The Gypsy Camper

P1020450After seeing my previous tiny house perched precariously on an auto-wrecker, I decided that my next house should have wheels. I was put off by the cost of a trailer for a tiny house, but, as has often been the case, what I needed was in my own backyard. The 1964 Manorette which had housed us while we built our cob house, had served other humans as well, but its most recent occupants had been small furry people who were not concerned that the RV did not have an official bathroom.

SONY DSCI started to take the camper apart thinking that I would get to a point where it would no longer smell like mouse pee. After two bonfires and two trips to the dump, I reached that point and it is pictured at the left. Actually, this is the frame after a little cleanup and rust protection.

SONY DSCFrom there it was onward and upward. Lin and I had attended a Jay Schaffer workshop on building Tiny Tumbleweed style homes. I also purchased their Construction DVD which describes building the platform floor with metal on one side and then flipping it over to put the metal on the bottom. I put birch plywood on the top side and finished with three applications of polyurethane.

SONY DSCFraming was done with 2×3″ studs to reduce weight and increase floor space. Once again, I created the roof shape with the end walls and spanned across the length of the camper with 2×4’s. The span is 12′ 6″ but I used 14′ 2×4’s to create a small porch on the door end of the camper.

SONY DSCThe textured plywood siding became a template for the barrel vault roof. The roof is 7′ 3″ at its widest and has a 32″ rise. This worked perfectly for three sheets of standard galvanized steel roofing which is a stock item at most lumber yards. Other than the 2×4’s there is no board or plywood in this roof.

SONY DSCI housewrapped over the studs and was generous with the flashing tape. The windows are insulated glass, single hung with vinyl frames.

SONY DSC1/2″ sheets of flexible foam insulation went directly over the roof rafters (purlins?). This was covered with Reflectix with taped seams and then the galvanized roofing.

SONY DSCThe ceiling was insulated with a combination of rigid foam board and recycled denim.

SONY DSCOur camper frame has a narrow wheel base so the wheel wells are inside the living space. My friend Jacob passed on a great idea for covering the wheel well with a galvanized metal basement window well form. The dimensions were almost perfect and, fortunately, the metal has a little flex.

SONY DSCThe camper is finished except for fabric to cover the convertible sofa/bed and the seat over one wheel well. Lin, however, did not wait to make it her winter kitchen. I will post more interior shots as soon as we finish the coverings.




  1. Fredricka · · Reply

    I love your camper, I will be mimicking your design.

  2. Beautiful project

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