During the 2/99 SCTT Teardrop gathering at Guajome, CA., we saw a few original Benroy's and we liked the profile. We brought a large piece of cardboard with us so we could trace the profile. Good thing we had the cardboard because it would be near impossible to duplicate it otherwise. The taper of the back started about mid-way on the roof and then slopes back. The front profile has a 20" radius. The bottom corner profiles have a 6" radius but we'll not use this in our application. The rear hatch has more of a squared off profile rather than coming to a point. We like this design because of obtaining more floor space and we won't have to lean over to reach the counter top inside the kitchen. This design created more cabinet and sleeping space as well. The original Benroy's are the standard 48"Wx48"Hx96"L size. Ours will be 57"Wx48"Hx106"L plus a 2" built-in bumper which will give us 10 more square feet of floor space over the original. We'll be using modern building materials, fasteners and adhesives plus we will be fully insulating the floor, sides and roof. You can say it will be like a ice chest with wheels made for off-road use! Why bother with all that insulation? It won't make the interior any cooler or hotter than it already is. We camp in all weather, except rain and without it the interior would be unbearable to take a afternoon nap while in the desert.
We suggest you purchase all your accessories prior to starting because this has caused major delays in our construction. We needed the following: door, window, drop-in stove top, sink, water tank, roof vent, interior lighting and wiring, exterior edge molding, hatch canopy hinge, recessed tail lights, hatch locks, etc. We needed exact measurements of many of these items prior to building around them. Insulating the side walls created some complications and the kitchen counter top, cabinets and bulkhead all had to be planned out way ahead of time before installing the interior paneling because of bracing and securing these items. There is no reversing our construction steps because everything is glued with lots of construction adhesive and proper fasteners for a solid permanent installation. Jim Stienstra suggested to us to plan about 10 steps ahead of yourself. That is the truth!
Here is the method of construction that we'll be using.
Sub Floor Frame This is the main structural component of the body. The 1947 and 1991 plans that we've based our body construction on uses a hardwood 2"x4" sub floor frame, which the body panels screw to it and the frame bolts to the chassis making the body a separate box. We can actually unbolt and remove the body from the chassis from this point if ever needed. The 1 3/4" x 4" White Oak frame was custom milled at Frost Hardwood Lumber Co and cost $116.00 plus $40.00 milling fee, which White Oak was the least expensive of the hardwoods. Poplar would be a good light weight choice. I used a router with a 3/4" carbide bit to make rabbet joints in the corners and used (8) #14 x 1 1/2" screws with construction adhesive to secure the corners. The oak frame was bolted to the angle tabs I welded into the inside of the chassis frame and corner gussets using (16) stainless 3/8" x 3" carriage bolts, nuts and washers. The floor will be the last thing to build, leaving an open cavity. This will come in handy while assembling the interior and I'll be able to stand on the ground while working inside the body. I can even sit on one of the chassis cross members while working inside too. This cavity will later be filled with a Filon belly pan attached to Lauan plywood sandwiching rigid foam and will be installed through the kitchen opening.
Side Walls We used 3/4" x 4' x 10' ACX exterior grade plywood and were cut to the length of the oak floor frame and was purchased from Frost Hardwood for $54.00 each. Having the chassis built first made it easy to transport all the lumber before construction. The Benroy template we made out of cardboard was cut out with a utility knife and laid out over the rear portion of the plywood and traced. The front 20" radius was made by measuring 20" from the top and 20" from the front and we placed a nail at that intersection. Using a string tied to the nail and holding a pencil at the other end, we drew the radius. We purchased a new DeWalt jigsaw ($99.00) just for this project and having this quality tool sure paid off. The cuts were flawless while leaving the pencil line exposed. The cheaper jigsaws vibrate too much. Then we clamped both sides together and used a belt sander with course paper and sanded to the pencil line.
Entrance and Exit We purchased the door and window prior to making final plans of the Teardrop. Since the interior walls will be insulated with rigid foam and covered with 1/8" oak plywood, we needed to know how thick to make the walls. We purchased a new 30"W x 24"H Hehr (pronounced hair) window from Walt's RV for $30.00. It's a horizontal sliding, screened, double thermal tinted safety glass with egress (emergency exit) feature. The window is designed for 1 7/8" wall thickness using the interior clamp ring molding. The 32"W x 35"H door was custom made by Rexco RV Door's and cost $174.00. For an extra $20 they could have installed a sliding screened window but we felt it was too large for our size door. We're shopping for the right sized door window. The thickness of the door jam is 1 1/2" so we decided to make the side walls a total thickness of 2". Both the door and window was traced onto the sides and we added 3/8" to the measurement before cutting out the holes. The door opening was cut so the threshold would be even with the floor. This feature will be easy on our shins while entering and exiting plus a comfortable place to sit. We found out later that after adding the futon mattress, we should have raised the door 2" to 4".
Wall Securing Now that the sides are cut to size and holes cut while laying flat on the chassis, it's time to fasten them into position. The sides are actually sitting on the chassis frame and no weight will be put on the fasteners. We pre-drill the holes for the #14 x 2 1/2" flat head wood screws. Construction adhesive is applied to the outside edge of the oak floor frame and then the sides are screwed into the 6" spaced predrilled holes. We applied glue into the screw holes so the screws won't back out, a problem with old Teardrops with screw heads dimpling through the siding.
Roof Bows is the term the semi trailer industry calls them. We glued 2 pieces of 3/4" x 1 1/2" Poplar boards together with Pro Bond wood glue making the roof bows 1 1/2" square. They were placed on 16" centers and fastened using (4) #8 x 2 1/2" dry wall screws and construction adhesive and placed with the seam vertical for added stiffness. We used 'Heavy Duty Construction' adhesive by Liquid Nails through out the project. We tried all brands & types and found the 'Heavy Duty Construction the easiest and best to work with. It's the adhesive that is holding the Teardrop together, not the fasteners. The rear roof bow is Red Oak which the kitchen hatch hinge will attach. This roof bow is important since pine roof bows at this location have been known to break. Since the trailer is 57" wide, the roof's interior and exterior plywood sheets will be applied in sections and the seams will line up with a roof bow. The 1/8" oak plywood rolled easily over the front radius since the panels were not bending against the grain.