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Welcome to my 1st Ledge Vardo build.
My name is David and my wife is Martha. We're from Northern Indiana.
We're looking forward to the first journey with our Ledge Vardo.
I had this chassis built for this purpose. $2600
It's 12 ft long and 6 ft wide. The cross members are set at 16 inch centers. I'm using 3/4 inch plywood for the sub-floor.
3500 lbs axles, led lights, 15" wheels, 10" electric brakes, 1 spare wheel and tire and a wheeled jack.
I chose tandem axles for the ride and the towing benefits.
It's made out of 2 inch 14 gauge steel tube.
Light weight yet strong.
I'm towing it with my 2007 LT3 Avalanche.

Step 1: Crafting the Box.

At first we were going to build a bowtop. But my personal engineer and brother Gary who has built two bowtops talked me into building a ledge instead.
He reason was because I'm 6'6" and weigh in at 350 lbs that I would get more use from a ledge.
I totally agreed.

From reading blogs (Paleotool) and watching YouTube, I went with yellow poplar for the box and the same for the 1.5 x 1.5 that we used to screw and glue the sides of the box to the floor which is 3/4 plywood.
We used 1.25 inch galvanized wood screws.
We also pre-drilled every screw.
We used 100 screws that day.

Step 2: Adding the Floor. Plus a Peek at Gary and Lindas Bowtop.

I didn't draw any plans on paper although Gary said we should.
I still may draw up plans.
I drive truck for a living. And having 70 hrs plus a week to think and do research I knew what I needed to do.

I knew I needed 4 saw horses to build the box.
It worked out wonderful.
After gluing and screwing the 1.5s to the box, we then laid the plywood that we had already cut to size and sealed the week before. Laid the floor on top of the glue and screwed it to the underside of the 1.5s.

Then Garys wife Linda helped us pull the saw horses out from under one side and we stood the box up on its side!

You wouldn't believe how well built it was because we used the 1.5 x 1.5 poplar.

I haven't fastened the floor to the frame of the chassis yet I'm waiting on the order of the screws I'm going to use.
Had a gentleman suggest to me that I could use deck screws that they use to build semi trailer floors. That way there's no bolts clear through the steel tube frame, just thru the top side.
Made sense to me.

Gary and Linda crafted a bowtop. They used a inexpensive 8 ft x 5 ft trailer.
It has a full size bed, a table, a sink, solar powered and 110.
That's all for now, maybe more on theirs later.

Step 3: Adding the Ledges and Supports. This Is Still Day1.

After having the box on its side we just tipped it on over and down onto the rear of the chassis and slid it forward onto the trailer.
It was sweet!
We cut it so it would be 1/4 inch away from the fender.
The way it is, is the sides of the box is sitting on top of the plywood.
The ledges are 13 ft long x 12 inches wide and 1 inch thick. In fact the sides of the box are 1x12x12. All I needed on the outside overhang was 7". So there is 4.25" overhanging on the inside.
I could've cut it off but I like the extra support on the ends.
Besides if you need the extra space in the middle for cupboards just cut it out.
I have 86" from outside to outside.
I need 80" for our queen bed.
I figured the walls will take 2" from each side leaving 2" wiggle room after its said and done.
I couldn't get it in my head how I was going to do the supports.

But alas Gary sketched one out on a piece of poplar, i cut it out and sanded it and wala we had ourselves a good looking support.
I called another good friend who has a band saw and he graciously said he would cut the rest. We used 10.
So we did that and sanded them and put them in place.
It really added that ledge vardo look.

Step 4: Carsiding, Glue and Carriage Bolts.

Then day 2, we started adding the carsiding tongue and groove. I'm gluing the t and g. That way it doesn't leak.
I'm also gluing to the 1x4 oak uprights.
Here again I'm pre - drilling it, just draws up nicer.
I notched the 1x4 oak onto the ledge, just 1/2 inch.
I also used 3/8 inch carriage bolts on the bottom of the the 1x4 oaks.
I may put them up the door jam too.
And then we got rained out.
To be continued.... c u soon. Be glad to answer questions.

