Scott B.'s Little Guy Offroad Teardrop Build

Scott B.

SE Expedition Society
I have been reading trailer build threads for some time, and always wondered if I really needed one. Sure, one would be nice to have, but I had a hard time justifying one. And, of course, there was always the trailer/RTT or teardrop dilemma. Both have advantages, and both have disadvantages.

Then, along comes the new GF - who thinks driving across the country to explore/4-wheel/camp for 2 weeks at a time is a fun thing to do. Our first trip together (DE II to Utah) was spent in a new Kodiak tent. A great tent, big, roomy - what else could one ask for? It is a great tent, but setting up and taking down every day becomes work as the week goes on. Oh, and it can be very difficult to pound tent stakes into solid rock. :(

Fast forward to CFW and winter camping. The temperature went down to 22 degrees one night - frost on the outside of the tent, and no heater (yes, I didn't plan as well as I should have.) Enough said.

On our next trip together, DE III to Nevada, we talked a lot about camping/expo gear - chuck boxes, RTTs, teardrops, cots, etc. A preference of not sleeping on the ground is starting to show. And, a little more convenience. I'm a backpacker, so I understand and appreciate minimalism. Apparently, my appreciation is not always shared...

The trailer vs. teardrop conversations continued. While both are very good solutions, the teardrop had a few features that were better for us than the trailer/RTT solution. That, and seeing several teardrops owned and marketed (you know who you are - Martin) by several friends of ours, we decided to investigate the teardrop solution more closely.

Now, the conversation grows to buy or build. Sure, I could (and want to) build one. But, how long would it take? My project list is not short, and we want to camp now, not year(s) from now. Ouch. Guess what? There is a Little Guy dealer less than 20 miles away.

I went to the dealership with an open mind. As much as I want to build a custom, fits-me-like-a-glove teardrop, I want to camp too. We looked at several models of teardrops on the lot, and looked at pricing as well. The prices were reasonable, and we liked some features from each model, but there was not one that was "it" for us.

Time for more research on the net. There are more teardrop builders out there than I would have guessed. All have their unique features/ides - and some of them have prices to match. Most of them do not utilize the concept of minimalism.

We sat down and seriously determined our needs/wants/desires - our how-are-we-really-going-to-use-this list. For me, I feel very strongly that this teardrop is a hard-sided tent, not a camper. (Thanks, Martin!) It is going off-road, and needs to built and outfitted accordingly. In essence, it is a warm, dry place to sleep that is not on the ground, and has a fast to deploy kitchen.

After more discussion, we decided we really liked the Little Guy. One of our camping friends has one, and had it custom built (features not normally assembled in that fashion.) Let's see if LG will build a custom one for us.

Obviously, the answer was yes! During the course of production, I spoke with/emailed the VP of Sales, the CEO, and the implementation specialist at the factory. All were very helpful, and wanted to build this teardrop the way I wanted it. The customer service was/is top notch.

(Current Photo to be posted)

States Visited
Alabama
Arizona
Arkansas
California
Colorado
Florida
Georgia
Idaho
Illinois
Indiana
Iowa
Kansas
Kentucky
Louisiana
Minnisota
Mississippi
Missouri
Montana
Nebraska
Nevada
New Mexico
North Carolina
Oklahoma
South Carolina
South Dakota
Tennessee
Texas
Utah
Virginia
Wyoming
 
Last edited:

Scott B.

SE Expedition Society
The Specification

Or, "Do they think I'm nuts for asking for all this???"

Our (my) requirements (wants?) are geared toward off-road travel. As such, light weight and ground clearance are 2 important factors.

The 5 x 8 is a good body size. The 4 x 8 is too small for 2 people to be really comfortable, and the 6' wide too unnecessarily wide. The 10' long models are nice, but, again, outside of our requirements. Also, the track width of the 5' wide is close to that of my truck. We liked the Silver Shadow box over the 5 Wide. While the 5 Wide can be had with a birch interior, what really sold us was the kitchen configuration. But, the Silver Shadows have a short trailer (frame) tongue. The Rough Rider 5 Wide has a longer tongue and a storage platform.

I asked for a Silver Shadow on a Rough Rider frame, with an extended tongue and storage platform.

Next was the axle. I need height (ground clearance) and brakes. There was some discussion on this, and the factory guys spoke with Dexter (the axle manufacturer) for more info. The solution was a 3500 lb axle, 22.5 degree down angle, 10" brakes with parking feature. I had wanted a 45 degree down angle axle, but with the brakes there was a concern about clearances. So, a slightly taller mounting block was used (and the axle placement on the frame was adjusted slightly) with the 22.5 axle.

A stargazer window was an absolute necessity.

