Rock Guard Rescue- PT 3

For those following our Rock Guard 3R’s (rescue, restore, reinstall) we are on the final step.  Installation of our beautiful, newly rehab’d rock guard we salvaged off of a 1983-84 crunched Avion we found by sheer luck not more than 1.5 hours from our house and in a campground bone yard in a tiny town in VT.

Here is the before….and after…..then…..”THE REST OF THE STORY” ( yes, dating myself)

Below (left) is soon to be salvaged rock guard off a ’83-84 found in VT, (right) is completely rehabbed and now rehung back onto our 1973 Avion.  Note the “bling factor” and read on to see how and what we did!

Obviously the first steps of this rehab was literally just elbow grease to take off years of grime.  You can see all the steps we did including photos and videos in our Phase 1 & 2 blog posts.  We chose a high gloss finished on the interior and exterior of the guard which was professionally painted and finished by a local auto body detailer, Mac the Knife on Quaker Road in Queensbury NY.  He loved the diversion this project gave him over the long Adirondack winter!

The final phase 3 of this big project has been to reinstall the guard.  But there were some issues.    The hanging track of our original (the part installed to nose of trailer) was smaller than the “new” rock guard.  In fact it was 7 inches longer.

We determined that this longer length was actually preferable as it would take more of the pressure off those areas that historically start to show stress cracks on countless Avion’s we have seen (yes believe this was a 45 yr old design flaw on part of original manufacturers).

This meant, we had to first remove our original hanging track.  A little scary since we had never worked with rivets, etc.  But as usual Kevin had watched 100’s of hours on “how to rivet” on YouTube, purchased a few books and then all necessary equipment from Vintage Trailer Supply.  He felt confident in what he had to do.

First step:  Drill out old rivets holding hanging track on our rig.  Old track drilled out and removed.  Clean up of area really well is very important. We use a “bone tool” we buy at the auto parts store to remove old grime, butyl tape, any sticky stuff.  This one works perfect, it has a flat scraper end and a rounded end.  It is actually a hard nylon plastic which will not scratch your aluminum but give you the ability to get stuff off…even smushed bugs too!   Kev is “all about the prep!”

Installed 3/4 inch Butyl tape strip on back edge of new track before installation.

Install replacement (longer) hanging track onto trailer front.  Use stainless steel rivets for install, use Parbond to cover over each rivet head to prevent any possible water penetration.  Parbond along seam that runs along top of guard hanger where attaches to trailer.  This is a critical step.  When riveting or screwing anything into the skin of your trailer, you create a possible way for water to eek in behind and roll down into the holes made by the rivets or screws.  Using Parbond, (we use silver/aluminum colored and and our handy dandy dental hygiene syringe applicator (Amazon, 8 for $10) to a make perfect thin line edges.

We tried reusing as many of the original holes we could from where the original guard track was hung.  Unused holes were pre-filled with Parbond completely sealing them.  Kevin snipped off the tines of the rivets and used the rivet shaver to smooth them down.  Photo above with my gorgeous purple gloves shows rivets before trimming all of them.  Note the small magnetic level to ensure you are keeping the track placement level.  You can see some of the Butyl tape has softened and eeked slightly below the track.  No worries, as this will be unseen and underneath the top of the guard.  Better to have a great seal.

We let the track sit for two days to allow Parbond to dry out pretty well.  Then time to hang the rock guard.  NOTE:  All arm hardware had been removed before hanging so it was not in the way.  WE ONLY REMOVED THE ACTUAL ARMS, NOT THE RECEIVING HARDWARE since that had been re- riveted on and reinforced during the rehab by our auto body person!

We also found that the hardware locations on the NEW guard were not exact to our original.  So we did have to re position the “plunger” receiver on the bottom of the window on one side (only) about 1/4 ” out so that the receiver slot, see right photo below would meet the plunger pin.  Plunger pin hardware (bottom photo) is the one on streetside, note parbond behind, on top and in screw holes before reinstalling with stainless screws.  To re position the curbside one, Kevin drilled the holes into slot shaped and pushed the bracket to align as needed.  Once parbonded and screwed in place it is secure.

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How to Hang:  Carefully we hung the new rock guard

NOTE:  done as a two person job only please!!!  lift guard parallel to the ground and both people using step ladders, you slide the track on top of guard into receiver hanging track that is installed on trailer, slide guard across length of hanging track.

Hanging Problem!  Once hanging the guard- we noticed that our new guard was not seated very securely in its track.

This was the track salvaged with the guard so we knew it was right (and longer which was good) but for some reason it was way too easy to pop out when lifted up.  To combat this we studied the lifting process closely, watching the relationships between the track on rig and track on guard.  We realized there was too much “play” in the track on rig and that we needed to put something back there so that the bent “J” portion of the track on guard could not rotate back and the guard come unhinged should we hit some pot hole, etc. on the road.

We found some “U” shaped aluminum in the exact length needed at Lowes.  Cheap enough, under $15.  You can see it in photo below just in front of the wood strips we used as shims to force it close to the hanger on the guard.  We then used stainless screws and screwed this track (parbonded over each) 5 places on this track thereby securing it into the hanger track affixed to the trailer.  This process allows the rotation of the guard perfectly but it cannot slip upwards and pop out unexpectedly.

Below you can also see some of the added steel reinforcement strip that we had our auto body fellow fabricate to provide additional rigidity and support to the top of the plastic rock guard itself.  As mentioned previously, these guards are notorious for cracking where the arm hinges are due to years of stress on that particular part when traveling down the road.  These reinforcements are on the outside and inside so the plastic guard is sandwiched between.  They are applied with rivets and were painted at same time as guard so all match, inside and out.

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Here is the results, we are very pleased and safe in the knowledge that the guard is not going anywhere with our filler aluminum track safety addition.  You can see the reinforcement steel strip clearly on the video below too.  Obviously we removed the wood shims after this part of the project was tested and done.

 

Some still shots of the aluminum U track we added.  The last image shows the track before we installed this added piece.  You can clearly see all the “play” space that was there and needed filling up to prevent the guard’s track from jumping out by accident.

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Next came the re-installation of the support arms.  Here Kevin is showing a prelim of how we plan to add additional support arms when set up in camp.  First we needed to order additional arms, and do some changes to hardware.

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We had decided to copy a fellow long time Avioner we met at the Silver Avion Fellowship Rally in IN in 2017 and ordered two additional awning lift arms from Vintage Trailer Supply.  These would be used in conjunction with our originals to create add on support arms when we are camped.  More on that in a minute.

The new sets (sold separately) from Vintage Trailer Supply were a little shorter than our originals but would work.  Kevin drilled out the receiver hardware off the new ones opting to use our original hinge hardware to mount in its original location and holes on our window frames.  He used stainless screws, lock washers and nuts to install the arms to the hardware rather than riveting like was originally done.  Using screws allows for adjustments, replacing or repairs on the fly far easier than riveting.  Below is original mounting bracket that goes on window frame but with the NEW guard arm from VTS installed with stainless screw and lock washer, nut.

 

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We applied Parbond again behind the hardware before installing back on to the window uprights.  Using the original mounting hardware we could reuse the original holes which is always preferred over making more holes in your Avion.

Once we did this, we reattached to the bracket on inside bottom of guard.  These arm brackets stay attached permanently and are adjusted using wing nuts and washers on stainless screws (1 inch #10) so that the guard can be raised or lowered to just about any height.

The “new” old arms, now with just holes on both ends will be used for additional support for the guard when we are set up in a campsite.  These are screwed on with washers and nuts each time they are applied.  We strongly feel that this additional support (downward) provide superior support for the guard and take away some of the stress on the permanently mounted cantilever ones that hold up and out the guard.  We will simply store them in a little pouch and inside our exterior battery box so they are handy.

Finishing up the new support arm system and we are all done with this major rehab project.  Notice we have repainted the underside of our rock guard in a lite off white, high gloss.  What this does is it serves to reflect back out the light coming from our lamp (when guard is closed) and also to create a far brighter feeling when guard is open.  Previously, the back of the guard was the medium dark grey of the plastic composite material of the guard.  This darker color absorbed the light rather than reflecting it.  This small change to white has made a huge effect and one we highly encourage. Even just spray painting the underside white with over the counter high gloss paint yourself will help if you do not want to spend the money on the whole auto body finish like we did.

