Visited Casita Showroom, Now I'm worried. My experience, questions and concerns. - Fiberglass RV


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Old 08-09-2020, 05:17 PM   #1
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Visited Casita Showroom, Now I'm worried. My experience, questions and concerns.

Hi folks,

Sort of a long post. My apologies, I just wasn't sure where else to put it.

So, I just drove the hour and twenty minutes to Rice TX yesterday to visit the Casita showroom, and I left less than impressed to say the least. The whole experience has me a tad worried, and not just about Casita's but maybe about the smaller FGRVs in general.

The first thing I noticed was the build quality of some of the units I looked at. Several things felt "cheap". In one unit there was a 110v outlet mounted under the overhead storage. Fine. Nothing really wrong with that I guess, except when I opened the cabinet, I could see the bare electrical box and the too long, sharp, exposed screws that attached it to the under side of the cabinet.

I also felt that when I looked in the inner corners of the cabinetry that the carpet didn't seem installed very well. It bunched up or didn't lay flat. I'm thinking that the interior carpeting maybe isn't for me. The covers on the stoves seemed cheap and flimsy, and in one unit the stove wasn't even fully put together as it was missing the grating on top of the burners.

They also had units on display which seemed like they were just thrown together without any care. There were loose parts in boxes inside of them some had extra table parts (like extra table tops and support poles) that I think came from other units that were just laying about inside the "show" units.

Anyway, aside from all that, the point of the trip was to take my two dogs (Sophie and Maggie - pics at the bottom of the post) to see how the three of us would fit. My girls are each about 50 or 60 lbs. and while it was a tight-ish squeeze I think we would manage, though it might be nice if there was a tad more room.

So, I started thinking that maybe I needed to look at a slightly larger RV like maybe a Bigfoot 21 or an Escape 19, or Escape 21.

My tow vehicle is a 2018 4Runner TRD Pro off-road with the towing package. My GVWR is 6500 lbs and my max towing capacity is 5000 lbs. The longer Bigfoot trailers seem like they would really push the edges of the limit of my tow vehicle with a dry weight of just over 4300 lbs while the Escapes are still in the 3400 lb range. So it seems like the Escape trailers focus on being lightweight so they can be towed by 6 cylinder SUVs.

I left the Casita dealership with more concerns too. They only have room for one AGM battery (which looks not much larger than a car battery to be honest), and their A/C units cannot be run off the battery. Maybe that's typical, I don't know, or maybe it's only that way because they don't provide enough batteries and a big enough inverter?

My plan is to boondock as much as humanly possible in order to save on money and gas. So if things go to plan, I won't be hooked up to shore power very often if at all (unless I'm visiting friends in Oregon or Canada). In the hotter months though, it would be nice to know that I can still run an A/C unit if I need to. Are all FGRVs limited in their battery power like this? Is it something that people mod?

I'm wondering how many folks out there boondock full-time in their FGRVs? And I don't just mean dry-camping but still in a campground. I mean getting out in the sticks away from anything resembling civilization, and staying for weeks at a time. I would love to hear from anyone who is doing this.

I've gotten the advice before from several different sources that I should rent an RV and try it out. That is fantastic advice, but it seems that renting a FGRV is nearly impossible (or I've not found anywhere near me in North Texas where I can do that).

I could rent a stick-built RV and see what it's like, but is that a fair comparison to a FGRV? It wouldn't exactly be apples to apples, maybe more like apples to pears (not the same but close enough). I don't know.

I know that at one point (maybe still) I was considering a T@B400. If I rented one of those, at least it would be similar in size. Can anyone talk about if they rented and tried stuff out before they purchased, and if so what sort of RV did you rent and where did you rent from?

I have other questions, but this post is already probably longer than most people want to read. If you made it this far, thank you very much for sticking with me. As a thank you, here's a picture of my girls! (and my knee)


Cheers!
Tofer
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Old 08-09-2020, 05:58 PM   #2
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We’ve owned a 16 ft Scamp , a 17 ft Casita SD and an Escape 21
My only question is “ Do you want to spend your time traveling & camping or making repairs ?”.

