The Vardo: Finishing and fitting out.

Do’s, Dont’s, Did’s, and Didn’ts (if you missed the beginning, START HERE)

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Waiting for the next journey.

At this stage the process was far from over.  I still make changes and additions to the Vardo all the time.  Every trip leads to new ideas and better ways to utilize this space.  Some of these changes have been in the works since the inception but I was unsure as to how to implement them (e.g., the side windows and kitchen).

I feel that once you have the basic shell finished, the bed constructed, and benches built, then it is time to make your caravan suit your character and specific needs.  If you’ve built your own little home, you probably have some idea of how you would like it to look inside; Victorian, Old Western, Provincial, Jazz Age, Ultra Modern or whatever.  My personal taste is fairly pragmatic but is definitely influenced by an old-time look.

Admittedly, a wood stove can be a dangerous decision but an off-grid heat source opens a lot of possibilities.  I suggest that a wood stove NEVER be left unattended and ALWAYS keep a fire-extinguisher handy.  I chose my stove from Four Dog Stove Company (mine is the Two Dog size).  There are fancier stoves out there, and custom-built options are available but honestly, I think for the the price, this is a great shape and size.

However, a stove this size can quickly become too hot for the space and must be used conservatively.  The large box is good for a long burn time but can also hold more fuel than is reasonable for the space.  Also, in a structure this small, there should be some fresh air exchange whenever the stove is in use. I have several small external vents and also open a window a crack when there is a fire.

Obviously, this stove placement would not pass any building code as it is far too close to the walls.  I mitigated this the best I could by creating an air space behind heat shield board.  Behind this is sheet metal and another small air space for circulation.  You can find heat shield (metal coated mineral board) at any decent hardware store that stocks wood stoves and pipe.  The floor under the stove is slate over wood secured using Gorilla Glue.

As a final note, I made sure the stove is well secured as it would be a deadly projectile in a wreck.  The legs are screwed down to the floor but the real security comes from eye bolts through the back wall and connected to the back of the stove with Quick Links.

four_dog_web_title_page_logoThe next and relatively minor addition was a simple porch.  It’s nice to have somewhere to step when coming out the door.  This porch also serves as a base for the small kitchen box that was eventually added to the back wall.

The porch before painting.

This window was well out of my league and unlike anything I had made before.  Really, it’s like a bunch of little picture frames joined together in a larger frame.  So I bought some glass and went at it having little to lose but time.

An important feature for me was the ability to travel safely with a Hurricane lantern.  I have used these for years and I believe them to be a practical and safe lighting solution.  However, they cannot just swing around or be liable to tip over as they will break or spill oil.  After pondering this problem for some time, I developed a bracket that holds the lamp in place while still making it easy to remove.  The wood is very old recycled oak and the brackets ore old wrought iron fittings.

Showing the shelf in place.
Showing the shelf in place.  This area has change significantly and will be highlighted later.