Teardrop: Mechanical Failures and the Kindness of Strangers

— on March 22, 2019 by in On the road | Teardrop Camper

It’s been a while since I posted about the teardrop camper. In part, that is because it is in Texas and I’m in California. The reason is simple: we are moving and I need to be able to tow a moving trailer.

I brought the trailer to Texas in January to store it, and also to use during my stint there teaching photo workshops.

Getting lunch in Arizona with the teardrop camper.

Sunset in my rear view mirror while towing the teardrop camper.

Rear Hatch Latch

The trip to Texas was not without problems. The first problem was a failure in the rear hatch latch. I noticed the hatch bouncing open as I drove across the dusty plains of Arizona.

Rear hatch latch failure on the teardrop on the road in Arizona.

The screw that hold the bracket on the driver’s side bar came out and the passenger’s side was also loose. With one of the rods loose the lid could bounce free. The rod bounced on the ground, bending it. Amazingly, nothing in the galley fell out of the galley.

A little work with a tie down strap solved the problem in the short term.

A temporary fix to the tear drop using a tie-down strap to keep the galley hatch closed.

With that problem solved, I was back on the road on my way to Caprock Canyon State Park for a couple of nights camping.

Failed Fender

The fender mounting has been on my list of things to redo since the day I did it. I kludged it together at the last minute when I initially moved the trailer to California last fall and “improved it” in Dec with a few tack welds. I knew it wasn’t very good and might fail. But, I’ve kept on pushing my luck with it and it finally bit me.

Repeat after me: Tack-welds are terrible on things that are cantilevered that will get flexed back and forth... I should have learned this after the original (expensive) taillights broke off on the first trip. Still, I hoped my kludge would hold one more trip.

Teardrop Camper traveling to Texas - Blow out on the road.

I didn’t… The passenger side fender broke free just outside Alamagordo, NM. The design had the fenders captured (you can’t remove them with the tire on) so the fender just sat on the tire. That might not have been a disaster except the bolts for the kludged taillights stuck through and gouged the tire. See the groove cut in the middle of the tire.

Once the tire was punctured and mostly flat, it exploded, grabbed the fender and ripped it free.

All in all, the damage was minimal. There are a few gouges on the aluminum, mostly where they will be hidden by the fender and that is it.

Damage to the aluminum outside wall of the teardrop due to blown tire.

Eddie at Discount Tire returning my replaced teardrop tire to me.

“Buy a spare tire” has ALSO been on my list for the trailer for a while… Oops!

Luckily, I was only about 10 minutes from a Discount Tire in Alamogordo, NM. They mounted a new tire quick.

Help from a Stranger

The tire blew out in a construction zone. That turned out to be a good thing. First, the shoulder and 1 entire lane was blocked off giving me lots of margin. Second, one of the friendly road workers came over to help me re-hitch the trailer. Thanks, Tim!

Tim from NMDot helping me out to hook up the trailer again.

Hitching the trailer is hard if you are alone. I can’t see the hitch (no backup camera) so lining up and not bumping into the trailer is a problem. With a little help, we got it hitched up without issue. I was back on the road, minus one taillight and fender.

Camping at Caprock Canyon

Six-ish short hours later, I arrived at Caprock Canyon, found a spot and camped for the night.

The teardrop at Caprock Canyon with heat pump set up. Cooking dinner in the teardrop galley on the stow-away peninsula. Details of the support mechanism for the stow-away peninsula in the teardrop galley.