TD kit in the shop, here we go!

 Picked up the TD kit today and hauled it home.  I live an hour drive south of CLC.  This is going to be fun!  Hope to do 40 hours a week on the kit and finish in 2 months.  We'll see! :)

This question is WAY putting the cart before the horse, but there was a comment *somewhere* that the final finish cost on the "demo TD" was not simply varnish but some sort of acrylic coat shot in an auto body paint booth.  Hmmm, have a buddy that works at a body shop...  what product exactly did ya'll choose to use for the final topcoat // clear coat?  How does to compare to rolled / brushed varnish finish?




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RE: TD kit in the shop, here we go!

Does "TD" mean Tenderly Dinghy?  That is one sweet little boat.  I'd be seriously tempted if I wasn't already knee-deep in a Passagemaker.  I would love to see a build blog on this design.  I find it just as rewarding for the builder/blogger as the readers.  I'm going to look for study plans anyway...

RE: TD kit in the shop, here we go!

No, sorry, it's the Teardrop camper.

Finally got everything unpacked, that's a LOT of cardboard and packing tape!  Built the mold today, worked on rigging the heating system in the shop to keep it at "epoxy temperature".  Bought a little $15 temp data logger gadget, records the temp every minute (or whatever interval one sets).  

First tried a 1500 watt electric heater, just not enough BTU's.  Switched to a kerosene  "torpedo" heater, now that does the trick!  I can easily achieve 80F.  Rigged a thermostat to turn it on / off as needed using a cheap baseboard heater thermostat.  The real test will be in a few days when the temp is forecast to drop into the mid 20's every night.  I'm a little concerned about contamination from the kerosene heater that might give me fisheyes in the epoxy.  

Tomorrow I'll be joining up the puzzle joints for the main panels, and running a truckload of cardboard off to the dump!

RE: TD kit in the shop, here we go!

   I kept the cardboard and used it to protect my floor from epoxy drips and to protect the TD whenever i needed to rest part of it on a sawhorse or floor.

RE: TD kit in the shop, here we go!

   I thought about that and it was just SO much cardboard, which I don't have room to store, that I decided to ditch it. 

Joined the puzzle joints today and glassed them.  Glassing was easier that I thought it would be.  I guess I'll see how it turns out tomorrow though.  I have some *very* slight misalignment in the puzzle joints, did the best I could.  It's maybe 1/64th proud in a few spots.  I think between a bit of careful sanding and the fiberglass overlay it won't even be noticeable.  

Shop temps are looking good, 65F to 75F.  Built a separate epoxy storage box to keep the gallon bottles nice and warm so I won't have to heat the whole shop on non-work (or epoxy cure) days.  The box is heated with a 40 watt lightbulb controlled by a thermostat.  I'll allow 1-2 hours for the shop and the workpieces to come up to temp after a cold soak.  Monitoring temps with the temp data logger and a digital USB powered thermometer.  The thermomitor was only $8 on Amazon, running it off of a "power bank" battery.

Ordered a propane heater unit today to get away from the kerosene torpedo heater for the "big glassing" stage.  Worried about kerosene contamination causing fisheyes.  Wasn't an issue today at all though.


RE: TD kit in the shop, here we go!


   Test picture post.  Hauling the kit home pic.....

RE: TD kit in the shop, here we go!

Ah, cool!  I love the Teardrop Camper.  My wife was also enamored with it when we got a chance to see it this year in Port Townsend.  If I had a garage and a yard, she'd probably be wanting me to build one.

RE: TD kit in the shop, here we go!

   A good day of progress.  Sanded the puzzle-jointed panels and got the first panels into the mold, the center and left #2 panel anyway.  Wow, there are a LOT of copper wire stitches!  

The precision of the parts is amazing, everything is lining up perfectly, or as well as my first-time-builder skills allows.  The panel edges are aligned perfectly, the ends of the center and the #2 panel are off by about 1/8th inch, which I don't think is going to be an issue.  It may improve as I tighten up the stitches and get all the panels installed into the mold, too.  It is interesting to note how the mold is "firming up" as the panels go in, it was pretty wobbly even with the 1" screws in the vertices.  Loving how the design allows one to tip the mold up on end and on the side to make things easier to get to!  

Tomorrow the rest of the panels go in and hopefully the first big seams get glass and epoxy! 

RE: TD kit in the shop, here we go!


   panels in the mold


RE: TD kit in the shop, here we go!

The photos aren't available on your posts. Would like to see more on your progress as I am thinking of building the same trailer. 

RE: TD kit in the shop, here we go!

   I tried a couple of times to post photos without any luck.  You can see photos on my Facebook page though,


It snowed like crazy today and the temp is going to get really cold tonight,  like 15F.  I have stitched in the next panels, right side #3 and #4, and CA tack glued them.  About to fillet & glass those in, that's tomorrow's project.  Then flip it over and do the same for the left side #3 and #4 panels.

Doing all this in a single car garage BTW...

RE: TD kit in the shop, here we go!


Pics on my Facebook pagevvv   Work continues.  Finished the basic outer shell yesterday and installed the big "bulkhead frame" and the hatch stiffener today.  Man, that is a LONG reach to install those stitches in that sucker, even with the mold tipped up on the rear.  I looked ahead and realized that the main bulkhead frame is going to be an "interior cabin" part so I took a router round over bit (3/16) and sanded smooth the part that will see, let's call it, human friction.  

