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Discussion Starter #1
Any other TW teardrops out there? I use mine as a utility trailer for moving everything from audio equipment for my work to building materials and yard trimmings from my house. It also makes an excellent TW carrier and camper. I can only carry one bike though and it’s a pretty snug fit. The front wheel chock in the trailer is removable.



The pros of a camping teardrop like this are that it can go almost anywhere off road because of the heavy suspension and high clearance and it does very well at highway speeds because the aerodynamic shape. Even in high winds it does not fishtail.



The cons are that you need to take almost everything out before you can remove the bike and it’s pretty small as a camper – 10 feet by 4 by 4 of usable space.



The plywood ramp doubles as a counter top for tailgating. Kitchen and food boxes go under the counter. A folding mattress goes in the main compartment. There’s a marine battery in a tool box on the tongue and a small electrical panel inside the trailer with light switches, 12V outlets and a stereo.

No other accessories. This one was home-built by someone back in the 1940’s with surplus aircraft parts from WWII I imagine. No other details on the history other than it used to have a built in kitchen and cabinets that one of the previous owners pulled out to use as a utility trailer. I bought it several years ago from a guy who decided to give up trying to restore it in favor of building a new teardrop from scratch.







 

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I don't have a teardrop trailer as I only discovered such a thing recently.



They have only just made it to the UK and yours was made in the 40's




I would love one, not for the TW but to tow behind my little Mazda for camping (I think an American would call it a sub-compact car). I can not tow a full size caravan behind my car.



They look really cool but too expensive for me unfortunately. See here > http://littleguy.co.uk/
 

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Not a teardrop owner, but I like your little "toyhauler", good use of space. The good part - simple, the bad part - not much for comfort. However, no matter what we use, cheap or expensive, trailer-non trailer, there are so many trade offs. And what works really well for one person, doesn't fit the bill for another.



When our family does camp and rides, (not at one of the forest service cabins we frequent) we use our pickup with a topper and pull a trailer with TW/ATV's. Girls sleep in a tent, while my wife and I sleep in the truck. I built a sleeping bed in the back and we use cushions for sleeping comfort. The bed is placed on the wheel wells so we have storage underneath. We also purchased one of those shade tent kinda things we place over the back of the truck and wrap a tarp around it so we have a stand up changing area. However, just like your teardrop, we have to do some unloading to make it work.



We even used a horse trailer once where we could load everything in it, including the TW/ATV's and slept on cots in it.



Now having said that, a trailer doesn't work in all places either. We have been to some places where a trailer could not be used (really remote). If you met a vehicle coming from the other direction, the roads are so narrow that backing a trailer up would be almost impossible. And the wife and I like to go to some pretty remote places.



But, I really like your simple practical use of the teardrop style trailer. I bet folks who have purchased a new teardrop camper wouldn't use it the same way you do!



Look forward to spotting your teardrop in photo's from some future riding adventures.



Take care,



Kris



P.S. I think the teardrop campers are cool looking!



 

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What size ball is on the toungue, anyway? Just axin...





I was axin' cuz I wanna make sure I have the right size ball on the truck next time...
 

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Teardrops are little more than a fad, which is why they are double the price of an equivalent-sized cargo trailer similarly equipped. They really aren't all they are cracked up to be when considering actual usability.



The aerodynamic advantage of a teardrop over a box of equal floor shape and area will take millions of miles to pay off the difference in price in fuel savings. A teardop of equal volume as a box trailer will cost triple the box and be no more fuel efficient.



Some, not all, teardrops have bigger tires than boxes of equal carrying capacity. When it comes to 4x8-foot floor trailers, it is quite simply to block the suspension mounting points. Any welder can set you up for $50 or so. If the trailer has 4-lug hubs it will be difficult to find 14- and 15-inch wheels to fit. 5-lug replacement hubs run about $60/pair, all hardware included. You can run 18.5/44-15 tires if you wish--just need wheels with the appropriate back spacing.
At worse, if the stock axle is unusable, a simple over-slung straight axle kit with leaf springs and 5-bolt hubs runs about $180, all hardware included. The 5x4.5 lug pattern is a common Ford pattern from the '60s and '70s--thousands of wheel choices available, cheap if you scavange. New 15-inch wheels run about $40 and P235-75R15 tires can be had for about $60. Worst case cost, all new parts plus welding in spacer blocks, $430.



