Fry first got this van when he was just 17-years-old, and he later added an awesome wooden pop-top to his rig that’s truly one-of-a-kind. He spent years alone in his van until he met Clare, who moved in after her own solo van life! Between them, they have 14 years of combined vanlife experience.
The inside of the van feels just like a hunting cabin, and Fry doesn’t like to change things up much. He enjoys spending time in nature, hunting, and working as a ranch manager across the country. He and Clare are also starting a ranch of their own! Enjoy the tour below.
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Epic Vanagon with Custom Wood High Top: Fry & Clare’s 1986 Volkswagen Vanagon & Ranching
The happy couple enjoying their nomadic life.
The wood stove keeps the place toasty.
VIDEO: Camper Van w/ Custom Built Wood Hightop
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Natalie C. McKee
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I would be so concerned about the wood stove in there but electric heat may not be reasonable. Perhaps there isn’t another way to heat unless van is running. Like the rustic look!!
I have been told there are ways to use metal and spacers to protect three sides of a small or any wood stove. Using double wall and triple wall stove pipe helps also. Despite frequent stoking of a small stove, wood heat warms the body better than most other heats. I am more confused on the choice of heavy wood comforts over mileage savings while driving. Some people do not mind the expense of looks and do have the budget for it. I believe there are products that resemble wood that are much lighter in weight. Just as there are forms of insulation that are better than others without having to be so much thicker.
I had to go to You Tube to watch the video. My computer was showing a split and blurred video. Not sure why that happened.
Well, on weight’s effect on mileage it depends on how much weight it actually adds. Doing it with wood doesn’t necessarily mean it’s adding a lot of weight. Since, not all wood is equally heavy, how it’s framed, how thick or thin the boards are, etc. will determine just how much wood is actually there, etc. will vary how much weight it adds.
Something like the wood stove may actually be more of a concern as they are typically very heavy. The density of steel is around 12 times that of say yellow pine wood, for example.
While the industry rule of thumb is a 100lbs weight decrease/improves fuel economy about 1%, and mileage will also be effected by other factors like how you drive, how fast, etc. So it won’t necessarily effect everyone the same way or amount.
Like people who drive slowly and easy, over mostly smooth terrain, etc. could more than compensate for a little extra weight versus someone who drives fast and erratically, over rough terrain, etc. Among other reasons people may figure those costs differently.
There’s also how different materials perform and that not all faux wood materials are intended to be used to replace wood in structural applications and may have different pros and cons, like being more vulnerable to UV and heat, for example. Along with other considerations like how much cost and work it requires to repair, whether the material is healthy to be around, etc.
Then there’s the performance of the vehicle and how that effects mileage may either increase or decrease the effect of weight, etc. but the type of travel as well because not all nomadic travel means they’re always traveling and being able to conserve on things like heating may matter more than mileage.
So there are reasons people will disagree on this but it may be what works best for them anyway…
This is the coolest van ever!! So beautiful and rustic and cozy and inviting. What an amazing job you’ve done over the years. I love it!