help for novice woodworkers/metalworkers
Before I bought my airstream I was close to building a teardrop trailer instead. I bought plans for one called the Kuffel Creek Cubby, for $60 on CDROM. You can find them online. A teardrop is basically a small trailer, just big enough for a bed inside, and the back end opens up to reveal a small kitchen with running water, a built in cooler with a drain, and a propane two burner stove.
The plans were very well laid out and have lots of illustrations and tips for working with wood to build the frame and cabinets, including tips on finishing, laying down flooring, even hand cutting dovetails to build the drawers. There's tips for working with aluminum as well, since the outside of the teardrop was to be aluminum sheet, and all the edges and trim pieces are annealed aluminum worked to fit around the curves. It also covers building a basic water system, battery system, and electric for lights and fans. There's also listings of parts suppliers, like who to buy custom water tanks from.
Basically, it's one of the most useful books I've bought in a long time, and I don't even plan on building the teardrop anymore. I was just referring to it last night while I was considering how to fix a cabinet in the trailer. So I just thought I'd recommend it to anyone else like me who's a real novice at working with wood and aluminum and trailer stuff in general (like wiring). Although the systems are much simpler than our Airstreams, it's full of great shop tips and ideas, and I've wasted more than $60 on books that were a lot less helpfull.