Sunday, January 25, 2009

Blog has Shifted

I have shifted this blog to a Wordpress platform on the Nomadic Home website. I will leave this blog here, but will not be updating it any more. Instead I will continue this blog on the new platform. Clicking on the title of this post will take you there.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Stoves and Ovens

This blog has shifted to a new web site called Nomadic Home. Click here to see it.

There are a variety of stoves and ovens that are suitable for a nomadic home. I would avoid using electric ones, due to the expense of generating enough electricity to run them. So you will be looking at stoves/ovens that run on a combustable fuel. The following list gives some comparison of fuel types.

Kerosene (paraffin)
is reliable, cheap and has a hot flame. It is readily available in most parts of the world.

provides less heat, is fairly expensive and is not as widely available around the world. It is popular and available in North America and Scandinavia.

is very convenient to use and has a hot flame. It is usually fairly economical to use. Disadvantages are that different geological locations use different fittings to connect the bottle to the stove, which can also create problems getting bottles filled. Due to the fact that LPG/Propane is heavier than air, it can be hazardous to use on boats, with leaking gas settling in the bilges, creating a risk of explosion. Probably not such a concern in a nomadic home, which sits on wheels, as an open door would let the gas run out, of it's own accord, if a leak were to develop.

is available just about everywhere and when used in stoves/ovens such as the Canadian made Dickinson and British made Taylors are excellent in cold climates, as they also both warm and dry the entire nomadic home. Generally they will also share the same type of fuel as the homes engine, which means you aren't carrying an extra type of fuel, just to do the cooking. Due to the fact that most diesel stoves/ovens take quite awhile to reach cooking temperatures, they are not particularly well suited to traveling in hot climates. For those who spend time in both hot and cold climates, a diesel stove/oven can be suitable with the addition of a portable stove, using one of the above fuels. They can be set on top of the diesel stove/oven when in hot climates.

. Stoves/ovens running on these solid fuels are much like their diesel counterparts in use, with the same advantages and disadvantages in the main. Some of them are only designed for burning one type of solid fuel, which can be problematic. For instance charcoal is sold in many places, only during summer. Coal is sometimes only availabe in winter and not at all in some places. Wood is freely available in some places and scarce in others. If a solid fuel stove/oven is the choice of preference, then a multi fuel (wood/coal/charcoal) burner would be a sensible choice.

Friday, January 16, 2009

A First Home

This blog has shifted to a new web site called Nomadic Home. Click here to see it.

My work friend Terry has done something, which in modern society is probably considered unusual, but I think is actually quite far sighted. For his teenage son's bedroom, he has bought an old house bus.

The bus is fully self contained with kitchen, bathroom, shower, wood fire and running hot/cold water. For a teenage boy, having the bus now means he has a certain amount of autonomy, which is important at that age. Along with the fact that the bus is old, Terry feels that it was not thought out that well, in conception. So he plans on doing it up with his son, to make it more functional, with better use of space. He is also planning on mechanically improving it as well. Currently it has the original petrol motor, which will be replaced with a modern diesel. The suspension and brake systems will also be updated. Because father and son will be doing the work together, Terry intends for his son to become competent at carrying out maintenance for himself. Most important in my opinion is that once his son is old enough, has learned to drive and has the relevant driving licences, Terry intends to hand over ownership to his son, so that he will start his adult life already owning his own home! I don't know that many people get that kind of start in life.

Here are some photo's of the interior as it is currently.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

New Link on Website (The £200 Millionaire)

I have just put up "The £200 Millionaire" by Weston Martyr, in it's entirety, with a link to it on the web site.

Don't let appearances deceive, I will tidy it up, before expanding the site, but am learning as I go.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Pics of my Westfalia (Set up for Two)

This blog has shifted to a new web site called Nomadic Home. Click here to see it.

This post is republished here with kind permission from
It gives a good perspective of how two people can live comfortably in the small space, which is a VW van.

I posted pictures, several months ago, of what the inside of my van looked like when I was the only one living in it. It was very organized, cozy, and everything had its place. Believe it or not, my van is still very organized, even though there are now two of us living in it. I got rid of a bunch of stuff before Dan moved in, and I only really kept my essentials in here with me. It takes a lot of focus some days, but I always try to put stuff away before things get out of control in here. When things start to get messy, they get messier real fast. This is what happens if I haven't felt like cleaning in a few days, I need to get into my engine compartment, and my bench-seat storage compartment isn't easily accessible. I go crazy when I don't have any floor space:

Luckily that doesn't happen too often. I try to keep it like this with two of us living in it:

I don't think I've posted any photos yet of my awesome front "breakfast nook" and "typing area" that appears when I set up my table and swivel the front seats. It really gives my van a stronger sense of home, especially with the top popped:

It is really amazing how huge my van seems when the top is popped up. It literally gives me an upstairs where I can feel completely alone inside my van, even if someone is typing up front and someone else is hanging out on the "down-stairs" bed. I love my van... (but you all know that)

My van makes me a true home-owner. Back when I actually "owned a house," I didn't actually own a house. The bank owned it. I don't know why that classified me as a home-owner. NOW I am truthfully a home-owner, since my van is bought and paid for. The best home I could ever ask for is all mine, on wheels, and organized better than my stick-built house ever was.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Web Site (Off Topic)

This blog has shifted to a new web site called Nomadic Home. Click here to see it.

I started this blog as a blog, because it was a: free, and b: required no technical skills to publish on the internet.

I do like the blogging format, but feel that a web site would enable me to compile more resources in a more useful format. To this end I have decided to start one. Here is the address Until I start to figure out a bit about putting a web site together, it will be as it is now, which is a title page linking to this blog, but I do intend on developing it, as I develop the skills to do so.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Heads and Holding Tanks

This blog has shifted to a new web site called Nomadic Home. Click here to see it.

