Ackermann moving truck
patented aluminum body
steel frame and dual rear-axle (Hanomag)
custom conversion to garden house
4.5 x 2.1 x 2.0 m
original design „Möbel-Schmitt“

The German vehicle manufacturer C. W. Ackermann from Wuppertal-Vohwinkel developed an aluminum cell construction for commercial vehicle bodies in the 1940s. In the early 1950s, the now patented design was used in furniture transporters, among other things. The advantages lay in the great stability of the self-supporting profile construction and the low construction thickness of approx. 50 millimeters. The characteristic rounded corners and edges of the box bodies in connection with the decorative wing motif on the front edge became the trademark of the manufacturer. Numerous former furniture trucks and trailers of this type are still used today in circus and showman businesses.

Comfort and joy by Möbel-Schmitt.

When we were looking for a place of refuge in the Berlin area in 2016 to escape the hustle and bustle of the big city, I found the ad for an ominous piece that a freight forwarder in Würzburg had used as a tool shack for decades. The yard was cleared and the strange thing was lifted out of the ground with the forklift. It turned out to be the remains of a furniture truck (brand unknown; presumably Hanomag), whose driver’s cab and front axle were cut off. In the first photo, the right side of the furniture case was emblazoned with the words: “Comfort and joy by Möbel-Schmitt Würzburg Am Barbarossaplatz”. The owner wanted to briefly list the car on Ebay before scrapping, so took a photo and after a week the 1-Euro auction ran out without a bid. The evening before the end of the auction I found the offer and overnight I made the plan to write to the seller and ask for more photos or a viewing appointment. A week later we picked up the car with a hauler that was much too small and took it to a sandblasting shop that was supposed to remove rust and soil from the chassis. We accepted the friendly offer and the active support of the workshop owner and began to restore the body in the open air in the yard. Our goal was to preserve as much of the old substance as possible and still build a usable and beautiful garden house out of it. Above all, the original lettering was to be saved, because it had been preserved by adding a shed to the furniture case. The entire chassis was painted with the brush after sandblasting and the twin axle received good used tires. At the front of the chassis we mounted an old bent drawbar so that we could maneuver the body with the tractor. The interior got a new floor made of used pine boards that were rescued from a demolished 1950s house. The floor and outer walls were equipped with 50 millimeters of mineral wool and a moisture-variable vapor barrier. The inner walls were clad with white-glazed wooden profile strips. Windows were cut into the outer shell at the front and left and framed with specially made wooden frames. Steel windows from a former workshop trolley (IFA W50) have been placed in there and provide the interior with sufficient light and fresh air through the hinged windows. We left the roof uncovered so that we could see the characteristic arches and hear the patter of rain. After some leaks were repaired, the outside of the furniture case was given a new coat of paint in light gray. The right side with the original lettering of the furniture store from Würzburg was protected against the progressing weathering with a light coating of clear varnish. We mostly just call it “Bauwagen”.

A bed in the cornfield.

After completion, we put the trailer in our lease garden with friends in Beelitz for two summers. We were there regularly and spent whole weekends on the construction trailer. Gardening and fighting nettles, a cake picnic with friends or dinner with a fire basket. Since we moved to Westphalia, it has been standing here near the workshop on the edge of the field next to a small wood. Dinner picnic with sunset, night toilet with a starry sky, breakfast with croissants and coffees: it’s the good life. When you open the doors and sit or lie in the Bauwagen, you are half inside and half outside, half in the old apartment and half in nature – a hybrid, but incredibly pleasant feeling of space.

Have a look to Tiny Houses.

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