New Offroad Teardrop Build


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Its been a few months since we put a deposit down with Ernie Tamargo at for his first go at an off-road teardrop trailer. After a lot of research we were set on doing a Little Guy Silver Shadow 5x8 on a Rough Rider frame. Ernie posted one of his older builds on Craigslist. On our way out to the little guy dealership in Long Island, NY we decided to stop by his house and check out what he was selling. Instead of purchasing his old one we got talking about building an off-road version. Ernie has been wanting to do one for a while and was very enthusiastic about it.

A couple weeks later we decided to give it a go. For a flat rate everything would be completely custom all the way down to the frame, the shape of the trailer and as many drawers or cabinets as we wanted. No nickel and dime for the different options, just what every we wanted that would work the best. He promised a hands on experience in the build where we could visit often and modify it as it came together. So far we couldn't be happier.

We felt the 5x8 was just a little too short so we went with a 5x9.

I have a 2010 2 door Jeep Wrangler Rubicon as a tow vehicle. It sits on a 2.5" lift with 33 x 12.5" tires. The original plan was to use the same wheels as the Jeep mounted on a leaf spring suspension. Once the wheels came in and we started sizing everything up I wasn't happy with the height. It would've made the galley unusable. was great in taking back the wheels I ordered and replacing them with a smaller tire. I went with a 30 x 10" tire instead.

For the frame we decided to go with a 2x3" steel box frame with a metal mesh welded underneath to give a little protection but not at the expense of excessive weight or potentially moisture trapping skid plates. I went with the Max Coupler hitch.

Last week I was able to see it beginning to take shape and go over our options for the next phase of the build. The frame is still at the welders shop and before the suspension is finalized Ernie wanted to make sure we were ok with the ride height. He had it set at a 0" lift that would only be accomplished with a torsion axle or drop axle on leaf springs.

I really liked the height when I saw it and now I'm leaning towards a torsion axle setup. Functionality of the galley area is a top priority for us even if it comes at a reasonable sacrifice of off-road ability.

So now I'm at the axle choosing phase. I've read extensively about torsion vs leaf spring and am ok with going with the torsion but I'm not sure which one. My instinct was to go for the 3500# dexter but now I worried about the harshness of the ride. The final weight will probably be 1200-1300 # unloaded.


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Expedition Poseur
**2nd hand info here**

With regard to the torsion axle, I've heard of others going with the heavier axle to get the larger bearings, then down-grading the spring rate to smooth out the ride. In theory, it sounds reasonable to me.

Even the lighter beam trailer axles have pretty small bearings. I used a 3500# axle with 1250# leaf springs on my motorcycle trailer for the same reason.


I am beginning a very similar build, I heard about the Timbren Axle-less off road trailer suspension, so I looked into it... they are pretty cool. I decided to go with it as I felt it was a good fit for my needs. I just got them mounted to my frame and am starting to lay out the floor and cabin now, I'm very excited. It looks like you've got a great build so far, keep up the good work!


I'm a serious offroader and a design engineer.....a dangerous combination.

You might want to check out the suspension on my trailer build. My trailer is an all steel frame. The suspension is commonly called a single link.

I was tearing through the build and had to stop for almost two years. I am within a few weeks of finishing now.

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