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Wayzalot Rules the Road
8 Great Miles a Gallon-Couple
Builds Rolling Home
If you want to see the photo or the original caboose lamp on the porch or the antique sink from an old train car on the North Shore Electric Line, or the church fixtures from the 1920’s, or the 1952 Philco television, or the stained glass windows, or just about anything else inside, and there is a lot to see- just knock on the door.
If the home’s in town and so are they, they’ll give you a tour. Is that a stuffed fish on the ceiling? Yeah, that’s there, too. There’s so much it’s even too much to take in with one visit.
It would be unfair to call their all-wood built-from scratch, home on wheels a trailer. What the Evanses of Pleasant Prairie have is a one-of-a-kind creation that took almost two years to build.
The couple prefer to call their 12,000 pound house on wheels, a rolling home. It’s a cozy country home from the outside, complete with a porch just made for sitting and drinking a beer, and it’s built like a cabin on the inside with so many knickknacks, it’s like a traveling museum.
Most of the stuff they found at garage sales, antique stores, or it was given to them by people they met on their travels. “People come in to take a look around and they just want to give us stuff,” Terry said “We were at a campground and this guy said, “here, I want you to have my great-grandmother’s teapot.” Then there was a guy from Guatemala. He came through speaking Spanish non-stop for about a half hour. I have no idea what he was saying. He wanted to sign a bill and put it on the wall. And you see the 3-D piece of art over there? The man who made it sold those, but he wanted us to have it and put it up.”
They’ve been all over the United States, these two, and they still can’t believe the reaction they get. “We always knew how this would end up looking” Hardy said, “ but we didn’t know it would create such a stir.”
They first dreamed about building a rolling home in the 1970’s, but first had to raise two daughters. They started building in 1998.
“We always had a dead truck in the back yard, and figured we build it onto that,” Terry said.
restored the broken down, 1946 International KB-6. Then they added a fifth
wheel hitch, and made sure their home had its own wheels, just in case that
antique truck broke down in the middle of nowhere with no parts available.
You can see the whole building process on their web site: www.wayzalot.com, a name that came naturally.
“People would ask us,” How much does that thing weigh?” And Hardy would say “It weighs a lot, so it stuck,” Terry said.
Its not all antique, mind you. Terry insisted it have all the comforts of a home away from home, so it also has a tub, shower, kitchen sink, bath-room sink, full-size sleeper couch, and a queen-size bed and a microwave. What? No Stove?
“I always said I don’t need no stink'in stove, I’m on vacation. And I don’t need a heater because I’m not going anywhere cold.” Terry said.
They’ve gone just about everywhere else with it though, taking it our on its maiden voyage in October 1999.
“We spent three months living in to our West, so I guess that means we can live together in an 8-by-25 foot space,” Terry laughed.
“I’ve got headphones,” Hardy added.
When not on the road, the Wayzalot is so big, the couple had to build a special garage to store it in Racine.
The two just returned from a 10 day journey throughout the United States as part of the Tin Can Caravan- a group of 29 unique vehicles that drove across six states on the first federal funded National Road.
The road was an
idea conceived by George Washington that stretches from Cumberland, Md to
Vandalia, Il. It winds through little towns often forgotten after the railroads
and highways were built, but perhaps perfect for something like the Wayzalot.
And they get a
whopping 8 miles to the gallon-or 10 in Indiana where police gave them an escort
through the state, meaning no stops for red lights. But they don’t worry about
the gas prices.
Art is Life and Life is Art in
For the past five years, Hardy and Terry Evans have caused motorists to do a 180
just to get a glimpse of their unique trailer home.
The 30-foot cedar cabin on wheels was a long time in conception. "I had a book
called 'Rolling Homes, Handmade Houses on Wheels' by Jane Lidz," Hardy said. "It
was written about 30 years ago, in the hippie era."
The book described handmade trailers and RVs. The idea intrigued the couple, but
it took another 11 years before Hardy began to make his own plans.
