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Thread: The CrowsWing - Offroad Teardrop Trailer

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    King George, VA
    Posts
    2,677

    Default The CrowsWing - Offroad Teardrop Trailer

    The backstory:.My wife Elizabeth and I made a plan about 3 years ago. We called it our 10 year plan. In the 10 year time frame the kids will be nearly through with college and setting off on their own. This will leave us as the cliched “empty nesters” in a very large and expensive house, in an equally expensive area of the country to live. We discussed moving to other areas of the country briefly, but our conversations continually returned to our love of travel and the enjoyment we get finding the interesting spots wherever we roam. The plan slowly evolved into our decision to sell everything (or nearly so) and travel for a year (or more), and when we find an area we really like we will settle down a bit, find part-time jobs and live and travel some more..Once the traveling bit was settled we had to decide on the how. I love the looks of the Adventure Trailers, and their Australian and African cousins. Searching the web for the various brands brought us to the Campa Trailer - mmmmm all stainless, rugged, cool. We started our saving plan, a rough itinerary plan (slowly adding to my "Places to Visit" file when I come across a cool place on the web)..The Campa Trailer seemed the perfect choice for us. We began discussing our plans with our families and friends. Through many conversations, we learned one of the foibles of the trailer/RTT combination. Camping in inclement weather. Some have found that high wind and driving rain make setting up or taking down their RTT to be “an experience”. We are pretty confident that the likely hood of inclement weather in our year of travel is pretty fair. We decided something hard-sided would be beneficial to us considering the unknowns of long-term travel. Thus our search for an alternative..Adventure Trailers have their Teardrop (as did SoCal Teardrops) and we found some versions of home-built offroad tears on the net. These piqued our interest and got us rethinking our plan. A teardrop solves the wet weather setup, is still capable and smallish, and could work if we have enough storage space between it and the truck. The AT and SoCal trailers were nice, but we figured if we bought one of those we’d still have to modify it to meet our storage needs inside and out. Plunking down large amounts of cash and then plunking down even more to customize it wasn’t very appealing. A homebuilt version was very appealing - heck, we’re handy people. We’ve rebuilt a farmhouse, built cabinets and restored a car….how hard could a teardrop be?.We originally planned for a roof rack and custom boxes on top to solve our storage issues. . It looked good on paper, and we were settling into a plan to work them around a roof vent - when - DingDingDing - a bell went off in Beth’s head. “Why can’t we have storage underneath the bed?” With access doors to the outside, gear would be easily accessed and the roofline is smoother and free for the vent. Perfect! We were curios how it would look in 3D, so we did what any normal people would do.....we built a scale model. Beth even made a little Mini-me to provide the proper scale; well those who know me have a sense of scale now......Elizabeth discovered Googles Sketchup program and began work on our own teardrop. As she worked through the winter with the CAD program we discussed the items we needed for our travel. Refrigerator, stove, oven, wine rack, classic looks - yet fitting to the style of the tow vehicle (2003 Toyota Tundra 4x4). Boxed steel frame, offroad tires (same as the truck), big water tank, 2 propane tanks, inflatable kayaks, the list goes on..Beth designs, I build the frame, we both build the body. Plan in motion…..Beth joined the Teardrops & Tiny Travel Trailers forum and I joined the Tearjerkers forum..At one point during the design process we flitted with the idea of a Sportmobile style 4x4 van. It was an attractive option for us, until we went to the RV show in DC. There were van conversions there for the crawling through. I was less than impressed with the room in the kitchen and the thought of frying bacon inside (bacon is awesome, but I don’t want to smell it weeks after I cook it!) made me queasy - then we got to the price tag. Back to the teardrop..  More sketchup plans. It’s getting better all the time. . Planning, reading, and discussing into the springtime of 2011. We decided to see how it would look with the truck and taped out our scale version on the garage door. Nice! I think it looks pretty darned cool!. ..At this time we were also discussing our plans for our 20th Anniversary (July of 2011) Travel was a definite, and we wanted to go somewhere new. Our first plan was to rent a VW van in Cali and tour the west coast. That would be cool. Neither of us have been to Cali (except in the airport) and the cost wasn’t bad for the rental - plane tickets would be a different issue. Then I found it. A rental teardrop. Nearby. Less cost than the van, no plane tickets, and we could try it out to see if we “fit” the tear droppers lifestyle. I called the company Miller Trailer Sales in Pennsylvania and booked their 5x8 Silver Shadow for our anniversary week. We planned on a Vermont trip (hmm, never been there) and touring some new countryside..In the meantime Beth worked trailer plans and I worked on my 1965 Nova Wagon getting it ready to sell (the first victim in our “sell everything” plan as it was to finance building materials). The Tearjerkers had a teardrop get-together nearby. We went and met a lot of nice people who let us crawl all over and under their trailers. We garnered some “new” ideas and learned how to install the Hurricane hinge for the galley..Our Anniversary came along, and teardrop traveling was pretty sweet. Setup in minutes, compared to an hour or so for the tents. Comfy, warm (or cool with the vent on), pulled down the road easily, and looked good with the truck..The trip was awesome..Miller Trailer Sales happens to be a dealer for Cargomaxxx aluminum trailers. The day we returned our rental trailer we took a long look at the utility trailers they had for sale. We were told that SIC Metals produce the Cargomaxxx and they do custom work. Oohh the gears are turning again! An aluminum trailer solves any rusting issues from weather, is lightweight, and the 2x4 frame should be quite durable..We contacted SIC Metals about building our frame. They were interested in the build, and we thought the quality of their work was outstanding. A tentative agreement was made and we began the process of sending design parameters, and basic needs for the framework. Many emails and phone conversations later and we had a finalized plan. .Conveniently enough a buyer for the car came along( do not cry, do not cry, do not cry, sniffle, snuff, hmmmm, it's OK I'm good). We had financing for the frame! We signed the build order from SIC and started our online shopping spree for “stuff”  
    Last edited by jim65wagon; 12-17-2011 at 08:57 PM. Reason: added more photos and links
    Movin' right along.In search of good times and good news,
    With good friends you can't lose, This could become a habit..
    Opportunity knocks once, let's reach out and grab it.
    Together we'll nab it. We'll hitch-hike, bus or yellow cab it!
    Cab it?

