Howdy. Rough Road Teardrop from scratch.

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Howdy. Rough Road Teardrop from scratch.

Postby Squigie » Sun Aug 04, 2019 12:15 pm

Thanks for letting me in the door, Mike.

I have started collecting parts for a teardrop oriented toward rough road use (not so much "Off Road", just rough road), and would like to bounce some ideas off of those with experience before finalizing my plans and finding that the trailer wants to bounce off the road instead.

I have a small amount of fabrication experience - though mostly metal, not wood - but this will be my first trailer build and first teardrop in any form. ...From the ground up. I don't have a utility trailer, re-purposed tent trailer, or even an axle to start with. So the only limitations are those that I set myself, or dimensions/offsets necessitated by suspension geometry.

I ordered Timbren suspension (ASR1THDS01), hubs, wheels (backspacing not as advertised - had to send them back), stabilizer jacks, and a tongue jack a few weeks ago.
I already had on-hand the coupler, chains, pigtail connector(s) (pretty much all styles), basic wiring, a dozen interior and exterior lights scavenged from a motorhome that I scrapped, steel tubing for the frame, and various other bits of steel that will come in handy for things like battery and propane tank mounts.
I don't plan to use them, but I also have a full inverter-based power system, water tanks, water pumps, diaphragm style faucet, and more that could potentially come into play.

I'm still deciding upon wall and roof construction. Leading contenders for the walls are the classic 'skeletonized' plywood and the less popular steel skeleton (1x1.5" rectangular tube -- also already on hand). The roof is up in the air until wall construction is decided. I'm leaning toward fiber-glassed 1/4" plywood, because that's what's available locally. However, it's Maple ply, and it doesn't seem to be as flexible as birch.

Soon, I'll be asking you find folks for advice on some of the things I'm contemplating.

:beer:
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Re: Howdy. Rough Road Teardrop from scratch.

Postby Aguyfromohio » Sun Aug 04, 2019 2:58 pm

If you have a well-equipped metal shop you can't go wrong with a welded tube frame for the coach.
If you get strong inner and outer skins bonded all over most of the welded tubular frame it can be enormously strong.

Me, I don't have a metal shop or a welder so we built with wood and foam and glue.
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Re: Howdy. Rough Road Teardrop from scratch.

Postby Socal Tom » Sun Aug 04, 2019 4:50 pm

Aguyfromohio wrote:If you have a well-equipped metal shop you can't go wrong with a welded tube frame for the coach.
If you get strong inner and outer skins bonded all over most of the welded tubular frame it can be enormously strong.

Me, I don't have a metal shop or a welder so we built with wood and foam and glue.

A steel frame will be heavy. Mine followed the generic benroy plans for the most part, and it does just fine on rough roads, ( riding on a custom trailer frame ). FWIW, the most well known off road trailers are a wooden box on a well built frame.
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Re: Howdy. Rough Road Teardrop from scratch.

Postby tony.latham » Sun Aug 04, 2019 5:58 pm

Hello

If you’re building a classic teardrop that 1/4” ply probably can’t be bent without putting undo stress on it. 1/8” Baltic is amazingly strong and likes to bend.

T


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Re: Howdy. Rough Road Teardrop from scratch.

Postby Squigie » Sun Aug 04, 2019 10:12 pm

Thanks for the replies, guys.
I'll create posts in the appropriate sub-forums when the time comes for more in-depth discussion of the various subjects that I'd like feedback on.
But, for now... Just a few quick responses to the replies so far.

Aguyfromohio wrote:If you have a well-equipped metal shop you can't go wrong with a welded tube frame for the coach.
If you get strong inner and outer skins bonded all over most of the welded tubular frame it can be enormously strong.

Me, I don't have a metal shop or a welder so we built with wood and foam and glue.

My "shop" is cramped and ill-equipped. It is an 11'x22' one-car garage with a chimney robbing space on one side, packed to the gills with a '70 Nova, an engine, two transmissions, a few transfer cases, nearly all of my woodworking and metal working tools, all of my automotive tools, much of my salvaged/recycled parts, items for my other hobbies that don't belong in the house or outside (such as 1k+ lbs of lead ingots), a 1946 phonograph radio, and, currently, most of my steel supply (under the Nova).
But I make do.
The trailer build will likely take place on my 15'x60' back patio. There's one section that's concrete, covered, quite flat, nearly level, large enough for the build, and rarely invaded by pirates (aka, my children). It has been used before for large steel projects. Adding wood to the mix would probably make the neighbors happier. They don't seem to like the sound of grinders...

Socal Tom wrote:A steel frame will be heavy. Mine followed the generic benroy plans for the most part, and it does just fine on rough roads, ( riding on a custom trailer frame ). FWIW, the most well known off road trailers are a wooden box on a well built frame.

The steel tube that I intend to use adds about 50% to the weight of the skeleton, vs poplar or plywood; but I don't think I would build the entire skeleton out of steel tubing. The way that I have things roughly planned in my head would have the tops of the walls using a 'header' (or "cleat"?) made from some type of wood product, as well as certain ribs .

