House Trucks from the Early 1970s

Rolling homes go back almost as far as rolling vehicles and the modern era of motor driven cars is not an exception.  If you have followed this blog at all you may have seen some great contraptions, especially from the 1920s and 30s.  The counter-culture of the 1960s lead to a generation of rolling home builders and dwellers ready to hit the road.


Photographer Paul Herzoff took a series of photos of some of the interesting, home-built, house trucks between 1971 and 1973 on the American West Coast. Many of these images are now housed at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Since I save a LOT of reference images, I sometimes forget what is even there.  I picked a few from my files to share here since they gave me many ideas since I first encountered them many years ago.


Paul Byrd’s Old West-themed truck is among my favorites and has a lot of charm in the details. I hope it survives somewhere today.


This thing looks like a mid-century sheep wagon mated with and early Airstream (its descendant) and gave birth to a little COE camper. The giant drop down porch looks like a precursor of a modern day Toy Hauler camper.


The interior of Bob’s Bus. It appears to have a lot of great storage space and utilizes a loft for added room.  You have to love the plants as well.


This one is called “Cab, Craftsman’s Van.” Again, I just love the homeyness of the plants on board.


Not much information about this other than the title “David.” It is a very utilitarian door that appears to be made from a recycled packing crate and a re-purposed window. I wouldn’t put a hasp on the outside unless it could be locked in the open position. I think there would be too much chance of mischief.


Here’s another pragmatic interior with a guy named George. Small bed, maybe it folded out?


Here’s another bus interior decorated with recycled cloth. Very Bohemian.


Craig’s house truck really speaks to me. It has a great form with the compound curve of the roof and a mollycroft. You’ll notice the water barrel on top and the ever important stove pipe poking up.

Craig Inside

Another view of Craig’s home. Not only does it have a mollycroft, but it has a sunroof as well.


Here’s a pragmatic plywood beauty. Maybe not very aerodynamic but it sure looks spacious.


And finally, probably my favorite from the set. I suspect it is ridiculously heavy but I think this truck can handle it. There are a lot fine details to note with this one.

If you are preparing to build a rolling home, there has never been a better time to find pertinent examples to learn from on the web.  Enjoy the views.

An Engineering Marvel; Tiny House Truck

That transforms into a modernist castle.

As usual, Lloyd Kahn always finds the good stuff to post when it comes to unique Shelter.  The Tiny House Truck is built on an old flatbed and is a true marvel of engineering as it “pops” out into a faux castle.  An appropriate home I suppose for these traveling performers.  Some of the luxuries include a separated toilet, separated shower, full kitchen, and a bath tub (with hot water) on the roof patio.  There are some extremely modern amenities and ingenious storage solutions here.  It is worth the twelve minutes to watch the video and see this remarkable home as still photos do not do it justice.

The original story is on the Living Big in a Tiny House blog HERE.


Click to go to the Living Big website.


Jay Nelson’s Constructs

In searching for home-built campers, there were very few images on the web just a few years ago.  Jay Nelson came up a few times over the years due to his ingenious building of structures onto existing vehicles, compact car, scooter, boat, and now a truck.




It’s my kind of work.  Low budget, simple, and highly functional alternatives to the mainstream consumption.

Honda Spree

But would I do this the the Vespa?  Maybe.

boat camper

Of course, my new truck is in sore need of a cool topper…

See more of Jay’s work on his site or follow his blog on Tumblr.

Tiny Homes: Simple Shelter

I received an advance copy of Tiny Homes: Simple Shelter when I went to my post office box today.  I have been thumbing through it all all evening, looking at the photos and pondering the meaning of Shelter.

Maybe the tides of change are subtle in the beginning.  But I never thought I would be part of a movement when I began to sketch out plans for a tiny, mobile shelter for myself almost ten years ago.  I am honored to be included amongst these great constructions in Lloyd Khan’s newest book about Tiny Homes.  I am awed and inspired by so many great approaches to scaling back from the obnoxious sprawling but soulless houses of the last few decades.

The photos are beautiful and the layout is very well thought out.  Like all the Shelter Publications, it will become an important and classic work to those of us outside the mainstream.  Tiny Houses my be the flavor of the month to the media at the moment but will always be important to real people in need of real shelter.

And to keep up-to-date on interesting architecture, skateboarding, good music, and a host of other interesting topics, check in to Lloyd’s Blog from time-to-time.

The best laid plans …

Everything has to begin with a plan, whether its in your head or on paper depends on the complexity and steps required.  While going through some old notebooks from the last few years I came across some early sketches of the vardo in progress.

I know it’s not a great sketch and didn’t scan particularly well but gives an idea of an early stage in the evolution of the caravan as it is now.  I kept some very strict size constraints but definitely increased the height from the early incarnations.  I did not waste the time making an exact blueprint of the caravan as I didn’t see a need.  I also wanted to keep the design flexible and open to change along the way after getting a feel for the space.

Click the image to access more sketches or link here.

House Trucks Again

My appreciation for house trucks has grown immensely over the years.  It’s not easy building a structure that is both light, strong, and wind-resistant.  Caravans, house trucks, and RVs have to undergo the rigors of hurricane weather every time they hit the road and still be light enough to be pulled.  If you are willing to get RV-type mileage from your vehicle  you can convert an older RV, large truck, fire engine, or bus into a fine living platform.  Starting from a link on Lloyd’ Blog I began looking at some very cool house truck conversions.  These have been around all my life and I’m surprised I haven’t started one yet.

These Bedford Fire Engines make beautiful platforms.

The trucks below were featured on the Tiny House Talk web page.

I wouldn’t want to drive these in high winds but the interior spaces are great.  Visit his Flikr page to see more interesting work.  They look very practical and I appreciate the low-maintenance exteriors.

And finally, one of the most beautiful art car builds I have ever seen… The Decoliner.  While on his website, its worth looking at his other projects as well, especiall the 1800 cubic inch, 1000 h.p. tank motor turned art/race car.

Take the chassis from an old RV, add a classic truck cab and a lot of beautiful design work and this is what can happen.  This is my new dream car.  Time to peruse Craig’s List to start looking for a chassis.