 

There is nothing more heartwarming and welcoming to us than the Avion Glow!!

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“We travel not to escape life….but for life not to escape us”

Safe journeys!

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Front Running/Marker Lights-Reworked

As many of you have read, we are undergoing a major redo of our rock guard on our 1973 Avion, 28′ LaGrande.  While doing this we were “up close and personal” with the nose of our Avion and realized that some dingo along the way of line of ownership of this Avion installed 5 of our running or “marker” light fixtures upside down. Below is with existing fixtures before our rehab project started.

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What does that mean?  How can you tell fixture is upside down?

Is there a right side and wrong side, right way and wrong way?

Well, yes….the outside housing (normally white or off white) of these fixtures have pre-cut “weep” holes  (normally one on center edge and one on the lower half of each side) that allow any moisture and rain to seep out rather than be trapped inside the fixture causing the internal workings to rust and eventually fail.

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Here is a great photo (above) of our center one that obviously was installed upside down (don’t be confused by the manufacturers writing being upside down when you install it properly.  Just be sure the weep holes face downward) and therefore had been a collector of water for who knows how long.  The rusted metal is quite evident and this as can be seen on the photo above had also caused a rust streak to show on the Avion’s skin below the fixtures themselves.  You can see the rust stains in this quick video clip below.  You can also clearly see the left fixture is upside down with weep holes facing the sky whereas the right fixture is correctly installed with weep holes on the bottom facing the ground.

Not to mention, the potential of enough build up of rain to find their way to the hole made by the wire coming out of your rig’s skin and thereby allowing that water to get in between your skin.  Not good!

So while we had our rock guard off, it was much easier to work on the three running lights on the “nose” of our rig.  One had been replaced by Fletch (see previous posts and our resource page) and installed correctly, but we were not sure he had used stainless steel screws (a must do according to Kevin) but it also had not been sealed with par bond along the top and part of the sides and so Kevin decided, lets just take all three down, update their bulbs and do a little maintenance while we were at it.

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First step was to purchase one replacement fixture to retire out the rusted one (see bag picture below).  Kevin purchased a replacement easy at our local Auto Parts store.  Most will carry them unless you need a real vintage look one.  At some point we believe all of our truly original ones had been switched out- what we have now is modern standard style anyway.  The wiring placement was just a little different though.  The ones on our rig have the electrical wire (single) come through a hole in the fixture back and then connect to the wire of lamp on front.  Kevin had to drill a small hole in the new fixture to guide that Avion wire  to the front.  No biggie.

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To LED or Not to LED….that is the question!

While Vintage Trailer Supply (VTS) does carry LED fixtures we decided for now now to replace with LED quite yet.  In time we will definitely put in LEDs because reports are they are so much brighter and of course, also are far less on your battery.  For now, we went with those like what they identify as “1970’s Marker Lights” on this same linked page.  We noticed some reviews said that the VTS LED fixtures are for wiring to be done on rear of the fixture.  Hmmm…that could require some modifications for our set up, so we decided hold off on LEDs and to talk to other Avion owners on the Facebook chats or in person at rallies this summer first to see what they have done.

We took down all fixtures.  None of the fixtures had a rubber gasket behind them.  This may be a step you wish to take. VTS does sell sheets of rubber gasket that then you can cut to fit any fixture, etc. you need it for.  We chose not to use gaskets and leave them as they had been installed.

My job was cleaning up the plastic lenses and other housings.  Meanwhile, Kevin took to cleaning up the area underneath the fixtures and making sure that the aluminum skin underneath was clean, prepped and treated.  The fixture that had the rusted stuff had in fact begun to eat rust through our aluminum skin so we were really glad we had taken on the project.  In order to prevent any more rust corrosion he gently sanded away the rust (green scrubby) and lots of elbow grease.  He cleaned and prepped the area well.  I then did a very small touch up with grey rust inhibitor paint (same as was used on our frame and hitch) that will be totally invisible when fixture is reinstalled but we have piece of mind that no more rust will grow there.

2019-04-21-13.14.44.jpgWe had trouble finding the very small wire caps at Lowes like what was on there, so we purchased these and they worked fine on the two original fixtures we had but Kevin did have to re-use one of the smaller grey caps on the new fixture simply due to the different interior design did not allow for a comfortable fit using the blue cap.

It goes without saying be sure your wires are in good shape.  Be sure that you are using plastic caps AND use only STAINLESS STEEL screws when doing your install.  Stainless will not rust up and add to the potential for rusty water stains on your Avion aluminum skin.  Stainless steel screws should be the only type used on your RV in our opinion (in addition to rivets obviously)

Be sure to put a dab of Parbond INSIDE each of the screw holes before screwing in anything into your Avion skin!!  We did this with the marker light installation too.

Kevin intentionally installed the NEW fixture in the center since the outside casing was just a little different than the existing two.  I applauded him for recognizing that slight detail but having it look intentional and more symmetrical really did look great.

After the new or cleaned up existing fixtures were installed, my job “as artist” was to apply Parbond around the top and partially down both sides of each fixture.  Kevin tends to have a heavy hand with any of this kind of step, so since I have a steady hand these tasks fall to me.  I did apply straight out of the Parbond tube because I needed a goodly bead to ensure that no gap existed between the fixture edge and our rig.  Be sure to NOT cover the side weep holes if your fixture has them as long as they are low enough to be effective.

You may notice on the large bottom picture above there is a different color silver on the left side of the fixture. This is because our NEW fixture did not fit completely flush against the skin of the Avion.  So I cut a 1/3 width of our Eternabond Tape and applied that just around the side sections (covering weep holes there since too high) and all along the top lapping half of the width of the tape to the skin of the trailer to create a perfect seal against water penetration.  Then I applied Parbond over that.  Done!  This baby is not gonna leak!

**If you tend to be heavy handed and shaky you may wish to put some Parbond into a smaller disposable syringe with plunger and use that. See short video clip below to see what we use in narrow spaces or edges.   We will have detailed on these in our post about our rock guard final install post and also source for what we use on our blog’s Resources Page.

Note- the new fixture had two large weep holes on the bottom so we were not concerned about covering the one on either side.  Since these fixtures sit so high on your rig, you will not ever even notice the Parbond unless you get on a ladder.  When camped, most times we have our rock guard open so the fixtures are even less noticeable.  Far better to secure from leaking than to worry about aesthetics.

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Another project checked off our 2019 Spring Punch List!

Hope this blog post has helped you in some way to tackle your light fixture projects.  If it has, please leave a comment– if it did not help….please tell us that too and what would have been more helpful.  We always want to create not only a journal of what we did for nostalgia sake for ourselves but we strive to be a helpful resource and inspiration for Avion and other aluminum trailer lovers.

Please subscribe to our blog so you get notified of future posts on other how to projects and our travels!

Safe Travels…..One Life…LIVE IT!!

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Luisa & Kevin Sherman  at ThePewterPalace.com           Visit and LIKE us on FACEBOOK!

Rock Guard Rescue- Avion Trailer, Part II

Spoiler alert—be sure to visit our Rock Guard Rescue Part I before jumping in here!

In this part II blog post I am going to review how we made measurements and decisions on how to best do the “THREE R’S” (rescue, repair and re-invigorate) our classic original Avion rock guard.  As mentioned in our previous blog this was a junk yard find and it is NOT one of the knock off reproduction ones currently being made out of fiberglass (see photo at end of this post for sample) or other such materials.

(Photo below: our junk yard find on ground in front of our Avion)

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I will put some links to how to video’s and sources for rock guards at end of this post for those who are not as lucky as we have been to find an original for sale.

So once we had our junkyard find home, it was time to decide the best course of action for restoring it to its former glory and functionality.  But wait….could we do more??  Could we jazz her up a bit with some subtle “bling” and wow factor??  YES!

But how? without going too far and destroying the classic Avion look and we did not want to offend those traditionalists and preservationists who would not want to see too much altered–ours is a classic after all.

First Step:

First step was to put our new-to-us rock guard on two saw horses to support the hard plastic form and to prevent any torquing/flexion which could cause some unwanted cracks.  It is best to have two people handling these rock guards.  This was done in preparation for a good, gentle cleaning.

