Something I have great admiration for are people who are original. Those people who have original thoughts, are creative, and do what they do because it’s just who they are. I love that about my family history and know it’s why I’m not overly interested in trends or what’s popular at the time. I want to blaze my own trail.
Years ago, my mom and dad were blazing a trail of their own and my dad’s amazing ability to turn waste into our family Gypsy Wagon was documented by Lloyd Khan in his book, Shelter. All images and copy are from the book, with the exception of my comments directly below some of the images.
Some years ago Joaquin De La Luz traded his ’48 Triumph motorcycle for this vintage Chevy flatbed, and with little money, much imagination, and found discards set about making one of the most unique homes ever to roll along America’s roads. For the past five years, Joaquin, Gypsy and their three kids – Heather, Bear and Serena – have moved around the country and were last seen parked along California’s Feather River. Following are some tips on mobile design, and living on the fringe prepared by the De La Luz family, and from the photos you can see it’s true when Joaquin says: “I love trucks.”
I have found more freedom in my building designs by not confining my ideas to a planned form. If you plan what you are going to build then you have to find materials to conform to that plan.
Every area has its own unique throw-aways.
If you build a house on wheels it is best to build the frame of good solid material, preferably all the same dimension.
Bending bolt shank works better than lock washers on house trucks (esp. metal framework). See sketch above.
Never use less than 5/16″ nuts & bolts on house trucks. (When bolting studs together).
Make truck level before starting to build.
Use a square: it pays off in the long run.
Notch every corner you can when building with wood.
Junk building material does not mean junk workmanship.
A good solid frame is most important even if you have to buy the wood.
I have found it much easier to find building materials to cover a building with than to build the framework with.
Build house trucks with as low a center of gravity as possible, It is better to have steps over wheels than to have floor too high from chassis. This is very important. It means you can have more space inside and lower clearance from ground to roof outside. 4″ makes a big difference.
Lower center of gravity also means much better handling on the road.
Heavy leather makes good hinges for cupboard doors.
A chainsaw can even cut round shapes like archs for truck roof.
I have found the chainsaw the most useful tool for my style of building. I used my chainsaw to build the entire framework for my house. It was built with green Douglas fir rough cut 1 x 4 that I bought new from a mill. Every board was dripping wet as it was winter in Oregonat the time. The chainsaw cut smoothly thru every board, an unequaled feat for sawing wet wood. A mini chainsaw is best for building with.
Found fretwork adorns the handmade dutch door, the dishrack finds a home on the door, an old found animal horn tip works as a latch. ~Serena
Utilize beer cans by cutting them into pleasing shapes for shingles – light weight – no rust.
Use bailing wire for “ground wire” cutting electrical installation costs in half.
After cutting out rear wall in cab of truck, join house with cab with an old inner-tube, cut & tacked to keep air tight. (Rubber allows for movement between house & truck.)
The waste of America is the richest in the world.
Building with cast-out wood you are sometimes faced with cracked pieces – cut different shapes out of whatever metal is available & tack over crack to strengthen.
Old produce crates make great spice shelves etc., many uses!
Old cans that have been discarded such as anti-freeze cans of 1 gal. size cans, can be cut and used for punched tin cupboard, making holes with a nail.
My affinity for calico was born with the curtains seen here. My mom’s necklace doubles as a work of art in the window. A found tobacco tin holds pens. The treadle sewing machine I learned to sew on. ~Serena
Stay-at-home mom, Serena Thompson, dreamed of creating a fun and happy little event to sell her vintage and handmade goods. In 2002, she and some friends held the first event in her neighbor’s barn. The sale became wildly popular and began attracting visitors from across the country and recognition in national magazines. Today the event fills the Spokane County Fairgrounds and features hundreds of creatively and carefully curated spaces filled with vintage and handmade goods. Many describe it as a bucket list event, magical, inspirational, and the best vintage & handmade fair in the country. Serena describes it as the happiest on earth.