Hyk Outdoors Teardrop Build

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Kerner

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Springfield, MO, USA
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Kerner
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I've been wanting a teardrop trailer for several years - probably almost 10. Several times I've sketched out ideas for a teardrop, a square drop, or a weekender style trailer. Last spring I picked up a trailer and built a canoe rack and used it to carry camping tubs for the season. It worked great, but it was seriously lacking. We were still camping primarily in a tent, everything had to be pulled out of tubs, setup, and then repacked when we were done. It worked well for weekend trips that were mainly focused on a canoe/kayak trip. It wasn't so great for more overloading/longer-term travel/camping. Last fall I spent a week at a few different camp locations in the high country of Colorado and the experience confirmed I needed a better setup. During all this time I'd been chatting with my friend Jeff who had built a teardrop for himself and later took that experience to start Hyk Outdoors.

Hyk was building 5x8 teardrops in both on and off-road versions as well as offering kits you could build yourself. My family checked one out for a weekend and my wife was sold as well. The ability to grab clothes, food, and a few other items tossed into a trailer and be on the road to camp was well worth it. Our weekend with the trailer confirmed two things though - we're both tall and wanted a longer bed, and we wanted a galley that minimized the amount of work to setup and cook. I also knew we wanted an their off-road trailer, a fridge in the tongue box, and a full roof rack to carry a boat or two. After a few conversations we started sketching out plans for a 5x10 trailer, using the extra two feet to extend the galley and add an 80" bed. The plan was to work with their team on a kit that provided exactly what we needed.

We're just now wrapping up the build and I've got to say the experience working with Jeff, Mark, and Caleb has been outstanding. These guys do great work and have helped me make decisions about the trailer given their experience and provided guidance while building it. I'm going to be posting through this thread photos and the process of building. I'm really glad I worked with the Hyk team rather than trying to build something from scratch on my own.

Here's a look at their 5x8 off-road trailer. These things are bad ass and have amazing attention to detail. Other than this initial photo, the rest of the thread will be the Blue Whale - what they've apparently named our teardrop in the shop. When everything is all said and done I'll add my completed trailer here as well.

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Kerner

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Matt
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Kerner
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Last fall when I finally decided I was ready to seriously consider a teardrop I went through a bunch of design options. We have a 4.5x10 utility trailer that I built a canoe/kayak rack onto and used relentlessly for trips last year. It worked great to store camping tubs in the bottom, boats up top. It didn't really save any effort getting camp set up though. It also was going to need substantial upgrades (better axle, larger wheels/tires, etc) to be able to take it anywhere off-road. After several sketches and budget calculations I decided that fo quality and ease of building I'd go with a Hyk kit. The team was great to work with me on what we were wanting and provide feedback on ideas. The design was a really collaborative effort and I'm very happy with how everything is shaping up.

Our design goals:
1. Off-road capable, which with Hyk wasn't going to be a problem.
2. Space for a queen bed. My wife and I are both tall which means we wanted 80" of length. You can't quite get the width of a queen mattress in a 5ft wide trailer, but we slept ok in the full size one we tested out in the fall - just needed the extra length.
3. We wanted a tongue box for a fridge (IceCo 60VL dual).
4. We wanted the galley to be capable of being mostly setup and ready to use.
5. We needed some interior storage near the front of the cabin, nothing major but a small set of cubbies.
6. Also had to have a roof rack to carry a kayak awning, etc. Short term our kids will be in an awning room off the side off the passenger side of the trailer, but at some point we might add a tent to the rack.

Our plans also included solar and a large battery, but I'll discuss that in a later post.

Tossed together ideas in Illustrator and pushed things around. This is pretty close to the final design we landed on with adaptations to match how Hyk builds their rear hatch, trailer frame, etc. We wanted to stay as simple as possible while still providing a quick, comfortable camp setup. The final layout was all done in their tooling for the CNC prep.