Step 5: Fastening the Floor Down to the Frame, Cutting the Roof Radius.

I got a chance to work on our vardo today (Monday morning).

I used the screws that are in the first pix, they're the ones that were on order. Galvinized steel and self-tapping.
They worked like a charm.

I had thought at first I wanted to use a flat washer with them, but it wasn't necessary.
I used 15, 3 rows of 5, I decide to put 10 more with big washers along the edge.

Gary and I then finished building the end cap.
Oh ya! I about forgot, you see the chop saw I bought at a pawn shop? $170. NEW $410
That saw saves time.
And you are making perfect cuts.
Laser cuts and a digital readout for the angle and bevel cuts. It's awesome.
I also bought the Dewalt 20V impact drill w/charger & 2 batteries $119. And the folding ladder.

The door looks too tall. Doesn't it?
Gotta remember I'm 6'6". And Gary kept encouraging me build the door so you don't have duck.
Lol ok we did. It's going to be a big man's vardo.

We then found the middle of the trailer bed at the rear and tapped a screw in a little bit wrapping a yellow string around it with a pencil tied to the other end.
I then adjusted it for the height that I wanted at the top of the radius.
Then scribed it in an arch keeping the string taut down to the point of my roof line.
It actually worked quite well. I then took a jigsaw and made the cut.
I haven't cut the sides yet. It was time to go.
So there you have it in a nutshell.
Next weekend I'm planning on getting the front built and most of the walls up.




Step 6: Rear End Cap Radius Plus Door Radius. Front End Cap Built.

After much consideration and drawing on photos on my note 3, see photo.
I decided to drop the roof line another 6 inches.
We added the curved piece to the top of the frame of the door.
I liked how that looks.
We first cut the edges on a 2 degree angle. I made the cut with the skil saw.
That was much faster and a lot nicer cut.
Then poked a screw in at the bottom of the door put a line on a pencil and drew the radius again.
The front end cap went up without a hitch.
I put the two 1 x 4 oaks 36" apart for the bay window that I'll build and add later.
Of course I'm still gluing everything.
We'll build the walls tomorrow.
See ya then.....

Step 7:


We worked hard, had fun and accomplished alot today!

It's been said "Measure twice cut once."

Well I measured over and over again to get the angles right on the front endcap.
It paid off.
I'll be putting galvanized carriage bolts every 12 inches through the oak up rights on the front endcap.

That's one of those things you can do later.

We're going to put the batons every 32" on the outside after we get the drip rail board up.
Then on the inside the first baton will be where the bed board will be, say that 3 times fast, at 62" from the front.

The tongue and groove carsiding went together very nice.
I used 2 x 2 poplar that I ripped a 2 degree cut on one side so it would match the 2 degree angled wall at the ledge joint.

Once again I glued everything.

As you can see I left an overhang past the rear endcap.
I want to cut a design in the overhang and bring the roof all the way out to the end of the 14' boards.

I am going to build a Bay window for the front and probably put a window in each side wall.

Next weekend I intend to build the roof.
I learned about ice and water shield.
It's self-adhesive and self - healing and sounds like long term protection for underneath metal.
Thanks for looking and following.
I would love hear your thoughts.

Step 8: Purlins and Luan...

What I can say about our longest day yet?
I'm glad it's done to this point.
Next time I work on it I'll be laying the ice and water shield.
And building the bed frame.

I was going to use a router to make the cuts for the purlins.
But used the jig saw instead.
It wasn't as bulky. And you could see where you was cutting.
I did make a jig, so all I had to do was run my pencil around the inside.

I drilled the corners out first before using the jig saw.
That way you can make the turn to cut the bottom. You want them to fit tight even to the point of tapping them in with a hammer.

I left a 1.25" overhang on the front.
We used 1 x 4 x 14' poplar purlins.
I glued and screwed two 14' purlins together for the center.

