Five Years and 20,000 Miles Later…

The vardo known as the Snail turned five years old a few months ago and shortly after, crossed the 20,000 mile mark.  It’s just an arbitrary number, I know, but it feels like a milestone in our lifelong journey.  Changes have been made, details reconsidered, and minor additions have created a cozy little living space.  We now know how to use the space when traveling, eating, sleeping, or just hanging out.  The dog thinks of it as home and recognizes the signs when we’re preparing for a trip.

Heading out.

This is a bit of a sentimental recapitulation of some high points so far.

There are many little wagons that are much more artistic than mine but I have been lucky and have received awards from both Popular Mechanics and the good people at Maker’s Faire.  While at the Faire, the wagon was staged for viewing, allowing visitors to walk through and ask questions.  Thousands of people came inside and checked it out.

The north woods of Idaho, 2014.
The north woods of Idaho, 2014.

Life has slowed down for the Snail but we still take it out regularly and it makes a safe and comfortable home on the road.  In case you missed it, here’s a quick overview of the construction.

Heading out on the road.

Taking a break.
Taking a break.
Packed and ready to go.
Packed and ready to go.

I hope to show a few of the recent updates and changes to the living space in the next few days.  Thanks for following.

9 thoughts on “Five Years and 20,000 Miles Later…

  1. I just wanted to thank you for all of the details you have posted about this project over the years.

    I got interested in building a vardo trailer when I stumbled across the MAKE article about your wagon ( Since then, I have been following your improvements and the other builders you pointed out to us.

    I also started reading and researching the topic, starting with the sources you provided. When I started, I was trying to fit an entire tiny house into an 8×12 footprint. I planned for a full (if tiny) kitchen and a wet bath,

    As time went by, I kept finding myself simplifying. Lighting — some LED lights, maybe. A solar fan for air circulation, cooling. MAYBE a small propane stove for cooking when the weather is bad.

    The only things that survived my original plans as I move forward that are largely different from yours are a mollycroft, steam bending 1×2 oak framing for the roof, insulation and styling it after showman/Burton wagons.

    I’m still researching and redrawing plans. I’m not as accomplished a woodworker as you, so I need to make sure I have everything planned out before I continue.

    1. I’m happy this helped! Thanks for looking around. The whole goal of documenting this was to give people the nudge that might be necessary to get started. I hope yours comes out just as you like it. Maybe we’ll cross paths somewhere in the next 20,000 miles.

  2. George – add my thanks for your contributions. I used your Instructable to build my vardo last year. I am not the woodworker that you are, but I am a lot better carpenter now than when I started. My contribution: used peel-and-stick aluminum over luan for the roof. It weathered out New England winter with no problem.

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