Thursday, September 26, 2013

Poor Yaga

The Casita project is dead in the water for at least the next two months because all of our spare time is currently dedicated to 1) SCARE for a CURE and 2) the five pallets of laminate flooring currently waiting to be installed in our house. Much as I'm itching to get the new floor in that egg, the new floor in the house needs to come first.

Doesn't stop me from thinking and planning and dreaming for when we get back to the Casita, though!

Sunday, August 25, 2013


I don't have anything photo-worthy to report, but today I did spend several hours getting the worst of the filth off the bare floor of our little house. We're getting ready to put in a new subfloor - and I can't wait, because it'll be awfully nice to be able to walk around in there without hopping from board to board - but since the camper has been sitting stripped and not very well sealed for years there was a thick layer of dirt on the floor. I tossed in a couple of plywood pads to take my weight, then scrubbed down the entire floor with Simple Green and a scrub brush.

The next step is scraping to get out as much as we can of the residue from the original subfloor. Most of it is gone but there are still some shards of OSB and some glue. We also noticed a previously-undiscovered hole in the bottom of the shell that we'll reinforce before going any further. We'll want as smooth and clean a surface as we can manage before we put down the new floor. There are large gaps around the windows since the carpet has been removed, so I taped over the windows and vents on the outside to keep the camper from getting so dirty again.

It looks like the hot water heater is a dead loss - someone left it with water in it, I have no idea how many years ago, and it's completely rusted out. While we're working on the integrity of the shell and chassis, I'm going to look into the feasibility of replacing that old heater with a tankless one.

Overall we're making slow progress, but you can probably expect the Casita to be put on the back burner for awhile soon. We just ordered 1700+ square feet of laminate flooring, and getting that installed in our house is going to be the number one project for awhile!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Aaaand we're off... very, very off



Our little Casita project has been sitting for several months due to a number of factors. One of the main limitations was that we did not have a tow-capable vehicle to carry supplies from Home Depot, etc. This week we finally got a hitch receiver installed on our SUV and bought a small utility trailer, so now we can bring home a few sheets of plywood and start working on replacing the subfloor. That will be a huge step, simply because it'll make it much easier just to step inside the Casita and move around.

I started with an hour's worth of scraping on the outside. The decals are in poor shape and they'll all have to come off before we do any body work, but my hands can only take so much of that abuse so that's a project that will need to be done a little bit at a time.

Once I decided it was time to give the digits a break, we moved inside. First and foremost - in Texas in August - we discovered the air conditioner works just fine. So, while I'd intended to take it out until we were ready to relocate it, we decided to leave it in place so we can work in comfort. We removed the hot water heater and the pump, pulled out the water lines, and strapped all the wires and whatnot up off the floor so I can start making a template for the subfloor. The plumbing and most of the wiring will probably be replaced, but until we're ready to do that we wanted to keep the original wiring in place so we can see how it goes together. Not much difference in the before and after here, but we are now ready to start on the subfloor in earnest.



Next I'll make a paper template for the subfloor. We'll probably do a little bit of cleaning and scraping first, then we'll be ready to cut and install the new subfloor.

The hot water heater was left with water in it (and a lizard that startled me good when it decided to evacuate!). I suspect that means we'll have to replace the unit but we shall see. That's a concern that can wait until we start putting things back together.

I added all the photos to YagaToo's album. I think I'll buy a notebook to keep track of the time and money we spend on this project. It'll be a neat thing to have on hand once we're finished.

Update: A Facebook friend just let me know she was unable to post a comment. I apologize to anyone who has tried - we want to hear what people think! I think I've fixed the settings to allow comments from everyone.

Friday, July 19, 2013

A visit to the mothership

We happened to be north of our usual location yesterday and that's rare for a weekday so we took advantage of the situation to visit the Casita factory. It was fun to see the new "eggs" being assembled, and everyone was so helpful! Sadly, photos are not allowed on the factory floor so I'm putting my notes here for future reference. We came home with business cards for the parts guys, who we'll be talking to a lot once we get to the spit-and-polish part of our renovation.

In the meantime, here's what we have ahead of us:

1. Install a new wood subfloor. At the factory they fiberglass in the subfloor to seal it; whether or not we do that will depend on our level of confidence after some fiberglass experiments. Older Casita models don't have this.

2. Run wiring and hang it out of the way. It looks like most of the wiring rides on top of the carpet, but we'll want to go ahead and run wires for a few things (e.g. overhead lights, powered vent to be added later, etc.) underneath to keep things neat.

3. Apply insulation and carpet to the walls. We have to call the aforesaid parts guys at the factory to see if they can sell us replacement carpet. They get it specially made with the insulation attached; if we can't get it from them we'll have to find suitable materials elsewhere.

