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Man Rehabs Old Travel Trailer into DIY Tiny House for Travels

Hi Alex (and Tiny House Talk readers), I know you’re not really about trailers, but I thought you might like to see the “tiny house” I built a couple years ago.

The original framing was rotten, so I took it all the way down to the floorboards and built it up new, into a comfortable little traveling home.

I take it on month-long trips, and may soon be moving into it for a longer period when my “big house” is sold.

There is quite a community of vintage trailer folks, and next week I’m off to the big Pismo Beach Vintage Trailer Rally, where 300 of us will open up our trailers to visitors and fellow enthusiasts for the weekend.

Man’s 100 Sq. Ft. Travel Trailer to DIY Tiny House Conversion

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Images © Gary W.

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Images © Gary W.

Keep up the good work,

Thanks,

Gary
Lakeside, California

Gary, thank you so much for sharing your DIY travel trailer to tiny house rehab! Great job!

If you enjoyed this travel trailer to tiny house rehab you’ll absolutely LOVE our free daily tiny house newsletter with more!

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Alex

Alex is a contributor and editor for TinyHouseTalk.com and the always free Tiny House Newsletter. He has a passion for exploring and sharing tiny homes (from yurts and RVs to tiny cabins and cottages) and inspiring simple living stories. We invite you to send in your story and tiny home photos too so we can re-share and inspire others towards a simple life too. Thank you!
{ 34 comments… add one }
  • Dominick Bundy September 2, 2014, 3:25 pm

    I just love these older travel trailers, I have a 1986 22 1/2 ft Sunline travel trailer. that I bought brand new right off the showroom floor almost 30 years ago. . It has a front door and a back door. and a picture window on the curb side. Looks like a little 1950’s trailer house. very nice and cozy.. With lots of storage..Everything thing is all original from the window treatments to the bedspread and pillow shames. I’ve kept that trailer in mint shape in all these years. (It’s now considered vintage) and now worthy of vintage trailer rallies . Unfortunately there seems to be a biased and prejudice against most trailers over 10 years old now. When it comes to being allowed entrance to many campgrounds.. .. Have you seem some of the overpriced crap the RV industry is putting out there now? Cutting back on production and charging more for your money.. Most Travel trailers now only come with 2 burner cook tops (instead of complete 4 burner with ovens below) Also there seems to be less and less closet space as well having windows on all 4 sides of the rv . You pay more now and get less, Than what these older ones have to offer..And that is too bad..Wonder if campground owners and RV industry are in cahoots with one another..

    • Dominick Bundy September 2, 2014, 3:34 pm

      Forgot to ask what does DIY ,stand for in DIY tiny house? Anybody??

      • Gary Williams September 2, 2014, 3:50 pm

        Do I Yourself

      • Gary Williams September 2, 2014, 3:52 pm

        The Pismo Beach Vintage Trailer Rally is May 14 -16 this year. Open house is on Saturday, and the public is invited to come into Pismo Coast Village and walk through all the trailers.

      • Beth DeRoos September 2, 2014, 3:57 pm

        DIY Do It Yourself

  • Marsha Cowan September 2, 2014, 4:37 pm

    Very, very nice! Pretty! Cozy! Perfect!

  • CathyAnn September 2, 2014, 4:58 pm

    Just beautiful!

  • sc September 2, 2014, 5:03 pm

    Normally I have no interest in nearly all RVs and trailers, But i do have exceptions like the converted school buses that have been made into homes, the gypsy caravans and the Airstreams. I really like this trailer. What makes this trailer is the cheerful yellow color scheme. That big yellow/white awning is totally welcoming. Love the funky but chic interior prints. And the wood interior looks like a beautiful quality veneer and not cheap plywood or fiberglass.

  • Gail D. September 2, 2014, 5:45 pm

    I have an old Dodge Vogue RV that is in deperate need of help. It was emergency living quarters a few years back. Now I would like to get it fixed up. It has been to the shop for mechanical repairs and runs just fine. The interior is in disrepair. There have been some leaks. I would like to get the roof sealed and the interior economically re-done. Anyone know an individual willing to take on the challenge in eastern GA?

    • kenny martinez October 24, 2014, 11:45 pm

      Yes, Kenny helped me to do most of the work on my 1985 pace arrow, It is very nice and I am proud to have redone and then sold it because I have no need for it now. However,he is excellent with tight seems and can do almost anything. It looks great when he finishes any job. (Hope to hear from you soon. Don Dollar.) You may also contact him at 229-726-7082.

  • alice h September 2, 2014, 6:31 pm

    That is one of the nicest interiors I’ve seen yet. Love that messing about in boats pillow.

  • Martha September 2, 2014, 8:26 pm

    I could live full time in this trailer, although I sure would miss my mattress.

  • Melissa September 2, 2014, 8:30 pm

    Very nice! I would own this in a heartbeat! You do good work!

