The Five Week Countdown

As it turns out, I will be living in my Casita sooner rather than later, starting near the end of April in fact. My roommate and I are breaking our lease four months early and will be saving ourselves a good deal of money by spending those four months living in a local RV park together with one of her cats. Hopefully we won’t drive each other mad.

So, I have around five weeks to get from where I am now to living in my RV, yikes! There are numerous things to think about, from mail, and storage of the roomie’s things to what all I need to buy.

In a previous post I talked extensively about my thoughts on buying stuff to prepare to go full-timing, which basically comes down to buying only what you absolutely need at the onset, and then make purchases along the way as you discover you need other stuff. This method is going to serve me very well, since I’ll be stationary for the first several months with ready access to places where I can purchase additional items. My current (evolving) list of what needs to be purchased in the next month is as follows:

List of stuff to buy for the RV:

  • fresh water hose, and filter
  • disposable gloves
  • RV scrub brush and bucket, microfiber cloth
  • surge guard
  • full size sheet set
  • covers for cushions (the roomie’s cat is not declawed and likes to scratch furniture)
  • leveling blocks
  • weight distribution hitch
  • tire pressure gauge
  • proper toilet paper
  • laptop and mobile broadband card

Some of the things I consider necessities I already have, such as wheel chocks, a 30 amp power cord, chains for hooking up to tow vehicle, a water pressure regulator, and an electric heater which may or may not get replaced with a propane one next winter when I actually need one. The Casita also came with a sewer hose mounted in a hollow PVC pipe attached to the tongue, but I don’t know what kind of shape it’s in without pulling it out of there and I want gloves before I handle it. It’s very likely I’ll be replacing that right away as well.

Along with stuff to buy, there are a couple fixes I really want to get working on before I’m living in the Casita.

As mentioned in my last post, there was a rivet missing on the roof that had been patched over, but the patch had seen better days. My first thought was to put a new rivet in, and no, I don’t know how to rivet. But after consulting the finest resource available to modern day man (the internet) I discovered that the reason why that rivet breaks so often on Casitas is because there is a lot of movement in that area, and typically replacement rivets will just keep failing.

Fortunately, there are a lot of other rivets holding that cabinet up, so one can just plug the hole up and leave it, much like the previous owner had done with the original patch. I took the caulk off the top and discovered that indeed there was a screw of some sort underneath that was being used to fill the hole, hooray.

I had a few other questionable spots as well: places where the caulking was cracking or missing, and rivets that were missing the little plastic caps and bases on them. I’ve never owned a RV before and wasn’t sure what to do about this stuff so I took pictures and posted them up on a forum for Casita owners to get opinions on how serious they looked and how best to fix them. Within days I had several informed responses that were really helpful. The general consensus was that none of my issues were big problems by any means, but working on them now would keep them from becoming problems in the future.

If you will be purchasing your first RV is in the near future, do a little digging online to see if there are any forums or clubs around for the brand of RV you want to buy. It’s invaluable to have those people to talk to when things go wrong or you aren’t sure how how to do something.

The number one issue was the rivet hole. For caulking equipment, I spent $26 to buy a caulk gun, a plastic caulk scraper (needed to remove the old stuff, and for fiberglass plastic is recommended over metal to avoid damaging the gelcoat), a small container of acetone (silicone caulk leaves behind this residue that nothing will stick to, and the only good way to remove it is with acetone or lacquer thinner), masking tape (to make lines with and keep the new caulk from getting where it shouldn’t), and little disposable caps to put on the unused caulk to keep it from drying out.

I got all of this stuff from a Lowes, although the Home Depot in town would have had it too. One thing they didn’t have however was the actual caulk I needed. Silicone can be used on fiberglass trailers, but most people on the Casita forums didn’t like using it because the seal just didn’t seem to last as long as it should and yet it’s so difficult to fully remove. I went to the Camping World thirty miles away instead to get this sealant called Proflex, which is sold especially for RVs and lists fiberglass for its recommended uses. It costs about $16 for a 10 oz tube, but it’s possible a similar sort of thing could be found a marina or boat repair place for less.

