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 Post subject: Re: Teardrop camper
PostPosted: Mon Aug 31, 2015 11:16 pm 
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As for a roof covering, I would recommend the Brite-Ply EPDM Rubber Roofing. You can read more about it here: https://www.dicorproducts.com/catalog/r ... r-roofing/

This stuff is very durable. In essence, you wont have a problem with it. Again, the sealant that you use at the seams will determine a leak-free operation. I had my last trailer for 6.5 years with the EPDM roofing. I would get on the roof and wash it annually. It looked almost as good the day I sold it as the day I bought it. The factory dicor sealant held up for 6.5 years.

Caulking, on the other hand, doesn't hold up for very long. From my experience, RVs need to be re-caulked about every 4 - 5 years depending on how well caulked it was to begin with. You may not have many areas to re-caulk, but I have a lot of areas (external speakers, water inlets, external shower, entry light, A/C outlets, wheel skirts, etc.)

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 Post subject: Re: Teardrop camper
PostPosted: Fri Sep 04, 2015 8:52 pm 
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Diesel and PA -- Thank you for your input! I'm actually going to go with an aluminum roof covering... read on!

Today was an exciting day! I don't have any photos from today, but I'll describe it.

The trailer went on its maiden voyage today, a round trip of about 5 hours to Lebanon, PA. I stripped off the windows, fan, battery charger, and anything else that was loose and not permanently attached yet. Then I wrapped the power outlets in plastic and tied up the wiring, just in case of a shower. There was a 40% chance of rain.

The trailer pulled great! It rode even better than when I picked it up in VA when it was empty-- having weight on it softens the ride. I was able to (cautiously at first) go up to 70 mph with absolutely no problems on the PA Turnpike (which is the posted speed limit). The camper top stayed firmly attached and there was no movement at all of the cabin frame and no cracked wood or separated joints. It's a strong structure, securely bolted down.

On my trip, I had two goals (both found on Craigslist).

First, I met Mike in Phoenixville and purchased a 140 Watt, 24 volt solar panel for the top of the trailer, plus a Tracer MPPT charger that is super efficient. Second, I met up with Alan at a roofing company in Lebanon, to purchase 10 sheets of white, 10x4, 0.040 aluminum sheets. The sheets fit well in the trailer (with a little bit of curve to them), and since I don't have a back door yet, I ratchet-strapped them in. These sheets were seconds-- not because there is anything wrong with them, but because they are the wrong thickness for roofing! The thickness 0.040 is about 2x as thick as roofers need, and will crack when they double-bend the edges to connect roof panels together. I got the aluminum panels for about half of their wholesale price, and for about 1/3 of the retail price I was quoted closer to home. Definitely worth the trip.

Another fun part of the trip was people's reactions to seeing the trailer! People wanted to talk about it wherever I stopped -- gas station, convenience store, roofing company... People love it!

Happy Labor Day Weekend, everyone! :beer:

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 Post subject: Re: Teardrop camper
PostPosted: Fri Sep 04, 2015 9:13 pm 
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I like!

Send a picture of the rear of the panel.

Like discussed, stick with the 12v batery bank unless the battery charger and inverter can output and input 24v.

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 Post subject: Re: Teardrop camper
PostPosted: Fri Sep 04, 2015 9:29 pm 
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PALiftedKK wrote:
I like!

Send a picture of the rear of the panel.

Like discussed, stick with the 12v batery bank unless the battery charger and inverter can output and input 24v.

I'll snap a pic of the sticker on the back of the panel tomorrow. The panel is not as high watts as some of the others I was looking at (140 instead of 240), but the volts are pretty high for its size. It will output 24 V, and the Tracer can take that and charge the 12 V system at higher amps, making it more efficient than a panel that outputs at only 12 V. Not to mention too, the price point was good for both the panel and charge controller together.

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 Post subject: Re: Teardrop camper
PostPosted: Sat Sep 05, 2015 10:38 am 
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Here's a shot of the sticker, the panel itself, and my stack of white aluminum sheet metal.