  • Comet September 2, 2014, 9:57 pm

    I am in LOVE!!!!!! Every time I see one of these I remember the cozy full size trailer my Great Great Grandmother AND Great Grandmother lived in for years—my Uncle ran a string of early trailer parks back when. They were in a nice park with a pond and play ground and trees–not like the ones I see today which could be easily mistaken for a bunch of old tractor trailer boxes. In a parking lot!

    Sigh.

    Maybe because I was with people who loved me these places seemed very homey and welcoming–and because these two ladies were NOT “Spring Chickens” back then in the early 60’s the small size but complete kitchen was easy for them to work in–they baked EVERY DAY.

    I DO agree with the poster who noted the lack of design in the new bazillion dollar RV’s–we have been looking for a couple of years at these and they get worse and worse. One of the BIG things you are meant to LOVE about these is that you don’t have to rely on finding food in your travels–or that you can make better food choices. However! The kitchens are either so poorly laid out or so lacking in yes–amenities like REAL STOVES!—that cooking is a chore! There can be 1 SQUARE FOOT of counter space—and that is promoted as a FULL SIZE KITCHEN COUNTER! No! But—you can have a FIREPLACE!!!–but no place to put your clothing. You can sleep a PLATOON–but why would you WANT to??? And those “dining rooms”–No! No stoopid benches—And no stooopid STEPS! The people these are marketed to–the ones who can actually AFFORD them-are NOT teenagers; we ARE upper middle aged and have the various illness’ and ailments that all people our age are heir to., But—the RV designers have FAILED utterly to accomadate people getting IN and OUT of the very RV’s they are trying to SELL us! Marketing possibility for some clever designer here!

    The bathrooms–unless you have a super model–are so small and absurd and some of the “Bathtubs” are SO SMALL–you can only get your FEET into them–you CANNOT ACTUALLY SHOWER! And I AM talking $250,000 rigs here! BUT–you have THREE BATHROOMS!!!! None of which are really–functional. And a thousand mirrors–can you imagine if they break? And soooooo much wasted SPACE–I know people who have been carving out space in their RV’s where the RV maker chose to ignore or cover it up—-but they are promoting LIVING in these. They put so much stock in matchy-matchy drapes and valances–which cover HALF THE WINDOW—and matching bedspreads and couches and carpets—maybe it’s just ME but they have not moved beyond MAUVE in the past 30 YEARS here!

    I have seen the various parks tell people==-OH too bad so sad–if the AGE of your RV is over whatever arbitrary number THEY choose–you are not ALLOWED to stay there! Some have a policy that IF you feel you are up to their “standards” you can APPEAL this–so you can hang out with the other billionaire RV snobs. No thanks!

    I also have been looking into the fees at various RV parks–here in the Lake George region it can be as much as $75 PER NIGHT–now that is a “RV RESORT” but still. For less than $75 a night I can find a perfectly FINE hotel room with a real shower and probably nice owners and interesting guests and not have to feel I am being judged by my bank balance. I also looked at areas where we have stayed farther South and noticed the same thing–for what the RV places are charging you can find cheaper hotels. Helps that we are not hotel snobs but still. And I am SURE that for those $300,000 RV’s with the Mercedes SUV’s I saw pulling into that RV RESORT that $75 per night IS a cheap place to stay.

    For us–who have been seriously thinking about re-habbing an older RV for long term travel–it is almost cheaper TO stay in hotels. Figure in the cost of the rig; the re-hab (which we would do ourselves) the cost of anything we had to sub out; the cost to register, insure, travel clubs, any repairs while under way, the cost of TIRES is staggering by itself–and add in for US that we are doing this to take our large motorcycle and travel using THAT for part of the time–so we would need a trailer and tools and–it is exhausting just to THINK about! AND THE GAS!!!!! OMG–the GAS costs!!!!

    So we are thinking–buy a decent sized enclosed trailer. make a portable “kitchen” ie grill with side burner and 5 gal pail of water and perhaps a toaster oven or small convection—one of those “fireless cookers” made like a heavy duty Thermos that cooks the food after you bring it to a boil–and a blow up bed JUST IN CASE—put the bike in there; put the small tow-behind-the-bike trailer we built in there; tools, my handicapped scooter–and our clothes in the tow vehicle and GO. Could easily make a meal in the AM; stash it in our saddle bags; both of us can pack for a weekend trip in a Zip loc bag–and GO! We easily travel a few hundred miles a day—and we love Mom n Pop motels. Longer ride planned? Hook up the trailer behind the bike! Best project we ever did was to build that lil’ trailer.

    But then I see something like THIS lil’ cutie and —-

    • Stephanie January 10, 2015, 7:25 pm

      The comment about RV parks putting the squeeze on people with older RVs why I want to go the stealth tiny house route, like the subject of this article. I need a different kind of roof on this travel trailer, and I want to do something about the interior layout to make better use of my space, as it is my home since this past March.