There are several standard items on the Silver Shadow that were outside of our requirements. The standard tongue jack is placed right behind the coupler. I have a swingout on my truck, so that had to move. The stabilizer jacks in the rear hang down rather low - I think they could be a hindrance off road. Having been camping for 40 years (not continuously) I have an idea how I like my kitchen setup. The standard cabinet arrangement on the SS did not really fit with my idea. Continuing with the hard-sided tent idea, I have a 2nd battery in my truck. I really don't need a third battery in the teardrop. I don't have to have an inverter and 110v outlets (no TV, DVD, A/C, etc.) and the refrigerator lives in the back of the truck (powered by the second battery.) Lastly, the fenders are to small to cover my tires.

So, I asked to delete the tongue jack, stabilizer jacks, kitchen cabinets, 1/2 of the power package (the 110v half,) the fenders and the wheels/tires.

No problem. We were quoted a price, and wrote a check.

While the axle discussions were going on, I asked for one more thing - a receiver for a coupler instead of the standard lunette ring. They had done it once before (on Hilldweller's LG.) Not only did they remember that, they had no problem building this one with a receiver.

No, it turns out they didn't think I was nuts. I did explain some of my reasoning, to which they agreed/understood. And, as the CEO said, "We want you be a happy camper."
 
Last edited:

Starkman

New member
As fello Ranger guy and watched your builds for some time now I'm sure it will be good.

I too have pondered the same thoughts and I too like the teardrop type camper. I like the LG with the rack on the front for my dirtbikes. I've looked at pop-ups but with bikes on the rack you can't open the sides. I like to be able to pull over on the side of the road and jump in to sleep without setup. Good luck!
 

Scott B.

SE Expedition Society
The "jump in and sleep" idea is very appealing to me, too. As is the "quick to get to" kitchen. :)
 

skersfan

Supporting Sponsor
Scott B.

What does LG think the weight of the trailer is going to be? How much weight do you plan to carry in this trailer. A 3500 pound dexter torsion axle is a lot of axle for most tear drops. I also wonder where the problem with the 45 degree axle comes. The brakes normally set inside the edge of the wheel rim.

Also the axle can be made at a lighter weight (down to 1800 pounds) but still carry the dimensions/hubs and brakes of the 3500 pound axle. My guess your trailer will weigh in at 2000 pounds with your minimalist ideas. The torsion axle will be very rough, harsh and in the long run most likely cause problems for the trailer. Take a look at the final pages of the 2011 Schutt military trailer build. Mark goes into great detail regarding these axles.

I do not want to concern you about the trailer, but having used these things for many years, they do present problems if not though out.

Also the lower degree drop will take away from ground clearance, about 3-4 inches in the center of the trailer is my guess. I never use that degree for off road builds.

I hope this helps, not wanting to see you have problems down the road. LG has good people working for them, I actually buy my doors from them or did. But they are not that into the off road side. They listen and build what you want and do a pretty good job of it. I would just do more research on this, and it can be changed at any time as they are bolt on axles with skids welded to the frame.
 

Yulli

Yulli the Yeti
I know what the prices are for the Rough Riders and Silver Shadows, but when you start combining the 2 does the price jump up a lot or is it still reasonable? I'm not asking for a total price you paid, just wondering if it's still cheaper than pricing together a Moby1 or AT. I like the Little Guy Rough Rider because it's half the price out the door than putting together a Moby1. When I saw people putting the Silver Shadow and RR together, it made me wonder how much more in price it would be and if it's still reasonably cheaper than a Moby1 or AT.

And does it affect the total weight at all? I thought these trailers were around 1000-1200lbs. I can see them going up a little bit when adding some options but I don't see how it'd end up 2000lbs. A Moby1 could easily weigh up to 2000lbs because of all their options and they offer more for options which would add up real quick in weight. I find the Little Guy's to be a bit more minimal and practically.
 

Scott B.

SE Expedition Society
What does LG think the weight of the trailer is going to be? How much weight do you plan to carry in this trailer. A 3500 pound dexter torsion axle is a lot of axle for most tear drops. I also wonder where the problem with the 45 degree axle comes. The brakes normally set inside the edge of the wheel rim.

Also the axle can be made at a lighter weight (down to 1800 pounds) but still carry the dimensions/hubs and brakes of the 3500 pound axle. My guess your trailer will weigh in at 2000 pounds with your minimalist ideas. The torsion axle will be very rough, harsh and in the long run most likely cause problems for the trailer. Take a look at the final pages of the 2011 Schutt military trailer build. Mark goes into great detail regarding these axles.
The weight is around 1600 pounds, maybe a little less. I do not plan to carry too much in the trailer - the obvious bedding and clothes, and a not too overdone kitchen. I do plan to add several 20L can carriers on the front.

