vintage campers

How to Stay Warm in Winter When You Live in a Van or Trailer (plus: alternatives for toughing out the cold weather)

How to Stay Warm in Winter When You Live in a Van or Trailer (plus: alternatives for toughing out the cold weather)

Ah yes, winter in the Comet Camper. Many people have asked how we stay warm and how we deal with our 3 season abode!

I recently received a question from a reader about what I do in the winter since living in the COMET. 

I figured some of you probably have the same question, so I’m going to talk a little bit about how we’ve lived the past 3 winters. If you’re thinking about living in a trailer or a van - I’ve got some good tips for you.

First off - our primary “home-base” area is Massachusetts and the New England area - yeah, it gets COLD. As I write this it is 0 degrees! (I’m inside - I’ll tell you more about why in a minute)...

Explaining Tiny Houses to High School Students

Yesterday Matt and I made our long awaited return to the amazing Anne Richards School in Austin, Texas. You might remember our visit last year, where we were brought in to teach the all-girls engineering class for 2 weeks, as they were doing the first COMET Camper-inspired curriculum, Project  Ventura. The girls had to design an eco-friendly trailer to be used by the school community.

This year, the girls of the Anne Richards School have a bigger budget and a bigger project: to turn a huge Airstream trailer into a teacher's lounge powered by solar panels. We are so excited to be in Austin again hanging out with these amazing high school girls. Their passion and innovation is incredible. I keep telling them how lucky they are to be restoring vintage trailers as a school project! I think they realize the importance of the project and the opportunity it creates.

So yesterday Matt and I gave the class our introduction to Tiny Houses. I'm used to giving this presentation to groups of older people - people living on their own already, and people with jobs and kids. But giving the presentation to high school students was totally different! They could see the COMET lifestyle (either in a trailer or tiny house) as a way out of their parent's house, or as an alternative to expensive college dorm housing. We heard many of the girls exclaiming "I have to rethink my whole life now!!", which was awesome!

Marmoleum Click flooring SketchUp model

Hello!

Yesterday I received my pallet full of goodies from the wonderful Green Building Supply. I got the UltraTouch denim insulation (which is so soft and squishy I want to make a bed out of it), lots of no-VOC paint for the interior and exterior, and my Marmoleum Click flooring! I'm really excited about the Marmoleum flooring - it's antimicrobial, all natural, and really nice to step on. I know the flooring doesn't go down until everything else is done, but I made up these models in SketchUp so I would know exactly how to lay out each panel (the Marmoleum I got comes in 12" x 36" planks).

I chose the black ("Lava") and white ("Arabian Pearl") because I felt like it would go with whatever color scheme (or lack there of, haha - I like to mix and match whatever I can find) I choose for the interior. I also think it's a nice nod to the past, as many vintage campers had the classic 50's-style black and white checkered linoleum floors. This design is a modern, updated version of those classic black and white tiles!

Demolition: Tearing out the Trash in The COMET

Two days ago I began pulling out the rotted wood and un-salvageable parts of The COMET. This post will be most useful to those of you who are thinking about (or in the process of) restoring/re-doing a vintage camper. Here are some of the "fun" things you might find when working on a camper that is over 50 years old! WALL PANEL

Here's the rear wall panel. As you can see, there is visible dry rot and water damage under the window. I took off the window frame and decided I need to replace the wood from half way down the window and below (imagine a straight horizontal line continuing off of both sides of the window where the gap in the panes are - everything below that). I began going at it with a chisel before deciding that the job needs a more precise hand held multitool, something like the Rockwell SonicCrafter, which can cut flush up again the walls. I peaked behind the wall panel, and all of the wood back there looks great, no damage. I'm still going to super reinforce the framing of this wall with more beams though, because I'll want the extra supports when I go to mount the bumper greenhouse later.

Part 2: Advice For Buying Your First Vintage Camper - "She has good bones!"

Part 2: Advice For Buying Your First Vintage Camper - "She has good bones!"

"She has good bones!"

That's what I said when I bought my first vintage camper. She did have good bones, but I think if I had known the tidbits of information I'm about to divulge to you, I would have had a better idea of what I was really in for! So, let's get to it!

This is Part 2 of a post about what to look for and what to avoid when checking out potential camper projects. See Part 1 for advice on how to find your own vintage camper project!

*Disclaimer! I am most familiar with 1950's and 1960's camper construction. This guide will be particularly helpful to people looking at camper trailers from that era. I'm sure these tips can be applied to most campers, but my experience is largely with 1950's + 1960's ones (which means you'll see wooden frames, gas lights, and non-standard wiring...yay!)