So far I’ve only filled in the microwave rivet hole with the stuff, to test how well it works. It’s been out in rain twice since then and I’ve had no issues with leaks, so I’ll take that as a positive. I’m hoping to fix a little gap in the bathroom moulding and also redo part of the caulking around the bathroom vent on the roof with it too, but have yet to have another day off without a chance of rain, silly spring.

For it being my first time caulking, I’d say it went quite well. I have a few pictures of the prep and setup, but none of the actual caulking process since holding the camera and the caulk gun at the same time wasn’t going to work. Maybe when I do the vent my roommate will be available to film it. The little plastic bowl with water and the dawn soap was for cleaning off the area ahead of time, and cleaning off my finger after smoothing out the dollop that I placed in the rivet hole.

Replacing the rivets that are missing their plastic bases is going to be a bit more difficult and require more gear. I’ve ordered the rivets I’ll need from Little House Customs, a specialty store run by and for Casita owners, and will be acquiring the rest of the gear I need once the rivets arrive, more on that to come.

And now it’s time to work on cleaning up the apartment. We have an initial move out inspection tomorrow and I haven’t really been keeping up on my bedroom and bathroom, ahem. Expect a lot more in the coming weeks about my RV living progress, but as always if you have any specific questions or comments share them below. Happy trails all!

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22 Responses to The Five Week Countdown

  1. Mark Sundstrom March 19, 2012 at 6:02 pm #

    Hi Becky,
    That’s great that you can get started earlier than you originally thought. I’m sure you’re going to have fun with this.
    I’m not a full-timer, but returned home in January from my first long trip with the Casita (7 weeks plus) and I never got tired of living in the Casita. I bought mine new at the factory last September. Looking forward to my next trips in it, starting in about a month. Going to the rally at Townsend, TN, my first time at one of those events and looking forward to meeting other owners.
    Best regards,
    Mark Sundstrom recently posted..ThunderstormMy Profile

    • Becky March 19, 2012 at 10:39 pm #

      I’m sure I’m going to have fun too, with a little bit of “what the heck am I doing” thrown in for good measure. ๐Ÿ˜›

      Where did you go on your trip? It might be a while yet before I do much actual traveling in mine, the roomie’s work schedule and mine don’t match up well, so going away even on short trips will be difficult since we’ll both be living in it until probably August.

      • Mark Sundstrom March 26, 2012 at 5:47 pm #

        Hi Becky,
        I visited friends in the west and northwest. The accompanying link to my blog has a Google Earth screenshot that shows my approximate route, heading west and coming home. I sure knew a lot more at the end of the trip than when I started, not to say I know a lot now!
        Mark Sundstrom recently posted..2011-2012 Winter Trip with the CasitaMy Profile

        • Becky March 26, 2012 at 7:56 pm #

          Wow, that was quite the trek! I have some friends up in Portland that I’m going to go visit once I’m on the road.

  2. hobopals March 19, 2012 at 6:06 pm #

    Well, don’t you look happy sitting in your new trailer! I’m trying to remember what I wanted to mention. Oh, sewer hose. Invest in a good sewer hose and adapters. I don’t know what you have, but you don’t want problems dumping. The couple that sold the trailer to you seemed like honest people so yours might be perfectly fine, but if it’s not I like the Rhino that I have.

    Buy a box of disposable gloves and put them in the storage compartment closes to where you’ll be dumping.

    This one took me a while to figure out, but it extends your black tank capacity, and you don’t have to worry about clogging. Since I camp alone, I use zip lock bags and put toilet paper in them instead of in the toilet. I never use the blue or green stuff and there is never an odor. I used it in our motorhome and for months in my little trailer when I realized it’s not necessary. Try it. Once in a while, and I don’t know if this is necessary, but when standing I’ll put a little Ridex down–it’s good bacteria that disintegrates sewage in septic tanks. Keep in mind that as long as you have water in your toilet, it keeps odor from coming up. I’m sure you’know, but just in case. Before dumping, be sure to fill both the black and the grey tank. Always dump the black tank before the grey.

