Casini Ranch 2015 – Part 1

We weren’t initially planning on going to the Casini Ranch rally this year. It is a bit away for us, just over 300 miles, which is outside our daily driving limit. However we knew that Roxie was going in for back surgery in later April and we didn’t know when we could get out with the trailer again. I checked for space and there was a full hookup available. We were in.

We hadn’t been to Casini for 4 years so it was a nice change of pace. The last time we drove to Rio Vista the first night and met our Airstream friends, the Chen’s, for the next day’s trip. This year was somewhat similar. I am inherently a frugal person, some call me cheap, especially when on route to a destination. If I can stay overnight cost effectively (free) then I will do so. This is why I love WalMarts and truck stops.

I started looking for a place in Fairfield which would leave only about 80 miles for the next day. I remembered that there is an Airstream dealer there. Having had good luck staying at Toscano’s, albeit times where we had repairs, I thought I would contact Airstream Bay Area. I also mentioned that we DID purchase our trailer from a dealership in their group, Airstream Northwest in Portland. The service manager graciously agreed and told me where we could park.

We got there just around dark after having to stop and get supplies on the way, as we always forget something. It was a nice place to stay. The next morning I saw through the window someone picking up their Airstream from storage. I wondered if they were going to Casini also but did not get out to talk to them. We looked around at the new Airstreams they had before we left.

I had planned out a route to Casini on my own but I also let the truck’s NAV unit work it out. We were conflicted from time to time. We also fought some terrible traffic on CA12 around Napa. It turns out that day a UPS truck caught fire on the RIchmond bridge which closed it. Part of this traffic were people trying to avoid that mess but creating a whole other mess. Nothing like trying to change lanes with 50′ of rig in a bumper to bumper traffic jam!

We made it to Petaluma and once again took the NAV path but I thought I was taking my route. I normally come into the Russian River area (where Casini Ranch is) from the east (the Santa Rosa area) but the NAV was taking us west from Petaluma. In looking at the map it was taking us to CA1! OK. That might be fun to drive along the coast for a bit as Casini is only 7 miles from the coast.

We got to Casini around 3pm, just in time to get things going for the evening happy hour. It was great to see old friends and meet new ones. That Airstream that was leaving Fairfield that morning WAS at Casini and it was the trailer of John and Lori! We had met them at Three Rivers. I didn’t even recognize John that AM. Must have been before my diet Mt. Dew.

The next day was a visitation day with a loose ‘open house’ of sorts. Like an Airstreamer needs an excuse to talk to another. I worked on upgrading the remainder of my LED lights to newer and brighter strips. Another Saturday event was Vinnie of Vinnie’s Northbay Airstream Repair giving a demonstration on proper awning usage and how to polish out scratches. He also fielded a variety of questions. I know many of this group are customers of his already and the rest probably will be soon. Some of the products that Vinnie used:

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There was an opportunity to do some tye-dying on Saturday. Roxie took advantage of that one:

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As if all this was not enough the Bowlus arrived:

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This is a reincarnation of sorts for Bowlus’. Bowlus Road Chief is creating these trailers with modern technology. Designed to be pulled by a smaller vehicle than most trailers. Interestingly enough, we had seen the outside of this trailer before. We were heading to Fresno and passed West Coast Polishing and I spotted it. We stopped to talk to them and said that this is a new company starting to build these.

The interior is relatively small but makes great use of the space. The owners were there and mentioned it was a nautical feel but I felt it was more like an old train. One interesting feature they did was a removable table. Back in the mid-60’s my father was tired of having to use the tailgate of the car to eat when there was no picnic table:

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At that time the table in the trailer was attached to the wall by a bracket that released when you swung the table up. He mounted the same bracket on the side of the trailer above the wheel. That meant we just had to lift up the table, take it outside and we had our own picnic table! The Bowlus used this same concept. I bet they got it from my dad!!

That evening was the infamous potluck. However I told Roxie the wrong time for it but found out later that the time was changed but I didn’t find out, so I am sort of off the hook. That meant that ours was still cooking while the potluck raged! No worries as there was a LOT of food. I did a time lapse of this one also:

Sunday was the day for over half of the group to leave and head out. We opted for another night as we thought we would be able to have a whole extra week before we went home. As it turns out we had to cut that short also. Roxie needed to get some medical clearances for her surgery and we couldn’t do all that in the amount of time we initially allocated. It is OK. The more important part is to get her well.

Sunday was some time spent in Guerneville. It is a very cute town, not very big but it at least has a Safeway and a hardware store! It was a very nice, low key day. For dinner we had some of the potluck dish that never made it there! We visited with some fellow Airstreamers and called it an evening.

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The next day, Monday, would start the journey to our next destination.

Class V

This is in regard to the carrying capacity of the hitch receiver on the F250. Here is a wiki on tow hitches.

The previous truck had a Class V hitch receiver. Since it was rated to tow 12500 lb it needed such a rating. The current truck has a higher rating and also has a Class V hitch receiver. This is where the similarities end. The previous truck had a 2″ square receiver. The current one has a 2 1/2″ square receiver. This makes it more challenging to use a hitch. The Equal-i-zer hitch was a 2″ variety of stinger (the part that goes in the receiver). Therefore I needed a reducer sleeve. These are readily available at Wal-Mart, auto supply stores, RV stores. It was not hard to find one.

Here is the receiver with a reducer to accommodate the 2″ stinger:

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Everything fits pretty good but you can see there is a gap on the top of the stinger. This caused a bit of play in the hitch and you could notice it while hitching/unhitching and while towing.

Another drawback of the stinger/reducer combination is that the reducer slides in and out when you are inserting the hitch. Here are a few examples:

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My solution was to get an appropriately sized stinger for the Equal-i-zer. I purchased at 2 1/2″ stinger from ebay. It came via FedEx with no box, just a label taped to it! Here is a shot of the reducer, the 2″ stinger and the new 2 1/2″ stinger:

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The next step was taking off the hitch head from the old stinger and putting it back on the new stinger. This required using the BIG tools:

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After it was all reassembled, here is the finished product:

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Some thoughts on this. It is now REALLY difficult to slide it in and out. That is good that there is little wiggle room but very difficult when trying to man handle it. Even with my favorite tool it is hard to do! I also think the ball might be a bit too high but I will tackle that another day.