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THE STORY OF ONE MAN'S EFFORT
TO BUILD A TEARDROP TRAILER

 
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WHAT'S A TEARDROP TRAILER?

SIZE
The original teardrop trailers of the 1930s or 1940s were sized to fit a 4-foot x 8-foot sheet of plywood. Even today, most are 4 to 5 feet wide and 8 to 10 feet long, and 4 to 5 feet high inside.

WEIGHT
Teardrop trailers are lightweights, compared to other trailers. Typical empty weights range from 500 to 1,200 pounds. The more features you add, the more it weighs. Insulation, metal skins, electrical systems, water systems, paint, glue, and closets and cupboards all add weight.

FRONTAL AREA
The original teardrop trailers had a front 4 feet wide and 4 feet tall. That’s 16 square feet of frontal area, less than most any other travel trailers that don’t fold up. Frontal area is important because it produces drag. It takes engine power to overcome drag. So, the less frontal area, the less drag there is, and the less fuel you use towing the trailer.

SHAPE
Some teardrop trailer builders take great effort producing teardrop trailers with smoothly rounded compound curves. Because teardrop trailers have a streamlined shape, like a teardrop seen from the side, you’d think the streamlining would have a great effect. But behind a vehicle, airflow is turbulent. There’s no telling whether the teardrop’s streamlined shape has any effect. The only way I’m sure the streamlined teardrop shape would be effective is if you pushed the trailer instead of towing it!

UTILITY
In a teardrop trailer, there are one or two small doors up front. You sleep in front on a mattress on the floor. There’s an outdoor kitchen, called a galley, under a hinged hatch in back. When you lay down to sleep, your feet are under the galley. Teardrop trailers have one or more windows, so you don’t feel like you’re sleeping in a cave.

COST
There are more teardrop trailers on the road today than there were in their former heyday after World War II. A few companies are building them commercially, plans of varying quality are available, and many people (like me) design and build their own. Before I built the Crocodile Tear, I priced small trailers. $5,500 to $11,000! With motels at $40 per night, I’d have to stay in motels 137 to 275 nights to equal that cost. Of course, you can pay as much as you are willing to pay.

PLANS
You don’t have to buy any commercial plans to build a teardrop trailer! You should look at some plans to see how others built a teardrop trailer. I downloaded, for free, the September 1947 article in Popular Mechanics on a dandy little teardrop trailer. I also looked at free plans on the Teardrops and Tiny Trailers Forum. You can find both websites in the Links section. Didn’t buy any plans, though!

BUILD TIME
No one can estimate how long it will take you to build a teardrop trailer. Only you know your work habits, your strengths and weaknesses, and how long you are willing to work on and complete a project. It helps to have a garage, the needed tools, and time to work in the evenings or weekends. Figure it will take several months to finish your trailer if you keep working at it. You get holidays off for good behavior.

NAMING YOUR TRAILER
For reasons I don’t completely understand, most teardrop trailer builders name their trailers. One of the hardest things to do is coming up with a unique name no one else ever used before.

 


Copyright 2006 CrocodileTear.com All rights reserved. The information, photos, and graphics on this website may not be reproduced, republished, copied, or mirrored onto another website or forum, or offered on CD, DVD, or printed material without written permission of the owner of CrocodileTear.com. No commercial use allowed. Permission to print information and photos from this website for educational, noncommercial purposes is granted to any individual who wants to build his own teardrop trailer.

Website designed by Tim Civick

 


 

WHAT'S IN A NAME?

"When I hear people gripe about how much money they spend on a trailer, all I have is a crocodile tear!"

WHAT'S IN A PICTURE?

Look at Planning, and Construction Photos to see about 70 pictures taken during construction.

CONTACT THE BUILDER

Want to ask a question or just say hi? Contact the Builder.