Friday, June 28, 2013

Friday Teardrop Photo




Today's photo is of a 1948 Kit teardrop trailer for sale on Tiny House Listings. The trailer is 4x8 with new windows and tires. It contains a drop down ice box that loads from the top, a cast iron stove and a shelf and cabinet in the galley for food and supplies.

It's currently selling for $3,500 and is located in Pacific Grove, California.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Featured Teardrop: Juno Custom Teardrops

The Juno Custom Teardrops website has been up on the Web for just a few weeks, but the photos of their exquisitely built teardrop trailers caught my eye right away. The Lubbock, Texas company creates dream trailers tailored to each customer's preference and offers a base model and custom options like stain and color, appliances, storage compartments, entertainment packages and lighting. With all the options, these tiny trailers actually look like luxurious tiny homes on wheels or rolling works of art.

The Rick teardrop trailer galley

The owner of Juno Custom Teardrops, Roger Juno, has been a woodworker all his life, but actually does not have a background in industrial or commercial design or construction. His nephew does the welding for each trailer base, and Roger went through a lot of trial and error before he made the trailers available to the public. Roger was kind enough to answer a few of my questions about his teardrops, which all happen to be named after the customers who have designed and ordered them.

The Richard teardrop trailer

Your designs are beautiful and the cabinetry work is exquisite. What do you feel makes your designs unique or special?

The effort and attention to detail that we scrutinize over is what gives our teardrops that special quality. We build our Juno Teardrops as if they were our own personal trailers, so anything that won't bring the "Ohh's and Ahh's" from the sea of on-lookers is not something we want to produce. Also, the standards we hold ourselves to are pretty high. We know exactly what we are capable of and strive for that mark.

In driving toward that ever-growing mark, it always seems as if we're in competition with ourselves, always trying to out-do the previous teardrop by making the current trailer better than the last. As far as the unique aspect of our trailers goes, it all stems from the buyer's imaginations and requests. The custom teardrops designs that have been previously built are from the desires of our customers, making their custom Juno Teardrop as unique as they are. It is our job to make their wishes into a reality.

The Plain Jane teardrop trailer
  
How did you get into the teardrop building business?

On a dare, believe it or not. In 2009 my brother and I were driving down the road here in Lubbock, Texas past Gander Mountain. As we were passing by, we both spotted a little camping trailer sitting in Gander's parking lot. So, the next thing we knew, that strange little camper was being investigated with a fine toothed comb.

After debating between each other for a good while, my brother and I went inside and asked a salesman about the origin of the trailer sitting in the parking lot. That's when I found out what a teardrop trailer was for the first time. I've always been gifted in creating new things, so when my brother asked me, "Do you think you could make a better teardrop than the one in the parking lot?", I said yes. That little bet turned into a two-year project, and the two-year project produced my first teardrop trailer: the Juno 001. The rest is history.

The Richard galley

What do you like most and least about teardrop trailers and teardrop camping?

I actually have two favorite things when it comes to traveling with my Juno Teardrop:

First, I enjoy the community of teardrop trailer and camper owners that I have met through this business, as well as the new acquaintances that I get the pleasure of meeting for the first time. That is probably the best part of the teardrop business for me, being included into a society of teardroppers that have the same exact passions for these trailers as you do is great.

Second, I love filling up at gas stations during my travels. Why? Because I swear that our teardrops are always swarmed by curious on-lookers when we're at the gas station. They just can't believe how pretty it is, and they keep asking questions about every little thing. Well it's lucky for them, because I LOVE talking about it.

The least enjoyable thing about making teardrops would be the time I slammed my thumb in the galley hatch of the trailer. As for the last part of the question: teardrop camping has no negatives!

 
The Rick teardrop trailer galley


Who are the teardrops named after?

The teardrop model names actually came from our previous customers that created them. Every teardrop we have built thus far has been completely custom, and no two are the same, just like our buyers. So, naming the teardrop models after our customers seemed only appropriate. The design is theirs. Our goal is to contribute to the customer's design, and not the other way around.


The Rick teardrop trailer fridge


Where do you like to camp?

Currently, I would like to see northeast Indiana again. We recently delivered a trailer to a customer in Indiana, and we discovered that the northeast is a beautiful part of the country. Growing up in West Texas, we do not have the landscape the upper U.S. has access to, so it feels like a breath of fresh air to travel the country with our teardrops.


The Kathy teardrop trailer interior


Where are your dream places to visit in a teardrop trailer?

I have always wanted to do two things in a teardrop trailer:

First, being from Lubbock, Texas, naturally I'm a Texas Tech Red Raider fan, so I have always wanted to go to every single away game they have in my teardrop. It can't get any better than teardrops and football!

Second, I've always wanted to ship me and my own personal Juno Custom Teardrop to Hawaii and travel in my teardrop there. Now that would defiantly be a dream place to visit!

