New Blog and a Honda 2000 for Sale

In preparation for our Los Angeles to Charleston SC road trip, I created another blog.

My plan is to model some of my favorite RV blogs and write about stuff us RVers would like and relate too.

I could have just used this blog, but WordPress let me make another one. I figure there must be a reason for that! Plus I get to change the layout and try some new things.

Anyway, this other blog is just for the road trip, so I’ll be back here too.

Oh, when we had our Casita, we bought a 2000 Honda generator with the 30 amp plug. It ran the Casita air conditioner just fine. I just used it twice for a few hours each time. It’s in brand new condition. If anyone is interested, post a comment. I’ll accept a reasonable offer. If I don’t sell it, I’ll just take it to Charleston and keep it in the garage for emergencies. But, I’d prefer to sell it to someone that needs one. Our class C came with a generator, so we’ve got one too many generators now!!! I can deliver it to anyone on our route.

So, we’re leaving to Charleston this Saturday. I can’t wait!!!!!!!!!!!!

3 RVs in 3 Years

It’s hard to believe that we just bought our 3rd RV in 3 years. How does that happen? Why didn’t we just buy the right one the first time? Will we buy another one next year? I think these questions are worth exploring.

Our RV story actually began 34 years ago in the Summer of 1980. I was living in Hawaii with my parents at that time. My late dad had saved up about 8 weeks of vacation time, so decided to take us teenagers on a road trip across America. My late mom decided not to go, so it was just our dad, me, my brother, and our neighborhood friend, Colin. We borrowed a friends Class C motorhome in San Francisco and traveled to many places across the country including Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Flagstaff, Albuquerque, Orlando, Washington DC, New York City, York Maine, Niagara Falls, Chicago, Denver, Mt Rushmore, Yellowstone, Seattle, Reno, then back to San Francisco. I recall that we mostly stayed at KOA campgrounds. It seemed like we were on the road for months, but it was just over 7 weeks It was a very memorable trip and became apart of who i am, if that makes sense Only now, 34 years later, did I realize how that RV experience would be a key reason why I felt the need to own an RV today.

Fast forward to the Summer of 2012. My wife Leticia and I drove our 2008 Volvo XC90 from Los Angeles CA to Savannah GA to visit our son and his family. We had planned to visit New Orleans on our way back to LA, but there was a big storm coming up from Florida into the Southern states. Fearing The risk of heavy rains, flooding, and massive traffic delays, we decided to head Northwest to avoid the storm. Over the next week we visited many interesting places, such as the Jack Daniels distillery, Memphis TN, the Superman statue in Metropolis IL, St Louis, the Buddy Holly crash site in Clear Lake IA, Mt Rushmore, Yellowstone, Idaho Falls, Las Vegas, then home. We LOVED the adventure, but HATED the hassle associated with staying in hotels. We also found ourselves in need of a restroom in the middle of nowhere on several occasions, especially after meals. This is when my 1980 RV trip experience kicked in. An RV would solve the problems of hotels and bathroom!

RV #1 – 2013 Casita Spirit Deluxe
Our RV search began based on our existing tow vehicle; a 2008 Volvo XC90. As with most SUVs, the Volvo had a 5,000 lb tow capacity. This greatly limited our RV selection to small, light, towable RVs. We were aware of Class A and C motorhomes, but felt they were too expensive, so ruled them out early in our search process. After some research, we discovered the Casita travel trailer. It looked like a perfect match for our needs. After some financing hurdles, we ordered our Casita in November 2012 and drove from Los Angeles CA to Rice TX to pick it up. We were VERY excited to have our own Casita! The first mile or so of towing was pretty scary. We kept thinking the Casita was going to pop off the hitch and roll past us on the highway. The reality was that it was actually very easy to tow. We loved it. The Casita was like a celebrity. People would regularly approach us with questions about it. We only took a couple trips in the Casita as we didn’t get out as much as we had hoped. We also bought a 2012 Dodge RAM to act as our tow vehicle and to spare putting extra wear and tear on Leticia’s Volvo. We sold the Casita to a woman in Ventura CA. We were happy it went to a good home. Casita’s hold their value well, so we didn’t lose much money.