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Cleaning:

After removing cobwebs from the hardware on the back,

we gave it a good washing with just clear warm water to start to get the surface all wet.  We then decided to use the same purple colored HD Simple Green brand cleaner (purchased at Home Depot).  It is very important and is highly recommended to ONLY USE THE HD PURPLE type of Simple Green on Avion’s for all the washing of the trailer’s aluminum bodies.  Since this is the recommended cleaner for the bodies themselves, we felt that we were also safe to use it on the rock guard.  We also employed the recommendation to not do this washing in the sunshine, so we picked a cloudy day to do our rock guard washing too–just to be safe.  Perhaps not as necessary as it is critical when washing the aluminum bodies (so detergent does not have a chance to dry on metal and the metal is not warm/hot from the sun–which causes cloudy streaks) but why not right?? We diluted it following the instructions on the container and used a regular boat washing hand brush with medium bristles and then soft terry towels. (yes, we baby our Avion!)

Taking Measurements:

We decided to take measurements of the existing original Avion logo stencil so that we had them for future use to make a stencil ourselves for other possible purposes.  Also so that we would have photo references to show for before and after looks, etc. or to assist anyone who  is looking to replicate the logo because they have a knock off repro, etc.

You can see by the large photo above that our logo had been touched up by hand by some former owner.  Honestly they did a decent job but this was no where near the quality look that we wanted.  Also note the bottom right photo where you can see the nicks and missing paint off of the round edge.

From the facebook Avion Owner’s site managed by Mark Obinterio here from their files are PDFs of both the older avions (pre 80’s and the newer Avions) in case you want to download, print and use.

Downloadable Avion Logos: (many thanks to those generous folks who have posted them on the Avion Owners facebook page files)

avion_logo_old-from Avion Owners fB files     

Avion Rockguard Decal_pdf on Avion Owners FB file page

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Design Decisions:

We  knew we wanted our rock guard to be somewhat of a “Rock Star” when it was finished.  The rock guard is a very prominent feature of this trailer and what people see first when you are coming into a campground or rally.  It is also your “front door” so to speak about what kind of rig this is and when down is your hallmark.  At least this is the way we view it.  We are very proud of our Avion and wanted her to have her best foot forward–quite literally all the time.

So after much consideration, and review of sample sheets of aluminum being put on the rock guard (Chuck Cayo had given us these actual samples of aluminum that he uses for his body restorations on Avions) we decided on a “grey” that would best compliment our aluminum trailer body and be just slightly different so it did not look like we were trying to match the aluminum…rather we were trying to compliment it.

Below you can see where I went to Lowes and picked up a variety of paint chip samples in grey’s and also the red we ultimately chose for the lettering accent color.

 

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It was not easy to decide on what level of darkness of grey we would go with.  We did use the center aluminum piece as our guide and ultimately chose the one that I have encircled with blue pen.  We did this paint swatch so that we could see what it looked like in daylight, dusk, and with our porch light on so we could really make the best all around decision.  The rock guard is a large piece and it would be a large and highly visible swath of grey.  We felt the one we chose would look rich and classy and if/when it faded would still have the contrast to the aluminum Avion body we wanted.

Below is a closer look at the red sample chosen.  It is not a true red, it is more of a dark red which again, we feel is more classy and rich looking.  You can see the two colors together now.  Each have similar intensity and color value. (yes, I was an art major in HS!)

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You will notice the final paint chip above is a Dover White.  We had the brainstorm to have our auto body fellow also paint the underside of the rock guard in this white in a high gloss finish.  This way when the rock guard is closed due to windy days (yes, please keep your rock guard latched and locked down in wind…they will flex, crack and or could even get ripped from the hinge on windy days-it does not take much- these are like big hard rigid sails on a ship!) the high gloss will actually help to reflect BACK into the trailer your lights you have on inside on the dinette table, reading lamps or ceiling fixtures.  As of this post we have not tested our theory but are convinced this will be the case.  How we know is that currently when our rock guard is closed, it really creates a dark grey cave-like feel.  So looking out the front window and seeing white will help a lot!  When I posted this idea on the Avion Owners Facebook page, one of the long time owners said …wow…what a great idea! Guess we were the first to try this experiment in 46 years??!!

Off to the Spa for a FACELIFT!

So at this point, our rock guard is clean, prepped and ready to take to our local and highly regarded auto body painter/detailer shop.  It is only about 2 miles from our house and the business is called “Mac The Knife, Designer Autocrafts, LLC” and is located at 310 Quaker Road in Queensbury NY.  Phone is  518-798-0872 (tell them Kevin & Luisa Sherman sent you! – no we do not get anything  from a referral but a smile!)

(Mac is also the one who redid our original spare tire cover of the same material as the rock guard (that’s another blog post coming!) installed our DECKED system and front grill brush guard, and did the paint job on our front receiver hitch on our truck)

Sources:

  • A very frequently referenced blog post that was originally posted on the AS forums.  This project really was quite well done and could be replicated for an Avion no doubt.

YouTube Videos how to make your own rock guard.

This is a photo (at right) of a circa ’80’s Avion with what appears to us to be one of thefiberglass, cayo repro avion rock guards reproduction/replacement fiberglass rock guards available from Cayo.  See our resource page for their contact info.

Stay tuned, the repair shop process and final reveal will be in blog post Part III

BE SURE TO SUBSCRIBE TO OUR BLOG SO YOU DO NOT MISS A POST!

(keep coming back!…  some decorating ideas using any RV rock guard and front window/tongue area will be put into another future blog post!)

One life….Live It Riveted!

Kevin & Luisa Sherman

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Winter Storage Tips-Protecting your “Innards”!

We are among tens of thousands of RV owners who due to many circumstances (work being ours) we cannot just pick up stakes and move to follow the “70’s”  (temperatures that is!).  That day WILL COME….but just not now!

So we, like many will do the annual ritual of putting our RV “to bed” in winter storage.

I thought I would share with our followers some tips and pointers that we have employed and picked up along the way from other veteran RVers.

New to our routine this year is the employment of low voltage LED tube rope lights on the floor underneath the perimeter of our 1973 Avion 28′ travel trailer.

In following one of our all time favorite fulltimers, AStreaminLife.com, Steve and Courtney have promoted the use of under trailer lighting to ward off mice and other varmints when camping in the great outdoors.  Using their suggestion, we have purchased solar powered spot lights (check out AStreaminLife’s Amazon shop for the ones we purchased based on their excellent reviews)  to use when boondocking and then the above pictured LED Rope lights when we have electric hook ups available.

Well, so we got to thinking that if this has worked for them in the wild….why would it not also serve as a good deterrent indoors?  Since our RV storage garage (we rent near our house) has electricity (and we pay a little more for that each month) why not use this low voltage LED rope lighting we purchased to use while camping….during the winter too!  I akin the look to a bit of a “STAR WARS” effect!

We have consistently put rat/mouse bait traps in and around this garage for the past two seasons where we have stored our Pewter Palace.  This has been more of a preventative action but we have seen where the little green bait blocks have shown some “tooth wear” from nibbling varmints so yes, they are there.  BUT we have, knock on wood, not had ONE bit of any hint of varmint intrusion into our RV itself.

A few things you will need from the store before you dive into winter storage prep:

  • BOUNCE Brand scented dryer sheets (get the big box!)
  • Clorox (or similar with color-safe bleach) brand pop up wipes
  • Scented draw string tall kitchen garbage bags
  • LED Rope lights, white light bulbs- not colored
  • RV Antifreeze (the pink stuff!)
  • Plastic box type varmint bait boxes and the green hard bait blocks (these do not trap the varmint and let them rot in there, they bait them to the green block which then eventually kills them when they go to see a water source away from your rig!)baitbox

NOTE:  for the purpose of this blog post, I am not going to go through the entire black and grey tank dumping and prepping procedure or the system flushing for long term storage.  I am purely focusing on interior tips for winter storage to protect from varmints and any damage to interiors.

A few basic and kinda “no brainer” tips to prepping your RV for winter storage:

Remove ALL and ANY types of food stuffs, oils, herbs/spices -ANYTHING that acute little noses could sniff out and consider a potential food source during bleak, long winters.

Remove all liquid, aerosols, pumps and semi liquid items including canned goods because freezing will cause them to burst and create a total mess (not to mention serve as a glorious buffet dinner for varmints)!

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Our throw pillows, lap blankets, table clothes bagged in scented bags with Bounce sheets inside too!

