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Post Info TOPIC: What have I done!


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What have I done!


Lurker here, but had to post and show off?? my new home-to-be. I've been living in a 30' KZ Sportsman all summer, but it's way bigger than I want or need, so I'd been looking at smaller trailers, lots of older ones that perhaps I could redo/customize etc. When I stumbled across this, though, it just grabbed me and I'll be taking possession on Saturday. I think I need my head examined!

It's a 1974 Semaphore Caboose, one of only 800-900 made, that needs a LOT of work! But how fun once it's done!!

 

 



-- Edited by nightsky on Wednesday 24th of October 2012 07:25:36 PM

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Neat looking unit.........got a funny feeling on the weight though just looking at the T-111 siding makes me shiver!!!!.......pics as you go along , I have ventured through several websites on mini homes....there are alot of them out there and some are unreal done in there builds!!!



good luck and keep us posted

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Not sure what you mean about shivering about the siding...it's thin and cold or it's super heavy and going to be a bear to tow? Either way, not good.



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The wood construction adds to the weight .   you might want to check the tag and see the mfg weight.......if your doing alot of repacement on material try real hard to keep it the same in sizing.     also check your axles to make sure they are not transport axles........some of those units are built for point a to point b.  and then left set up............

 

this is a neat unit......and well worth the restoration.......



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My Service dog and life partner " Nikki"......Klee Kia Miniature Husky....(she Runs the ship!!)

We are not lost in the Woods.....Just Extreme boondocking!!!!!!



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I too need see pictures as you redo your new home! Before, during and after would be great.

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so far after some short research it has a aluminum and steel framework and was 4800 lbs dry off assembly line..........the unit is a collectors and real rare , not many left

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My Service dog and life partner " Nikki"......Klee Kia Miniature Husky....(she Runs the ship!!)

We are not lost in the Woods.....Just Extreme boondocking!!!!!!



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I'll work on setting something upon my website as I go along. This will be a total learning experience for me. I've rehabbed a mobile home in the last 2 years, down to replacing the subfloor, so hopefully that experience will help in this endeavor. Weight it a biggy for me, since I tow with an '04 Tundra. The first major hurdle will be getting it home to the place in TN where I can work on it this winter. I'm currently sitting in southern MN, will be leaving tomorrow evening to haul the 30' camper south. The tire shop bear where it's at is calling me tomorrow with prices for tires, and I'll probably have to rig up some brake lights/turn signals, hopefully everything else will be ok for the several hour trip from where it's at in KY to south of Nashville.



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Lucky Mike wrote:

so far after some short research it has a aluminum and steel framework and was 4800 lbs dry off assembly line..........the unit is a collectors and real rare , not many left


 That's good news, it's actually lighter than what I'm pulling now! I would appreciate it if you could send me or post the links to whatever info you've been able to find, as I haven't come across hardly anything about the Semaphores.



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www.topix.com/forum/outdoors/camping/TLINO0CIP8BRC74R2/p14




copy & paste.......there was some contact info from the son or grandson of the man who owned the factory there

Edit by moderator: Activated link.  Terry



-- Edited by Terry and Jo on Thursday 25th of October 2012 08:16:31 PM

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We are not lost in the Woods.....Just Extreme boondocking!!!!!!



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Thanks Mike! I'm terrible at finding anything on the internet, I normally have to ask someone else to look stuff up for me. LOL



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This looks so cute!  Good luck with this project!



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I remember seeing a couple of these on the road many years ago. Very cute.

One of them was being towed by a truck that had been customized to look like a steam engine.

A great find and a great project...good luck.

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Oh this looks like fun. Can't wait to see your progress.

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Not much has happened with the Caboose, although I think I may have found someone to haul it from KY to the house here in TN in the next week or two. Here's a few pics of the interior. The door is on the back end, this is inside the door left side. Large coat closet, dinette, there's a bunk that slides out so you could sleep up in the cupola.


Inside right side, fridge and kitchen. The aluminum trim piece on the floor is off the front, it was only held on with 1 screw so I pulled it off.



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Left side of the cupola showing the bunk.


Right side of cupola. Huge headroom, you could put a ceiling fan up there with no problem, probably why it feels so much larger than I expected.  I didn't think to grab a tape measure before I drove up to buy it so I have no idea how tall it actually is.



