Sunday, November 22, 2009

Gypsy Wagon Progress Report 11-22-09

This week I was able to build the floor frame and the frame for the back wall of the Cosmic Caravan. I started by doing a detailed drawing. I then figured out the materials list and ordered up the steel, which was delivered on Tuesday. The first thing I built was the framing for the floor. I plan to be able to remove the structure from the trailer so as to be able to use the flatbed trailer separately if I need it. This necessitates building a floor that is strong enough to hold weight when separated from the trailer. I used 1 1/2" square tubing for the floor frame. I built the frame to be 3/4 inch narrower than the trailer so it will not be too tight a fit when I slide the camper from the trailer.

Then, on Friday, I started building the back wall of the wagon. This is the wall with the door in it. It is at the very back of the trailer. The ceiling height should be 86 1/2 inches when furred out with wood on the inside. That's plenty tall. I made the door frame with an opening 24 inches wide by 77 inches tall. I framed two quarter-circle windows on each side of the door. There is also, framed into the back wall, an opening for removal of the compost from the composting toilet that will be installed later.

The back wall frame is made mostly out of 1" x 1 1/2" rectangular steel tubing. It allows for flooring that will total 1 1/2" in thickness. That's room for a layer of 3/4" plywood topped by 3/4" of whatever flooring material I use - probably a laminate wood-looking flooring of some kind.

On Saturday I finished the back wall frame and clamped it onto the trailer so I could see what it felt like to walk in the door. I think its going to work just fine. I spent an hour drawing up the plans for the front wall - the one that goes at the tongue end of the trailer. This wall will have window in it, a mounting beam for the bed platform, and two access doors to the space under the bed. I made sure there was room between these doors for two propane tanks to mount on the tongue of the trailer.

Today, I went out to a preview of what will be a huge yard sale once it's all organized. I found a couple of solar panels totaling about 100 watts and bought them. I can mount these on the roof and use them to charge the trailer's batteries. There is also a large, dead motor home that I think I can scrounge the kitchen stove and sink out of. There may also be a furnace in the motorhome I can snag. I will have to pay something for thes items but not near what they would cost new.

This is an exciting project for me. When I go to my shop it's hard to get on with my real work. I just want to work on the gypsy wagon all day!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Announcing the Cosmic Caravan

The European Gypsies (Roma) often traveled in colorful horse-drawn wagons. Brightly painted and ornate, these wagons, known as caravans or vardos, could be seen traveling the rural roads of England and Europe from the 1850’s onward. There were several styles of wagons but two styles stand out - the Bowtop and the Ledge.

I plan to build a gypsy caravan in the Bowtop style but, instead of being a horse-drawn wagon, it will be built on a flatbed trailer so we can haul it at highway speeds with a pickup truck. The Cosmic Caravan will be larger than the traditional ones and will include some modern RV conveniences inside. The old-style caravans were built of wood. Since steel is my medium, I plan to build the frame out of steel. Inside, however, will be trimmed in wood. Wood siding will be on the outside and wood paneling on the inside. We plan to decorate it profusely with paint and found objects, inside and out. It will be a sight to behold (we hope)

I bought the trailer last week. It's a tandem-axle made by Diamond T Trailers. The bed is a little over 16 feet long and a little over 6 feet wide. That ought to be big enough. With any luck I hope to have it marginally functional by March of 2010. Here are a few pictures of traditional style vardos.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Tower of Barbarella

There is soon to be a tower of found-object art in East Jesus. We got started on it last weekend. Blaze and I drove out with a truckload of lumber and some tools. Charlie, the Mayor of East Jesus, procured concrete blocks and concrete mix for the foundation. We set the foundation on Friday afternoon, eight concrete blocks, eight bags of mix, re-bar, and three-foot screw anchors were used. This may not be enough but it was enough to start. We began framing the base of the tower on Saturday. By Sunday noon we had used up all the wood and headed back to Arizona.

The Tower of Barbarella (our working name for it) has a 12' x 12' base and, when done, should stand over 24 feet high. Our intention is to cover the whole thing in found and trash objects like can lids, bottle caps, and whatever other durable, not too valuable, and interesting shapes we can come up with.

I, personally, have already accumulated lots of stuff to decorate the tower. I have a box of beer bottle caps, a box of CD's, a big box of shotgun shells, four brass and glass lamps, and, just yesterday, picked up a pile of used and weathered lumber.

The weekend after Thanksgiving a bunch of us will be going out to the site to build the upper part of the tower and begin decorating it. Of course, I will post the results of this next trip right here at Adventures in the Zone.

At right is my concept drawing for the tower. I'm sure it will look different but this is the basic idea.