Redo 86 Casita-Repost by request - Fiberglass RV


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Old 03-31-2010, 08:16 PM   #1
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Name: Lanny
Trailer: Wally Byam Holiday
Georgia
Posts: 47
I am unfortunately having to sell my beloved Casita after eight wonderful years. In putting together some documentation of the extent of my renovation for selling I looked for earlier posts I had made. I discovered that the posts had been lost and the images trashed. Mary was kind enough to find the text and from that I was able to piece together the images.
Here is the first installment.

In the beginning, carpet removal Part 1

To start I bought a VERY used 86, 16 foot Freedom Deluxe back at the end of last July. Paid $600 and still feel I stole it. The floor plan had the shower, bath, bunk bed and regular table set up. It was exactly the one I had been looking for for over a year and hundreds of hours surfing the net. I found it right here in a friends back yard. Since I couldn't start right away, I worked up plans at night of how I was to approach the project and what might be good additions and modifications. My gratitude to the folks at the Casita Club. I stole a bunch of good advice from their old posts.
Here is a before exterior shot.

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It looks better here than it did in person. There were so many things that had to be redone it was scary. All the rivets were covered over with what looked like old liquid nails or some king of hard caulk. I guess it was an attempt to stop the leaks. A previous owner had glued mirrored glass over the existing window glass. The silver had long since deteriorated to a psychedelic mess but it was a Casita and it was mine.

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The camper had leaked like a sieve and been kept closed for years. The inside was absolutely shot. All metal was rusted, All wood warped and rotten, all carpet molded etc.. Interior before pics

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I first removed all doors and fiberglass cabinets and walls. The shower was the worst next to the fridge which had been glued in with adhesive. The fridge took two calls to casita to make sure there wasn't some hidden bolts somewhere. I was positive after a couple hours of sweat and profanity it had to be bolted somewhere! It finally gave in.

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Now the job of removing the old carpet. Its not as bad a job as it looks. My favorite tool was a spatula I modified for the job. Its 6" wide and I rounded the corners so they wouldn't stick into the fiberglass shell when I slid it under the old carpet. The flexibility of the wide blade along with the curved edges let it bend with the curves of the shell. Just start somewhere and have at it. All mine came out in one Saturday session.


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I left the carpet behind the shower shell. It was in pretty decent shape. Oh yeah. before you remove the shower shell, mark the old carpet with a marker so when you are removing the carpet later, you will know where to stop. Leave an inch more carpet than necessary. When you put the shower back in, it might not fit in exactly the same place. I did the best I could but it was still off about 3/4 of an inch. You can trim it after the shower is back in. If anyone wants to try it with leaving the shower in, I think it will work but you will have to work around the plumbing and gas lines etc.. I retrospect, I would probably go that route. I wanted to run 110 to the closet and I couldn't get it to feed behind the shower. Some of these are after the floor was removed but they are all I have.


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The plumbing and wiring harness were next. I used a plastic pipe cutting tool to cut the "gray" pipe. Leave enough (2" or so) on each cut end for re attaching later. Cut the wires leaving enough (6"or so) on both cut ends for crimp connectors later. I marked each wire with tape and where it went. This ended up not necessary as they are pretty well color coded already. The copper gas line came out by just undoing the connections.


I've run out of room for additional pictures. If you're still with me See Part 2
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Old 03-31-2010, 08:37 PM   #2
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Name: Lanny
Trailer: Wally Byam Holiday
Georgia
Posts: 47
Part 2 -Carpet Removal
The plumbing and wiring harness were next. I used a plastic pipe cutting tool to cut the "gray" pipe. Leave enough (2" or so) on each cut end for re attaching later. Cut the wires leaving enough (6"or so) on both cut ends for crimp connectors later. I marked each wire with tape and where it went. This ended up not necessary as they are pretty well color coded already. The copper gas line came out by just undoing the connections.


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All the windows were next. They come out easily. The smaller ones were only held in by the interior trim. The two larger side windows and the back window with the AC unit had rivets from the outside as well. The back window took two people because I left the AC unit attached.

