A DIY Teardrop Travel Trailer

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Fabricating Doors

Although I could have purchased doors that were pre-made, I felt that it would take away from the overall look of the teardrop.  I will be fabricating doors and adding windows  that have a little screen opening.  This thread will document the creation of the doors, and the parts used along the way.

I had the door trim cut from a CNC machine out of birch.  The outside will be a thin 1/8" piece while a 1/2" piece for the inside of the trailer.  I'll add some water sealing weather stipping when the process is complete, and I'll most definitely epoxy these pieces to give them strength.

Here is the hardware the I'll use to mount the door.  These hinges are very beefy, and should work well in creating a smooth open and close motion for the doors on both sides of the teardrop.

Although I did have the inner pieces of the door cut from a CNC machine, they have been sitting for an extended time and got a bit warped.  I used one as a template, and routed replacements from 1/2" birch plywood.  The cut-outs as shown below are actually a way to reduce weight, and will be filled with insulation.  Much of the top of this piece will be cut out to house the windows.

Here is a mock -up of how the door will look form the inside of the trailer.  I'm missing a couple of pieces that got misplaced in the move, so those will get replaced.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Tongue Box Lid

The lid for the tongue box will also use wood that was bent using the steam box method. I used a flush mount router bit to copy the shape of the enclosure bottom for the bottom of the lid box. The only difference is the overall width, as the shape of the tear makes the lid about 6 inches narrower. I used a 1/2" piece of birch plywood for the base.

A dry fit test showed the the pieces that I cut with the CNC machine were about 1/4" too long on both sides.  Since the new lid bottom is the appropriate size, I just used a angle grinder to make adjustments to the shape so that it fits.

I clamped the pieces together with just enough pressure where I was able to flip the entire thing upside down to add Gorilla glue.

Although not shown here, I did use a combination of clamps in addition to the weights to ensure the CNC pieces were glued to the lid bottom firmly.  In this picture, you can see the results after grinding the edges down to be flush with the lid bottom.

My plan is to fill the inside of the lid with foam, which will be shaved down so the entire lid is smooth.  This will provide a better surface to mount the bent wood.  No one will ever see the inside of the lid, and foam is very light.  I needed to create some make-shift walls so that the foam would not just run out all over the floor.  Duct tape is not pretty, but it did the to hold the foam in place.  

It took 3 cans of the tall foam to fill the lid.  It expanded more than it show sin the picture, which is fine since it will be shaved down.

I'll be using 3" wide strips of oak that were bent on a template after being in the steam box.  Here is the sketchup of the template.

Here is a test piece of Red Oak in the mold.  Each piece has to stay in the mold about a week before moving to be installed on the lid.  

After using a surfoam to shave off the excess foam, you can now see the shape of the lid box sitting on top of the box frame.  The foam didn't set  nicely in some areas as I was too impatient to wait for warmer temperatures.  I plan on adding more foam, and it's supposed to warm up nicely in the next couple of days

After a second helping of foam, I spent time tonight getting it shaped down to the final form and ready for applying wood this weekend.  

Using a Surfoam, I removed all the excess foam until I got the shape I was looking for.

I applied a layer of epoxy to the wood and foam to give it a rigid surface.  This will help when I go to add the wood, as I'll have a bit more surface area to apply glue.  I'll add my first piece this weekend as a test.

Adding epoxy straight to the foam was a bad idea.  It caused some unexpected results, so I'm now using Bondo to fill in any gaps and low spots.  I'll need to sand down, and reapply multiple layers until I get a smooth surface.  I now plan on adding Fiberglass over the top of the bondo to seal everything in.

After multiple layers of bondo and sanding, I got the lid to be pretty smooth and ready for fiberglass.  I'm adding the glass to not only seal the foam filled lid, but so that the wood strips that I'm adding will have a better surface to adhere to.

The fiberglas becomes translucent once epoxy is added.  

Fully dry, now a quick sanding to take down any bumps or high spots.  I also sanded and sealed the bottom and back with epoxy resin.  It's ready for the wood exterior.

Added an additional steam bending mold to finish the tongue box lid, as well as the door rain gutter moldings.  Should be able to finish the lid trim over the winter if I keep the wood on the molds for a week or two at a time.

