Tòti Bleu`s Roof

Tòti’s roof has been a major job! After all, the roof protects and shelters everything. First of all, weight has been a big concern. Tòti is pulled by our dear Vanille, not a 4×4. The roof is a huge surface and considering how to make it strong, able to withstand wind, rain, hail, and of course the low hanging branch while keeping it lightweight has been a brain teaser for Mark from the beginning. The shape of the roof was also important, not only from an aesthetic point of view but the overhang on the sides couldn`t be too much so as to avoid catching on branches, but enough to allow rain to drip off without soaking the sides. It had to be possible also that Mark who is 6 ft 2 would be able to stand up staight inside. The curve of the roof shouldn`t allow puddles of rain to form on the top. How much overhang front and back was another discussion. Then there was the color discussion. White is reflective and a possible choice but I imagined that to be just plain ugly. So we settled for a creamy yellow, the same as the trim on the sides.

The roof construction has been in progress for 3 seasons already and we are finally at the end. Whew, what a job! Following are photos that we took at the different stages. This summer, with help from Jean François and the use of the hay barn, thanks to Benoit, we were able to fiberglass the roof. We used a special linen cloth and 3 coats of West system epoxy. I’ll explain a little with each photograph but if anyone reading this would like detailed information, we are happy to share anything we have learned.

Mark made a fixture that we stretched 7 strips of 6 mm Paulownia wood over, gluing each to the next with epoxy. They were then clamped together and left to dry. We did 10 of these, one each day. Only Mark knows how he came up with the curve, but I saw him staring into space a lot before we began.

Here you see the roof beams already laminated and stacked up on the work table with the fixture beside them. Against the wall are the frames for the sides and the doorway which are complete.


Now the roof beams are glued to the front and back walls.

Now the walls are in place and the divider for the sleeping area is put in place with a roof beam glued to the back.

These photos show the roof beams glued in place in preparation for attaching the 5 mm plywood which becomes the roof covering.

Here`s our team of roofers, our dear friends and neighbor who were invaluable! With epoxy there is no time to lose when working. What a great team!

Here the plywood is glued to the beams. The screws and clamps keep it in place until dry. When totally cured, the screws and clamps are removed and holes are filled.

Finally the interior is painted. It is not obvious in the photo but the beams, being laminated, were just too beautiful to paint so I varnished them.

There are no photos for all the hours of sanding, fairing and scraping that Mark did but he was on the roof a LOT! This is the fiberglassing crew feeling enormous relief that it all went well. Having watched the weather and waiting for just the perfect couple of days…….not too hot, not too cold, not too humid, it was perfect. I mixed the epoxy while Mark and Jean François slathered it on.

The final photo was taken today. We have rolled on 3 coats of acrylic exterior paint after much sanding.

Oh My Gods, we are almost finished!

If you are new to this blog, welcome. This has been an incredible voyage and we have not yet truly started travelling. This all began as a dream. Our knowledge of gypsy wagons was non existant. I am now confident that we will actually finish and we have a wonderful horse that can take us where we want to go. So much has happened during this building part of the dream that I will soon try to post a reflection.

As I have said before many times, if you have a dream, pursue it. Life is full of miracles.



About Suzanne

American living in France. Artist and lover of nature, gardening, all living beings. Married to the love of my life, mother of two wonderful daughters and grandmother.
This entry was posted in Art, attelage, barefoot draft horse, Community, Comtois horse, Gypsy wagon/Roulotte construction technique, Horse drawn vehicles, Lifestyle, Roulotte, Small living spaces, Travel, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Tòti Bleu`s Roof

  1. hilarie10 says:

    My goodness, what a sweet thing to say, Suzanne…..that would be marvelous. I would dearly love to pet Vanille’s soft nose and go for a little jaunt – perhaps a wee drop of the grape afterwards to fortify ourselves! I’m so sorry for the delay in responding to you – life got away from me there. My sister and I are planning a trip to France next year actually….perhaps we could make a detour!

  2. hilarie10 says:

    Beautiful choice on the creamy yellow roof – I agree that white would have been quite right. And wouldn’t have complimented Vanille’s coloring as well, which is most important. Looking at the wonderful pictures, it occurs to me that you could have saved yourself a lot of work if you had taken height into consideration when you married. But I can’t point fingers…I married a man 6’4″. >:-)

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