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The RoadCamper 

The name is taken from an airplane designed by the late Bernard H. Pietenpol in 1929.  Mr. Pietenpol's craft was an all-wood, high wing monoplane powered by a Ford Model A car engine.  His goal was to design a plane capable of being built by any reasonably skilled handyman.  The design stood the test of time and is now considered a classic, a favorite of homebuilders all over the world.  Mr. Pietenpol's original plans appeared in a 1932 edition of Flying and Glider Manual, where the editors dubbed it the Air Camper.

 

Teardroppers put alot of themselves into the building of their trailers, and it's understandable why they give them names.  I've spent three years on mine, and a lifetime considering the feasibility of building a full-sized, people-carrying airplane.  Pietenpol's Air Camper is my favorite homebuilt design, so it's fitting my teardrop be named The RoadCamper... in a spirit that honors the great airplane.

 

Scroll down for latest pics.

What's a teardrop trailer?  A teardrop trailer is a small camping trailer built to a 4x8ft dimension and sometimes slightly larger.  They became popular in the 1930's and '40's and were lightweight for towing behind underpowered cars of the day.  There's room to sleep two, with a galley (kitchen) off the back side.  Modern teardrops can be wired for electricity, have running water, and are cleverly packaged with DVD players, refrigerators and other luxuries.

Photos show progress on my teardrop to be built on a Harbor Freight trailer frame. Cutout in floor is a footwell/tabletop for a small dinette area.  Tabletop can be replaced in floor for sleeping.  Completed trailer will have woodie sides with an aluminum top skin. 

 

1/4 inch oak plywood walls temporarily attached to check interior ergonomics, shelf placement, etc.

 

Walls fully framed and permanently attached.  Bulkheads separate sleeping area from galley.  Some electrical hardware that'll be used to wire the trailer for 12V dc shown at right.. 

 

Insulation, fuse box, wiring, side porch lights installed.  Back hatch will hinge at crossmember at upper right of fuse box and will latch to countertop.

 

Inside walls and front installed.

 

Roof braces installed and vent fan location.

 

Ceiling installed and doors await finishing.

 

New torsion axle and 14-inch wheels replace the leaf springs and 12-inch wheels.  Looks better too.  Tongue reinforcement (black beam in the center of last pic) extends back underneath the frame.  It's made from two discarded bed rails bolted together. 

 

Still lacks lotsa trim and weatherstripping, removing aluminum edging and caulking underneath, fenders, and a thousand other things.

 

Some wood trim installed.  It'll sure beat tent camping!

 

Fenders attached and most of the trimwork done.

 

Three coats of varnish, windows installed, rain gutters over both doors and some caulking.

 

Added a bumper, signal lights, and tailgate chains.

 

Galley under construction.

 

Galley and interior complete, except for a few details.

 

Reading lights swivel and give a nice mellow glow.  Overhead light is harsh but functional.  Beside each door there's an oak switch plate that turned out nicer than I'd expected.  These actuate the "porch" lights on each side.  Overhead light has its own integrated switch, as do the reading lights.  The black thing at the bottom of the shelf curtain is a 12v auxiliary power socket.  Cozy in there don't ya think!

 

I'm surprised by the amount of light 12-volts gives off.

 

Hatch struts clip to hatch to facilitate closure.  They swing on small strap hinges.  Took apart a couple of door stops to get the rubber feet.

 

 

 

 

Some ideas for accents.

 

 

 

Once completed, this teardrop will spend a fair amount of time here.   And here Maybe even here.

 

Favorite links:

Teardrops & Tiny Travel Trailers

2005 Element

 

Snow in the Smokies

 

First camping trip, March '06.