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Monday, March 11, 2013

Tiny Travel Trailer Update: Aluminum skin and more

My tiny hybrid travel trailer (it's a teardrop sized, modified, mini canned ham) is looking more and more trailer-like with each update. This week Fred (my custom builder in Michigan) sent photos of my newly skinned trailer.

The exterior is an aluminum skin.

In the world of tiny travel trailers there are two basic styles:
  1. A teardrop which is a "sleeper" style cabin with a galley kitchen on the rear end beneath a hatch back.
  2. The canned ham aptly named for it's shape but also often referred to as a "standy" because they're tall enough to stand inside of.
My trailer is right between the two. It's a "sitter-upper" because I'll be able to sit upright comfortably enough to work on a computer and change my clothes. With the proper gear I can even take an onboard shower and if I really need to I can use my super cool, emergency, Thetford porta-potty late at night.

Beneath the skin the metal is held onto the welded steel and aluminum frame with heavy duty VHB tape and rivets.

This shot shows two features. The first is that the interior floor is wood. Why? Because I couldn't find any cute, fun, or flirty linoleum. So, I decided I'd rather do a hand painted floor. That way it could be any color(s) and pattern I want it to be.

The other feature is the awning rail that I purchased online at Vintage Trailer Supply. It runs almost the width of the trailer right above the door. The awning will be high-low meaning it will be low on the side that attaches to the trailer and higher on the end that will be staked into the ground using tent poles and guide wires. I will also make it wider on the far end (probably 6 feet wide) so that two chairs can fit beneath it in case anyone ever wants to hang out. Other options would be having sidewalls to block the sun or netting on all sides to keep mosquitos at bay at night.

The tabs along the top are there so that I can (if I decide to in the future) mount a solar panel on the top of the trailer. I'm definitely leaning towards believing I will want to do so but since it is a large financial investment I want to make sure I actually need it before I do. Here are my thinking out loud considerations. The onboard battery I'll use to run the porch lights, interior cabin light, and electrical outlets to recharge my camera batteries and phone each night can be charged three ways:
  1. Using a charge line from my tow vehicle battery while driving. Con is overtaxing my auto battery to charge the onboard battery while driving.
  2. While parked with access to household/shoreline power. Con is not always having access to recharge the battery if I'm dry camping for more than a few days.
  3. With a 100 watt solar panel. Con is the price but the convenience of being able to charge anywhere, anytime there's sun (here in California it's almost always plentiful) will (I believe) outweigh the cost. 
My other thinking is if we ever experience an extended power outage due to some type of natural disaster we will welcome the conveniences the solar charger offers. We won't be able to run everyday household equipment off of it but we will be able to recharge computers, cell phones, a heater or fan, basically run a multitude of 12 volt appliances, and have light sources at night. As far as I can see solar would be a win-win.

To follow the entire build thread from beginning to end just click on the "Trailer - Build" category on the side bar or CLICK HERE.

To view all of my trailer gear and decorating posts CLICK HERE.

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