I figure a steel tube skeleton, of the type in my head, would only add about 30 lbs. But is has additional benefits, such as being able to run wiring through the skeleton itself.
We'll see how those plans and thoughts pan out as things progress.

tony.latham wrote:Hello

If you’re building a classic teardrop that 1/4” ply probably can’t be bent without putting undo stress on it. 1/8” Baltic is amazingly strong and likes to bend.

T
Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

Aye. That's why I mentioned that the 1/4" ply available here is Maple, that I'm not sure about its flexibility, and that I'm trying to find a source for good 1/8" ply (preferably 5x10; but even 4x8 could be workable).
If I can't find a source with 1/8" ply that I'm confident working with, I may have to adjust the design to minimize radii and use the 1/4" stuff - or kerf the ply and 'help' it bend.
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Re: Howdy. Rough Road Teardrop from scratch.

Postby tony.latham » Mon Aug 05, 2019 9:34 am

Squigie wrote:Thanks for the replies, guys.
I'll create posts in the appropriate sub-forums when the time comes for more in-depth discussion of the various subjects that I'd like feedback on.
But, for now... Just a few quick responses to the replies so far.

Aguyfromohio wrote:If you have a well-equipped metal shop you can't go wrong with a welded tube frame for the coach.
If you get strong inner and outer skins bonded all over most of the welded tubular frame it can be enormously strong.

Me, I don't have a metal shop or a welder so we built with wood and foam and glue.

My "shop" is cramped and ill-equipped. It is an 11'x22' one-car garage with a chimney robbing space on one side, packed to the gills with a '70 Nova, an engine, two transmissions, a few transfer cases, nearly all of my woodworking and metal working tools, all of my automotive tools, much of my salvaged/recycled parts, items for my other hobbies that don't belong in the house or outside (such as 1k+ lbs of lead ingots), a 1946 phonograph radio, and, currently, most of my steel supply (under the Nova).
But I make do.
The trailer build will likely take place on my 15'x60' back patio. There's one section that's concrete, covered, quite flat, nearly level, large enough for the build, and rarely invaded by pirates (aka, my children). It has been used before for large steel projects. Adding wood to the mix would probably make the neighbors happier. They don't seem to like the sound of grinders...

Socal Tom wrote:A steel frame will be heavy. Mine followed the generic benroy plans for the most part, and it does just fine on rough roads, ( riding on a custom trailer frame ). FWIW, the most well known off road trailers are a wooden box on a well built frame.

The steel tube that I intend to use adds about 50% to the weight of the skeleton, vs poplar or plywood; but I don't think I would build the entire skeleton out of steel tubing. The way that I have things roughly planned in my head would have the tops of the walls using a 'header' (or "cleat"?) made from some type of wood product, as well as certain ribs .

I figure a steel tube skeleton, of the type in my head, would only add about 30 lbs. But is has additional benefits, such as being able to run wiring through the skeleton itself.
We'll see how those plans and thoughts pan out as things progress.

tony.latham wrote:Hello

If you’re building a classic teardrop that 1/4” ply probably can’t be bent without putting undo stress on it. 1/8” Baltic is amazingly strong and likes to bend.

T
Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

Aye. That's why I mentioned that the 1/4" ply available here is Maple, that I'm not sure about its flexibility, and that I'm trying to find a source for good 1/8" ply (preferably 5x10; but even 4x8 could be workable).
If I can't find a source with 1/8" ply that I'm confident working with, I may have to adjust the design to minimize radii and use the 1/4" stuff - or kerf the ply and 'help' it bend.


Ask real lumber yards, not box stores if they can order 1/8” Baltic birch. If not a cabinet shop should be able to help you out.

It only comes in 5’x 5’ sheets. It’s superb stuff and I’d hesitate to build another one if I could not get it.

T
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Re: Howdy. Rough Road Teardrop from scratch.

Postby pchast » Mon Aug 05, 2019 9:43 pm

Another place to query is cabinet shops and furniture builders in a near by
small city. In our Upstate NY area there is a wholesale plywood supplier
that will help visiting woodworkers pick the sheet they want.

They ask for photo's of the finished products............
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Re: Howdy. Rough Road Teardrop from scratch.

Postby Squigie » Tue Aug 06, 2019 11:16 am

pchast wrote:(...) In our Upstate NY area there is a wholesale plywood supplier
that will help visiting woodworkers pick the sheet they want.

They ask for photo's of the finished products............

That made me giggle. Are you a fan of irony?...

The last company that asked me to spread the word and, if possible, share finished photos with them regretted the decision. (One-man operation.)
I am a hobby gunsmith. I build custom bolt-action and lever-action rifles for my own use.
In 2013, I contacted a supplier known to have a unique, large butt stock pattern for a Marlin lever-action rifle, and asked what "special" or "unique" blanks he had around that were big enough for that pattern (and also had a blank matching closely enough for the fore-stock).
We went through photos of entrapped bullets, iron sickness from nails, bark inclusions, crazy (but solid) grain flow ... all sorts of stuff, in every species of wood suitable for the application (a heavy-recoiling rifle).

