Tying it all together, Vardo Remodel Part 5

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Diving into the next stage of construction.

All earthly structures begin with a foundation of some sort, even living wagons. In our case, the trailer frame is the earth, the ledge and subfloor serve as the foundation upon which, all is built.  I proposed to attach the new section pretty much the same way and addition is connected to a house, by supplementing the structure at the joining lines and creating “nailers” to provide fastening surfaces for the new wood.

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With an afternoon that included a 30 degree temperature drop, an unexpected rain shower changing to freezing rain changing to snow we had to switch gears, tarp up the project, and retreat indoors. New Mexico in the winter!

Going back to the day job for the week left me with only limited work times.  No real workshop means no light and submitting to the ever-changing weather.  This became the perfect time to make lumber from the piles of miscellaneous scrap and recycled boards I have been hoarding the past couple years.  This is boring work and requires a lot of noisy time with the table saw and planer but yields a lots of free, well-seasoned lumber for building great things.

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Building up the back wall.

It’s satisfying to begin seeing real progress, even if it’s only just a shell going up.  Pre-cut tongue-and-groove pine makes for easy work at this stage.  The sad old door is being kept in place to help shelter the interior from unforeseen weather.  We hope to get the bedroom area cleaned up, repairs made, and some re-varnishing done in the coming weekend.

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Framing out the plan.

Corner posts were secured and, unlike the first edition of the build, framed walls were created and await their double layer skin.  I took this opportunity to mock-up the arch from plywood and test fitted it against the existing wall.  Finally, it feels like real progress.

If you are looking for Part 1 of the rebuild/addition then CLICK HERE.

On to Part 6!

15 thoughts on “Tying it all together, Vardo Remodel Part 5

  1. This is really fascinating. Was the vardo originally in the back of that big old Ford
    you had? That little storage bin below the deck is nifty.

  2. Good timing! We’re starting in on 2.0, too, and this time we’re building it like yours! No traditionally framed walls, etc.
    What are your purlins/wall framing? What are their dimensions?

  3. Bah… I commented, but not sure if it stuck.
    We’re starting in on Vardo 2.0 and are building it like yours (ie, no traditionally framed walls).
    What dimensions are your purlins/wall framing?

  4. Have you abandoned your previous — and compelling — criticism of modern framing techniques, which you pointedly expressed on your conception and planning page? I suspect your reasons are somewhat nuanced but I do hope you will express them at some point: If you were to start afresh, would you use conventional framing and a double-layered skin with screws and nuts and bolts as fasteners? Your original vardo’s tongue-and-groove single walls are certainly beautiful and structurally sound, but perhaps you’d choose two lighter skins in a new build? Thanks very much for sharing.

    1. Chris,
      Definitely not! The new section is still the same wagon construction technique but double-skinned for insulation (like the rest of the vardo was converted a couple years back). As a former house framer, I would definitely NOT use house framing methods for a rolling home. Too heavy, space-wasting, and not meant for the continuous stress of travel. I’ve seen a couple vardos built like garden sheds using sheet siding, 2x4s, hundreds of screws, etc., and I fear they won’t last and will be a heavy load to pull. At least, they would not be my choice.

      The outer skin is very light, being western cedar, but is a little annoying due to it’s tendency to be unstable in wide humidity and temperature swings but is a price I decided to pay to shave off many pounds. It is even easier to keep everything stiff now as there is an inner bulkhead between the sections and it all sits on a stiffer frame.

      I hope this clarifies it a bit.

  5. Hi George,
    It was the last pic on this part, plus the accompanying description: “Corner posts were secured and, UNLIKE THE FIRST EDITION OF THE BUILD, framed walls were created and await their double layer skin. ” Those all-caps were how I read it anyway, since my carpentry experience, thus far, is more from, and in, words than in woods. Sorry for my confusion.

    Until I stumbled across your designs via a Lloyd Kahn book, I favored Jay Shafer’s tiny house designs: You haven’t been specifically critical of his approach, however.

    I greatly appreciate your dialogue and I’m sorry if my ignorance has confused you. No reply to me is necessary if it takes time away from your finishing up Part 10 of your post or getting the remodeled vardo back on the road. Thanks again.

    1. No problem Chris. Just note that Jay Shafer builds HOUSES ON WHEELS, not caravans. Much heavier and not meant to be dragged all over the place. Our goal is lightweight and travelability (if that’s even a word). I would build one of his designs if I were settling in it for a long period. I’ve always likes his houses.

    2. The framed walls aren’t really like “framing”. Just a poor use of words. I should have said something like “partially prefabbed walls.” In the end, it din’t really save work or make things much easier.

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