How to Build a Teardrop Pull Along Camper

by John Landers
A teardrop trailer connects to a 4-wheel drive vehicle.

A teardrop trailer connects to a 4-wheel drive vehicle.

Teardrop pull along campers were popular from the '30s through the '50s. The camper includes storage, a cooking gallery and sleeping accommodations. Teardrops have endless design possibilities which depend on the owner's imagination and budget. Determine the dimensions of the shell, such as 55 inches wide by 48 inches high and 102 inches long then find a trailer suitable for building the camper body.

Shell

1. List the components, furnishings and accessories for the camper, including door, window, stove, sink, water tank and other items. Obtain the precise measurements of all objects Sketch the floor plan and location of applicable items on paper.

2. Prepare the chassis to secure the shell by welding chassis tabs corner gussets. Screw 1/8 by 1/4 inch aluminum straps, which will provide support for the belly pan installed later at 16 inch intervals across the width of the chassis. Build the sub floor frame from 2 by 4 inch white oak lumber. Cut the lumber according to the width and length of the chassis. Bolt the frame to the chassis with sixteen 3/8 inch diameter, 3 to 3 1/2 inches long carriage bolts nut and washers. Do not attach the plywood floor at this point.

3. Make a template for the trailer camper's sidewalls out of cardboard. Trace the outline of the template on the back of the plywood and cut a jigsaw. Clamp the two sidewalls together and sand around the edges with a belt sander outfitted with course sandpaper.

4. Trace the outlines for the openings of the window and door on the sidewalls and make the cuts. Position the sidewalls on the chassis frame. Use the carpenter's level to ensure a level and plumb fit. Apply construction adhesive to the floor frame. Pre-drill the holes and squeeze adhesive into the holes. Secure the sidewalls to the frame with #14, 2 1/2 inch flat head screws. Fill the knots and screw holes with wood putty.

5. Fabricate roof bows for the camper. Measure the space between the two sidewalls and cut 3/4 by 1 1/2 inch white oak lumber to this length. Glue two boards together to create a 1 1/2 inch square a component. Mark lines 16 inch apart around the edges of the sidewalls. Apply construction adhesive on the ends of the roof bows and install. Pre-drill the holes insert construction adhesive and fasten the roof bows in place with two #8 drywall screws 2 1/2 inch long.

6. Laminate two 1/8 inch plywood sheets together and install to the roof bows with construction glue and staples. Apply the fiberglass covering on the roof and sidewalls according to the manufacturer's instructions. Install fenders per manufacturer's guidelines.

Interior

1. Glue 1 1/2 inch rigid foam board insulation between the roof bows on the interior side. Install 1/8 inch plywood to complete the roof installation on the inside. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for framing and installing a roof vent, window and door. Install 1 inch rigid foam insulation on the walls and cover with 1/8 inch thick plywood.

2. Install the interior floor. Apply 1/4 inch plywood laminated with fiberglass to create the belly pan in between the floor framing. Secure 1 inch strip of wood to the belly pan and the floor framing. Apply a sheet of foil-faced rigid foam insulation in the void. Secure 1/2 inch plywood to bring the floor flush with the oak frame. Seal the edges with silicone caulk

3. Follow the plan for layout and installation of the furnishings, including a bed, storage, cabinets, sink, stovetop and table. Add other accessories as desired.

Items you will need

  • Trailer
  • 2 by 4 inch white oak lumber
  • 16 - 3/8-inch carriage bolts 3 to 3-1/2 inch long
  • Nut and washers
  • 1/8 by 1 1/4 inch aluminum straps
  • Cardboard
  • 3/4 inch plywood
  • Belt sander
  • Sandpaper
  • Carpenter's level
  • Construction adhesive
  • #14 2 1/2 inch flat head wood screws
  • Wood putty
  • 3/4 by 1 1/2 inch white oak lumber
  • #8 2 1/2 inch drywall screws
  • 1/8 inch plywood
  • 1 1/2 inch rigid foam board insulation
  • 1 inch rigid foam board insulation
  • 1/4 inch plywood
  • 1 by 2 inch lumber
  • Fiberglass panels
  • 1 inch plywood
  • Foil-faced rigid foam insulation
  • Silicone caulk

Warning

  • Hire an electrician to assist with the wiring for the taillight, license plate light and any accessories requiring wiring.

About the Author

John Landers has a bachelor's degree in business administration. He worked several years as a senior manager in the housing industry before pursuing his passion to become a writer. He has researched and written articles on a wide variety of interesting subjects for an array of clients. He loves penning pieces on subjects related to business, health, law and technology.

Photo Credits

  • Nisian Hughes/Digital Vision/Getty Images