RV #2 – 2014 Outdoors RV Timber Ridge 250 RDS
The sudden and unexpected death of our son-in-law in September 2013 meant that our three grand kids would be spending more time with Leticia and I than before. The Casita was just big enough for two people, but was definitely too small for two adults and three kids. In fact, it was too small for one adult and two kids. We needed a bigger trailer. One of our lessons learned from the Casita was that we wanted more insulation and dual pane windows to help us stay warmer in cold weather. After some research, we discovered the 4 season Outdoors RV brand and settled on the 250RDS floor plan. It had one large slide out and was really nice inside. We loved it. The 250RDS was also the heaviest RV our RAM 1500 could tow and required a weight distributing hitch system to transfer some of the load from the back to front suspension. These distribution hitches are way to heavy for the weak or the elderly. We took the trailer out a few times, but not as much as we had hoped due to my work schedule. We traded the 250RDS in and lost a lot of money in the process. It definitely didn’t hold it’s value like the Casita. I can honestly say I don’t miss messing with that weight distribution hitch!

RV #3 – 2015 Itasca 31K Class C motorhome
Leticia and I made the decision to relocate from Los Angeles CA to Charleston SC for work. Our minimum commitment is 2 years from my December 12th start date. Moving to Charleston will enable us to spend more time with our son and his family in Savannah GA. We also have the opportunity to bring them back to LA with us for the holidays. We also plan to visit them regularly a few weekends a month. A travel trailer doesn’t really work in this new situation. We can’t carry anyone in the trailer while towing and can’t fit a family of 5 in the back seat of our truck. These new life requirements meant we would need to upgrade to a Motorhome. Luckily, the Los Angeles RV show was happening near us in Pomona CA last month, so we took advantage of that to walk through as many motorhomes as we could in one day. The Itasca 31k was the only real choice for us due to our self imposed budget and the fact that we loved the 31K floor plan. Oh, it has dual pane windows, which was one of our hard requirements. We are very happy with the 31K and are looking forward to taking it out on its maiden journey and shake down. After owning a travel trailer, I can say that the class C is much less stressful. I can just start it up, drive, park, and relax without having to deal with the hassles of a weight distribution hitch. The 31k didn’t have a TV in the bedroom, so I installed one. I’m also going to install two small inverters to power the TVs on the road.

I’m not sure what I’m going to do with this Casita blog since we no longer have a Casita. I’m also thinking of creating a new blog to cover our upcoming road trips. I’ll figure something out.

Cause of hot 12V outlet found

This post will be short.

If you ever notice a hot electrical connection in your RV, you must check it out if you want to avoid more serious issues down the road. By hot, I mean too hot to touch. This was the case with the bedroom ceiling 12V TV outlet in our 250RDS Timber Ridge travel trailer. As I mentioned in my last post, i estimated that the Jensen 60 watt 12V TV was drawing 5 amps. 5 amps is enough to cause a loose electrical connection to get hot.

After a quick trip to our local Camping World store in San Bernardino, California, I decided to visit our Timber Ridge at its new home at a nearby storage facility. I picked up one of those fuzzy, foam filled inserts to stuff into the bedroom vent opening. We really don’t open that vent much because dirt and debris seems to find their way in and deposit on our clean bedding. The foam insert popped right in. I don’t yet know how well it will insulate, but I suspect that it will help.

Since I was in the trailer, I figured I’d open that overheating 12v outlet to investigate. After removing two flat head screws, the combination 12v outlet/cable TV connector popped right out. A small amount of wood shavings from the manufacturing process sprinkled to the floor. I was happy to see lots of pink insulation in the ceiling, but scared because my suspicion that the hot electrical connection was in direct contact with it! The risk of fire was confirmed.

In my minds eye, I had envisioned the loose connection to be an over crimped wire with only a few strands left OR a poorly crimped electrical lug. I also envisioned a loose strand of wire causing a short. In reality, the cause was not any of the things I had envisioned. When I finally saw the the back of the outlet, I was impressed by its overall quality materials and workmanship. Everything looked good except for one thing – the center contact pressed rivet thing. It was pressed, but not enough to grip the electrical contact properly. I could easily wiggle it with my finger. Mystery solved.

I took a few photos and emailed my RV salesman, Jim. He responded right away that he’d take care of it ASAP. Not bad for a Sunday afternoon! I didn’t expect a same day response.

So now the question is, what will Outdoors RV do with this information? If I were an Outdoors RV executive, I would immediately do a few things:

1. I would notify existing Outdoors RV owners of the potential issue and send them a voucher to get the outlet checked and fixed if required.

