Friday, November 11, 2011


On March 15th, 2008, Chris and Kent Goodwin started their adventure to build a teardrop trailer. They started by doing internet searches to collect information on these trailers they'd seen on the road growing up. Chris mentions thinking they were the most stupid trailer he'd ever seen. He couldn't figure out how they got things through the tiny doors. He had no idea it was a sleeping trailer with a lift up hatch in the back that revealed a small kitchenette for camping. A traveling bedroom for two that you can hook up to a car if you want and take off. They were all the rage after WWII and many were made out of materials salvaged from military vehicles. Now suddenly, it was a neat idea that had re-invented itself in our time to become a fad of sorts.
They decided to build a Benroy model similar to this picture. It seemed to fit their purposes the most. This picture was taken from the internet for a sample. They had better resources to build a more elaborate model. With an extensive background in commercial and residential construction as well as their years of experience owning and running their own cabinet shop, the brothers felt confident they could do it.

They initially toyed with building a wooden model similar to this one. Having a cabinet shop would almost make it a must. They normally spray a considerable amount of auto lacquer on exterior doors. They were thinking they could finish it up pretty nice with auto lacquer and actually give it a good wax job occasionally to repel water. In any event, it would be a safe bet to assume the trailer would end up out of wood.

Phase-1... The first thing they needed is build the
trailer's frame. They have old lumber racks that haven't been used for a long time and a left over truck rack that can be cut up. The plan is to salvage this material to build the frame.
They have several spare tiers and wheels from cabinet trailers they planned on throwing away until they decided to build the trailer. They projected getting through the first phase without spending a lot of money. They cut up the scrap and laid out the frame on the shop floor. They used pipe clamps to hold it together to insure it all fit correctly. The design was created based on the available size of the material. This is what it looked like after welding it all together.
They ordered 2000 lbs rubber torsion 1/2 axels and hubs from Northern Tool. Chris recalls learning quite a lesson about start angles. "I didn't know the difference between a 7" start angle and a 3". I picked the 7" and found out the frame now sits 4" higher off the ground than I wanted." They were going to exchange them but decided the extra clearance might be food for some of the back country roads in the area. There is also a possibility of building a storage box in the floor.
Without much background in welding, the brothers relied on a couple of employees with welding experience. They were willing to share their experience and teach the brothers how to put the frame together. They decided to paint the frame. They sanded it down and primed it. There was a bit of rust on the metal when they salvaged it. Not much and it sanded off fairly easily. They used a rust preventive black paint for the frame. It is amazing how much better the frame looks with a couple coats of black paint on it. You can see the noticeable difference between the just welded pic and this pic after painting. It's really remarkable.
Kent had a can of aluminum chrome paint so they sanded and painted the wheels. Not custom chrome wheels but better looking than they were before. When they mounted the wheels on the frame it almost looked like it could end up being a pretty good trailer. A few more items to mount on the trailer and they will be ready for the floor. They need safety chains for towing and a trailer jack for leveling the trailer when it's un-hooked and parked.

There's more to come in the saga of the Goodwin Teardrop Trailer. Check back for more!

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