Rosie the Riveter

My first riveting job

My first riveting job

Another dragon slain!  I got the black and grey tank vent covers replaced today!

I was unsure if I would need 3mm or 5 mm rivets, so I got a package of each.  I practiced riveting — and drilling out rivets — on the piece of fiberglass I had cut from the roof when I installed the fan.

Working with the 3mm rivets was easy.  But I did not have the hand strength to pop the 5 mm rivets.  I was so hoping that the 3mm size was what I would need for the job.

After I scraped the caulking off the rivets on the old vents, I was thrilled to see that they had used 3 mm!

It was pretty easy removing the old vent caps.  The caulking was another matter.  But I used a good silicone remover and was able to get every trace of the old stuff off.

I did discover a wasp tending a nest in the gray water pipe.  I squirted her with Raid, then used tongs to remove the nest.

I lined the vent caps with butyl tape, then fit them over the pipes.  I was disappointed that the new vents have a different hole pattern than the original ones.  But I just stuffed a ball of butyl tape in the old holes, drilled new ones… then very proudly did my first riveting jobs!

I don’t know if I needed to caulk the rivet caps, but I felt better putting a dollop of self leveling caulking on them.

With self leveling caulking over the rivets

With self leveling caulking over the rivets

I am tired, but feel such a sense of accomplishment.  There are so many little things I was afraid to do in the Casita because I was afraid of rivets.  Now I can remove the vent on the side of the kitchen cupboard and get rid of the rust in the corner and repaint it.  And I have plans to add larger cupboard vents and also vents at the bottom and top of the closet.  And I can add a vent to the bench where the water tank is so heat can get to it and the pipes in winter.  I’m also thinking of maybe adding vents to the side of the dinette seats for the same reason.

Also, I have ordered another Maxx Air window vent.  I tried the fan with just the rear vent open.  The fan sounded like it was straining, and there was no air circulation over the dinette.  So then I opened the dinette window the same distance it would open if I had another vent there.  The fan motor sounded happier, and I got a delicious cross breeze in the dinette area.

I’ve also ordered a clear, smoke colored opening window for the front door.  And a new wire kit for the battery so I can replace the stiff wires that I’m always afraid will break. So I have mods galore planned!

We want to go camping later this month after we get past vet visits for Sunny and Sheba.  But I’m afraid it’s going to be way too hot to enjoy being outside.  We’ll plan on a couple of days, and if we enjoy it, we can extend it for several more days.

Also, I REALLY want to get to the mountains in July or August.  That was the real impetus for the fan and vents — so we can be comfortable there without electricity.

So I am happy. I’m looking forward to learning the things I need to learn to do my new projects.  And I’m betting that by the time I get them finished, I’ll be confident enough to tackle the fan motor replacement on the furnace!


  1. Bill Brown

     /  June 4, 2013

    It’s amazing all that you can do by learning one new skill. The camper today, tomorrow the world!! I am happy for you!


  2. You are slaying one Casita dragon after another. Wish I had your skills and ambition. But, I’m more likely to sit around with a book, and hope that nothing needs immediate attention!


    • That’s what I do when my house needs repairs. 🙂

      The Casita is small enough that it doesn’t overwhelm me.


  3. Hi Sharon,

    Looks like you are doing great. Just remember that rivets also come in different lengths, and you want to have 1/8th to 1/4-inch sticking through on the back side, so that it expands behind the material… not “in” it.

    I sure wish we could go to the mountains this summer, but it still looks like it will be September of next year at the earliest before we can get out of here full-time. Enjoy and take lots of pictures to post!


    • Hi, John. The size rivets I got worked out. The 5mm were too short, but the 3mm ones that I used were longer and had room to expand after they went through the fiberglass. I’m surprised it worked because the guy at Lowe’s didn’t know anything more about rivet sizes than I did!

      I’m really sorry that you can’t get away this year. But this year is almost halfway over, and next year will be here before you know it.

      You can bet I’ll take lots of pictures when we finally get there! 🙂


  4. I’m so impressed with the mods and maintenance that you are willing to tackle! I recently had some work done on my trailer and was so disappointed with the results that I’m starting to consider doing my own work.


    • Anne, that is exactly why I started doing my own work. I used to think a “professional” could do it right. But after a couple of hatchet jobs that led to the untimely demise of my Aliner, I decided that I could do better than they could. At least I CARE about doing it right.

      I haven’t let anyone else work on my Casita, and I don’t plan to unless there is really something I truly can’t figure out. The ONLY person I would trust with my Casita is Larry at Little House Customs in Texas. He works on Casitas, Scamps and Escapes. And it takes a while to get an appointment!


  5. Those repairs and mods look great, GREAT. Like I tell my daughters, the only way to get past an obstacle is to just go past it. Job well done. Right down to the self leveling caulk on top of the rivets. BTW, is you are talking about the main battery cables, consider welding cable, it is just as heavy duty but much more flexible.