2. I would meet with my management team to discuss inspection of current inventory of outlets and to check all existing installations in the factory.

3. I would require a requirements change to the kind of 12v outlets we purchased for use in our trailers.

Below are some photos of the outlet assembly and connections.

Next trip: Rocstock in Lucern Valley in June!




Camping in Coachella, wind, and hot 12V plug

Our youngest daughter, Raquel, was always a good student. I don’t know if it was because she was smart or just liked school. Elementary to junior high. Junior high to high school. And finally, high school to college. When she decided on a Television Production college major, I was a little disappointed. I though for sure she was going to be a doctor or lawyer. But, in the end, she was committed to her dream, so we supported her 100%. It’s been a long 4 years, but in 6 weeks she will be graduating college and will soon begin her new career in the entertainment industry. We are so proud if her! What’s this story got to do with RV’s?

A few months ago, a friend of Raquel’s gave (as in free) her a ticket to the 2014 Coachella music festival. Wow! Raquel was so excited. Every young person, and a few old ones, would give anything to attend “Coachella”. The only problem was, most of the hotels were booked solid and the ones with vacancy really jacked up the prices to ridiculous levels. RV to the rescue! Long story short, Leticia and offered to camp at a Coachella RV park and let Raquel and one of her girlfriend from school stay with us. There were no objections, so I booked 4 nights at the Indian Waters RV park in Coachella, CA for April 10-14.

A few days before we left, Leticia reminded me that we needed to move the Jensen 12v 26″ TV from the Timber Ridges living room to the bedroom and get a new 32″ TV for the living room. At first I argued for a new 12v TV, but then later decided on a 120v. Why? First, a 12v 32″ LED TV is about twice price of a comparable 120v TV. The downside of a 120v TV is that we’d either have to plug in to shore power at an RV park or power the unit through a 12v to 120v inverter if boondocking. I didn’t factor a generator into our decision making process because we don’t normally take one with us. I read somewhere that the Jensen 12v RV TV has conformal coated electronics. Conformal coating is a clear liquid that is sprayed or brushed onto the circuit board mounted electronics components. When cured, conformal coating creates a clear plastic coating over the electronics to prevent warm moist air from condensing into water when it hits the cold components. RVs are known to have condensation issues, so conformal coating makes sense. However, with this said, I don’t know for sure if Jensens have this coating or that regular TVs for homes don’t. For have the price, I can afford to buy another TV later if it fails. TVs generally last a long time, so I’m going to take a chance on the 120v model.

Mounting the new TV in the living room was a snap. Measure twice and drill once. That’s my advise for mounting your own TV in your RV. I also measured the existing mounting screws and got the same size for the new TV mounting bracket. The interior walls of RVs are only a few inches thick or less, so drilling through into the next room is likely, so be careful with that drill!

Moving the existing 12v TV into the bedroom was a little more challenging and ultimately was a failure. Why? The 12v TV socket in the bedroom ceiling keeps over heating when the TV is plugged in and running for a short time. I first noticed something wrong when the TV suddenly turned off in the middle of a show we were watching. I unplugged the 12v TV plug and noticed it was very warm. I then stuck my finger into the ceiling socket and WHOA! It burned the tip of my finger! NOT GOOD! I figured the 12v plug was defective, so bought a more heavy duty version (I bought a $15 spotlight and cutoff the plug and spliced it to the TV power cord). My fix didn’t fix the problem. I now suspect either a loose connection in the socket above the ceiling or some kind of high resistance short occurring when the plug and socket are mated. I don’t think the existing 12v TV is drawing too much current. Regardless, we can’t use the 12v TV in the bedroom until this issue is resolved. I believe the heat was such that a fire would occur in time. Oh the thought of our new RV bursting into flames in the middle if the night!