Remove any rags, towels, pot holders that may contain even trace of oils, food handling, etc.   Varmints love to nest in cloth and paper goods like paper towels, napkins so remove them too and use them at home over the winter or store for next summer…..if you leave anything hang it on a hook or put in a scented trash bag with a Bounce brand scented dryer sheet in side bag with items.

Wipe off all counters, refrigerator inside and out, stove top, table tops, sink, dish drainer, cutting boards, pots/pans with a Clorox bleach brand pop up style wipes.

More about the cook stove– be sure to lift the stove top off, remove any crumbs, food particles, grease where the mechanicals are and wipe down entire area, grates, gas pipes, burners, etc with Clorox wipes,

Use a Clorox (or similar) brand pop up wipe to go over interior and exterior of refrigerator, toilet, sink, tub, all handles in kitchen and bathroom areas in particular.

2018-10-21-13.53.39.jpgWhy Bounce Brand?  We have sworn by the Bounce Brand of scented dryer sheets for over two decades now when camping doing our living history reenacting to keep away varmints AND crawling/flying bugs and insects.  Doing this type of camping we use a canvas tent, a canvas floor cloth (that is not connected to the tent sides like moderns are) and have often slept on air mattresses on the floor.  We are sometimes camping for 3-8 days and in all sorts of open fields, woodlands and in all sorts of weather conditions.  Bounce sheets are excellent for putting around the perimeter of the interior of a tent and they really DO keep insects away.  A benefit is that the inside of the tent always smells nice too!  We put sheets under our bedding, around the interior perimeter of the tent itself and inside our clothing bags/boxes.  It serves to rights that Bounce’s ability to ward off insects and varmints in a tent will do the same in a garage and RV!  We have used them successfully when we owned a Class A motor home for five years and now in our Avion for past two years. (knock off brands have not proven themselves nearly as effective!)

Prepping your bedding and cushioned areas:

We strongly recommend tilting up all mattresses and cushions that are in your sleeping and dining areas if you cannot or chose not to remove these completely and store them at home over winter.  Not only does this provide less of a “hacienda of dark seclusion” for any varmint intruders to build a nest, but it also provides far more air circulation around such materials thereby inhibiting mold, mildew, etc from building up on both the cushion/mattress and the boards that lay underneath them.

Doing this we have (knock on wood here…) never had any issues.

Below you will see on the left photo, our dinette cushions standing on long end and one of our twin mattresses on its side.  Note the other bagged items and placement of dryer sheets all around too!  These bags do contain comforters, extra throw pillows, beach towels.  We DO take our bed sleeping pillows home for winter storage and do not leave them on the RV.

What about Clothing Storage over the Winter in the RV?

We do keep a complete set of camping clothing on our RV at all times so we are ready to go at a moments notice.  We keep things organized by putting items in plastic lock lid style shoe storage boxes (they fit best in our over bed cupboards) and under bed lock lidded plastic totes, so winter prep is actual pretty minimal.

Here are some additional steps we do take for winter storage for clothing/dressing areas:

  • Bounce sheets get put inside the floor of all drawers and then on top of any items left in drawers.  Bounce Sheets also get placed inside every overhead storage cupboard and placed in every scented trash bag that is used for linen storage.
  • I am sure to remove any liquids, eg. perfume, deodorants, mousse, hair spray cans/pumps, etc. due to potential for freezing/bursting. Check bathroom areas and remove from all over and under cupboards from bath area too!
  • We remove any leather shoes/sandals due to potential for dusty mold and leather could be a food source in a pinch for varmints.  I leave things like rubber flip flops, crocs, etc.

Final Steps… that are often forgotten!

Remove ALL batteries from any flashlights, headlamps, portable radios, clocks, alarm clocks, kitchen devices, etc. and TAKE THEM HOME and use them over the winter.

Ensure you have correctly used RV antifreeze in your systems and retain some visible in the toilet bowl and put an extra dose down each sink drain to ensure there is some sitting in traps and bends in piping.

Be sure you have put Bounce sheets also in all interior AND exterior storage/mechanical areas like water heater box, oven fan area, exterior refrig access panel area, sewer service area, exterior storage areas that go underneath dinettes or beds, etc.  Here you can see our furnace and sewer pipe vent area being protected with dryer sheets.

Some notes on exterior/interior prep…

If storing your RV outside in winter the issue of “to cover or not to cover” is going to be yours.  It is recommended that all aluminum campers like our Avion and Airstreams NOT be covered because covers can adversely scratch the surface.  That being said, we do know Avion owners who have had decent luck with covers-much will depend on where you live.  If you do use a cover, be sure you allow sufficient ventilation so that mold and mildew do not happen inside the RV.

If your RV is outside in winter, be sure to check pressures, treat the tires with tire protectant and cover them from daylight with either a tire cover and/or sheet of plywood, etc.

Close all curtains to prevent fading of cushions and interior finishes-especially if wood interior like ours is.  If you have those pseudo fabric type pleated horizontal blinds I believe it is NOT recommended to drop them down as the pleats will stretch out and the shade will not look or work well in future. Perhaps in this case, if no curtains are available to draw closed, then take some old sheet, cut it up and place it over the valance and hang down over window to prevent interior fading while keeping the fabric blind up and pleated for storage.

We do not recommend installing Reflectix or similar silver insulation batting on windows because you may cause undo condensation on interior of windows unless you keep ceiling vents open to allow air exchange.  Plus, using Reflectix inside on windows will create a totally dark cave inside your RV which is what varmints would just love!

Spray all locks (storage bays, doors, hitch locks, spare tire locks, bike locks, etc) with your preference of lubricant to keep in good shape when not used for length of time.

  • Put RV house batteries on trickle charger.
  • Chock your wheels, sounds crazy if you are on a level garage, but its just one of those things Kevin is fixated about…but its good practice because once you get in the behavior of always chocking your wheels you are less apt to forget when really needed!

You have NO IDEA who may be able to access your storage area……why take a chance?

  • Lock your RV doors even if in a locked storage garage.
  • Apply your hitch lock even if RV is locked in storage garage.

FINAL NOTES…..

As possible visit your baby at least once a month over the long winter— just to do a quick visual check around the inside and outside and to hug her and let her know you miss her and cannot wait to get back taking her camping again!

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Safe Travels!  We LOVE to hear your feedback about this post or any of our blog posts!

One life..Live it!

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Kevin & Luisa Sherman

Rock Guard Rescue-Avion Trailer, PT 1

We purchased our 1973 Avion in September 2016.  Quite a birthday present for me if I do say so!

Our rock guard (original to 1973) was in decent shape, with the logo faded and some stress cracks at the angle support hinge area on top.  Both of these “age-related illnesses” are ones that are very common and frequently seen in Avions especially those pre-1980’s. (you can easily see the cracks in photo below).

The previous owner to us had done a decent repair job on that right crack by reinforcing with a piece of steel behind it and filling in the crack on the outside with Parbond or something similar, but now after two years of our use we started to see the left side begin to show more of a pronounced stress crack too.

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These cracks in the solid formed hard plastic original rock guards like ours are common due to the sheer weight of the guard and the jiggling, torquing and bouncing it experiences when rolling down the road even though it is locked in at the bottom.  Hey, and our baby has done Alaska 2xs, California at least 4 times and Florida annually for at least 6 years—so after a total of 45 years and having only these cracks in her is truly not bad!

In May of 2018 we had taken our Avion out to Cayo Repair in MI to have some work done and on the punch list was to sure up that left crack to prevent further damage and to ensure that it would hold, at least for a few more years.  Chuck Cayo did a decent job with it which you can see on photo below where the rivet stud backs are showing through the horizontal piece of sandwiched steel plate.  But we knew at some point the inevitable question would have to be addressed to repair again or replace completely.

In the photo below you will also see where the two support hinges mount up underneath the top inside of the rock guard.  These hinges bear the full weight of the guard when opened (as shown) but also lock in place in the pull latches on bottom edge center of window to lock the guard in place for towing mode.  Thus all the stress is there despite the long tubular hinge that connects from the guard itself to the rig.

The photo below clearly shows the system by which the rock guard is “hung” to attach to the trailer body. (also the horizontal steel plate repair by Cayo) .The body has a receiver tube as we call it that the guard slides into from one side.

