One more for the road.

Today, as soon as my lovely wife wakes up, we’ll be hitting the road back to our home in Chicago land. I’m really going to miss this place. I;m now more motived that ever to get the OpenShed project running, so I can escape to a place like this more often.

Part of my time here has been to read the new (to me) blog Whittled Down. These people want to live, for at least a short time, in a 54 sq ft gypsy caravan. The part that gets me is how fragile it all seems. The end walls are T&G flooring material, the base box appears to be made of 1″ thick pine edge glued, and the sides are going to be metal sheeting and a fabric top. Definitely an interesting idea. I can’t wait to hear how it all ends up. They already road tested it at least once, and without all the supports in place.

Here are my design goals with the OpenShed:

  • Small and light enough to be pulled by at least a Toyota Highlander (The wifes car), but ideally my Corolla. This is interesting as I have a 1500 lbs towing capacity, the car for the Whittled Down wagon only has 1000.
  • Warm and well built enough for Illinois and Wisconsin winters. This means well sealed and insulated. The easy but expensive thing to do would be to put 6″ of spray foam all around, but I want to investigate ideas that are more Eco friendly and do-it-your-self friendly.
  • Cheap. I have in my head a budget of about $2K, but this isn’t based on any assumption about material cost.
  • Comfortable for full time living for 1, and short term living for two
  • Incorporate as many self sufficient ideas as possible.

To do all of this, I’m thinking more of a conventionally build trailer more like the Don Vardo which I mentioned here before. It should have a living space of 6×7, with a convertible, comfortable couch which can convert to a full California king sized bed. The area below it will be used mostly for storage. another section will be provided for storage and cooking, with a full floor to ceiling close, that is about a foot wide on both sides, as well another two feet wide counter top on either side giving the impression of a very small galley type kitchen. A small sink and two burner stove will be provided. Finally, there will be a 6×3 bathroom, consisting of a 3×3 toilet area and a 3×3 shower area. The whole area will be water proofed to create more of a wet bath time environment.

Pictures of my sketch up model shortly.

It will only have windows on one long side, so I’m holding out on finding a good, free sliding glass door on craigslist before I finalize my design. This with the good seal and insulation should make for a very nice passive solar heat management. I’m going to head with fluid based radiant heat flooring. and cool passively. I’ll be installing a small propane on demand water heater, and the propane will also power the stove, and maybe a small toaster sized oven. Is there such a thing as a propane toaster oven? It’ll be completely wired for 12V only. And finally, there will be exterior hookups for both power in (for battery charging) power out (for computing on the porch, water in, a water preheater loop (cold out and warm back in), and finally connections for Ethernet, phone, and coax radio antennas. It should keep me pretty wired and allow me to use a solar water heater base station when it’s available.

That is quite a bit to get down, so I’m going to stop for today. Until next time.


About Grant Wagner

General class ham: KC9SJQ
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