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.
vardo-wagon-build
vardo-wagon-tow
Photos by PaleoPunk

 

 

Bruce’s Airstream Overlander

Bruce Czopek is a muralist, artist and avid backpacker who decided about two years ago to stop paying rent. While the costs of home ownership were out of his reach—he still wanted to own something that he wouldn’t have to worry about losing should he not be able to pay the rent. Enter a 26-foot 1966 Overland Airstream.

bruce-airstream-bed

Bruce found the trailer on the Denver, Colo. Craigslist and had it shipped via uShip to his friend’s home in Northern Nevada. He then spent over 80 hours stripping out old caulking and sealant from the exterior seams and resealing the skin of the trailer. Bruce spent even more time removing insulation full of mouse droppings, painting the frame with rust inhibitive paint and re-insulating the inside, refinishing the original cabinets, pulling out old plumbing and gas lines, installing a new heater, new propane regulator and new wood floors.

airstream-restore

airstream-rainbow

bruce-airstream-bed2

Bruce lives in the trailer most of the time and rents space for it from his friend. He does utilize his friend’s house for the bathroom and kitchen.

“Having access to the house meant I wouldn’t have to worry about plumbing and kitchen till Phase Two,” Bruce said. “Doing it on a budget also demands saving money for the next phase.  That will be installing new plumbing, a new water heater and finishing the bathroom.”

bruce-airstream-closet

airsteam-living

Bruce purchased the Overlander for only $4,500, but suggests if anyone else wants to attempt to restore an older trailer to be patient and accept that the amount of work will be more than originally considered.

“While repairing one thing you will find two or three other items to take care of,” he said. “The alternative is to pay a lot more for an Airstream that has been thoroughly inspected. There really are no deals out there any more. I had first thought to gut the trailer and do a modern interior but even though the cabinets were pretty tired everything was there and I decided to stick with the original look. The interior now feels like a first class cabin on an old ocean liner. Classy and comfortable.”

Bruce also plans to spend more time making the trailer more insulated for winter weather and appreciates the various Airstream forums and friends will skills who helped him along the way.

“I love the round quality of the Airsteam. Not being all angular, it has a calm feeling inside,” Bruce added. “I have found that using it as a bedroom while having the advantage of a separate bath and kitchen is actually very nice.”

bruce-airstream-lights

Photos by Bruce Czopek

 

By Christina Nellemann for the [Tiny House Blog]

Tina Larkin and her Purple HarpMobile

by Tiny Larkin

I’m a musician, visual artist, traveler and dog lover. As long as I can remember, I’ve always been interested on living simply and having a small carbon print upon the Earth. I always wanted some sort of teardrop or small RV in order to have a home on wheels.

trailer exterior

The 2008 economic crash and continued downturn of our economy prompted my decision to stop paying rent. I have bought and sold about a dozen houses, flipping them after living in then for a year or two. The current economy precludes my ability to keep doing this. After several years of research and touring as a musician, I made two important decisions…

  1. As a harpist, fiddler, and composer,my talent is best appreciated on the west coast. So to be musically focused on the area of San Francisco to Vancouver, I need
  2. A portable tiny home,which must be towable by my current car,which is a 4-cylinder Hyundai.

I designed a tiny, almost tear-droppy like trailer to go atop a 4 x 8 ft. Harbor Freight trailer chassis. I chose this model because it weighs only 230 pounds and was inexpensive. I decided that the entire trailer needed to weigh less than 600 pounds. I based this on the tiny trailers built by Abel Zimmerman and the Whittled Down folks, and others, all of whom designed their trailers to be used with 4 cylinder cars. I chose 1?4 inch plywood and 2×2′s for my building materials. I decided to use exterior grade silicone for all joints and edges, and a rubber spray coating for the roof, which might also get another cover as the summer progresses. The lavender color is wood stain, not paint.

interior

Before I even got my trailer hitch installed on my car, the naysayers pounced. Most, but not all, were men.

“You can’t tow anything in that car! The owners manual says so!”
“You’ll destroy your transmission!”

“You better use 2×4′s and 3?4 inch plywood! Otherwise that thing is gonna explode going down the highway!!!”
“It’s not safe! You’re just a woman, and travelling alone! You’re nuts!”

It is a good thing that I never listen to the naysayers. I did my homework, so knew what I did know and did not know, and I knew where to find the info I still required. I was able to recognize when others spoke out of their own fear or envy. My online and in-person homework showed me that this venture was, and is possible.

harpmobile

A Seattle friend, Brad Maas, helped greatly in the building of this PurpleHarpMobile, as I have named her. He lent his yard space, tools and knowledge in this venture. Many thanks to him.

The PurpleHarpmobile has more windows now, (that I made after theses photos were taken) and is fragrant with natural wood inside and my favorite essential oils. I live in it full time and can cook inside or out. There is neither real heat, nor electricity, but I have a Mexican terra cotta planter. Four tea light candles inside and a metal bowl over it create a small and charming heat source. I will purchase a solar panel this summer. I am going to custom decorate the exterior this month.

Tina and trailer

So far, I have performed in Seattle, and have done a bit of camp hosting in Oregon. I am about to begin exploring the music scene and tiny house community in Portland. My plan is to use this HarpMobile for Music Festivals, and maybe sell it down the road, and then build a tiny house! Tiny House Blog, and other online info, has been a huge help in making my dreams a reality. Thanks for reading!

email: tinalarkinmusic@live.com
Website: tinalarkin.com

harpmobile at Lake Trillium