50 Below Ambient!

The Casita’s refrigerator has consistently run 50 degrees below ambient temperature the last three days.  That means when it’s in the high 80’s outside, it’s in the high 30’s inside.

I am thrilled!  I guess insulating it and redirecting the air flow was all it needed.  It feels so good to not have to worry about food poisoning from a too-warm refrigerator!

Since we can’t leave until Tuesday, I’m doing odd jobs today like vacuuming the wall carpet and going through food and tool storage areas to reassess my space usage.

In short, any excuse to spend as much time playing in our little camper as I can!  🙂

Progress

I insulated the external top and sides of the Casita’s refrigerator with Reflectix and fiberglass batt insulation today.  I also made a baffle to direct air directly over the cooling fins.  It seems to be helping.  The refrigerator temperature is now running 40 degrees below ambient temperature.

I think if I add a fan to move air over the fins faster, I may get a small additional gain.

I read on an Airstream forum that there is an additional resistor you can get from Dometic that dropped refrigerator temperature from 30 degrees below ambient to 60 for a couple of posters.  I may eventually look into that for my trailer.

And finally, FINALLY, I got the last two valances (for the small windows) sewn last night.  Tonight I’ll sew on the loops, and install them tomorrow.

I’ll take pictures when it’s done.

Ron and I are both excited about the upcoming trip.  It will feel so good to get out again!

Getting Ready for a Trip Home

Our electrician installed my new Progressive Dynamics 4645 converter with 4 stage smart charger this week.  So I can leave the trailer plugged in without boiling my battery dry now.

It’s too late for the existing battery.  It was reading 10 amps the other day.  So I plan to get a new Deka Group 27 battery this week.  I wanted an AGM battery, but the RV place said they don’t carry AGMs for RVs because it needs a specific kind of charger.

I guess that’s true technically, but I had very good luck using two 6 volt AGMs in the Aliner with a PD 3 stage charger.  I have to get the battery this week for our trip next week.  If anyone reading this has a better suggestion, I’d love to hear it.  We are in a rural area and there aren’t too many battery dealers nearby, so I’m not sure where to look for true deep cycle batteries.  Most people only know about dual purpose marine batteries.  Sure don’t want to pay for shipping on one!

I caulked around the refrigerator vent, outside lights and kitchen vent.  Not a perfect looking job, but I did it with Proflex, and the seals are nice and tight.

In the process of cleaning before and after the caulking, I damaged my PoliGlow finish, so will have to strip and redo a few areas.

I am not fond of going to Florida when it’s hot (and it’s already in the 90’s at Mom’s place), but that’s how it worked out this spring.  We plan to leave on May 6, spend three days with my sister Ann, then move to Mom’s for Mother’s Day and stay there a few days.  Then we want to head somewhere in Central Florida that’s central to Ocala, Orlando and Clermont so it will be easy for friends and family down there to visit us if they want to drop in.

I was thinking Lake Louisa State Park in Clermont would be ideally situated.  But there’s no shade there, so I’ll look for some place a little cooler.  We might end up staying at Salt Springs again as they have full hookups, the icy spring to swim in, and a beautiful campground for $18 a night with our senior pass.

I’m working on trying to regulate the temperature in my refrigerator.  It usually gets up to 65 when days are in the mid to high 90’s.  It looks like it is only cooling 30 degrees below ambient temperature.

I need to take it in and have the refrigerator properly serviced, but the budget is REALLY tight lately, so I am going to try to make it through this trip without it.

I’ll probably take it in to the shop before we head to Mississippi in June.

I love our little Casita so much.  I would so desperately love to fulltime, but it’s not in the cards.  So I escape out there and just soak in the peace and beauty of my own private little retreat at least once a day.

It’s the most perfect little camper in the world!  🙂

New Owner Maintenance

Today we sanitized the Casita’s water system.  We drained the old water out, mixed bleach with fresh water, filled the water tank, ran it through all faucets and the toilet, then let it stand for 4 hours and drained it again.

The water heater had quite a buildup of minerals in it, so next we ran a vinegar solution through the system and turned on the water heater.  When the water was hot, I turned it off and am letting that solution dissolve the minerals overnight.  (Kind of like running vinegar through your coffee maker to remove mineral buildup.)

Tomorrow morning we will drain that and flush with fresh water, then we should be good to go with fresh, clean water in the tank.

We also leveled the trailer so I could turn on the refrigerator.  I’m sure it will need some tweaking, as the previous owner had the setting on 5, which indicates it wasn’t cooling as well as it should.  But there are so many fixes detailed on the Casita Forums, from removing oxidation from contacts, to tightening fittings that have worked loose, to angling a baffle so air flows properly over the coils, and so on, that I am sure I can get it operating at proper temperature.  I dealt with those same issues on the Aliner.

Next I want to give it a good deep cleaning… then next week start on the twin bed mods.

I’m planning to do everything so that they can easily be undone and the trailer restored to original configuration in the event we sell it some day and the buyer prefers to have it look as it did when it came from the factory.  I’ll carefully store the tables and cushions in the house.

The little Casita is really starting to feel like OURS now.  It feels like it has been such a long wait for her, and we just feel better and better about our new little mini motel on wheels!

Gifts from the Toy Garden

Today's toy garden harvest

I love cooking when I’m in the mood!

When it’s time to cook dinner, I’ll have the meat defrosted.  But I’m never sure how I’m going to prepare it. I take a look in the refrigerator to see what I have to work with, then I just start playing, and dinner evolves from there.

Tonight I had 3 boneless beef ribs thawed.  I put them in a pan and browned them well.  Then I added garlic, onion, ginger root from the freezer, celery and a handful of baby

Garden gifts chunky soup

carrots.  While that simmered, I sniffed my way through my spice drawers.  Ah, that would add a nice high note.  That one would add depth and complexity. 

