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Monday, October 29, 2012

A teardrop trailer showcase on SF's Treasure Island

Situated in the San Francisco Bay, mid-span of the Bay Bridge, connecting the East Bay cities of Oakland and Berkeley to downtown San Francisco, is Yerba Buena Island. Connected to it is Treasure Island, a man made island built from 1936-1937.

Last weekend it was the location of at teardrop trailer showcase I just had to attend to do more R&D for the trailer I'll begin building in approximately two to three weeks.

The day couldn't have been more perfect. The weather was a balmy 73ยบ with little to no wind. This picture of a trailer window catching the reflection of a palm tree and blue sky pretty much says it all.

And this was the view of the Bay and downtown San Francisco directly across from where the trailers were set up. The whole showcase had been arranged by Dave, a teardrop owner I'd met at the Petaluma Rally a few weeks ago. He'd been coordinating with the organizers of the Treasure Island Flea Market to bring out a bunch of trailers during this month's event. The owners would be on hand to talk to people and answer questions about the trailers and best of all for them, they would get to spend the night in their trailers on Treasure Island with that incredible view.

So cozy!

You may recall I featured Dave's teardrop in the post about the Tin Can Tourists Rally last month. This time I was able to get a nice interior shot using my iPhone's fisheye lens.

This is pretty standard. Most teardrops consist of the entire interior cabin being a mattress for two. There are usually some small shelves or cabinets for storing essentials and off the rear there's usually an outdoor galley kitchen. There's usually space beneath the interior shelves to extend your legs and feet and often the trailers have two doors so that each person has easy access in and out of the trailer.

A lot of camper owners travel with their pups. I can just picture Kitai and I out adventuring together!

One's ability to decorate is a bit limited by the small size of the trailers but bed covers, curtains and pillow cases can create a nice theme. And I had to lol when I saw Dan and Mindy's table leg. It's a crutch modified as a table support. The neat thing about using a crutch is that the height is adjustable so if you're on a sloped surface or there's a hole in the ground you can adjust accordingly. Very clever.

Though I'd learned of this teardrop showcase on the Teardrops n Tiny Travel Trailers' website, everyone there asked if I was going to go to, or told me I should attend, the 20th Annual Dam Gathering next spring sponsored by Grant Whipp and L'il Bear Trailers. I was just told today that Grant is the godfather of the resurrection of teardrops on the west coast so he's definitely someone I'd like to meet! I'm really hoping my trailer is ready in time! You can learn more about the event by CLICKING HERE.

Loved this hand built wood teardrop. A pirate theme flowed from the interior to the exterior. It was so fun to see such well designed and decorated trailers in person. Steve told me he's spent a lot of time on eBay finding just the right touches to create his vintage, nautical theme.

One thing I took note of were close up build details. Here for instance is how the wiring for the tail lights at the bottom of the rear hatch, is run from the body down into the hatch.

And these are the kind of hubcaps I want for my trailer. They're called "baby moons" and will have to double as my full length mirror since you can't fit one inside a teardrop trailer. LOL

But this vintage Benroy was the trailer that intrigued me the most that day. Partly because I love vintage anything but mostly because the interior cabin was 4'x6', the exact dimensions my trailer will be. The rear galley off the back added another two feet but I just imagined it wasn't there and the interior was what it would be like to look inside my trailer. The only big difference is that my ceiling will be a several inches higher.

I took two pictures. One with the fisheye lens so you can see from side to side and top to bottom, and one with my regular camera. Because it's a wide angle lens the fisheye distorted and made the cabin look larger than it really was. As I showed it to hubby later he exclaimed how small it looked as I was telling him how the image made it look larger than life. LOL. But I could sit in the trailer and perfectly imagine my row of tiny cabinets along the driver's side wall and my sleeping area filling the rest of the space. I felt very confident that this is exactly what I want.

And this was super cool. Side by side were two vintage, 1955 Benroys. The one on the left is in the process of being rebuilt and refurbished while the one on the right is still all original.

Another pair of baby moon hubcaps.

I LOVED that this afforded me the opportunity to see a lot of build details close up. For instance I've seen battery boxes, fuse panels, inverters and outlets online, but never in person.

And all of the trailers were beneath the giant, 40 foot high, naked, dancing lady. "Bliss Dance" was a sculpture created by Marco Cochrane and his team. It's a dynamic geodesic steel frame sculpture that includes a thousand LED lights. I could only imagine how she would look that evening as and after the sun went down.

RIght beneath her was another vintage trailer. . .

Most unique was the home brew set up. Yes, you can make beer at home and bring it along to picnics, camping trips and rallies. I also noticed the chassis and tongue of all the trailers that day. The tongue is the part that extends beyond the end of the front of the trailer frame and attaches to the tow vehicle. This matters to me since I'm finalizing the design of my own chassis and tongue.

The galley kitchen often has a small sink and an area to place a propane camp stove.

A fancier modern kitchen and another battery box. It turns out that when it comes to teardrop trailers and crime the two most common problems are stolen (full) beer coolers and batteries when trailers are in storage. A strapped down battery box works great while you're using it but I've learned it's best to store and charge the battery at home in your garage when it's not in use.

And I didn't get to meet the owner of this trailer but it was fun to see another one in progress. It was larger than most of the others and had a very large sink on the right side of the galley kitchen.

The only type I didn't see that day was a foamie or a teardrop built with a welded steel cage both of which I'm incorporating into my design. But I have seen great details online and have talked to a new friend I've made on the tnttt forum about my design as it's the same way he's built his own trailers. He's helping me to work out a lot of (possibly all) of the technical details involved with my build. I'll be doing a post about him soon and a trailer he has up for sale right now over in Michigan.

So the other neat thing was I think I went to a flea market years ago but it was smaller and had more junky stuff. This was a nice flea one with lots of different types of vendors and food choices. A contingent of food trucks was on hand to feed the hungry shoppers and you know how I love food trucks!

The Bao & Bowl Truck 'O Food

I ended up trying a new truck that has only been on the road for two weeks. Bao & Bowl is a Chinese food truck that offers restaurant quality food from their distinctive and elegantly painted blue and brown kitchen on wheels.

I stopped to peruse their menu and the owner was there to answer any questions. I asked if he had any vegetarian options that didn't include mushrooms because at a glance it seemed that every one did. He laughed when I told him I'm a bad vegetarian because I don't like mushrooms and offered me a sample of the dish I was considering the Imperial "Red-braised" Hodo Soy Tofu rice bowl with king enoki mushrooms. I tried it and while I didn't care for the mushrooms, I did enjoy the tofu and rice so this is a dish I would definitely order again minus the mushrooms.

The flea market itself was really fun. It was like walking around inside of eBay (with less pressure) or Etsy (with no shipping charges). One vendor in particular caught my eye. Blue Moon Mercantile uses a vintage canned ham trailer as part of their display, and I'd imagine, to haul some of their merchandise there to the market. I was going to link to their website but couldn't find it on Google. If you know it please leave it in the comments and I'll add it into the post.

It was nearing late afternoon so it was time for me to head home. As I did I couldn't help but wonder what it would be like to spend the night with the trailer owners facing the skyline of downtown San Francisco. While Bliss Dance was striking during the day I could only imagine how gorgeous she would be at night. And I wasn't wrong.

Steve Vaz was there and posted this picture on his Facebook wall. He gave me permission to include it in my post and I think it's the perfect image to end with. Someday I hope I can spend the night and take a similar photo. Good friends, warm weather, Bliss Dance lit by a thousand LED's and SF and the Bay Bridge as her backdrop? That would be a night to remember.

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