Doing Things I Don’t Know How to Do

(Casita wiring schematic removed by request.)

Sometimes projects overwhelm me because I have no prior knowledge or experience to draw on.

Installation of the Fantastic Fan is one of those projects.

I suppose my fear of working with anything electrical goes back to the dire warnings of electrical shock and electrocution that my mother instilled on me thoughout my growing-up years — based on a near-death experience during her teenage years.

Anyway, I understand now that if the trailer is unplugged and one cable of the battery is removed (or the breakers turned off) that I’m not going to get fried.  But that’s about all I understand.

These connectors came with the Fantastic Fan

These connectors came with the Fantastic Fan

First of all, most Casitas come prewired for a Fantastic Fan.  The original owner of my trailer ordered it without a roof vent at all.  So there is no existing fan wiring to tie into.

I called Casita, and they said to tie into the dinette lighting.   They are wonderful people, but they are also extremely busy, and my dumb questions apparently frustrated them.  So all I know is that I need to tie into the dinette light wiring.

One size fits all. :)

One size fits all. 🙂

I found a DC diagram for the Casita and it shows me where the wires run.  I will have to lift the carpet inside the cupboards, find the  wires, then glue the carpet back down later.

I am going to have to run the wires under the carpet from the cupboard to the ceiling.  I have some heavy aluminum wire that I think I can create a fish tool from.

I have the wood spacer for the fan cut out.  Just need to sand and finish it.

So now I am down to trying to figure out how to follow the Fantastic Fan electrical directions.  They say, “Hook 12 volt power to fan.”

Two wires are attached to the fan, and the package includes two little blue connectors.  I have never seen connectors like these before.  So I do a web search for a tutorial.  Finally I find an article that says to slide the wires in from both sides and crimp in the middle.  But I don’t know if one crimp in the middle will keep the wires from vibrating apart.  Would it be better to crimp each wire separately near the middle of the little blue thing?  I have no clue.  I’m guessing it couldn’t hurt.

Then I start thinking that if I cut the trailer wires and connect the fan that probably the lights and bathroom fan, farther down the circuit, wouldn’t work unless the Fantastic Fan was switched on.  So I searched the web again and found diagrams of jumper wires that would apparently route the current around the fan if it was off.

So I did a little sketch of how I thought I needed to do a jumper wire and emailed it to a guy who has answered questions for me in the past.  Although he graciously replied, he apparently was amused and his reply was so flippant that I would never dare ask him another question again.  🙂

Next I needed to decide what size connectors to use inside the cabinet.  I know from experience with battery connectors that there is no way I can crimp a wire tightly enough to get it in the size connector that’s supposed to fit.  I finally find some connectors that say they replace several different sizes… kind of an all-in-one solution.

Fortunately I do know how to use them because I have seen my ex connect wires with that screw on type connector.

Once I get the wires fished and figure exactly where to connect them, mounting the fan should be fairly simple — because I have used butyl tape and self-leveling caulking before, so I’m not expecting any hidden monsters to jump out and bite me there!

We have some rain on the way, so this will probably take a while!

Gearing up for My 1st Electrical Adventure!

I have desperately wanted to have a Fantastic Fan installed in my Casita.  The original owner ordered it from the factory without any roof vent at all!  But our local RV shop does such shoddy work that I wasn’t willing to trust them with cutting a hole in the roof of my Casita.  (His fixes were largely responsible for the early demise of my Aliner.)  Also, the Fantastic Fan is made for RVs with thicker roofs, and a lot of shops will tell you a Fantastic Fan can’t be installed in a Casita.

The Fantastic Fan

The Fantastic Fan

I figured the only way I could get it done by someone I trust was to make a trip to Texas and have Larry at Little House Customs do it for me.

But tonight I read this article on how to install one.  It answered my BIG question on where to tie the wires in.  It says I can use either the wires to the bathroom fan or to the lighting.  It also showed me how to score the insert to fit my narrower ceiling.

I think I can find the wires to the bathroom fan without doing any damage to the ceiling carpet.  And I think I should be able to fish the fan wire the short distance needed.  I may have to loosen a little bit of the carpet at the ceiling/bathroom wall juncture.  But I can restore that with contact cement.

Cover for the fan so I can use it when it's raining.

Cover for the fan so I can use it when it’s raining.

My big questions will be which wires to tie to which fan wires.  But I figure I can take a photo of the wires and ask the guys on the Casita forum.  They are GREAT at patiently answering even the dumbest-sounding questions.  (The reason I know is I have already asked several!)  😀

So I ordered the Fantastic Fan tonight from Adventurenet.  I’ve had several positive dealings with them in the past, and they have great prices and low shipping costs.