OK, This is over the top but, I saved all my screws and acorn nuts to reuse. I ran them through an old rock tumbler for a couple of days to clean off the rust. It did an amazing job. If you don't have a rock tumbler handy, McFeelys has a great assortment of square drive screws. http://www.mcfeelys.com/

Now the floor carpet. Wow, this was a mess. I can't imagine anybody's will be as bad as mine was. When I pulled the carpet up, much of the old floor came up with it. What was left was so rotten I could remove a good portion of the old press board with a shop vac. What was still stuck came up with a flat chisel and small hammer.


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At this point you should have an empty shell and the fun begins.
My next stage was to remove the shell from the frame but...


Next installment Stage 2 remove Shell From Frame
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Old 03-31-2010, 08:58 PM   #3
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Name: Lanny
Trailer: Wally Byam Holiday
Georgia
Posts: 47
Stage two: Remove Shell, Paint Frame, Install sub-floor
This is a continuation of my previous post " In the beginning"


For future reference you will note as I go I tend to redo most stuff instead of buying new, i.e. the rock tumbler, but being a teacher, funds are limited and sweat is good for the soul. This process would have gone much faster if I wasn't trying to be so cheap.

At this stage, I had spent a total of $611.49.(This was back in 03) The $11.48 was for the cement blocks and landscape timbers I was about to use to hold the shell while I sanded the frame.

After the shell was completely stripped and with thanks to the encouragement of Tom Stern, who was ahead of me in a similar redo, I took the shell off the frame. I really wasn't looking forward to this but I knew I would always wish I had done it when I had the chance. My frame was pretty covered with surface rust. Notice I was missing a few parts as well.


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This too went much easier than I had expected. When I removed the rotten floor, the screws holding the shell on the frame were easily exposed. Most came free with liquid wrench and vice grips. A couple broke off and required a quick clip with a hammer and chisel. Spray the screws with liquid wrench and go make coffee or have lunch or something.

I built cement block pedestals on either side of the trailer. Using another stack of blocks as a fulcrum and a landscape timber as the lever, there cheap and strong and I could use them later in my yard. I lifted the front of the shell off the frame, once again easier than expected. My brother, Jim, then slid another landscape timber under the shell on top of the two front block pedestals. When we tried to lift the front high enough in one step, the shell tended to slide off the back of the trailer because of the exaggerated slant. For that reason, we raised it a little in the front, then back, then front etc..


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I know this picture doesn't look like the shell was stable but at the time we THOUGHT it was! Starting around 9:00 this took us until lunch including the trip to Lowe's to get the blocks and stuff.

Now, the next stage was work, no way around it. We used both an air grinder and a wire brush drill combo. We went a little beyond loose rust but not to bright metal. The wire brush was the best by far.


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The frame was then coated with Rust Mort, a product I can't live without.



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Its an automotive rust stop that works better than anything else I used. It takes over night or around 12 hours to dry but turns the rust to a hard black surface which takes paint really well. It brushes on but don't let it puddle or it stays sticky. If it does, wash it off and let it dry thoroughly. This was a hard afternoon with both of us working pretty much non stop. We finished the Rust Mort about dark, had a well deserved libation and grinned at our accomplishment.

Sunday was Rustolium primer brushed on. I used glossy black Rustolium for the top coat. A note here, the top coat has started wearing off in a few sections, rear bumper and next to the hitch. I haven't figures out why as of yet. It has been about eight months.

I was concerned I wouldn't get the shell back on in the same place but thanks to the dirt on the bottom of the shell it gave me a pattern to align to. The shell is light enough for two people to slide around pretty easily. Make sure the trailer is chocked well.

Next the sub floor. I used 1/2 " treated plywood. It took two 4'x8' pieces but lots left over for other uses. I cut a rectangular piece, measuring the width and length of the widest points, to fit the floor. (under where the table/bed was to go)

I made a template of the corners by using cardboard from large boxes. I would cut a rectangle with the corners cut off and then space out small pieces of cardboard in a fan pattern to gauge the curve.


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I traced the template onto the plywood and cut the corners. I followed this process for the rest of the floor. I used Liquid Nails liberally to glue down the sub floor. You might need thin shims where your pieces meet as they really need to be pretty close to the same height or the difference will form an edge. This edge will eventually cut your carpet from uneven wear. ( you can get a pack of door shims from Lowe's for around $1.50, and no I don't have stock in Lowe's, Home Depot will work just as well) Before gluing the piece or pieces that go under the shower/ toilet, crawl under the shell and mark the holes for both the shower drain and the toilet. Take that piece of flooring back out and cut the holes. If I had to do it again, Id make sure the sub floor under the shower bed pan tilted slightly toward the shower drain hole. It would only take a few small pieces of the door shims to make that adjustment if necessary. I didn't think of it at the time. Of course don't forget to make sure the trailer is level before you go to this trouble.