I settled on a piece of Knotty Screwbean Mesquite that was absolutely covered in knots.
I finished the stocks with the knots - bark and all - intact and preserved, rather than filling them in any way, which is 'industry standard'; and used only my own Tung oil mixture to add a golden lusciousness to the wood, while making the natural character, figure, color differences, and chatoyancy 'pop'.
And then I spread the word, sent two photos to the guy I got the stocks from, and shared photos of the finished rifle on several popular online firearm/hunting forums, as well as Facebook. The company's website had my photos next to another example of knotty screwbean mesquite.
People loved it. I initially had dozens of people claiming they were going to call the company for custom stocks, with sparse, but continued interest for at least another year.

I thought I 'done good' and the company's owner would be proud.
For a time, my rifle was the #1 image result on google for anything containing the terms "knotty screwbean mesquite".

Two years ago, I called the company for another set of rough-shaped stocks, for yet another Marlin rifle. Before calling, I checked the website to make sure the place was still in business - having heard that the guy had moved 500 miles away, but not necessarily that the business had moved - and noticed that my rifle was no longer posted.
When I asked for the specific stock patterns in "some Maple with special character" the owner's tone changed. He became hesitant, seemed irritated, and told me that he no longer wanted to sell "garbage wood".
I responded, "Ah, so that's why you took the photos of my rifle off your website."
His tone changes again, "Wait. That's you? You're the guy that killed me?"
A bit confused, I attempted to reply, "I'm not sure about the killing, but I'm sure I sent a lot of business your w--."
He interjected, "Too much business! The wrong business! I know I asked you to share and spread the word, but it went too far. All I got for eight months was calls for knotty stocks, knot hole stocks, bullet hole stocks, and people wanting me to cut stocks out of their old table legs. I really appreciate that you did what you did, but it backfired."

I offered a short apology.
He explained further, "When people just call up and say, 'I need a set of high figure Maple for a such-and-such', it only takes me a few minutes to grab a template, find the appropriate blanks, and get started shaping. But when someone has a special request like yours, it takes time to find a piece that will work. Sometimes, I have to go through a hundred or more blanks to find the right piece. So, as you know, I charge full price, plus a small fee - even for wood that's otherwise unusable. But it wasn't enough. I was spending so much time searching for 'special' blanks that I was actually losing money. My bread and butter is high quality wood with zero defects. But, overnight, it seemed, I turned into the go-to guy for garbage wood stocks. When I collapsed into my bed one night, I realized that I had only cut four stocks the entire day, but had sorted through nearly eighteen-hundred blanks for special requests of garbage wood. Doing that for months on end nearly killed the business."

I conveyed my understanding, but couldn't get much more in before he continued: "So, what I would like to do is help you out with your current request, but limit the choice to whatever three blanks I can find without digging. If we find something that you like, I'll provide it to you at a discount, with one condition: You must go back to every forum post, every Facebook post, and anywhere else you've mentioned the supplier for the screwbean stocks, and wipe it clean. Remove my name. Remove any mention of even the state and city I live in. Don't mention that the company moved from Arizona to Nevada. Just wipe it clean. You can tell people in person, or via private message, all you want. But, please get it off the open internet..."

We discussed the situation further, moved on to clarifying what I wanted a bit more, and then sent the conversation to email, so I could see photos.

After making my selection (a gorgeous piece of quilted Maple with unfortunate bark inclusions) and finalizing the deal, his last reply was, "Thanks again. Stocks should ship tomorrow. Sorry about the speech. You seem to be networked well, or at least posting in the right places to send business my way. Next time you call me, can it please be to order some really nice stocks WITHOUT defects?"

I did eventually comply with that last request.
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Re: Howdy. Rough Road Teardrop from scratch.

Postby KTM_Guy » Tue Aug 06, 2019 3:58 pm

I would say for the cabin use all wood or all steel, don’t mix and match. I have seen all steel frames teardrops some have looked to be very light weight but other had to be pigs with all the extra metal because they built like they were using wood but were using steel. Are you planning a traditional teardrop shape or more of a square drop? Curved teardrops are easier to build (in wood) where a squaredrop has its own challenges.

My next teardrop :? I am thinking will be a traditional teardrop like what I have already built, but chassis, framed and skinned with aluminum. Interior would be wood. That is a few years down the road.

Todd
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Re: Howdy. Rough Road Teardrop from scratch.

Postby pchast » Tue Aug 06, 2019 9:06 pm

Squigie wrote:
pchast wrote:(...) In our Upstate NY area there is a wholesale plywood supplier
that will help visiting woodworkers pick the sheet they want.

They ask for photo's of the finished products............

That made me giggle. Are you a fan of irony?...
-snip-
his last reply was, "Thanks again. Stocks should ship tomorrow. Sorry about the speech. You seem to be networked well, or at least posting in the right places to send business my way. Next time you call me, can it please be to order some really nice stocks WITHOUT defects?"

I did eventually comply with that last request.

Amazing....... I can relate....... :applause:

The dealer, I have been to, has a posting board in his break room with a bunch of photos. I have never seen a post on line. We Were asked to never relate his help to others outside the local Woodworking club........ I'm a bad boy, I guess.
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