Whether it’s an oak or steel chassis, turntable or rolling, 12ft or 20ft long, the shepherd’s hut chassis is an integral part of the hut.
It acts as both the foundations and platform for the hut. Everything is built on top of the chassis rather than a top down approach. With shepherd’s huts weighing as much as 3,000kg, a well-made, supportive chassis that lasts for decades is essential.
Like solid building foundations, a shepherd’s hut chassis is what keeps everything rigid and upright. It can also allow for the whole structure to be fully mobile.
It also gives a shepherd’s hut one of its unique characteristics. Without being elevated on the chassis and wheels, it would just be a heavily glorified wooden framed shed, which of course it is not!
The reason why the hut developed with a chassis and on wheels was so it could fully mobile and transported from field to field for the shepherd to rest in. So if you’re building a shepherd’s hut, it needs to have a chassis and wheels.
If you’re looking to buy a new chassis, put together your own or restore one that’s seen better days, here’s all you need to know about the shepherd’s hut chassis.
Materials used for a shepherd’s hut chassis
The traditional material used would be oak.
This top class, sturdy wood if still up to the job and it does make for a beautiful looking chassis, but it’s often wise to reinforcement an oak chassis, particularly the joints, with steelwork. The reason being is that modern huts need to bare the weight of several tonnes, which can be potentially transported around.
An oak chassis on its own may come into trouble with the stress of being moving around, plus is prone to twisting and swelling.
A modern oak chassis is usually bolted to stub axles and a top chassis rail metalwork where the floor will eventually sit in. An oak hut chassis is usually constructed in a way that makes the metalwork take the steering and transfer stress.
The result of an oak and steelwork chassis is extremely strong. When it’s sanded down and oiled with an eco-friendly wood protector, it also looks fantastic, as shown in the image below from Tithe Barns.
Iron would also be used originally but a more modern approach is to use 100% steelwork for the chassis.
Steel is a super strong material that won’t swell or change is structural integrity over time. The metalwork is usually painted in black, corrosion resistant paint for a sleek finish, but any colour can be used. Did you know that you can get eco-friendly paint too?
Steel will last decades, take plenty of wear and tear, and is cheaper than its oak alternative. It’s worth bearing in mind though that the vast majority of the chassis cannot be seen from a normal viewpoint, so from an aesthetics point of view of the finished product, there isn’t a great deal to choose between an oak or steel chassis, both will be fantastic.
Shepherds hut chassis sizes
A traditional hut measures in around 12ft long by 7ft wide. With the modern hut becoming a proper one stop shop for luxury living, the length has continued to extend to be able to fit in mod cons such as a permanent double bed area, shower room and toilet. The width of a mobile shepherd’s hut will always be limited to 7ft so it can be transported legally on UK roads and fit through farm gates etc.
On the length front, it’s now fairly common to get huts up to 20ft long. With this of course comes a bigger chassis. Hut makers and chassis manufacturers will more often than not provide chassis sizes going up in 2ft increments, but customisation is a common route and always possible to discuss to get the size needed.
So you’re shepherd’s hut chassis size will reflect the size of your hut and depend on if you want your shepherd’s hut to be mobile or stationary.
Related Post: What is a shepherd’s hut and how big is it?
Types of shepherd’s hut chassis
There are two main types of shepherd’s hut chassis:
- Rolling chassis
- Turntable chassis
A rolling chassis can be considered the standard edition for a fairly stationary hut. It consists of a rectangular frame with crossmembers for added strength and to fix the floor to. It usually comes with a removable A-frame draw bar so it can be moved. This is done by raising the front two wheels off the ground with a trolley jack and fixing the bar to a ball and towing hitch.
A turntable chassis is essential if your hut is going to be fully mobile. The turntable sits below a standard frame and allows both front wheels to be manoeuvred into direction of travel allowing full steering (like a normal car) but being towed via the A-frame draw bar by a 4×4 vehicle or something similar.
Shepherd hut wheels are also an integral part of the chassis. Abiding by tradition, these wheels would always be the cast iron variety with attractive spokes attached to the chassis via stub axles.
Cast iron isn’t the best material for transporting on modern tarmac roads and concrete, and old, brittle cast iron wheels would certainly be prone to fractures and stresses. Modern rubber tyres would make a hut much easier to transport, but you would be losing the aesthetics of a shepherd’s hut. The purists certainly wouldn’t like it, but it will depend on what you want to do with the hut and how you want to use it.
Shepherds hut chassis kit considerations
A common approach to owning a shepherd’s hut is to build one yourself.
For this hut makers have adapted and now provide shepherd’s hut kits, including chassis accessory kits, for you to assemble yourself to the main chassis framework that will come as is. Unless you’re a shepherd’s hut maker or metalworker, you wouldn’t actually construct the chassis yourself.
Chassis metalwork parts include:
- 4 x cast iron wheels
- 4 x stub axles
- A-frame draw bar
- Turntable / 2 x turnplates with centre pin (note this will be different depending if the chassis is made from oak or steel)
- Strainer bar (may be already including but this prevents axle frame damage)
The video below shows how to build a homemade shepherd’s hut chassis and base.
Images of shepherd’s hut chassis
Where to buy from a shepherd’s hut chassis from?
There are a few places to buy your shepherd’s hut chassis from.
- Tithe Barn provide a whole range of kits, hut parts and expertise, as well as full, already built huts. They know their stuff. Tithe Barn provide the full range: steel or oak chassis, rolling or turntable chassis and a whole host of sizes and customisation.
- Harrogate Huts manufacture and sell a particularly attractive oak chassis complete with black finish metalwork and cast iron wheels.
- Blackdown Shepherd’s Hut provide a self-build option with metal or oak chassis ranging from 12ft – 18ft in length.
- Wigmarsh Shepherd’s Hut, located in Shropshire, provide oak chassis on their own available with and without a turntable.
- There are also a wide range of new and used chassis for sale on Ebay with prices generally starting from £1,000.
Read more on shepherd’s huts
Ben is the Creator and Editor of Tiny Eco Home Life. I write and publish information about more sustainable, environmentally friendly living in and around the home.
Alongside this website, I love spending time in the natural world, living a simple life and spending time with my young family (Murphy the dog!) I round up my thoughts and recent blogs on the Eco Life Newsletter.