Ok, time for a little RV electrical theory. The power (P) of a given device, measured in watts, equals voltage (V), measured in volts, times current (I), measured in amps. The formula looks like this: P=VI. If you looked at a 60 watt 120v light bulb and a 60 watt 12v light bulb, they would both appear to be the same brightness – 60 watts. That makes senses because the power (60 watts) is the same for both. Watts is watts. So, we know the wattage of both, 60 watts, and we know the voltage of both, 120v and 12v, so that just leaves the current (amps). Using our handy-dandy formula, we can calculate that the 120v light is drawing 0.5 amps and the 12v light is drawing 5 amps. Notice how 120 x 0.5 = 60 and 12 x 5 = 60. So what? Who cares? FIRE!!!! That’s why. To achieve the desired power, our 12v systems need to carry 10 times the current of the equivalent 120v systems. The more current you have flowing through wires and connections, the more heat will be created if there are any loose or poor connections. Specifically, 10 times more heat in a 12v system. Coincidently, our stock 26 inch Jenson TV uses 60 watts of power to operate at 12v, so draws 5 amps. The fuse on the TV circuit is 7 amps, so it’s entirely possible that the heat I felt in the socket is due to 5 amps flowing through a loose connection. I bet I find a loose connection up in that insulated ceiling!

Ok, enough with the electrical theory already! What about the wind torn awning I hinted about in my last post. When we got everything setup at Indian Water RV park in the afternoon of Thursday, 4/10, Leticia asked me why I failed to deploy our remote controlled awning when everyone else appeared to have their awnings deployed. I expressed my concern about the wind. I reminder her of the old saying about wind and awnings: if it’s windy enough to think about your awning, it’s time to retract it. Leticia responds with, “You worry too much…deploy the awning already!”. Awning deployed as ordered.

Fast forward to 430am the next morning. CLUNK…SCRATCH…CLUNK…RATTLE…SCRATCH. Leticia and I awaken to the racket at the same time. “Do you hear that?”, she says in a panicked whisper. “Yes!”, I proclaim at a whisper as I’m looking for my shirts and shoes. “I think a raccoon is trying to break into our storage compartment”, she exclaims. I think to myself, “some drunk kid from the Coachella concert must be trying to break in to our storage bin”. With flashlight in hand, I grip the latch of our bedroom door, quietly turn the deadbolt to the unlocked position, and yank the door open as I lurch out and yell “Hey”! I’m soon dumbfounded by what I see. There is what has to be a 25mph+ wind blowing across the campground. Tents are blown down into mangled blobs of nylon. Awnings are whipping up and down like giant horizontal flags. The noise we heard was our awning supports banging around as they try to resist our awnings attempts to fly away into the night sky. I quickly grab the remote control and hit the retract button. The awning races in and settles in to it’s stored position. Relieved, I step outside to enjoy the wind, which is increasing in speed by the minute. I can’t help but wonder why the occupants of the 3 trailers near us haven’t come outside to check their awnings. That had to have heard all the racket. Then I notice that all 3 have small cars parked near them. RENTALS! That’s why they don’t care…they are renting those RVs. Its getting cold, so I go in and fall asleep.

At sunrise, I look out the window and see the wind has calmed down. I go outside to assess the damage. Most tents are in disarray. A few are still standing. Most awnings are still in tact, but are visibly looser and not as taught as normal. Then I walk around to check out my hook ups and see an ugly sight: an awning and the supports have broken away from one of the rental trailers. A woman is taking pictures of the damage. I overhear her tell her man friend, “good thing we paid for that insurance”. Haha. I don’t think insurance covers leaving your awning out in what felt like a tornado!

The winds returned Saturday night and created very dusty conditions. I was impressed with our new rig. It didn’t move around much in the wind and was very comfortable. The dual pane windows and extra insulation helped keep us cool in the desert heat, but, it did warm up faster than expected when the AC cycled off. I’ll bring my IR thermometer gun next time to get a quantitative measure of its insulation performance.

Our daughter and her friend Serena got in about 2am each day. Indian Waters provide ($70 per person) shuttle service between the RV park and the Coachella concert. That saved us a lot of driving in the middle of the night with all the crazies out wander the streets after the concert let out.

Now that our rig is parked safely at our local RV storage facility, I’m worried about someone stealing our batteries. I tried to remove them, but they are way too heavy! To make it look like I removed the them, I disconnected the power wires and left them dangling in easy view. tie Saturday I’ll checkout the 12v socket and make another attempt to remove the batteries.

Next trip: Rocstock model rocket launch in the Lucern valley in June. I can’t wait!


Raquel in RV at Coachella


Damaged awning


And the new RV is…

First of all, I want to thank those of you that left kind and consoling comments regarding the loss of our son-in-law, Andre. I write this blog to share our RV experiences without thinking that people are actually reading it, and even more, leaving comments. Thank you all again. I really appreciate your thoughtfulness.