Teardrops generally include insulation and interior paneling. Home Depot has several types of suitable insulation, perhaps the most cost effective would be plain beadboard cut to fit in the gaps between the wall and roof frame members, floors in most small trailers generally are not insulated. Waterproof panels used in bathrooms are excellent as trailer panelling, though any panelling will work. Cost? About $200 if you include carpet and padding on the floor.



Ventilation is easy--a couple roof vents will do the trick, even better when a rain cover is used. $160 for two complete vents. Add a fan to one vent for $50. All new parts.



A door that can be secured from inside is a bit more complex. Lots of options ranging from free DIY salvage soide door to custom built RV doors with screens for $2000. Perhaps the simplest solution that required minimum cutting and structural compromise was the exterior door hardware on the stock side-hinged rear doors with a system similar to residential double doors--one door was fitted with slide bolts at the top and bottom and a regular residential knob and deadbolt installed on the other. $50 in parts and hardware will get the job done. These mods provide all the functionality of a basic teardrop of equal floor area at a savings of about $1000, with the benefit of more volume. $1000 will not be easily recovered in fuel efficiency savings.



Not that I'd waste money on an enclosed trailer in the first place. A cargo van is cheaper than a car or truck and provides all the interior function of an enclosed trailer. A small utility trailer or motorcycle trailer is under $500 with plenty of farkles. Much cheaper and much easier. Also, much safer should a person with evil intent happen by. Sleeping in a tent or trailer, it is necessary to make one's way to the vehicle to escape bad people. Not a problem if sleeping in the vehicle. Actually, any ol' minivan will work--just chuck the back seats and spray the inside of the back windows with flat black paint. Itty bitty mini-motorhomes rock!
 

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Tear drop trailers a fad, my parents, lived in a tear drop trailer in the 40's when they first got married, not for long, but that's still along fad. Your use is great and from the look of those fenders, do you have my parents tear drop?
 

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I know a lot of people criticize "form over function" design and it is appropriate in most cases but sometimes it's nice to see an attractive design which is also functional.



I think they are cool looking and it would cheer me up no end to see one on the road.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
What size ball is on the toungue, anyway? Just axin...


It's a 1 7/8". I had the tongue, axle and wheels redone when I first got it. Very affordable too as QWERTY points out. Got the wheels from a salvage yard too. the bolt pattern matches the Jeep so I only need to carry one spare. The new trailer components installed were rated for around 3200lbs - much more than needed for the light duty stuff I use it for but it's nice to have it for when I occasionally have a biggger truck pulling it. It rides a little high when empty but not to bouncy - tows perfectly with a weekend's worth of stuff loaded in the back. One of the best features of the teardrop overall for me is it's ease in towing. The small size, standard wheels and aerodynamics make a difference.
 

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Tear drop trailers a fad, my parents, lived in a tear drop trailer in the 40's when they first got married, not for long, but that's still along fad. Your use is great and from the look of those fenders, do you have my parents tear drop?
I would agree with your sarcasm if you could provide a manufacturer of a significant number of teardrop trailers building models between 1955 and 2000. The first teardrops were homebuilts, usually on junk car frames, usually the front half of the frame with the stock suspension and the crosslink cut in the middle and welded to the axle to keep the wheels pointed right. Then a tongue and hitch was welded to the frame. Often the tongue and hitch replaced the rear of the frame and the auto frame was pulled backwards, which allowed the wells to be well aft of the side door. This explains the tradition of car-sized tires on teardrop trailers.



These first teardrops needed to be light since the cars that pulled them generally had very limited horsepower. Therefore, aircraft building techniques were adopted by the early builders. No, not space-frame aluminum, think older--wooden frames, fabric (usually muslin), and dope. The oldest teardrop I ever saw was covered with old canvas potato sacks sewn together. Spruce and redwood were the premium framing materials--light and strong--but other woods were also used, availability dependent on geographical location. The canvas and dope trailers were originally built like a Connestoga wagon, the shape chosen for easy building more than anything else--steam bending wood was a common practice back then, virtually every man knew how to do it--but the resulting flat front was prone to damage from wind when towing on the highway. The arch of the Connestoga was turned sideways, but that limited the length of the trailer. The teardrop shape evolved as a means of lengthening the Connestoga linear section. The improved aerodynamics was an unexpected bonus.