  • Marie B. September 3, 2014, 11:42 am

    What a fabulous restoration on this trailer! The woodwork is beautiful and its artistically designed and compact yet comfy. I also appreciate the elimination of ladders/lofts in the design, which is a huge plus. Thanks for sharing. Happy trails to you!

  • Chelle September 3, 2014, 1:09 pm

    LOVE LOVE LOVE this! Thanks for sharing it!

  • Sue September 7, 2014, 1:17 pm

    Beautiful! You did an amazing job on this. Thank you for sharing!

  • Eileen September 20, 2014, 10:08 pm

    I love recycling these old RV’s. My husband and I restored/remodeled a 72 Frolic camper that I’ve named the Pink Paradise. And it is my paradise. Check it out on my blog if you get a minute. Love all these cool tiny living options!

    • Alex September 21, 2014, 2:54 pm

      I checked it out Eileen- beautiful!! Would love to feature it here sometime. Thanks for coming by!

  • Gary Marshall October 15, 2014, 10:43 am

    The comment I read was “I know you are not really about trailers” which made me scratch my head as I wonder why most of your “tiny homes” are just that – trailers! – homes built on wheels! These expensive, heavy, non aerodynamic homes either regularly move around or plan on moving around at some point.
    Why dump 20 or 30 thousand into these tiny homes on wheels when you can acquire an old travel trailer for a thousand dollars or less? The continent is full of storage yards full of these things because people can’t get rid of them. I can buy a running Class C Motorhome for $1500 any day of the week! Someone please explain this to me – this fascination with constructing a building on top of a trailer?

  • samantha October 22, 2014, 6:32 pm

    Gary, I’ve been thinking the same thing; although the constructed tiny homes are very beautiful with the cedar wood and all. One argument I have read for them is the insulation/keeping out the cold. The cost, however, is a hurdle for most people, including myself. I have started my tiny house journey with my two children. We purged a lot of belongings and are living in an old mobile home on my parents’ property (rent free — yes, I’m lucky). After all debt is gone I was hoping to purchase a tiny house — either a remodeled travel trailer or a tiny built home. I am hoping to live in an RV park or rent space on someone’s land who has room. Our main purpose in doing this is to have money to travel. I have a lot of research to do!

  • Lynnette September 10, 2015, 3:11 pm

    Gary, I could not love your story anymore. I have a 1988 Shasta Revere 21 travel trailer that I beautified this past Spring, but I have more plans for her. I can’t wait for the day I can take her around the country ♡♡♡

    Here’s the video of my “Bessie”

    https://youtu.be/rNJYCiPFSfI

  • Joyce September 10, 2015, 3:29 pm

    Wow! I loved this vintage trailer. I hate I missed the vintage trailer rally. I would have liked to see what is out there. I was settling on creating a home from a van but now I’m not so sure. This trailer would be amazing. So glad you shared with us. This is so well made. I love all things tiny.

  • Valerie September 10, 2015, 4:17 pm

    I think its great. I would not mind living in that full time. I did not see a shower. I could live to do my laundry at the mat. It is simple for one person. I have not seen a vintage trailers in a very long time. Or I have ever seen a community for vintage trailers as well tiny home. It is a future thing for me for sure. It is still in my dreams of owning one tiny home.

  • Steph September 10, 2015, 5:03 pm

    This little trailer is gorgeous. I would gladly live in this. This is what pains me about most Tiny house designs I see. A lot of them look beautiful but always seem to lack in one area or another i.e for a few more feet you could have actual storage space .Too small of a loft is all too common . I see too many Tiny homes trying to compartmentalize when they should be opening up space. And even some Vardo designs which are usually open seem to lack for closet space or living space . Yet these older trailers seem to do the job right and don’t need lofts or staircases. I definitely use older trailers as inspiration.

  • gale September 10, 2015, 5:48 pm

    Cute cute cute…..hmmm now where can I put the TV;-)

  • La La September 10, 2015, 10:40 pm

    Wow! Very nicely done! I love the yellow and white floor and the gorgeous honey-colored wood. What a happy little place. 🙂

  • Martha September 11, 2015, 1:03 pm

    I think I can make out a shower head on the ceiling in front of (or over) the toilet. This bathroom is referred to as a “wet bath” because everything gets wet when you use the shower. You can possibly rig a shower curtain to keep some of it from the water, or you can just always wipe down the whole bathroom after showering. You’ll always have a clean bathroom that way!

    I love this trailer and how it’s been re-done. The space would suit me perfectly, and I see storage compartments everywhere, so with some downsizing of my belongings I could happily live full time in this unit.

  • Glema September 14, 2015, 7:47 pm

    Nice job Gary thanks for sharing. Billie quite simply, NO. The moldy smells says it is a major job and if you are already worried about the smells, just move on to another there are plenty out there dear. I might try it if like she says “the $500” does the trick but expect to strip it down to bones and build up again. Or use just the trailer and build you a THOW from it. God bless and Happy trails!

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