The Steve teardrop trailer

Photos by Juno Custom Teardrops

Monday, June 24, 2013

My experience with uShip

Several people have asked me about my experience with uShip, an online shipping and receiving service by independent contractors. I hired a uShip transporter to tow the teardrop trailer from the private dealer I had purchased it from in Winter Garden, Florida to my home in northern Nevada. The service has been made famous by A&E's show Shipping Wars where several transporters competitively bid for unique and interesting loads while trash talking each other.

Roy is one of the more colorful shippers on A&E's Shipping Wars.

For my uShip experience, I actually posted a notice on the forum that I was looking for someone to tow the teardrop to me for around $1,000-$1,200 with no immediate deadline. Most of the shippers scoffed at the price of going across the country for such a low amount, but one driver, David, said that he had a motorcycle he was delivering to San Francisco and that he would be happy to bring my teardrop to me. At the time, he was actually in Florida and the pickup would not be out of his way.

I paid a down payment through uShip to have David tow my tear across the U.S. The trip only took him about four days, but just as he was driving into the Eastern Sierras, he got stuck in one of our crazy spring snowstorms and had to stay for a night in Lee Vining near Yosemite. David kept in close contact with me by cell phone and was able to deliver my new baby late the next morning. He had towed her across the country behind a large box truck and she was just fine. At the time, I was not fully aware of needing to pay the driver the final balance on delivery: I thought it was done through uShip. So, I had to scramble a bit to get David a check before he headed to the Bay Area. However, he was just as curious about looking inside my trailer as I was.

In all, the experience was fairly painless and cost me $1,000. I was so lucky to have found a driver who was willing to meet my budget. Before finding uShip, I did contemplate going on a road trip to pick up the tear myself, but with the cost of gas and hotels and missed work, it ended up being more financially feasible to have a professional do it.

Once in a while I will see a teardrop trailer towing request on uShip, and that would actually be one of my dream jobs when I retire: a personal transporter of teardrop trailers to their new, happy owners.


Things to know before using uShip to deliver your teardrop trailer:

1. Read the reviews on the driver/transporter and ask what kind of tow vehicle they have.

2. Keep in contact with the transporter and get a feel for how professional and knowledgeable they are over the phone.

3. Have the money for the shipping ready to go. Also, be sure to have copies of all your sales paperwork sent to the transporter.

4. Leave a full review on the site if you are pleased with the service.





Friday, June 21, 2013

The Sunflower and Me on TeardropTrailerRadio.com

Instead of a Friday photo today, I just wanted to mention that I'm going to be interviewed by Brooke Folk of TeardropTrailerRadio.com tomorrow morning at 11 a.m. Eastern. You can listen live on his TalkShoe radio page or download the file to listen to later.


Thursday, June 20, 2013

Two Kamp Masters Featured in Tiny House Magazine

I recently wrote a story for Kent Griswold's Tiny House Magazine on the two Kamp Masters owned by Bob and Melanie Kelly of Ione, Calif. The couple restored a 1949 Kamp Master trailer and then built a new trailer from scratch using the original as a model. I met them and their unusual teardrop trailers at the Dam Gathering of the Tears at Shasta Lake in northern California.




The magazine can be purchased as either a digital version for the iPad or as a PDF. Each issue is $2.99 and Kent is now running a special where you can purchase all six issues for $14.





Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Teardrop Trailer Updates

For the summer camping season, I just finished a few updates on the Sunflower. Since these trailers are so small, any minor improvement you make to your teardrop can really make a big difference...and these improvements don't cost too much. This year, I put up some new curtains, added some storage boxes to the galley and installed a netting hammock above the bed for additional storage.
 

When camping, we tend to shove any extra sweaters, vests or fleeces under or around our pillows. It makes for a soft, comfortable sleeping arrangement, but when it's cold, the extra clothing items really add up. We wanted a storage space where we could just throw up our sweaters when we were inside the teardrop. We installed a car/truck cargo netting just above our pillows. Since it's located in the curve of the teardrop roof, it stays out of our way. We can also unhook it if we want to take it out.




I also installed some new curtains. Originally we had some flannel curtains made from some old pillow cases, but it got so dark inside the bed area, we ended up sleeping in way too late. These curtains are light panels from Wal-Mart that were longer than the teardrop windows, but I hemmed them up about halfway up the panel. This gives us a darker shade on the bottom so the morning sun doesn't hit us right in the face, and a lighter shade on top for letting in more light.




We also needed some additional storage in the galley for some cups, our coffee and tea and some random spices and sauces. My galley space is limited, but we did have a small area next to the stove and under the main shelf. I found some soft storage boxes at Target that fit perfectly under the shelf. They also don't slide around when we are towing the trailer.



And last, but not least, I added a custom bumper sticker to the back of the trailer with my blog URL...just for those readers on the road.