    I’m thinking of things that I absolutely can’t do without, but everyone’s list is different. Here’s a good storage hint. Take your kitchen garbage bags out of the box and store them in the bottom of you trash can–whatever size. Then, when you take your trash out, the new bag is right there.

    Have fun, Becky. Keep us posted about your adventures.
    hobopals recently posted..You Said Swim, Not a Bath!My Profile

    • Becky March 19, 2012 at 10:48 pm #

      Yeah I’ve been looking at the Rhino hose kit, everyone recommends it. Problem is the tube that stores my sewage hose is only 4 1/2 inches in diameter and 26 inches long and I’m not convinced that it’ll fit in there. If it doesn’t I’d need to store it some other way which could get messy. But yeah, disposable gloves are on my list of things to buy already. ๐Ÿ˜›

      As far as toilets go, I’m not planning on buying any additives or deodorizers off the bat, we’ll see how things go and I can always buy something later. I’ll keep your toilet paper trick in mind, though.

      Thanks for the tips. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Brian March 19, 2012 at 8:33 pm #

    Hi Becky. You certainly will be busy (and having fun) for the next few weeks. I carry a roll of Eterna-Bond tape in my tool kit, it’s great for sealing around roof vents and other areas on the roof. Thanks for sharing the pics and your latest adventures.

    • Becky March 19, 2012 at 10:50 pm #

      Your welcome Brian. I’ve heard good things about Eterna-bond. I already have caulking stuff now and once I get the riveting stuff I’ll be prepared for the most common problems that happen with fiberglass egg trailers.

  4. Sherry Boyd March 19, 2012 at 9:24 pm #

    Hoping for the best for two folks and a cat who likes to scratch furniture in your casita. I second the rhino hose and its importance. But I disagree that you need throw away gloves. Where is AWAY anyway? Heavy rubber gloves are fine. Rinse them off when you back flush the tank and you can use them over and over as in good environmental citizen.

    You are going to want to get on the road after about a week living in your great little Casita I predict. ๐Ÿ™‚ Don’t hesitate………go. Life is SHORTer than you think.

    Sherry Boyd recently posted..Floating in Manatee SpringsMy Profile

    • Becky March 19, 2012 at 11:13 pm #

      I’m betting your right and I probably will Sherry, especially giving how warm it’s already getting down here. However the roommate might get upset if she wakes up one morning to discover that I’ve towed us hours away from her job. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Proper traveling will have to wait a while yet, but that gives me time to get the Casita (and myself) good and ready. There are still so many things to prepare!

  5. Marvin March 20, 2012 at 7:11 am #

    Price shop for everything that you need – usually CW is the highest price – internet sites are usually the lowest .

    Toilet Tissue does not need to be special – if it says septic safe it is OK ! I have used Scot for many years with no problems .

    If a better sewer hose is a larger diameter , just buy a larger PVC pipe and end caps at Lowes .

    There are usually many campers that will gladly lend you a tool and a helping hand , if you ask .

    Good Luck – Be Safe !

    • Becky March 20, 2012 at 10:23 am #

      Yeah I knew Camping world was the most expensive, but that was the only nearby place that I could buy the caulk, oh well. Thanks Marvin.

  6. Dennis Smith March 20, 2012 at 8:55 am #

    Any single ply toliet paper will work. Same as RV paper and a lot cheaper. Make sure after you dump your tank to have a few gallons of water in your black tank. You don’t want to make a pile at the bottom. With a little water everything will kind of move around and not stick, when it sticks its not a good thing. Look up the GEO method and use that, keeps everything liquid. You may need a longer sewer hose. There are lots of places you have to dump and its a few feet from the trailer. Use throw away gloves and be done with it. Lots of dump places without water and I don’t want to take them in and clean inside the trailer. Throw away are cheap cheap. If yuo don’t want to spend money on leveling blocks go by any place they are building a huose and get some 1×6 wood. Have then cut to 18 inches and bingo yuo have your leveling blocks, and for free, And they will last almost forever. Good luck, and remember when things go wrong and beleave me they will, its an adventure. How old are the tires on the trailer, if over 5 or 6 years they shuold be replaced. A lot eaiser to do at home then on the side of the road, Also make sure you have a jack and lug wrench and know how to use it. In other words change a tire now and make sure you have everything to do it with. thats all for now…..