Ok, in my last blog entry I hinted that we had selected a replacement for the Casita that we had to sell in December of 2013. Did I mention that most RV lots, and RV shows, have very “eager” sales associates? Yeah, it’s true. Leticia and I became sort of like RV commandos. When we spotted the next RV to check out at a lot or show, we’d make a plan to wait until the salesperson was busy with other prospective customer, then we’d quickly slip into the RV unseen. We knew it was just a matter of time before we were detected, so Leticia would scope out the layout and amenities, while I manned the door to intercept the salesperson. Once they showed up, I’d ask them any questions we had while Leticia continued her evaluation. Then she’d leave followed quickly by me. If we hadn’t done this, the sales people would have kept trying to sell us until the cows came home. We performed this ritual successfully many, many times over the months. This enabled us to see far more RVs than would have been possible without employing our commando tactics. Oh the promises we heard! I’m not trying to put down RV sales people, some were very helpful and we do need them. I’m just saying that they have the home court advantage and really want to move you down the sales path, so either take some control or be controlled!

The Casita was our very first RV and we didn’t have a chance to take it out much, so we didn’t gain much experience to draw on for lessons learned in selecting a new RV. I do, however, recall freezing my tail off a few nights in the Casita in sub-freezing temperatures. As soon as the built in heater would turn off, it would start to get cold again. Then the windows fogged up and eventually formed a thin film of ice. We eventually added a small electric ceramic heater that helped reduce the temperature swings and were planning to get some kind of thermal window cover, which other Casita owners did with success. The Casita does very well in cool weather, but not so well when it’s near freezing outside. This is in no way a criticism of Casita! Casitas are not built or marketed for freezing temps. This frigid experience led me to want an RV with as much insulation as possible. I wanted dual pane windows too, if possible. We plan to travel to cold climates someday. Living in Southern California means there aren’t a whole lot of true arctic weather RVs around with dual pane windows. Why would there be? Lots of folks like toy haulers around these parts, so most local RV dealers stock accordingly. We also wanted more room for food prep and cooking on both sides of the stove. Most RVs we saw had the fridge next to the stove. Lastly, we wanted an enclosed shower to simplify the process of bathing for our grandsons. The Casita bathroom wouldn’t have survived these guys for long! Soggy role of toilet paper anyone?

I’m not sure how I came across the Outdoors RV brand, but I did. They boasted 4 season offroad capable trailers. Sounded good to me. The nearest (and only) Outdoors RV dealer, Niels RV, in southern california was in North Hills (near Van Nuys, California). Our salesman, Jim, was helpful, informative, and not too pushy. We must have visited the dealer 4 or 5 times and changing our minds on requirements at least that many times. We were really set on a bunk bed floor plan, but eventually settled on a rear dining area. The rationale was that a bunk bed is dedicated to sleeping where as a dinette can convert from a table to bed pretty easily, so was more dual purpose than the bunks. After much searching and shopping high and low, we finally settled on a “new” 2012 Outdoors RV 250RDS Timber Ridge travel trailer. We bought it in December 2013 about a week after the Casita sold. It’s about 30 feet long and has one slide out. We got it for nearly 25% off the MSRP price. It was about 50% more expensive than a new Casita, nearly twice as long, and weighed about 3 times as much.

As Gomer Pyle would say, surprise, surprise, surprise!!! We’re not in Kansas anymore, Dorothy! Well, he didn’t say that last part. We were so spoiled by the ease of towing and setup of the Casita. So light and nimble. The Casita was truly a marvel for squeezing so much stuff into a small, lightweight trailer. Now we’re towing what seems like a semi-trailer – a fully loaded semi-trailer! We had to get something called a weight distributing hitch to keep the back of my truck from sagging to much and leading to instability. The actual hitch is very heavy – probably over 50lbs. Once the hitch is mounted to the truck ( just like any other hitch), two heavy bars are then installed before the trailer is fully lowered into the hitch ball. Everything else after that is pretty much the same as hooking up the Casita. Did I mention that the hitch weight and trailer weight are pretty close to the safe limits of my 2012 dodge ram 1500 truck? Any bigger and we would have had to get a bigger truck!

Pulling our new, large trailer is pretty comfortable once we are on the open highway. However, driving in a busy city is way more challenging that with the Casita. It’s actually kind of nerve racking at times when I’m moving slow and all these cars are zooming around me.

