Encouragement and Advice
July 23, 2019 at 4:16 pm #2566
New member here. I did it, bought my kit after hemming and hawing on this for the last 5 years. Ship date is set for August 7th, 2019. Just thought I’d introduce myself as a new builder and ask if there were any pieces of advice you veterans of the CLC Teardrop world have to share with a deer in the headlights newb. Thanks everyone.July 24, 2019 at 3:16 pm #2670
Tom B TexasParticipant
When the package arrives, I would recommend keeping as much of the Packaging to use as “drop cloth” for all you do.
Sit down with your Builders Manual and read it completely. Your first project is to build the Exterior Frame. Be accurate as you will use this to form the rounded shell. Align all your panels well, stitch carefully, initially snug but then when ready, tighten all stitches. The CA glue makes this process super simple. Keep in touch as I took about 12 months of nights and some weekends to complete mine. A solid stash of cold beer and good music source are also very helpful… and patience. Good Luck. Where are you located?July 24, 2019 at 10:36 pm #2679
Welcome to the adventure. Fully agree with comments above. Some others:
- there is a wealth of information in the builder’s forum on this site. It is well worth some time (hours) browsing.
- enlist others to help with larger epoxy jobs. If involving a significant other for epoxy mixing (very useful) suggest buying her an all in one painter’s overall because epoxy WILL get on clothing guaranteed: “Look honey I got you a new outfit!”
- “cleanliness is next to godliness” is very appropriate for this project. Reducing clutter and mess keeps dust down and reduces chance of tripping with pot of epoxy and getting epoxy on tools
- buy 3 or 4 extra boxes of disposable gloves and change them frequently. Reduces chances of epoxy getting where it shouldn’t
- Buy several packs of cheap scissors for cutting cloth. They will get gummed up with epoxy and need to be treated as disposable after a while
- Be scrupulous about keeping cloth free of dust or epoxy until it is used. Even a single drip of epoxy on your roll of cloth will prevent it from lying flat.
- generally with epoxy “less is more” as long as cloth is wetted out you are better off going with more coats rather than thicker coats
- if not experienced with epoxy I suggest doing one seam at a time in stage one.
- avoid having to sand extra epoxy wherever possible, particularly drips:
- better to use less epoxy to avoid runs and clean up
- its easier to mask than to wipe
- its easier to wipe than to sand
- A very bright portable LED lamp will help you find those drips and to wipe them up before they set.
- Anything left in a position where it could possibly fall on your project will do so!
- Any modification will have ramifications over a number of steps. Think it through carefully
- For cutting out hatch and doors I used a Dremel Ultrasaw. A very useful tool with multiple other uses on wood, plastic or metal.
That’s it for now – except this: most mistakes are fixable (and we all make them).July 25, 2019 at 2:25 pm #2680
It is a long process with solo many steps. Just plug along and eat that elephant one bite at a time. You will be rewarded and encouraged at the big milestones .
Don’t fret too much about minor imperfections. As Mike said, most can be fixed. Yeah, you will always notice that hole you drilled through/plywood sand through/fillet bubble or whatever. No one else will and after you enjoy it on a few trips you won’t care about it either.
No need to think of every little thing at once. You will modify and add things in the years to come.
Make your workspace floor somewhat level. If it is off kilter, everything else will be in the end.
That first epoxy and flies job? Just get through it and learn and don’t overwork it. It won’t show in the completed project and trust me, you will be a pro at that in the end where it counts and the process will be second nature.
I measured my epoxy by weight rather than by pumps. The weight ratios are on the epoxy manufacturers web site, and I keep a 3×5 card with several batch size ratios listed. Super quick and only requires a cheap kitchen scale. Much more accurate. Cover that scale with a plastic bag though.July 29, 2019 at 2:56 pm #2683
After buying the kit in January, making only “the bench parts” for six months, and now one week of decent progress (planning to remove the mold on Thursday), here’s all I can add to the other repliers: if in doubt (or discouraged), E-Mail the CLC team. They will answer quickly, precise, and encouraging. Did it a couple of times already and it always helped me to move forward!
Enjoy your project 🙂July 30, 2019 at 12:24 pm #2684
line up those puzzle joints flat, flat, FLAT! if you don’t and try to make it flat by sanding you will sand through the plys and it will look bad in the end. careful on the corners also, don’t over sand- its easy to do.
for me, I found that the epoxy drips did not go away when I fiberglassed over them. If I could go back I would sand a little more on the exterior to get rid of the variation or maybe blend it a little more.
be careful in handling the plywood- any scratches from mishandling will show in the final product.
note that later in the instruction they explain how to smooth your joints with a gloved finger and denatured alcohol. this info is useful from the beginning on every joint
always have a helper, if possible. I built mine in a friends garage while he was building one at the same time. It was so helpful to share in all the labor. I don’t know how people do this project solo!
Buy GALLONS of denatured alcohol.