Before I put the luan on, I ripped a 1 x 6 X 12 poplar board on the table saw with the same angle as the roof and put it at the top of the inside wall. (See the picture that has the hammer hanging on the wall.)
That way I have something to screw to not only for the roof but also if I decide to insulate between the purlins and cover it with 5/16 tongue and groove.
----------------------------------
I've decided that I wouldn't use luan again. It's too thin. You need to use at least 3/8 inch and have your purlins no more than 12 inches apart.

We glued and screwed the luan to the purlins.
luan has a smooth red slick side and a decorative side of the wood.
I put the smooth side up, for the ice and water shield.

I ran the luan all the way out past the rear endcap.
Sounds simple and fast doesn't it?
It took about 2.5 hrs.


Step 9:

This is the bowtop Gary and Linda built.
They camped with it last night in the midst of a wonderful thunderstorm.
Gary said "we loved it,there's nothing like being cozy in a vardo."
Listening to the rain pelt the canvas and the thunder shake the earth.
Their bowtop is solar powered (also 110) allowing them to charge phones and use the internet.
It can also run a fan and etc.

It's also equipped with a full size bed, pull out table, lights and a sink in the corner made from a glass lamp shade turned upside down.
Gary and Linda are two of the most creative people I know.
I am grateful they are helping me build our Ledge Vardo.

Step 10:





Step 11: Laying the Ice and Water.

I&W is kinda tricky to put on.
It's so sticky. That is indeed great.
But there is a trick to it.
I guess we figured it out. Because it seemed to work for us.
You do NOT want to touch the sticky sides together, you will not pull them apart. Lol I tried.

I&W has a 3" smooth edge where you overlap the next piece creating a water tight barrier.
Use I & W instead of tare paper.
Cost me $45 roll.
One roll will cover 2 square.
3 sheets of 4 x 8 plywood equals 1 square.
The trick that worked is this;

Cut the length so it overlaps the sides 2 or 3".
Unroll your measured and cut piece completely, line it up to where you want it to go, then flop half of it up on its self and peel the plastic backing off a few feet and tuck what your pulling off up under what you haven't pulled off.
Then pull back that part, that is ready to lay down. Making sure it's where you want it. Because your not going to move it once it's stuck to the roof.
Then have the other person flop the other half towards you and you finish pulling the plastic off.
Then all you gotta do is slowly roll the sticky side down towards the other person while their guiding it down to their edge.
Then press it down with your hands. Tucking the extra under the edge thereby sealing the roof-wall joint.
Make sense?

My brother - in - law came all the way from Sacramento CA to help me today. Lol that's his two sisters helping also. The one is my wife.
I throughly enjoyed everyone's help.

For those of you that's wondering, i'm going to put 1 x 4 x 14' trim at the top outside wall thus hiding the overlapped I & W.
Thanks for looking and please if your building a vardo, make a blog on here I have lots to learn.

Step 12:

Step 13: Drip Board, Batons, and Tinted Primer!

I had to staple the edge of the ice and water shield.
Then I pre-drilled the 1 x 4 x 14 poplar and glued and screwed it up at the top just under the edge of the roof.
I also ran a bead of liquid nails against the seam of the roof.
And smoothed it out with my finger making sure the crack was filled and plus I just covered the top of the board. Liquid nails is water resistant.

I put the batons 32 inches apart starting from the front.
I left enough room at the bottom for trim.
Remember the side wall is 3/4 inch.
Wow! Did it ever make wall solid.
I am going to use a sanding wheel and put scalps in the batons.

I had the hardware store where I bought the primer, tint it a medium grey.
Gary told me a grey base brings the color out more when you paint it!
We used 1.5 gal.
All four us primed, it took 3hrs.
I'm pleased with how it looks.


Step 14: Cutting a Shape Into the Extended Sides.

I decided that I needed to get this cut out before I went any farther.
We took big sheets of drawing paper and taped them to the side. Then drew with a pencil the design we wanted, and followed the pencil mark with a knife which left a mark in the primer. Removing the paper, It was easy to cut it out with a jig saw.
Then I sanded it smooth keeping the edges sharp.

