After World War II, teardrop trailer fever spread around the world. From down under, here are plans for a wooden tear-drop trailer for two - a 'caravanette'.
This article was originally published in The Caravan & Touring in Australia - 1948 Year Book of the Australian monthly, Motor Manual. Although the article does not state the fact, it is derived from plans published in the September, 1947 issue of Mechanix Illustrated."
On Jan 9, 2007, royce wrote: I've read a lot in this site and maybe someone has pulled things together but I couldn't find it in my search so far. Having just built my own I know some of the pitfalls now - eg don't buy plans from Deserttear. If you do want to buy plans than the answer is www.kuffelcreek.com/teardrops.htm They will send you a cd on how to do things and it is useful or was to someone like me who had never built anything like this before. I had a zero skills base or close to and a keen aptitude to do it. If I can than anyone can. I can't weld so I took an option I saw of buying an old wreck of a van and demolishing it. That way I saved money on the frame to start, had the running gear and the ride on brakes and spare materials (flooring and so on). I also used another site along the way. www.1stconnect.com/anozira/SiteTops/teardrop/goals.htm It may assist your thinking and there are other sites such as www.nfdc.net/home/cbdb/Teardrop.htm There is also the site below which will allow you to link to a cad program and use it for design. www.angib.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/teardrop/tear00.htm I didn't do this because I lacked confidence and skills but now I would be better prepared. I did find these and many other sites I have saved to favourites, including one where you can dowload free plans from 1947. I have the copy of 1947 Mechanix Illustrated with full plans in Adobe format and if you pm me I am happy to email them to anyone wanting them. I based mine on a combination of the Kufflle Creek plans I purchased and the 1947 plans (modernised). Also this link for plans. www.mikenchell.com/images/GenericBenroyPlans.pdf Of course my goal was not a replica or reproduction but a trailer to use behind my Valiant that could also go into National Parks and look good. I also incorporated on my own features from Aussie teardrop camper. www.aussieteardrops.com/ I liked their annex idea. Plus their site has links to lots of useful teardrop stuff. If anyone out there is thinking of building a td, I am far from an expert but I've learnt a bit and am happy to share info. Lastly, though not for TD only - a link to order the towing guide (free) or get it online www.towingguide.com.au/
On Jan 21, 2007, wildmanaus wrote: Hello All, I see in all the teardrops that their wheels are set towards the rear so the question I've got is this: If I buy an old van to strip to use the frame do the wheels have to be towards the rear or can they be more to the centre? ------------------------------------------------ reply by fbmad: Not sure what part of oz you're from but it wouldn't hurt to ask this question to your state Rego authority technical advisory section. In the meantime go to www.dotars.gov.au and in the search bar at top right corner type VSB1 (short for Vehicle Standards Bulletin 1 ) which is the Federal requirements standards that most states would probably use to advise on how to build a trailer to pass rego requirements. The more the axle is toward the rear the more weight is on the coupling and from memory there is only supposed to be a certain maximum weight allowable on the coupling.
Section 15 applies to Axle requirements.
I haven't seen a new manufacured trailer on a single axle with the axle mounted to the rear as in the old teardrops so I'd guess ( and this IS only a guess ) that rego authorities would frown upon it being mounted this way. -------------------------------------------------- reply by veedubnut: The main reason why the axle on a teardrop trailer is set to the rear is for correct weight distribution. Most teardrop trailers are set-up for a rear kitchenette. The kitchenette is generally the heaviest section of the teardrop trailer and if you have the axle set to the centre of the trailer you are likely to have problems with not enough towball weight and difficulty towing. Not only this it will want to tip-up whenever it is un-hitched.
Like any trailer or caravan if you do not have enough load on the towball the trailer/caravan will tend to sway and will generally be a nightmare to tow.