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Kitchen. There's as much counter space in the caboose as there is in the mobile home here in TN.  LOL




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Storage space/hallway past kitchen, there's a wall on the left side of the hall with the bathroom behind it, the bathroom door is in the bedroom area.


Ceiling covering has come down.


Looking at hallway from other direction.



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Left side of bedroom, the mice obviously approved of the little shelf.  biggrin


Right side of bedroom. This will be a problem if I keep the original floor plan, I want a double bed.



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Bathroom. Again the ceiling cover has come down.






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The previous owner and his buddy putting the new tires on.


The siding is aluminum, so no rust, but the paint is peeling, trim work is loose in many places, etc. It's going to need tons of work, both inside and out.



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It will be worth it in the end.........one of a kind, like I said in an earlier post.....That unit is real rare and its a railroad collectors Dream!!!

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I'm still stuck on getting a title for it. The last 2 owners didn't have one, not sure if it ws ever titled since it was parked at the lake and used as a cabin. I can likely get a home-built title, but I'd prefer to have it titled as a Semaphore Caboose if at all possible. I'm making a last run up to SD this week so I'll stop in and talk to the folks at the DMV about it. I'm taking the cordless drill with a grinding wheel along and will stop at the camper to see if I can uncover a serial number on the tongue.



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some states a title is no longer needed due to age.........if it is for history purposes , was there a lic. plate on it?
running the tag thru previous owners will bring up title.

look in all the cabinets for a paper tag with unit specs it will have vin on it.......

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your other option would be a Salvage title from Kentucky........if that is where it originated

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We are not lost in the Woods.....Just Extreme boondocking!!!!!!



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I did a search when I bought it for a tag, nothing in any of the cupboards, nothing on the outside of the body that I could find. Also there is/was no plate, didn't even see a bracket where one had been mounted. There is something stamped on the tongue, what I could see looked like perhaps "S C", it's been painted over at least once, hence the wire wheel to see if there's more of a serial number there. I'll contact Kentucky and see what they can tell me. There's also a KY electrical inspection sticker on the outside from when they had electrical work done, may be able to get an earlier owner's name from that.

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How exciting! Add me on the list of looking forward to see your finished project.. ;D


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Brief update on the caboose... nothing has happened. LOL I drove up to Kentucky 2 days ago to go through things and find out exactly what I need. One of the dust caps on the axle is missing, and looks to have been off for a long time, so I'm trying to find a mobile mechanic to repack the bearings before it goes anywhere. The tongue jack is rusted up tight, so that needs to be replaced. There are NO safety chains on it so I need to have a set welded on. Who knows if the brakes are frozen or not. The running lights are non-functional, which I expected since the wiring is crispy-brittle.

On a bright note, since I'm only about an hour away from him I drove over to Lebanon today and met Pieere.  What a nice guy!! we talked for several hours this afternoon about everything under the sun. I also met a fellow named Barry who is staying at the same campground, and between the two of them I think that if I can get the bearings replaced and the safety chains on and the brakes checked out, they can do the wiring and maybe even get the caboose hauled home for me!

 

Or else they're gonna take a look at it and shake their heads and say "What have you done!?!"  lol

 

It's a good thing I am planning to do a frame-up restoration on it, because when I was trying to get the loose siding fastened down I discovered the wooden frame around the bottom is completely rotted away. There is a lot of water damage visible inside, so I'm guessing the walls are bad inside as well. At least I don't have to worry about being bored this winter and having nothing to do. lol



-- Edited by nightsky on Saturday 1st of December 2012 06:27:07 PM

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I, personally, don't know much about restoring a caboose, but I think it is way cool that you took the time to meet and get to know Pieere and Barry! If we lived closer, Wayne would be all over this project with you. :) Best of luck!


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 A little advice use 2X3's when you rebuild the walls instead of the 2x2's that I am sure the walls will have. Now I know that some will say that it will make it that much heavier but I think that due to the quality of lumber these days and the fact that if you have ever been to the lumber yard and tried to find a straight stick of lumber you will have better luck finding straighter 2x3's vs 2x2's. Side note I also think 2x3's are stronger than 2x2's. I have just completed the framing repair of the unit we are currntly living in, just have to insulate and repanel the inside. I am sure there are plenty of people here that have done remodeling of thier units. Have fun.