One thing holds true in my brief RV experience. RVs are an exercise in trade offs such as floor plan, quality, weight, equipment options, electrical capacity, length, thermal insulation, and cost, to name the big ones. One of our biggest trade offs with the larger trailer is that it’s less agile. We can’t just willy nilly pull off to the side of the road anymore. Like navigating a large ship, we need to plan out each maneuver carefully ahead of time or risk getting stuck or sustaining damage. Speaking of damage…

After returning home from 4 days camping in Coachella, CA (I’ll blog about that trip next time), I arrived at our daughters house in Covina, CA to park the new trailer. We were too cheap to use an RV storage facility. Our daughters long driveway works just fine. The only problem is when too many cars are parked out in the street near her driveway entrance. That makes backing in the trailer that much harder. Well, as luck would have it, there were a lot of cars on the street when we arrived. I pulled past the driveway and began backing in. The front of my truck was getting pretty close to the parked cars, so I had Leticia get out and spot me. Easy..easy…easy…CRUNCH!!!! What the heck was that? I slam on the brakes and quickly look around to see what happened. I look in the rear view mirror and see the front of trailer pretty much touching the rear passenger corner of my truck bed. I pull forward, stop, and hop out to survey the damage. Diamond plate on trailer looks like new. Truck taillight and paint not so good. No dents or cracked lens, but it’s scraped up pretty bad. How did this happen? If the street and driveway were at the same height it wouldn’t have happened.

The driveway slopes up, so the trailer did too. Imagine the rear of the trailer getting higher while the front end stays the same. The combination of my nearly 90 degree angle between truck and trailer (almost a jackknife) and the increasing tilt of the trailer resulted in contact between the two. Lessons learned – watch that angle between truck and trailer when backing up!! We basically lost situational awareness when our attention was fixated on our proximity to the parked cars. Remember that plane that ran out of fuel and crashed because the crew was fixated on a minor warning light flashing in the cockpit? That’s called a loss of situational awareness. To maintain situational awareness, flight crews are now supposed to employ crew resource management or CRM. So instead of everyone staring at the flashing light, the captain will assign someone to look into that while he/she continues to fly the plane and maintains situational awareness. So how can Leticia and I use CRM to avoid future damage? Slow things down. There are only two of us, so we need to slow things down when backing up and parking to provide enough time to walk around to see that we are ok and to avoid jackknifing, running over things, hitting trees, or backing off a cliff at the Grand Canyon! Maintaining situational awareness is the key.

Oh, after surveying the damage, we drove straight over to our local RV storage facility and found an 11×30′ spot we liked for about $122/month. We got the month of May for free, so next payment isn’t until June 1st. Not bad.

In my next blog entry I’m going to talk about how much wind it takes to tear off an RV canopy and a 12v TV outlet that gets hot enough to burn a finger!


At Indian Waters Rv park Coachella, CA.


Damage from backing up


Parking at our daughters house


Custom bed details

Pictures below show details on the custom bed we got for our Casita trailer. To get the right shape, we left the Casita bed cushions with the bed company.

My wife loves our custom bed. She says it’s like sleeping on a cloud.


The size increments of the bed are dictated by the size of the pocket springs that are used to construct the bed. Aim for 3 inches smaller than the size of the Casita cushions. This will provide a small gap between the bed and the walls, which will make installation and removal easier.




Casita Bed – A better option

I just realized another lesson learned on our custom Casita bed. We should have had considered having the mattress made in two parts. One part would be a mattress from our head down to about our knees. The second part would be from our knees down to the wall.

This configuration would have the following benefits:

1. Installation and removal would be a whole lot easier. This would have made it possible to return the rear table to its normal configuration for times when we were not camping, such as day trips to the beach. It would be too much trouble to do this with our 1 piece mattress.

2. Splitting the mattress near the knees would minimize discomfort associated with where the two mattresses butt together.

3. The smaller mattress segments would be easier to handle and store by one person.

The only issue I see with this split configuration is with maintaining the maximum overall dimensions. That could be tricky.

That’s all for now.

Lessons learned on new Casita bed

Finally! Created some time to post to my little blog. Ok, about this custom bed we added to our Casita. Let’s get down to business!