Once the floor is in, off set the shell and crawl under the frame so you can see on the bottom of the shell where the frame will be when properly aligned. Drill pilot holes up through the shell and sub floor. (I got this tip from Tom Stern)You only need a couple for each frame support if they are spaced 3 or 4 feet apart. These can be used as a guide to know where to put in the self tapping screws that hold the shell to the frame. (If you're really anal, clean the bottom of the shell where the frame will go) Now, move the shell back in place. Once back inside the shell, use these holes to draw a line from one side of the floor to the other. Use this line to put back in the self tapping screws through the floor into the frame. I used 1/4 -14 x 2" self tapping screws. They come 25 to the box and I used two and a half boxes.

Out of room again...
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Old 03-31-2010, 09:03 PM   #4
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Name: Lanny
Trailer: Wally Byam Holiday
Georgia
Posts: 47
Another slight modification was to use some of the left over plywood to square off the rounded edge of the shell next to the wheel wells. This made it a lot easier to put the carpet in.


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The final step here was to patch the uneven places and edges of the plywood. I used Armstrong 194, Patch underlayment & embossing leveller. Its the gray stuff on the plywood. This would really be necessary if you were planning to put down vinyl.

More later...
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Old 04-01-2010, 03:00 PM   #5
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Name: Lanny
Trailer: Wally Byam Holiday
Georgia
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After the shell was stripped and the new sub floor was installed, I needed to replace the bench supports. I removed all the rotten press board which had originally been fiberglassed to the side of the Casita where the back of the benches where attached to the wall. It was pretty rotten so it came off easily. Relatively easily.


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There was plenty of the treated plywood left over from doing the new floor to replace all the wooden strips both on the seats themselves and on the walls of the casita where the seats attached. I again cut a cardboard template for the curved pieces.

The fiberglass is really easy to do if,as in this case, the craftsmanship of your end result will never be seen. I first attached the wooden strips to the remaining fiberglass with liquid nails.


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After the liquid nails was dry, I painted on the fiberglass resin, placed the precut strips of cloth and painted, or better put dabbed, with a brush additional resin. Precut is a key here. I found it's much easier to cut the strips to fit before hand.

I bought a handful of throwaway brushes for this purpose. Get cheap bristle brushes, not the foam kind as they will disintegrate. I learned the hard way. You can keep the brushes usable for a while in lacquer thinner. Mix only enough to do one or two pieces at a time as the resin sets up pretty quickly. Don't worry about how neat it looks as you can sand all the rough edges away with an oscillating sander later when it dries.

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While I was at it, I reinforced the wooden strip down the back wall where the bunk bed attached.



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I also reinforced the wooden strip down the shower wall that faces the closet. If I were doing it again, I would add an additional wooden piece about 3" wide on the shower wall for added support and double as a place where I could mount brackets on the inside of the closet. I also would add two more wooden strips on the inside of the closet on either side of the door for more strength and stability.


After the messy parts were done, all the fiberglass dry and sanded, I put down an indoor outdoor carpet. It didn't have a backing other than the black rubber that held it together. I used a latex paste adhesive applied with a notched trowel with 3/8" notches. The 3/8" notch was a mistake as the adhesive was too thick in places and seeped through the carpet in a couple of small spots leaving a slight brown discoloration. Fortunately they came out with soap and water while the adhesive was still wet. Id use a trowel with either 1/4" or 1/8" notches. Brush it on the curved surfaces with one of the disposable brushes.

At first this looked like it was going to be a really difficult task getting the carpet down smoothly. Here is a shot of what I was facing.


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It went better than I expected, however, and it ended up being a relative breeze.

Cut a piece that will fit up the vertical area and over and under where the table will go. See picture below. Cut it long enough to overlap the back wall in the center by a couple of inches. Place the oversize carpet roughly over the floor. Try to center it as best you can but most importantly make sure the front edge at the bottom of the vertical area where it will meet the next piece is straight. I don't have pictures of the different steps here as at this point I wasn't sure what I was doing and more than a little edgy about how it was all going to end.