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Yep, I plan to build the walls thicker so there's more room for insulation. I'm not too concerned about weight, I think/hope it will end up being about a thousand pounds lighter after the rebuild than it is now. It's got a enamel-over-steel bathtub in it, and very thick wood paneling throughout. I've seen 4800 and 5300 as weights off the factory floor, that seems really heavy for a 20' TT.

Drove up to KY again today, after a couple gallons of WD-40 and a BIG hammer I finally managed to get the frozen tongue jack removed. The local RV place agreed to order a new one for me, I'll pick it up Wednesday or Thursday when I'm back up there. I also a mobile mechanic to come out Wednesday and repack the wheel bearings and check out the brakes. Either he or the RV place will install safety chains, and I've got several options now for getting the driving lights rewired. All this would be soooo much easier if it wasn't 3 hours away.

On a really positive note, I think I finally found the VIN!! There is a long number that is right next to the base plate of the tongue jack, it was buried under the corrosion and several layers of paint, so I'll take the cordless drill and wire wheel up and see if I can't get it cleaned up enough to read the whole thing.

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Hello; Sounds like you are coming along quite well! Remember back in the 70's items were built a quite a bit heavier than now. I will let Barry know how you are coming along, may see him tomorrow. I hope you have his Phone #. Speak with you soon! Ed



-- Edited by PIEERE on Tuesday 4th of December 2012 07:05:02 PM

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Today's update...
I met the mobile mechanic at 10 this morning, he repacked all 4 wheels, said the bearings looked like new and didn't think it had ever been hauled much or else they were replaced just before it was parked at the lake, the brakes are free and the low tires are aired up. Drove up to Draffenvile to the RV place and they ordered the new tongue jack and the safety chains and put a 2" ball on my equalizer hitch, we discussed them doing the wiring but I said lets hold off on that for now, I know a fellow that has wireless towing lights that I can use. After wire brushing the tongue I cleaned up the number that I was hoping was the VIN or serial number... turns out it's the Pat. No. for the hitch coupler. :( So I'm back to having to title it as a home built. Both the RV folks and the mechanic said I should be able to pull it home without a license plate as long as I have the bill of sale with me in case I get pulled over. :shock:

They weren't sure if the jack and chains would come in Friday, they're not open Saturday so the caboose may or may not be ready to haul home this weekend.

I did some measuring so tomorrow I will get some draft paper and start playing around with ideas on how to reconfigure the interior so I can get a double bed in the front instead of the single that it currently has. The wall between the living/kitchen area and the bathroom/bedroom is directly under the front edge of the cupola, the back edge is over the wall that forms the closet on the left rear and the right side is open above the kitchen counter. It may be that when I rebuild it I can move the cupola back 6 or 8 inches and still preserve the look of the original at the same time as giving me a bit more space to work with in the front end. (The windows wouldn't line up nicely any more though.) Or possibly I can reconfigure the bathroom/bedroom to free up a few more inches or come up with a way to move the bathroom door to the hallway instead of it opening into the bed area. Right now a double bed would come very close to fitting in the space but the bathroom door would not be useable in it's current position. A sliding door may be a possibility.

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or a bifold door..........

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That may work as well.

In an email from a fellow who worked at Semaphore Industries he sent the link to the patent on the caboose.



He also sent this info on the construction...

"We put 110-volt rooftop air conditioners on many of them. You could plug a 110-volt cord from the outside (left rear) to run it. Or, if you paid extra, you could have a 110-volt gasonline generator installed in the left rear. The small refrigerator could also use 110 vols AC, or 12 volts, or LPG. LPG was also used for the stove and furnace--the gas being provided by one or two standard tanks mounted on either side of the V-shaped tow bar.
CONSTRUCTION:
Each trailer begain with a steel frame laid out to a template, and welded, then painted black. Atop that were bolted sheets of 1/2-inch or 3/4-inch particle board, I don't remember which. Vinyl was cut and glued on the floor (bathroom, mostly) and the carpet was cut to shape and glued down. The automotive 12-volt wiriing was run beneath the floor, I believe, for the lights and brakes. 110-volt wires were run inside the walls, with approproiate channels and openings for recepticles being drilled and cut. A minority of the wiring was laid out on the floor in places where cabinets and other elements would cover them.