I was a little surprised when I was told it was a 3500 lb axle - the factory guys were talking with Dexter to get this axle figured out. I assume (hope?) they took the trailer weight into consideration. I wonder if he meant it was a 3500 lb class axle, not the specific weight rating. As the teardrop sits now, I get some axle flex - something I would not expect to get it the weight rating was actually 3500 lbs.

My understanding is Dexter does not put brakes with the parking feature on a 45 degree down axle. They think there is a clearance or interference issue. I heard this second hand, so that is all the information I have.

Also the lower degree drop will take away from ground clearance, about 3-4 inches in the center of the trailer is my guess. I never use that degree for off road builds.
I must not be saying this right, because on my axle the wheel hub center is below the axle centerline, yielding additional ground clearance, not less.

I hope this helps, not wanting to see you have problems down the road. LG has good people working for them, I actually buy my doors from them or did. But they are not that into the off road side. They listen and build what you want and do a pretty good job of it. I would just do more research on this, and it can be changed at any time as they are bolt on axles with skids welded to the frame.
I have learned that they are not really familiar with our style of off-road use. But, they were very receptive to my thoughts and ideas. My teardrop is the first one they used this particular axle on - let's hope all the calculations are correct!

If it turns out to be to heavy of a weight rating, I can always swap out the axle. As you said, they just bolt it.
 

Scott B.

SE Expedition Society
I know what the prices are for the Rough Riders and Silver Shadows, but when you start combining the 2 does the price jump up a lot or is it still reasonable? I'm not asking for a total price you paid, just wondering if it's still cheaper than pricing together a Moby1 or AT. I like the Little Guy Rough Rider because it's half the price out the door than putting together a Moby1. When I saw people putting the Silver Shadow and RR together, it made me wonder how much more in price it would be and if it's still reasonably cheaper than a Moby1 or AT.

And does it affect the total weight at all? I thought these trailers were around 1000-1200lbs. I can see them going up a little bit when adding some options but I don't see how it'd end up 2000lbs. A Moby1 could easily weigh up to 2000lbs because of all their options and they offer more for options which would add up real quick in weight. I find the Little Guy's to be a bit more minimal and practically.
The price was reasonable - similar to a Rough Rider. Remember, I deleted a few items from the SS, including the wheels/tires. While dropping the purchase price, I did incur some additional costs with wheels, tires and fenders. To me, it is still a better buy (and less expensive.) The Moby1 didn't really fit our specific requirements. I liked the AT, but there were a couple of things on the LG that were preferred. (The GF really likes the stargazer window! Truth be told, so do I.)

Total weight is similar to the Rough Rider. The big addition in weight comes from the skid plates - which acts as a structure to strengthen the frame.

I think you said it - the LG is much more practical.
 

Yulli

Yulli the Yeti
I talked to LG a lil bit this morning. Even with the RR and SS together, it still sounds like it's still half the price of a Moby. I really like the Moby line and maybe someday I'll get one. But I think the LG will do me good if I plan to go that route.

Do you know the difference in height between the axle that comes with the trailer to the one you're putting on yours?
 

skersfan

Supporting Sponsor
Never have used the parking brake, so that explains the comment. What I meant is that you will lose ground clearance from the 45 to 22.5 degree axle.

If the frame is together and the axle on, crawl under and look on the front of the cross member, it will have a weight of the axle on a plate, or a tag, or sometimes just written in paint on it. Anything above 2K for that trailer will be harsh. My trailers weigh in at 24-2500 pounds with all options and 20 gallons of propane and 42 gallons of water, I order a 2700 pound axle and they make it to that weight. They have not been doing it that way for too long. I think only the last 6 years or so.

Hope you have a ball with it.
 

Scott B.

SE Expedition Society
Never have used the parking brake, so that explains the comment. What I meant is that you will lose ground clearance from the 45 to 22.5 degree axle.

If the frame is together and the axle on, crawl under and look on the front of the cross member, it will have a weight of the axle on a plate, or a tag, or sometimes just written in paint on it. Anything above 2K for that trailer will be harsh. My trailers weigh in at 24-2500 pounds with all options and 20 gallons of propane and 42 gallons of water, I order a 2700 pound axle and they make it to that weight. They have not been doing it that way for too long. I think only the last 6 years or so.

Hope you have a ball with it.
Yes, I lost a little with the 22.5 axle. They did boost the body up with a taller spacer, however. So, a little less clearance under the axle, but still an improved departure angle.

I will pull off the skid plate and look at the axle. I did not realize there was an indicator on the axle - makes sense, though.
 

Martinjmpr

Wiffleball Batter
Wow, can't wait to see it!

I'll happily take the blame (or the credit) for putting this bug in your ear.

Lots of people look at a teardrop and what it doesn't have and they say "I don't get it?"

Still not sure if I'll be able to make the late September trip, but I'm definitely interested in seeing your TD! Have you named it yet? :D
 
Top