I also ordered a rain cover for the fan so I can leave it running when it’s raining.  With the MaxxAir vent I already installed in the rear window, I can partially open that window so the fan can pull fresh air through.

I ordered the vent cover with the removable louver so I can clean out leaves and pine straw that accumulate under there.  I was afraid that maybe the louver would loosen in time.  But it it does, I’ll devise a method to hold it in place.

I know that this project (like all my projects) will have me pulling my hair out trying to get everything right the first time.  And I’ll probably be really sorry I attempted it for a while.  But I am SO excited about learning how to do this!

If I succeed at this project, then I’ll try to add a switch so I can turn on the Casita’s porch light from inside as well as outside — another feature I’ve wanted for a long time!

Who knows…. I may even attempt the fast gray plumbing mod on my little trailer before I’m done!!!!


The Good News Continues!

There are real benefits in living in an extremely rural area.

Today we took the truck and camper into our local auto repair shop to have the electric systems checked out.  The guy spent quite a while diagnosing the problem.  It turns out that the truck charge line is only putting out 8 volts instead of 12.  This causes the relay in the camper to overheat and turn off every few seconds.  Then it cools down and makes contact until it overheats and the cycle is repeated.

The electrician spent quite a while diagnosing the problem… and didn’t charge us a penny for the diagnosis!

He is coming to our HOUSE Monday to diagnose what exactly is wrong with the charge line.  Then he’ll know what parts he needs to order.

I think the reason is that he and his wife are looking for a used Casita, and he is really enjoying poking through ours!

In addition, we spent over an hour today excitedly talking about the Indian artifacts he has found on his property along a river in Alabama.  He and his wife spend countless hours looking for them.  They have found broken pottery, arrowheads, knives, spear points and all kinds of interesting things.   He said the Hillabi Indians has a settlement on his property, and it wasn’t that long ago.  He has discovered that the old fire rings are usually within 50 yards of the river.  So he and his wife take rakes and rake back the forest debris looking for rocks that show discoloration from old fires.  Then they rake down about 4″ and find the old fire ring, and usually find fragments of arrowheads and pottery.  He also found a spearhead stuck in a tree with the tree growing around it.  He said in four more years, the spearhead would probably have been completely buried inside the tree.

He said one man from the area donated his extensive artifact collection to the museum at Cheaha State Park.  Afterwards other local people donated their collections.  They can be seen by visitors to the State Park.

Then somehow the subject of mushrooms came up, and he was off and running again.  He said he and his wife have been very interested in learning to identify mushrooms, but they didn’t know where to start.  I told him about the very best books in my collection that would be a good start for them, so I’ll give him the names and authors when he comes here Monday.  I forgot to tell him that there is also a great mushroom club in Alabama.  I’ll be sure to have that info for him when he gets here.

He also said that he could replace our damaged stabilizer jack, install the 3 stage converter with smart charger that I want someday, and he can install the high lift axle and 15″ Load D tires that I want when the time comes.

He is a godsend, as far as I am concerned.  And what fun to make a new friend who is passionately interested in some of the things that I am passionate about!

Also, my new MiFi is here, and I love it.  What I especially love is that when I camp with my sister, she can share my internet access without my having to remember long strings of security codes and passwords.  All she will have to do is enter the password numbers that are right on the MiFi device.

That’s great because the whole reason I got the MiFi is that I couldn’t get the old security codes and password on my old Cradlepoint aircard router to work.  I called customer support where I bought it, but it is out of warranty and I’d have to pay for the online help.  It was much cheaper to get the new MiFi.

So things are really looking up for us!!!!

Undoing the Solar

Where the wires go

Today’s project was undoing the solar wiring so I could remove the charger and solar controller.

I have a pretty high IQ, but I am brain dead when it comes to electrical stuff.  Probably because I don’t want to know how to do it.  My dad did wiring, my ex did wiring, and somewhere along the way I internalized the cherished belief that I didn’t need to know how to do it.

Now I am doing it.  Sort of.  I’m taking pictures of every connection and making labels for the wires to remind me what goes to what when

The solar controller

I start putting it back together again.

I also got the other bed removed.  Tomorrow I’ll remove the water heater and water tank and label more wiring.  🙂

Everything is photographed and labeled now, so it can be taken apart.

Stored in the spare bedroom until time to put it back together

Tomorrow's project

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