    • Thank you, Wayne. That’s high praise! 🙂

      My generation was taught that repairs were men’s work. It was only in recent years, when I was forced into attempting things, that I discovered (to my surprise) that I could learn to do anything I can physically manage — with help and advice from my friends. I have had so much help from people who have commented on my blog. It’s great to know that whenever I may need help in the future that all I have to do is ask, and they will be here for me!

      I am ordering the battery cables from Little House Customs. They say that their cables are soft, multistranded and flexible, so they must be using welding cable. I wouldn’t have known that if you hadn’t told me, though! 🙂


  6. OH no!!! Watch out, she’s packing a riverter!!!!! That vent cover looks like a piece of art!!! Mountain camping on the horizon…maybe by then we’ll be headed that way! UGH!!


    • Carla, I feel for you being stuck right now. Sure hope the house sells soon and you can head for the hills! 🙂


      • It is getting so old…Open House Sunday. I’ve got work as a distraction…Jerry is about to come out of his skin! Would be so cool if you and I were following Lynne!!!


        • Wouldn’t you just LOVE that!!! I doubt I would travel as many miles a day as she does… but then, she has a LONG way to go!

          I can imagine how Jerry is feeling. Poor guy. Hoping this Sunday will be THE day. 🙂


  7. Toni Hatley

     /  June 5, 2013

    I am not sure how I started to receive your post, maybe one day by just reading, followed your post but I am so glad I did. I get excited each time I receive a post from you. We camp. He have a motorhome but also have a Aliner which I love. I think that is how I started following you. I am so impressed with the self improvements that you have done. My husband and I have or THINK we have no talent at all. I think we are just afraid to attempt the repairs ourself. Your little Casita is beautiful. When you are on the inside with pictures I search for all the interior improvements. You have really made it your own little home away from home. We are from NC and want to start camping more in a year or so when hubby retires for good. JUST WANTED TO REALLY SAY HATS OFF TO YOU FOR ALL YOUR GOOD WORK. ALSO LOVE THE BEAUTIFUL PICTURES THAT YOU CAPTURE WHILE CAMPING. KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK !!!!!! Toni Hatley, Norwood, NC


    • Toni, your comment is very special to me. It means so much to me that you look forward to and enjoy my posts.

      I used to think I couldn’t do anything. In fact, I did a lot of my learning on my Aliner. I made a lot of mistakes, but learned how to disguise cosmetic disasters. The biggest problem I run into is believing that I can’t do something. Then when it gets to the point it must be fixed, somehow I figure it out. It’s not always easy. Sometimes it’s downright overwhelming. But thinking it through and taking one step at a time makes it doable.

      A lot of times I’ll start worrying about a part of the project still ahead of me. That’s when I firmly stop and tell myself, “I’m not there yet.” So I go back to focusing on the next step in front of me, and I usually manage to do okay.

      My goal in decorating the Casita was to make it look like a micro condo. It has been so much fun. Sometimes I go outside and sit in it and enjoy just being in my little playhouse. 🙂

      You have the best of both worlds with a motorhome and an Aliner. The motorhome for comfort, and the Aliner for impromptu camping fun.

      Thanks for your very kind words and comments.


  8. Marcia GB

     /  June 5, 2013

    Great work! I am very proud of you. Maybe one of these days I’ll attempt some repairs on my own Casita 🙂


    • Thank you, Marcia! Start with a simple, easy fix. You’ll gain confidence as you go along! 🙂


  9. What’s a rivet? Oh my – I admire you so. Anything DIY sends me running in the other direction – whether house or van. I’m such a wimp!

    Dumb question – can you camp in the mountains in the summer and not need A/C? Where do you go? As you probably know, I’m still in the Rockies and find myself wanting to see my family but dreading a return to the sweltering weather.


    • Heading across the country by yourself is proof positive you are not a wimp. I’m not sure I could do it!

      Kim, Lynne (Casita in the Desert; Casita in the Mountains) used to always spend some time in July at the Mt. Pisgah campground in North Carolina. The elevation is 4980 ft. She did a couple of blog posts on it if you want to check them out. There are no hookups there, but there are bathrooms with hot showers.

      Apparently, the days are in the low 80’s range (as opposed to the nineties and higher at lower elevations), and the nights get cool. She did run into a lot of rain that her solar panel couldn’t keep up with on her last trip.

      It’s near Asheville, so there should be a lot to see and do in the area.


  10. Sharon, so proud of you as always! Love how you just dive into a project like it’s a mountain to be scaled.
    And I am sending you positive energy to assist in getting up on the Blue Ridge parkway.

    Wish you and Carla were with us! I do feel the love coming from my blog friends.


    • Lynne, I think I told you that sometimes I jump in over my head just to see if I can swim! 🙂

      Thanks for the good wishes. I love imagining the fun times you, Carla and I would have together!


  11. You sure are going gung ho on the Casita. She will be one beautifully equipped rig. Better than anything you can buy new for sure. Hope you get to ge camping soon.


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