Friday, April 18, 2014

Two English vardos.

Just happened upon this charming scene while driving along a back road near Crewkerne, in Somerset County, England. 




Sunday, February 23, 2014

Wintercount Gathering 2014

The Wintercount gathering is always a welcomed relief from the rain for us Northwesterners.  A long drive, for sure, but well worth it. George was there with the newly sided "Snail" so we formed a linear version of a circle of wagons. It was good to visit with old friends.

 
This was the first trip with the new kitchen box. A humble attempt at organization, it stows under the ledge for travel, and hooks onto the side of the wagon for use. The door folds down for a table. The primus stove (of which I'm a huge fan) sits on its own table away from the wagon for safety reasons. We always had a Primus stove camping when I was growing up. Even when we went on a car trip the folks would pull off along the side of the road, fire up the primus, and make a cup of tea somewhere around the half-way point. We were not unique in this regard.

I made a folding wind shield for the stove out of copper left over from the wagon bay window roof. These stoves don't like to start if there's even a slight breeze. The kitchen is fairly minimal as I don't do a lot of cooking as such while camping. I'll usually bake some biscuits in the Dutch oven to serve with soups and chili, etc., prepared ahead of time and canned.




Early morning.

The gizmo in front of the wagon in this picture is the new and latest obsession, a foot powered lathe. There is a new blog in the works for this project.

 
 George playing one of his hand made banjos.


The interior is starting to shape up.

Ron Myhre's Vardo

Back over Thanksgiving I spent a weekend with my family at Port Townsend, center of wood boat building and vardos, among other things, here in the Northwest. This is where Jim Tolpin lives. After visiting the wooden boat center we went for a browse around the town and stumbled upon the eclectic Curator's Eye, a tiny store down in the basement of the Bishop Hotel. Here I met  Ron Myhre, a very warm and outgoing person. He had some beautiful ornate wood carving in progress that caught my eye which, he explained, was to eventually go over the doorway of the vardo that he was building. Wow! An energetic conversation quickly erupted culminating in an invitation to his workshop.

The next day he called, right on time, and we followed him over to his shop. When he opened the door there stood the truly most spectacular piece of craftsmanship I have ever come across. The attention to detail and the care of its execution will stay with me always. Every angle and corner, every piece of hardware, the stained glass, the  mollycroft roof with its ceiling mural, the copper and iron work, and the carvings, were done, either by him, or his artist friends, to the highest standard of craftsmanship. Many of the details and doo-dads were chosen to reflect his Nordic origins (dragons and the like).

We spent two hours at his shop discussing all things wagon, tools, sharpening, and even Primus stoves, of which I'm a huge fan. We finished the morning following him to the Blue Moose restaurant, a local favorite down on the wharf.


Ron Myhre
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
Putting a blog of the construction and details together is on Ron's to-do list. I felt reluctant to take too many pictures (don't want to steal any thunder here, that's for sure). What a great trip. Thanks Ron.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Wagons I have known, Part 2



I came upon this beat up old carcass of a sheepherders wagon back in 2008 while on a trip to Southeast Utah. This was one of the encounters that got me to thinking about building. I liked the simplicity of it and the fact that it was made almost entirely of backyard junk. Although Basque sheepherders were once commonly employed in this region, my guess is that this wagon come to its final resting place at a cattle ranch line camp. The metal roofing was attached using drywall corner bead and the end walls were made of plywood. The interior is sparsely furnished with makeshift cabinet and bed, now home to packrats and no-doubt rattlesnakes; hence the absence of interior photos.












Friday, September 27, 2013

The Big Road Test

I've just completed a 1500 mile round trip to Rexburg, Idaho, for the 2013 Rabbitstick Gathering. Gusty cross and head winds, along with heavy rain at times put the wagon through some serious stresses on the highway. With the exception of some leaking around the bay widow, everything held up fine. Rabbitstick was a hoot, as always, and the wagon was received with much appreciated enthusiasm. There will be more builds there in the coming year or two.



Sunrise at the Rabbitstick gathering, 2013.
A few changes since the last post. I've cut the porch poles to a more practical length and sealed them. The poles are of lodge pole pine finished with Super Deck sealer. I've added a storage box on the back deck which houses a small 12v deep cycle battery for charging the phone. I will eventually run a reading lamp from that battery. The box also houses the combustion air vent for the stove. Note the smoke rising from the chimney. This was the first run with the stove and it worked great, quickly warming my 25 square feet of living space with just a few pieces of wood.


Catching the morning sun after a light frost.



The wagon made a fine gathering place for some old time porch music
with Ray and Shirley Jacobs.



A welcomed break in the heavy rain and high winds early in the week .







View of the Snake River valley (Farewell Bend).
On the return trip I camped at a State Park. First time in a "normal" camp ground. I had no visitors, just a quiet morning and time to enjoy a cup of coffee brewed on the old Svea 123 primus stove. I love these stoves. I also have a Primus No.45 for the main cooking stove which I refurbished from eBay parts. After three years in the shop its moments like these (including all of the above) that make it worthwhile.








Thursday, August 1, 2013

On the Road at Last



A quick post here with more details and pictures to follow (since this has been a hectic summer). The wagon is finally roadworthy! The interior is far from finished but the structural stuff is done. We took it to Echoes in Time last week for its maiden voyage, following a road and stress test earlier. We had a really great time and had many visitors and many great discussions. I was quite surprised at the number of people who knew of other builds. 

Having the sun come up one morning and light the interior was a moment that made all the hard work worth it; that and my daughter's delight at sleeping in the lower cozy bunk-bed.

Towing was far easier than expected even in a fairly strong wind, with the total lack of aerodynamics not appearing to present much of a problem. I kept the speed at 65mph.



Wednesday, March 6, 2013

A Handy Cheap Forge


















The marine rail and latch for the stove were fashioned from 1/4th inch mild steel using this simple tin-can forge. I was introduced to this handy tool by Kiko Denzer at Echoes last summer. All that's required is a large tin can, a pair of holes, some kaowool, a turbo torch, and some firebricks. The forge is very useful for making small pieces of hardware, and unlike the rivet forge, is very quick to set up and very cheap to run.