Casita update


Monday evening I’d decided to move the Casita from my storage spot, A-66, to my home.

Very early Monday morning, it was only forty-three degrees in front of the house, but when we arrived at our exercise spot, the temperature was thirty-seven degrees. I didn’t wear gloves. Bad mistake.

Tuesday morning at seven was cold and dark. I wore gloves.

Bernie and Chris didn’t mind the cold weather. It is December. It is the winter season in Phoenix, Arizona. The dog’s coats protect them. The brisk chill air seems to put some extra zip in their play.

2017 was one of the hottest summers on record. Although triple digit temps are common, Mother Nature opened her blast furnace the entire summer.

We had a wonderful Fall. Once you suffer Phoenix’s excessive summer heat, even though it is ‘dry heat,’ you totally enjoy experiencing Phoenix in the Fall.


This Tuesday morning, I felt warm and comfortable wearing these lightweight gloves. I would only wear them for a short while. I’d remove them when the sun pushed the temperature into the seventies.

With the Casita home, I would load it for our short camping trip to Quartzsite. The cold weather reminded me to check my propane level.

Back in July, both twenty-pound propane tanks were full. I’d use some propane during September on our initial trip to Colorado. I didn’t know how much propane was left.

I also didn’t know the age of each twenty-pound tank.

Knowing the age of the tank is extremely important. A propane tank requires recertification 12 years from the manufactured date and every five years after that.

Both the tank weight and the manufactured date are stamped on the collar of the tank.

The photo shows my propane tanks.


The white tank is original. The gray tank was replaced at some point during the last seven years.

Commonly called “twenty-pound tanks,” they are widely used for grilling, camping, and cooking. When full, they weigh about forty-pounds and hold approximately 4.7 gallons of propane.

I needed to know how much propane I had available. I also needed to know whether my tanks were ‘date okay,’ or needed to be recertified or if I needed to purchase a new tank.

I found the white tank was manufactured in January 2010. I had another ten years before I needed to either have it recertified or pay approximately forty bucks for a new tank.

The gray tank was old. The original manufactured date was April 2005. I still several useful years.

There are two methods to determine how much propane remains in the tank.

  1. A scale is used to weigh the tank. The empty tank weight is stamped on the tank collar. You weigh the tank and subtract the tank collar weight. The result is the current amount of propane in the tank. A full tank of propane weighs about 4.7 pounds.


  1. I used a much less accurate method. I poured extremely hot water over the tank. I did this at eight in the morning. It was cold outside. Propane is extremely cold. The poured hot water heated the outside metal tank.

I rubbed my hand from the top of the tank down the side. It was easy to feel the heat difference on the outside tank surface from the very cold metal surface conducted by the propane fluid. However, it wasn’t very accurate. I only knew the tank had some propane left.

It took 1.9 pounds to fill the tank. A full tank full of propane weighs about 4.7 pounds, so my inaccurate ‘gauge’ kept me from having an empty tank… but it was like buying a new gallon of milk when I had at least a half-gallon of milk still available.

It was a good learning experience. Now I have both tanks full of propane for those chilly nights in Quartzsite. I also have plenty of propane to use the stove and run the fridge. I also know the hot water method isn’t very accurate.

Best of all, I know the 12 years plus five regulations. Time flies by when you’re having fun.

My second task today was to replace the furnace thermostat.

I had only one opportunity to test the Casita furnace. It was during September’s short trip to Colorado. The nighttime temperature was somewhere in the low fifty’s. The furnace worked great. However, it had a manual analog mechanism.

It was like your old-time campfire.

It burns very well, but it’s difficult to adjust the heat. I tried to adjust the temperature by fiddling with the plastic handle. I wasn’t successful.

I was forced to shove the lever to both temperature extremes to make the furnace turn on and off.

I would replace that thermostat before my next Casita trip. The folks on the Casita forum recommended Honeywell PRO 3000 model.

I ordered it from Amazon in late November. Although it arrived a few days later, scheduling conflicts delayed installing it.

Today, with John’s help, we replaced the manual thermostat with a digital one.


The digital unit is twice as large as the original manual thermostat. I’m still trying to figure out what-goes-where in the Casita. Thus, that hook to the right of the thermostat could need more space to hang some bulky towel.

That’s the reason for shifting the thermostat far to the right instead of centering it exactly on the wall.

John, ever helpful, used some duct tape to fashion a ‘catch-cup’ for the minute metal shavings. Shavings resulted from drilling out the original rivets. My sleeping bag lay on the single bed under the thermostat. His creative ‘catch-cup’ prevented any shavings from being ground into my sleeping bag.

The installation wasn’t difficult. The original thermostat was installed using two rivets. With careful alignment, we used one of the original holes, thus only had to drill a single hole to mount the Honeywell unit.

Which black wire? My total ignorance, when faced with electricity required John’s assistance. I also got a very basic lesson on how to use my multimeter.

Electricity is never a one-way street when the Casita is involved. Standard electrical wiring codes don’t apply. It’s too complicated to explain.

Think about when you use a retail store’s new Debit/Credit checkout machine. The basic function is the same. However, various machines require different procedures to complete the transaction. Some require your four-digit pin while others don’t. Some have initial entry steps while others ‘scan-n-go’.

With the installation completed, we tested the thermostat, enjoying the single digit accuracy. A huge difference from the previous extreme heat range.

Thus, ended Thursday, December 14, 2017. Full propane tanks and a new digital thermostat.

Tomorrow at dawn we leave for Quartzsite for four days.

2 thoughts on “Casita update

  1. Julia Haggerty

    Dear Joe,

    Have a safe trip to Quartsite and enjoy being with the crowd. Happy Christmas to you and your precious pups! Take care of yourself

    So you can be the dad to those two fellows. I think of you all and Ryan is doing so much better now. He obeys and stays close to me.

    Loves our walks, though short and in the neighborhood. I am looking for a playmate for him on Pet finders, maybe a small terrier to run with him.

    We’ll see,

    Happy holidays,

    Julie and Ryan


  2. josephlacey12

    Hi Julie…

    Yes, a terrier would be a perfect companion for Ryan. It is quick enough to escape Ryan’s bulk… and has more than enough zip and energy to keep Ryan in good physical shape.

    You are blessed with a large yard, so your neighborhood walks are only an option.

    Quartzsite desert is without people… why I went. I will not be mingling in Quartzsite crowds.



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