New axle, body assembly DONE!

This was the weekend where I found out how much extra work my design changes and inexperience in carpentry cost me.

Pretty early on I knew the trailer’s original tires weren’t going to cut it – 55 mph speed limit and long drives are NOT compatible, at least for me. I carried on building the trailer frame, and then adding the floor (2 layers of 3/4″ plywood, plus a 1″x 2″ frame sandwiched between the sheets). Then I talked to Frank Bear at Vintage Technologies and found out that I probably should replace the original Northern Tool axle completely. So I ordered a Timbren Axle-Less kit from

Cutting the 2″x 2″ steel tube was easy on the cold saw at The Village Workshop.

Assembly was pretty easy – 4 holes, 4 bolts.

Putting the axle in was a lot of work, since it wasn’t really practical to turn the (probably 300 lbs?) trailer over. So we wrestled it into place in a variety of ways until I thought to put the floor jack under it. After that it wasn’t too bad to drill the required holes in the rails and bolt the axle in place. These tires should be good for 65-70 mph.


I used Fusion and a trailer tongue weight calculator at Engineer’s Edge to place the axle – it’s a little farther back than the original, should put 10%-15% of the weight on the tongue. I’ll verify that once I can tow the teardrop to a scale…

Body assembly lessons learned

Always use the table as the reference on the ShopBot, and make sure your wood is flat. The rabbet groove in the top of the work surface wasn’t the same depth across the surface and it cause a lot of issues.

The fit allowance I used for the rabbets was way too tight (0.020″). I ended up opening the rabbets up quite a bit, either with a sanding block or by carefully trimming the rabbet with a circular saw. I think there were several reasons I needed to do this – the thickness of the pieces going into the rabbets varied, tolerance stack up, slightly warped sheets – nothing that didn’t come out once everything was glued/screwed together, but enough to make life difficult

I’m not sure if I put things together in the right order – I put the work surface, lower aft cabinet back (foot of the bed in the cabin), the aft lower cabinet splitter and the aft mid cabinet face into the driver side wall, then glued this sub assembly to the floor. Then I started fitting the rest of the cabinetry together, testing it with the passenger wall. It took a lot of work on the passenger wall rabbets to get everything to fit, and gluing it all together was a giant 3D jigsaw puzzle. We finally got the sides up and glued/screwed together but it seemed like it was a lot harder than it needed to be.

 driver side wall and some of the cabinets

 fine tuning the rabbet fit on the passenger wall

 once we got it all lined up on the passenger wall, I made up a couple of jacks to keep everything lined up while we put epoxy on the passenger wall.

After a lot of wresting with getting all the parts in their respective rabbets at the same time, we got everything glued/screwed into place. Looks pretty good!


From cardboard mockup, to CAD, to driveway…


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