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It takes two people to effectively and safely remove or install the guard to the rig using this system.  The sheer weight of these original guards is a lot.

Newer replacement guards are being manufactured by Cayo RV Repair in MI and some other private owners these days. I believe they are made of fiberglass and therefore far lighter which is a good thing, however the ones we have seen are all black which we do not care for at all.   We prefer our muted grey which blends in with the aluminum body of the trailer better.

Here is a good photo for comparison, ours being on the left with its original as is condition, the one on the right is the fiberglass black replacement.

 

To Repair or Replace….THAT is the Question!

We knew we had only really two options with our ever growing cracks in our original existing rock guard.

  1. Bite the bullet and purchase one of the new fiberglass knockoffs (around $700-800 +S/H)
  2. Try to once again do repairs to our existing one in hopes to sure it up sufficiently for the wear and tear it would eventually get once we begin full timing in a few years.

Never Underestimate a Sunday drive to VT!

It brought us a TREASURE FIND or TWO!

One sunny Saturday in July 2018 I suggested to Kevin it would be nice to go over to nearby VT to scope out some potential campgrounds where we may wish to stay in coming years.  We like to physically see the campground and identify specific sites that we take note of for future calls for reservations.  We wanted places that would be grandkid-friendly and relatively easy to get to distance for us and for my daughter and son-in-law to drive to as they would be transporting the two grandchildren to us for a camping weekend.

Living in eastern upstate NY we can be to VT in a matter of 40 minutes.  Our trip that day took us over through Cambridge NY and then into the Bennington and Manchester VT areas of mid-state/western VT.  Using just my google map locator asking “campgrounds near me” we found several close by with no problem.  Our third one to visit though was the charm.  Not because we would want to end up camping there (no amenities, mostly all very run down, entrenched seasonals) but because on our way out the driveway Kevin shouted STOP! (I was driving) “WAIT…THERE IS AN AVION!”.  Yes, it was, abandoned and sitting among wreck, trash, bits and pieces from other trailers.  It was the campground owners graveyard of discards from two generations of ownership.  Yeah, they did not ever throw anything away!  Thank goodness!!

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We pulled off the drive and into the graveyard.  Wrangled over debris and checked her out.  Appeared to be a 1988 but the rock guard looked really, really similar in design and size to ours.  The poor rig had had a tree fall on her, breaking her center spine and was left in the graveyard to fill with rain, leaves, etc. etc. and used for storage, sort of, for perhaps a decade or more.  But the rock guard was crack free, moveable and hopefully would be ours!  We did have a tape measure with us, took measurements and tried texting and calling Cayo and posting on the Avion FB pages quickly to see if anyone could answer our question about if size of this one was same as our ’73 which of course was safely and out of reach back in NY.  A couple online FB Avioners replied they thought it would fit, but if the price was right, even if it did not fit ours, there was surely a market to sell it to another Avion owner who could use it.  That was enough security for us!

The owner of the campground came by driving his backhoe to gawk at these unfamiliars climbing around his Avion.  No worries, nice guy and Kevin quickly sparked up a perfect, nonthreatening conversation to allay the owners fears that we were some city slickers.  We are not, we are North Country folk too and Kevin knows his mechanicals, trucks, etc. to dazzle any New England car/truck junky.  After a very short and amenable conversation the deal was struck, tools offered to assist us in the guard’s removal and within about 15 minutes the new rock guard was being hoisted by Kevin and I into our Suburban.  Reddy our Cavalier Spaniel who had come along for the ride was not quite sure what this big canopy was coming over top her bed!

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This ends Part 1 of our ROCK GUARD RESCUE.

BUT THERE’S MORE LUCK TO BE FOUND!  Never underestimate what gems you may find on a Sunday drive!

Not more than 15 minutes down the road from rescuing this rock guard did we see a much earlier Avion (can you spot it in first photo below?) at a horse show along the road.

We veered quickly there to see that too!  And to our sheer delight, it belonged to a woman who ran a mobile embroidery business who was actually based out of CT.  Turns out it was a 1974, 23′ Travelcade. She had pretty much gutted the inside but had done some tasteful redecorating in prep for her boutique.

She was making custom designed hats, shirts, jackets for the horsey set.  She needed an awning for her new Avion soon to be traveling boutique on wheels.  Perfect!  We struck a deal to trade our old Carefree Awning system hardware for some custom designed clothing using our trademarked Avion artwork that we had commissioned an artist to do for us in 2017.  This was truly our double lucky day!

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My next post will be on the Rehab phase! Until then…safe journeys!

Luisa

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Sharing Holiday Joy from NY to AZ!

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Along the way of our past six years of researching, planning and dreaming about our eventual “full time RV life” we have enjoyed and learned from many who have taken the plunge before us!

Among those who we respect and have learned from the most are a handful which include at top of our list, Steve & Courtney from AStreaminLife.

We have followed their journey from their initial change of lifestyle decision, to sale of their house, to downsize and deciding what trailer to get (Courtney was totally new to camping and RV life while Steve had grown up with parents who RV’d tons!) , to their first year commuting daily from full time RV living in a local KOA campground in Tucson AZ,  but keeping their day jobs…..to their first years + now full time on the road.

Each episode they post on YouTube we learn something, laugh (at sometimes Steve’s dry humor jokes) share similar likes, dislikes and we know we are far more better equipped when our day comes because of them and others who have taken the journey and are willing to share their successes, failures and “whoops” candidly and honestly.

For more information about AStreaminLife  visit their full website too!  link

So this year, in the season of thanksgiving for many blessings we have, we also wanted to let Steve and Courtney know how much we have appreciated their friendship and effort to allow viewers like us to be included in their daily life.  We knew they were going to be coming up to the ADK’s hopefully this summer and that they loved to visit and film waterfalls.  Well, we know the DACKS are full of neat spots but knowing Courtney loves the “epic planning” part of their trips we sent a Christmas present to them in Scottsdale AZ where they were going to be celebrating with Courtney’s folks over Christmas time.  Included in our gift to them was a travel guide to ADK waterfalls, and each of them got a pair of socks befitting to their lifestyle and their tastes.  Steve’s socks were a custom beer bottle (he loves craft beer and breweries just like Kevin does!) and for Courtney I picked out a pair of socks that had a camping theme complete with trailer, campfire, etc.   It appears they loved them and we are so happy for that!

Here is a clip of their Scottsdale AZ video published on their YouTube Channel.  Specific reference to receiving our Christmas present socks (and showing them off) is at about 5:47 minutes in–HOW SWEET OF THEM TO THANK US IN THIS VERY PUBLIC WAY!  WOW-did not expect that and they have over 11K YouTube followers!!  Please watch the whole video (and their other videos on early retirement how to and RV living and travels to magnificent places in the USA!) so you can learn more about who they are and you will see why we enjoy following them on their journey so much. Better yet!  subscribe to their YouTube Channel and see the many valuable and educational videos they have posted from selecting a generator, to downsizing tips, to finding the perfect campground…or the not to perfect dip into a BLM spot that got them stuck AND cost them a portion of an underbelly pan which had to be repaired!

BTW- they typically camp in exactly the same kind of BLM and private campgrounds that we know we plan to go to as well…over this Christmas ’18 they are in Cave Creek which is a town Kevin and I have spent quite a bit of time in already as it is only about 35 minutes north of where my son David lives with his wife Bri.  Kevin and I had already checked out and put the campground in Cave Creek (Cave Creek Canyone road below) on our list of must stays.

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Happy New Year Everyone!

Kevin & Luisa Sherman, The Pewter Palace

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Keeping RV Cabinetry in Tip Top Shape

There is no doubt that one of the key features of vintage trailers is their craftsmanship and quality of products/materials.  Later in this post I will talk about what we do to maintain our cabinetry so well, but first, a little history and photos.

The Avion Coach Company spared no expense when manufacturing their signature aluminum trailers prior to the late 1970’s.  Given the price tag at the time, these beauties were high end, luxury trailers.   It was after that time that the company was sold to the Fleetwood RV company and incrementally over subsequent years the quality and craftsmanship started to wane.  For more history about the Avion Corporation we highly recommend purchasing Bob Muncy’s book shown here.  There is a link to how to purchase on our resources page.

