Tommy Doran's "Mobile Fit Club" Teardrop

On Friday I posted a photo of Tommy Doran's homebuilt teardrop trailer. Tommy lives in Louisiana and recently finished his teardrop which does accomplishes three jobs: it's camper, a mobile fitness club and a mini billboard.

Why did you decide to build a teardrop trailer?

I was exposed to teardrop trailers by accident. I was an Assistant Scoutmaster for the Boy Scout Troop that my two sons were attending. One day my boss, who is a Scoutmaster in another troop, asked me if we had written plans for the patrol box kitchens that our troop had built. I told him I didn't know offhand, but that I'm sure we could search online for ideas. He and I did a quick search on Google, and it was in searching images for the patrol boxes that we found some pictures of teardrop trailers.  Both of us immediately decided that was something we needed to look further into. The more I dug, the more I was hooked on them. I eventually found my way to the forums and from there I got even more ideas.

Where did you get the idea for your teardrop trailer?

At the time, I could not fit such a project into my budget, but was still hooked. So I spent about five years drawing and redrawing plans, gathering resources for supplies, purchasing tools, and developing contacts with people who could give me great advice on how to build my teardrop when the time came. Eventually I was able to afford the build so I started making lists and ordering supplies. 

The teardrop trailer is such a head turner on the highway. So it was the perfect billboard to help promote my business (it also allowed me to write off some of the expenses on my taxes for advertising costs). My hope is to bring it to outdoor health fairs and to other fitness events to showcase the fitness solutions available to others to help them on their journey.

What were some of the struggles you had during your build?

At the time the biggest struggle was finding sources to purchase some of the more specialized equipment to build the camper. Once I started the build, developing my carpentry skills to that level of detail became the challenge. I have an at-home business as a Fitness and Wellness Coach with Team Beachbody, helping others reclaim their health through nutrition and exercise, as well as establishing themselves as coaches.

Can you tell us about some of the teardrop features?

I call my teardrop the "Mobile Fit Club." I can prepare smoothies from the galley and I will soon be adding a projector screen to hang from the galley hatch where I can pop in a workout DVD like P90X or Insanity and let others come by to try the workout routines for free. The Mobile Fit Club is wired for both 110V AC shore power as well as 12V DC from a deep cycle battery. It has a Bluetooth ready car stereo in the galley, and coaxial cable hook ups in the sleeping area and the galley. 

In the sleeping area there are two floor storage basements, one of which stores the externally mounted leaf tables for the galley area. The galley is a simple design. It has no water tank, and uses an ice chest cooler on a sliding tray and has a storage for a Coleman stove under the cabinets.

Where are your favorite places to camp?

My wife Pam is not a tent camper, but loves the teardrop. I've only taken the teardrop out once so far, but I hope to introduce Pam to many of the areas that I camped out in while my boys were in Scouts. I really enjoy the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina and Tennessee as well as many areas in my home state of Louisiana. My goal though is to eventually make a run down to the Florida Keys

What has been the reaction to your teardrop trailer?

The reactions to the Mobile Fit Club have been nothing but positive from the design phase through the build, and now that she is finished and camping. I have family and friends who own larger RVs that really get into the little teardrop because of the efficiency of space and the ease of just packing up and hitting the road. I always have people waving to us on the highway, and have had to show it off more than once while stopping. It really is a great conversation piece that allows me to talk more about my business. I'm also able to help more people who I normally would not have been able to talk to.

Photos courtesy of Tommy Doran/Fitness by Tommy

Friday Teardrop Photo

This teardrop is owned by Tommy Doran of Fitness by Tommy in Louisiana. This homebuilt trailer advertises his personal training business and gives him a place to rest up after long workouts. There will be an interview with Tommy about his build next week.

Featured Teardrop: Sun-Fun Campers

The teardrop trailer industry seems to be growing in Canada and even way up north in Saskatchewan. The Sun-Fun Campers company seems to be the only manufacturer of teardrop trailers in Canada and they offer their base teardrops for around $8,200 plus tax and shipping.

The Sun-Fun basic 5-foot wide model has an open galley, a queen bed with storage, a front grill rack, an option for a bike rack and the simple exterior design can even be ordered with a promotional wrap. The new company is currently working on their new website and additional information on their teardrops.

Friday Teardrop Photo

Another simple, but delicious lunch out of the Sunflower galley. Who doesn't love pickled okra?

Teardrop Trailers and Rental Insurance

In a previous post, I talked about insuring your teardrop trailer. However, what if you want to rent a teardrop trailer for a trial run or if you want to rent out your own teardrop trailer? What insurance issues should you keep in mind?

Renting a teardrop trailer:

If you are renting a teardrop trailer for a test drive or weekend getaway, the liability coverage is tied to your tow vehicle and your existing policy. You should have liability coverage on your tow vehicle by law. Some rental companies will require that you show your proof of insurance and you can request that from your insurance agent. This proof of insurance is called a binder and can be printed or emailed to the rental company. The amount of coverage will depend on your type of insurance account.

Supplemental insurance might also be a good idea. This type of insurance might be offered by the rental company and it will provide additional coverage for bodily injuries or property damage if these are not covered under your current insurance. At the same time, you can also purchase Personal Effect and Personal Accident Insurance for your own personal possessions, e.g. just in case something is stolen from the rental trailer.

Renting out your own teardrop trailer:

Renting out your own teardrop trailer is a different story. Most insurance companies will not cover your trailer if you decide to rent it out to someone with an unknown (to you) driving history. For this case, you will need to contact a local insurance broker to purchase insurance specifically for renting out your trailer.

These types of brokers are familiar with businesses who regularly rent out campers, trailers, moving vans and other mobile units. The type of insurance they will recommend and sell you will have a different kind of liability coverage and will consider more moral logistics like the safety qualifications of your own trailer and the driving history of your customers.

I spoke to a representative at my own insurance company, Geico, and they said that if this type of insurance is purchased for a trailer—they will remove the trailer from the current vehicle insurance since they do not insure for rental businesses. Keep this in mind if you decide to rent out your personal teardrop trailer.

Friday Teardrop Photo

The Sunflower at Clearlake, California. I loved the sign and the beautiful pull over location. When we are towing the teardrop, we tend to go slower than surrounding traffic, and we do pull over to permit passing frequently. It's also good teardrop karma.

50 Campfires

There seems to be a large amount of camping related blogs popping up lately and 50 Campfires is one of my favorites. 50 Campfires provides information, articles, reviews, recipes, and camping locations for car and RV campers in the U.S. and Canada. They also have a free magazine subscription that covers recipes, destinations and camper features.

They don't feature many teardrops or tiny trailers, but they did have a 10 "groovy" teardrop post that featured a great tour video of the Vistabule. I also like their gear reviews, recipes and their fun "Get Toasted" logo.

Photos and video by 50 Campfires

Friday Teardrop Photo

The wonderful site, Camping in the Old Days, had a photo of this modified popup teardrop trailer along with its lovely owner and her dog. Check out more vintage camping photos at Camping in the Old Days.