Is A DIY Teardrop Camper In Your Future?
If you visit our site and follow us on Facebook, you are likely someone who appreciates the DIY culture. Mr. McGee and I are willing to try our hand at just about anything around our home, but we have our limitations. We are constantly amazed by some of the projects all of you share and the talents you possess to get the job done.
This summer, we have been lucky enough to watch the progress of one such project.
Jim and Julie Pantas of North Carolina rarely stay in one place for very long. While they have a home base, they travel much of the year and experience and enjoy so much of our landscape in this beautiful nation of ours.
Avid airplane enthusiasts, Jim and Julie decided this year they would attend Airventure at Oshkosh in Wisconsin, but they couldn’t find a hotel for 200 miles! Upon advice that camping would be their best bet, they decided to put their talents to work and build a teardrop camper to tow behind their vehicle. Perfect for just a small campsite. Because…you know…when you can’t find a hotel room, you build a camper, right? Doesn’t everybody? :-)
During their 15 hour drives to and fro, Jim and Julie were kind enough to answer some questions for us about the project and were happy to share their project photos. Be sure to check out the photo gallery below.
DIY Your Own Teardrop Trailer
MMHM: Why did you want to make a teardrop trailer?
J&J: We decided to go to Airventure at Oshkosh and quickly found out that there were no hotel vacancies for 200 miles. It was suggested that camping would be the best option, but we really didn’t want to sleep on the ground. Many years ago, we used to go camping (in a motor home LOL!) when our children were young, but sold the motor home and had stopped going over the years. We weren’t sure we wanted to get back into camping so we looked into a Teardrop as a low cost option to “test the waters”. But we loved it. It was perfect for what we needed.
MMHM: Do you think this project is doable for someone who doesn’t do fabricating work regularly?
J & J: Anyone could do it, most of the tools we used were simple hand tools. Primarily hand saws, a cordless drill, wood rasps, chisels and sandpaper. There are many good blogs and YouTube videos out there describing how to build one.
MMHM: Based on your experience, at what level of difficulty would you rate this DIY teardrop trailer project?
J & J: Moderate. You’ll need to know some simple woodworking skills, but if someone has assembled furniture, they can probably do most of it.
MMHM: How many hours did you think it would take? How many hours did it take?
J & J: Hours for us ~40. Hours for a beginner ~80. It all depends on the skill level of the fabricator. The online resources are awesome.
MMHM: What online resources did you use to guide you through this project?
J & J: https://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/
MMHM: How much did this project ultimately cost in materials? Is this much less than buying a teardrop trailer at retail? Was this worth it?
J & J: We are up to $1,500. We found used ones for $2,500 and we think you can buy one new for $4,500-$9,500. One of the primary reasons we decided to build one is because we didn’t want all of the “features” in the store bought ones. We knew we would never use the kitchen or stove and wanted a “moon roof” so we could sleep under the stars.
Check out the cost breakdown in the table at the end of the post.
MMHM: Did you find the instructions consistent and easy to follow with the expected result?
J & J: Yes, and the beauty of building it yourself is you can customize it and/or enhance it anytime. We realized that we would like a door on each side so we’ll be cutting out the window on the driver’s side and replacing it with a door over the next few weeks.
MMHM: Were there any instructions that did not ultimately produce expected results? If so, what would you suggest should be done differently?
J & J: The instructions were good for the basics. If you follow them you’ll have a good Teardrop. But the beauty of building your own is the ability to add or delete whatever options you want.
MMHM: What needs to be done to this DIY teardrop camper trailer to make it road worthy and legal for traveling?
J & J: Since we started with a trailer from Harbor Freight it is licensed as a utility trailer. So you simply take the title paperwork from Harbor Freight to DMV.
MMHM: What else would you like to share about this project?
J & J: Our first trip was 2500 miles and other than a bumpy detour in Indiana the trailer performed flawlessly. Since it weighed 673 lbs we literally pushed it around by hand when we wanted to pick a place to sleep. It could easily be towed behind almost any vehicle, which makes it great for anyone who wants to travel frugally. Our first two nights were under hellacious thunderstorms, but the teardrop was comfortable and dry. We are already working on enhancements, and possibly a larger version.
MMHM: What a terrific adventure and inspiring project from start to finish! We hope you enjoy thousands of more miles and many evenings staring at the stars in your teardrop. Thanks so much to Jim and Julie for sharing their project!
DIY Teardrop Photo Gallery
Click on “FS” in the right corner of the gallery for full screen view.
[flagallery gid=12 name=Teardrop]
Cost Breakdown for A DIY Teardrop Camper Trailer
(Click table to enlarge)
Have you dreamed of building your own teardrop? Know someone who has? Tell us about it in the comments below.
Jim and Julie Pantas own Wild Horses Racing, Inc., where they fabricate anything on wheels. Much of their work includes custom 18-wheelers for hauling race cars. They also travel around the U. S. with NASA-SE, teaching up- and-coming race car drivers how to drive faster and hosting amateur races to help these drivers realize their potential. We’re grateful to them for sharing this project with us!
Love the DIY works. Thanks for sharing.
Hi Darren and Beth,
It's a nice interview.the 2 resources Jim and Julie's shear are actually helpful for beginners. And the cost breakdown is another great resource for this article. Greatly appreciate it.