Neal Oury is building a one-of-a-kind camper

By Chuck Gibson

LOVELAND, OH (June 11, 2021) – Inspired by his father, Neal Oury is using his passion and woodworking skills to build a one-of-a-kind “teardrop” camper.   

A neatly stacked pile of reclaimed fence scraps from Eads Fence sits in the shop of Neal Oury where he is hand-crafting an all wood teardrop camper (Chuck Gibson)

If it’s not enough the inspiration comes from Neal’s father, or that the camper is being hand-crafted from all wood, then how about the fact most of the wood being used to construct the unique camper is reclaimed. Yes, reclaimed from scraps of wood saved up by the guys at Eads Fence. Rather than throw away old fence scraps, they simply set it aside for Neal. That’s not the only source. Some pieces, like the back galley opening, come from demolition projects around the area. In the case of the rear galley, it once was a door in an Indian Hill home. Oury put the word out he was looking for old scrap wood and other materials for reclaiming. The call was answered.

“There was a guy who went out of business,” said Oury. “A friend of mine got all the old teak and threw it in a dumpster. It sat there for a year. He said come and get it. I’ve made all kinds of things with teak.”

Back galley crafted from a door reclaimed from demolition of an Indian Hill home includes teak wood frame (Chuck Gibson)

Right now that teak wood, rescued from a dumpster, is an elegant frame for the reclaimed galley door.

“I’m repurposing as much as possible,” Oury said. “The cedar all came from Eads Fence Company from cutoffs and scraps. It would have gone in the dumpster if they didn’t keep it for me.”

His neighbor gave him some old wood siding. Oury put it to use with a couple pieces placed strategically in the teardrop camper structure. Unique, one-of-a-kind somehow falls short in describing this hand-crafted camper. It is a story, it tells a story with each reclaimed piece carefully measured, cut, sanded and secured in place as part of the assembly.

Repurposed as much as possible, but not everything was saved from the scrapyard. Some pieces had to be purchased new. The curved and grooved pine that creates the rounded front form of the camper came from a local lumber and hardware store.

“You can get that anywhere,” Oury explained. “It’s quarter inch thick pine and it bends real easy.”

Store bought 1/4 inch thick pine bends easily to form the curve-shape teardrop camper form (Chuck Gibson)

There is a skylight Oury made by hand and framed with mahogany wood. The mahogany was scrap from another job a friend gave to him. There weren’t enough pieces, so he had to piece the frame together. He cut the glass (actually Lexan polycarbonate) for the skylight window himself. He used two pieces for more insulation. The exterior will get stained. The inside will get some kind of a wood treatment. There won’t be any additional insulation or other wall materials.

“I’m going to have two layers of wood,” he said. “We’re not going to be camping in the wintertime. I’m not putting air conditioning in. I’m not putting heat in. I’ll have AC/DC plus solar power. Everything will be 12-volt and the batteries will either charge by the solar power or they’ll charge when I plug it in.”

Hand-crafted skylight framed in reclaimed mahogany wood and Lexan polycarbonate for the glass – also visible is the vent opening from inside the camper (Chuck Gibson)

You have to see it. There is so much more than what you might find in the typical teardrop camper you would purchase. What inspired Neal Oury to craft this unique camper?

My father, who passed away back in September,” Oury said. “Not so much that he inspired me to build this, but he gave me the tools; the brain tools to do stuff like this. The Lord, Jesus Christ gave me the pieces of how to put it together.”

Oury says he had no exact plan, but things like that back galley just came together. He attributes how things have come together on this project to a higher power. Still, he credits his dad for giving him the knowledge and belief to do anything.

Neal Oury has a wall displaying tools his great-grandfather and grandfather passed along to him (Chuck Gibson)

“He wasn’t a woodworker so much, but he could do anything,” said Oury. “He could fix anything. Dad was a big inspiration for me.”  

Oury remembers helping his dad frame out their basement when they moved to Betty Ray Drive when he was a young kid. Memories of times they worked on cars together. Donald Oury was 90 years old when he passed away. It is very evident in the memories Neal Oury shared, the two of them had a lot of special moments. Those moments included some family and friends camping trips when he was just a boy.

It might have been my first camping trip. I don’t remember,” Oury recalled. “My dad had an old army canvas tent that had 90 poles that had to go together. You know . . . right? It poured rain like crazy, soaked through everything we had, but we stayed.”

A peeek inside the teardrop camper Oury expects will keep him and his wife Lynn dry on their future camping trips (Chuck Gibson)

The next day was nice and everything dried out. Another time they went to Canada with the Leffert’s. After they were all set up, a group of about 75-100 “Hell’s Angels” motorcycle gang set up camp right alongside of them. It was around 1971 and Oury was only 13 or 14 years old.

“I’ll never forget that,” said Oury. “I saw stuff kids my age shouldn’t have seen.”

For sure a couple of crazy camping memories, but they helped form his love for camping. Now, he has combined that love for camping with his passion for woodworking to create an unforgettable camper. He started crafting this special teardrop camper back in mid-March. There is still a lot of work to be done, but Oury hopes he and Lynn will be able to camp in it this fall.

Neal Oury’s unique hand-crafted wood teardop camper in progress June 3, 2021 (Chuck Gibson)

Skilled woodworker, camping enthusiast and City of Loveland Councilman Neal Oury with a loving touch hand-crafting a unique recalimed wood teardrop camper (Chuck Gibson)

SOME FAST FACTS about Neal Oury’s  “Teardrop” Camper

  • Hand-crafted from mostly reclaimed wood pieces
  • Expects to have $10,000 total investment
  • Would likely cost $30,000 to purchase one similar
  • A manufactured teardrop camper can cost as little as $6,000
  • The metal base was custom made locally.
  • Coming Fall 2021!