From Tree to Tumbleweed

A Unique Approach to Keeping Building Costs Low

William Lampley is proof that a trip to your local hardware store is not the only path to owning a Tumbleweed of your own! A 100 year-old blighted Hemlock on his family’s property in the mountains of North Carolina will be getting a second life as a Tumbleweed Vardo. Getting this four-foot diameter beauty from a remote mountain access road to kiln dried construction ready material turns out to be an adventure in itself.

Retired early from the entertainment industry and debt free, William’s goal is to spend “as much as a month at a time in each of the as many Great National Parks as I can get to.” With a lifetime National Parks Pass in his hand William was looking for a comfortable mode of travel that would not put him in debt. The Tumbleweed Vardo was the solution. When asked about his choice in Tumbleweeds he said “ I just grew impatient recently and Vardo appears to be the quickest, most economical way to get me on the road.” Tumbleweed's Vardo is unique among their designs in that it is a small space mounted on a truck bed - not a trailer


Hemlock as a building material is quite popular with many in the construction industry and is stronger than pine, spruce or fir. The key in using hemlock, as with so many materials on the market, is finding wood free from knots and other imperfections.

William’s unique approach to acquiring one of the single most expensive components in building his new home on wheels required more than your normal list of tools. Included in William’s list were his two buddies, Skip and Duke, a 2wd truck, a 4wd truck with a winch, a 16 foot 12,000 lb trailer, three chainsaws and a small Ford tractor with a bucket on one end and a fork lift on the other. 


William shared with us some of his adventures in his first attempt at harvesting the Hemlock:

 “Getting to the tree was problematic today. The ground was wet, so my 2-wheel drive white Ford truck with the trailer could not pull up the soggy access road and bogged down too far up the road to back the trailer down again. We agreed to put Duke in the driver’s seat of the white truck and I got on the tractor and pushed on the back end of the trailer with the front bucket and assisted the truck and trailer up the hill. Also, once Skip got the red Dodge up the hill, he turned around and parked facing downhill, whereupon the Dodge stopped running. Apparently when level or facing uphill the carburetor is fine, but when facing downhill it stalls out… go figure!” 

After much head scratching and tree measuring the decision was made that they could not safely drop it. A professional needed to be called in. This will be an unexpected expense but, once the wood is on the ground, the three men plan on sectioning it, getting it to the sawmill themselves and ending up with lumber worth a lot more than what it will cost to cut down and process. 

Check back for more on William’s Vardo adventure!

 

 

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