I set out for the 8:30 a.m. appointment at “Trailers and Hitches.”
On the way I stop to take this photo of a bus parked alongside the road.
I notice “Gospel-Singing” written on the side and a for-sale sign in the window.
Once at the hitch place, Chris and I go over the sheet provided by Casita. A Class III hitch is required. I tell Chris I’m still concerned about the brake controller. (He only installs Curt brand controllers and I want a Tekonsha Prodigy.) Chris is agreeable and says it’s okay if I’d rather have the controller installed somewhere else.
I take one look at the waiting room and decide to go for a walk.
Winder is a busy little town sidled up along the railroad tracks. Several fast-food restaurants line the main drag. As I walk toward Burger King for a cold drink, I notice a large strip mall having its exterior updated quite extensively. The sign at the sidewalk says, “Pardon our progress. All stores are open.” Now there’s a statement not seen often these days . . . pardon our progress.
A train thunders past with a commotion no one seems to notice. Back at the hitch place, I plunk myself down in a chair and read numerous copies of TV Guide dated 2008. I know most of the answers to the teaser questions about the next season’s story lines. I stare at a hitch display, safety chains, cardboard boxes of parts, and an artificial ficus tree drooping wearily under the weight of dust upon it. Two hours later I go across the street to Subway.
Ever eat just to kill time?
At long last the hitch is done! Except for one thing. There’s no draw bar with hitch ball sticking out from the back of the PTV. Chris explains. The bars he has give a ground-to-top-of-ball height of 19 inches or 22 1/2 inches. Casita says it should measure 20 1/2 inches! Chris scours his catalog for a solution but doesn’t find one. A guy comes in from the back and says, “Once the trailer is on it will push down the ball.”
No, not acceptable.
If that’s the case, why does Casita specify exactly 20 1/2 inches? I call the factory on my cellphone and Chris and I talk to a guy in the parts and service department. He tells us, hesitantly, that the 22 1/2 inch will probably work. I say, “Wait a minute. When I’m backing up, the ball is going to be two inches higher. Won’t that cause a problem?”
“Just put a piece of wood under . . . “
I think: A piece of wood? For $300 I get to mess around with a piece of wood? He tells me to have the bar put on and see how it hitches up. I explain that the tow vehicle is in Georgia and my Liberty Deluxe is with him in Texas. Oh. He offers to set it up for me once I’m in Texas. Okay. Thanks. I thank Chris and leave without the bar and hitch ball.
I don’t want to have the hitch set up on the morning of my pick-up appointment. With the crew in tow. In July. Right now I’m tired of dingy waiting rooms and decisions!
Back home the crew is excited to see me!
We frolic around as if we’d been apart for months! Spike barks insanely, Janie rolls on her back, and Bridget plays the victim while I tickle her belly.
She looks terrified in the photo, but I know she loves this treatment!
I’ll think about the hitch another day.
Wow! The sitemeter passed 4,000!
OMG! That photo of Bridget getting cootchy-cooed is just hysterical !!!! I need to make that my screensaver!
I’ve been researching Casitas for quite some time (as I’m sure you have) and I’ve never seen any talk of problems with the ball height not being exactly 20 1/2 inches.
You might want to post the question on the Casita Travel Trailer Forum . I’m sure you will get some reassurance that this won’t be a problem: http://www.casitaforum.com/invboard/
You’re probably right. It may not be a problem at all. I hate to make a decision when the “experts” are using words like probably. That’s when I step back and check things out further. The forum is a good idea.
The Casita Travel Trailer Forum is the less accommodating to outsiders of the two forums, but if you register (relatively painless) you can go Here:
and find out many interesting facts about factory changes in various years, including this:
“As of Jan 2008 Casita will no longer do any wiring on your tow vehicle”.
I am sure they will refer you locally to a shop who can wire up your brake controller. Or even a motel with air conditioning that will take you and the dogs if you have to stay overnight while the work is being done. But I would have all that done before you go to Rice. As for the ball height ( drop extension), you should probably get that in advance, too, but check with Rice. It would be nice to be able to just trade the ball mount out at the factory if you don’t get the height right the first time. The hitch weight wet is 365 dry, probably close to 400 lb. loaded, so a couple of moderately hefty Bubbas standing on your PTV bumper should give you an idea of bumper height when loaded.