Well , I’ve got to get back to fixin our Escape so I will check in later to read your response.

GOOD LUCK !!
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Old 08-09-2020, 06:00 PM   #3
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We had a 2009 Casita and had mo problem with the build quality or the carpeting. As far as misc stuff in the showroom models, I have no doubt that stuff would disappear before delivery. We thought their delivery process was well done. We did have a problem with the furnace install, but they took good care of us getting that fixed.

As far as space goes, we had two adults and a 12 pound dog. It was a synchronized dance whenever anyone had to move. That said, we now have two adults and a 8t pound German German Shepard in a much smaller traiker.

We found the battery adequate for our needs. You would need a HUGE bank of batteries to run an air conditioner. The only practical solution I know of is a generator.

We have toured the Escape factory and liked the build, so that could be an option for you.
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Old 08-09-2020, 08:24 PM   #4
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One of the most significant mistakes people make is buying too small- and we made it. Another common mistake is buying a trailer to match your tow vehicle. Made that at the same time.

Trust your instincts. With two dogs an Escape 19 or 21 would be much better; yet to me a 19 is a stretched 17( our first), whereas a 21C feels much larger.
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Old 08-09-2020, 08:46 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Osos1 View Post
One of the most significant mistakes people make is buying too small- and we made it. Another common mistake is buying a trailer to match your tow vehicle. Made that at the same time.

Trust your instincts. With two dogs an Escape 19 or 21 would be much better; yet to me a 19 is a stretched 17( our first), whereas a 21C feels much larger.
I would wholeheartedly disagree the most significant mistake is buying a trailer that does not fit your needs ,not everyone needs a larger trailer for a lot of different reasons ,there are many happy campers where over 13 or 15 feet is just to big.
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Old 08-10-2020, 07:38 AM   #6
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I share some with both comments. #1 mistake I see people make is they get a trailer based on tow vehicle. Since you plan to be full time and boondocking, I’d pick the trailer FIRST.

Then based on the trailer, maybe your tow vehicle will be enough, maybe not.

Another mistake is what may be more than adequate for a weekend or week, won’t be for a month. Make sure you have a separate place to sit and can leave the bed as s bed. Taking up the bed and converting it to a dinette every morning will get really old fast.

As to size, people full time in everything from a small car, to a minivan and up. Could I do it? No way.

On AC you will either need massive solar panel capacity (not practical), or do like many: change location with the season. Quartzite in the middle of winter, then migrate north in the late spring. Maybe end up in Idaho or Montana in the summer. Some people work as camp hosts. Get creative!
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Old 08-10-2020, 08:11 AM   #7
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If you look behind the curtains of any of these trailers and any trailer in general, you’ll find shoddy carpentry. These aren’t pros.

Yes, many of us boondock. So do people in cars. A trailer is a luxury, no matter how small or poorly outfitted. It’s all what you want and expect. Decide how you want to “camp” and buy the appropriate trailer.

The 20+ Bigfoot will not agree with a 4Runner. 17’ is already pushing it, but completely doable.
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Old 08-10-2020, 09:36 AM   #8
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Hi Bill, thanks for your thoughts.

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Originally Posted by thrifty bill View Post
I share some with both comments. #1 mistake I see people make is they get a trailer based on tow vehicle. Since you plan to be full time and boondocking, I’d pick the trailer FIRST.

Then based on the trailer, maybe your tow vehicle will be enough, maybe not.
The problem here is that I already own the 4Runner. I bought it well before my plans to retire like this formed. As it's a very expensive vehicle I have no real plans to get a different tow vehicle.

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Another mistake is what may be more than adequate for a weekend or week, won’t be for a month. Make sure you have a separate place to sit and can leave the bed as s bed. Taking up the bed and converting it to a dinette every morning will get really old fast.
I couldn't agree more here. My plan has always been to have a permanent bed and a permanent (small) dinette. I really only need room to sit with a plate, and alternately my laptop.