Have Fun!!July 30, 2019 at 4:29 pm #2686
This is all awesome advice. Thank you for sharing. I imagine that I will be using this forum a lot as I progress. I am located in western Massachusetts. Any other builders out this way?August 4, 2019 at 7:03 pm #2690
I will echo the advice to have helpers when you do the big ‘glassing job–two layers of fiberglas/epoxy on the top of the cabin and one layer of fiberglas/epoxy on the sides. I had my son and his girlfriend, who both had prior experience in glas/epoxy (repairing paddle boards) to help. one of us mixed small batches of epoxy and the other two rolled and tipped the epoxy. which brings to mind a caution on ambient temperature: remember from chemistry class that reaction rate (and the curing of epoxy is a chemical reaction) doubles with every 18 degrees F increase in temperature. hopefully you have an air conditioned garage/workshop. otherwise, wait until fall to do the big epoxy jobs. if you can’t wait, and have a space with windows, invest in a cheap window A/C unit. you’ll end up spending $3000+ on the project so another $200 or so on a window AC will be a good investment. I found that if the temp was over 75 degrees you really don’t have much time to get the epoxy rolled and tipped before it begins to set up.
for applying epoxy, I used Wix brand 1/8″ nap foam rollers. the “bible” talks about “roll and tip”. after you roll on the epoxy you’ll end up with tiny air bubbles. as soon as you roll on the epoxy in a small area, use a foam brush (I mostly used 2″ foam brushes) to smooth out the epoxy. this removed most of the bubbles. this will reduce the amount of sanding that you will need to do to remove the “holidays” (I guess that’s a boatbuilder term for the pits that remain from the epoxy bubbles after they dry out). the same advice applies to your 4-5 coats of varnish at the end of the project.
I found that Home Depot sells 7″ Wix 1/8″ foam rollers at a very good price. they don’t carry them in most stores but you can order them for free delivery to your closest store. it’s been a couple of years since my build but IIRC I used at least 2 dozen rollers.
good luck!August 13, 2019 at 9:03 pm #2699
Also a new member here. Currently trying to find a rental garage, I’m planning to place an order later this month. The advises are all so helpful, thank you!
One question I have is – how many hours would it take for two guys to make this? The website says average 250 hours, but CLC class is only two weeks long (8 hours/day x 14 days = 112 hours?), so I’m a bit confused. The class of course would be a lot more efficient, but would it cut the labor hours in half? I would love to hear your experience.August 15, 2019 at 1:36 am #2700
I watched the class time lapse dozens of times. Of course working in a group helps a lot, as quite a lot of jobs can be done simultaneously by various people. What they don’t do in class is finish the whole thing (paint or varnish, plus sanding in between), which does account for a large chunk of the 250h (I’m not there yet, but would estimate it might be somewhere between 50-80h). Coming back to your question: doing super-fast assembly like in the class, and splitting most of the paint jobs between you two, perhaps you can bring it down to 160-200h? Just an educated guess, though. Just don’t rush too much 😉August 15, 2019 at 8:29 am #2701
Tom B TexasParticipant
My Advice.. take your time, enjoy the building process as this very cool Teardrop comes together. It is not a race to finish, or shouldn’t be a race. This is a process that takes time and consideration and a ton of sanding. Do not skip any steps, do not rush your epoxy or Varnish. I did not track my time but I am sure building almost completely solo was about 200 hours. I even flipped the teardrop a few times by myself…
Set up your workspace with some music, chairs, beer fridge… you get the picture.
The result will be amazing and if you drive to finish quickly you will miss the beauty of the process.
Cheers and Good Luck!August 16, 2019 at 7:51 am #2702
The classes are pitched to having something you can tow home at the end of the 2 weeks. CLC does a bunch of prep work for you, the instructor keeps you focused and spots (and fixes) problems before they get out of hand. There’s plenty of workspace, complete with all the tools and supplies you could need. The classes also require that you have a partner. Finally, you are isolated in the shop for 2 weeks with no distractions (jobs, lawns, in-laws, etc.). All this means that the classes are pretty much the ideal situation and very different than most solo home builds. Don’t expect the home build time to be anywhere near as efficient as the class build time. It will take longer, and that’s OK.
The thing with a fast assembly, though, is that it tends to increase the finish time, especially for people doing their first builds. Usually, a slower assembly results in a faster finish. Taking the time to avoid drips, make sure that the alignments are correct, etc. means less clean-up with a sander at the end.
All this to say – don’t worry about the time. It will take as long as it takes. The most important thing is to do something, anything, every day. If you can’t be cutting wood, stitching/tabbing, gluing or wetting out glass, be planning the electrical system, working out the interior layout, researching insurance quotes, etc. Tools always need sharpening and cleaning (especially those scissors – mine are still going strong after 10 years), expendables (gloves, sandpaper, etc.) always need inventory and restocking. Clean the shop when you don’t have time or energy to glue more parts on or if you’re too tired to cut a straight line. If everything else is done, sit in the shop and websurf to find campgrounds to visit.
By being in the shop every day and doing something, no matter how small, to advance the project, you will maintain the momentum and get it built faster. The builds that take a long time (or never get finished) are the ones that get ignored. They turn into expensive guilt-trips that people end up trying to avoid, which makes things even worse.
Slow but steady wins the race.August 16, 2019 at 7:21 pm #2703
I kept pretty good track of my time and I came up with 250 hours. as I mentioned in an earlier post, I had a couple of helpers in the big glassing steps but I didn’t count the helpers’ hours in the 250. even if you have a helper, I would think you’ll be close to 250 hours of your time not counting the helper’s time.August 21, 2019 at 9:39 am #2712
Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experience. They are super helpful!August 28, 2019 at 4:18 pm #2730
I am also in MA. And an amateur who bumbled along with this forum, calls to CLC, and loads of patience & help – and now have a camper that is everything I wanted.
I have a bunch of leftovers and things I’d be happy to share if you are interested…
Sorry I did not see this before I was camping near Tanglewood last week!
Good Luck, Dana
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