Awesome House-Car of the 1920s

There just might be a few blind-spots with this one.

There just might be a few blind-spots with this one.

Found on the Vintage Everyday blog.  It is thought to be from circa 1926 and is a real beauty.  It has some nice details as well.  The sign on the roof, lightning rods, and even a little chimney.  A great solution of one facing homelessness but still had the car.  Possibly a nightmare to drive?

Further Evolution of the Little Vardo

We just put another couple thousand miles on the Little Green Vardo.  It’s always an adventure when you are pulling something like this around the country and it makes for some interesting conversations.


Campground in Cortez, Colorado.

Most of the people we meet are great but the comments are sometimes a little difficult.  Of course, the number one question from most people is “what does it weigh?”  Not that the numbers mean much to them but it just sounds like something to ask.  Another favorite is “does it leak a lot?”  I guess this is a reasonable question for someone.  If my house leaked, I hope I would remedy it pretty quickly.


What we look like going down the road.

It’s great to get all the smiles, nods, and waves from other travelers.  It must say something that out of the thousands of vehicles you might see on a trip, only a few evoke any real response.  It’s hard to get gas or take a break without having a real conversation about it with someone.  While getting coffee in a small Colorado town a watched a woman burst out of an office door across the road and sprint across a busy four-lane road just to have a peak.  It was flattering when she said “I know you from the Internet! I’m a huge fan of tiny homes and little campers!”

Another fun interaction happen in Monticello, Utah when an elderly man came running out from a house to talk about Sheep Wagons.  His wife grew up in one and wanted to have her own after they retired.  As this was a tall order, he built her this beautiful scale model sheep camp complete with tiny dutch oven, pans, tools, a broom, and even a tiny fried egg.


Looks like I need a different hitch.

Maybe, not too long from now, I’ll be able to take to the road for a longer adventure.

IMG_0197Coming home to Purgatory, New Mexico with a list of improvements and a slew of minor changes to the Vardo.  I can’t wait for the cooler weather to make this happen.

Topper Update

Here are a few images to clarify some questions about the wooden topper.  It is not a work of art.  It was to be used for a single field project last summer but now I really like it so it will be a permanent part of the rolling home.

topper1Here’s the overview sans roof rack.  It has received about five more coats of spar varnish after a good sanding.  It is built from recycled lumber so there is some small shrinkage checking and a little discoloration from some mold or fungus but it hardly visible.

topper2Tacomas really suck for attaching racks and toppers for a couple reasons.  The top rails of the bed are plastic over some fairly unsubstantial metal and there are no stake holes.  There is however, the nifty rail system inside the bed that is secure.  To attach this topper, I used some construction straps from the Big Box Store which are screwed in behind the rails.  This is the forward view, blemishes and all.  The rope is for hanging up wet stuff like towels, swimsuits, etc.

topper3Here is another strap at the aft end utilizing one of the bed bolts in a reenforced spot.

topper4And finally, here is an image of one of the knee braces that are screwed and glued to the frame to strengthen the door area.  I hope this helps if someone else wants to construct something like this.

Vardo – Topper Makeover

Because there’s always room for improvement.  In my case, a lot of improvement. snail2
Rehung siding, new paint, fresh varnish, little fixes, and lots of cleaning.  We’re hooked up to get out of town for a bit.

snail1Dietz lanterns, Kelly kettle, fuel, and lamp oil packed away in the pan box.  The steel disk serves as a heat shield to minimize ground scarring under the fire.

snail8A view from the bed.  Still more to pack up but things are looking good and nearly ready to go.

snail7The new windows are great and really perk the place up.  Bright and airy makes for a pleasant space.

snail3Still, the little Snail is far from perfect; made on a shoestring budget during snatches of time between work and bad weather.  Although I don’t live in it full-time currently I have come to see this as my home.

Bear the Tinker

Bear the TinkerHere’s a man making his way in the modern world but likes being stuck in the late 18th century.  Farrier, blacksmith, storyteller, and musician living in his bowtop.

BearTinkerVidAbove is a short interview with the man himself from a few years back (opens in a new window).

Small LedgeLiving in the 21st century, he even maintains a Facebook presence, of sorts.  Click on his new little Ledge Wagon above to see what he’s up to.

Eight Foot Terrapin

CTLogoNot terribly far from the Paleotool secret lair there toils a designer and builder of unique, hand-built, small campers.  Inspired by the lack of uniqueness and beauty in mass-produced campers, Peter Pavlowich put his Wood Construction and Design degree to work to create beautiful, minimalist campers for small pick-up trucks under the name Casual Turtle.  These are real works of craftsmanship and simplicity and are reasonably priced for those who cannot or do not want to build their own.  I particularly like the compound curves of his roof designs.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA“Casual Turtle Campers was founded on the belief that wood is good, small can be comfortable, and that there is still room for simplicity in this increasingly complex world.”  Peter Pavlowich, owner-designer-builder, Casual Turtle Campers.