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Originally Posted by thrifty bill View Post
On AC you will either need massive solar panel capacity (not practical), or do like many: change location with the season. Quartzite in the middle of winter, then migrate north in the late spring. Maybe end up in Idaho or Montana in the summer. Some people work as camp hosts. Get creative!
So, I could save money by just not getting an A/C then. I think I could be okay with that.

Thanks again for your thoughts. They're much appreciated.
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Old 08-10-2020, 09:52 AM   #9
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Thanks for the response Zach.

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If you look behind the curtains of any of these trailers and any trailer in general, you’ll find shoddy carpentry. These aren’t pros.
Hmm... good to know. I've seen videos of some people trailers where the cabinetry seemed of higher quality (I want to say it was a Canadian manufacturer, but I can't really recall).

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Yes, many of us boondock. So do people in cars. A trailer is a luxury, no matter how small or poorly outfitted. It’s all what you want and expect.
As a backpacker, I'm accustomed to doing without, so I know that any trailer is going to be a luxury. I guess for the price I was just expecting... I don't know.

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Decide how you want to “camp” and buy the appropriate trailer.
Great advise, Thanks! I honestly, could see times where I might still string up my hammock and sleep outside. I guess when I backpack I never think about being cramped, because I'm not. Everything is wide open. The confines of the small trailer maybe spooked me a tad. I should probably focus on not living IN the trailer, but living OUT OF the trailer. Though I know there could be times where I might spend some days in the trailer due to bad weather perhaps.

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The 20+ Bigfoot will not agree with a 4Runner. 17’ is already pushing it, but completely doable.
Maybe the Escape would be the way to go for me then (as they seem to focus on lightweight). I don't know. I'll need to keep searching and trying and such.

Thanks again for your thoughts.
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Old 08-10-2020, 11:12 AM   #10
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...I honestly, could see times where I might still string up my hammock and sleep outside. I guess when I backpack I never think about being cramped, because I'm not. Everything is wide open. The confines of the small trailer maybe spooked me a tad. I should probably focus on not living IN the trailer, but living OUT OF the trailer. Though I know there could be times where I might spend some days in the trailer due to bad weather perhaps.
Hey toferj, I hear your wheels turning, and it looks like you answered your own questions.

This is what I hear you saying.....You are a backpacker used to a tent and a hammock. You are only going to use your camper durning bad weather, as you state (and sleeping). You are going to want to be outside as much as possible. So why lug a huge trailer around for minimal use? Are you looking for a 'house on wheels' and change your outdoor camping style, or are you looking to augment and up your outdoor camping style and experience?

You still want a fiberglass trailer as opposed to a stick built but the small ones are too tiny inside due to the built ins. What I hear you say is that what you need is a shell, with a bed, a table and room to move around with your dogs. Look at the Happier Camper (Happiercamper.com) for ideas. I think this might be exactly what you are looking for. It is 13 feet, 1,100 base weight and wide open space inside with the ability to make a table when needed and bed/s anywhere you want. This should help you narrow down your thoughts and ideas to find what will work best for you.
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Old 08-10-2020, 11:48 AM   #11
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I don't have experience with many trailers, but it seems the Canadian manufacturers tend to have a slightly higher quality of "finish" carpentry. As a general rule. But I still see things in my Bigfoot that make me cringe.

You're doing what you should. Keep thinking and keep looking. Since you want to keep the 4Runner, that means a 17.5 Bigfoot or Escape 19, if you're ruling out the "egg" style trailers.

This will depend on how you plan to use the trailer. Sure, you'll want to spend most of your time outside. But if you always feel cramped when you're in the trailer, that's no good. I actually spend a lot of time in my trailer. I like small, cozy spaces. But for me, a Scamp or Casita style trailer would soon feel cramped. If I were just weekend camping or doing longer road trips, no problem. I spend 6 months of the year living out of my trailer, so I really, really appreciate the extra space in a Bigfoot. Even the 17/17.5' models have way more space than the egg-shape trailers.
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Old 08-10-2020, 12:01 PM   #12
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Hi Manley!