The walls (sides, front and rear) were built separately, laid out horizontally. The firrst layer was the aluminum exterior. Sheets of that came to the factory already sized, painted and corrugated. On top of the aluminum (remember: these walls were lying on their sides) was glued sheet of plastic to serve as a vapor barrier (same thing on the floor). The glue was pink, sprayed on.

Next came two-inch by two-inch pine studs, which made up the framework, and a small amout of fiber-glass insulation was placed between the studs. These were glued down, and in certain places fastened in with nails or bolts. Holes were drilled in the studs and cut in the paneling (see below) to accommodate wires and pipes.

Next: wood panels, also glued. This was the thin, inexpensive type of paneling used in apartments and houses--very popular in the 1970s. The kind of paneling made of quarter-inch plywood, with a finished surface on one side, and simulated vertical grooves.

When a wall was finished, it had window and door holes cut into it, per a temporary pattern laid atop it. Aluminum framing lined the holes, then the windows and door were attached to each unit after the trailer was assembled.

Speaking of which, the next step in assembly was for two or three people to carry the wall (usually the sides went first) to the base/frame, line it up, and hold it while a couple of guys tacked and then bolted it into place. There was much leveling and aligning and use of squares to make sure everything went in at all the right angles. Otherwise the frames and windows and doors would warp and make for lots of leaks. The sides were attached to the front and rear with bolts/nails, a rubber strip put over the joints, and chrome strips screwed on over that.

With the sides, front and fear in place, the roof went on. It was assembled like the walls. Wires came up through the walls to serve the 12-volt lights at the top. The ceiling was made of the same find of white material you see in dropped ceilings, except it was cut into units that stretched across the width of the trailer. I think they were three or four feet in the other direction, and thin wood trim was placed where two sheets came together. It was sealed to the sides the same way the sides were screwed to one another.

Some of the interior stuff (especially cabinets) was sometimes installed on the floor before the walls went on. The color of the carpet escapes me at the moment. The final touches were added to the rear deck (ladder, handrails, etc.) after the exterior was completed. The deck surface was part of the initial frame assembly."



-- Edited by nightsky on Wednesday 5th of December 2012 10:22:37 PM

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I've also gotten this from the son of one of the owners of Semaphore Industries...

"My father was an owner of Semaphore Industries and built many Cabooses before
the sharp rise in Gasoline prices in the Mid 70's which nearly put him out of
business. As the Travel Trailer industry went down, he survived for a while
building Caboose trailers as mobile sales units for Baldwin and Kimball Pianos
and organs. The company survived for a few more years and then succumbed to the
"Gas Crisis". There's not a whole lot of historical documents left of the old
Semaphore company. I have a few copies of brochures that may give some
illustration of the original interiors and "instruction manuals" that I can scan
and send you if interested.

I would love to see pictures of your unit (in it's current state) and follow
with your restoration. My Dad passed away in 2006, but my Mom is still hanging
in there and just celebrated her 94th birthday. It would make her feel good to
know that one of the trailers is still around and that someone is interested in
restoring it.

There was a serial number, most likely a 4 digit number. there was a namplate
riveted to the unit somewhere. It's been a while, (I was in High School then and
am coming up to 40th reunion next year) but as I recall the nameplate was
installed in various positions over the years from the frame (near the front) to
the lower front of the siding, or some were even on the back (like about where
the License Plate would be). I may have some pictures at home that might show
it. "

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Nightsky,

The link you placed in that one post is a bad link.  You might want to check that one again.

Also, with what sounds like a rather major remodel for the trailer, you might want to consider starting and writing a blog where you can include about as many photos as you want.  It would also leave you with the option of having a better search feature for your project.

Terry



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Thanks for the heads-up, Terry. I think I've fixed it. Not sure how it got abbreviated.

Yep, I need to get a blog started somewhere, I was just thinking this thread is getting rather long, how many posts does it take to jump to page 2? Or doesn't it?

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nightsky wrote:

Thanks for the heads-up, Terry. I think I've fixed it. Not sure how it got abbreviated.