Image

The solar panel is made by Goliath. It's approximately 4.9 ft by 2.2 ft, and is proportioned nicely for the top of the trailer. It weighs 26.5 lbs.
Image

A stack of 4x10 aluminum sheets.
Image

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 Post subject: Re: Teardrop camper
PostPosted: Sat Sep 05, 2015 11:25 am 
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I figured out that this panel should do reasonably well to charge my battery bank if all I'm using it for is the fan, lights, charging electronics, and the occasional coffee grinder and kitchen small appliance. Here is the calculator I used:

http://www.batterystuff.com/kb/tools/solar-calculator.html

Some of the variables I put in:

Watts per hour of usage: 120 (which is 10 amps x 12 volts)
Hours per day: 3
System voltage: 12
Days of backup power needed: 4
(gives me 30 amp hours per day)
Amp hours of 1 battery: 80
(Need 3 batteries - which I have)
Hours of direct sun per day: 5
Panel size in watts: 140
(Need 1.08 solar panels of my size to recharge the system back to full every day)

Some days I might use more power, and some days less. Even if the panel is only recharging 80% of my usage on a per day basis, I could go for more than a week before having to plug in. With 3, 80 amp hour batteries, I can go 4 days at 30 amp hours per day with no solar panel at all and only bring my batterties down to a 50% level of charge by the end of day 4 (which is as far as I would want to go to protect battery life). The solar panel will allow for more daily usage and/or a longer trip time before having to plug in or reduce my usage to recharge the batteries.

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 Post subject: Re: Teardrop camper
PostPosted: Sat Sep 05, 2015 10:49 pm 
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it sounds like the trailer is holding up well. 8) Maybe you've already covered this, but what are you doing for water, showers, toilet, etc.?

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 Post subject: Re: Teardrop camper
PostPosted: Sun Sep 06, 2015 2:06 pm 
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Lauren, fairly well speced panel! per our conversation a few months ago, run 14 gauge wire from the panel. make sure its stranded copper. nothing else!!! use quick connects at the panel. trust me you think you'll never need them, but you will. fuse the panel just incase. for that voltage and current, a fuse really wont do much. the charge controller has its own protection circuit and works fairly well. also, don't hook up your fuses under the panel.... my mistake, hopefully ill never need to change the 4 under there :banghead:

if the sun is directly over the panel without shade the panel should output close to 36 volts.

the tracer charge controllers love the voltage, not so much amperage, that's why when we spoke I mentioned it and finding a high voltage solar panel. though with your current combination of panel and tracer, you shouldn't have any issues. make sure to set the controller to (I believe its #3) FLA batteries. the charge controller does a fantastic job at keeping them toped off, cool, and sulphate free. though the sulphate levels depends on the load and if its constant.


there are a few mods you can do to the panel to output higher voltage, but that gets tricky.

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 Post subject: Re: Teardrop camper
PostPosted: Sun Sep 06, 2015 9:39 pm 
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dieselenthusiast wrote:
it sounds like the trailer is holding up well. 8) Maybe you've already covered this, but what are you doing for water, showers, toilet, etc.?

Ha ha, I don't think I've covered that yet. The answer is to camp at state parks that have showers! :goink: The trailer doesn't have a water system of its own. I have my eye on some nice water canisters at REI that hold between 3 and 5 gallons. The right sized containers would store nicely under the bed, and they could be put on top of the trailer's passenger's side roof to get gravity feed through a short length of hose with a shut-off valve. I'm thinking of setting up a portable kitchen counter over on the passenger's side, possibly with a drop in sink and grey water container under the sink drain. The other option would be to put the clean water container underneath the counter also but have a hand-pump faucet. I designed the trailer with an exterior 120 V AC outlet for the kitchen for grinding coffee in the morning and quickly boiling water in a hot pot.

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 Post subject: Re: Teardrop camper
PostPosted: Sun Sep 06, 2015 9:47 pm 
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PALiftedKK wrote:
Lauren, fairly well speced panel! per our conversation a few months ago, run 14 gauge wire from the panel. make sure its stranded copper. nothing else!!! use quick connects at the panel. trust me you think you'll never need them, but you will. fuse the panel just incase. for that voltage and current, a fuse really wont do much. the charge controller has its own protection circuit and works fairly well. also, don't hook up your fuses under the panel.... my mistake, hopefully ill never need to change the 4 under there :banghead:

if the sun is directly over the panel without shade the panel should output close to 36 volts.

the tracer charge controllers love the voltage, not so much amperage, that's why when we spoke I mentioned it and finding a high voltage solar panel. though with your current combination of panel and tracer, you shouldn't have any issues. make sure to set the controller to (I believe its #3) FLA batteries. the charge controller does a fantastic job at keeping them toped off, cool, and sulphate free. though the sulphate levels depends on the load and if its constant.


there are a few mods you can do to the panel to output higher voltage, but that gets tricky.

Hey, thanks for the confirmation that I made a good decision on the panel and charge controller. It was through conversations with you that I was educated enough to know what was a good panel and which ones to stay away from. Thanks for taking the time to talk that stuff through with me. I'm excited to get it installed, but I have a few more things to do before I get to that point. Next up will be:
- sanding the exterior joints smooth where I filled them with sealer
- coating the exterior plywood in urethane/polyurethane
- skinning the trailer with aluminum
- making doors and installing windows
Once the trailer is nice and waterproof, I'll work on interior and electrical stuff. I have to build the battery cabinet and install the vented battery boxes, among other things. But I'll definitely follow your advice on wiring the solar panel up. Thanks again!