There is a way of calculating the best position for the axle but, I am not sure what it would be... --------------------------------------------------- reply by reddo: The TD thing i am building is based on an old van chassis that i salvaged for the project. The axle is probably 75 to 100mm back from the centre of the trailer frame. this is about average for a box trailer and probably was the norm for old vans. I have tried lifting some old vans by the coupling without using a jockey wheel. ... Bloody near impossible. I am aware of the issue of a full kitchen at the rear and i am keeping an eye on towball weight as i am biulding the van. When i set the sides up on the TD i extended them an extra 150 mm forward onto the drawbar hoping this would give the van that original TD look with the axle further back. most TDs front walls drop straight down to the chassis . If you look at the photos in "reddos TD .. the 100 year plan" you will see that the front comes down and then tucks under to meet the floor pan.
At the moment the TD has around 20/25kg towball weight and i still have to build the overhead cupboard inside the sleeping area. This wil;l also be around 500mm behind the axle and about 600mm to 1000mm above the floor. I found that during construction the best measure of balance is to drop the rear tailgate and sit on the kitchen area floor while the van is on its jockey wheel, at roughly towball hieght. Whilever the jockey wheel isnt lifting off the ground i reckon i am doin OK. Not that i am likely to pack my equivelent weight in the back of the TD... 95 KG is a lot of beer and groceries.?? Hmmm there is the answer. keep loading cartons into the front of the van until it stops swaying. ( Actually this reply to your question reminds me of my very first post on the forum . it was to do with vans swaying and the great one"mark taylor" replied with pack 2 or 3 cartons up the front" )
If i run into any load distribution issues i have the option of mounting the water tank, Gas bottle, toolbox/annexe box, spare wheel forward of the axle to help with towball weight.
Other thing that will shift the centre of gravity is wheel diameter and towball/ gooseneck hieght. i will be running 17" - 1934 chev wire wheels which have an overall hieght of about 700 to 800mm. so the van sits up fairly high even when loaded i imagine the coupling hieght will be a good 50 to 100mm higher than my towball. so by the time i drop the van on it i think the TD id gunna have a bit of "nose down "attitude about it. This is a better scenario than having a lowered van with small whelels "nose Up" onto a towball. thus shifting the Centre of gravity further back behind the axle. I am bound to get shot down here by those of the " slide rule. governing legislation, australian standards and formulae set" But i am a great believer in "suck it and see". if what you have mapped out in chalk on the floor dont work just file it in the "school of hard knocks dept" and try again. ------------------------------------------ reply by sportsman1: I moved the axle line forward so the wheels are just behind the doors. I think this brought it to around centre of the van. I have mounted the spare on the front to even out the kitchen weight somewhat. I always pack the van with the matteress around the inside of the roof and put the bags, etc on the floor. I have towed this teardrop to Perth, Newcastle, etc with no sway or other problems at all. ------------------------------------------ reply by royce: There is information in the towing guide I posted elsewhere. www.towingguide.com.au/ For my own I built it and then tested for a towball weight between 60 to 80 kilos being the tow ball weight recommended by the manufacturerer of my vehicle ( a Commodore ). Check the vehicle recommended tow ball weight and remove axle and then balance on strong wooden 2x4 or equivalent. Slide forward or back an test using old bathroom scales under the towball and mark centre when you have the right weight with chalk. Measure to ensure you have each side the same and that's the centre mark for your axle when replaced. I did this almost last because I knocked down an old caravan and rebuilt after cutting frame back etc. You can get spring sets already welded to a bar and place these with spot welds so centre is on the mark and parallell to the frame. For towing this will place the correct weight on the vehicle to prevent it being too light and lifting the rear of the vehicle or too heavy so that it drops the rear too low. You should bear in mind the heaviest load weight should be above and near the axle but TD's place it in the kitchen, hence the wheels are usually further to the rear. ----------------------------------------- reply by koala: Good to hear of another teardrop builder out there. I think you probably have gathered from the replies to your posting that getting the balance correct is a bit of an art and a bit of black majic followed by good luck but there are some things you can do to help yourself. I am building a 10' 4" treardrop from scratch and have the axle approx. 3/4 of the total length of the van measured from the towball. This seems to have worked out fine but just in case it turns out to be wrong I have delayed positioning of some heavy items such as the water tank, battery and spare wheel so that I can use them as ballast if need be. No two teardops will be the same as there are so many different designs and possible variations. Actually I used the scientific method of getting a friend to sit on the tail or kitchen area of the bare chassis and feeling the weight on the towball, it felt right so I kept building. -------------------------------------------- reply by royce: I meant to add that I agree with a comment above - Go on the light side for tow ball weight and you can place your gas bottle or spare tyre there to add weight safely and you can use sway bars to redistribute weight to some degree. -------------------------------------------- reply by Paul: You can always use this to understand the principle behind TD design: www.angib.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/teardrop/tear81.htm -------------------------------------------- reply by reddo: Most of the factory ( american based) plans for TDs i have seen seem to have axle positions based on boat trailer proportions/design. Just looking at the plans that Paul has given us a link to . I feel that home grown Australian designs have opted for axle positions somewhat further forward than our American counterparts.