I did run into an issue yesterday doing the big seam between panel #2 and #3.  I got it all stitched up, and CA'ed in place, all tweeted poked and prodded into alignment, it was awesome.  Then clipped the seam stitches getting really to glass it.  Glassing went fairly well, although there are a few wrinkles -- these will be hidden by the headliner though; I have no structural concern. Anyway, while putting on the fiberglass tape and applying epoxy there was an awful "pop" -- the CA let loose, right at the puzzle joint! Ouch!  I installed a few "emergency stitches" which will be entombed in epoxy to pull the panel pretty close to where it should be.  I was definitely stressed though as I was in that tick tick tick epoxy kick timeline with a 1/8" gap staring me in the face.  Suggest a note in the hymnal that should that happen one should put in the "emergency stitches" if needed.  Looking at it today it is going to be just fine, but without the "wet stitch" it would've been ugly. Ended up with a total of three wet stitches, sigh.  They will sand and fade into the build legacy.......

The big project for the next couple of days is prepping and installing the galley flat.  Again there are cabin interior parts involved so relieving and sanding parts is needed here. Then on to to BIG DAY when the floor goes on!

Pics on my Facebook page....


RE: TD kit in the shop, here we go!

   There is a saying the homebuilt aircraft world that seems to apply to most homebuilt endeavours. "When you are half done, you still have 90% left to do".

RE: TD kit in the shop, here we go!

   Finished bonding the floorboard halves together and applied two coats of epoxy and sanded.  Installed floorboard onto the shell, that took some minor trimming to fit but turned out nice in the end.  Secured in place with drywall screws and did the "Big Flip" -- first time the TD is right side up!  The flip wasn't too bad, though in my tight shop space there was some lifting involved since there isn't room to just flip it, it had to flip sort of in place.

 I taped down a Tyvek disposable painter's tarp inside onto the floorboard, figuring I'll be doing quite a bit of epoxy and sanding work inside, this will catch the inevitable epoxy drips and thus less cleanup sanding later on, and generally keep the main area of the floorboard cleaner.  

Climbing inside the upright shell is sort of a "low crawl".  It sure will get a lot easier once the door openings are cut -- but the exterior fiberglass cloth has to go on before that.  Currently it's a tight fit getting inside!

Getting set up to do the big fillet and glass tape task that will affix the floorboard permanently to the shell.  Then the Big Reveal tomorrow or the next day when the mold finally comes off!

RE: TD kit in the shop, here we go!

   I did the big fillet and epoxy & glass job last night, attaching the shell to the floorboard.  It took three 12oz epoxy & wood flour mixes to do the fillet and then one 12oz mix to do the fiberglass.  I bit nervous working with that big of a epoxy mix.  I tried to thin it all through and stock the inside of the cabin with everything I would need ahead of time, so as to avoid climbing in and out.  The Tyvek drop cloth taped down to the floorboard worked great.  Used LOTS of the heavy duty shop paper towels (rags in a box), recommended!  I might suggest a little beef-up of doing that shell attach step in the Hymnal, speaking to needing to get all prepped before starting the shell attach fillet & glass work, as there is NOT a lot of extra time in terms of epoxy pot life when you are working this step.  Climbing in and out would take up more time than you have for the epoxy working time, especially above 70F.  I intentionally cooled down by shop and epoxy to 60F just to gain additional working time, which worked out well, and is one advantage to having a thermostatically controlled and temperature monitored epoxy storage box.

It sure was a LOT easier working with 32-48 inch long pieces of that fiberglass tape when glassing the interior, per The Hymnal.  Should I do another TD, I am going to do that for the main shell panel joints, I am sure they will come out much prettier that way (mine are kinda ugly -- functional but not-so-nice.  Will be hidden under the headliner anyway mostly, thankfully!)

It's been about 12 hours so the epoxy should be pretty set up at this point, in the 75F degree shop temp.  Time to snip off the shell stitches and pull the mold off before I have to head into work!  Thence commencex "Mr. Sand Man"

RE: TD kit in the shop, here we go!


RE: TD kit in the shop, here we go!

   Sanding, done.  Well not really.  Let's say outside shell WOOD sanding done.  Did the first fiberglass cloth layup this afternoon, wow, that took a LOT longer than I thought.  Overall it came out pretty good, but I will have a LOT of sanding to do before the next fiberglass goes on.  The first center section layup is a two layer one and that makes getting it to wet out somewhat more difficult.  Took much much more epoxy than I expected, and I plan on ditching the expos pumps for the next big layup and just pour the epoxy out into appropriate cups and mix a much larger batch.  I used 18oz Solo cups and it took six batches, and pumping 30 pumps out was a pain in the butt, times six.  

Ended up with a few wrinkles, hard as I tried.  Really about 4 or 5 total, mainly pretty small, we'll see how it looks in the morning.  Used the squeegee a lot and that helps quite a bit.  Nothing that some quality time with the sander won't fix, especially since the area the wrinkles happened get another layer of glass anyway.  

Still, overall, much more time consuming that I planned for, I was HARD at work for over 4 hours putting the cloth on and mixing and spreading and rollling epoxy.  

Tomorrow is sanding day, feathering out the top center glass and prep to put the first side glass on... going to do that one side at a time!  

RE: TD kit in the shop, here we go!

   Here is a pic of the first big glass job.

RE: TD kit in the shop, here we go!

   Another from the rear.

RE: TD kit in the shop, here we go!

   This is one of the wrinkles, pretty much the worst one.  I guess I should just sand it down smooth?  Another layer of glass goes on top of it....

RE: TD kit in the shop, here we go!


Moving teardrop build commentary over to the TD builders forum...


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