Casita Project: 13 feet of blank canvas - Fiberglass RV


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Old 08-08-2014, 07:07 PM   #1
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Name: Michael
Trailer: 13' Casita
Georgia - USA
Posts: 25
Casita Project: 13 feet of blank canvas

I have been lurking on this forum for close to 2 years but now it is time that I start posting as I will have to tap into the collective wisdom of this crowd here.

A couple weeks ago I picked up an abandoned project of my dream camper, a 1999 13’ Casita Patriot.(I actually found it on this forum) I’m not completely new to Casitas – I brought a 1986 Casita Liberty back to camp-worthiness over the last years – but this project definitely is a couple sizes bigger.

The good
  • Frame has some surface rust but appears to be in great condition
  • The body of this 13 footer is in pretty good shape, minus some missing vent plates and a couple mystery holes and some damage behind the left wheel.
  • The interior had been completely gutted by the previous owner and the walls have been recovered with Reflectix insulation.
  • Most of the interior fiberglass pieces are there, some of them again altered with some mystery cut-outs.
  • The stove looks if it has never been used
  • Fresh water and gray water look to be in great condition
  • The tail and side marker lights work.

The not-so-good
  • It’s an abandoned project with a gazillion loose parts, fittings, tubes, hoses, cables, wood pieces, trim etc. Previous owner assured me that he labeled most of these parts but he must have used invisible ink.
  • The wiring harness shows a lot of cut cables
  • Most wooden pieces have humidity damage
  • The cabinet above the kitchen is missing
  • Water pump and heater are missing
  • No cushions
  • Absolutely no manual or wiring diagram that could help reassembling the puzzle.

Basically I have here a blank canvas and a lot of parts that might be useful!
Rather than restoring it to original specs I am leaning more towards building an interior that is tailored to my needs. I don’t need a hotel room on wheels; when we feel like taking a hot shower, we either book a night in a hotel or stay at a campground with facilities. What is important for me is that my Casita remains as lite as possible, maneuverable, usable without any external power or water hookup and the build needs to be on a budget.

Goal:
  • Comfortably sleep two adults
  • Allow two people to have a meal at a table
  • I would like to retain the original kitchen (looks like the original stove has never been used)
  • Chest fridge instead of conventional fridge as it stays cool longer without power
  • Porta potti
  • Ample storage

The Plan:
Right now I am toying with 2 floor plan ideas. I am pretty sure I will ditch the original bathroom

Floor Plan 1
  • Leave the rear dinette stock and use it double duty, bed and eating space
  • Build a cabinet up front with ample storage and pull-out porta potti

Floor Plan 2
  • Convert the rear dinette to a stationary bed
  • Build a small dinette up-front

Water
  • 7 gallon can under the kitchen sink with hand-pump

Electrics:
Completely unsure with the “living” electrics (tail lights, marker etc remain stock)
  • LED puck lights, nothing else
  • 110 volt system when hooked up, no interior 12 volt system, puck lights instead
  • Restore the original 110 volt / 12 volt system with inverter, low cycle battery etc.

So, any recommendations or ideas are welcome.

And if somebody has the following items for sale, let me know. I am in NW Georgia:
  • Full set of cushions
  • Curtains
  • Front dinette fiberglass pieces (discontinued)
  • Cabinet above the kitchen
  • Upper fridge vent grill
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Old 08-08-2014, 08:56 PM   #2
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The Swiss,

I bought a 1983 Burro project a couple of years ago that was a little further along than yours. I still have to hook up water and electrics and build a front dinette table, among other smaller items. I am going the same way as you on fresh water storage... I bought a 6 gallon carboy at Wal*Mart and am mounting it under the cabinet in part of the space where the refrigerator used to be. The rest of that space will be used for storage of cooking stuff, etc. I use ice chests instead of the reefer, so that space is available. I'm generally located away from AC, so although I'll have an AC plug-in available, I'll really depend on a battery run, solar charged 12 volt system for most power needs. Like I said, I bought mine a couple of years ago ad am using it in sort of patched together form ever since... the journey is a part of the fun!