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Our 1973 is considered by many articles we have seen to be in the “perfect window years” of style, amenities and design of the Avion Coach Company.  Truthfully, many prefer the pre-1973 models which have more rounded, Airstream-type styling (photo below left) with more front/rear fan panels—but in 1973 when they changed to our “breadloaf” front and rear (ours at photo below right) you gained some really valuable headspace and storage inside and more room to move about in the rear bathroom.

 

One of the things however that did not change during these pre- late 70’s years and even into the 80’s at least was the superb quality of their use of real wood and excellent craftsmanship of their cabinetry.   Real hinges on drawers, metal tracks and wheels.  Full length piano hinges on all tall cabinets and closet doors are all standard.  Our LaGrande model has the extra French Provincial molding and flourish handle pulls (our kitchen cabinet below).  The more basic, entry level trailer, The Travelcader, and Sportsman models had plain fronts and simple pulls.

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Now owners of Avion’s are tasked with maintaining the condition of these beautiful wood cabinets.  Some have chosen to paint over the stained finish-perhaps because of worn, dried out condition of their trailer, others because there is a growing preference especially among Millennials to have a crisp, bright, clean look so white or pale grey painted cabinets seem to be the rage.  Below is a great beautiful example of a more “modern 21st century look” recently put on one of our Avion Facebook forums.  It is a very, very nice look but not one that we would feel comfy in for any full time living.  It always amazes me how varied style  interiors each Avion owner does with their trailer.  We are all starting with basically the same bones!

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For us traditionalists, we relish the mellowed wood stain of our cabinets and do all we can to ensure they stay that way.  Look at the difference!  Only you can decide for your personal style which you prefer!

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Now, about keeping up this stained cabinetry.

Each spring, we wipe over all of the wood cabinetry, closet doors inside and out with “Restor-A-Finish” oil by a company called Howard.  Here is the link to it on Amazon, but they also have other colors available too like Cherry and others.  One can has now lasted me two complete seasons.  I did go over the cabinets this fall again because we had used the trailer more this season and they just seemed to need a bit more.  We purchased this Restor-A-Finish can at our local large Antique Co-op Shop (Glenwood Antiques in Queensbury, NY)  and it is something that many antique dealers use routinely on furniture.  It does come in a variety of stain colors and we found that the Maple-Pine was the closest match to our cabinets.  The Avion Corp. did offer a few different finish colors so some interiors are going to be different than ours, lighter, or darker.  The wood is birch with beautiful grain as you can see from our photos.

I use an old Tee shirt or other smooth rag to apply the oil.  Careful…it is quite thin and runny!

It does go on somewhat oily but that is fine and over a day or two it penetrates in and rejuvenates the wood.  There is no need to go back over it with a dry cloth.  Let the oil soak in. What I do like is that it does NOT leave a sticky film like some other furniture oils do.  The smell is not bad and it does wash off your hands fairly easy with a scrubby but I do try to wear rubber gloves when applying it because it will stain your fingernails a bit for a time afterwards.

I like that it is a little shiny when being applied because it allows me to more easily see where i have daubed and where I have not.  I have also used this same restorer if we had a scratch accidentally onto a cabinet door or trim piece.  It covers it beautifully!

Here is a perfect photo to show the treated cabinet on left, and not-yet-treated on right:

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In conclusion, we would highly recommend Restor-A-Finish for refurbishing your wood stained cabinetry and maintaining its vibrancy and condition by using it at least annually.  We have seen photos of Avion and other RV interiors where the cabinets were not treated regularly and what happens is that they get brittle, chip, peel and look washed out and faded.

So please give treat your wood cabinets to a luscious spa treatment to keep them in beautiful condition always!

See you on the road!  One Life….Live It!!

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Kevin & Luisa Sherman ~ The Pewter Palace

Winterization, Our Tips and Tricks for Avion Hibernation

It’s that time of year that I am beginning to dread more and more each year….winter is coming!   It is marked by falling leaves, the need to start our car for a few minutes to “burn” off the frost from the windshield and now this weekend….the proverbial need to ready our Pewter Palace for the coming of the winter hibernation.

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This is a photo of the first November we owned our 1973 Avion when we had not brought her to the inside storage yet.  It is recommended by many who own Aluminum trailers to NOT cover them!

Eventually, when we retire we will be doing the “Chasing 70” dance- which for those in the know..is traveling to anywhere and everywhere that it is in the ranges of the 70-78 degree weather around the USA.  Sure we have some specific places picked out like AZ (photo to right)

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I took this photo from about 1 hr north of where my Son and his beautiful wife life north of Phoenix.  It was early October. Can I handle seeing this kind of view out my door each day…you Bet!

and western CA along the Colorado River area and maybe an occasional trip to Fort Wilderness Campground in Orlando for a Disney Holiday fix—but for the most part our map is open to ideas for where to spend our winter months from Nov 1 to May 1 (at least!)

 

But for now…it is a process of putting our Avion snug in “the carriage barn” ( our rented RV storage unit) which keeps her high and dry, away from the elements of snow, ice, and sleet.  BTW for those of you who are contemplating an aluminum beauty, be it an Avion or our cousin the Airstream—please know that it is NOT recommended that these trailers be covered with the traditional RV cover sold at many camping supply and RV dealerships.  The covers can actually mar your aluminum finish and wreak havoc with your rig.  So owners basically have a few options:  they are “chase 70, put her into a garage/RV storage barn, or at minimum put your trailer under a strongly built pavilion/roof that will keep snow off the rig, but is open on the sides.

NOTE:  A simple search on Google will net you all sorts of “handy lists” in PDF etc that you can download and print off to do your check list to button up your rig for winter.  We recommend you check those out.  Perhaps even some of our fav bloggers may have some!

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So, the Pewter Palace is being prepped for winter this weekend and over this coming week.  Here are the basic steps we do and then some of my videos will go into a little more details both inside and out.

  1.  Shut off ByPass to the Hot Water Heater. Lift up the “blow off valve” and get a 5-gal pail and put underneath and unscrew the plug and let hot water heater completely drain out.
  2. Go to the city water and using my air chuck threaded for the water line hook that up.  Use an, oil-less portable air compressor to blow all the water out of the lines.  Kevin set’s it at 30lbs of pressure to blow out the water from all the lines.
  3. Open all faucets and keep them open
  4. Push the pedal and the spray nozzle in the toilet, and also shower head to be sure all water is drained out completely.
  5. Pour RV (pink) antifreeze into toilet bowl , and all other drains including the shower, kitchen and bath sinks and then be sure to pour at least a few inches of antifreeze into the toilet bowl when closed and check the bowl for evaporation over the winter as you want that liquid to be in the bowl to keep the seals moist.
  6. We leave all the faucets open all winter, all low drains open, holding tanks are drained.
  7. Outside, he gets is 2 foot extension for the sewer line and his yucky 5-gal pail and he pulls the black line let it drain out any remaining.  Shut and then do grey water whatever may be remaining.  Take this and dump it.  He takes a little bottle of water and bleach solution to clean the bucket and then store.
  8. Then disconnect the two foot sewer host, spray off with bleach and water solution and let dry.
  9. Put on a winter cap on to the sewer connect.  (he has drilled a few small holes in it for ventilation but small enough that no critters can get in).  It is suggested to spray the black and grey sewer valves and push in and out a few times to lubricate.  We keep our valves out and open to allow air flow.  Our tanks don’t stink at this point!  (also as side note, we highly recommend UNIQUE brand RV Digester.  Check out all about that here in one of our past blog posts:  Its All About the BLACK TANK!

MOVING INSIDE:

Inside is a bit more my domain for winter-ization.  Its become pretty routine now and here is what I do in some basic steps:

  1.  Remove all liquid products (again, our garage is great and secure but NOT heated!) from under the kitchen sink, bathroom sink and also the bathroom closet.  Use them over the winter at home or place in storage closet at home where they can hibernate too till spring!
  2. Remove all food stuffs, spices and anything remotely food like from the rig.  Anything that could even remotely explode with freezing temps, or whose scent might be attractive to starving varmints.
  3. Wipe down the inside of the refrigerator AND freezer area with a mild cleanser that does include either bleach or at least an antibacterial cleaning solution to ensure you have a squeaky clean fridge.  Use some sort of block/holder to keep the doors open for the winter storage time.  Do not let them close! Pool noodles work well.  We already had one of the hard plastic ones from Camping World so use that.  I actually think the pool noodles are better, that hard plastic thing is easy to knock out by accident!
  4. Strip beds, clean all bed linens and place all sheets and blankets from beds into scented (we use Febreeze scented lavender) draw string kitchen trash bags and label if needed.
  5. Lift bed mattresses and dinette seat cushions up on their side to allow air flow in and around them thereby reducing chances of any mold and also critters getting more room to hibernate in darkness.  We store the scented bagged linens on wood part of bunks next to the mattresses.

