Pickup trucks have always provided a ready receptacle for campers. Their compact size and rugged construction make them ideal foundations to built a tidy camper suited for a weekend outing or an extended stay. When John and Dot Flis decided to get a camper in the mid-1990s, they didn’t want any of the pedestrian-looking offerings at the RV dealerships. They wanted something unique and fun that suited their personalities and lifestyle. That sort of wish list, whether in a home or RV, is usually best fulfilled by designing it yourself and that’s precisely what John and Dot did. The ’couple are avid antiquers and in particular like to go to farm shows and tractor rallies, often with a trailer in tow just in case they find something to their liking. Their love of all things old led them to a 1940 International pickup, which they found moored behind a barn in southern Michigan. After purchasing the truck, the division of labor was established with John assigned to work on the mechanics and Dot appointed to work on the nest.
The result is affectionately called the Shack. John replaced the old engine with a robust 350 Chevy engine and beefed up the suspension and drive train to enable the truck to support the camper and tow a trailer while, according to John, “driving down the highway with the big boys.” Dot turned her thoughts to the camper and designed a wheeled farmhouse with a galvanized roof, plywood siding, birdhouse, flowerpot, and taillights made from kerosene lanterns.