I appreciate that a lot of the load is behind the axle but some of these layouts seem to be extreme. If i thought that they needed to be set up with the axle that far back i would have started building my TD based on a boat trailer chassis... --------------------------------------------- reply by Paul: I guess then that the original TD's built back in the 30's, 40's and 50's had it wrong. I'm glad to see that Australian ingenuity has finally solved the problem. If you want to see how they are built properly then go and have a look at this site: www.aussieteardrops.com/
...to get a realistic ball weight, you need to have the axle further forward. All I'm saying is that, if you build a copy of the early design TD's you will need to have the axle set back. Over in good ol' USA they build them up to 6' wide and up to 12' long. Personally I cannot see that being a TD in its truest sense. They also go for fridges, airconditioners, microwave ovens, etc, etc, etc. Widescreen TV's, dvd players, the list is endless and so is the weight gain in the rear of the TD. Axle position, to me, is dependant on what weight you would like to see on your hitch without worrying about where you put your spare tyre, gas bottles or lightweight doona. --------------------------------------------- reply by wildmanaus: I've seen on ebay Trailer scales to measure the weight of the tow ball on the car...I think it would have been great for this type of work.
Last Edit: Dec 24, 2007 20:04:46 GMT 10 by Franklin1
(source: posted by willyn, (date??), who wrote: my teardrop was built in 1952 by a commercial caravan builder [Will added at a later date that the teardrop was built by Mercury Caravans and that they originally had enough panel to make three of this design] in Carlyle, Western Australia, reputed and confirmed by the former curator of WA's Whiteman Park Motor Museum (WA's biggest old cars, motorbikes and generally anything old related to motoring), as being built from a DC3 aircraft, and the first known aluminium van in Western Australia and possibly Australia as far as they have researched. ...My van was parked under a tree rotting away next door to John Days holiday home in Mandurah for ten years. John Day Caravan sales is the largest caravan dealer in the southern hemisphere...)
Last Edit: Sept 11, 2017 17:07:45 GMT 10 by Don Ricardo
(source: posted by Jim, May 14, 2005, who wrote: Good Morning all. Cathie and I have been away recently and one of the places we called into was the caravan museum that was mentioned on here a while ago. It’s called ‘Wild’s Caravan Museum’, and we made two visits but found no one around. We eventually managed to catch some friends of the bloke who runs the place and they kindly gave us his phone number.
There are quite a few later model vans for sale out the front, but the interesting ones are the older vans in sheds around the place, and some other oldies out in the open.
Most of the older vans are in poor condition unfortunately. The teardrops are in very poor condition. There are three of them, two conventional ones and a larger more squareish shaped one.)
Information provided by cobber, Nov 29, 2007: Wild's Caravan Museum is on a side road (Warrak Rd.) which is off the main road between Ararat and Buangor.... about 5 km before Buangor. The turn-off was well signposted when I went there. The "museum" is on a farming property roughly 3 km (from memory) down the side road. A contact phone # is 03 53543235.
