Zyl Vardos Makes a Teardrop

by Kent Griswold on November 13th, 2012. 31 Comments
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by Abel Zyl Zimmerman

Though I normally build tiny houses, I don’t limit myself to that kind of structure. So, I recently built this teardrop trailer for some really sweet people who live just a few blocks down the hill from me.

It is always so hard to fall in love with a project, and then have to give it away. But the sweet flipside is knowing that someone else is out there enjoying it immensely. Indeed, the day after I delivered it, they departed on a week-long camping trip (in November, no less!)

teardrop

Anyhow, the Zyl Teardrop is 5 feet wide and 9 feet long. It has a queen-size sleeper, a ‘rumble kitchen’, some nice LED light bars, a marine-type epoxy-varnish wood finish, all stainless steel hardware… and it only weighs 625 lbs. I think a team of dachsunds could pull it.

But if you don’t have a team of dachsunds, your Datsun should have no problem…

Zyl Vardos builds tiny houses and other fantastic structures in Olympia, WA, USA.

teardrop rear view

teardrop side view

door view

teardrop kitchen

teardrop bed

31 Responses to “Zyl Vardos Makes a Teardrop”

  1. Mopsa says:

    Wow! How cute is that?

  2. Deek says:

    Abel’s a class act, and a talented dude. This looks great man! What brand epoxy/varnish did you use/layering?- on the exterior? I love the look and need the durability for a project I’m working on now….
    -Deek

    • Case says:

      Deek,

      I’m not sure what Zyl uses, but as a boat builder I can tell you that one of the toughest, maintenance free products is Sikkens Marine Cetol. Its a two step product with a base (comes in several shades, I prefer the “light”) and then a top coat. you do two-three coats of the base and 2-3 coats of the top coat (top coat comes in gloss, semi, and satin). Super tough can touch up the top coat as needed .

      Case

      • OK, i’m gonna reply to both of you at once!

        I used System Three epoxy. And McCloskeys gloss spar varnish.

        Varnish OVER epoxy is actually pretty low maintenance! Varnish alone is not.

        Cetol IS low maintenance, but it is more orangey and opaque. It wouldn’t have let the wood sparkle through in the same way.

  3. bobhenry says:

    If I may… Those little bolt together trailer frames need the tongues reinforced with at least 2×2 square tube there is just too much flex for my liking. I let mine run under the trailer clear to the end so hitch accesories could be added such as a bike rack or a tote rack. Also the suicide doors opening from the front will explode at speed if they were to work open at speed. I am on my sixth tiny trailer build so I have a bit of experience.

    • Designed my doors and latches so they are very unlikely to open on the road. Those are pretty burly slam latches, AND locking the handle immobilizes them.

      The trailer is rated for 2.5x the weight of the finished teardrop.

      • Just wanted to mention that, though it IS indeed a bolt together, I always weld key parts during assembly to improve stiffness, and assure a long life.

        This trailer is MUCH stiffer than an H.Freight, if that is what you might be referring to.

  4. Case says:

    Thanks for sharing your teardrop! It looks fantastic! I have been requested by my better half to build one for us. Ours will be slightly modified to carry our kayaks and SUP boards! I have a plans in the works and hope to start on it next fall.

  5. FYI: this teardrop just returned to Olympia after a week of touring the California Redwoods, and Sonoma County!

    Yah!

  6. Niall says:

    Beautiful work as always Abel! Your designs are always refreshing :)

  7. Elisa says:

    Pray, do you make more such teardrops? And how much would you charge? I simply love it!!!!!

  8. gmh says:

    Wow- such beautiful craftsmanship! (And I’m picturing a team of dachsunds… too funny)

  9. Maggie Natasha Johnson says:

    Gorgeous!!!

  10. stpauligirl says:

    I’m laughing out loud at the “team of dachsunds” comment also. The tear drop is beautiful! If tht were my new little camper – I’d camp in November too! In Minnesota!!

  11. Gramma LaDow says:

    I just love you little teardrop. For short outings ( like a week or so ) it is just what the doctor ordered. I hope it is a real success for you.

  12. Congratulations Abel, this teardrop is such a beautiful little gem!

  13. Benjamin says:

    Really nice looking!

    Is there any provision (not obvious to me) to keep the doors from banging into the fender or window if someone carelessly opens them too far? It’d be a shame to ding that beautiful finish.

  14. Christina says:

    Great job! I am starting a teardrop trailer blog and will be featuring yours! :-)

  15. dewhit says:

    Nice work Abel.

    Is watertight an issue with any of the openings ?

  16. dewhit says:

    Excuse me Abel.

    I meant… watertight while in transit ?

    • Abel Zyl says:

      All the openings have stayed dry through some hearty rain showers on the road.

      The doors have a stepped seal, and are stiff enough to keep sealing for a long time into the future. In fact, they sealed so well, i omitted an additional drip cap.

      The rear hatch has an interlocked channel at the sides, and a full drip cap at the top.

      The Pacific NorthWET showed its colors as i was finishing this project’ so i got to test my seals very thoroughly…

      I bed the windows in elastomeric sealant.

  17. Lynne says:

    Oh, wow, I’m so glad I saw this today! We’re looking at options for our oldest daughter, whose current job situation takes her out of town several times a year, and she seems to like the teardrop trailer more than anything she’s seen so far. (Although it would take a while to save up for it, but well worth it.)

    Are you located at or near the area of the first photo? We live about half a mile from there, on the other side of State and 4th.

  18. Richard Bryant says:

    Nicely done. I had the same immediate about the door swing direction as one of the earlier posters. While you probably have solved the unexpected pop-open concern and possibly the leaking, my observation is that the door swings towards the projecting window. Seems like a functional conflict that may cause some damage to the nice finish when the door slams into the projecting window header. Since the interior photos show no reason to prefer the door to swing in one direction or the other, it seems that changing the swing-direction would be better over time. Also easier to come an go from the lift-gate.

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