All this development happened with troops returning from WWI with a desire to see the country. It wasn't unusual for several young men to form a partnership to buy a car and build a trailer, then take turns using the rig on weekends and for vacations, either traveling together, then later with their families.



Plywood became commercially available during the 1920s and by 1930 was cheaper than muslin and dope, and much more durable. In 1936, Outdoor Life magazine published a series of articles on building and outfitting a plywood teardrop trailer. Economy of acquiring and operation was paramount--this was in the middle of the great depression.



After WWII was when teardrops saw their hey-day. Thousands of young men with wanderlust had a few years military wages in their pockets and a desire to travel. Pre-war rolling wrecks could be had for a song, and plenty of military surplus aluminum was available for even less, so the building material shifted to aluminum. Kit Kamper, the first known commercial manufacturer of teardrop trailers, got its start about when the war ended.



1946 was the year the rear hatch kitchen gained big popularity, as the idea was a feature of a Popular Science construction article. For the next few years, seems like every DIY and outdoor magazine carried construction articles on teardops. The trend was towards larger and larger teardrops, the biggest featuring a tent enclosure of the rear hatch, which provided a lighter, smaller trailer on the road, able to be easily garaged to protect it from the weather, and stand-up headroom at the campsite.



By 1955, though, the teardrop hey-day was over. Those wayfaring young men who came home from the war and drove the demand for the commercial teardrops now had wives and children, and needed more beds and a bathtub. The horsepower race in Detroit was rounding the first corner and people were able to tow bigger, less aerodynamic trailers with more luxurious accommodations with ease. Innovations in the enginneering and construction of pop-up campers, which towed as easily as teardrops but had many times more beds and volume on the campsite replaced teardrops as the lightweight towable of choice in most areas. The exception being folks who traveled in areas where bears were common--soft walls do not discourage hungry bears. Homemade teardrops were still the norm in such places, especially in the west. Later, by the late 1960s van conversions had pretty much replaced teardrops even in these areas.



I know of no article about teardrops and no commercial manufacturers between 1960 and 1995. Teardrops were for all practical purposes non-existent in the RV market.



About 1996 or so I started seeing people, mostly from the west coast, posting on the internet about their budget minimalist camping trailer builds. Many chose the ease of building a wood-framed plywood sided teardrop to pull behind their econobox cars--the few ultra-light hard-side trailers on the market were simply too expensive. Along with the teardrop postings were those of people who found a good used enclosed cargo trailer to convert for camping. Most of the people pursuing these minimalist camping trailers were young couples with small children for whom a tent did not provide adequate protection from the vagaries of the environment. They were long on creativity but short on budget.



From this '90s revival of minimalist camping trailers suitable for towing behind low-powered cars has grown the modern micro-lite trailer industry. Teardrops, for all their cuteness, simply do not compare with other trailer designs for efficient use of space vs. weight and towing ease. They are kind of like TWs--not really best at anything, but good at everything. There will always be a few around, but there characteristics appeal to an entry-level market, and owners will likely move up to bigger rigs over time. There is already a trend away from teardrops in the market. Fortunately, and also like TWs, teardrops' unique set of attributes will always appeal to a few free thinkers with tons of experience who realize that for their personal use, the configuration is ideal. Teardops, like TWs, will never go away.
 

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It's a 1 7/8". I had the tongue, axle and wheels redone when I first got it. Very affordable too as QWERTY points out. Got the wheels from a salvage yard too. the bolt pattern matches the Jeep so I only need to carry one spare. The new trailer components installed were rated for around 3200lbs - much more than needed for the light duty stuff I use it for but it's nice to have it for when I occasionally have a biggger truck pulling it. It rides a little high when empty but not to bouncy - tows perfectly with a weekend's worth of stuff loaded in the back. One of the best features of the teardrop overall for me is it's ease in towing. The small size, standard wheels and aerodynamics make a difference.


