• Sarah Tucker

Solving problems one at a time results in great teardop build


- by Greg Kroll & Bob Phillips -


Greg Kroll started thinking about building his own teardrop camper nearly 20 years ago, but living in an apartment and without tools there was no way to fulfill the dream. When he and his wife bought a house seven years ago, the dream welled up anew. Then when his wife’s mother gifted them a 5X10 utility trailer, he knew it was time to get started.

Greg Kroll started thinking about building his own teardrop camper nearly 20 years ago, but living in an apartment and without tools there was no way to fulfill the dream. When he and his wife bought a house seven years ago, the dream welled up anew. Then when his wife’s mother gifted them a 5X10 utility trailer, he knew it was time to get started.


“Over the course of 20 years I had acquired some tools, and now I had a trailer and a place to build. So with my wife’s permission and a $400 starting budget I started stripping the trailer and getting it ready to install a floor. I knew how big I wanted the floor to be. I had drawn a picture of what I wanted to build, but had no idea how to build it.

“I wanted to build an old-style teardrop, inspired by a woody surf wagon. I wanted a hardwood countertop for the galley and I didn’t want any shore power because I don’t like to camp in those kinds of campgrounds. I had an idea of what my needs were. I broke everything down into individual problems that I needed to solve as I went along.”


The project slowed significantly when Greg took a new job that required him to be out of the country for weeks at a time. He had the walls up but then had to work a day at a time when he was home on weekends.


“I looked for parts and information surfing the internet from a hotel room. It became a little bit of an obsession. My windows came from a rv salvage/surplus yard for $30 apiece. Because I couldn’t afford $700 doors, I had to figure out how to make those too.

“I live within an hour of several rv/trailer-supply businesses and vintage outlets where I was able to get the hinge for the galley as well as the door hardware. I would buy things like lights and a fan when they were needed and just keep on solving problems as I went along.


“I found a local man who had some live edge black walnut lumber for sale and he planed it down for me. I learned how to use epoxy and ended up with a gorgeous countertop.”


When Greg confronted problems he couldn’t solve, he turned to Jay Poore, who was also building a teardrop and had started a Facebook page called DIY Teardrop Camper Community. He stayed in close communication with Jay and said both he and the FB site were a huge help when it came down to problem solving.

“I built the camper in a one-car garage and my mud room, which resulted in just over a year of tracking sawdust all over the house. It drove my very patient wife crazy.”


Greg said the doors were the biggest individual challenge he had to solve on his own since most people either buy pre-made doors or cut them down from larger rv doors. The real challenge came in getting them to properly latch and making them waterproof.


“I finished construction of my camper on the 12th of June 2019 and had my first trip planned for the 13th – a 400-mile round trip to the Sturgeon River in Northern Michigan for an annual kayak trip we do every summer. It rained the whole trip up there and the first two days that we camped, but everything stayed dry! My wife and I agreed that we had the best nights of sleep that we have ever had camping.

“The camper has two 12-volt rv batteries, a fantastic fan, two reading lights with phone chargers, and an overhead light. I can go two weeks without charging if I keep the fan to a medium speed at night. I think it is still pure camping when you cook outside and sit around a fire instead of hanging out inside a full-size trailer or motorhome watching television while you eat your breakfast.


“We are very happy with the way the teardrop came out and it looks very similar to the initial sketch that I did 15 months earlier.”


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