Welcome to the Forums!  Please post an introduction after signing up!

For an updated map of Ren Fests check out The Ren List at!

The Chat server is now running again, just select chat on the menu!

Main Menu

A travel trailer as my HOME

Started by deafdrummer, April 01, 2013, 09:27:33 PM

Previous topic - Next topic

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.


Hello all!

I have been considering for several years whether to go on the road as a rennie.  I am looking for a small travel trailer that weighs under 3,000 lbs and has to be LIVED IN, so no pop-ups.  The best way to get the weight down under that limit so that I can carry gear and weigh no more than about 3300 lbs wet weight is to gut the interior and rebuild it with minimal furnishings, shelves with hangers (for dishware) and slots (for hand utensils), minimal cabinets with sliding doors instead of the full-featured stuff you find in travel trailers, and interior walls replaced with curtains on rods/tracks to save weight.  I want to minimize cabinetry (not to eliminate, but minimize their weight) as much as possible while giving myself as much storage space as possible. 

I'm thinking that I would like to recreate the structure of a post-Plague medieval peasant's house on the inside (while leaving the outside intact so as to not have questions about entry into RV parks in the off-season).  As far as the walls, floor, and ceiling is concerned, I'm going for the wattle-and-daub wall look with wood planks running the length of the trailer's ceiling with support ribs place every so many feet to create the "support" of the ceiling and finished in a way that it appears as though the ribs are sitting on top of the wall timbers and anchored with mortise-and-tenon 45-degree pieces joining the side walls with the ceiling like this in the Great Hall (but simplified for space limitations of the trailer) -  In place of the normal wall material that lies directly under the wall paper, I'm considering using something light-weight that will have the texture and color of white-washed lime plaster applied to the surface of the walls spaces framed by the timber.  It looks like I will have to find very light-weight wood that is thin to create the frame of this interior facade.  It would only have to be glued in and stained to recreate the kind of timber found in such homes of that period.  The idea is to create a bit of the medieval feeling when I'm retired to my abode at faire.  This is not a new idea for me.  I have considered building complete interior facades like this for my apartment for several years and came up with basic free-standing framing ideas that would not touch nor alter the apartment structures while recreating the interior of either a Greek-era stone house or a log cabin, and now applying these ideas to changing the interior look of a travel trailer while minimizing its weight.

I have someone in mind to help me with the building of such a travel trailer, and my goal is to be out of my apartment by end-of-September.

Alerrick Afon Adou

I would start with a airstream travel trailer and go from there. Airstreams are made for living in all year around. I have one(2001 excella) and love it................Huzzah


Too big and heavy - 2700-3000 lbs is the limit.  I'm pulling it with a LWB Jeep Wrangler rated for 3500 lbs.

The Rabbi

Very cool idea finding the frame to fit the desired weight is going to be the fun part. What length are you trying to go with? I have used Mahogany plywood as it is light and takes just about any stain really nice. Great luck with the project oh also PVC and Refrigerater grates make good cabinetry.
My sanity is not lost I sent it away
Proud member of FOKTOP


I'm not sure yet, probably no more than 12-14 feet.  It's just me.

Rowan MacD

    There was a thread on travel trailers a while back with some that were built as primary residences, and they are extremely tiny.   some only 5'x8'.
   I take it you want this to look sort of period correct for renaissance faires?   My first choice would be a gypsy type caravan, but with the weight restrictions on your tow vehicle it will have to be really small. 
   Without rent to pay, could you afford to upgrade your tow vehicle and pay the gas for a bigger truck?   

here's an old thread-he builds custom campers:,16765.0.html

What doesn't kill me-had better run.
IWG wench #3139 
19.7% FaireFolk pure-80.3% FaireFolk corrupt


Let me restate my needs again.

It has to be livable.  As in 365 days a year.  I'm putting my things in storage.  It has to be tall enough to stand up in, and I need a bed, kitchen, shower, toilet, and sink.  I would even need holding tanks or most RV parks won't let me stay long-term in between faires.  Thanks, but the link to the old thread shows simply a sized-up tear-drop.

The period design will ONLY be on the inside.  If it looks like a house on the outside, like a Tiny House, it could be a challenge to get inside the RV park.  The last thing I want to deal with is another 30-100 mi to the next RV park.  I no longer drive at night because of nocturnal animals and I hate the fear of waking up and finding a concrete wall in front of me.  I'd rather not pay for a bigger truck, because they are more expensive to maintain and replace parts on.  I simply will not get myself on a even bigger payment, otherwise I can't leave Houston for another 5 years.  I might not live that long (no I'm not dying, but I sure do feel like it at my job and feel that I have to leave in September regardless).

It's time to leave.


Reading your posts, am I right in assuming you are actually looking for ways to find a suitable trailer or possibly someone on-line here might have access to one you could buy? 