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 Post subject: Re: Teardrop camper
PostPosted: Sun Sep 06, 2015 10:15 pm 
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So, after my journey to central PA for the solar panel and aluminum sheeting, I got a good sense of how the trailer pulled behind my Jeep. My overall impression was good, but there are some things that have bugged me in retrospect.

1) The shimmy at 55+ mph. The military tires are 36" bias ply monsters that are not balanced, and I don't think the military even does that, as the service manual says to drive no faster than 55. I had them up to 70, and the rotational resonance peaked at about 56-64 mph. The shaking wasn't as bad as when the trailer was empty (when I brought it home from VA) but it was still there.

2) One of the tires doesn't seem to be able to hold pressure and it is very badly dry-rotted. I pumped the tires up to 26 psi before leaving on my trip (the service manual says these tires are maxed out at 30 psi with a full load on the trailer), but by the next morning the pressure hardly registered. The other tire holds pressure well but looks like a fairly recent retread (possibly unbalanced too).

3) The gas mileage I got pulling my trailer was not too good. Using tow/haul mode, I averaged 12.2 mpg on that tank. One reason for that is probably the immensely heavy run-flat military tires and beadlock rims. Of course, I was towing a brick with a brick. But I was hoping for 13-14 mpg.


I've been looking into options. The military rims are 16.5 inches in diameter, a 8x6.5 bolt pattern, and are 8-bolt beadlocks. There are a few issues here.

1) The older bias ply humvee tires are very hard to find replacements for, even though the newer radial humvee tires are readily available. I haven't been able to find a matching one in my area.

2) The 8-bolt beadlock rims are too weak to run newer humvee radial tires (the minor issue of exploding rims) and the newer humvee rims have 16 bolts holding the beadlocks together. So, to run newer humvee tires I would have to get two of them and upgrade my rims also. $$$

3) I thought of running civillian tires on the military rims, but 16.5 inch rims are no longer used on any modern vehicles. Back in the 70's and 80's they were fairly common, but now there are only a few tire types even made for them. Super Swampers are one type, but I don't want those. All the 16.5 tires on Craigslist are so old they are dry rotted to crap.

4) This brings me to new civillian rims. 8x6.5 bolt pattern rims used to be the norm on GMC/Chevy 2500 pickups and vans, Ford F250 and E250 trucks/vans, and Dodge Ram 2500's as recently as 2009. I think the big three started using a different bolt pattern beginning around 2010 (at least for GM), but cheap 3/4 ton truck rims with an 8x6.5 bolt pattern are pretty widely available on Craigslist. I've seen them with decent used tires for fairly low prices, so I think I'm going to try to find some 16 inch civillian rims for my trailer. Hopefully I can get them with reasonable A/T tires already mounted on them.

It will be an experiment. In the best case, new rims/tires would reliably hold pressure, make the ride smoother, and give me back 1-2 mpg from lower tire weight and slightly lower trailer height (if I'm running 31's, 32's or 33's instead of the military 36's). I'd settle for 2 out of the 3!

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 Post subject: Re: Teardrop camper
PostPosted: Sun Sep 06, 2015 11:47 pm 
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lfhoward wrote:
dieselenthusiast wrote:
it sounds like the trailer is holding up well. 8) Maybe you've already covered this, but what are you doing for water, showers, toilet, etc.?

Ha ha, I don't think I've covered that yet. The answer is to camp at state parks that have showers! :goink: The trailer doesn't have a water system of its own. I have my eye on some nice water canisters at REI that hold between 3 and 5 gallons. The right sized containers would store nicely under the bed, and they could be put on top of the trailer's passenger's side roof to get gravity feed through a short length of hose with a shut-off valve. I'm thinking of setting up a portable kitchen counter over on the passenger's side, possibly with a drop in sink and grey water container under the sink drain. The other option would be to put the clean water container underneath the counter also but have a hand-pump faucet. I designed the trailer with an exterior 120 V AC outlet for the kitchen for grinding coffee in the morning and quickly boiling water in a hot pot.


I figured you were taking the above approach, but I wanted to clarify. How about an onboard propane tank to run a heater, cook stove, or refrigerator?

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 Post subject: Re: Teardrop camper
PostPosted: Sun Sep 06, 2015 11:50 pm 
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As for tires, are you going to have a trailer spare? If so, how will you carry it? Do you plans to take the trailer off-road?