BTW, one of the real advantages of buying a later or new model is the standard 15 inch tires since 2010. For several years the 17 foot casitas were blowing tires right and left, presumably because the 14 inch “C” rated standard tires weren’t really up to the weight that was being put on them. That seems to have abated.
I intend to have the controller installed before I leave Georgia. Some time before I go, I am going to double-check that Casita will choose and attach the correct bar for me at the factory. The van will be loaded at that time and I will be dealing with people who know what they’re doing.
The casitaforum is a gold mine of information. I read several threads about towing and hitches and other stuff until I’m cross-eyed. It seems like the more I know, the more I realize I don’t know. I’m glad I opted for the high axlewith D-Range 8-ply tires.
Coincidentally, while Chris and I were discussing this at his hitch place, two moderately hefty Bubbas interrupted us wanting a part for their 5th wheel! An opportunity missed! They could have been members of People of WalMart. (Check out that website. It’s hilarious!)
Oops. Typo alert . “The hitch weight wet is 365 dry” should read “The hitch weight is 365 dry”. But you knew that.
Look into a weight distributing hitch. I can’t offer any advice about them, as I never had or needed one. I had a fifth wheel. But I am told that though they have to be released before you back up, and they are a something of a pain to put on and take off, they really improve the ride with smaller tow vehicles once you get them adjusted properly. It’s a trade-off.
It consists of a bar and adjustable chain that runs from the front frame of the trailer to a second point on the bumper. But maybe you have already been all over that. And you may not need it with the PTV.
But fer Gawd’s sake get an anti-sway dampening bar. I was once nearly driven off the road when my poorly loaded pop-up trailer started to swing back and forth. Just a little gust of wind started it.
The anti-sway bar comes with my Casita trailer. It’s one of the options I ordered. I’m assuming at this point that I’m not going to need the weight distribution hitch.
I’ve always been told that a trailer should be level fully loaded when towing and if it’s has to be off one way or the other it’s best to have it towing a little up than down. I don’t know what the tongue weight will be on your trailer but you could probably stand on the bumper of your PTV to see how much it goes down with some weight on it. You should be able to measure where the reciever hitch comes out of the van to see how much of a drop hitch you might need. As far as the wood I can only guess that they want you to carry it in case you’re unhooking and can’t reach the ground with your trailer jack? Unless it won’t reach when its level this depends on whether the two vehicles are parked on the same plane or not. I always carry a couple of small 2X6’s just in case my motorhome is parked downhill and my cargo trailer is parked level. They also keep the trailer jack from sinking into the mud as far. I have pulled my trailer over 200,000 miles and only needed the boards maybe a dozen times. Also don’t forget to get some wheel chocks for the trailer. Hope this helps, Jeff.
Yes, Jeff, you helped a lot. Right now a thunderstorm is coming up or I’d go out and measure the hitch to ground. I don’t think it drops much when I climb into onto the bumper.
I’ll get some wheel chocks, too.
You’ve pulled your trailer over 200,000 miles? Wow! I’m impressed.
Remember that you will also have weight loaded in the back of the PTV as well as the tongue weight which will be way out on the hitch. If they offered to help you at the factory that seems like the way to go. Unless I’m missing something sssuming that you already have the receiver and the brake controller installed it would just be a matter of sliding the correct size ball mount into the receiver, putting in the pin and bolting on the ball which should only take about 10 minutes barring any unforseen problems. Incidentally the following site has alot of information on it if you ever need it: http://www.etrailer.com/
Disclaimer: any information given by me could be worth less than you paid for it:)
Thanks, Jeff. I’ll probably turn it over to the people at the Casita factory.
Well Sue, Casita in Rice will fix you up with almost anything you need. They have seen every vehicle and whatever it needs. Remember to ask questions if you don’t understand and if your not sure of something, ask about that too. We picked our up in June of 2009 and it was hotter than blue blazes. We got there at 6 a.m. and waited for the gates to open. Usually first one in is the first one out. they will have your Casita parked in a bay (they had ours in a bay) and you’ll back your PTV in out of the sun so the pups will not fret too much and you can put the windows down if needed.
The block of wood is a good idea. We took our wheel off the jack and use a 4×4 with a hole drilled in the center of it so that the jack can set itself (maybe with your help) in the hole for a little more stability. No reason to keep a wheel on it, especially if your parked on uneven ground. We also use chocks, you can buy those or make them yourself and carry wood for leveling side to side, usually a couple of 2×6.
