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Finally starting my teardrop offroad trailer build.


NAXJA Forum User
I have been planning on building an offroad capable trailer for nearly three years and started picking up parts about that time. With being either flat broke or medically laid up, it kept being pushed to the background. I slowly purchased items when I found a killer deal so now I am starting the build.

For those who are not familiar with the term teardrop, it comes from the shape. They were popular in the 30's to the 50's and are starting to make a comeback. It is just big enough for two to sleep inside, while the back opens up and gives you access to the galley. Most are build on cheap harbor freight frames and the like and the body is totally wood. Being the pain in the ass perfectionist engineer I am as many of you know, I had to do it different. I am building a fully welded frame sitting on airbags and 31's. The upper section will consist of 1" steel square tubing with a sheith of Filon.

I am just getting started on the frame and have it about 50% welded. I am using a different suspension type from most as you will see as things progress. I have attached a pix from Outback Teardrops to give you a rough idea of the shape of the body. Mine will be a bit different but theirs will give you an idea. Progress from this point will be limited by funds. I rebuild and port power steering boxes and I am using that to fund my trailer.

I will have a different style set of doors. As it turns out, that is the most expensive part of the build for me. A set of doors will run me almost $600.


I originally snagged a trailer axle with the 5x4.5 bolt pattern and a drop axle. As it turns out the drop axle, that I intended to rotate up, just didn't work out height wise and I ended up just scavenging the brakes. I have sandblasted the brakes and painted them, along with buyins a set of trailer spindles and a section of 2x2x.25" box. I ended up cutting some new mounting plates and milling the holes.




Awesome. Good luck on your build.

What exactly is Filon?
It is the sheet fiberglass covered with gell coat that is used on the out sides of motor homes.
If you guys were wondering about how I was going to set up the suspension with the air bags, well I am going to run what is called a single link with a panhard bar. It is similar to what is called a trailer hitch suspension, only I am using a RE Super Joint. That will be my project for Friday.

After that I need to make a bender to arch the 1" square tubing. With that small of tubing, it is actually pretty easy. Stay tuned for the details.
Google rv surplus, their are a bunch in the Elkhart, In area. I picked up a door for around $100.
Thanks for the idea but I am set on the doors in the pix. Wish I could find the manufacturer.
Thanks for the idea but I am set on the doors in the pix. Wish I could find the manufacturer.

Post that pic up at Expo, somebody might be able to help ya out. If you dont have an account i can do it for ya..

Been waiting for this thread for some time, i'll be following. I'm sure it'll be an awesome build Tom.
Thanks for the idea but I am set on the doors in the pix. Wish I could find the manufacturer.

That window looks identical to the ones used on the 'Little Guy' teardrops: http://www.golittleguy.com/teardrops/index.php

The Rough Rider model: http://www.golittleguy.com/teardrops/models/rough-rider/

A little snooping around, and I think they are made by Statewide Aluminum, and look similar to some of their livestock windows: http://statewidealum.com/livestock-trailers-statewide-alum.htm

Maybe that can help..
Thanks for the lead. I will call them tomorrow.
ill be watching this as well, she's decided she wants a teardrop to pull with her rig. You think round tube could be used for the structure? thats what would be easiest for me to bend and work with
Personally it think it would be a ton harder. I will show you how to bend the 1" square tube easily and cheaply. I have just a bit left before I post pix of the trailer platform with axle and hitch. I will start the top later. While there it is a bit time consuming building the trailer portion from scratch, it is a lot tougher than the HF based solution.

I will be beating the crap out of this so I don't want it to break.
Pretty much finished welding all the platform and suspension. I built it upside down, now I have to figure out how to flip it over. I want to clean the garage a bit before taking pix. It is surprising how dirty a shop can get when you are welding, cutting, and grinding for a couple of days.

I overbuilt the heck out of the frame since I will be dragging it to hell and back.
I love tear drop trailers, and for a long time I wanted one to pull behind the XJ. Before I could find a decent one to buy, I ended up getting a camper.

Good luck on the build, Tom, should come out nice.
I need to post a bunch of pix but first I have to take them. I got it turned over, ready to put on the wheels, but life has been hectic. My 94 yr old mother in law had a heart attack so things have been in a turmoil.
Would you mind enlightening the group on how you bend the square tube? I like working with square tube but haven't figured out how to bend it properly without an actual tubing bender.
Would you mind enlightening the group on how you bend the square tube? I like working with square tube but haven't figured out how to bend it properly without an actual tubing bender.

tape end, fill with sand, tape that end. put in vice, heat with torch and use a pipe wrench or your hand to pull it. will bend and keep form. google it
Nope, not even close. I have a three day weekend and hope to bend some tubing starting tomorrow. Remember that the radius on the bends is quite large, so the deformation is not great.

I hope you guys like my suspension. I have a few welds left and then I will paint it with a "Top Secret Coating" before I do some pix.


I am also going to try and finish my vibration isolating offroad articulating hitch tomorrow. I made the first one of these about 40 years ago on the farm for pulling a sled behind a bailer.
Here are some pix of the trailer frame as I pulled it out into the sunlight for the first time. I still have to mount some shocks and finish the fancy coupler but things are coming along.




Nothing like a little overkill on the draglink.