Here is a brief video to show this part of the winter storage technique.

4.  I then take BOUNCE brand fully scented (knock off brands do not work…we have tried2018-10-21-13-53-39.jpg them!) and I place at least two in each cupboard including under sinks, in pantry area, in clothing and bath closets, around toilet area.  I also place them in and around all the mattresses, bagged linens, dinette cushions, etc.  There are varying reports of these working but I know from over 7 years of experience they have worked for us.  We also use them for decades when we are reenacting camping on our tent floor cloth and under our cots and bedding to keep insects, mosquitoes, beetles, spiders, snakes etc out of our tent…and it definitely works for that too!

 

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5.  In the bathroom closet I pay extra attention (and more Bounce sheets) because this is where some of our exterior systems/hoses are coming in to the rig.  Including where our power box is on outside and near where the sewer intakes, etc are).  Here you will see where not only have I put Bounce sheets all over the floor and shelves but I have also hung a store bought (from Vermont Country Store) Mouse deterrent herbal bag.  It says it lasts a few months.  I have not used this specific brand but it says that it is good for nearly 100 sq feet–so with this cabinet shut it will more than do this bathroom area!

We do not use any snatch & kill traps because the whole idea is that we do not want them even coming in…(I do not want a rotting dead mouse inside over 5 months!)  We DO have some of those black box traps for mice and rats on the cement floor in the garage with poison in them.  We have seen evidence of some nibbles eating the poison but no dead carcasses in the traps themselves- I guess word has spread that our “restaurant” serves bad food!  LOL

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6.  Lastly, a few other places on the outside to  put Bounce sheets.  We put a few in ALL of our exterior storage bins and also most definitely in our exterior sewer area, power box and also hot water heater compartment area.  Again, these are all areas where there is a potential for a varmint to shimmy through even the smallest of openings-they only need the size of a penny or dime to get through!

Last but not least, give your rig a really good vacuuming and wipe down all counter tops, table tops, bath fixtures etc.  I use Clorox Cleaning Cloths.

Some questions people ask…

Do you keep your “camping wardrobe” in the closets?  We do but again, there are Bounce sheets in all closet floors and shelves.  We also store smaller clothing items in plastic snap lid bins all the time above our bunks.  I have put Bounce sheets tucked in between totes and on lids here too.

Do you keep your pots and pans, cookie sheets,  and silverware onboard in winter? Yes, and we have always done this with no problem.  Obviously in spring if we see any sign of mouse droppings or nesting, then everything will get a full sterilization in our dishwasher at home, but otherwise just a good wipe down does the trick each spring.

Do we keep toilet paper and paper towels under RV sink cabinets.  NO!  we do not.  These items provide a huge attraction to varmints looking for nesting and bedding materials.  We take those paper products home and use them up over winter in our apartment.

Do we close our blinds and curtains.  NO we do not.  In fact, those of you who may have the day/night pull down fabric type shades your manufacturer may caution you not to do keep them down all the time.  It releases the factory pleating too much. But we  keep our curtains open during winter too.  Because our garage is dark, there is also no need for us to shelter our interior cushions, and linens from sunlight by having our curtains closed.

How important is it to have your tires up on board or something and not in contact with the cold driveway or dirt?  VERY!  For the best life and safety of your tires, please drive up on at least 1-2 inch thick boards.  We actually drive our rig up on those heavy industrial rubber mats that can be purchased at Lowes or HD.  They have holes in them, which allows for ventilation but also as Kevin notes, rubber to rubber is the best of all worlds.  You can see a little of the black mat in our video clip above.  We also keep these mats down all year because they make a great way for us to know exactly where the RV rear should be when backing in the trailer after a trip.  No guess work for me!

This year we are also going to be laying some LED warm white rope lights on under our rig to keep on 24/7.  We learned from Courtney & Steve of AStreaminLife.com that they have found that by putting some sort of illumination under their rig they have been spared from any mice infestations–even when camping in boondocking fields.  So since we do pay $15 extra per month for electricity in our storage garage, we will put these low voltage rope lights on.  We just purchased two spools in the lighting section of Lowes today (better quality than Xmas section). These are the kind and quality that store owners may purchase to go around their display windows, etc.  They were $38 for a 48 foot length.  We bought two so we can go just inside both wheels and full length and width of the rig with  no problem. We will use them on extended camping stays with power too.  For boondocking we will get four solar spot lights (tip from Steve and Courtney too!) so we still will have lights to ward off critters.  You do not want critters in your rig…ever!  Especially when it becomes your full time home.  See some yucky videos from both AStreaminLife and from LoLoHo bloggers on their issues with mice in their Airstreams. No fun!

That’s all we have time to share for now.  We will stop in and visit the Pewter Palace a few times over the winter months to check on her.

Safe Travels—–One Life….LIVE IT!

Kevin and Luisa Sherman

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Some of Our Favorite & Inspirational Bloggers/Vloggers for the RV Life

Over the last 9-10 years, Kevin and I have put considerable time into researching, planning and beginning to execute a thoughtful plan towards our goal of “going full time” RVing.  In this blog post we tell you about four of our most favorite RV bloggers/vloggers and include a little about them and links to their blogs and YouTube channels.  They are entertaining, inspirational, educational and oh yeah…..travel to amazing destinations!

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This is not our rig, but very similar to our first RV a 1998 Itasca Sunrise, 32′ Class A.  No slides, under powered, but wetted our appetite for more!

Originally and shortly after we sold our Class A 32′ motor home back in 2012 we realized then–after she was not in our driveway, how much we missed life on the road.  Albeit at that time, and it continues, we only get to do long weekends and the occasional big trip of a week or two around the eastern half of the USA but—each time we do we are more and more convinced this is the right path for us.    We also know it is not for everyone.

Along our journey we have found some truly inspirational friends in bloggers/vloggers who have chronicled their similar journeys from the decision to forego the traditional and head into the non-conventional life of making a rolling home….your only home.  We also have learned there are many variances in between this.  Some people live a portion of their year on their RV while returning to their sticks N bricks for the rest of the time.  More times than not, these are snowbirds who fly south in the winter RV in tow (or behind the wheel) and spend a warm and sunny February in FL, AZ or TX.

imagesThere are others who “escape” the brutal hot sizzling summers of those same places for their “camp in the northern woods, cottage on a New Hampshire lake or the beach family compound on Cape Cod or the rugged shores of Maine.  For many and varied reasons they prefer (or cannot quite imagine not having) a structure to call home base.

For us….that decision was easily made.  We did not want to be tied to the maintenance of our rolling home AND the maintenance, cost and distance filled with concerns about the safety, etc. of a northern sticks N bricks home base.  We would rather have what we own on our back so to speak and know that where ever we wanted to be…we would be and that could change from year to year, season to season depending on where the wind and whims blew us.  I personally have owned one home or another since 1982 and I am more than ready to not have that responsibility.  We simply do not want to deal with frozen pipes, switching out storm windows or raking leaves in our retirement years.  Been there….done that….done!

So we watched, learned, read, and chatted with many who have made similar decisions such as ours to “go full time”.  This is not a decision we have made on a whim.  But don’t be fooled, we have some family and friends who think we are nuts….and others-like my adult children….who are totally supportive and know we will succeed.

After being “RV-less” for about three years the itch became unbearable.  We started falling for Airstreams but did not want to do a total restore and ones in road worthy, camping shape were out of our price range.  Quite by accident we stumbled upon Avions.  Their iconic aluminum, rounded exteriors, quality interior and exterior build and their reputation for excellent tow-ability had us sold.  It took us another two years to find one we wanted….and although we had anticipated having to fly across the country to buy one, we found one on Craig’s List right in VT not more than 15 minutes from my daughter and son-in-law’s house!