We then took a very thin strip of wood that we had ripped off of a 2x2 poplar that we used inside.
We cut it at 3/4 inch wide. I spread glue with my finger evenly over what I had just sanded and nailed on this thin strip on wood.
It really gave it a finished look.
Thanks Gary, for this was your idea.

Step 15: Added the Bottom Trim Board. Decided to Take It Up to My Dad's Shed in Wakarusa.

We've been having more rain than normal for this time of the year. (Sept)
So it was time to get it inside.
I used my dad's Chevy truck. It was 65 miles of town and country, rough railroad tracks..... It pulled wonderfully.
I'm sure glad I have tandem axles.
You can feel bumps with the truck, but you can't feel them with the vardo.
It tracks well too. Like in tight places; gas stations.
Just follows you around.

On a side note;
I've decided that I wouldn't use luan again. It's too thin. You need to use at least 3/8 inch plywood and have your purlins no more than 12 inches apart.
I'm going to add another purlin along side of the ones I have. Giving more strength to the roof.
We get a lot of snow in this area.
And I'm going to add 3/8 plywood to the roof and then cover it again with ice and water shield.
You live and learn.

Step 16: Not Going to Put a Bay Window in Front.

I haven't been sold on the idea of a bay window in the front endcap.
I have been debating about how to build a escape door.
I really feel the need to have 2 ways to depart from my vardo. Lol.....
Well Sunday we found this beauty. It does have 2 hinges and a knob already, but I'm thinking about making it tilt out from the bottom.
I'm thinking this could be a escape window if needed.
I'd like to find 2 more window's but only half the size for the side walls.

Step 17: Getting Ready to Paint.

Nov 7 2014
I decided to paint before winter set in and the roads get nasty.

My brother in law built the roof line trim pieces.
We used a 1 x 8 x 10 clear pine. Absolutely no knots.
What he trimmed off the top, was spliced onto the bottom near the ends.
Used wood glue, sanded it with a belt sander which drives the saw dust into the glue thereby making it look seamless.
A friend of my nephew let me use his paint booth...

Step 18: Paint Day!

We were able to paint in a very nice paint booth where my nephew works. And Cory also spray painted it for us.
Martha and I did the trim work.

We taped the verticals in order to be able to cut a straight line of paint in the joint.


Took us 9 hrs.
We used Annie Sloan Chalk paint.
I also bought Annie Sloan brushes. The medium and small.
Their all natural brush, wash them out with lye soap and water. They'll last a lifetime.
There's a trick when you brush Annies paints, you brush away from you, not back and forth.
It's expensive.
It's also the best.
It has a high pigmentation.
When using is for an outside project do not seal it. The paint needs to breathe.

I had 300 square feet and used 2 and 2/3 quart of green.
Cory thinned it with water just a little.
2 coats of green and 4 coats of blue.
We think it turned out beautiful!
Sure is eye catching anyway. Lol

Step 19: Metal Roof and Strengthening the Purlins.

We have a trip planned for late Sept to go to Keweenaw Peninsula.
I felt like I needed to strengthen the purlins also giving me more wood to fasten the roof.
If you remember, I had only laid this 1/4" sub flooring over the purlins?
Well I put another sheet of quarter inch plywood on top with another layer of ice and water shield.
Wow! It firmed it right up.

We laid 3 sheets of 14 foot 29 gauge white metal.
Laid a sheet along each edge then capped it with the 3rd sheet in the middle overlapping the two.
As you can see, it worked perfect to let it hang over the edge as a drip rail.

The white J channel is rubber.
We used it on the ends.

I wished I had left it a little longer on each side, so the rain would run off right to the ground instead of running down 4" of board.
I did use the foam inserts under the ends.
I'm going to cover the porch ceiling with oak tongue & groove.
And insulate the ceiling with paperless glass then cover it with 7/16 t and g pine.

We bought Leaded glass windows out of Heritage houses in Detroit.
I'm putting 6 windows in it.
Enjoy!

Step 20: Front Leaded Glass Window.

