Tim Kasten wrote to me recently about his Meditation Retreat Gypsy Wagon, so I asked him to send me some pictures and tell us his story. I’ll let Tim take over from here:
I dreamed for a number of years of building a gypsy-style caravan on a 4-wheel 14-foot-long wagon chassis that I bought from Shiloh Wagon Works in Minnesota. Health problems eventually forced me to concede that I wasn’t strong enough to build it alone and that I would have to scale back the design considerably if I wanted to be able to tow it with a small car and maneuver it by myself.
The result was this little wagon built on a 4×8 utility trailer from Tractor Supply. I don’t know its exact weight, but I’m pretty sure it’s under 600 pounds. I tow it easily with a Toyota Matrix.
I realized I could compensate for the lack of interior space by using French doors to open the side of the wagon to the outdoors. I have a folding foam mattress which serves as a couch and for sleeping. Shelves at the back of the wagon accommodate a camping stove and storage nets. A plastic bucket is the bathroom when the woods or a fast food establishment is not available.
The wagon was built by Creative Carpentry and Construction of Montpelier, Vermont consisting of my friend and neighbor Myron Dorfman and fellow crew members David Vissering, Zach, and Derek. I want to give particular credit to David Vissering who appreciated the balance of strength, lightness, and beauty I hoped to achieve in the design and added his own beautiful touches along the way.
The construction took 140 hours, not including painting and other finish work. The walls consist of 1″x1.5″ pine studs one foot on center sheathed in 3/8″ plywood. (It became apparent later that 1/4″ plywood would have been sufficient for strength.) We used lots of Gorilla glue and stainless steel screws. The outside is sided with pine bead board. The floor, roof, and walls are insulated with 1″ pink board.
The bottom of the wagon is 3/4″ pressure treated plywood and the floor is tongue and groove Douglas fir. The roof is 1/4″ plywood bent over 1″x2″ purlins topped by a waterproof membrane and galvanized metal roofing. The pink board between the purlins is covered with birch veneer. I found an old pair of cabinet doors in a salvage warehouse and reglazed them with tempered glass. The windows are inexpensive cellar sash that I cover with 1/8″ Lexan when I’m on the road. My friend Rosana Vestuti painted the wagon.
I use the wagon for meditation and made a portable altar for my Buddhist practices. (I have taken to calling it the “Wheel of Dharma retreat wagon” and plan to paint some auspicious emblems on the outside.) I took the wagon down to Cape Cod in September for a solo retreat.
One of the joys of owning such a beautiful wagon is the delight it brings to people along the way. Even people camping in big RVs told me how charmed they were by it. Perhaps the wagon will benefit others by reminding them that we can live and travel quite comfortably on a much smaller scale. The other joy, of course, is to be warm, dry, and cozy while drinking tea and listening to the night rain drumming on the metal roof.
by Kent Griswold (Tiny House Blog)
If you enjoyed this post, subscribe to our feed