I don't know if it is the same on land based nomadic homes, but for people living on boats, an inordinate amount of time and energy is spent on the toilet. Most of the time it is either trying to fix it or thinking of ways to make it so it doesn't need fixing. I have noticed that a lot of motor homes, house buses and trucks being sold advertise as having a marine toilet, so maybe mobile people on land do spend just as much time on it too.

This post is based entirely from the water-born nomadic home perspective, as that is where my own experience is from. My guess is that a reasonable amount of it will apply to nomadic homes on wheels.

There are several different approaches, with different pros and cons.

Bucket and chuck it: Very cheap, reliable, doesn't take up much room. In fact this is probably one of the most pragmatic solutions. It's not my choice. I just don't like it, but there is no practical reason not to.

Porta-pottie: These should work for most people in most situations. They are very portable and can be emptied at any public toilet. I have one for camping, but must admit I have always been able to find a public toilet when I have taken the porta-pottie with me. I'm actually a little hesitant to use it, because of their reputation for smelling. I think that the reason people have smell problems with them is because the treatment chemicals most people use are formaldehyde based. Not only does it have a bad chemical smell to start with, but is also toxic to handle and creates an anaerobic process in the holding tank, which will permeate the air with the sent of sewerage. I have an alternative product called Bio Magic. It contains no poisons, enzymes, bacteria, bleach etc. It is supposed to work by supplying large amounts of oxygen to the existing bacteria, creating an aerobic process, which doesn't smell. When I do try it out, I will report on the effectiveness of it.

Flush toilet: With or without a holding tank, this is what most people aim for. These units also account for the most regular maintenance problems of any system in a boat. The problem in my opinion is that they are invariably over engineered and over complicated, often leaving their owners up to their elbows in sewerage, at the most inconvenient times. By way of remedy, I have one word Lavac. Lavac's are a vacuum toilet, in either manual or electric. I have a manual one on my boat and the only moving part is a Henderson mark 5 diaphragm pump. The whole front of the pump unscrews, to clear any blockage quickly and cleanly. The Lavac can be either plumbed straight over the side, or to a holding tank. If you do plumb it to a holding tank, you still only need the one pump. With the addition of two Y valves, that one pump can either discharge overboard, into the holding tank, or be used to pump out the holding tank.

Plumbing: Smell from a flush toilet comes from two places. Plumbing or the holding tank. This is one area that you don't want to economize in. Sanitation hose needs to be made specifically for the job. It is expensive, but nothing else will prevent smell. Even proper sanitation hose will need to be replaced periodically, but you should get a couple of years use before odors start to permeate. Rigid PVC pipe works well, is impermeable but won't last in the constantly moving environment of a boat. I don't know if the same problem occurs with nomadic homes on wheels. If it doesn't, it would be the material to use.

Holding tanks: There are only two materials that you should consider for a holding tank. Polypropylene or Linear Polyethylene. Don't go thinking that a stainless steel tank is a good option either. It needs constant oxygen to avoid corrosion, which it won't get, if it is holding sewerage.In the case of Polypropylene, the wall thickness should be at least 1/4 inch thick, to prevent odor permeating and thicker for strength in bigger tanks. There are a lot of superstitions regarding odor control with holding tanks. Some people recommend using very large breather tubes to get plenty of air in, to aid the aerobic process. Others will try to run fish tank aerating pumps to achieve the same thing. It doesn't work. The tank has to be impermeable to odor, which is why I have specified the two above materials. In the past I corresponded with a gentleman who designs municipal sewerage systems. In his opinion, it is impossible to get enough oxygen into a small system, such as a holding tank. Instead the best option is to keep the odor in the tank. You will still need a breather pipe big enough so that the tank doesn't implode when being emptied, or explode when being filled. This will emit some odor when flushing, as air is expelled from the tank at the same time. Afterward, the odor will stay in the tank.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Terry's Caravan

This blog has shifted to a new web site called Nomadic Home. Click here to see it.

Terry is a friend from work. He has also spent most of his adult life living in house trucks, so I though it would be worth checking out his current living situation for this blog.
Awhile ago he bought a piece of land at the top of a BIG hill. here is a composite photo of his view. Click on it to get a better idea of what he looks out onto.

For accommodation, Terry has placed a collection of old buses, trucks and a caravan. This is a work in progress, which should be quite comfortable when he is finished. At the moment he is using the caravan as the kitchen. He is also planning on going traveling in it, when his son has grown up and moved on. despite outside appearances, it will be luxury for a single person.

This small, old, home-built caravan, is Terry's pride and joy and after having a look through it, I can understand why. It is only about ten feet long, but because the interior has been so well thought out, has much more room than the size would suggest.

At the front is a table between two seats (with proper inner sprung cushions!). The table drops down, to create a single bed, which ends up with a comfortable inner sprung mattress, using the seat cushions. Along the back is a couch, which converts into a double bed and along the right hand side, (with loads of storage under) is the kitchen.

Above the sink are a couple of storage lockers.

All of the way around the top of the walls and under the overhead lockers is a fidrail shelf, which adds yet more unobtrusive storage.

I didn't take any photo's of the left hand side of the caravan, because it only shows the doorway and a floor to ceiling cupboard. Terry feels that, that cupboard is a poor use of space (the only issue he has with this caravan), and he plans on replacing it with a really nice old "Runlight" wood burning oven that he has. The Runlight is a small stove, being only about 18 inches wide and about 12 inches deep. I have spent time on a couple of boats that had them, when I was a child and have very fond memories of them (they require very small amounts of fuel, cook magnificently and provide nice dry heat). He will mount the stove at about knee height and will put a storage cupboard under it.