Category Archives: Details on Our Own Teardrop Trailer

Teardrop Trailer Air Conditioning (A/C) Unit Installation

We recently received a request from a Twitter follower to provide installation details about our custom, home-built teardrop trailer’s air conditioning (A/C) unit  . . .


Do you have any write ups on how you vent/drain your A/C on your teardrop?

By now, you may have seen some photos of our teardrop trailer’s air conditioning (A/C) unit installation in the post entitled “Building Our Teardrop Trailer From Scratch: Learning by Doing“.  In the next set of paragraphs, I’ll give more details about those photos.

Teardrop Trailer Air Conditioning (A/C) Unit Installation

The over-simplified explanation of how to deal with venting and draining of a teardrop trailer’s air conditioning (A/C) unit goes a little something like this:
air flow zones for camper air conditioning unit, teardrop trailer air conditioning installation
Air-flow zones for teardrop trailer or camper air-conditioning unit.
  1. Divide air space outside of A/C unit into three distinct zones:
    • Zone 1 at front of A/C unit, where cabin air is pulled in through one set of A/C unit’s front-panel vents, and cooled air is pushed back out into cabin via another set of front-panel vents;
    • Zone 2 through mid-section of A/C unit, where outside air is pulled into the A/C unit’s mid-section vents;
    • Zone 3 at rear of A/C unit, where hot air from condenser coil is pushed out the back-end vents.
  2. Provide intake route for outside air to be pulled into Zone 2, where it will enter the A/C unit via the mid-section intake vents;.
  3. Provide exit route in Zone 3 for heated air at back end of A/C unit to be pushed outside of teardrop trailer (Note: we installed a partitioned roof vent to accommodate both Zone 2 ingress and Zone 3 egress).
  4. Provide a water collection space at back end of A/C unit in Zone 2 and Zone 3, where water from A/C unit’s internal, built-in drip pan (a result of front-end cooling-coil evaporation) can safely collect and exit the trailer when A/C unit is running;
  5. When installing a water-collection pan to accommodate run-off water through Zone 2 & Zone 3:
    • Make sure teardrop trailer is level;
    • Position and secure the water-collection pan at ample angle to allow A/C unit’s run-off water to safely and efficiently collect into one back corner of collection pan (in our case, the back-left corner);
    • Cut small hole at base of water-collection pan in separator wall between Zone 2 & Zone 3 to allow water to pass from Zone 3 into Zone 2. Punch hole at back of water-collection pan in Zone 2, where water can drain out through a drainage tube;
    • Install a leak-proof drainage tube long enough to run down through infrastructure of teardrop trailer until it reaches the outside of the teardrop trailer’s underbelly (Note: we punched a hole in left-rear of collection pan and soldered copper tubing that we then ran through an interior wall to the underside of the teardrop trailer). REMEMBER: GRAVITY IS YOUR FRIEND, so MAKE SURE the water’s EXIT ROUTE IS ALL DOWNHILL!  🙂
  6. When ready to install A/C unit, use weather-proof sealant tape between rear of A/C unit and any framed areas A/C unit will butt up against to ensure a watertight installation.

Now, for the expanded Photo Log of our Teardrop Trailer air conditioning unit installation . . .

With this being our first attempt at building a teardrop trailer from scratch, we attempted to capture as many photos of our trailer build as we could. We did so STRICTLY FOR OUR OWN INFORMATION. Beyond family and friends, we never thought in a million years we’d show them to anyone else. And yet, here we are!

(Recall, this wasn’t a kit build, but a wing-it-as-you-go home-built teardrop trailer. We wanted (and knew we would need!) plenty of step-by-step evidence in case something didn’t work well afterwards. We’ve been fortunate and INFINITELY GRATEFUL that most things have worked great from the start. )

All said and done, making the correct cuts and creating the correct angles for the aluminum shields and separators was perhaps the most trying part of the build. It helped TREMENDOUSLY to use cardboard and foam board stencils to attain the best configuration and thus have templates to use when cutting and shaping the aluminum.