Thanks for responding.

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Hey toferj, I hear your wheels turning, and it looks like you answered your own questions.

This is what I hear you saying.....You are a backpacker used to a tent and a hammock. You are only going to use your camper durning bad weather, as you state (and sleeping). You are going to want to be outside as much as possible. So why lug a huge trailer around for minimal use? Are you looking for a 'house on wheels' and change your outdoor camping style, or are you looking to augment and up your outdoor camping style and experience?
My wheels are definitely turning. I've never towed a trailer before, and I think that and the upfront expense are what have me the most worried honestly... and that I'm talking about selling my house and most everything I own to do this full-time.

That said, because the idea is that this will be my home moving forward, it might be nice to have my usual camping style upgraded a little bit (a place to run to when it starts pouring rain, freshwater tank and outdoor shower, even the ability to watch a movie on a rainy day, etc.), but I certainly don't need the kind of luxury some folks have in their Class A RVs.

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You still want a fiberglass trailer as opposed to a stick built but the small ones are too tiny inside due to the built ins. What I hear you say is that what you need is a shell, with a bed, a table and room to move around with your dogs.
Yep. I think maybe you've nailed it. I need a bed, a table and storage. A huge luxury to me would be a microwave for my microwave popcorn... but even that could be replaced by popping over a fire, or stove.

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Originally Posted by tua View Post
Look at the Happier Camper (Happiercamper.com) for ideas. I think this might be exactly what you are looking for. It is 13 feet, 1,100 base weight and wide open space inside with the ability to make a table when needed and bed/s anywhere you want. This should help you narrow down your thoughts and ideas to find what will work best for you.
This is a manufacturer I'd not heard of!
I'm looking at their website, and while it's still kind of on the spend-y side, it looks totally customizable! Wow. This might really be what I'm looking for. Thank you!
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Old 08-10-2020, 12:12 PM   #13
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Hi toferj,
I see your questions and your getting responses. Everyone is often looking for a different something. I like our Scamp 16. It's a 97 and I replaced the doors & table with birch, the floor with hickory, installed a pressure water system, tanks and dump valves, installed AC and made numerous other additions and repairs. Some people like tinkering and some don't. I'm a retired tradesman and have always liked working with my hands. I like the way the Scamp pulls as most often it's like it's not there. I pull it with a Ford Edge and get about 15mpg. We carry a small 1,000 watt generator as the AC draws about 4 amps at 110v. Some people can't tolerate setting up and making the bed. I find it takes about 8 minutes each way and there are some days those 8 minutes are about the most exercise I got all day. My wife uses the couch which makes up into a bed that's just a couple inches larger than 1/2 of the regular bed. It tucks behind the bathroom which she likes a it prevents us from seeing one another, giving a sense of increased space. We do demand a decent night's sleep and memory foam pads were a big help. We find we can tolerate about 4 to 5 weeks in the Scamp. We took it on a 4 month National parks tour a few years ago and wisely broke the trip into 2 month blocks, storing the Scamp and flying home for a couple months. National parks & forest camping are often without power and it gets cold in the mountains. That's about as close to boon-docking as we get. Our Scamp suits us well as it provides our needs which may well be much different than the needs of others. Good luck on determining your best fit.
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Old 08-10-2020, 12:38 PM   #14
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Hi George! Thanks so much for the response!

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Hi toferj,
I see your questions and your getting responses. Everyone is often looking for a different something. I like our Scamp 16. It's a 97 and I replaced the doors & table with birch, the floor with hickory, installed a pressure water system, tanks and dump valves, installed AC and made numerous other additions and repairs. Some people like tinkering and some don't. I'm a retired tradesman and have always liked working with my hands. I like the way the Scamp pulls as most often it's like it's not there. I pull it with a Ford Edge and get about 15mpg. We carry a small 1,000 watt generator as the AC draws about 4 amps at 110v.
Some real good information in there. I'm not the handiest guy around, though I don't mind giving things a go. I like my hammock because I like tinkering with its setup, so I get the tinkering thing... not entirely sure I'm up to making major mods to a trailer. Who knows, that outlook may change with time and experience (or necessity).