    CrowsWing
    Benroy Teardrop on TnTTT
    CrowsWing Benroy Teardrop on ExPo
    The 200,000 Mile Tundra

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    King George, VA
    Posts
    2,677
    The Front Story:

    Whew! That brings us fairly up to date. We have a frame being built, (sort of - at this point in time we are currently next in line after they finish the two other custom trailers they are building) along with the exterior storage doors and the tongue box. We’ve had wheels, tires and a MaxCoupler sent to SIC. The last few weeks have seen the arrival of doors, windows, refrigerator, generator, power converter and many other fine marine grade, and/or stainless steel classy looking items.

    September 2011 we got to make our first sawdust. Granted its only the template of the walls, but it’s dust. We now have 2 sheets of 4x8 plywood cut and splined together to form a single 5x10 panel.
    ..
    .
    ..
    .

    Mmmmm sawdust is good, well, except for the small issue I have of going into sneezing fits whenever we cut something with a pine variant in it. The wall looks small in the garage, but I know how comfy the 5x8 Silver Shadow was. This should be better....
    Last edited by jim65wagon; 10-25-2011 at 02:03 AM.
    Movin' right along.In search of good times and good news,
    With good friends you can't lose, This could become a habit..
    Opportunity knocks once, let's reach out and grab it.
    Together we'll nab it. We'll hitch-hike, bus or yellow cab it!
    Cab it?

    CrowsWing
    Benroy Teardrop on TnTTT
    CrowsWing Benroy Teardrop on ExPo
    The 200,000 Mile Tundra

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    King George, VA
    Posts
    2,677
    October 2011

    We’ve been discussing for some time (a looong time) now how to mount the propane tanks on the trailer. We need something sturdy, lockable, and classy. The many propane tank brackets to be found run the gamut from welded steel hack jobs to stainless steel beauties to behold. Easily found for 5lb tanks and even 20lb tanks. Not so easy for the 10lb Worthington aluminum tanks we purchased.

    Since our trailer build is stalled for the frame and our 5x10 plywood we ordered for the wall frame hasn’t arrived yet, we decided to make our own tank mounts.

    Beth found during her online searches, that many yachts and ocean going vessels use tank lockers to store their propane tanks in. Sturdy, lockable, and it has the advantage of hiding our tanks from prying eyes. Sweet! How do we build one?

