Stay in This 1970’s Train Car: Here’s How

by Victoria Santiago

A carpenter in Iowa has renovated a train car into a very popular Airbnb. Jim Dotzenrod was inspired by a row of cabooses that he regularly drove past in 2016. He ended up salvaging a caboose and having it transported to his house. The caboose, built-in 1973, weighed 52,000 pounds. To move the train car to his property cost around $2,000 and required a semi-truck, a crane, and a lift. Once it was moved, Dotzenrod began the $4,000 restoration process.

To transform the train car into the stylish space it is today, Dotzenrod had to do quite a few things. To start, he had to remove all of the iron from inside the car. Once that was done, he had to power wash it to get rid of the smell of fuel. Then, he began to cut windows out of the sides. He put his carpentry skills to work to create a staircase leading up to the queen bed and a deck extending off of the outside of the train car.

His daughter helped Dotzenrod make the caboose as nice-looking as possible. She took care of a lot of the finer details – she designed the floor (made up of black tile and oak wood), created the color motif for the caboose, and furnished the Airbnb when it was completed. “My dad can do anything he sets his mind to — like, absolutely anything — but my dad is so low maintenance himself,” Jim’s daughter, Danielle said. “So when we built this together it was a good combo because he could build whatever and have me nudging him like, ‘Hey, let’s make this as cool as we can.'”

Renovated Rental Properties Are Gaining Popularity

Overall, it took Jim and Danielle roughly six months to complete the train car transformation. The Airbnb has proved to be a great success for Dotzenrod, who rents it out for $124 a night. It’s listed as the CR Station Train Caboose, and people come from all over the state to stay in the cute remodeled caboose. Restoring and repurposing seem to be one of Jim’s hobbies, as he also rents out a restored barn on Airbnb.

The trend of using renovated transportation parts for rentals is here to stay. Not only does it help reduce the amount of unsightly, rusty parts laying around, most of them end up being really cute and practical. This renovated truck trailer is no different. The European company, Good Spot, is cashing in their spot in a very niche rental market.

Of course, renting out small spaces itself isn’t really new. Rather, it’s taking tiny homes one step further in terms of sustainability and creativity. Good Spot’s tiny homes are just as affordable as Dotzenrod’s train car. Their cozy semi-trailer rentals range from $50 to $150 USD per night.