After taking the strips off the mold, I glued them to the top of the lid.  Since there is a bit of bounce back in the oak, I needed to screw them into the lid as well.  This will be covered by a trim strip when all is said and done.  

I used clamps to pull the rounded end of the stip back into shape.  I used expandable glue to ensure the it makes a good seal.

I also screwed the ends into the lid base to help relieve stress on the glue.  You can see from the strip on the left how far I need to pull the wood in with the clamps.  These screws will also be covered by a trip strip when the lid is finished.  

With the clamps, the strips get a nice snug connection with the lid base.

Although I don't like to use the screws to hold everything together, they will be removed and hidden by trim pieces.

The outside edge pieces were screwed into the plywood underneath to provide extra hold when bending and clamping the pieces to the box lid.

The corner pieces present a challenge, but I'll custom cut and bend pieces to fit the gaps. The pieces are thick enough so that I'll be able to sand the corners smooth.  At least that is the plan.

Just checking the look of the lid on the box.

I took a break in 2015 from the project while I moved.  I worked here and there on the tongue box lid, but still have some pieces to bend in the steamer for the top.  In the meantime, I'm started the process of removing excess material from the inside of the lid, as this is just unnecessary weight.  Once the foam and wood structural pieces are removed, there will be a potential for storage as well.  I used a router to remove the plywood, but left enough of a border to fit the top of the box to create a seal.  I'll use a grinder to remove excess wood.

Rolling Worktable

The teardrop project has been on hold for a while, as I moved this past year.  I'm getting organized to continue the project.  Even though my new garage is bigger, I felt like I still needed a nice work table to get some things accomplished.  Building this rolling workspace also provided a bit of lumber storage, so it has multiple purposes.  Although this is a side-project, it was built specifically to help get the teardrop project moving along again.  

Build the framework upside down on the floor

I used a combination of pocket holes and screws from the outside to make the joints strong

2"x6" frame complete

I attached the legs with carriage bolts

2"x4" cross braces were added 

Cross beams were added for a shelf on the bottom

3' caster wheels 

Flip it back right-side up

3/4" Plywood was used for the table top, and 1x2 oak strips were added to the outside edge to protect the plywood.

Polyurethane was used on the surface

Voila!  Rolling work table with lumber storage.  Time to start bending wood again and working on the walls.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Wheels & Fenders

Although I won't be needing these for quite some time, I finally got around to ordering some major parts for the teardrop build.  I really liked the retro styling of these fenders from Li'l Bear Tag Alongs, along with the hurricane hinge for the galley hatch.  Now I'll have the ability to measure for the wheels, and order those.  

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Tongue Box: ClimateRight A/C - Heater!

I've been waiting to pull the trigger on the air conditioning unit for the teardrop, as ClimateRight was going to be releasing a model with heat in addition to A/C.  I pre-ordered my CR-5000 ACH today, and it should arrive in late May!  Perfect timing as I plan on ramping my build back up after a long winter.  This combination heater / A/C unit will be housed in the tongue box in front of the teardrop.

Here are the specs on the CR-5000 ACH:

Cooling BTU  -  5000
Room Coverage  -  Up to 12'L x 12'W x 8'H Room
Volts  -  115V
Cooling Capacity (Room Enclosure Size)  -  Up to 1200 Cu. Ft.
Amps  -  10.0A (Max)
Watts  -  1150W (Max)
Dehumidifying (pts./hr)  -  1.1
Thermostat  -  Digital w/ Infrared Remote Control
Control Panel Features  -  Digital Temperature Display, IR Remote Control Sensor
Remote Control Features  -  Temperature, Fan & Mode Control, Auto On/Off Timer, Sleep Function
Case Dimension (Boxed)  -  24.3"L 17.2"W x 16.5"H
Unit Dimensions  -  18"L x 14.1"W x 15.1"H
Unit Weight (lbs.)  -  55.0000
Shipping Weight (lbs.)  -  62
Assembly Kit (Required)  -  Quick Connect Hose and Flange Kit Included (For Most Walls)
Refrigerant  -  R410a
Air Filter  -  Removable Nylon Mesh Air Filter

As you can see, there is plenty of room in the design of the tongue box to accommodate the ClimateRight.   I plan on adding a removable shelf right above the top of the AC unit for additional storage.

Here is the box staged with the AC unit, possible battery location, and hoses.