    • Becky March 20, 2012 at 10:27 am #

      Hey Dennis. That’s why deodorizers and chemicals in the black tank don’t make much sense to me, that stuff is made to preserve when what I really want to be doing is breaking it down as much as possible. I’m looking at all the options when it comes to leveling blocks, depends on what I’ll be able to get my hands on around here. And the tires are only 9 months old (including the spare) so I’m good there.

  7. Lu Oburn March 20, 2012 at 11:21 am #

    What an exciting time it must be for you! My husband and I started full-timing last August and are having a great time. If you haven’t found the website yet, you might want to check it out. It has been invaluable to us. Take care!

    • Becky March 20, 2012 at 10:19 pm #

      Hello Lu, welcome to Interstellar Orchard. ๐Ÿ™‚ I do have RV-Dreams bookmarked and agree with you, it’s a great resource.

      Glad to hear that your own experience with full-timing has been fun, I don’t think I’ll be considering myself a full-timer until I get traveling which will be a while yet, but things are happening much faster than I had originally anticipated, like a landslide that is gaining momentum. It’s scary and exciting at the same time and I can’t wait to see where it takes me.

  8. Kristin March 20, 2012 at 1:59 pm #

    Hi Becky,
    Have fun getting your new home in order! We just bought a pack of 10 Lynx Levelers at Walmart for $32. They’re super light, store in their own bag and won’t rot or splinter like wood. They’re pricey but have gotten a lot of good feedback…

    • Becky March 20, 2012 at 10:25 pm #

      Yeah, I’m kinda on the fence. I’m thinking hard about every dollar I spend since I only have so much to work with, wood blocks would be cheaper but would be a bit more of a hassle to obtain.

      Only a 20% chance of thunderstorms tomorrow so I might take my chance and do the rest of the caulking in the a.m. before heading to Camping World to order my WDH and set up an appointment to install. So much to do. ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. Pleinguy March 20, 2012 at 8:40 pm #

    Well, you’re not letting the dust settle under you. Moving along a bit quicker than I thought you had planned. If moving in early will save some money then why not. Living locally for a while will provide the opportunity to learn your rig and to prepare well for the eventual journey. Hope it all works out for you.
    Pleinguy recently posted..Spring RV CampoutMy Profile

    • Becky March 20, 2012 at 10:28 pm #

      Yeah, things just worked out that way, but I’m not complaining. Rent where we currently live is $835/mo and doesn’t include water or electricity. Rent at the RV park is $350/mo for a 30 amp site and includes water and electricity (and sewer). It’ll be a cramped 4 months, but that’s more money I can save for eventual traveling.

  10. Misty March 25, 2012 at 12:09 am #

    Hey Becky! It’s awesome that you’re going to be starting sooner. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Before you make the jump to a wireless service, you might consider getting a USB antenna adapter for your laptop. I got one for mine, and so far I’ve been able to boost my signal to receive wi-fi from ridiculous distances. Best $40 I ever spent! According to the internet, if I get an antenna for the roof and hook it up to the adapter, I theoretically receive a wi-fi signal from a mile away, but so far I’ve been happy with just the adapter stuck in the window. ๐Ÿ˜›

    Anyhow, I’ll keep you posted on how it’s working out for me.

    • Becky March 25, 2012 at 4:13 pm #

      Oooo, that’s good to know Misty, thanks for keeping me updated. The RV park we’re going to be staying in supposedly has wi-fi, but I’ll believe it when I’m there. Nice to know that if it does exist but has poor range that I have this option. ๐Ÿ™‚

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