First we made a cardboard mock-up of the air conditioner, flushed out some ideas, and committed to a channel through which we would run the copper tubing that would serve as an egress of the air conditioner’s run-off water:

 Next, we worked on fashioning a foam board mock-up of the external vent area to be used for BOTH Zone 2 air intake AND Zone 3 hot-air egress:

Then, we worked on framing the innards with aluminum sheeting and created a path for run-off water to exit the trailer :

Next, we commited to cutting and forming the air conditioning system’s outer roof shield, AND we commit to applying the full aluminum skin to our trailer:

Final stages included installation of air conditioner’s aluminum roof-top vent shield and placement of protective plastic grill to keep the critters out:

See? That wasn’t so bad!

Actually, it was a bit more complicated than we thought. As with anything, you learn a whole lot about something when you’re forced to. I know WAY more about air conditioning systems than I thought I ever needed to or wanted to, but I actually feel the better for it. You will too.  🙂

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask. In the meantime, good luck to all of you out there bravely building your own teardrop trailers. We STILL look fondly at this teardrop trailer build as our favorite joint-project to date!


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Photos of Our Own Home-Built, Custom Teardrop Trailer

We built our teardrop trailer in 2011, from the tip of her trailer hitch to the top of her roof racks! She was inspired by the first teardrop trailer we ever saw–a used Camp-Inn brand trailer.

We built her (Building Our Teardrop Trailer From Scratch: Learning by Doing) before we saw all the amazing variations of teardrops there are nowadays . . . old and new. Still, we love her for the custom trailer she is and for the mere fact we never built such a thing before, but we embarked on the challenge anyway . . . together. We built her without plans. We built her with only a picture to go by. We built her loosely on what we saw, but specifically on what we wanted in her, from her.  And we couldn’t be happier!

We love her and hope you do too!

Our teardrop trailer

 

teardrop trailer, vintage, vintage-style, gathering, Perris, CA, Southern California, 2014
The galley of our home-built, vintage-style teardrop trailer
Foot-bed area of our home-built, custom teardrop trailer.
Foot-bed area of our home-built, custom teardrop trailer.
Headboard area of our home-built, custom teardrop trailer.
Headboard area of our home-built, custom teardrop trailer.

Galley Resized

 


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Details, Details, Details: Adding a Side Grill to our Teardrop Trailer

This week, Mark added a side grill to our home-built, custom teardrop trailer, because, you know, he can! (I LOVE this man!)

When we initially designed our teardrop trailer, which really was a bit more like winging than designing (check out my blog post:  Building Our Teardrop Trailer From Scratch: Learning by Doing) we made note ahead of time of some key features we wanted to include.

One feature, right off the bat, was to install an extra deep stainless steel sink that could easily hold a large spaghetti pot.

Another was to install rails all around the rear of the trailer to accommodate table tops wherever we might need ’em. Our thought on this was to stay modular in our design, ready to accommodate future needs.

Well, this week, a need (really a “want”) arose when Mark decided he wanted to add an extra grill besides the neat slide-out, cast iron, double-burner grill we already enjoy.

Canyonlands National Park, Utah, The Mighty Five, Utah tourism, vintage teardrop trailer travels, U.S. road trip, Utah national parks, hiking, sightseeing, photography

As you may note in the picture above, besides the rear-right rail being used by our fold-out table, there’s also a rail on the right side panel of the trailer near the electric socket. We have the same exact two-rail configuration on the left side of our teardrop trailer as well.

So when Mark decided he wanted to make use of an old barbecue grill, we talked about a design for making it safe and stable so our 80-lb Lab/Shepherd couldn’t accidentally knock it over. All said and done, we came up with this:

teardrop trailer, vintage trailer, custom trailer, camping, tiny trailer, DIY, build details teardrop trailer, vintage trailer, custom trailer, camping, tiny trailer, DIY, build details

“Is that grill smoking,” you ask?

Why, “Yes, it is!”

How can one set up a grill and not fire it up?

Salmon burgers, here . . . we . . . come!

teardrop trailer, vintage trailer, custom trailer, camping, tiny trailer, DIY, build details

teardrop trailer, vintage trailer, custom trailer, camping, tiny trailer, DIY, build details

teardrop trailer, vintage trailer, custom trailer, camping, tiny trailer, DIY, build details

We love our ever-morphing teardrop trailer! We especially love all her details, details, details!

Make sure to have fun with YOUR teardrop trailer! Even if you buy it new or already customized by a previous owner, make sure to add those details that make it your own!



