Collaborative Vardo

If you are thinking of building your own vardo as a tiny house or for camping, Instructables recently featured a collaborative wagon built by Paleotool (author of Building a Gypsy Wagon), PaleoPunk and a friend of theirs, AmericanPikey. The instructions for this tiny, wooden wagon are available as a free download. AmericanPikey recently retired and wanted a mobile retirement home, but not an RV. He also wanted the utility and towing cost to be small. The total cost to build the wagon (including the trailer) was $2,400.

 

instructable-vardo

 

The wagon is built on a 10×5 foot flatbed utility trailer. PaleoPunk mentions that flatbed trailers, while expensive ($1,000 for this one) are much easier to work with than a re-purposed trailer which sometimes have to be dismantled and prepared for building. This particular trailer had metal side rails to support the wagon’s walls. The overall length of the wagon is approximately 10 feet long and is 7 feet wide. The floor on the inside is about 5 feet across with one-foot ledges extending over the wheels.
vardo-wagon
The wagon has a Dutch door,  the 20 inch porthole windows are made from actual ship portholes, and a Lexan window was placed in the front of the wagon. The bed is about four feet off the floor and has storage space underneath. There is a trap door under the storage area that opens to an enclosed space underneath. Several benches by the bed also serve as steps up into the bed. The wagon also contains a small wood stove made by Marine Stove and a portable propane stove for cooking. The wagon does not have electricity or plumbing.
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vardo-wagon-tow
Photos by PaleoPunk

 

 

Handbuilt Gypsy Camper Dream Home

I’ve been a custom furniture builder for over 15 years and I started to become unfulfilled in just creating high-end furniture. At heart, I always enjoyed the simple things and when I built my first tiny cabin home for my daughter to live in I felt like I found my niche in creating handmade simple dwellings.

Last winter, my fiance and I dreamed of building a gypsy-style camper on the back of an old truck. A month later we found “Buddy” a 4×4 1960 Dodge Power wagon with the perfect faded patina and we started to work on this unique project.

buddy caravan

It became a fun challenge with all of the curves and angles we incorporated to accomplish the traditional gypsy vardo style we were inspired by. We used as many reclaimed materials as possible in the construction of it. Most of the wood was hand-scraped and not sanded which adds its own level of character.

The truck we started with has only 52,000 miles on the original flathead six engine that runs and drives great. We have been on three long distance trips in Buddy creating smiles everywhere we go.

We are offering up this unique traveling tiny home for sale at $14,500.

Check out our video and learn more about Buddy:

My passion is building handmade alternative structures from nails and wood to straw and mud. I would love to help make people’s simple living dreams a reality. Please contact me for custom tiny home projects or alternative dwelling construction. We are in Idaho planning to relocate to Southern Oregon this summer, but can travel for custom orders.

Phone: 208-280-4570
Email: naturalbuilder.jp@gmail.com

buddy side view

buddy porch

interior

bunk and living space

entry door

Carnival and Medicine Wagons

The other night, while watching the offbeat, but visually beautiful Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus by Terry Gilliam, I was charmed by the impressive Imaginarium wagon that the movie characters travel and live in. While the wagon in the movie (best known as the late Heath Ledger’s last performance) is whimsical and transports visitors to realms of fantasy, the basic idea of the carnival/sideshow and medicine show wagon is included in the tall, elaborate structure.

dr-parnassus-wagon2

The rural areas of North America in the 19th century enjoyed traveling sideshows and medicine shows as their entertainment – welcome during the time of the Great Depression. These shows included circus performers, burlesque, vaudeville, Wild West spectacles, oddity exhibits and theater productions. Medicine shows traveled around delivering “miracle cure” medications and other products between various entertainment acts. Many of these types of shows traveled in horse drawn wagons decorated with elaborate paint and filigree to add to the flair of the production. Because of the transient nature of the job, many of the performers lived in these wagons full time. Movies like 1932′s Freaks and shows like HBO’s Carnivale give a glimpse into how these people lived on the road.

imaginarium-doctor-parnassus

Very few of these wagons exist today, but some can be found refurbished and used as decor or displays. Even modern day fortune tellers like Suzie Kerr Wright, aka Astrogirl, has a recreated carnival wagon where she reads palms and interprets the Tarot.

astrogirl-wagon

medicineshow

carnival-wagon

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sideshow-wagon

sideshow-gypsy-wagon

dr-parnassus-wagon-build

dr-parnassus-wagon-detail

 

Photos by Scifi-Universe, Dreams, Legends of America, Go California, Dr. Solar, j_pidgeon, Astrogirl12, Frogpond, Moses Lestz

 

By Christina Nellemann for the [Tiny House Blog]