please help me understand bow tops

Design & Construction of anything that's not a teardrop e.g. Grasshoppers or Sunspots

please help me understand bow tops

Postby Dalorin » Sat Jan 03, 2015 2:46 pm

All,

I've seen other discussions on here about bow top campers. I really like the light weight and the spacious interior. The wood beam and canvas construction is very reminiscent of a yurt or teepee. I found this picture and I'm really enamored with the thing.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/62930759@N02/5972191055

I'm a family man with a wife and two young kids so the added space without the added weight is really appealing. However, some things have me scratching my head.

First off, the small design of a teardrop means that you can stay warm mostly with body heat alone. It seems like it would be harder to stay warm in a bow top.

Second, I'm not sure how well they get down the road. I'm trying to imagine if you could safely move a bow top down the road at 55 mph.

Third, does anyone actually camp with a bow top? I don't want to come off as rude but I'm wondering if when you pull it into a national park (or any campground) if everyone receives you as the village idiot. Are you even allowed into campgrounds with this thing?

I'm wondering if most people just build them and park them on private property for a getaway. That kind of thing.

Anyone with knowledge to this end please straighten me out.

Thanks!
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Re: please help me understand bow tops

Postby Woodbutcher » Sat Jan 03, 2015 5:05 pm

If I was going to build the trailer you show, I would skin the frame with 1/8" baltic birch and glue your canvas to that. Then paint or epoxy the fabric. I did a woody teardrop with just a frame covered with baltic birch and Marine vinyl. That did not need any finish over it. It did take a village to install it though. You needed to contact cement both surfaces and the roll it on. There was NO room for error as it will not move once the 2 surfaces touch. Cool looking trailer, but the wind resistance up front will hurt you some. Just have a decent tow vehicle.
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Re: please help me understand bow tops

Postby DrCrash » Sat Jan 03, 2015 6:09 pm

I like it. Looks like a sheep wagon or vardo.
If built right I don't think anyone would say anything about camping in it, you might be giving tours though.
I did notice in the pictures the door was on the front. If it were mine I would put it on the rear.
And like woodbutcher said you will need a car or truck with guts to pull it down the road.
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Re: please help me understand bow tops

Postby Dalorin » Sat Jan 03, 2015 8:33 pm

@Woodbutcher

My understanding of this wagon is that you get all the bows in place and there is the skeleton of a large tube. Then you stretch three layers over top of the structure. First decorative fabric goes over so the inside looks nice, then you pull over a layer of insulating foam, and finally you stretch canvas over the outside. The canvas is weatherproofed with exterior latex paint.

(In the past where there was no such thing as insulating foam the Romani would use carpet as their insulating material under the canvas)
This is a clever design that the Romani have used for a long time. There's very little material and what material there is can be had cheaply. You could have the basic structure built on the trailer for a thousand dollars.

Even when the covering is worn out after a few years you can just pull out the sewing machine and pneumatic stapler and you're off to the races.

Even though it's large it winds up weighing less than a teardrop (depending on what you pack inside).

I guess my biggest concern with towing was that it would act like a huge box kite on the road. But from what I'm hearing from you guys it seems like the drag of the thing through the wind is what would require a beefy tow vehicle.


Thanks for the information so far.
Last edited by Dalorin on Sat Jan 03, 2015 8:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: please help me understand bow tops

Postby Dalorin » Sat Jan 03, 2015 8:43 pm

@DrCrash

It is indeed a vardo.

The Romani would paint the exterior canvas green and park it parallel to the roadways out in the fields. The wagons would simply blend into the landscape and go unnoticed.

Imagine if you built this wagon ten or fifteen feet long. You could comfortable install a small nautical furnace against the front wall on one side of the door. If you put a window on the other side of the door you could put in a small air conditioner.

I don't know but it seems like this design has real potential depending on whether or not you could get it down the road.

I was hoping someone on here had experience with this design.
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Re: please help me understand bow tops

Postby Dalorin » Sat Jan 03, 2015 9:47 pm

I hate to answer my own questions on here but I figure somebody may come looking for this information in the future. I found that this thing is indeed difficult to manage on the highway:

We took our first trip with the caravan recently. One thing I discovered is it is very hard to tow the caravan with a 4 cylinder car. We couldn't go over 55mph on level highway. I believe it is do to the large flat front of the caravan catching too much wind. The situation improved dramatically if a truck or something was in front of us to block the wind. I have ordered a wind deflector from JC Witney to try to move more air over the top of the caravan.


Found at the following site:
http://mygypsycaravan.blogspot.com/

Still would consider building one to park somewhere remote. When you consider that it meets the qualifications of an impermanent structure (and therefor not subject to any building codes) you could have a very nice retreat for not a lot of money.

As for me travelling I don't see myself driving anything with more than four cylinders. I'm not going to tool down the road at ten miles a gallon.
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Re: please help me understand bow tops

Postby DrCrash » Sat Jan 03, 2015 10:07 pm

Ok bear with me on this one ....

what if since it is canvas sides and top.
What if you stowed the canvas and some how folded the ends down to make the front and back smaller.
Then tow it to where you want to go then set it up?
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Re: please help me understand bow tops

Postby Dalorin » Sat Jan 03, 2015 10:18 pm

@DrCrash

If the covering is built up of insulating layers and painted it becomes permanently fixed in place. Well, at least constantly moving it would damage the layer of paint.

However, I did have a similar thought.

You could somehow port the front and the back while towing so that the air passes straight through unobstructed. Really large windows and doors that take up almost the entire face of the front and back? Then you open them all when traveling? I dunno.

