Early Motor Caravans

We live in an age of motor vehicles.  Few of us could consider, for safety if nothing else, taking to the roads in a horse drawn vehicle.  When the automobile seemed here to stay, caravanners in Europe adapted to the new technology.

MotorVans1 The earliest models look essentially like their horse-drawn cousins, just stuck onto a truck chassis.  In this era, I suspect they were topping out at 35 mph.

MotorVans2This is the earliest side-door design I have found which changes the dynamics of the interior layout.  Note that in the vehicles above, the driver is still fully exposed to the elements.  A far cry from our modern experience.  Note the “driving coat” worn by the pilot of this beauty.

MotorVans3This French innovation has boxed-in the driver’s compartment making it suitable for foul weather.  Still, I would be worried about those huge, non-safety glass windows.

MotorVans4And finally, a very practical little design; the AEROPLANE.  A cute little beast.  I could not find the floor plan for this one but there is a section profile to help the would-be builder:

MotorVans5This style fold down seat/bed is exactly what I had in my first Ford pickup camper.  Simple and practical.  Maybe these early designs will inspire more modern builders to dive in and get their build on.  Keep it simple, keep it light.

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How About Some Lovely Cod Liver Oil?

Scott's Emulsion

The second two claims are informative; “It is almost as palatable as milk” and “It does not nauseate or produce loathing for food…”  This makes one wonder how bad the other healthy oils were.

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Know your tools; planes circa 1912

A reference for understanding woodworking planes.

PlanePartsMuch thought has gone into the evolution of the modern Stanley plane.

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Visit Your Parks


Old National Park Poster found on Tumblr.

Looks serene.

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Build Your Foundation

“If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.”

Henry David Thoreau, Walden.


Hendrik Gerritsz Pot – “Flora’s Wagon of Fools” circa 1637.

Build your dream, justify it later…

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Another Great Design

From Casual Turtle Campers

Peter at Casual Turtle Campers has come up with a great new design in a minimalist caravan.  I have posted his earlier work here a couple times and this new design is worth a look..  This model looks like it would work well as a base camp for one or two people who don’t need a substantial kitchen or keep the cooking gear in the tow vehicle.  The low profile will certainly appeal to people who drive lower vehicles as well.


Peter Pavlowich of Casual Turtle Campers

It has his signature roof-line as found on his other designs.  The compound curved roof is a nice, artistic touch.


It reminds me of an old Ben Roy design or a Teardrop on steroids.

I wouldn’t be able to do it justice so here’s the description that Peter sent along:

The Hatchling – Here’s a new model that I’ve been wanting to build for a while.  It’s sort of in the size and tradition of a teardrop, but in Casual Turtle Campers style – dead simple, cedar, domed roof, lots of windows, etc.  In fact, it’s quite a bit roomier than most teardrops – and by leaving the entire trailer area as living space, the cabin feels damn near palatial!  Not really, but it is a nice little space that two people and a couple dogs could be perfectly comfortable in.

As an unsolicited build, I had planned to insulate and finish out the interior myself – but then I thought it might appeal to someone looking for either a dead simple, lightweight little camper, or someone looking for a project.  One could add nothing to it and have a very comfortable, capable, simple camper – or features could easily be added to their desires – storage, gear hooks, bed platform, etc.  And I’m perfectly happy to discuss building out an interior for someone. 

Here are some of details… It’s built on a very nice, custom 5’x8′, fully boxed trailer frame with 13″ tires from a great manufacturer here in northern Colorado.  The cabin’s frame is mostly western Hemlock, with Western red cedar siding.  The bottom of the cabin has a 90 mil PVC membrane covering, and the roofing is a fully adhered, 60 mil, ivory-colored TPO membrane – thermally welded at the seams.  It has four opening windows with screens, and two large fixed windows (forward bulkhead and door) for pretty good through-visibility.  It weighs 840 lbs, with about 110 lbs of tongue weight.  There are more specifications/details on the website -casualturtlecampers.com.

I really like this camper, and I can see using it just as it is – or with a more developed interior.  Either way, its a great platform for someone looking to get into a very easily towed, comfortable, unique little camper.  At 840 lbs, this model could work with a wide variety of tow vehicles.  The forward bulkhead is short enough (66″) to tuck in well behind most crossover and small SUVs.  I even towed it around town with our little Subaru Impreza.

I’m 6’2″ and 195 lbs, for scale.  As a shell version, the walls and roof assembly are left open, showing the OSB roof deck’s bottom side – though it could easily be insulated and closed in.  If anyone has any thoughts/ideas/questions please email me at casualturtlecampers@gmail.com.  I’d be happy to discuss this camper or something similar/different that you might be interested in.  And I’m also happy to discuss full or partial delivery from Fort Collins, CO for a rather nominal, mileage-based fee.

Thanks for having a look – and please share it with anyone you think might find it interesting.  I’m tentatively calling this model the Hatchling, but any other ideas for a model name would be welcome, too!

Price – $6,250

static.squarespace.comAnd he obviously has good taste in literature:

“I had to go alone…a kind of casual turtle carrying his  house on his back.” – John Steinbeck, from Travels With Charley.

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Learn them, use them.  I understand that some folks are topologically challenged but knots are always a great skill to have under one’s belt.  Learn ‘em.  Have someone teach you.  Carry a bit of rope and practice until they come naturally.  Teach your kids!  I suggest learning the dozen or so from the Boy Scout Handbook.  That is really all most people will ever need.


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