Monday, July 28, 2014

Teardrop Trailer Road Emergencies

No matter how much you prepare, there may be a time when you have to deal with a teardrop trailer emergency on the road. Emergencies can come in many forms and while it's a little easier to anticipate what might happen with a much smaller trailer, they still need to be planned for and dealt with.


I received a blog comment from ML on a roadside emergency that happened while towing a teardrop trailer. The teardrop fell off the hitch and ML was fortunate enough to get some help from the local Jiffy Lube. The employees used a jack and some wood scraps to lift the teardrop back up onto the tow vehicle hitch and ML was able to get back on the road. However, many other emergencies can be avoided or remedied by keeping a few things in mind and carrying a few extra items in your car.

Flat Tires

A flat tire while towing can be one of the most common road emergencies. Of course, you can get a flat on both the trailer and the tow vehicle so be prepared to deal with two different types of emergencies. First of all, remember to bring a spare for both the trailer and the vehicle and visually check them every few months. Also be sure to have a jack that can be used on both as well as a lug nut wrench.

When you get a flat tire or blowout on a trailer, you will be able to feel the extra drag and the trailer may begin to sway. When this happens, slightly accelerate to level out and then slowly drive your way to safety. Get as far off the road as possible. Most states require that you travel in the right hand lane when towing, so pulling over during an emergency should be easier. Many insurance companies require that you don't remove or repair the tire yourself, so having roadside assistance is as important as having a spare.

To avoid having a flat, regularly check the tire pressure in all your tires and replace them every few years. When driving, keep an eye out for road debris, check your side mirrors regularly and stay below the speed limit.

My friends at the Long Long Honeymoon have a detailed and well documented video on how they survived a blowout on their Airstream Classic trailer—on the side of busy highway.


Hitch Issues

If you are a new teardropper, it takes a while to get used to using a hitch. When I hitch up the Sunflower, I have to be fully focused on what I'm doing or I'll forget something.

When hitching, you want to make sure the trailer coupling is completely over the ball on the hitch, the tongue lock is completely down, the safety pin is engaged and locked through the tongue lock, the safety chains are connected to the vehicle hitch (crossed so they don't drag on the ground) and the wiring harness is fully connected with the wiring kit on the trailer. You then want to drive forward a few yards to check the hitch connection and also have a partner check your running lights, brake lights and turn signals. To avoid hitch issues, regularly check all hitch components and don't exceed the weight limit on your hitch.



 Smoking Bearings

While on the road, you might see what looks like a smoking engine up ahead, but it turns out to be coming from a trailer. These are the trailer axle bearings burning out. A burned out axle can cause separation of a tire from the axle and a major road accident. Bearings prevent friction in the axle, but require regular greasing to reduce that friction. Machine shops recommend that you check the grease on the bearings every other year, but if you tow your trailer a lot, have them greased every year. Many RV or utility trailer manufacturers or sellers will perform this service.



Emergency Items
Here are a few items that you can carry in your tow vehicle or teardrop trailer that will help to put your mind at ease in case an emergency pops up.


Emergency Light Kit

We keep a 12-volt emergency tow light kit in our vehicle to use on the both the teardrop and our utility trailer. They cost around $30 and can be magnetic or attached via a harness.

Duct tape

Veteran and survival expert Mykal Hawke has said in the past, "Duct tape could save your life." It may also save your teardrop trailer...or your kayak.

Last year, we were coming back from kayaking at a lake in California. A thunderstorm was rolling in and the heavy mountain winds tore one of our kayaks and part of the kayak rack from the top of our Kia Sportage. The kayak went flying down the highway in a big, orange blur. Fortunately, our fellow teardrop friends were driving behind us and managed to slow down the minimal traffic and pull the kayak to the side of the road. We used our giant roll of duct tape to hold down the rack and get the kayak back to camp—with barely a scratch.

Having duct tape in your car at all times can help with minor repairs to broken or busted doors, windows, hatches, ice chests and other plastic or metal items.

Bungee cords

Our friends and owners of the Stargazers teardrop, were camping at Benton Hot Springs when a wind storm decided to show up. Their teardrop hatch had been left open and a strong gust of wind flipped it backwards across the roof and busted the hinge that runs along the top of the trailer. To get home (without the entire contents of their trailer falling all over the road) they duct taped and bungee corded the hatch down and drove extra slow.

Other items...

These small items don't take up much room, but can give you more peace of mind: extra hitch safety pins, road flares, flashlights, screwdrivers and wrenches, First Aid kit, two-way radios.



