Thursday, September 28, 2023


RV Spotlight: Gypsy Wagon COVID project

Many folks have come out of the past year with a number of new things to show for the unusual state of affairs: added weight, beards, fancy new face masks. But Stefani Fisher came out of the pandemic with a brand-new trailer. This isn’t just something she picked up at an RV dealer. Oh, no. This enterprising woman built her own camping trailer – really, a gypsy wagon. 

What Stefani came up with is Misty.

So, in today’s daily RV review I thought I’d do something really unusual and look at a trailer you can’t have – because you didn’t build it. But you might have. 

You see, Stefani says she went into this all with absolutely no experience in this kind of project. Yet she came out of it with a really nice gypsy wagon built on a used flatbed trailer she bought. 

All of this started with that used flatbed trailer and then some DIY vardo (wagon/caravan) building instructions to get a basic idea of the process. 

From there she started the work building a frame and then exterior walls, all of wood and all glued and screwed to the frame. Slowly the project took shape with sawing, sanding, forming and attaching the various pieces until she had what looked like a gypsy wagon.

Next up was the interior

Standing in the hollow space, Stefani laid out the interior using blue painter’s tape, masking out the various places where she would put things. The painter’s tape gave perspective, but was also easy to move if things didn’t work out well. 

Then came the task of putting the interior in place. Like the exterior, this wasn’t just going to be a plain wooden box. Instead she set the sleeping area apart from the main living area with a wall into which was cut scrolls that reflected the gypsy wagon aura of the trailer. 

Under the bed is storage. The bed platform also holds a secret – a pull-out tray that serves as a table for the seats on either side of it. Not satisfied with just a plain table, a pattern was sawed into the surface. Colored epoxy filled the void to make a beautiful table top. 

The rest of the interior was finished with RV appliances, including a three-burner stove with 17” oven, and a two-way bar-sized refrigerator. 

The sink is really a work of art, being made of hammered copper. There are drawers, a spice rack, cabinets and more. The use of the interior space is absolutely terrific. 

Even though this is a small trailer, it has a surprisingly open feel. Part of that owes to the light colors and high curved roof. 

Other DIY examples

While I try to focus on RVs you can buy, this story just had to be told, only because it came out so beautifully. That’s especially significant since Stefani had never built a trailer before. 

And it speaks to a whole culture of building things like this. I did write about that in the past when we all looked at cargo trailer conversions and what was spiking that trend. 

One more example of a gypsy wagon

Stefani isn’t the only one I know of who did something like this. In fact, the Van Ecks in Lake County also built a gypsy wagon. They then went with several others on a cross-country trip with it. This isn’t so unusual in and of itself, except that all the participants in this journey were either on horseback or had horse-drawn wagons. 


I know it sounds incredible, but you can read their story in this newspaper article. 

This kind of thing makes me think my COVID projects weren’t all that impressive after all. 

Tony Barthel has been a life-long RV enthusiast and travels part-time with his wife where they also produce a podcast, write about RVs and love the RV lifestyle.


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Adorable Deplorable
2 years ago

Absolutely beautiful, nice job!! The only comment I have is where is the bathroom? One of the biggest reason we purchase a Truck camper was to have a bathroom (toilet really). I would live in this camper full-time, with a bathroom of course. 😉

2 years ago

Is that the Tir Righ star on the pull out table?

2 years ago

Tony keep it up, I love seeing homemade stuff, maybe you could do a weekly on DIY campers!!!! Is that a single axle trailer? Great craftsmanship, I love seeing pride in the work like this.

2 years ago

I think she did an awesome job. Keep up the good work Stefani.

Diane Mc
2 years ago

Use mix of private & “corporate” as in KOA’s. Majority of those we’ve stayed at aren’t owned by Corporate, but franchised. Yes, there are things that have to be followed as per Corporate, but other than the A Frame office hard to even tell it’s a “corporate” type KOA. There is one in Illinois, we stay going &coming from Indy 500. Small, 2 miles off interstate in a bucolic setting. Stay in the back w/W&E. We face a creek that runs through the property & just 20 ft from our site. Beautiful trees surround us. Love taking walks around property. So peaceful. We’ve seen their son grow up. Now he’s checking us in when we arrive. Same thing in Indy. We’ve stayed on one side which is more like an old style CG, very nice. But now we stay in a premium site on the other side as we are there for 2 weeks. Large sites, distance between neighbors, lots of grass/trees, patio/table. Coming home late after day at track we’ve been known to order pizza & wings, delivered!

DL Jenson
2 years ago

Just beautiful~ she did so great decorating it too!

Ron V
2 years ago

A beautifully done Gypsy wagon.
I am just curious about the weight of the rig with all that lumber.

Diane M
2 years ago
Reply to  Ron V

Yes, that was my first thought. I expected it to be addressed in the article, but it wasn’t.

Leslie Berg
2 years ago

This is gorgeous. Every time I read about a wood frame handmade project intended for travel (vs. permanent location) I think about the effect of vibration on the screws and nails. Nails and screws on roadways end up in tires. This would be very charming as someone’s lake getaway/hideout, but if builders aren’t knowledgeable about the stress of flexion caused by movement, I don’t think it will be too long before the structure has vibrated and flexed into looseness.

Stephen Malochleb
2 years ago

WOW, all the negativism . Great job Stefani. Hope to meet you in my travels. And yes people have done amazing things during Covid. A local teen even wrote a full novel and was published. So yes Dean, I believe she did it.

2 years ago

REALLY? You would have us believe that Stefani, with no previous experience whatsoever, created this magnificently designed, engineered and constructed masterpiece all by herself – no mention, of course, as to what this all cost? This is irresponsible journalism in my opinion!

Kenneth P Henderson
2 years ago
Reply to  DEAN W BROWN

I hate to be a wet blanket, but I seriously doubt the practicality of that rig. The construction was undoubtedly very carefully done, with excellent craftsmanship — but HEAVY. It’s simply not possible to use normal fixed-site construction techniques to build a light (or just reasonable) weight RV — not to mention the vibration-resistance necessary for travel on our highways. It’s a beautiful job, but the result should be considered a “tiny house”, not a “travel trailer”.

JMHO, after 60 years of RVing.

Ken H.

2 years ago

I am in the process of building the same type and I have been traveling with those rattle traps made from a factory over 50 years, you should not talk of things you know nothing about, do some research, there are tons of people doing the same thing building there own. Many of which have millions of miles on them, how do you think RVing got started?

jim R
2 years ago

I would imagine that it would hold together as well as those fiberglass production models that the company boasts it can build in 8 hours.

2 years ago
Reply to  DEAN W BROWN

“no experience in this kind of project” – Only YOU said no experience whatsoever.

RV Staff
2 years ago
Reply to  WEB

Thanks, WEB. Here’s what Stefani says on her website: “My Experience: I do have some experience in construction, carpentry etc. as I have remodeled two homes and built/designed the interior of a Coffee Shop. All the work was done by myself, except of the metal roof, I had that installed by a contractor. And occasionally my son, or a friend stopped by to join me…..” I wish I had a fraction of her skills and ingenuity. Have a great day! 😀 —Diane

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