Inspiring Plans, pt 2

A modern RV, like a house, is a structure enclosing a lot of empty space.  This is why a large house costs (the builder) substantially less per square foot.  It costs virtually nothing to build more floor space but a lot of resources go into things like corners and openings such as windows and doors.  The essentials of habitable structure are walls, a minimum of space for sleeping and storage, ventilation, and maybe heat.

The beautiful illustrations here are from the book The English Gypsy Caravan.  Nineteenth century caravan builders distilled out the necessities of living on the move.  Not enough room to host a country dance but enough room to sleep, have some some privacy when necessary, and shelter from bad weather.  The Open Lot design, above, has a fair amount of seating, an expandable bed, and small amount of dedicated storage for personal items.  Prior to the twentieth century in the industrial world, most people “lived” outdoors with the “house” serving as protection and privacy.

The evolution into the Bow Top shows more storage and less room for seating but also the ability to cook inside and more dedicated storage.  It should be taken into consideration that wagon dwellers in the 19th and 20th century Europe generally slept outdoors unless in all but the worst conditions.  The wagons were safe havens to keep your possessions and children whereas adults slept under the stars or occasionally in tents.

Many innovations came with the full development of the Reading wagon.  As the body is built more like a box, underseat storage really adds security to possessions on the move.  The chest of drawers remains but additional cabinetry adds ever more segregated storage.

The finest wagons of the era included a mollycroft or central raised portion of the roof allowing for small windows for ventilation and light.  In the image above, you can even see the small chimney vent that was placed over the mounted oil lamp as coal oil produced a lot of soot lowering air quality inside.

5 thoughts on “Inspiring Plans, pt 2

  1. I could live in those and I have lived with less. I don’t have much more now but feel like I live in luxury.
    I haven’t heard anyone call it “coal oil” in years but maybe that’s because my contemporaries have passed to the great house trailer in the sky. When I used an oil lamp and later a gas lamp in winter in southern Calif. it also served as a heater in my tiny camper.
    I love the illustrations. I’m always a sucker for illustrations.

    1. These are very beautiful illustrations. That was my motivation to put them up here. I have hoped to find copy of this book that I could afford for a long time. I just have to keep re-checking it from a library for away. I learned to speak from my grandparents and probably picked up a lot of Ozark-isms along the way. These lamps do put off some heat. I use one in my wagon but try to only run “ultra pure” paraffin in it. I use K2 kerosene outside.

  2. Always loved these wagons. In holland there was a tv show of a clown called pipo and his wife mama loe.
    Ind now I want to make a few during my pension starting next year 2019.
    Ow return watching more of these jewels.
    Thank you for showing and I hope I can find the full layout somewhere on the net.
    Thanks again William.

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