Then I added diced potatoes, and the pole beans and two tomatoes from the garden.  The ho-hum one pot meal morphed into a down home delight.

Next it was time to cook the eggplant.  I LOVE fried eggplant.  Even though I enjoy eggplant parmesan and baba ganosh, I always default to dipping the

My favorite! Fried eggplant!

eggplant slices in egg, seasoning them, then dredging them in a mixture of flour and cornstarch, and FRYING them!

I love it so much that I deliberately only planted one plant this year to keep me from over-indulging.  That one plant provides 3 or 4 eggplant a week, which is more than we need.

We got a very light, gentle rain most of the day.  Much less than was expected or predicted from Tropical Storm Lee.  Tomorrow we should get more.  But it doesn’t look like we are going to get anything near the 5 – 9 inches that was predicted for this area yesterday.

That’s okay.  If we get a couple of inches, I’ll be thrilled!

No Pain, No Gain

Refrigerator removal

It doesn’t look like it from the photos, but Ron and I worked for 4 hours today getting the refrigerator loose and wrestling the water tank out.

The gas line to the refrigerator was so tight that we had to use a wrench and a hammer to break it free.  I am worried that we damaged something, as the part that the gas line attached to now swings freely back and forth.

Water tank removed.

Also I labeled and cut the electric lines — and found a badly corroded, non-attached wire which probably explains why the refrigerator never worked on DC.

I will definitely have an RV shop hook it back up for me.  And I’m really concerned that we’ll incur one of those huge Dometic repair bills I read about.  But that’s a worry for another day.

I had sealed the water tank lines so well that we ended up having to cut them to get them free from the tank.  And after I struggled with trying to walk the tank free, Ron reminded me that maybe I needed to remove the drain valve underneath the trailer first  Duh!  😀

Usually we don’t work well together so we do our own projects and leave the other one’s alone.  But he has been a wonderful help in getting the bathroom, refrigerator and water tank out.

Tomorrow we’ll plan to tackle the water heater removal.

 

Embarrassed to Post

I am truly embarrassed to admit that yes, after saying I was going replace the floor and rebuild the Aliner, then saying I was not going to rebuild it, then saying I was, then stating emphatically I wasn’t… several times…. I am now gutting it and planning to rebuild it.

Bathroom out, refrigerator is next to go.

The economy is the reason.  I don’t DARE go into debt with the US on the verge of default.  And even if they don’t default, the debt is so unsustainable no matter what they do that we will eventually crash.

Also, I prayed about it and asked God for specific direction on whether to rebuild it or not.  The next day I was looking at campers on the net and studying floorplans when I got that awful feeling that I can only relate to the extreme mental warning I get when I am thinking about camping someplace unsafe for the night.  I have learned when I feel that warning not to try to rationalize it away, but to get out of there as quickly as I can.

Later, I walked out into the Aliner and felt the most profound sense of peace.  All of the sudden the idea of gutting it and rebuilding it didn’t seem overwhelming.  I analyzed what I actually need in a camper, and the answers are a safe place to sleep, a bathroom, a refrigerator, and a place to fix coffee and cook light meals.  And the Aliner really can have everything I need.  I had just wanted bling.

So, due to the extreme heat, I am only working on the camper for two hours a day.  I do whatever I can get done in those two hours, then call it a day.  It’s going to take a while, but I’m not on a schedule.  The only deadline I have is our trip home for Thanksgiving.  And I’m sure I’ll have it redone by then.

 

 

Packing the Aliner Pantry

I have heard people complain that they are only able to pack 3 or 4 days worth of food in their Aliners.  So I thought I’d share some of my secrets of easily packing food for a week or more.

Packing the Aliner Pantry

Aliner pantry drawers packed in house then brought out to camper

I use plastic drawer units from Walmart, and have one drawer for each type of food.  I pack them inside the house, then carry them out to the camper, ready to slide into the drawer unit under the cupboard.

Aliner pantry drawers

One drawer for each category of food

There is one drawer for canned meats and hearty soups.  One drawer is for spices, one for starchy side dishes like grits, rice, instant potatoes and dehydrated potato dishes (scalloped potatoes), couscous, etc., and one for canned vegetables.

There is also a drawer for our supplements, and a plastic basket that sets on top with cooking oil, flour, corn meal, hush puppy mix, honey, salt, and whatever odds and ends I can stuff into it.

One week's worth of meat in Aliner freezer

I can easily get one week's meat for the two of us in the tiny freezer. If space gets tight, I take the meat out of its original wrapping and put it in zip lock freezer bags.

The freezer easily holds a week’s worth of meat for us.

Aliner refrigerator door with most of the essentials

I still need to add more bottled water to the door shelves

The refrigerator door holds mustard, mayonnaise, ketchup, salad dressing, juices, small bottles of milk, pickles, etc.  It’s not completely packed in this picture.  Will add another picture later.

Also I have discovered a way to keep fresh vegetables fresh for a very long time in the refrigerator.  I originally stumbled upon it while trying to keep my vegetables from freezing.  First, I bought a refrigerator fan that keeps the cold air from settling and creating cold and warm pockets of air inside.  Next, I wrap the vegetables in a paper towel, then wrap them in bubble wrap and tape them shut.

The way it extends shelf life is amazing.  I have kept iceberg lettuce for 5 weeks like that, and when I unwrapped it, it looked as crisp and fresh as the day I packed it.

I took a photo, but it turned out fuzzy.  So when I get better pictures I will post them.

We keep most of our sodas and drinking water in a cooler in the back of the truck.  If we have room in the refrigerator, we also keep some handy in there, too.

Next time I’ll show you how I make the most of the rest of the space in the Aliner.

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