Off road tear drop for a high school project?

corleykj

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I am a vocational teacher at a high school in Wyoming, and we are looking into making an off road tear drop trailer as a school project. I have seen professional ones sell for $15,000. And I have seen homemade ones sell for $2,500 on craigslist. My tentative plan was to try building one for $3,000-$6,0000 ordering professional parts for the doors and windows, water system and electrical. Students in the woodworking class would need to build the cabinetry, welding class would do the trailer build (maybe auto do the suspension work).

I have been doing a lot of reading over the last year and following people's builds on mud and expedition portal which have been very inspiring and informational.

My questions to the MUD community;
1) Could the vocational programs break even if the trailer was really well built or could the vocational programs make money if the trailer was really well built? (I understand if the construction isn't well done, then nobody will pay a dime for it).

2) What are non negotiables for the majority of customers who want a tear drop trailer? (I realize every person has different needs, but for example: Is 15 gallons of freshwater necessary? Or is an inverter and shore power hook up necessary?

3) Would it be better to find a customer before building the trailer or auction/sell it after it is complete?


Thanks for the input MUD.
 

coops2k

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Nice idea

Yes I think you could make money if the trailer is well build. You as the teacher will need to keep a close eye on the progress and the build quality. No buddy rushes anything, take the time to do it right the first time.

#2 is harder, since everyone wants different stuff. Look at what other trailer builders put into theirs. I personally would want a 20gal water supply and a way to fill from Jerry cans. Be sure to factor in weights of your build and the things it will carry. It will be easy to build an everything trailer, but what would it weigh? Also look at special features, like on mine, I have a sliding tongue for different types of needs, like ferry rides.

I think it would be ideal to have a buyer before building and doing an auction could be risky, but it could also make the school some cash.

Good luck, would like to follow the build.
 
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down in a hole.
as much as this sounds like an excellent tool for teaching and getting kids into industry, I am not certain our market support such ventures. Wouldn't the chassis and suspension components need to be welded by LICENSED welders and the welds be inspected in order for them to be purchased as over the highway vessels? If you guys are hip to a way around that, I think then it is a fabulous idea.

1. too many variable to plug into this equation...how much is the overhead; materials, rent, power, insurance, labor? looking at advertised prices of things can be a way to determine value, but only if those things are actually selling in any kind of volume. otherwise, a high priced slow selling product might give a false sense of what something similar could be worth in a similar market(<last bit being key in this day of global advertising)

2. the non negotiables of an off road tear drop are chassis, suspension, weatherproof box and easy access to several different points of storage/portage...I would suggest a minimalist approach so that the end purchaser could customize as they saw fit...give someone a space with some wheels...make the chassis and suspension in a way that is conducive to underbelly stowage. make the main box with 2 doors with windows and a roof vent and some side vents. make a galley stowage area accessible from outside or inside. I wouldn't put appliances or devices into the production unit. for the electrics, keep it basic but wire each light directly so that the thing could easily work with any type of vehicle turn signal/stop lights system. I'd use oversized conduits so extra wires could be added any time to accommodate additional components such as solar and water pumping etc...

3. build one and auction it. refine and build another and auction it. refine and build another and auction it until you don't need to refine any more. at that point you should have a decent idea of what your market will bear in both price and volume. I wouldn't put alot of stock into making it a thing until it became a THING...

HTH and keep up the good fight!
 

corleykj

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Thanks for the responses. As for the concern of titling it as an over the road vessel we are looking into our state and counties requirements. We have built a lot of trailers but never what our state considers a "house trailer". As for ensuring the welds are by a license welder that goes back to the critical component of the teachers ensuring the quality of construction meets expectations (welding codes, structural tests, etc...). We have students, teachers and parents in the industry that would ensure the structural integrity is as advertised and expected or we won't be able to sell it.
 
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Well played sir... Well played ;) .. as far as titling, Google search Wyoming's dot home made trailer requirements
 

ntsqd

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I'd say keep it/them simple. Don't add too many features, but leave the room for those features to be added either by your students after the trailer is sold as an add-on service or by the buyer.

I would also not make it an off-road oriented TD. Build it as a road-going TD as your market will be quite a lot bigger. Offer a conversion kit or similar to the buyer if off-road capable is wanted.

Have you found tntt yet?
 

corleykj

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I'd say keep it/them simple. Don't add too many features, but leave the room for those features to be added either by your students after the trailer is sold as an add-on service or by the buyer.

