Building your own teardrop camper

Make Magazine interviews Werner Strama, who built his own teardrop camping trailer (here's a detailed HOWTO if you want to try it yourself). Strama talks about how he approached the project and the lessons he learned about scratch-building something ambitious and wonderful:

After we decided on the teardrop, I started collecting hundreds of pictures of all the items we believed would be best for our needs: that is, three person sleeping area, a small kitchen in the back, self-powered when needed, very well insulated, for we would be going camping year round to different places, especially hot springs (we have very nice ones in Colorado). Also I needed to keep the costs down so not to be a burden on our finances, and not to fall into the “credit card trap.”

I enrolled my neighbor Denny since he is just an amazing bargain hunter on camping stuff; he was the one who found the old popup camper for free, as well as the stove with the oven, which turned out to be a very nice touch. With the trailer chassis, I set to calculate dimensions and average weights to maintain 12–15% of the total weight on the hitch, which would make sure the trailer would be stable. All it takes is some simple math and three bathroom scales. Then it was a matter of getting the wood, some extra tools, like a router, and a sabre saw to cut the profiles.

How and Why I Built My Own Teardrop Camper Trailer [Goli Mohammadi/Make]


  1. It’s wise to carry two spares, because when one of those trailer tire pops and you use the spare there may not be anywhere to replace that size trailer tire nearby. Also, those tires tend to shred rather than just go flat, so don’t make the wheel well too snug.

    Dad always carried two spare tires and two jacks for the family station wagon, which seemed excessive until we had a double blowout. 

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  2. I would have guessed there would be more red tape in getting certified to be road legal.  Maybe re-using the existing frame helped? 

    1. Depends on the state.  I’m not sure of Colorado, but the process normally ranges anywhere between having the state DOT inspect the vehicle to just signing the correct paperwork and paying the fee.

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