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After purchasing my new 2003 Element I thought, wouldn't be great to have a matching "teardrop" trailer. Being an architectural designer I set to work. The design shown here is 5'-4" high (the height of the rear window on the Element), 10'-10" long to the propane tank (about from the rear bumper to the front of the Element windshield for comparison), 5'-5" wide with a 7" road clearance.

The teardrop was designed to be constructed of Tricel honeycomb with a fiberglass epoxy coating and matching paint. The rear door came down below the sink counter and overlapped two doors below that that hinge left and right.

The drawings show: 1) side elevation, 2) longitudinal section through the middle and 3) two rear elevations. The one to the left shows upper door missing and the half elevation to the right shows the teardrop closed. In all there were eight sheets of 24" X 36" drawings. I had two employees available to hire for 200 hours each from a local marine company. However, when I did some quick math their labor at $65 per hour would have been as much as the Element itself, not including materials.

The intended function was to travel around the coastline-of-the-world. My dream was larger than my pocketbook. Instead I purchased a Tentrax trailer. It's great for hauling things and okay for sleeping if there are two people. Trying to erect the rainfly by myself was almost impossible in the wind.

With two two-inch layers of memory foam for bedding I slept mostly in the Element for what turned out to be a 50,000 trip in 2004/2005 (about 35,000 with the Tentrax and the balance without). For the second part of the trip in 2005 I built a platform in the Element after removing both rear seats. There was a cutout place for my Engel MT35 dual voltage refrigerator (they're great- can be used as a refrigerator or freezer), a place for a battery to keep the refrigerator working when there was no electricity when camping, and storage beneath the platform for two suitcases. It worked exceedingly well and I slept without folds in my back.

The Tentrax worked fine for the trip. I never had any problems whatsoever. They are sturdy, well built and easily maneuverable. However, a new one is expensive. Mine with many extras cost $14K plus. I haven't used it since the trip. It's been garaged and is available to purchase at roughly 40% of original. At that price it's a good deal. I just don't use it and since it has matching wheels for the Element I'm hoping an Element owner will want it. I even added a full-sized spare on the tongue and scooter rack.

The teardrop is a bit complex to build but more simple than it appears. A builder would definitely need some carpentry and fiberglass skills. All four windows are the rear side windows of an Element. There is one each in the doors and a pair at the front of the teardrop. The taillights are Element taillights. I didn't determine the door and window gasketing or calculate the overall weight but Tricel is lightweight.

If someone can't tell what something is in the drawings email me. I'll try to remember but it's been nearly 7 years since I did the design. I can also email larger files if someone is interested.

Anyone interested in building one?
 

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Tuscan from Port Townsend? The famous CoastlinesOfTheWorld traveler? A few of us old timers remember your travel journal well. I particularly recall your Copper Canyon (Mexico) segment. A search of the EOC archive might even turn up some talk about them.
 

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Tuscan - it's good to see you here on EOC. I recall following your journey on a website a few years back. Love your CAD.

Were I building a trailer for the Element I would make the front of the trailer functionally complimentary to the Element's tailgate area. With my current teardrop setup I'm fond of lounging on the tailgate and cooking on the teardrop's tongue box.

Part of that functionality would be attachments on the front of the teardrop which make it easy to enclose that space with a canopy.

And in lieu of an after-market tongue box I would make a "chuck box" that folded out to provide food prep surfaces.

So are you going to finish that trip one day?

:)

 

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Tried too match mine to fit '04.

 

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Discussion Starter #6
Tuscan from Port Townsend? The famous CoastlinesOfTheWorld traveler? A few of us old timers remember your travel journal well. I particularly recall your Copper Canyon (Mexico) segment. A search of the EOC archive might even turn up some talk about them.
paulj, yes, that was the most challenging part of the trip. I was fortunate that the disgruntled Mexicans didn't push everything over the cliff. Believe me, that road was narrow.

I asked two people before going down into the canyon. A man said, "sure, you can make it." A woman said, "I wouldn't try it."

Guess who I should have listened too? It cost me 1500 pesos to get pulled from the mud and that was just in time before the rest of the road froze.

It was fun to visit. I had longed to see the trees growing from the wall. Next time I'll take a tour and let someone else do the driving.
 

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Tuscan - it's good to see you here on EOC. I recall following your journey on a website a few years back. Love your CAD.

Were I building a trailer for the Element I would make the front of the trailer functionally complimentary to the Element's tailgate area. With my current teardrop setup I'm fond of lounging on the tailgate and cooking on the teardrop's tongue box.

Part of that functionality would be attachments on the front of the teardrop which make it easy to enclose that space with a canopy.

And in lieu of an after-market tongue box I would make a "chuck box" that folded out to provide food prep surfaces.

So are you going to finish that trip one day?

:)

hiker chick,

I learned some interesting things traveling alone and doing that type of trip.

First, it would have been more fun sharing it with another person. You can only talk to yourself so much. I've been a bachelor for the past 25 years so it wasn't a matter of being lonely- it's just more fun sharing.

Second, I wanted to see the coastline. In reality looking at a map that shows a road close to the coast doesn't mean you'll see all that much of the coast. A 100' of forest or homes can totally obscure the water.

Am I going to finish the trip one day? I came to the conclusion that in todays political climate there are many parts of the world I wouldn't feel comfortable.

Returning to Port Townsend after wintering for two winters in Tucson I re-started a project I had begun in 2002- designing wing-in-ground-effect craft. These are water craft that can fly up to 500' above and totally unattached to the water at between 85 to 140 mph. First my partner and I worked on a 199' craft designed to be a mega-yacht. Then we refocused of 35' sport model. I'm also doing an 84' model that could establish a round-the-world record for duration. Currently the record is about 50 days, the 84' could halve that.

My favorite is the 35' sport model that comes in multiple configurations. It is twin-hulled and would be capable of following the coast and with a bit of good fortune traversing the longer stretches. Greenland to Iceland is about 550 miles and from Indonesia to Australia about 650 miles. I would want reserve fuel. Interior wise, think VW camper and smaller. One hull for flying and sleeping the other hull for cooking.

So, to answer your question. Yes, it's still my intention. I just had to recreate how to do it. Continuing the coastline of the world we would travel in four separate craft, so there would be companionship and alone time. But a flyable product is a few years away and I'm nearing 70. (Ouch).

Thinking about what you said about reversing end functions I've given that consideration in the sport model- four of them can be rafted together- end to side, end to side, around a square. They're quite exciting.

I can't show any pictures but maybe once the model is complete this fall I will.

Thanks for asking.

Tuscan
 
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