The Denizen was born from a conversation we had with Kim’s mom, who told us to check out an issue of Sunset Magazine, with an adorable teardrop trailer. We were talking about making something to take with us to Burning Man 2013 and had about 9 months to make it. We figured we’d even be able to get some camping in throughout the summer for various test runs. Sounded easy enough and kinda dreamy, right? Ha.
We spent the next couple months looking at a lot of other teardrops, narrowing down construction methods, design, materials, etc until we finally settled on a modified Cub. Our requirements included:
- Must have a queen size bed
- Must be 10′ long to accommodate a clean design
- Must not have visible fasteners
- Must be wood: maple, mahogany and birch
- Must have a full kitchen, complete with running water, a two burner stove, and cooler
- Must have lights
- Must be able to charge iThingies
- Must have a stargazer window
- And last but not least, must be able to be towed by our 2005 Mini Cooper S
We started construction on our one of a kind, completely custom designed teardrop trailer in March, knowing that we had about six months to get everything done before we made our giant trek to the playa. Throughout the entire process, we documented it with a GoPro as well as my iPhone … at least in the beginning until video editing started cutting into construction. You can watch pretty much the entire build here on our YouTube Channel. Note that everything is 120x faster than reality, so each second of video is really two minutes of labor.
It took about a month and a half for us to realize we needed to pick up the pace if we wanted to be done by the 4th of July.
… and then The 4th came and went …
Fast forward to the night before we set out to Burning Man, Kim and I are still putting on trim along the hatch. It’s now been 4.5 months of HARD labor, many weekends putting in 20-30 hours in just two days, every morning before work was an hour of sanding or staining and every night was something else.
But we were done, and you know what? She towed like a dream.
We get 23MPG towing on the highway and boy do heads turn. One of our favorite moments is when a car lingers just off to our tail, about to pass, but taking their time. They pull up slowly alongside and smile give us thumbs up and maybe snap a photo. Many times, it’s an elderly couple, the gentleman at the wheel. Eyes full of joy, they clear the road for us and we keep on.
So far we’ve been to Black Rock, Crater Lake (going up over 7,000′ was a piece of cake!), the Umpqua River Valley, Vashon Island and expect to get up into the mountains a bit this year.
Feel free to pa rouse the videos, photos and reach out. At some point, if people start demanding them :-), I may put together plans for sale. For the time being though, if you’re building your own teardrop trailer, I can’t wait to hear about what type you decided to go with as well as how it’s progressing. Stay with it, don’t give up, keep building. You’ll love it when you get it out on the road!
— Bill & Kim
2 thoughts on “About the Denizen”
Looks great. I love the profile. My 11 year old son and I just ordered our trailer – now the hard part – choosing our profile. Did you use a plan kit? Do you have the car or sketch up for your profile? How are the doors working out? Very interested in gaining any knowledge you can spare – especially the profile details. Great work.
We designed it based on a classic cub, but blew it up to 5′ wide x 10′ long. I mocked the whole thing up in Lightwave before building it, which we used as our plans, but we didn’t bring the Mini Cooper into the modeling app. She sat outside while we built the trailer where she normally rests at night.
All of the electrical, water, etc, we figured out as we went. We were blown away by how many good resources there are online. Happy to point you to some as well.
The doors are great. We used a jigsaw to cut them out of a single 4×10 sheet of 3/4″ maple veneer plywood, then spent a lot of time slowly belt sanding them so that they’d grain match when the seals were installed around them.
We haven’t had as much time as we originally hoped to take it out, but it tows like a dream and it’s incredibly comfortable. If there’s one thing I’d recommend is to go hard and finish it in one fell swoop. We got 95% of it done in 3.5 months and then finished off the last 5% this past summer before a local car show. Getting that momentum up again is tricky. Hit me up with any other questions you have, I look forward to seeing what you and your son build!!