Start on the front vertical area by putting a couple of staples in to hold it in place. Wrap it up and over toward the back of the shell. Now put a row of staples down the center parallel to the length of the shell. Next fold the carpet over on itself so one side of the floor is exposed. You will have to remove the staples you put on the vertical area on the side that gets folded over. This is beginning to sound like the instructions for assembling my son's bike years ago. I think the instructions were originally in French but translated to English by a Japanese company that shipped it.

Now put down the adhesive on the exposed floor. With the staples holding the carpet in place, fold it back over the adhesive and smoothe into place. It takes several hours for the adhesive to dry so take your time. When the first side is finished, do the same on the other side. Apply the same technique to the rest of the carpet. Let it dry overnight. My final step here was to pull the staples, vacuum thoroughly and give it a good coat of Scotch Guard just in case I spilt my much needed libation as I surveyed the end of another stage.


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Old 04-01-2010, 09:45 PM   #6
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Name: Lanny
Trailer: Wally Byam Holiday
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OK, I guess before I cover the carpet, I should cover some of the mods that came before the new carpet went in. I spent several rainy nights making drawings of the floor plan etc. Here is an example of the final plan where I added a number on new interior and exterior lights, several new 12v and 110 v receptacles, wiring up the wall for the fantastic fan (not yet ordered) etc.

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I also wired the bath for a 12 v ceiling exhaust fan. I got it from J.C Whitney. (http://www.JCWhitney.com) It was on sale for $36.00. Not to be indelicate but it's one of the best modifications I did. Vents the bathroom and is a great noise suppressor. (Too much information!)
This is the fan before installation.



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And installed.

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I moved the battery from under the rear bunk to the tongue. It's much more serviceable and I'm much more comfortable not having it inside. I worry about the gas buildup.
The additional lights are wonderful!! The one in the closet and the one outside over the propane tanks are tremendously useful.

This is the time to plan for the future. It's very little work to run the wire before the carpet walls and ceiling go in. It's virtually impossible afterwards. I used 10 gauge wire for practically everything. It's a little more costly but well worth it in the long run. I taped the wire to the bare interior fiberglass with packing tape. It likely won't hold when the shell heats up but it will be covered up with carpet so the tape is just till the carpet goes in.

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OK Here are some of the pictures of my carpet installation. I bought the Konga, 1/2" foam backed cut pile carpet from Lowes. $265 for carpet, $39 for contact cement, rollers etc. Use thick nap rollers and plan to go through five or six. They are only good one time. The contact adhesive I got at Lowes was the paste type. I rolled it on both surfaces, let dry for about 20 minutes then had a good hour to put it up.
The ceiling went up without a hitch. Once the adhesive is dry it isn't sticky at all but bonds instantly when it hits the other surface so be careful. My plan went as follows:
I cut a piece 58 inches wide, the carpet came in a 12' roll. Starting at the back window, this took it well behind the top of the shower and inside the closet ceiling. My camper is the 16". I marked a center line down the back of the carpet and down the ceiling inside the camper shell. I built a support from a 1x4 and 2x2s. See picture.

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I made the legs slightly longer than would fit between the floor and ceiling. I set them at an angle on top of scraps of wood on which they could slide without damaging the new floor carpet. Notice I also cover all the new carpet in case I dropped glue.
I draped the carpet over the wood support frame and aligned the centerlines. Then I hit the base of the support wedging the carpet to the ceiling firmly.
These are bad shots but I think they show how it worked and it worked really well.

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Once in place and straight, I rolled on adhesive on both the carpet and the ceiling on one side, let dry then crawled under the carpet and worked it across and down the side.
I then repeated the opposite side. Notice the additional support that was just a 2x2 with a 2x2 top I could use to press the carpet into the contoured area. This worked wonderfully.

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Old 04-02-2010, 01:50 PM   #7
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OK, The last couple of photos in the previous post show the use of two "braces". One of theses was the original support made from the 1x4 and two 2x2s plus a secondary support I used to force the carpet into the curved ceiling. The second support was made from a 2x2 for the upright and a 2x2 for the top forming a "T." I started pressing the carpet to the fiberglass shell working from the center out toward the side. When I got to the curved edge, I placed the top of the "T" of the second brace in the in the indention and hit the base of the support with a hammer forcing it upward pressing the carpet firmly into the curve. I then continued pressing the carpet adhering it to the ceiling until it was fully attached. The next step was to go to the other side of the center support, roll on the adhesive and repeat the process.