Photos by The Williams Family, ecustomhitch.com, How Stuff Works and Sears.














Friday, July 25, 2014

Friday Teardrop Photo


Did you know there is both a Nice, California and a Cool, California?
California is so nice and cool and the Sunflower has been to both of these small towns.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Featured Teardrop: Conquerer Australia

The Conquerer Australia brand of camping trailers are not technically teardrops, but they sure are bad ass. These tough, rugged trailers that open up like a Swiss Army knife would be the perfect type of off-road teardrop owned by Crocodile Dundee or Tank Girl.


The Australian range of Urban Escape Vehicles (UEVs) come in six different models and have amenities like independent suspension systems, large hot water systems, storage and queen-sized beds and have virtually zero set up time. Smaller versions like the UEV-310 and the UEV-330 have a roof-top tent and bed space, awnings with side walls, slide out kitchens with a sink, stove and storage drawers as well as a slide out refrigerator and freezer. They even have a small bathroom with a shower and clothes closet as well as hot and cold water. Each of the UEV's can be hooked up to solar power and have extra fuel and propane canisters for longer treks.




The larger Conquerer brands like the UEV-440 have all the same amenities including a hard roof, sides and a floor, space for couples or families, a diesel hot water system, interior heating, air-conditioning, microwave, shower, fridge/freezer, full kitchen complete with cutlery and crockery and even a flat screen DVD player. Each of the UEV's are shown on the website as hacking it in mud, water, rocky locations, dirt roads and in the middle of the Aussie bush.




These campers are not cheap. The UEV-440 sells for around $50,000 AUD ($47,000 US) and they are currently only sold in Australia. However, I do have an itch to go Mad Max all over the outback in one of these bad boys.




Photos by Conquerer Australia

Monday, July 21, 2014

Five Tips for Your First Teardrop Gathering

If you're seeking out your own teardrop trailer, or are a new teardrop owner, sooner or later you will go to a teardrop gathering. Teardrop gatherings are held all over the U.S. and abroad and are places for teardrop lovers, owners, soon-to-be owners or curious folks to check out the tiny trailers, chat with new friends and eat lots of Dutch oven cuisine.


Gatherings are great places to see other trailers, meet other teardroppers and even camp in places you may never go to on your own. Above, you will see a photo taken at a small gathering on Treasure Island in San Francisco Bay. Most people will never get a chance to camp in such a unique location unless they are part of a gathering. So, if you are heading out for your first teardrop meetup, keep these five things in mind:

1. Clean up and put out some information on your trailer
At least one or two days of the gathering is dedicated to "Show & Tell". This is where you clean up your trailer, put out your best linens and the great grill you found on Craigslist and tell the story of your teardrop to anyone who drops by. If you are not around to tell the story, have a flyer or some printed cards in the open galley that tell your visitors where the trailer came from, the date, the weight, the size and any other tidbits of info they will find interesting.

2. Be prepared to chat...a lot
Most conversations at a gathering will revolve around teardrops, tiny trailers, camping and gear. Be prepared to talk to a lot of folks about those subjects. If you don't feel like chatting, close up your trailer and hide out inside.

3. Bring food to share
Most gatherings will include a potluck or Dutch oven dinner night. Bring snacks, a good Dutch oven or skillet recipe and unique beers or wine to share with your fellow gatherers. Some gatherings will even have a group cooking area.

4. Bring good shoes, your camera and take notes
A gathering is your chance to get tons of information for your own teardrop trips. Visit dozens to hundreds of trailers with a good pair of shoes, a sun hat if it's hot, your camera and a notebook. Don't be afraid to take lots of photos of interesting details or designs and file your notes away for when you return home.

5. Explore the local area
Get away from the gathering for a day or half a day to visit the local area. Is there a cool beach nearby? A ghost town or hot springs? Or maybe like Treasure Island, you can take a quick jaunt into The City. Tell other teardroppers what you find and tell your friends back home what they missed.


Friday, July 18, 2014

Friday Teardrop Photo


Geez...it's hot. Anyone for a margarita con lima?

The Sunflower galley acting as a bar and storage space during last summer's trip to Grand Teton National Park. Notice the cutting board? It's actually a plastic separator used for binder materials. I "borrowed" it from my previous job and it fits perfectly in the galley as a lime cutting board.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Co-Hosting on Teardrop Trailer Radio



Last Saturday, I co-hosted Brooke Folk's Teardrop Trailer Radio show again. We chatted about the International Redwood Gathering, Miss Piggy, summer teardrop camping plans and bears. Check it out on his TalkShoe radio station.