I would also not make it an off-road oriented TD. Build it as a road-going TD as your market will be quite a lot bigger. Offer a conversion kit or similar to the buyer if off-road capable is wanted.

Have you found tntt yet?
I think you are right about not making it off road specific. The market will be better for a traditional year drop and they seem simpler to build (structural options for off-roading may be more challenging for my students to pull off).
 

titanpat57

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I am a vocational teacher at a high school in Wyoming, and we are looking into making an off road tear drop trailer as a school project. I have seen professional ones sell for $15,000. And I have seen homemade ones sell for $2,500 on craigslist. My tentative plan was to try building one for $3,000-$6,0000 ordering professional parts for the doors and windows, water system and electrical. Students in the woodworking class would need to build the cabinetry, welding class would do the trailer build (maybe auto do the suspension work).

I have been doing a lot of reading over the last year and following people's builds on mud and expedition portal which have been very inspiring and informational.

My questions to the MUD community;
1) Could the vocational programs break even if the trailer was really well built or could the vocational programs make money if the trailer was really well built? (I understand if the construction isn't well done, then nobody will pay a dime for it).

I think for your first endeavor keep it somewhat mild. That allows you and the class to start off crawling instead of being overwhelmed. As you gain experience, and need more of a challenge, introduce newer challenges. I would think more like 8-10K for a nicely built/outfitted unit.

2) What are non negotiable's for the majority of customers who want a tear drop trailer? (I realize every person has different needs, but for example: Is 15 gallons of freshwater necessary? Or is an inverter and shore power hook up necessary?

A few things I believe should bee standard....A. a 3500# brake axle B. A 40 amp converter for charging and a convenience outlet or two B. Multiple 12v and USB outlets located all over. C. Rack and roof strong enough to support kayaks, RTT and occupants, and a solar panel. D. 20+ gallons of water with a provisal area for 5 gal. water/fuel cans or Rotopax E. Awning and or awning room for privacy/getting dressed F. Slide out fridge and stove G. Box on the side to house on demand hot water heater H. 2- 10 # propane bottles

3) Would it be better to find a customer before building the trailer or auction/sell it after it is complete?

Raffle it off...sell it out right.....stay away from taking "orders" from a perspective buyer.




Thanks for the input MUD.


GOOD LUCK!!
 

ToyotaDon

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Just to add an idea; how about looking for donors for some of the materials/parts? Many businesses want to give back to the educational community, and all they're looking for is a tax write-off and a letter of acknowledgement.
 

corleykj

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Just to add an idea; how about looking for donors for some of the materials/parts? Many businesses want to give back to the educational community, and all they're looking for is a tax write-off and a letter of acknowledgement.
That is a great point. We are trying to get our plan dialed in, and then will talk to some construction companies and RV repair and sales shops to discuss options.
 

ntsqd

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I wouldn't ignore the local guys, but you may have more success in talking direct to the mfg's of the components. My generic RoT when being told "No" is that I'm talking to someone too far down in the chain.
 
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My thought is that if this is a one off project and then following years you go with a different project then this is an awesome idea. However, if you do this and decide to do 1 per semester or 1 per year; at what point does Wyoming consider you an RV builder/dealer? Your liability goes up considerably at that point. I would also think that RV rules apply more readily than laws pertaining to a "house trailer" which sounds more like a dwelling than a camper.
 
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This sounds great as others have said Keep it simple. Solid trailer, Watertight nice design enclosure,
galley kitchen in the rear with a counter cabinets and jerry cans water storage. Make it off road capable,
cool looking and call it a bug out trailer. Get all the paperwork done and registered and raffle it off.
Sell enough tickets to cover the costs and make extra for a build party and funds to start next years build.
 

corleykj

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Thanks for all the great ideas. As for water storage do people prefer a water tank, or jerry cans? I was thinking a water tank in the front for tongue weight, but most kitchens seem to have the water in the back, or water cans in the back of the trailer.

We are probably looking at more of a traditional tear drop with high clearance, and not necessarily an off road capable trailer to take on technical trails. We are looking into the titling of it and if a person could insure it. Pending on what students and parents we have to help it could be a semester long project, or 2 years. Either way, we want it to be quality so we can sell it and the buyer can trust the build. Keep the ideas coming!
 

ntsqd

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corleykj

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Casper, WY
We are planning on running electricity on the trailer, possibly adding solar. So that was our thought was a water tank with 12 volt pump. I have a traditional travel trailer, but wanted MUD's ideas of what people like and the market. I really like that jerry can idea.
 
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