The sides were a lot trickier. I had a hard time aligning the new edge against the already mounted edge. If I had to do it over again, I'd trim the carpet backing back at an angle giving me more carpet nap. Fortunately most of these edges will be covered up and I learned a few tricks about filling the joins with knap that make them almost disappear.

In this shot you can see where the seams on the rear of the cabin were located.

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Here is a close up of the seams before I filled them in.

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The seams are filled with carpet pile. Trim off a pile of pile? knap? not sure what it's called. Try to get the pieces as long as possible.

You place a bead of the adhesive in the joint, then push the carpet pile it in the crack. When its dry you vacuum up the loose carpet and repeat the process if necessary. Above is a photo with the rear seams indicated. I did a pretty lousy job joining the side pieces to the top. If I could do it over I would have the pieces overlap the top by a 1/2 inch or so. The carpet compresses easily and can be pushed in to meet the ceiling piece already installed. I tried to have the two butt up against each other and it left a noticeable seam. Fortunately, most of this will be covered up with cabinets etc. but I was disappointed. I'm REALLY picky. Once I discovered you can easily press the carpet back in place and have it squeeze together, my seams were almost invisible. Other than mine, I have never seen a Casita in the flesh, so to speak, so I don't k now how it looks on most of them.
I watched a guy install carpet at work and he used Roberts 7015 carpet seam adhesive. It looks like Elmer's glue. I think Elmers would probably work just as well. It dries clear.

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The best tool I found for cutting the carpet was actually a pair of vice grips with a 3" carpet razor.
You can get a good idea of the 1/2" foam pad in this shot where the carpet was bent over to cover the bench seat supports. The plywood under the carpet in the seat supports is 1/2". It's fiberglassed to the shell. This made attaching the seats a little more difficult since you have to compress the carpet but it gives a really tight seal and stopped any squeaking from where the fiberglass would ordinarily rub against the plywood and fiberglass support.

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Old 04-05-2010, 10:05 PM   #8
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OK now the fun begins and I can start putting it back together. Some of these mods came after camping in it for a couple of years.

There were a couple of modifications I made under the sink base that helped a lot.
The configuration with the wheel well just was worthless for storing things. I used the standard wire closet shelving but bent the shelving to form a 90 turn. It works great but I had to cut it into two pieces as I couldn't get the entire length into the cabinet after the sink base was installed.

In the original design the land line 110 power cord is just pushed through a hole on the cab and piled up inside the cabinet. When you pull it out it can get caught on all sorts of things stored under the sink. I built a small wooden box out of 1/4 in plywood and mounted it inside so the power cord would just pile up without getting wrapped up in anything else. Make sure you secure the end nearest the converter with a wire strap so when you push the cord into the box it wont wear the connections on the controller loose.

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This is under the sink where the cord comes in before I installed the box. Note the clamp holding the land line to the floor.


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One of the best modifications I did was to add a 2 1/2 gal gray water holding tank for the sink. There weren't any gray-water tanks to begin with. Two gallons really is sufficient when you're on the road and want to rinse out a glass or wash your hands etc. Just be frugal.
This mod cost less than $15 and has worked like a charm.
I used a standard plastic gas can.

I drilled two holes in the can on the bottom, one 1 1/2 " and one 3/8". I inserted a plastic ribbed inline tubing connector ( these were easy to find a Lowes) into the 1/2" hole and sealed it with silicone caulk. (Don't fool with it for at least 24 hours before trying to put the tubes on or you may break loose the caulk.) This was the end that would connect to the sink drain. The 3/8" connector was for a breathing tube on top. Make sure the tube is taller than the drain in the sink. Mine goes almost to the bottom of the sink base.


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The can is mounted upside down with the spout pointing in the direction of the normal opening where the sink drains. I used another 1/2 in ribbed connector to connect the spout of the gas can to the other end of the drain tube. I mounted a simple screw on valve on the outlet on the outside. When it's closed the water is stopped at this point.

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The tank was easy to mount. I used pipe strap and just secured it above and below with stove bolts an washers. The advantage of the bolts is you can really pull down on them and tighten the tank to the carpet securely. I haven't had a single problem with this system since I put it in.

This is a shot of the cut off valve outside.


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