The reason the Jeep wheels fit is because the wheels probably are Jeep wheels. Lots of government surplas Jeep wheels and tires available after WWII, and just so happens that Ford, probably the choice of axle, spindle, and hubs, also used the 5X5 lug pattern.
 

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Little Guy is one of the main teardrop manufacturers still in business in the USA. They have trailers for towing behind everything from motorcycles to 4X4s. 4', 5', and 6' wide versions of basic campers to toy haulers (cargo area up front).



It does look like it would be less expensive to get a stock cargo trailer and add stuff to it.



Since I'll have to store mine in the garage (at an apartment complex), I'm going to start with a foldable 4X8 flatbed and build a framework that I can cover with tarps when I camp.
 

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Like everything if you are using it then your getting you money out of it, and the new " fad" is based on the success of a trailer like yours. 60 + years and still providing more than a new trailer would be able to!
 

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Very cool set-up Green Alder! About seven years ago I fell in love with the concept of a teardrop trailer and got serious about buying one for Regina and I; I liked that they were light-weight and that I could tow one with my air-cooled VW Dune 'Buggy (a guy I know tows one with his) and that I could store it just about anywhere around my house. There is even a place making brand-new teardrops, they sell out of an RV dealership in Riverside www.golittleguy.com



In the end however I bought a used tent trailer mainly because the tent trailer had a little more useable space (four of us spent an evening Thanksgiving weekend sitting at the table in our trailer and playing cards while sleet was falling outside). The drawback is that I can't carry a TW on it (or in it). I do like the uniqueness of a teardrop, and probably could have bought a new one for what I paid to store my tent trailer for six years until we moved last summer. Maybe down-the-road.



Oh, and with regard to the availability four-lug trailer wheels, the last time I checked (which admittedly wasn't recently) Walmart sold four-lug, 14" & 15" trailer wheels with Carlisle ST (trailer) tires already mounted. Seemed to me there were ~$50 a wheel/tire. I'm a fan of five-lug wheels and of my three trailers all but one of them use the same five-lug bolt pattern and the same hub (two trailers use 2K LBS axles, the third uses a 3,500 LBS axle).



Definitely a neat set-up Green Alder!



Kevin
 

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Do you often tote a dead person around in your trailer?
 

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Tear drop trailers, transport the TW in the minivan, you guys are reading my mind with all these ideas. It's good to realize I am not the only one that has minivan and dreams about taking the TW with him on vacation.

Teardrops are expensive and valued at more than they are worth. Sure, I have seen the ones that match the 1940's car or the coloured ones but pay 8000-22000 for a teardrop trailer so 2 can sleep for me is hard to justify. Unless you build one yourself. Buy a registered platform trailer and build on it, that is cheaper.

My idea was to buy a cargo trailer and install folding (lift up) bed frames and bring a queen mattress with me from home. This would allow me room to carry my TW in the back and at the campsite, take it out, extend the bed and sleep in the cargo trailer.
 

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Tear drop trailers, transport the TW in the minivan, you guys are reading my mind with all these ideas. It's good to realize I am not the only one that has minivan and dreams about taking the TW with him on vacation.

Teardrops are expensive and valued at more than they are worth. Sure, I have seen the ones that match the 1940's car or the coloured ones but pay 8000-22000 for a teardrop trailer so 2 can sleep for me is hard to justify. Unless you build one yourself. Buy a registered platform trailer and build on it, that is cheaper.

My idea was to buy a cargo trailer and install folding (lift up) bed frames and bring a queen mattress with me from home. This would allow me room to carry my TW in the back and at the campsite, take it out, extend the bed and sleep in the cargo trailer.
Some campgrounds don't allow trailers not RVIA certified. Be aware that you will not be welcome in some places. Size your bedframes to meet in the middle and find a mattress that fits.



Plan for lots of bug-proof ventilation or suffer the consequences.
 

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I have an old spartan manor that as soon as i get back on my feet from a divorce i plan on restoring... I've been contemplating how to tow it and carrie the TW? I always liked the teardrop trailers too.
 
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