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Building Our Teardrop Trailer From Scratch: Learning by Doing

Adventure comes in many forms, but boiled down to its basics, adventure is simply about going where you’ve never gone before or doing what you’ve never done before.

Sometimes it involves having a specific step-by-step plan, and sometimes it’s all about exploring and figuring it out as you go along.

The latter is how we set out to build our own teardrop trailer. Our big plan was to wing it, to step out on a limb with a destination in mind and take a leap of faith that our wings would do what we knew they could do, and that we’d get where we wanted to be.

THE INSPIRATION: The first time we saw a teardrop trailer, we were tent camping in Big Sur on the coast of California. The year was 2012. I had been in California all of a year, having moved there from my birth state of New York. After a lifetime of camping primarily in the Northeast United States, California seemed like a candy store, fully stocked with endless shorelines, expansive inner-mountain ranges, and forests of every height and girth.

Coastline not far from Big Sur
Coastline not far from Big Sur

And Big Sur offered it all– shoreline, mountains, and forests, all wrapped up in one gorgeous package. It was there that we saw it . . . a tiny teardrop trailer. We’d just spent an hour or two setting up a huge tent, a camping kitchen, filling up water jugs from a nearby faucet, unloading all our stuff from the utility trailer (one of several Mark had built through the years),  . . .

and in rolled a tiny camping trailer no bigger than the car that was hauling it. Within 15 minutes, the happy owners of the trailer had set up camp and were kicking back with a glass of wine. We gawked at them, envious and miffed . . . hmmmmm.

Curious, we strolled by and struck up a conversation. The husband and wife cheerfully gave us the teardrop tour (available all day long, it seemed–teardrop trailers naturally double as people magnets!). We ooh’d and aaa’d over the queen-sized bed and the cozy hatch-back kitchenette. The disappointing news for us was that their particular trailer went for roughly $13,000 brand new . . . way too steep a price tag for us. The interesting news was this couple had bought their teardrop trailer second-hand for $6,000 and altered it to their liking.

By the time we made our way back to our own campsite, Mark announced, “We can make one of those.”

Roughly a month later, that’s exactly what we set out to do. With only a vague idea of how to begin, we researched like heck whatever teardrop trailers we could find on the internet and then decided what style we wanted to make. We discussed some finer points about cabinetry needs, kitchen features, etc., and then just started building it!

THE PROJECT:  Over the course of four months, it went something like this . . .

To be sure, there were many trials and tribulations along the way, but for the most part, we worked together on this project, and that made all the difference. Mark had much more construction knowledge than I did, but I had a practical yet creative mind that served us well on many occasions. I had many ideas about aesthetics and design and even came through with viable solutions when we got into inevitable jams. We found that with the two of us working together, when one of us exhausted all our ideas, the other was able to come in on a fresh, new angle.

As with most things Mark and I come across, we’re hardly ever interested in buying something brand new. We’d rather restore, re-purpose, or attempt to build it ourselves.

Granted, a big reason for that is we’re simply not financially well-off enough to afford new everything. But honestly, the bigger reason is we enjoy the challenge of attempting to fix or build something ourselves. For one, we get to work on projects together, which improves our communication with one another. For two, with every project, we inevitably learn a couple of new skills we can port over to the next project. For three, we acquire a sense of empowerment by staying self-reliant, comforted in knowing that we can always make ends meet should our life adventures throw us a curve ball or should we temporarily lose our way.

With many of the projects we embark upon, we often don’t know what awaits us. We often don’t know if we have the specific skills we’ll need to get the job done. That can be intimidating. What we DO know, however, is we definitely have the most important tools: patience, common sense, cooperation, resilience, and desire. Everything else we need, we acquire by simply doing it!

Here’s a link to a post, showing what the final product looks like these days . . . Photos of Our Own Home-Built, Custom Teardrop Trailer.

[What’s that one project that keeps gnawing at you that you haven’t yet started or completed? Why not commit yourself today to getting the job done? Maybe if you say it out loud in our comments section, we can help hold you accountable for completing what you know you want to. If you do share your goal with us, we’d love to hear how the project’s progressing, whether you completed it, and what you learned along the way (and we’re not talking just skills learned!).]


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Happy trails, y’all!


Sue J signature