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Some people can't tolerate setting up and making the bed. I find it takes about 8 minutes each way and there are some days those 8 minutes are about the most exercise I got all day.
Yeah, I'm just not sure where I'd stand on that issue. I'm thinking it might be nice to just have things be permanently what they are instead of constantly converting between different functions. But again, a lack of experience with that is probably why I don't really know and am only guessing at what I'd prefer.

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Our Scamp suits us well as it provides our needs which may well be much different than the needs of others. Good luck on determining your best fit.
Thanks again for your thoughts George!
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Old 08-10-2020, 12:46 PM   #15
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Thanks again for the additional thoughts, Zach.
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Originally Posted by ZachO View Post
You're doing what you should. Keep thinking and keep looking. Since you want to keep the 4Runner, that means a 17.5 Bigfoot or Escape 19, if you're ruling out the "egg" style trailers.
This kind of comment helps, more than you may know. It's encouraging. Thanks.

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Originally Posted by ZachO View Post
This will depend on how you plan to use the trailer. Sure, you'll want to spend most of your time outside. But if you always feel cramped when you're in the trailer, that's no good. I actually spend a lot of time in my trailer. I like small, cozy spaces. But for me, a Scamp or Casita style trailer would soon feel cramped. If I were just weekend camping or doing longer road trips, no problem. I spend 6 months of the year living out of my trailer, so I really, really appreciate the extra space in a Bigfoot. Even the 17/17.5' models have way more space than the egg-shape trailers.
More good food for thought, Zach. I like my cozy spaces (my hammock is super-cozy). Maybe it was the Texas heat, or the fact that the show units at the Casita showroom, didn't seem to be "staged" to give an idea of how they might be setup when actually living in them. I don't know, but my gut told me that I needed to keep looking. Sadly, I got pretty disappointed mentally, which resulted in my post about not being really impressed with them.

Anyway, thanks again so much for your thoughts and advice.
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Old 08-10-2020, 02:01 PM   #16
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Casita Factory

Casita always seems to have as many or more sales lined up as they can produced. They seem to keep the same factory, and the same output capacity. Thus they do not need to go through the trouble of staging in their showrooms. Usually the showroom is just a place to put a trailer that has already been ordered or still needs some final completion.

We have a Casita 17FD. For a single person with a couple of dogs it would seem to work very well. The FD has swivel captain chairs that are very comfortable, and without the bench seats, as in the SD, it would give a dog a little more room to curl up under the unused chair and that side of the table.

Otherwise, with two dogs in the isle, it would be a problem moving around in the trailer.

I fully agree that it is essential that you be able to keep your bed made up and not have to mess with it every day. For the Casita FD, you can get a nice full-size matress that is custom made to fit over the rear table/seats. That is what we have. If you were to go with the Casita, be aware that there is an option of having the rear partition (between the bed and the aft chair) cut back, making things a little more open. The only reason for the wider partition is that it might be good to allow someone to sit at the table in the chairs, and would keep the light from shining on someone in the bed. With just one person and two dogs, that is not something that is needed.

As for the battery, yes, it is a tight fit, and only one size battery can fit. If you are going to do any kind of boondocking, even a larger battery would not suffice. Most who boondock a lot have a solar system, or generator.

As for the AC, no trailer can run AC off of the battery. Most, do as we did, and buy a Honda (or Yamaha) generator. Our Honda EU1000 runs our AC fine, but for the small price increase, an EU2200 might be smart.

Once you get used to the idea of carpet on the walls...and don't get carpet on the floor, but get the vinyl option...particularly with two dogs...it is fine...and after many years we have had no problem. With two dogs, however, you might want to apply some sort of plastic over the lower part of the wall carpeting, or I am sure a dog rubbing against it will make it very dirty very fast. Almost all FG trailers have some kind of "rat fur" or carpeting on the walls, unless you want to spend almost twice as much for a very expensive trailer.