Building on his past successes, Peter has now branched out into trailer-caravan design using the same principles as his truck mounted campers.


Meet the new Terrapin from Casual Turtle.

The new design packs a lot thought and detail into a small package.  The new Terrapin is about 8’2″ long by 6’9″ wide (nearly identical in dimensions to the vardo known as the Snail).  First of all, I love the roof design and have decided that if and when I build my next vardo, it will have compound curved roof like this.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA“Tiny and simple” is the mot juste of this design, containing all the space you absolutely need and not a scrap more.  Like the Snail, this beauty could easily accommodate two adults on an extended journey.

T9Taking inspiration from early twentieth-century design, the interior is a simple kitchenette that converts to a bed.  A rich, wood interior keeps it classy and abundant windows provide light and views.

T16There is plenty of room for customization and in my opinion, maybe even a heat source.

Here are the spec’s from Casual Turtle’s website:

  • 1,360 lbs
  • 5’x8′ custom trailer frame from Sport Trail (Loveland, CO)Professionally-sprayed Reflex truck bedliner undercoating
    • Rockwell American 3,500lb axle
    • 15″ wheels and trailer rated tires
    • A-Frame tongue with jack and custom storage box
  • Fully insulated floor, walls, and roof
  • 15 amp shore power inlet – two interior outlets
  • LED crown moulding lighting
  • Full size memory foam bed (75.5″x54″)


  • Width: 6’9″
  • Height: 8′ (at peak)
  • Length: 8’2″ (cabin), 12′ overall
  • Interior Height: 5’11” (at peak)

All coming in at $11,800.  Not too shabby.

Head on over to Casual Turtle to see more today!


Wooden Truck Topper

A couple recent inquiries prompt this quick post about a wooden truck topper.  The question that came up a few weeks ago was “why would you make a topper instead of just buying one?”  Well, I’m not wealthy and making something costs a lot less than buying it.  Also, if you are a woodworker, it’s easy to end up with surplus wood from projects.  Often, the next project is virtually free.  That’s what happened here.

DSC_0028Sorry for the grime in this photo but I live on the southern Plains.  What can you do?  I tried to streamline it and match the curves of the pick-up but honestly, I didn’t put too much effort into any aspect of the topper.  I just needed something to get me through last summer but I’ve liked it enough that it is now a fairly permanent fixture.  The arc of the roof approximates the arc of the truck, created by eyeball and a pen on a board.  There is no better tool than the human eye in the creative process.

DSC_0027While making the shell, it became apparent that the Toyota bed tapers to the back.  I decided, upon reflection, to be lazy and just ignore this inconvenient truth and keep the shell square.  I did, however, match the front of the shell to the slope of the cab and allowed the back of the roof to overhang slightly.

DSC_0026This interior shot shows the three frames and sill that are essentially, the skeleton of the whole thing.  Also, highlighted is the eternal mess in the back of a working truck.

DSC_0025Here’s the basic part list that I used: 2x4s for side and front sills, 2×4 frames, tongue and groove yellow pine for sides, front, and hatch, western red cedar roof.  Lexan front and rear windows, hinges, closures, and various fasteners to hold it all together.  For the roof exterior, 30# tar paper and a canvas truck tarp.  The whole thing is varnished with exterior spar varnish. I think the whole thing can be made for  a couple hundred dollars as opposed to a couple thousand from the store.

DSC_0519And besides, it matches the house…

Good luck!  Hope this helps somebody out there.

Jed and Hilary’s Power Wagon Vardo

As unveiled at Winter Count 2014 near Maricopa, Arizona.

DSCN4000This classic kite shaped beauty is built into the bed of an old Dodge Power Wagon.  Like all projects of this nature, she’s a work in progress but is already and awe-inspiring thing of beauty.

DSCN4001The layout is a traditional elevated cross-bed with a kitchen down one side with additional storage and seating down the other.  A clever table is concealed under the counter and pulls out to be utilized from side-by-side seating.

DSCN4002The tail gate porch is an excellent addition to the space.

DSCN4003 DSCN4004Best of luck to both Jed and Hilary in their future adventures.

Road Check

Safety Check!

Safety Check!

For those who know the Snail, you might notice something different.  I’m making a little post about the new look but I just loved the sunset picture from today after work.  I have a very short window of light at the end of the work day but try to use it best I can.  More changes to come in the very near future.

I am hating my job so much right now I’m ready to jump in and run away.  Bad people can really ruin your day no matter how much you try to make things better.

I’ll get more pictures up soon.