Friday, June 14, 2013

Friday Teardrop Photo



A friend of mine sent me this photo from the People of Walmart site. No matter what your opinion is of Walmart, you have to admit that this is pretty awesome. One time, my husband and I actually stopped for a teardrop galley lunch in the middle of downtown San Francisco near Golden Gate Park.

We got a lot of thumbs-up.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

RoadTrippers

Nearly everyone I've met who owns a teardrop trailer, loves to travel the open road. We love to see new towns and cities, take backroads to (nearly) undiscovered natural lands, and pull over to check out a local landmark or a roadside diner. Actually, one of the best parts of a road trip is planning it: poring over maps and photos and looking for those unmarked roads to the next destination.



Now there's a new website and app called RoadTrippers that maps out your road trip and the sights, restaurants, hotels and unusual stops along your route. The interactive software shows you the quickest route to your destination which you can then drag and move around to adjust where you want to go. It will even give you the time to complete the route, the distance and the possible cost of fuel.


You can then search for places along your route including Offbeat Attractions, Tourist Info, Tours, Film & TV, Family and Amusement Parks and Folk Art and Photo Ops. You can also pinpoint accommodations, shopping, restaurants, nature and sports. You can add each of these markers to your trip and save it for future reference. The site also offers guides on everything from UNESCO sites to the best beaches and a blog that features towns with weird names and underrated national parks.

RoadTrippers' little intro video also features a cute van loaded with gear and towing what looks suspiciously like a lime-green teardrop trailer.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Featured Teardrop: Runaway Campers

Runaway Campers, based out of Marion County, Florida are not your typical teardrop trailer. These boxy, lightweight trailers are essentially a blank slate in which to create your own camping experience. Runaway Campers weigh around 630 lbs and are just over 11 feet long. They can be towed by nearly any type of car just like a teardrop, but they do not have a rear galley.


The trailers can be used in a multitude of ways: as a protected sleeping area, to store additional camping gear, to plug in a refrigerator or heater and to get out of the less desirable elements. Each of the trailers come in different colors and have large windows and skylights.

The campers are factory direct from the company, so the basic BaseCamp costs $2,395, and the CoolCamp with a 5,000 BTU air conditioner and cargo box costs $2,895. You can also order additions like a compact refrigerator ($125), custom curtains ($75), a 12 volt to 110 volt power converter package ($299) and 13 inch high profile tires and rims.







 Photos by Runaway Campers

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Registering Your Teardrop Trailer with the DMV

When I originally went to register my teardrop trailer with the local DMV, it was a comedy of errors. First of all, since I purchased the trailer from out of state, I had to get it inspected by the DMV inspection department first. This ended up taking longer than expected because as soon as I pulled up to the station, all the available attendants went nuts over the trailer and had to get a personal tour.



Once my paperwork and the trailer passed inspection, I had to go inside to register it. After standing in line for about 20 minutes, I sat in front of a woman who had never seen or heard of the diminutive camping trailers. These were the questions she asked me:

Her: "What size is it?"
Me: "It's 5 feet by 8 feet"
Her: "It's 8 feet tall?"
Me: "No, it's about 4 feet tall and 8 feet long. It's 5 feet wide"
Her: "Can you stand up in it?"
Me: "No, you can't normally stand up in teardrop trailers."
Her: "How do you stand up in it."
Me: "You don't"
Her: "Then what do you do with it?"
Me: "You sleep in it."
Her: "So you camp in it."
Me: "Yes, it's a camping trailer."
Her: "But you can't stand up in it."
Me: "Right."

This went on for a while as she tried to envision this strange non-standing trailer in her head. I did not have a photo of it from the inspection crew, so I actually had to draw a little picture of the teardrop on a piece of paper with a stick figure next to it to show scale. The entire process took about half an hour.

After all this, my suggestion would be to have a photo of your teardrop with you at all times.

Photo by OregonDOT
 

Monday, June 3, 2013

Teardrops as Low Maintenance Fun

I was just thinking this weekend that a teardrop trailer is not only a useful way to organize your camping gear and tow your necessary items to your favorite national parks, but it's also a fairly low maintenance toy. We have had higher maintenance toys in the past: sailboats, quads, scooters, and motorcycles. Each of these have had to be repaired, filled with fuel or maintained throughout the winter. Not so with the teardrop.


Of course, teardrop trailers do need some TLC. They need to be periodically cleaned and if you have a sink or refrigerator, these need to be kept in working order. I do spend some money every year getting the ball bearings in the axle repacked and I replace the tires every few years. I spend a whole 15 minutes in late fall taking out the battery and putting it on a trickle charger for the colder months. That's about it.

I do anticipate having to replace the hydraulic lifts on my galley in a few years and getting some repairs done on my front jack. But because my teardrop is so well made, I can save up and pay cash for these repairs when they are needed. However, the more you do maintain your trailer before you hit the road, the more fun you will have with it.