At the very least you bring up an excellent point. If you wanted to park this somewhere you could assemble the skeleton in a convenient shop and then tow it to the site at a fast clip. Once you get where you're going you can finish the assembly on site.
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Re: please help me understand bow tops

Postby bobhav » Sun May 03, 2015 10:02 pm

Folks,
My wife and I have almost finished our version of Tim Lemke's American Vardo. It has a bow supported skin and is covered with a vinyl covered fabric. I haven't towed it an inch. I will try to have it wired by this weekend. It has taken us about six weeks to get this far. The interior has been personalized. If all goes well, it will be at CRA.

The bed is 53" wide and 72" long ( I'm short and fat). It has a bench on each side that is about 41" long and has internal storage for (5) 1 gallon water containers. actual shoulder width for each bench is 24 inches. A work area is built over each bench. One is a cutting board with a dry sink that swings out from under it. The other is a single burner propane stove. Under the bed there is a composting toilet in one compartment and a tool / tire sled and cooler in the other compartment. Above those compartments is a shelf that is 22" deep, 10" tall, and 60 " long. Just under the bed is a table top that is on drawer slides. The table top slide out between the benches. Above everything else is approximately 16 feet of 5" X 5" V shelf storage. All of this was built on an HF 1200# trailer.

It will be nice to get up, go to the head, get dressed, make coffee, and set down to enjoy it without opening the door.

BobH.
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Re: please help me understand bow tops

Postby mezmo » Mon May 04, 2015 2:33 am

Hi Dalorin,

That's a type of Vardo. A well built one could go down the highway fine
enough, depending on the tow vehicle. But it would be like towing your
own personal open parachute behind you all the time. Not good at all for
gas mileage. Also, just remember that there are many approaches used
in building a BowTop style Vardo or TTT.

The bowtop style, is basically a large cylinder on its side used as
a TTT body. Here is a very interesting variant on it, the main departure
being the semicircular-bottom-topped-by-a-1/4 sphere used at the
front. This gains much needed lessened drag. It is a long thread but read
it all for a most informative look at one approach at doing it. Just keep
in mind that it was an evolutionary process, but it achieved a nifty little
TTT.

This is the "Foamstream", by forum member GPW, the originator of the
"Foamy" concept in DIY TDs and TTTs.

http://tnttt.com/viewtopic.php?f=55&t=45027

Cheers,
Norm/memzo
If you have a house - you have a hobby.
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Re: please help me understand bow tops

Postby bobhav » Mon May 04, 2015 10:02 am

Menzo is giving you the straight stuff. Our Vardo will mainly say within about 150 miles of home. Longer trips will be made with the Retro Ride teardrop. Our Vardo has about 50 % more frontal area. Pulling the Vardo will take more power, the price we pay for the fun we have.

BobH.

mezmo wrote:Hi Dalorin,

That's a type of Vardo. A well built one could go down the highway fine
enough, depending on the tow vehicle. But it would be like towing your
own personal open parachute behind you all the time. Not good at all for
gas mileage. Also, just remember that there are many approaches used
in building a BowTop style Vardo or TTT.

The bowtop style, is basically a large cylinder on its side used as
a TTT body. Here is a very interesting variant on it, the main departure
being the semicircular-bottom-topped-by-a-1/4 sphere used at the
front. This gains much needed lessened drag. It is a long thread but read
it all for a most informative look at one approach at doing it. Just keep
in mind that it was an evolutionary process, but it achieved a nifty little
TTT.

This is the "Foamstream", by forum member GPW, the originator of the
"Foamy" concept in DIY TDs and TTTs.

http://tnttt.com/viewtopic.php?f=55&t=45027

Cheers,
Norm/memzo
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Re: please help me understand bow tops

Postby bobhenry » Mon May 04, 2015 1:39 pm

SOUND KINDA LIKE TOWING A BARN :rofl2:

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Re: please help me understand bow tops

Postby RAYVILLIAN » Tue May 05, 2015 7:49 am

How about a pointy nose.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/21467781@N04/15758590780/
This Is something I played with built of foam to pull behind my 03 4 bang accord but haven't built yet.

Gary
Where ever we raise the hatch is home.
Darn blank states keep getting further away and we keep traveling slower ain't never gona get this map full.
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Re: please help me understand bow tops

Postby Dalorin » Tue May 05, 2015 10:17 am

Thank you for the additional info everyone. I came to these same conclusions and decided that a bow top would be best for a semi permanent installation somewhere. Maybe some scrub in the Ozarks?

Anyhoo, for now my hands are tied up in the meatloaf build. I have to have something built for travel. I can't be gathering moss.
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Re: please help me understand bow tops

Postby DavidMcC » Mon Nov 06, 2017 1:51 am

hope you don't mind me bringing this back to the top again. It kind of got me to thinking and that is really quite dangerous. what if you took and cut section out (in my case it would be two pieces of 4x8 stacked on top of each other then cut and hinged together to make it 5x6, as I have a 5x8 trailer. it would be cut like in the pic. Then I would hinge the bottom so basically I would fold the top over and then the base would drop down. I would do the same with the front and the door would be a dutch door. If you want to see the video, its kind of interesting but he only shows you one view, you can check out you tube where I found it: I'm not trying to sell anything just giving you an idea as to what I'm looking at. He isn't selling anything in fact he only says a few words the entire time.
closing a DYI bowtop trailer.MPG

My thought is that since this is NOT moving down the road in the up position I would be able to get away with 1/2 ply. Perhaps 1" conduit on top for the strength and then 1" pvc on the sides. Then the tarp. What are your thoughts? Thanks
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