Thinking about building a teardrop-style camper, input welcome


Information, ideas, experiences and help with camping, pulling a trailer and roughing it on your Goldwing
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oakback
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Thinking about building a teardrop-style camper, input welcome

Post by oakback »



I have experience building a camper, but not building a very small one. Also no experience towing a trailer on a motorcycle. I'd like to build a hard-sided, non-folding, non-extending camper, with no kitchen or anything fancy like that. Basically a hard-sided tent, a room with a bed in it.

I'd like to base it on a commercially-available frame, like one of the many from Harbor Freight. I can figure out optimum length and height based on my dimensions, but what would you say is a minimum comfortable width for 2 people? If I ever sell this, I'd like it to work for other folks. I'm used to sleeping in a 2-man tent with my wife, but 4' might be too snug for most people, I'm not sure.

What weight is too much, at the limits, or easily manageable?
How important is suspension (leaf vs torsion, are shocks needed)?
I've found some 7" electric drum brakes on etrailer.com, I'm thinking something like this would help the tow bike a lot. Thoughts?

I'm currently on a GL1500, but I'd like to future-proof the trailer in case I change to an 1800, or a big v-twin. I don't know if that makes a difference at all.

Any input is appreciated!


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Zman457
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Re: Thinking about building a teardrop-style camper, input welcome

Post by Zman457 »

I love a new project, even if it's not mine. Hope you post a few pictures along the way.
Good luck with your build.
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MikeB
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Re: Thinking about building a teardrop-style camper, input welcome

Post by MikeB »

Looks like a fun project. Unless you intend to make it a lead sled, I do not see a need for the E-Brakes. Most motorcycle cargo trailers do not weigh much more than 250 pounds, loaded. even my Roll-a-Home is under 300 pounds before I add my camping gear and no trailer brakes are needed with it. Now, if you intend to have a 900 pound trailer, perhaps the E-Brakes would be a good addition.
MikeB
1998 - GL1500 w/184,500 miles ~ 2017 - GL1800 w/13000 miles
USAF Avionics Communications Tech - 1968 - 1986 / Flight Engineer C-130E - C-141B - 1986 - 1992. Retired
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DenverWinger
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Re: Thinking about building a teardrop-style camper, input welcome

Post by DenverWinger »

My trailer is close to 400 lbs empty, prolly 550 lbs loaded with gear. My 1500 travelling 2-up can stop it adequately without trailer brakes, but anything heavier than that I think I'd be wanting some.....
♫ 99 Little Bugs in the Code, ♪
♪ 99 Bugs in the Code. ♫ :(
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oakback
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Re: Thinking about building a teardrop-style camper, input welcome

Post by oakback »

Zman457 wrote: Mon Jun 08, 2020 3:04 pm I love a new project, even if it's not mine. Hope you post a few pictures along the way.
Good luck with your build.
Thanks! Feel free to check out that first link I posted, if you want to see our first camper project from purchase to completion (you have to scroll down a lot to see the beginning).
MikeB wrote: Mon Jun 08, 2020 3:32 pm Looks like a fun project. Unless you intend to make it a lead sled, I do not see a need for the E-Brakes. Most motorcycle cargo trailers do not weigh much more than 250 pounds, loaded. even my Roll-a-Home is under 300 pounds before I add my camping gear and no trailer brakes are needed with it. Now, if you intend to have a 900 pound trailer, perhaps the E-Brakes would be a good addition.
Good to know. What's the sleeping space in that roll-a-home like?
DenverWinger wrote: Mon Jun 08, 2020 9:34 pm My trailer is close to 400 lbs empty, prolly 550 lbs loaded with gear. My 1500 travelling 2-up can stop it adequately without trailer brakes, but anything heavier than that I think I'd be wanting some.....
Wow that's good to know. I'm beginning to think my GL1500 brakes probably need some work. What's your trailer like? Hard sided or fold out? How's the sleeping space?
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DenverWinger
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Re: Thinking about building a teardrop-style camper, input welcome

Post by DenverWinger »

oakback wrote: Tue Jun 09, 2020 9:12 am
DenverWinger wrote: Mon Jun 08, 2020 9:34 pm My trailer is close to 400 lbs empty, prolly 550 lbs loaded with gear. My 1500 travelling 2-up can stop it adequately without trailer brakes, but anything heavier than that I think I'd be wanting some.....
Wow that's good to know. I'm beginning to think my GL1500 brakes probably need some work. What's your trailer like? Hard sided or fold out? How's the sleeping space?
See this thread...
viewtopic.php?f=22&t=53447
♫ 99 Little Bugs in the Code, ♪
♪ 99 Bugs in the Code. ♫ :(
♫ Take one down, Patch it around, ♪
♫ 127 Little Bugs in the Code. ♫ ♪ :shock:

~Mark
oakback
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Re: Thinking about building a teardrop-style camper, input welcome

Post by oakback »

The "Pico-Light" (or a version of it) seems to be a strong contender: link

I'd still like to make it fit a standard trailer (I can't weld), but it seems like a neat design. Maybe I can find a small boat trailer to modify instead.
The body is all single-skin and uses 1/8” ply for the roof, 1/4” for the sidewalls and 3/8” for the floor. Although the body is very lightly-built, it is self-supporting so only an extremely basic triangular frame is needed for the chassis and more weight is saved by using separate half-axles with 8” wheels.
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DenverWinger
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Re: Thinking about building a teardrop-style camper, input welcome

Post by DenverWinger »

Don't expect top fuel economy pulling this... At Interstate Highway speeds, 2-up pulling my trailer I only get 27-29 MPG (I do have an extra tall windshield). With the teardrop design you will be pulling a big sail behind you, lots more wind drag. Slower speeds and two-lane highways will be your friend.
♫ 99 Little Bugs in the Code, ♪
♪ 99 Bugs in the Code. ♫ :(
♫ Take one down, Patch it around, ♪
♫ 127 Little Bugs in the Code. ♫ ♪ :shock:

~Mark
oakback
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Re: Thinking about building a teardrop-style camper, input welcome

Post by oakback »

Don't I know it! I get 8-9 mpg when towing my 16' camper with my Land Cruiser. We get to see a lot of back roads, and every single gas station.
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newday777
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Re: Thinking about building a teardrop-style camper, input welcome

Post by newday777 »

I have spent a lot of hours searching and reading on teardrop designs to build one someday.... Maybe....
The problems with teardrop trailers behind 2 wheel bikes are height, weight, tongue weight, wind drag and most importantly, width to accommodate 2 people comfortably.
Our bike mirrors are usually @43" +/-, on the outside edge width. You cannot safely see around the teardrop trailers to see what is behind them. There are no mirror extenders to fit onto our mirrors as are available for cars and trucks to trailer tow. So any teardrop wider than 36" will seriously hinder your rear view safety.
Most off the shelf trailer frame and axles have the axle set too far to the rear which will add tongue weight issues. Especially if you add a heavy loaded cooler or tongue box for storage to the trailer. Balance on a bike trailer of weight is critical to keep the tongue weight below 50 lbs as above that will put you into some dangerous handling instances in certain conditions.
There is a lot to take into consideration in building a trailer to tow behind a bike.
I have seen too many try towing a teardrop designed for cars and trucks behind their bike. We have different forces that take into play on bikes. Do lots of searching the web as there is lots you can find already written on this on the web and in this page.
Motocampers.com is a great place to join and search this subject out.


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