The main reason we got a Casita was to avoid staying at hotels on our road trips. On the few Casita trips we did take, the bed wasn’t quite comfortable enough. We could feel the beaded seams of the cushions. Four inches of foam doesn’t compress very well either, so it was like sleeping on a floor. My wife, Leticia, would say, “Since we’re saving all this money avoiding hotels, why don’t we invest in a good bed?” I”m sure we’re not the only ones that feel that way.

I considered a mattress from the Southern Mattress company, but I wouldn’t want to buy something like that without trying it out first. So, we turned to a local mattress store in San Dimas, California. We took in our Casita bed cushions to use as a pattern to add the radiused corners to the two sides of the mattress towards the back of the Casita. We chose a pocket spring style coil system to isolate movement, so if i move around, Leticia shouldn’t feel it too much. We also chose a shorter spring to reduce the overall height of the mattress. Once installed, the mattress worked great! Very comfortable. However…..I learned some lessons I’d like to share here to help anyone out there that might be thinking about getting a custom mattress for their Casita.

Lesson’s Learned:

1. A Casita mattress has to balance comfort with easy of installation. Our pocket spring mattress is about 12 inches high, so was very difficult to flex, bend, twist, and muscle into place! I’m a pretty strong guy and was barely able to do it, even with Leticia’s help. A thinner mattress might have been “comfortable enough”, but easier to install. The pocket spring style made twisting easier than a regular mattress that has all of its coils tied together with additional support wires.

2. The mattress should be a few inches smaller than the measured size of where the bed will be installed or it will be even more difficult to install. The dimensions of the bed area is 54×77. The size of a pocket spring mattress is limited to the size of the springs. In other words, the mattress size has to be in 2 inch or so increments. Trust me. Size your mattress a few inches smaller than the measured opening. A mattress also needs room to expand side ways as weight (you) is placed on it. Our mattress is in a little too snug.

3. Foam vs springs. I know, I know. Everyone is talking about how great memory foam mattresses can be. However, there are different kinds and some are very pricey. I didn’t consider a foam mattress because i thought it would smell like chemicals. I was afraid i would sink in and and feel too hot. I’m partial to coil spring mattresses until the day comes when i try a reasonably priced foam mattress i like. There was also no room for error in terms of comfort on my purchase, so i decided not to take any chances on foam.

4. Our mattress could have been a little lower in height, but there was nothing we could do about that. The pocket springs only came in two heights and we chose the shorter of the two. The higher the mattress, the closer you are to the windows and blinds. With the blankets, the heater opening in partially blocked too. However, I’m not too concerned about slight blockage of the heater intake vent. Kicking off the covers on the stock Casita cushions could block the vent opening too, so its not that big of a deal, but good to know.

That’s all i can think of for now. I’ll post some photos of the our new mattress shortly. Oh. The custom mattress was about $650. I’ll post the invoice soon.

I hope this helps anyone considering a custom mattress!





Casita bed has arrived!

It took longer than expected, but the custom mattress for the Casita finally arrived! We placed the order on 2/9 and it just came in today 2/28. We rushed down to the mattress store to pick it up, then rushed home to install it into the Casita.

Keep in mind that this mattress is not memory foam. It’s a traditional pocket spring mattress. Each spring is in its own sleeve, which allows each spring to compress and expand independently. This prevents Leticia and I from sinking into the middle of the bed. It also has somewhat of a pillow top for even more comfort.

Before attempting to install the mattress, I surveyed the situation. It would be a tight squeeze for sure. It would also require the mattress to twist to navigate it into the rear bed area. After struggling to get the mattress into the Casita, we had to take it back out and start over because we hadn’t brought it in with the right position to install with a minimum of twisting.

After some struggling, my son in law and I successfully manhandled the mattress into position. It was tight! I broke a sweat in the process! Evidently, the side to side dimension was the correct at 77″. The front to back dimension, however, was 55″ instead of 54″. This extra inch was unavoidable due to the diameter of the internal springs. That’s ok. It was close enough for RV use!

How does the new mattress compare to the 4″ foam cushions? No comparison! It’s very comfortable. What about the heater return air opening? The mattress comes right up to it, so the blanket will partially block the bottom of the heater air return. The mattress is about 12″ high. How much did it cost? To make a custom mattress, the manufacturer had to start with a Queen size and trim it down the the Casita dimensions. How much did it cost? $750 including California sales tax.

I can’t wait to go on our next Casita adventure!