Although the 1946 truck still comes out for shows, when the Evanses take to the
road, about 4-5 months out of the year, a sturdy 1993 International now tows the
"Building it as fun" Terry said, after describing how she and Hardy
painstakingly glued and screwed each of the shingles on the sides.
"My sister, Pat helped me with the stained glass windows." Terry said, as she
pointed out the extra-heavy zinc "leading" that keeps the elaborate glass panels
In the center of the trailer, is the bathroom sink. It was taken from an old train car on the North Shore electric line that ran from Chicago to Milwaukee and is installed in an antique dining room buffet cabinet. Nearby, a functional toilet and shower are enclosed for privacy. Up a couple of steps, a cozy bedroom, with a queen-sized bed, completes the home. The interior decoration and construction is like a trip back in time, to the 1930's, when America first fell in love with motor travel, and trailers were a new idea. The roof's a-frame structural beams are exposed. So is all the wiring, with vintage silk-covered wires running through ceramic insulators and hooked up to glass fuses, antique light bulbs and electrical switches for the 1920's.
Four of the brass wall sconces that help light the interior were old church
fixtures. A brass-bladed fan from the 1940's provides cool air for the
The trailer runs on electricity at trailer park hookups, but also carries its own generator and battery backups. An old electrical meter on the outside of the truck is functional, but is another reference to a bygone time. Terry pointed out boxes on the walls, holding small items that might otherwise get bounced around. The boxes were originally drawers in old treadle sewing machine tables.
Even the "modern" conveniences are done with vintage flair. A 1952 Philco TV cabinet hides a new TV and VCR, built into it. A new stereo system funnels sound out through a cordless speaker housed in a "cathedral" style radio cabinet.
Other decoration in the trailer is a combination of antiques and road
memorabilia. The Wayzalot is a small museum on wheels, paying homage to
With the handmade house roadworthy, the Evanses made some changes in their live s. In 2001, after twenty years working in the criminal justice system, Terry left behind her last job, working as an administrator for Zion Benton High School. A year later, Hardy retired from his job as maintenance manager for TransCore, makers of toll collection equipment. The couple sold their spacious home in Beach Park, where they had lived for 15 years. They bought a three-flat in Pleasant Prairie, WI and a warehouse in nearby Mt Pleasant. The warehouse holds the trucks and the Wayzalot when not on the road, as well as Terry's huge collection of antiques and collectibles. "I can get Hardy to move anywhere, if the garage space keeps getting bigger" Terry said.
Hardy and Terry, married in 1966, raised two daughters, married them off and then took to the road in an unending honeymoon. "One of the best things about the Wayzalot is that it draws people to us," Terry said. She proudly displayed artwork decorating the dining room wall, given to the couple by an artist they met in their travels.
Many of the friends the Evanses have made are members of an organization called "Tin Can Tourist." (Web site: www.tincantourists.com). The group was founded in 1919, and by 1963, claimed over 100,000 members. It was, at one time dissolved, but has been revived in recent years. Although the focus of the club is on vintage metal trailers, the Wayzalot has been welcomed at Tin Can gatherings because of its uniqueness. There is nothing quite like it in the area. "There's Dirk's Housetruck of Magic, in McHenry," Terry said, "But, it's not used as a home."
Although "Rolling Homes" was the inspiration for the Wayzalot, Terry has a library of other books on similar theses, including "Ready to Roll", by Doug Keister and "Some Turtles have Nice Shells", by Roger D. Beck."
"You never know what you'll find on the road," Terry said. The couple have used
their interest in unusual "outsider" art as a theme for some of their road
trips, seeking out other kinds of folk art, not only that which is directly
related to travel.
Terry thumbed through a copy of "Fantasy Worlds," a book displaying odd things
built in yards. "We're going on a tour looking for these things," she said.
It is a tour of mutual discovery, as the Evanses bring their own work of art to
others, and give new meaning to the phrase, "Art is life, and life is art."
Brenda Balin, staff reporter
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