If so, you might want to check on-line for auctions; there are several listed all over the map.  (My Son bought a light weight a few years back at an auction in the Dallas area.)  You would need ready access to cash to buy at auction and someone who can inspect any vehicle you consider unless you are highly mechanically inclined.  Prices can be cheap, depending on how many people are interested.

You might have some luck posting inquiries in some of the more-employee aimed forums here, like merchants, or performer topics. 

Craigslist might help, but it can be iffy depending on where you are.

Yahoo groups might provide another avenue to finding something usable. 

If you are looking for help about making the interior appear more period, achieving an interior "look" without encountering the weight of "real" materials, there are lightweight alternatives available which can be painted/stained to simulate wood.  They can be found at places like Lowes and Home Depot.  Unfortunately, not all stores carry all products, and they are often more expensive than using the traditional materials.  There are some "light-weight" stone veneers, but they still weight about ½ what actual thin-cut stones weigh.  Even a veneer wood is going to add weight you might not want. 

There are some products that look like wood trim that seem to be made out of paper so they can be painted.  I've seen them at Lowes.  They can be manipulated and combined so as to look like much bigger pieces.

Papier-mâché' can be formed and painted to look like almost anything you want, but it is time-consuming and takes some artistic skill.  It could be used to simulate big timbers in ceiling or wall applications.  Lots of web sites have info on papier-mâché. 

Wall paper can simulate wood walls, etc., but again, might be expensive and somebody has to do it.

You might be able to achieve something of a period look by using hangings inside to cover walls.  Using light weight scarves rather than actual hangings can save a lot of weight. 

One recommendation I have heard about moving into RV or small trailer living is to rent one and actually live in it for a few weeks, in one spot, without getting anything from your current abode (except mundane work related items which you would not be needing if you are not working).  That would give you a realistic idea of what kind of trailer you really need as for inside height/width, etc.  Some might have decent floor footage, but like dome tents, a lot of it is not available as for standing up.  It will also remind you of other considerations you'll want to handle before going totally on the road. 

There is lots of information available on the web about living a roaming life, from rich retirees in $250,000 movable castles to wanna-be hippies in an old van to die-hards who can actually live off-grid. 

Good luck in your search.
Polly PoPo
(aka Grannie)


Thanks, PollyPoPo.  I lived in a travel trailer back in the 90s for nearly 4 years, so I'm quite familiar with living in them, and know well that so much space and weight is wasted on how the inside is designed and looks.  All that cabinetry and carpet and internal walls you don't need (except for one side of the shower stall perpendicular to the side wall).  Sofa and dinette design needs to be reconsidered to save space and weight, as well.

Rowan MacD

    Just you plan to start with a base frame (one or two axles and a a deck) and build this from scratch,  or are you looking into modifying an existing trailer?
    If the latter, you may be able to find a guttable version very cheap at a camper dealer that takes trade ins. 
   Keep checking with them-they keep 'junk' models in the back that are structurally sound in the frame and undercarriage, have brake lights for towing but little else, and if you're lucky they may still have functioning plumbing.   The older models tend to be smaller, less stylish, and not worth refurbishing, so they drag them to the salvage yard about once a month or when the yard gets full. 
   You might be able to find a kit or a supplier to create the 'bare bones basics'  of what you want, and decorate from there.

Good luck!

What doesn't kill me-had better run.
IWG wench #3139 
19.7% FaireFolk pure-80.3% FaireFolk corrupt


Don't know, yet...  Thanks for that additional bit of information.  I have to watch out for RV parks that discriminate on ownership - any RV park that ask how old your trailer is would eventually be skipped by others willing to get their business away from them, hopefully.


I'm not sure if you are still in the market, or would consider it, but I know of an RV for sale with a car dolly included...


Hello all!

I answered my question about my travel trailer - I bought one towards the end of Sherwood's season this winter and was able to use it out there during the last two weekends.  It was great!  It weighs around 2600 lbs dry, and my Jeep can pull it safely.  Just not very fast, LOL.  It is a Forest River Surveyor, single-axle, with a bed fold-out up front, though I don't use it and use my dinette seat as my bed.

And, I moved out of Houston last year this month when I went to work on a green, sustainability "ranch" just outside of Hallettsville, TX.  I'm now just outside of Edna to the north, volunteering on a produce farm this time.  VERY hard work in cold and hot conditions.  In fact, I'm ready to move on as soon as some things are done on my new home.  I will post elsewhere that I am looking to relocate to Toon Town, outside of TRF if I can find week work, or possibly to Bastrop if I can find someone to work for there, before I put myself on the rennie road starting with Sherwood's two-weekend Celtic Festival in September.  I'm considering going on to TRF in the fall before taking a short break somewhere until Sherwood's season starts again.