These leaded glass windows came out of Heritage houses in Detroit.
I'm putting in two more right now.
What we did was build the window frame around the window.
I did use the table saw to clean up the edges.
The saw didn't bother the glass. Gary held the outside edge of the window as I ran it through the saw. Came out great!
I repurposed car siding that I had left over. I ripped the tongue and groove off, then ripped it down the middle. And cut to length.
I mortise the corners of the frame.
I used small head finishing screws 1.5 inches long.
Once I had the frame made then we held it up on the outside of the vardo and drew around it with a pencil.

I used a cordless saw to cut the hole for the frame and a jig saw to finish the corners.
It fit too tight, so I cleaned it up a little with the belt sander.

We painted the frame and window with Annie Sloan Chalk paint.
It dries fast.
Caulked around the inside corner of the frame and set it inside the hole.

Step 21: Shutter for Leaded Glass Window.

And oak 5/16 tongue and groove curved for the porch ceiling.
Queen size futon fitted in the front.

For the shutter I use carsiding. Made it with 3/4 inch overlap on all 4 sides.
We cut it so it would look symmetrical. And added the oak for support.
I wanted the oak pieces to have 45° cuts on the edge.
Decided to go a V for vardo.

Had to cut grooves on the back side of the shutter for the hinge to slide through.
Made the rails out of pine.
Clear coated the inside and waxed them to help shutters slide easier.

I clear coated the 5/16 oak before stapling it to the purlins.
It bent fine. No cracking.

Step 22: Wired for 30 Amp Service.

Our friend Tony came out to the house this evening and wired the vardo.
Wow I like it.
I had him put the box on the back wall behind the door. My door opens to the inside.
I also wanted the 30 amp plug to be pointed down as you can see. He also installed an outside 110 box, for lights etc.
I like where he put the inside outlet too. Underneath the ledge.
As you can see I have hardly anything completed inside.
In one week we'll be taking it on its maiden voyage to Keweenaw Peninsula and through the U.P. and down through MI.
I did want to be able to use a heater or a fan etc.

I bought the 25' 30 amp cord and the outside box on Amazon for $56.
Can't beat the price.
<p>thank you . i am trying to build a 8'x10.5' vardo/gypsy wagon, but i need to insulate it and it needs to weigh no more than 1000 lbs, as i tow with my Subaru legacy wagon (raised up to be the height of an outback). </p><p>the trailer is flatbed 6 1/2'x10 1/2'. I will be living in it in Vermont winters, while I babysit my grandson. so winterized it must be! </p><p>i am thinking 4' walls with bow roof as it is lightweight. wondering about spray foaming the inside of the vinyl covered roof. again, light weight is the key/ </p><p>any ideas? inspiration? instruction? </p><p>thanks</p>
Great idea!<br>Like to see your project. <br>I personally wouldn't use spray foam just because of the gasses it releases.<br>My friend Gary that inspired me to build mine, used thinsulate in his bowtop. <br>They put several layers on. <br>Here's what his bowtop looks like, you can't see the thinsulate of course. <br>where you going to get your canvas for the outside?<br>There's a guy out West that does custom jobs. <br>Here's his website, <br>http://www.westernwalltents.com<br><br>The canvas on Garys bowtop came from there.
<p>Very nice! I'm in the beginning phases of building a camper or a vardo myself but am unsure which i want to do.</p><p>How well would this travel on highways at high speeds? </p>
Mine travels well. We're on the road with it this week Sept 23 2015 for its maiden voyage. <br>I've had it up to 65 mph. No sway. I'm NOT running a sway bar.<br>Friends told me i was crazy for it. Lol I'm not. <br>Although i have a tandem axle and that is what makes the difference. <br>Generally i drive 60 mph. Transmission stays around 194&deg;-199&deg;. Lower the gear temp goes up. <br>I pull the vardo with a 5.3 Chevy Avalanche 1/2 ton.<br><br>What kind of vardo are you going to build?
<p>Look forward to the updates for the interior. </p>
Thank you. I'll be insulating and covering the ceiling this week.
<p>Excellent work! Keep up the posts.</p>
<p>Great start for a great project! There aren't many traditional wagon builders left in our modern world, even though we had to update the chassis to be able to run the highways.</p>

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