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Kerner

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Kerner
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The best part of working with Hyk Outdoors for building out this teardrop was not having to figure out all of the pieces to cut and make sure everything was done consistently. Their kit systems are CNC cut with dados for all the pieces to fit together. We took the design drawings, transferred them to the CAD system, and got to cutting. The shell is based off 3/4" baltic birch. We got all the pieces cut, dry fit together, and then sprayed with a spar urethane. It's pretty amazing to go from a bunch of sheets of plywood to an assembled teardrop cabin in just a few hours.

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Kerner

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The next step in the build was to get the shell officially put together. Everything had been coated with a urethane, the fit was solid with all the pieces cut and ready to go. Building was incredibly quick. The pieces all fit into the appropriate dado, are bonded with a flexible adhesive, and then secured with screws. The whole process took two people just a few hours to complete. All the interior joints are connected with Kreg screws. When everything is said and done it's an incredibly strong shell. Once the main frame was all assembled a sheet of 1/8" plywood gets put in place with ribs to form the ceiling. I managed to not get a picture of the finished build with the ceiling in place, but it went in smoothly and the ribs hold the top square with the floor.

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Kerner

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Nice craftsmanship. Nothing like the pride when someone asks where you bought it.
The Hyk Outdoors trailers have outstanding workmanship. It really is the quality of their guidance and the kit that helped it come out as well as it has. I am glad to have done so much of the build myself, but it wouldn't have been as nice without their guidance/help.
 

Kerner

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The next stage in the process was to get all of the electrical wired up. There are runs for USB chargers in the front cubby, a reading light, and a porch light on each side of the trailer. Also pulled wire for the fan, a dome light in the cabin, 110v and 12v in the cabin cupboard, and a bank in the galley. I also pulled wiring to mount a flexible solar panel on the hatch. After the wiring was completed we installed wool insulation and put on the plywood for the roof.

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The final step for this stage of the project was to flip the trailer and seal the floor. A coating of Raptor Liner across the floor and Eternabond around the joints seals it all nicely.

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I’ll be curious to see how the hatch is built, and the closure of it.
 

Kerner

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I’ll be curious to see how the hatch is built, and the closure of it.
The hatch is a piece I had Hyk do for me. They’ve got a jig for them that makes it really simple. It seems to be what gives most people trouble, so their help was much appreciated.
 
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Kerner

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Springfield, MO, USA
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Matt
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Kerner
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After we got everything closed in with wood - the full cabin, wiring, insulation, rear hatch area - then coating/taping the floor seams, it was time to cut and install the aluminum skins. The cabin gets completely wrapped in aluminum to protect the wood. Cutting the aluminum on a CNC was super simple and it's a perfect fit for the sides.

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Getting the aluminum tacked in place was straightforward and the trailer was starting to take shape. Here you can see the fully skinned trailer with the blue protective sheets still on the white aluminum.

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Not being satisfied with the colors available in 5x10 sheets of aluminum (basically white or black) we decided that we'd also do a vinyl wrap to be able to pick a color. After a lot of hunting for the right color, we decided to go with the satin light blue (SW900) from Avery Dennison. I'd had the chance to see the satin khaki green at MOORE Expo on a Tacoma from Adventure Motors and was really torn about the color but loved the sheen - not wanting to go glossy. My wife loves light blue and ultimately having the trailer pop was part of the equation. The process of wrapping went really smoothly and the SW900 is great to work with. It's easily repositionable and air bubbles came out easily. When it was all said and done the blue looks great.

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Kerner

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Kerner
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The next step after the vinyl was to wrap up all the wiring, fuse box, battery setup. I'm using a DIY LiFePo4 battery built from cells that made a lengthy journey from China. Haven't stress tested it much, but we should be able to get about 250ah out of the pack. The pack is built using an Overkill Solar BMS and was pretty straightforward using instructions from diysolarforum.com

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Combined with 400 watts of solar we should be able to have power indefinitely given a few days of sun a week. The loads will be fairly minimal - all LED lighting, the maxx fan, an IceCo fridge/freezer, and device charging. With everything running we'll pull about 25 amps, but estimated loads are about 45 amps/day.

