Camping Gadgets for Summer in the Sun

TOW stands for Teardroppers of Oregon and Washington. At the Gathering near Tillamook, Oregon, along the Trask River, we talked to some TOW folks about their favorite camping gadgets. Stephanie from Vancouver cleaned up a vintage Coleman ice box.


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Tillamook Cheese & Power Chords

The 57th Tillamook County June Dairy Parade and Festival celebrates the County’s dairy industry and heritage and is, we’re told, the third-largest parade in the state. The 2013 theme was “Clowning Around.” The band you hear is the Power Pep Band from Portland, Oregon. Their motto is: “Power Chords without the Power Cords.”
And, yes, there were Teardrop Trailers there, too. They ventured down from the Trask River Gathering for the parade.
Check out for TOW info.

Oregon Coast, Meet Teardrop. Teardrop, Meet Coast

English: Trask River at Tillamook, Oregon, in ...

English: Trask River at Tillamook, Oregon, in the United States. The view is upstream, southeast, from the Oregon Route 131 bridge. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you like sunny weather, it looks like Saturday will be the best day of our Northwest weekend. That’s a bonus if you’re headed to Tillamook on the Oregon coast for a Teardrop Trailer Gathering.

To get ready for the trip, squidknot visited TearDrops NW in Salem at your suggestion. Sales Manager Jon Homquist took us on a tour that started in the parking lot with his personal trailer. His goal was to build as small and light and possible. Mission accomplished. The trailer weighs in at 560 pounds.

Look for the guy in the squidknot hoodie Saturday in Tillamook. That’d be me. Would love to see your trailer and maybe get a few Dutch Oven cooking tips, too.

Do you have a great Dutch Oven recipe to share? Leave it in the “comment” box below.

And thanks to Jen Workman who sent us photos of their home-build that just got done.

That should wrap up our festival of Teardrops, unless you talk me into buying one this weekend. As you know, once you’ve got the bug…

Check out our Events page for links to more info about the Trask River Teardrop Trailer Gathering.

Richard & The Modernistics Aren’t A Band

Teardrop trailer

We asked for your stories about Camping on the Coast, wanting to know if anybody had experience traveling in, or building, teardrop trailers.

You told us about the Trask River Teardrop Trailer Gathering near Tillamook, Oregon.

As the stories rolled in, we headed to Salem to tour a Teardrop manufacturer. That video will be posted soon along with other messages from readers.

Richard Baize sent us his story, an example of how the tiny trailer introduced him to a tribe of outdoor enthusiasts where new friendships began. Thanks Richard for this fun and inspiring tale. Any failures in storytelling are mine, not his, the result of late-night editing.

See you in Tillamook!

R Baize Teardrops

Richard supplied the photo taken near Mount Shasta.
Check the size of the Teardrops as compared to the big-rig parked behind them.

Back in the fall of 2008, my wife Cindy and I made the decision to look for a teardrop trailer.
We’d raised two girls, which meant that we’d participated in the group campout, family weekends, and team travel that parenthood entails.
Although they were great fun, the prep work involved a ton of time and effort.

The girls are out of the house now, but we still wanted to go outdoors and recharge in what my wife called the “Big Trees.” The answer came in a small, adorable package out of the days of the Greatest Generation, the teardrop trailer.

Retro tear strong horizontal copyI was drifting though the listings on Craiglist in March of 2009 and read “For Sale, partially completed Teardrop Trailer, $300.” I nearly wrenched my arm out of the socket reaching for the phone. Patrick, the fellow on the other end of the line, filled me in. He’d gotten plans off the internet from a company called Kuffel Creek. They’d been easy to follow. He’d made simple modifications and had attached the sides after they were trimmed to the traditional teardrop shape.

About that time, his wife walked into his shop on their vineyard near Phoenix, Oregon and announced they were having twins. “Right then,” Patrick told me, “I decided that a tiny trailer made no sense.”