As for Casita in the way they treat their customers, they do not go out of their way to kiss up to their customers, because the do not have to. They just produce a good product, consistently, and with very few changes over time.

If I were unsure, as you seem to be, I would consider buying a used FG trailer. Camp in it for a while, and see what you like and what you don't like. Then you can sell it with very little loss compared to your purchase price (Casitas, etc. hold their value very well), and then you can by a brand new trailer that works for you as your new one-and-only home.

Good luck,
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Old 08-10-2020, 02:16 PM   #17
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We had our Casita for 6 years and by adding a 100 watt Renogy portable solar panel , we enabled ourselves to camp for weeks without hookups .
Water was our biggest issue and we had the optional 25 gallon fresh water tank
For my wife , myself and our Lab , our Casita 17 SD was cramped and that was the only reason we upsized.
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Old 08-10-2020, 02:28 PM   #18
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You have had many good, thoughtful responses. I had a 2013 Casita Spirit Deluxe (new). used it for about 350 nights or so. Wife really liked it. I thought it was too small and so we bought a 2019 Big Foot 25RQ (new). Casita had a few minor problems, BF had a few minor problems. After pulling the BF with a 2011 Tundra 5.7L 4x4 for a season I sold it and bought a 2019 Ram diesel 4x4. Tundra had zero problems during my ownership. Ram has had 2 recalls and zero problems.

Take a Look at the Oliver, a molded fiberglass trailer made in Hohenwald, TN (my home state). Very high quality, perhaps even better than my BF. Just s little too small for us at this time. Had I bought the Oliver instead of the Casita we would still have it, and not traded for the BF. If you can afford it, and don't mind small, buy the Oliver. You will not regret it.

I am having solar installed with 4 Battleborn Lithium batteries and 6 Renogy solar panels. I have a Microair Easystart capacitor installed in the 11K AC. I am being told to not expect it to run the AC. However I also have a Cummins propane generator installed, which will run the AC.

I installed a Honda eu3000is on the Casita, with remote start. Located it over the propane tanks in front. It ran everything at the same time when needed. Very pleased with this setup.

The Cummins generator is not nearly as strong, quiet and useful as that Honda.
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Old 08-10-2020, 03:49 PM   #19
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Get the AC. Get a generator if you want to run it.
You WILL want to run it. Sometime.
Get the AC.
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Old 08-10-2020, 04:25 PM   #20
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Randy, thanks so much for the thoughtful, detailed response. It's good to hear from a happy Casita owner too. You've given me quite a bit to think about.

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Originally Posted by GatorCasita View Post
As for the battery, yes, it is a tight fit, and only one size battery can fit. If you are going to do any kind of boondocking, even a larger battery would not suffice. Most who boondock a lot have a solar system, or generator.
I would of course want solar, it just seems that I could boondock longer if I had more battery capacity for that solar to charge.

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Originally Posted by GatorCasita View Post
As for the AC, no trailer can run AC off of the battery. Most, do as we did, and buy a Honda (or Yamaha) generator. Our Honda EU1000 runs our AC fine, but for the small price increase, an EU2200 might be smart.
So, this is something I'm learning. You're maybe the second or third person to tell me this, and I really appreciate it. I didn't know that AC units couldn't run off of battery.


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Originally Posted by GatorCasita View Post
If I were unsure, as you seem to be, I would consider buying a used FG trailer. Camp in it for a while, and see what you like and what you don't like. Then you can sell it with very little loss compared to your purchase price (Casitas, etc. hold their value very well), and then you can by a brand new trailer that works for you as your new one-and-only home.
I may end up doing something like this. I don't know that I'll be able to afford making such an expensive purchase, just as a test. It would be nice if I could rent one, but the only ones I've found for rent, don't allow pets which kind of defeats the purpose. If I could find a used one for $10k or under... but that doesn't seem very likely.

Visiting a rally would be great, but who knows when those will start happening again? I've signed up for a mailing list that is supposed to let me know about rallies and when they're happening. Maybe they'll start again soon.

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Good luck,
Thank you!!
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