4. Install flooring. We're currently leaning toward cork.

5. Install interior partitions. And hope they all still fit with the new flooring and carpeting.

At some point, we're going to need to separate the shell from the chassis in order to do fiberglass repairs and some improvements to the chassis. The earlier we do that the lighter the shell will be, but I think the logistics there are going to depend on whether we decide to attempt fiberglass repairs ourselves or take it to a boat shop. For now, though, I think getting a subfloor in is a good first step.

P.S. I apologize if you haven't been able to see the photos in our photo album. I think I've fixed it, but if they are still a problem let me know and I'll look into hosting them elsewhere.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

When it was new

As best we can tell, our Casita started out life as a 16' Liberty model. The floor plan would have looked something like this, although the one below is for the 17' model:
We are pretty sure we have all of the pieces although we may find otherwise once we start putting it back together. Since we have to make a trip northward next week, we're hoping to be able to fit a factory tour in before we come back home. I'm looking forward to meeting some of the people at the factory, seeing how the trailers go together, and (hopefully!) getting a little advice about do's and don'ts for our renovation.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Shopping list

Here is a list of stuff we've immediately identified that we'll need. Doubtless the list will grow as we start work on the project and keep growing for as long as we own the trailer.

  1. Red side (marker) lights - 2
  2. Orange side (marker) lights - 2
  3. Tail lights - 2
  4. Porch light
  5. Round vent covers - 2
  6. Hot water heater cover
  7. City water connection cap
  8. Right fender well trim
  9. Tongue jack wheel
  10. Proper exterior electrical hookup
  11. Replacement side windows - 2
  12. Replacement rear window
  13. Rear bumper replacement
  14. Spare tire and rack
  15. Propane tank and rack

Here is a list of stuff we received with our Casita.

  1. New wastewater pump
  2. Red marker lights - 1
  3. Orange marker lights - 2
  4. Door stop
  5. Black water cutoff
  6. Water heater cover
  7. Sway bar - Reese friction sway control
  8. Levelling jacks (2)
  9. Replacement side windows with trim - 2
  10. All interior compartments and partitions
  11. Original sofa/bed cushions

Finally, stuff we're pretty sure we're going to want:

  1. Roof vents
  2. WindowMaxx window vents
  3. Reflective belly band
  4. LED light fixtures throughout
  5. Rear bumper upgrade
  6. Solar panel(s)

Friday, June 7, 2013

Finding community

We have to get one of these!

One of the first things we discovered about Casita trailers is that there is an active and robust community of enthusiasts who are willing and eager to share information about their Casitas. In April we were privileged to meet a whole lot of those people when we travelled to Bandera, Texas (sans Casita, since Yaga is not yet roadworthy) for the annual Bluebonnet Casita Rally. With approximately 136 trailers in attendance, we had a chance to see what our little egg would have looked like when it was all in one piece. We also came home with a ton of ideas for tweaks, improvements, and modifications inspired by the creative work of other Casita owners. We could not have asked for a friendlier group to introduce us to our new project!

We're also very lucky to have the Casita factory just up the road in Rice, Texas. The next step in our research phase will be a trip to tour the factory and ask some questions about Casita modification dos and don'ts.

How it all began

Once upon a time, in a state not too far away, two displaced Texans lived in a small A-frame house in the mountains. It was a beautiful place, but in the summer we had to be prepared for fires, and in the winter for snow. So we bought ourselves a lumbering vintage Dodge Southwind RV and put it to good use as a combination guest quarters and fire escape pod. We had some wonderful adventures in the Dodge, affectionately named the Yaga Hut, and the biggest adventure of all came when we loaded up two parrots, two budgies, three cats, a greyhound, a border collie, an Irish wolfhound, and a fish tank and moved the entire household to yet another nearby-but-not-quite-Texas state.

Our sojourn there was brief, and when we finally got ourselves back to Texas we no longer had a home to offer our beloved Yaga Hut so we gifted her to a friend. Nonetheless, we never forgot those adventures and we always hoped to have another RV someday. So when the opportunity came to us, we took it.

Going from one extreme to the other, we ended up with a 16-foot 1987 Casita travel trailer. We'd found a Craigslist posting from a young man with a tale of woe, who had completely gutted his trailer before life changed his plans. We looked at each other and said, "Well, we've been kind of wanting to try our hands at building an RV" and thus YagaToo came into our lives. We have many hopes and plans for her, and a long way to go before we sleep, but we're looking forward to the day we can proudly hitch Yaga to our bumper and set out for new adventures.