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.


  1. Great time at Rabbitstick - the best wooden rocket stove fires ever - too bad George couldn't make it.

  2. The wood rocket wood rocket stoves were truly spectacular. I used to think that hollow logs were only useful in Roadrunner cartoons. Yes, too bad George couldn't make it. Perhaps next year. And your build will be done then too, right?

  3. Awesome photos! Too bad indeed. It sucked not going! Hope to make it next year. I thought it was a sure thing but work had me by the balls.

  4. Thanks. Work can do that sometimes.

  5. Any photos from the latest adventure down south?

  6. I didn't take the wagon. There was still some work that needed to be done, but we had a spate of incredible weather here so I finished up a couple of lingering outside projects instead.

  7. Love your trailer thinking of making one much does your Vardo weight ?
    Thanks for the inspiration

  8. Richard Thanks for the compliment. I still haven't weighed that wagon, but I can lift it by the tongue. I'll post the weight as soon as I get it finished.


  9. I'm working on my own caravan but am aware of " hurricane force winds" ( driving) and earthquake proofing ( road vibration). I live in Oregon so am wondering how you manage to drive a bay window in the rain without it leaking or if you'd recommend either not having a window on that side or just one that didn't open and was sealed like a car windshield. I know putting a vardo on a flatbed requires design modifications so am curious what you would do differently now that you have more experience. I am grateful for any advice you could give me. Amber

  10. Hello Amber,
    Thanks for your question. The opening front bay window is a problem. It has leaked badly at times, but, I'd still want it to open, even if I did it all over again. To have fresh air flow is important. Currently I'm in the process of making a canvas travel cover for the front of the wagon in the hopes that this will fix the problem. I'll put a post with the details of this cover soon.

    Good luck with your build.


  11. Mick, thank you for your strait forward answer. I know the canvas cover idea works pretty well with our boat while it's on the freeway, protecting the inside. I've been talking to a lot of my marine friends as their stuff tends to be better quality than the RV industries and was offered a large old brass porthole for a front! Cool window, watertight when shut and the light and ventilation I also need ( like you). I did live in an RV for 4½ years in the past and with this caravan build I'm trying to resolve problems I remember having , mostly leakage and dripping condensation on the windows. I have enjoyed all your posts, thank you for sharing.

  12. Good score on the porthole!