SunRay Kelley

Natural Builder

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Natural Builder SunRay Kelley Embarks on Solar Electric Hybrid Gypsy Wagon


 Gypsy Wagon

A hybrid himself, Kelley is a barefoot builder, designer, and imaginer whose long white beard and sparkling blue eyes have become familiar features in natural building circles. He is best known for his curvy timber-framed and cob architecture, showcased most recently in Lloyd Kahn's book Builders of the Pacific Coast (Shelter Publications, 2008). But SunRay isn't limited to houses that merely stand still.

Kelley bases his current project on a 1984 Toyota Dolphin, using wood from his land and recycled aluminum framing to transform the once flat-topped box of this small RV into a cedar-sided caravan. He has installed a forward solarium and a stained glass rear window. He also added a back porch, solar hot water system, and collapsible wings to increase the exposure of an array of photovoltaic (PV) panels. The existing hood and front panels will be retrofitted with a street rod front end from a classic 1933 Willys sedan.

 Rear View


In the next phase of this project, SunRay will replace the internal combustion engine with a 12-inch GE electric motor powered by two 156-volt banks of lithium iron phosphate batteries. The batteries will be able to be charged three different ways: one, by plugging into a standard 110-volt electrical outlet; two, by the PV array installed on the roof and wings; and three, by a 36-horsepower Perkins diesel powered generator. As SunRay explains, "Trains have for years been run with an electric motor powered by a diesel generator."

The Gypsy Wagon, a work in progress, is already a head-turner on the road. Its combination of sustainable and stylish design draws a variety of enthusiastic reactions from on-lookers, including dropped jaws, thumbs-up signs and plenty of smiles. SunRay admits, "the Gypsy Wagon should have been the first thing I built because it is the world's best calling card." He plans to debut the wagon, complete with a solar-powered sound system, visualizer, party lights and community charging station. 



Sunray Kelley doesn't want to take this journey alone. He is looking for like-minded friends and organizations who want share in the benefits the high-profile Gypsy Wagon affords. Those who help will be acknowledged on his website and Facebook fan page; business sponsors may use images of the Gypsy Wagon in their promotional materials.

With the BP oil spill, global warming, and peak oil, SunRay demonstrates the kind of individual ingenuity necessary to create grassroots solutions. Kelley is adamant that, "we must apply our own creativity to the challenges of today and quit waiting for others to lead us out of trouble." SunRay's solar-electric-diesel hybrid Gypsy Wagon reminds us to think, to dream and to pose the question: What's possible?



SunRay Kelley is a freelance consultant, builder, designer, and educator based in Washington State and Northern California. For over thirty years, he has been connecting people with nature through his building and teaching projects across the world. To learn more about SunRay and the Gypsy Wagon look for his website at Contact:SunRayKelley, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


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