Yep, I need to get a blog started somewhere, I was just thinking this thread is getting rather long, how many posts does it take to jump to page 2? Or doesn't it?


 Yep.  It's working now.

As for how long before going to the next page, I've never counted the posts before it does.  I know it is quite a few before it does.

Terry.



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Nightsky: you are so fortunate to have found so much information on this unit! Guess we will see how the weekend turns out; also have to watch out for the weather. your blog is coming along well. Pieere

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Thanks Ed! I am frankly surprised I managed to get the blog up and running today. I find as I get older the learning curve is getting steeper, and I sometimes have difficulty learning new things, especially computer stuff.

 

I don't think anything will happen this weekend, it didn't sound like the new tongue jack and safety chains would be in before Monday (the RV place is closed Saturday and Sunday) and yes, the weather forecast is looking pretty wet for the next few days at least.



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Ok I want out of here!!!!!............so much I want to jump in the coach and come and help on this project!!!!!!


Any use for a one armed knowitall with a crazy dog....and a master called Lucky!!!!!

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Any and all help offered will be graciously accepted! I've already volunteered Ed and Barry to help with the driving light wiring. I think I may have even mentioned this fact to them last weekend! lol I've never been able to get electric information to stick in my brain, despite having a good friend up in MN who is an electrician and has trying teaching me several times over the years. All I know about electricity is that it's inside those wires and just waiting to jump out and bite me. Oh, and it's bad if you let the Magic Smoke out. haha

Hmmm.... I wonder how Nikki would get along with Archie the Yorkie, Lady the ****er Spaniel and Bubbles (don't laugh, she's sensitive about her name lol) the Great Dane!

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Lucky Mike wrote:

Ok I want out of here!!!!!............so much I want to jump in the coach and come and help on this project!!!!!!


Any use for a one armed knowitall with a crazy dog....and a master called Lucky!!!!!


 biggrinbiggrinThis project will put a spark in anyones' eyes! Mike; it has made my heart skip a beat, no pun intended, as my past has been full of projects of refurbishing hot rod cars, a TC; TT; and a 1975 GMC 22' CLass-C. I have experienced 4+ yrs as a used car detailer/renovator and about 5 years of refurbishing and customizing golf carts.

You may have your chance to join in all this F-uuuu--n, as by the looks of the pictures there will be a lot of labor and love, blood; sweat and tears in this project. But; what a beauty to behold! PIEERE



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Currently at Shady Acres RV Park   Lebanon; Tennessee

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RV-Dreams Family Member

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Thinking about it Ed......I get to get out of here soon , would love to drift down and add a helping hand....I love busy work and I did alot of research on this unit when it first came up........alot of neat facts and fame about it!!

not only that but its very rare and it would be nice to be a part of the restoration!!


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 1998 ...Harney Renegade DP  class A

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My Service dog and life partner " Nikki"......Klee Kia Miniature Husky....(she Runs the ship!!)

We are not lost in the Woods.....Just Extreme boondocking!!!!!!



RV-Dreams Family Member

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Caryn,

Just saw this on the net and immediately thought of you.  Unfortunately, it only has one picture of the outside but a lot of the inside.  If the link doesn't work, try chrisandmalissa.com/home. 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/07/chris-malissa-tack-tiny-home_n_2422393.html?icid=maing-grid7%7Cmaing6%7Cdl2%7Csec1_lnk3%26pLid%3D254567#slide=more272739

Vance

PS- You may have already found this.



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Vance and Marla

2010 Mobile Suites 36 TK3

2013 Silverado 3500 Duramax Dually 4X4 

Full Timing launch date 8-25-2014



RV-Dreams Family Member

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Hi Vance, no I hadn't seen that. I wish they had a photo of the exterior. The tiny house movement is growing rapidly, and is part of what spurred me to becoming a full-timer. My tiny house will be on wheels, just like the rest of us here. smile

 

I also post on tnttt.com (Teardrops and Tiny Travel Trailers). If you want to see some incredible craftsmanship, check out some of the builds these folks have done and are doing. There is a fellow who is building a caboose tiny house on wheels, which I had been following since before I came across my Caboose. His thread has a zillion ideas and links for small space, combined use furniture and compact living solutions, etc.



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