Great to hear that the PTV problems have been addressed and that means more confidence in the PTV and you getting ready for your new adventures in life. We are going to down size ourself so we can get out on the road more often. As it is we stay home during the summer because of the horrible heat and the winter because of this big piece of property that we really do not need any more so we are ready to see more of Texas and more of the USA.
Safe Travels, Carmen
I found your comments interesting and helpful. I did not realize if you get at the Casita factory early you get first in line. I’ve been concerned that the crew and I would be parked in the Texas sun in a huge parking lot waiting out turn. I’ve heard nothing but good reports on the treatment customers receive from the people at Casita. I’m glad your experience has been good.
One thing I’ve learned as I get ready for this type of travel is the importance of asking questions! I’ve found that people like to be asked. I plan on throwing some pieces of wood in the PTV, including 2 x 6s. That’s why I love my van . . . there’s room for stuff like that.
I’m glad you are going to be using your Casita more. I don’t know where you are in Texas. I do anticipate a long, hot drive from Rice to the NM mountains. I’ll be giving the new air conditioner a test every night!
Nice to hear from you. Good luck in your travels!
So would you have gone ahead and had the bar and ball installed at 22 1/2 inches?
I would have the bar and ball ready, yes 22-1/2″. We did and then we had three different drop lengths because we had (yes, we traded it and I kick myself) a 4×4 Dodge Ram and have different trailers that we pull. If you can have your bar and ball ready, it will be that much faster. The guys there at Casita work fast anyway. If you do not have a ball for the anti-sway bar, they are fast about that too, they welded our’s on since we had no idea about the anti-sway, never used one before. We are in Real County, waiting out the hot summer. You’ll love the NM Mountains.
I’m confused. I have the bar and ball ready that sets the top of the ball at 22 1/2 inches. Then the Casita guy can put a drop length on it? In addition to the bar and ball? And then there is a ball for the anti-sway bar? In addition to the original bar? I’m sorry. Could you explain please?
You do not have to worry about the “drop hitch” part since the PTV isn’t jacked up, our 4×4 sat up really high so we had to use a drop hitch. Sorry to confuse you with that. The anti-sway bar has it’s own little ball that hooks up the anti-sway bar from the PTV to the trailer. We did not have the anti-sway bar and they welded it on at Casita. You will not need another bar, they will weld the little anti-sway ball on next to your 2″ ball. I don’t know if I can post a picture here so I’ll post one on Casita Form and Club. On my way there, I’ll have your name as the title.
Thanks for your trouble, Carmen. I will check in to the casita forum and get back with you later.
Wow! What a time you had with the hitch…hope you get that all worked out. Looks like someone really was glad you made it home so they could have some of those nice tummy rubs scrtiches…adorable pictures. Hugs and nose kisses
I’ll pass on your compliments to Bridget! Janie and the crew always act as if they think I’ll never come back . . .
Thanks for visiting here.
Sue, hitches come in different lengths as I’m sure you’ve found out. Mine has 3 different holes on it, spaced about 1″ apart. For something that’s not an exact science it really helped in getting my trailer as level as possible with my Explorer. A weight distribution hitch might be an option if you’re going to carry lots of weight in the back of your PTV, as that needs to be figured into the hitch weight as it’s in the back of your van. You DON’T want your PTV to be high in the front at all — makes for some scary driving (don’t ask me how I know …). And have you thought about an electric jack for your Casita? Cranking it up and down gets really, really old after the first 5-6 times, especially in the rain, where it’s hot, when you’re tired … It was one of the best purchases I’ve ever made for my trailer.
You bring up some important points. I do know I should pack the heavier items toward the front. About the electric jack . . . When I was placing my order and specifying which options I wanted, the electric jack came into question. Jonathan told me it isn’t really necessary. I was thinking: just one more thing to go wrong. I hope I don’t regret not having one.
You’re right, Sue, about electrical things going wrong. If it’s any consolation I’ve had my jack for 5 years on 2 different trailers without any problems whatsoever. I think that the biggest thing that can go wrong is that the fuse might burn out. Well, I keep extra fuses in my tool box. AND there’s a way to manually raise the jack if something goes really wrong. (Can you tell I’m a HUGE fan of my electric jack???)
Oh darn. I probably should have ordered it.
Easy does it there lady 🙂
The Casita is a very light tow vehicle and once you have her hitched and given her a few miles and some backing experience you’ll be surprised at how easy it all is and your mind will be at ease. Really all this will work out just fine.