc.  For all practical purposes, you can build a basic Teardrop for $2,000.

Should I restore an old Teardrop or build a new one from scratch?

  • Many people have spent top dollars on an original Teardrop and ended up only using it as a template to build one from scratch because of dry rotted wood.
  • Inspect the trailer carefully before you buy.

I can't weld so how do I build a chassis?

  • Check your local Yellow Pages and get bids from welders to make one for you.  The design and price will depend on what type of Teardrop your building and what you are going to use it for, improved campground, show or off-road use.  Welders in our area charge $40 per hour and you can spend $500 plus on the chassis frame.
  • Kuffel Creek sells plans for a Teardrop where you use a bolt together chassis that you can purchase from Harbor Freight Tools.
  • If you're not sure about your welding, a teardrop is not the thing to practice on.  Better to practice welding on something that doesn't bounce down the highway at 65mph.

Who makes the best Teardrop plans?

  • There are many Teardrop designs and it also depends on your use.  You basically get what you paid for and get references.  You can find a list of plans on Tales and Trail's web site.

Which profile is the easiest to make?

  • Grant Whipp of Tales & Trails will trace out any profile you wish and send it to you by mail.  Some profiles are more complicated than others and they all require much research and planning before you start building.  Plan on making countless phone calls and visits to local suppliers.  Here is some things to consider before construction.
  • You'll need to work backwards starting with the hatch.  How are you planning on sealing it?
  • What molding and weather-stripping are you going to use?
  • The Benroy probably has the tightest hatch radius while the Modernaire has flat one.
  • Where will you locate the axle so you'll have the required 10% tongue weight?  This figure is 10% of the loaded gross trailer weight.  Many make this mistake.
  • Like building a house, the framing goes fast and the finish work seems to take forever.  Take your time and ask lots of questions.

Have a question?  Visit Grant Whipp's discussion board and submit your question to the real old timer Teardropper's who have been there and done that.

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