The solar setup consists of a flexible panel that will mount to the hatch (this will be the last thing completed on the trailer), a portable panel that runs in parallel with the trailer panel, and a pair of 100W panels in series on a long lead to put in the sun if we're parked in the shade. We went with a dual charge controller setup to have the most flexibility of trailer vs extended panels. Took the time to validate the wiring pairs, terminate, and attach to the fuse block. Main runs from the fuse panel and the solar chargers end up in bus bars that connect to the battery, a monitoring shunt, and the charger. You can see coils for the AC connections in place. We're not going to run an inverter, but have a Bluetti we can use for backup or our minimal AC needs - the 120v in the trailer will only be active with shore power.

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Also took a moment to see what the matching wheels for the truck would look like alongside the trailer and did some guessing on the axle position. In this photo the wheel is at the standard spot for the Hyk 8ft trailer, but we knew it had to move back - just not how much yet.
 

Kerner

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Our next step was to get the trim, hatch, doors, etc all on the trailer. Trim was pretty straight forward. Just a simple decision point before getting it attached - black or silver. This one was easy, we wanted black trim. The only silver on the trailer is the hatch hardware, although I might paint it or wrap it with vinyl in the future. The joints get sealed, trim gets put on, and things are starting to look good.

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In addition to the trim and doors, we got the vent fan put into the trailer and a few of the internal lights wired up.

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One aspect of this design that was important from the beginning was using the same hatch configuration as the 8ft Hyk trailer. This let me take advantage of all the trailers they've built before this, the jig they have to build it, and all the systems in place. The completed hatch is actually a part of their standard kit. I took it a step further and had them mount it for me too. You can see a mostly completed galley in an 8ft teardrop in the picture above. The big difference in our galley and the standard 8ft galley will be the depth under the counter - the added two feet of length let us run a straight back wall from roof to floor and not need to work in a foot box under the galley counter (see the drawings in the second post). When it's all said and done a solid push down and then a gentle tap on each latch corner closes it securely.

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Kerner

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Kerner
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The next step in the process was finally getting the cabin on the frame. Part of this was the experimentation to get the tongue weight right with the axle positioning. This is the standard frame from the Hyk Outdoors 8' off-road teardrop. The axle had to be moved back given the added weight and length of a 10' model. We welded the two foot extension you can see in the picture below, and shifted the placement of the fenders/axle back to get a 200lb tongue weight. The trailer uses 3500lb Timbren axles with brakes. We're using matching wheels/tires for the Tacoma we'll use to tow it. In the background you can see the teardrop with the hatch open on the gantry that is used to lift it and lower onto the frame.

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Lifted up and placed onto the trailer frame it's starting to really look like a teardrop. We verified the tongue weight with one of the guys from the shop sitting in front of the cabin (since we didn't have the tongue box/fridge mounted). It came out right where expected, just a hair over 200lbs. The next step is to finish out the lights in the trailer, some interior lights, and then the slide outs for fridge/stove.

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Kerner

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We're getting close to the end of the build and there are just a few minor finish pieces left. The last major building items are the slides for the stove/fridge and solar wiring. The solar panel and final wiring I was going to wrap up at home, so these are the last pieces in the shop. Got a propane tank mount on the passenger fender, the rear galley slider for the stove, and the starts of the slider for the fridge that goes in the tongue box. Once the tongue box is mounted that slider and the fridge will be mounted up front.

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Kerner

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Kerner
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After picking up the trailer and bringing it home I set to work wrapping up the wiring and getting the solar panel mounted on the hatch. Learned a tricky lesson that VHB tape is very unforgiving and one side is about an inch lower than the other because once the tape hits it's stuck. Overall I'm really happy with how the trailer came out. Fridge is mounted, solar is mounted, and everything seems to be working well. Next post in the thread will be our campground shakedown run.

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