IMG_1507168528568We purchased our 1973 Avion, 28′ LaGrande in September, 2016 (some Birthday gift for me eh??!!) and we have never have looked back.  Each month we grow more and more fond of her.  We sold our house in Oct. 2017 and moved into a townhouse apartment all under the methodical plan of incrementally doing our downsizing exercises in prep for full time RV life when we retire.

Below are a few of our very favorite bloggers/vloggers and for various reasons we have noted underneath each one.  Along the way we have internalized and put into practice some of their suggestions and methods, and in other cases it forced us to have heart to hearts with each other to realize….yeah, that may have worked for them…but we will be more comfortable doing it “our way”.  Watching literally hundreds of hours of YouTube videos (we subscribe to most of our fav’s so we don’t miss an episode) to reading countless articles and books on the topic….we have grown in our understanding of what life is like on the road…and what we as a couple expect from the journey, each other and life in general.  It has been a good way to learn…together to prepare for this next chapter.

Here are our favorite bloggers/vloggers.  They are not in any particular order because each offers us different windows on life on the road that are equally important in our planning phases.  You will notice a bit of a pattern here where 3 of our 4 fav’s are also Airstream owners.  Similar enough to our Avion…we all love round aluminum corners!  LOL

courtneyAndI-1A Streamin’ Life:  Steve and Courtney.  Now mid- 30-somethings who figured out a way to retire early (31 & 34) and we have followed since their decision to sell their two houses  a couple years ago (had recently married), sell their stuff, purchase an Airstream (an older one, 30′) and hit the road full time.  Both were still working the first year in their Airstream, living stationery in an RV park in Tucson, AZ while preparing their rig (and themselves) for hitting the road full time.  They are level headed, practical and very good money savers and managers.  Their blog is full of helpful videos on managing trip expenses, planning big trips and week long trips, downsizing to what is really needed and what is not.  They travel with their two dogs which also has given us tips on travel with our dog, Reddy as well.  Courtney and Steve are a terrific resource for how to determine your financial needs to go full time, save up for early retirement and more.  The recently launched a terrific online course to teach others how to plan Epic RV Adventures for more about that click here.   To check out more about Courtney & Steve and their adventures around the USA visit…..Their Blog/website     Their YouTube Channel

P1466425Less Junk, More Journey:  Marisa and Nathan.  Once again, these are “kids” as we refer to them as…basically Marisa is one year younger than my son, and Nathan is three years older than my daughter.  I am sure in some way I live vicariously through them and their journeys trying to imagine them as extended family.  Kevin and I will often refer to them as “the kids”.  Their blog has some terrific, easy to navigate pages like their FAQ that really gives you a terrific way to see their answers to many questions you may have about how they made their decision to go full time, steps they took, etc.  Their young daughter, Hensley is a year younger than our grandson Lucas and a year older than our grandson Sawyer.  She has been on the road since infancy and it is so fun to watch her explore, learn and travel with her fabulous, down to earth parents. Watching where they go, how Hensley enjoys it and some of their methods for keeping sanity on the road with a toddler has given us great ideas for when our grandsons are with us in our RV (it is our hope and plan that they will do more and more of it as we have more time to travel) Their Blog      Their YouTube Channel.

loloho rigLong, Long Honeymoon Kristy & Sean.  Also known as “Lo Lo Ho“.  What started out as a honeymoon on an RV has progressed into well over a decade of extended travels from this wonderful couple.  For over 12 years, Kristy and Sean have made dozens of highly informational videos on everything from backing into a campsite, to dissertations on generators,hitch locks, and many more pieces of equipment, etc. to their epic journey across Alaska (actually our other two bloggers have just done the Alaska trip now too in the last year!)  Last year, Sean was diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor but with proper medical intervention and a bit of a slowing down of some of their multiple month trips he is fully on the mend with no tumor reported at his recent medical check up.  Wow! miracles do happen!  This couple maintains a bricks N sticks home and plans big trips each year to various parts of the USA from the Keys to Maine, from Seattle to Atlanta and everywhere in between.  Their video titles are well organized and were especially helpful when we first started RVing….they have some great tutorials to keep you out of trouble!  Their sense of humor and little bit of Laurel & Hardy type of format is so fun.  Sean’s writing style and sense of humor is unbeatable and Kristy is the perfect foil!  Their Blog    Their YouTube Channel

cherie and chris, technomadiaTechnoMadia:  Cherie and Chris.  These were one of the very first full time RV couples we found and began following. They are wanderlust spirits who travel the country in their upgraded retro vintage bus (yes, converted from a passenger tour bus).  Their specialty is their amazing knowledge of tech tools, internet on the road gear, trouble shooting electronics and over the years they have tested, reviewed and scoped out many pieces of internet and mobile gear that full timers may need or want.  A little over a year ago, Cherie and Chris decided to park their RV bus part of the year and bought a large trawler style yacht which they plan to do the “great loop” the Inter coastal Waterway around the eastern/central USA in sections over the next five years or so.  They are typically based in the FL area but also do presentations and speaking engagements at many large national rallies so they also travel all over.  They could be considered more of the senior statesman when it comes to full time life on the road, having done so for well over 15 years now.  They travel with Kiki their cat who is a star all on her own.  Their Blog   Their YouTube Channel

Summing it all up…..

We appreciate the time and talent that each of these bloggers/vloggers bring to the world of full time RV living or mega traveling.  Each of them share a candid snapshot all the time into their lives, their ups and downs, their triumphs and tribulations.  We have learned so much and not to seem like we are bragging but we sense we are far more informed that many other would be, soon to be, or already are..full time wanderers.  We owe this all to these folks and the many others who we watch from time to time on their blogs. We follow or at least check in with about a dozen RV couples and singles who focus on various subjects.   We simply wanted to highlight the top four that we follow…otherwise this blog post would be longer than it already is!! LOL

Thanks for tuning in.  Please visit our friends above. and PLEASE……Let them know that Kevin and Luisa Sherman from “The Pewter Palace.com” turned you on to them!

Safe travels and please subscribe to our blog so you don’t miss a another post!

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Luisa and Kevin Sherman- ThePewterPalace.com

Campground Review: Village at Turning Stone RV Park, Verona NY

October 2018– We have just come back from a five-night stay at the Villages at Turning Stone RV campground which is owned by the Oneida Indian Nation who operate the Turning Stone Casino and Event Center complex a half mile down the road. I have a nice short video further down in this blog post that will give you a great idea of what the individual sites look like!

I have posted a very comprehensive review on one of our favorite campground review sites of which I am a member–CAMPENDIUM.COM. You do not need to be a member to check out reviews…only to post them!

Here is the link for my review of the Villages at Turning Stone RV Campground.

I have gone to Turning Stone each fall for the last three years for a convention for work and I have to say this was by far the most enjoyable stay yet! I loved being able to cozy up in my bathrobe by the open campfire at night after being in windowless conference rooms all day! Plus it saved a boat load of $$.

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BEST fire ring ever!!

The RV park is very affordable (our rate, $39.95 including taxes with Good Sam discount) at this time of year. This was for a full hook up paved site overlooking one of their small ponds with tons of room and privacy. Cable TV and very decent internet service.

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PLUS BONUS!! they offer their campers access to their 24/7 shuttle service to get you back and forth to the casino/hotel/convention center complex. More about this in my Campendium review (see link at end of post). So you can gamble (if you like that, sorry but we do not) and go to their restaurants (The Tin Rooster BBQ Restaurant -below photo-has a full size vintage Airstream International inside fitted up with lounge seats for drinks and snacks you can sit in!),

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live shows, cafes, bars/nite clubs etc and never have to drive no matter what time of day or night. They make it easy with a phone call or via the main valet at the casino. They picked me up right at the end of our loop driveway every morning to go to my sessions.

There is not a lot else to do in the immediate area. Rome has good history, Fort Stanwix National Historical Park is there with large recreated fort and wonderful visitor center. Rome also has movie theaters, live theater, restaurants, shopping, etc. and is less than 20 minutes away by car.

We stayed in Loop 100 (1) and site 121 which was awesome, wide and private and backed up to the boat pond area.

Here is a video shot from our campsite.

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Please check out my full review on Campendium so you can also see photos of the bath houses, showers, common buildings, and more. We definitely will be back to this RV park in the future. Oh…by the way, visit my review to hear about the train!

Happy travels from Kevin and Luisa in the Pewter Palace!

One Life….Live it!

Adventures with a Vintage 1973 Avion Luxury Coach Camper