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I drove home with the trailer and commenced to work. The plans were extremely well-written and included a list of materials and providers. Through this list, I met Grant Whipp, who had been building and providing parts and advice for builders of Teardrops for over a quarter of a century. Like every single person who has come into my life through this delightful hobby, Grant and his partner Kay have become true friends.

Retro tear 4 square with pop effec tBy June our tiny trailer, called “Cubby” by its designers, was ready for its first camping trip. When night fell near the shores of Howard Prairie Lake, we dropped the rear galley hatch, slid inside the cozy interior, and closed the doors for the night. Since the teardrop is carefully sealed and well-insulated, the night chill stayed outside and the noises of nearby campers faded into peaceful slumber–free from critters, rocks, and rain.

The first Gathering for our little Cubbie was at Applegate Lake. However, there was a problem lurking in the glow of the campfires.  Since I’d completed Cubby, I’d been without a project. Seeing all the great trailers at the Gathering made me think the Cubby was a great little trailer, with the key word being “little.” I wanted more, I needed…more.

Teardrops BookEnter the Modernistic. Along the way I’d found a lovely little book by Douglas Keister, “Teardrops and Tiny Travel Trailers.” It had photos of all kinds of trailers: teardrops, “canned hams,” and the Modernistic. With a profile similar to the cross-section of an aircraft wing, the Modernistic had the shape I dreamed about–the one I wanted to build next.

I started getting information from Grant and others on the forum during the fall of 2011. Grant had the ability to trace the profiles of several types of traditional trailers and the Mod was one of them. I ordered a tracing from him and when it arrived, I unrolled it onto our really long dining room table. It was round and swoopy just like I though it would be.

–Richard Baize as told to

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NW Teardrop Fans Dream Big, But Camp Small

Primitive Teardrops this one from mag copy

This weekend, the Trask River Teardrop Camping Gathering happens on the middle Oregon coast in Tillamook.

Find out more about the weekend gathering on our Events page. Our plan is to visit the gathering this weekend to take in some of that Teardrop culture and cooking.

First in this week’s series is a visit with Jim Bailey. More to come as we count down to Saturday.

After our first blog about Camping the Coast, we wanted to learn about building teardrops. We heard from professionals, from those who started as hobbyists and have made a business out of it, and others who gave it a shot just for fun.

Retro vintage plans Measure OnceAfter all, that’s how the teardrops first became popular. When they were first built during the Great Depression, cash was tight and the little trailers allowed escape to the outdoors with a modest investment.

After World War II, returning vets used war-surplus material to build them. They were eager to put the scrap and their newfound skills to the test. Magazines like “Popular Mechanics” and “Mechanix Illustrated” ran “how-to” articles.

Today, the traveling-light ethos still makes sense given gas and travel costs.

Jim Bailey from Carson, Washington supplied the photos in the slideshow that follows. Jim says, “What you’re seeing is a reproduction of a 1950 Kampmaster, or as some called them the ‘Wild Goose’ because of the wing-span look.” With no blueprints to work from, he referenced old photos.

“We …take our annual trip to the coast and enjoy staying at Newport, Seaside and Lincoln City.”

The cabinets are solid oak which he says make for a better-looking and more solid cabinet. There’s a futon/couch theme up front with castors to take advantage of the roundness of the front of the cabin when you want to roll the bed into a couch. Builders need to be creative when space-planning these mini modules.

“I stayed with an icebox instead of going to a refrigerator to save money. I find for short trips, the icebox works great. Especially if there is no power to run the fridge.”

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He calls the trailer “a little bit old and a little bit new.”  Instead of the old water can to supply the fresh water, he installed a holding tank with electric pump and is getting ready to put in a two-burner cook top propane stove instead of the usual countertop camp stoves they used to use.

You can visit his website to see much more.

Hang on because the stories and photos will keep coming this week. Stay tuned for our road trip to Salem and a video tour a Teardrop factory.

Photos courtesy of James Bailey, Gorgeous Teardrops, 122 Shipherd Falls Road, Carson, WA , (541) 400-0393