    Out of Diamond plate aluminum of course! We measured the dimensions of the tank and Beth worked out a pattern for parts (She really is good at design work!)

    .



    While I was working odd hours (and sleeping when not working) she cut patterns and forms out of plywood; and cut the pieces of aluminum to build the lockers with.

    She annealed the aluminum to make it easier to work with. She worked the main body out with body hammers and our trusty, crusty portable workbench. Not a perfect bending brake but it did the job. (Barely, the two lockers have pretty much ruined its workings - definitely need a new one now!)
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    .


    The frame for the lid was bent around the form with the body hammer and my gentle wife beat it into submission. In the end it conformed to the form and even confessed to crimes it didn’t commit….

    ..
    .
    ..
    The diamonds on the plate interfered with the rivets we were using to attach the frame. My job became grinder extraordinaire. My handy dandy 20 dollar grinder (with safety glasses of course) fired up noisily and chewed away at the diamonds until the frame seated neatly onto the lid.


    The funnest job, oddly enough, was installing the rivets. 100 rivets per locker (we built 2 lockers - for you math deficient that’s 200 rivets total ). If you’ve not had the pleasure of using an old pop rivet tool, you should try it. Really! It is as much fun as whitewashing a fence! It does wonders for your handshake and the excitement…..oooh, it is truly a riveting experience!
    .
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    In the end our lockers turned out wonderful. I need to spend some time on the buffer wheel with the frame rings to work out some of the hammer scores. The overall look is unique, and most people will just be wondering why we lock up our garbage and never suspect it’s our propane storage!
    .
    .


     
    Last edited by jim65wagon; 10-26-2011 at 01:54 AM.
    Movin' right along.In search of good times and good news,
    With good friends you can't lose, This could become a habit..
    Opportunity knocks once, let's reach out and grab it.
    Together we'll nab it. We'll hitch-hike, bus or yellow cab it!
    Cab it?

    CrowsWing
    Benroy Teardrop on TnTTT
    CrowsWing Benroy Teardrop on ExPo
    The 200,000 Mile Tundra

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    mtns of SoCal
    Posts
    1,028
    Quote Originally Posted by jim65wagon View Post
    We decided to see how it would look with the truck and taped out our scale version on the garage door. Nice! I think it looks pretty darned cool!

    Me too! Wish you could've seen the look on my face when I saw this pic. A lot like this

    If the propane tanks are any indication, this is gonna be one shiny and fun build!


    01 Provan Tiger CX
    04 TJ

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    1,067
    Awesome, just awesome. Love the the plan but most if all love that both of you are building.

    Can't wait to see what else you cone up with

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Inland Empire, Ca
    Posts
    207
    Quote Originally Posted by grimbo View Post
    Awesome, just awesome. Love the the plan but most if all love that both of you are building.

    Can't wait to see what else you cone up with

    If only we could all be that lucky. Great looking build and so glad that you have a true partner in your wife. Look forward to watching the build progress into completion and then to read the tales of your adventures.
    98 T4R. All-Pro Front coils, UCA and Sliders, Sonoran Steel 1.2 rear.285/75/16 NTG's on Ivan Stewarts, DIY Custom Rear bumper. Front bumper and roof rack by Outdoor Logic.
    Wish List: Winch, ARB lockers and re-gear.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    New Braunfels, TX
    Posts
    774
    Very, very nice.
    ____________
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    Deep In The Heart Of Texas...

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    SoCal
    Posts
    6,554
    What an awesome journey.... Already!
    "Occupy National Parks!" - gabepari
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  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Victoria BC Canada
    Posts
    1,726
    Awesome design... I may *borrow* this one day (cough cough)



    Subscribed.
    Red XJ's FTW
    2000 Jeep XJ Classic. 2005 Jeep WK LTD 5.7L. 1992 M101 CDN2 1/4 ton project trailer, CVT Mt Hood RTT. 2009 Coachman 108ST Tent Trailer.
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  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Gloucester, Virginia, USA
    Posts
    169
    James,

    cannot wait to see your trailer in person. i will have a few stickers for you to add to your kitchen box next time we see you.

    subscribed
    Ted

    Proud Member of the Appalachian Ridgerunner Supreme Expedition Squad

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