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 Post subject: Re: Teardrop camper
PostPosted: Mon Sep 07, 2015 12:22 am 
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dieselenthusiast wrote:
How about an onboard propane tank to run a heater, cook stove, or refrigerator?

There is not much room for a fridge, because the bed takes up the majority of the space inside the trailer when it's deployed. I have about 12.5 inches of height under the bed for storage, and I don't know of any fridges that short! ;-)
I do plan to have my Coleman 2-burner stove and some portable propane cylinders in the kitchen utility cabinet (in front of the fender on the passengers side, door opening to the outside).
Heating and cooling would be the job of a ClimateRight 2500 BTU unit which can live on the tongue. This unit is small enough to work with my 1000 watt inverter, although it would be best to plug in at a campsite with an electrical hookup. I don't have this unit yet as it is fairly expensive. I may look into other options.

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 Post subject: Re: Teardrop camper
PostPosted: Mon Sep 07, 2015 12:28 am 
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dieselenthusiast wrote:
As for tires, are you going to have a trailer spare? If so, how will you carry it? Do you plans to take the trailer off-road?

I am hoping to use the trailer offload, so it would be unwise to go there without a spare. I could potentially put it on the front wall / tongue (if I don't put a heating and cooling unit there as I said in my other post) or maybe weld some sort of tire carrier underneath the trailer. Possibly the spare could also go under the bed, but that would take up valuable interior storage space. One of the advantages to the military humvee tires are they are run-flats. No need to carry a spare.

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 Post subject: Re: Teardrop camper
PostPosted: Mon Sep 07, 2015 8:52 am 
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lfhoward wrote:
Heating and cooling would be the job of a ClimateRight 2500 BTU unit which can live on the tongue. This unit is small enough to work with my 1000 watt inverter, although it would be best to plug in at a campsite with an electrical hookup. I don't have this unit yet as it is fairly expensive. I may look into other options.


Honestly, for what the ClimateRight does, I think it's fairly affordable. Not having to carry a filled propane tank will also save some weight, which I'm sure will be appreciated if you plan to tow with the gutless Jeep Liberty. :mrgreen:

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 Post subject: Re: Teardrop camper
PostPosted: Mon Sep 07, 2015 9:17 am 
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lfhoward wrote:
I am hoping to use the trailer offload, so it would be unwise to go there without a spare. I could potentially put it on the front wall / tongue (if I don't put a heating and cooling unit there as I said in my other post) or maybe weld some sort of tire carrier underneath the trailer. Possibly the spare could also go under the bed, but that would take up valuable interior storage space. One of the advantages to the military humvee tires are they are run-flats. No need to carry a spare.


I agree that valuable interior space is hard to give up when there are other options. It would be best to keep the spare on the outside of the unit if all possible. How well do the military run-flat tires tow going down the highway? Whether I'm towing 2,000 lbs. or 15,000 lbs., I decided long ago that 65 mph is the maximum speed that I feel comfortable with. I may exceed 65 mph if passing, but 65 mph is where my cruise control is set. We take a lot of 2 lane highways as we travel from coast to coast, therefore 55 mph is where we spend a lot of time towing.

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 Post subject: Re: Teardrop camper
PostPosted: Mon Sep 07, 2015 10:12 am 
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The military run flat tires are ok when towing, except they vibrate the trailer at 55-65 mph because they aren't balanced. If I go 55 or under, they are fine. They are very heavy though, and one of them has bad dry rot and a leak, so I would need to replace at least one of them before I were to go on a serious camping trip. I have a compressor in my Jeep, which I would need to use frequently if I kept running both of the tires I have on there now.

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 Post subject: Re: Teardrop camper
PostPosted: Mon Sep 07, 2015 8:03 pm 
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Today I sanded the seams flat where the PL premium caulk was sticking out, wiped down the sawdust, and then applied the first coat of urethane sealant to the camper top.

Here is what I used:

Image

http://www.minwax.com/wood-products/clear-protective-finishes/interior-exterior/minwax-helmsman-spar-urethane

This type of urethane is for outdoor applications that see expansion and contraction due to heat and cold.

The first coat used about 2/5 of a gallon, but the wood was soaking it up like a sponge. I am hoping to get 3 coats on with this gallon of urethane sealer.

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 Post subject: Re: Teardrop camper
PostPosted: Mon Sep 07, 2015 10:00 pm 
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Have you thought about installing interior and/or exterior speakers? I really like the option of being outside and listening to music or satellite radio. It might not be as important to you, but if audio speakers is something that you think would enhance your camping experience, then this is the time to run the wires, mount the speakers, and decide on a head unit.

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