Homemade Teardrop Trailers Make Comeback

Gary Daniel and Don Wheeler are two -it-yourselfers who built their own teardrops—compact, efficient travel trailers measuring just 4 feet by 8 feet.

Central Illinois Recreational Show

David Clemente of Janesville, Wisconsin, built a teardrop trailer from the information in a 1939/1947 Mechanix Illustrated magazine. It is nicely finished and used regularly for camping. Photo courtesy Allen Penticoff and Rock River Times

Daniel and Wheeler will be among teardrop owners who will display their rigs at the Central Illinois Recreational Show at the Peoria Civic Center from Friday (March 4) through Sunday, the Bloomington Pantagraph reported.

The show used to be just for motorhomes, travel trailers, and fifth-wheels, but it has expanded in recent years with the growth of the Civic Center.

Now, besides recreational vehicles, vendors will represent campgrounds, tow-vehicle dealers, boats, three-wheeled motorcycles, trail bikes, all-terrain vehicles, and even golf carts sales.

This year’s highlight will be the small pull-behind trailers known as “tear-drop trailers.”

Teardrops have been around since the 1930s—many were home-built—and were popular because of their sleek, aerodynamic design and lightweight materials.

Several tear-drop trailers designed by local campers will be on display at the show.

What is a teardrop?

(The following information on teardrop trailers courtesy teardrops.net)

Anyone who has ever owned (or used) a teardrop trailer can tell you that the most often asked questions are:

  • What is it?
  • Is it for your dogs?
  • Is it for your camping gear?
  • It’s too small for anything else!

2008 homemade teardrop. Photo courtesy vtrvsales.com

If you are someone who has been asked these questions, you already know! If you are someone who is asking the same or similar questions, here’s your answer…

In the most general terms, a teardrop trailer is a comfortable, convenient, and compact camping trailer. Most often, it has a streamlined “teardrop” shape, especially the original types from the ’30s, ’40s, and early ’50s. There is room for two people to sleep comfortably inside.

A typical teardrop is 4 feet wide, 4 feet high, and 8-10 feet long. Some are as big as 6½ feet wide, 5 feet high, and nearly 12 feet long. Most have the wheels and tires outside the body covered by fenders, while larger types often have them inside the body.

Teardrop trailer promo

Do you own a home-made teardrop trailer? The Central Illinois Recreational Show is offering you a chance to win money. Promoter Denny Johnston is seeking homemade teardrop trailers for his show. Show visitors can vote for their favorite, with the winner earning $300 and second place worth $200.

Vintage teardrops

The custom built 1949 “Highway Palace” is Australia’s most awesome vintage fifth wheeler. It’s towed by a matching 1946 Fargo truck. Photo courtesy somewherelse.com

While teardrop camper trailers have been around more than half a Century, the vast majority of the general public remains unaware of the concept.

The original teardrop design appeared in the 1930s. The March/April, 1939 issue of Popular Homecraft ran a story and plans for a teardrop trailer designed and built by Louis Rogers of Pasadena, California in the 1930′s for his honeymoon coach. The 8-foot x 4-foot floor plan was on tongue-and-groove flooring on a pine chassis. Rogers used a Chevrolet front axle with 28-inch wheels and 1926 Chevrolet rear fenders. A curtain-enclosed dressing room outside the starboard entry door provided privacy while dressing.

The February, 1940 issue of Popular Mechanics, ran a story and plans for an egg-shaped teardrop trailer. Built on a 1924 Chevrolet Superior front axle with disk wheels from a 1930 Chevrolet, this 9-foot x 5 foot 9¼-inch floor plan featured a pressurized water tank with running water to a sink, a stove, and ice box in the rear kitchenette. The cabin provided a small clothes closet, a chemical toilet, and a single entry door on the starboard side.

Following World War II many were built with surplus materials, including wheels from jeeps salvaged from sunken ships.

Teardrop trailers have come a long way since those original teardrops, but still offer all the enjoyment and fun that the original teardrop owner came to expect.

For addition information on teardrop trailers, current and past manufacturers, events and gatherings, and teardrops for sale, visit teardrops.net.

Worth Pondering…
Life moves a little slower when you’re on teardrop time.

teardrops.net motto

Leave a Reply