Froggie
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Old 08-09-2014, 08:39 AM   #3
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Name: Michael
Trailer: 13' Casita
Georgia - USA
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Thanks Froggie. The journey is definitely part of the fun, that's probably why I sold my previous Casita only a couple weeks after "completion".
It starts with dreaming up the possibilities and continues with being brought back to reality due to my own limitations; cuts are never as straight, the fit of my fabricated stuff never as good and progress never as quick and easy as I imagined This journey here will slow progress full of good and bad surprises, steep up-hills and beautiful views. But as the saying goes: "If you don't know what lays ahead, keep your hubs locked and be ready to put her in 4 low when needed".
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Old 08-09-2014, 11:00 AM   #4
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Trailer: 1973 Hunter Compact II
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Yuk... Sounds like some key pieces are missing in the cabinet dept. If you still have the front bench parts, that could be cut and modified into a 2 person dinette, a big PLUS in the case of the 13' eggs, but forget about finding a front dinette that someone pulled out, that would be called a death march.

Unless you are into the Decorating value, "Puck" LED's don't provide that much light.
Here is a link to what just installed three of in a pop-up tent trailer, that is much larger when set up than a 13' egg, and it turned out that there was enough light to start shooting movies when all three were ON. There is also a single LED bulb version available from the same vendor.
RV Double LED Interior Light Gustafson 12VDC L9514 New camper Travel Trailer | eBay

About using an Icebox/cooler. I just went for almost 90 hours without using a single electron of power with my Dometic RM-2193 and used, maybe, 1/2 lb of propane, a lot cheaper and more reliable than having to find and buy ice all the time.

And yes, a 2/3 way refrigerator costs a few $$$ (but usually less than $200 for a good used one) but the knowledge that your food is safe and you don't have to be looking for ice, is... priceless.

While some poo-poo using propane while under way as being unsafe and, as some claim illegal, there is are few records to support the former and none, except in some tunnels and on ferries, to support the latter.

And, if you go with the custom front cabinet, consider a drop down or pull out table for eating. Ditto for the loo. Here are some pics of those ideas as incorporated in my Hunter Compact-II.
Hunter Mods 2014 Photos by advocateone | Photobucket
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Old 08-09-2014, 12:46 PM   #5
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AND... BTW: While there is a great temptation to build something exactly the way YOU want it, as only certain STD's are forever, someday you will want to sell it and get something else. You may even get a case of 4-footitis

So, keep in mind what future buyers might want in a Casita as well. When you build minimalist and later want to sell; a) you will attract fewer buyers and b) those you do attract will tend to be minimalist in the pocketbook as well.
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Old 08-09-2014, 07:16 PM   #6
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Name: Michael
Trailer: 13' Casita
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Thanks for your insight, Bob. Really missing is just the cabinet above the kitchen, the rest is here. Not all in unmolested condition but here. I don't have the front banana couch as mine came with the bathroom.

I understand your point regarding the resale value being higher for standard configuration. However, I will not resist the urge
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Old 08-09-2014, 07:43 PM   #7
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I'm not suggesting that stock configuration is desired for resale value. I'm just saying to keep in mind your resale audience when building what you want. In the pool of buyers, MOST will want lots of lighting, up-to-date 12VDC & 120VAC electrical and plumbing systems, and a 2/3 way refrigerator. Bare bones will appeal to some, but as I mentioned, they are usually bare-bones buyers as well.

I removed the loo and holding tank from my Hunter, a seemingly a foolish move. BUT I added a Dometic Sea/Land loo on a slide out mount and tons of storage space, something that Hunters are in dire need of, and that future buyers will appreciate.

In short, always think of the next owner when making changes.
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Old 08-24-2014, 05:13 PM   #8
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Name: Sue
Trailer: Casita Patriot '13
Connecticut
Posts: 51
Dear Michael,
Weeeellll, since you asked......

I am a new solo owner of a 2005 patriot. I've taken 2 trips so I think I'm in a good position to give you my own personal opinions on living in it.

The people who are constantly coming to tour it are mostly excited about the bathroom, so, don't eliminate that unless you have a good reason. All of the women want the bathroom. Patriots are beds with baths, and that's the best part!

Here goes:

1. Everyone's going solar, so, include the charge controller for at least a 100 watt system. Wire it for the MC4 plugs, and maybe even throw in the 30' cables: sweeten the deal.
2. The battery is a PITA to access, so, while you're cutting......Make an outside opening, or at least one under the bench.
3. Being able to see the side of the fresh water tank would be lovely . Deck plate, too.
4. The water and grey tanks aren't vented high enough, so, run a nice plastic tube up into another high vent pipe
5. The drains in the tanks aren't made to completely empty the tanks. According to Larry Gamble, the Casita guru, they have a pipe sticking up into the tank so that liquids pool around them. He does a valvectomy to fix that. Does away with the p traps for winterizing, too.
6. Include the Camco valve that allows you to pump pink stuff into the water line after the water tank.
7. Remember tongue weight: Don't weigh down the tongue too much: We can pull these with class II hitches and lighter cars, so, Patriot owners don't want to have to buy a pickup to tow it. Keep the tongue light.
8. It's really a one person rig, so, to me, the second bed makes no sense at all. Either you're 2 small intimate adults, or you get a bigger rig.
9. Along with that, there's no room for lots of stuff so the less switching around the better. I would assume that most people run Patriots as beds and never as tables. In these little guys, tables are for outside. If it's a monsoon, you're at the local bar. Trust me. Think bed, not table.
10. Must have a permanent hot water bypass
11. An electrical bypass might be nice for the water pump, also.
12. I like my 3 way fridge: Propane is great.
13. If you don't have a grey tank, add as big as you can. They currently run 11 gals, so, push that if possible.
14. My 2005 doesn't have any sensors for tank capacity. I'd love one on the fresh water, but on the grey it would be heaven.
15. Personally, I don't need to connect the grey to the black release 3" valve. But that's just me. I like keeping them separate.
16. Maybe a check valve under the shower: It starts filling up and you don't notice it right away. Let it back up into the sink where you're more likely to notice it.
17. I fill my fresh water from the bottom release, with the intake cap off so I don't get all the bubbling. I used an adapter and a shutoff I bought at home depot.

Sorry you asked????

I wanna see pics when it's done! Wish I could come over and see it, but I'm way too far.

Sue
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Old 08-24-2014, 06:16 PM   #9
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Name: Michael
Trailer: 13' Casita
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jazzjunkysue View Post
...Sorry you asked????
Sue, nope, not sorry at all, really appreciate your detailed input. I am basically still thinking "tent" so I have a lot to learn.

So, Patriots are basically beds with a bath! I will remember that!! I for sure will be planning for a toilet, can't promise an in-Casita shower though.

Hope to get some things started with walls and floor next weekend, my job related travels severely interfere with my leisure travels and the build of #2.

BTW, here some starter pics



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Old 08-24-2014, 06:28 PM   #10
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Can't see your pics Michael. I get this "screen shot."
Attached Thumbnails
Thumbs.jpg  
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Old 08-24-2014, 06:31 PM   #11
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Name: Michael
Trailer: 13' Casita
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Originally Posted by Donna D. View Post
Can't see your pics Michael. I get this "screen shot."
That's not good. I can see them perfectly. Every forum works a little differently so I'll have to figure this out ... after dinner
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Old 08-24-2014, 07:05 PM   #12
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Partly because some expect it of me, I have to disagree with a few of the points in Post #14, to wit:

1. Everyone isn't going solar, it's a matter of how you use your FGRV, how long you are out without shore power and how much on board energy you need. I boon dock almost exclusively and a two battery system has worked fine for me for over three nights at a time without adding solar. Between stops TV recharging is always sufficient. If you plan on boondocking for extended times, solar has some value.

2. Cutting hole in the side of your trailer to access the battery once or twice a month seems like a bit much and adds the risk of a leak. And at that you would have to remove or at least be able to slide the battery out to service the cells. I made my bench top into two pieces over the battery to make it easier to access.

7. Tongue weight should never be kept "Light" on purpose. More tongue weight = better towing stability and less sway. Your tongue weight should be about 10% of total trailer weight at all times. If your tow rig isn't rated to pull that tongue weight, you have either the wrong TV or the wrong FGRV.

8 & 9. Most 13' rigs are fine with 2 adults unless you need the kind of room found at a motel. Many change back and forth from dinette to bed and back to dinette on a daily basis. And many of us are offended at the suggestion that a Bar is the place to go when the weather gets inclement.

11. What is an "Electrical Bypass" for the water pump, never heard of one.

17. I've never heard of fillng the water tank from the drain. What do you do if you are at a campground without a water supply and have to refill the tank from a bucket?

Just some thoughts from more trips than I can count.
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Old 08-24-2014, 07:07 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by jazzjunkysue View Post
The people who are constantly coming to tour it are mostly excited about the bathroom, so, don't eliminate that unless you have a good reason. All of the women want the bathroom. Patriots are beds with baths, and that's the best part! Sue
My daughter befriended a couple of little girls (9 & 11) a couple of weeks back while we were camping in Alabama. I overheard them talking outside and my daughter was describing the Scamp. One of the other girls had one question; "does it have a bathroom?"
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Old 08-24-2014, 07:30 PM   #14
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Smart girl!

Smart girl!
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