Hello everyone. I have been a quiet member for over a year. I am a Jeep enthusiast who just finished installing a Hemi in my 2007 Wrangler Rubicon and now I ready for the expo trailer. I bought a Canadian M101 last year to convert into a off-road expo, but I have since caught the teardrop bug. I am an average welder, decent mechanic, and handy with the plasma cutter and tubing bender.
I plan on moving to Colorado in the next few months and I figure now is the time to build. The main thing keeping me away from traditional teardrops is the lack of storage outside of the sleeping compartment and the "wasted" space inside the sleeping compartment (I don't need 4-5' of headroom to lie down).
I have set out to design the ultimate easy to use teardrop inspired (front enclosed sleeping, rear kitchen) with maximum storage and minimal wasted space. I have been heavily influenced by Skersfan's Shuttle Pod and Titanpat57's ROAM (thanks guys).
My needs are as such... My wife and I (no kids) sleep lying down, so headroom can be minimized. Our two German Shepherds need a place inside to sleep. Setup needs to be quick and easy with no tent/awning stakes in the ground (I may like to setup in a parking lot or rest area). There must be enough room inside to comfortably change clothes, preferably standing up. The length must be kept to a minimum and the weight should be minimized as well using lightweight materials in non-structural areas. The off-road capability must be maximized.
I believe I have met all of my needs with this new concept and I am submitting it to gather your ideas on improvements and building materials / equipment (everything is perfectly to scale and I have selected equipment based on my needs and space):
The sleeping compartment is elevated, but there is room to move around on the ground floor. The nose hinges forward to provide standing room for changing (I may place a drain in the floor and use that area as a shower as well ???). The kitchen area is attached to a truck bed slide-out (http://www.slidingtruckbed.com/2011-...-bed-slide.pdf) that stores under the sleeping compartment (the pictures all show the passenger fender cutaway exposing the kitchen storage area, but the driver's side is shown complete). The rear door hinges up to provide shade.
To access the kitchen, the rear door is raised, the kitchen is slid out, and some items can be immediately accessed, while others may be under a lid, behind a door, or in a drawer. Almost the entire top can be used as a table/counter. On the passenger side we have the Edgestar 43QT fridge, large 18" wide drawers for food and pots/pans, a sink drained to a 16 gal grey tank, 12" wide drawers for utensils and/or clothes, and a 50" pass through for storing long items/rifles.
On the driver's side, we have a 22" Partner stove (the lid is custom, the wings fold out from under the lid once it is raised, but the wings and lid fold flat over the stove when not in use), storage for a Honda 2000 (just in case), storage for two 20lb Propane tanks (might be in the woods for a few weeks at a time), two 16 gal water tanks, a 31 series deep cycle battery with room for the AC/DC equipment, and a storage bin for misc. items or dirty clothes. The side covering the propane and generator hinges and locks up for use as a sit down table. The rear door covering the generator allows quick access while the kitchen is stowed in the trailer.
The heaviest equipment (water, propane, and battery) are all mounted over the axle when the kitchen is stowed. Also, all the weight is down very low. This thing is going to tow like a dream!!! There is easy access to fill or service the water tanks. The yellow tube in the center protects the wiring and keeps it neat.
A 5 gal fuel tank will mount on each side, again close to the axle. A built-in ladder assists with cleaning and possible future solar installation. The tires are 33", but room is left for 35" to 37".
Since the sleeping bed is above the tires/fenders and covers half of each tire, it will be close to 5'5" wide and 6'3" long (I'm 6'1"). I left 6" inside the rear door area for the foldable/storable awning concept. The arms are going to either fold out or slide out and the canvas will be in one piece and will snap/zip or otherwise attach to the arms and rear door providing excellent shade and decent rain protection. The front tent area will be permanently attached to the hinged lid and to the trailer and will simply tilt up from the inside and then secured with a bar/rod.
Here is a cutaway of the sleeping compartment. Plenty of floor space for the dogs. During foul weather, the front lid can be closed and the only drawback is no standing room for anyone over 5'.
With all the lids closed, the entire kitchen, minus the sink, is flat and it is all at the perfect height (no bending over). You can see the 6" deep area inside the rear door, before the sleeping compartment, that I left for the rear awning system to stow in.
Here is the passenger side fender cutaway with the kitchen stowed. With the rear door locked, only the fuel tanks are left exposed to the weather or thieves.
All closed up and ready to roll... or pull over, hop in, and go to sleep.
The rear door will need some graphics and/or sprucing up.
Ok, here's the great part. The kitchen is completely modular. With the exception of the bracing, every panel or compartment can be altered if equipment is changed. Everything is easily serviceable and the bed slide comes out 120%, so you can crawl into the storage area for repairs, or the dogs can nap in there while the kitchen is out.
I have dual batteries in my Jeep and an under hood heat exchanger, so I've got the power covered should my trailer battery die and I've got the hot water covered. I will use a propane heater for the sleeping area. I have 37's on the Jeep and the bolt pattern will be the same on the trailer (5x5.5), so I can use the Jeep's spare in a pinch.
Right now the trailer is 160" tip to tip, but a good deal of that is the front A-frame, 79" tall (will fit in my standard garage), and around 80" wide wheel to wheel (the same as the Jeep with the Dana 60s).
Here's where I need your help...
I believe I want to use steel for the frame for strength and steel for the structure like Skersfan. I will probably order the aluminum bed slide and I am thinking of making the entire kitchen out of aluminum for weight savings. I am not sure how I should do the walls and skin. I was thinking birch interior, but do I need plywood walls with the steel frame? What is wrong with using thin gauge steel for the skin welded to the steel supports (the skin would be painted)? Insulation would go between the steel skin and birch interior. Rust would be a long time coming if prepped and painted correctly. I'm just not sure I want to deal with the think heavy plywood and fiberglass type skins. Help me out!
I may use a torsion bar axle for the ground clearance; unless anyone has a great off-road setup they could direct me too. I want to keep the weight under 2000lbs fully loaded and I hope the use of aluminum helps with that.
Can anyone offer suggestions to keep the water tanks from freezing due to weeks in the cold mountain weather?
Please feel free to offer any suggestions and ideas. I should start the build in a few weeks, but may start ordering things soon.