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  • Bob Phillips


Justin Sedekum’s home-built teardrop is a rolling box of family memories. In the build, he used household items left from his paternal grandparents when they passed; made use of his mother’s old keepsake cedar chest; and incorporated bits and pieces from his parents’ old house. Even the trailer frame is from a heavy steel utility trailer that his grandfather built in the late 80s when Justin was in high school. It was that trailer that finally inspired him to build this tribute camper.

“​I was very close to my dad’s parents, who were simple and down to earth people,” he said. “My grandpa had built a nice drop axle utility trailer with steel sides. He gave it to me in the late 90s and I used it many times over the years. I lost grandpa in 2006 and then grandma in 2015. It was after she was gone and I was looking at grandpa’s rusty trailer sitting in my drive that I decided to do something with it.”

“I didn’t have much of theirs; they just didn’t have much. And what I did have wasn’t useful to anyone and only meant something to me. I decided to build a teardrop out of his trailer and incorporate as much as I could from what I had of theirs, along with some things from other family members. I decided to turn it into a tribute teardrop for my daughters to inherit someday.”

Before he started, Justin scoured the internet to see what others had built. He had a general idea of what he wanted, including plenty of storage, both 12v and 120v circuits, an air conditioner and a sink, and he wanted it to look rustic. He settled on a profile called a Wyoming Woody and even found the profile online that he scaled to fit his needs.

Justin took his time on the project, working in spare time here and there. He didn’t go in with a master plan but sort of designed it as he built it. He started the project in the spring of 2016 and only recently finished the camper. Getting the old trailer restored and repurposed for a teardrop proved to be time consuming. Getting it lengthened on the back end, de-scaled, primed and painted took a considerable amount of time.

“The trailer had a wood floor and steel sides,” Justin explained. “It was built very heavy.”

“Grandpa was a welder for a company that built radio towers so he knew how to lay a heavy weld. I needed to deconstruct his old trailer down to the frame and axle. This just took more time than anything.​ ​I realized I needed to move the axle rearward after I started building the teardrop. I had my dad’s help in fabricating some heavy leaf spring brackets that I could bolt on and slide the axle back until I got the proper tongue weight and then welded the brackets to the frame. I decided to wait until it was mostly completed before doing that. I built the galley first and had to add weight to the front to keep the tongue down. Then I built the tongue box and installed the air conditioning unit on it. That kept the tongue down but was still too light to tow.”

“After the frame was ready I started with building a storage compartment in the floor. I