Last Edit: Sept 11, 2017 17:14:11 GMT 10 by Don Ricardo
(source: posted by firefighter, Mar 14, 2007, who wrote: Hey have a squiz at my mate's outfit. Photos taken on the day he picked up the teardrop in Central Victoria. The tear drop was made in the 1940's and has 16 inch Ford wheels and a wooden drawbar. The top of the teardrop hinges from the front and lifts up from the rear about 2 foot. The sides had flywire on them and the rear of the lift-up section had canvas. He is keeping the van totally original as it matches his original 1933 SS car. ...Once the top goes up it has fly wire on the sides and canvas on the back, all of which are missing and will be replaced.) Additional note - September 2017:
Photos of Firefighter's friend's teardrop and SS tow car taken at the 2010 Vintage Caravan Nationals at Mildura:
Last Edit: Sept 11, 2017 17:33:21 GMT 10 by Don Ricardo
(source: posted by jailbarjuice, Nov 13, 2005, who wrote: I came across this van & towcar at both Johns picnic in Melbourne & the Bright rod run recently. The owners told me it is a 1948 Mayfair, one of three built. It has canvas type side infill panels when opened, which obviously were not fitted at Bright.) For more information about Mayfair (or Mayfare?) caravans click here.
Last Edit: Sept 11, 2017 17:48:45 GMT 10 by Don Ricardo
Had a long long talk with Hans in WA today who had my Td before Willyn & Reddo.He also owned a 1930s wooden buckboard trailer which followed Willyn & Reddo & eventually found me too. So, much chit chat later & i`ve been given some interesting info on both items.Particularly the Td as i have it listed for the Sydney Motorfest come January 2009.My Teardrop can be seen pictured above in Franklin1s` post,Dec 23 2007 -titled - 1952 Teardrop. cheers
Was speaking to Hans this morning re my Td and he confirms amongst other things that the wheels on it originally were 16" Austin 8 solid rim with ventilator slots. So Td should look the part once i sort the wheels. cheers gordon
Post by caravangio on Sept 2, 2015 19:35:17 GMT 10
hi all, I am looking for teardrop plans - metric - and very detailed the links I've seen on here just seem to open up pages of even more links - and I can't find proper plans -- I'm happy to pay for them if necessary.
would also be interested in picking up an oldie that needs renovating - or a shell that I could fit out myself (actually- this would be really preferable - am always proud of things I build myself - but am getting a bit long in the tooth for too much hard yakka!)
any info would be greatly appreciated
PS-- the reason I want metric - is that it is more likely to work off our standard timber sizes -- I built a grandfather clock off American plans once - not only did I have to convert inches to cm (not too big a problem) but because the standard timber sizes were all different - I had a devil of a job working out how to make the clock out of our standard timber sizes... ended up with about 10 pages of drawings and figures -- all worked out in the long run (emphasis on the LOOOOOOOOOOONG !)
Post by Don Ricardo on Nov 12, 2017 16:47:01 GMT 10
Yesterday, Dona Ricardo and I went to the Heide Market, held monthly at the Heide Museum of Modern Art in Bulleen (Vic). There were a couple of vintage caravans set up as coffee vans, including a rather neat little home-built 1947 teardrop belonging to Mary of Pookie May Coffee:
That's Mary serving coffee for her many customers yesterday morning:
The single door on the nearside, with window:
16 inch Austin wheels:
Little Gem coupling:
Mary told us that she has had the little van for about three years, and is its fourth owner. It was built by a man in Sunbury or Sunshine, and is unusual in several few respects. One is that it is quite short - I estimated only 7 ft 6 in or 8 ft in length. Originally there was no rear hatch or kitchenette, so the cabin was basically all sleeping space. However, there was a little hatch on the side towards the rear for the storage of kitchen equipment. Mary has had the van modified to incorporate the hatch and the kitchenette, but the space taken up by the kitchenette would now make it difficult to sleep in the cabin. Another unusual feature is that the teardrop has only one door on the nearside. It is not unique in this feature, but having a door on each side is probably more common.
Apart from the rear hatch and kitchenette, the teardrop is original, and as Mary acquired it.