AVION Trailer- New Black Tank Installation, 2022-Tips, Sources and more!

OLD on the left….NEW from Pelland Enterprises on the right

A little background to this story.…..In the summer of 2021 our original black tank had a major failure- sadly solely by human error. We had inadvertently threw “on” the tank warmer fuse during our MORryde install. The PO had not installed a heat override- so if you install tank warmers please also install that auto sensor override. The tank was empty and ended up frying itself and tearing substantial cracks in several areas of the bottom. Hard lesson learned. We thought we had solved the problem when we found a highly rated RV repair shop about an hour from us who specialized in plastic welding, repairing all sorts of “plastic issues” with RVs. He looked at the tank and felt sure he could repair it. We had been told by many that it was near impossible to find tank replacements, some had tried their own repairs to no avail and we even contemplated going with a composting toilet instead (in the end…nope not for us!) So…. 3-weeks and $600+ later, the multi-layer repair looked and worked awesomely. We were all set!! Needless to say removing a black tank and replacing a black tank is not for the fainthearted. We are eternally grateful we have a nice concrete floored garage to work in and higher ground clearance thanks to our MORryde Independent Suspension system install. We did successful camping trips in August and September- all systems were GO! The black tank was working just fine! For more about our original project click here.

FAST FORWARD TO JULY 2022

At the very last official stop on our 5-week RV trip through 7 states in June/July of 2022 we were at our last campground, Campfire Lodgings outside of Ashville, NC and atop a huge mountain! Lo and behold, we saw a slow leak coming out onto the beautiful concrete slab RV pad. We had a 3 day stay here so we quickly hooked up our sewer hose and kept the bayonet valve open (we normally never do this!) so that any liquids would go out to the sewer rather than drip. That did a pretty good job but we also used the campground bathrooms during the day and as much as possible (we were in bear country so I was not going to go out to walk to the bath house for my nature call at 2 AM!). We allowed the tank to dry out and the leaking stopped. TIP: In a pinch we turned off the water feed to our toilet and lined our toilet with boondocking camp toilet liner bags and improvised for the 2 day drive home when needed. These are easy enough to dispose of at rest area dumpsters.

The good, the bad…and the downright ugly!

Once back to our home RV storage barn garage we took to task removing the old (repaired) tank. These tanks come out a lot easier than they go in. We have found the toughest part is getting the discharge piping lined up and the bayonet valves in place. Those valves are actually the toughest to do- you need five pairs of hands and only have room for 1 pair in that outside compartment.

Steps to remove your black tank:

In our 1987, 32S we have a mid-bath. This means that our black tank is also under the area where our REAR Stabilizers are. These must be removed first.

PREP: Before beginning this project, if your tank has been used somewhat recently and may not be completely dried out we recommend using a Camco toilet and tank washing wand (we actually do this routinely at least 2-3 times per year when RVing part time. We will do it more frequently once we go full time). by hooking up a garden hose (not your fresh water hose) and using this pressure washing system through your toilet by holding the foot pedal down. They also make some that have a sink attachment end on a short hose. Extend the wand end down right into the tank and rotate it around all sides of the tank as much as possible. Hook up your sewer hose to drain out tank. We did this multiple times ensuring we had removed as much as we could.

  • Remove the belly pans underneath your black tank area. *TIP: be sure to label each of them on the underside first so you can easily see how they go back in. Sometimes you feel like you are working with a jigsaw puzzle.
  • Remove any insulation (ours has sheets of foam insulation bats all over the length of the trailer put in by a PO.)
  • Disconnect sewerage discharge pipe at the black tank opening. Keep rest of discharge piping from the elbow and as it goes through to the bayonet valve in the wet bay area.
  • Disconnect the vent stack connection (our 32S it is in the corner of the cabinet near the furnace)
  • Disconnect toilet and remove bolts and flange (should screw off with some force used)
  • once all pipes have been disconnected….
  • Unbolt the steel “L” channel that runs along the rear side of the black tank and holds it snugly to the front brace.
  • Remove tank slowly maneuvering it out of its location pulling down.

SOURCE FOR NEW BLACK TANKS: We were very fortunate that we were given a great tip from Chuck Cayo (recognized as a national guru on all things Avion. His family started the Avion Corp back in the day). Chuck suggested we call Pelland Enterprises. Their website is quite extensive and we were able to find the perfect replacement for our needs. The new tank is slightly smaller (shorter in length) than our original so holds perhaps a couple gallons less but the other dimensions were perfect including the location of the main discharge hole and width and height that would fit into our original location. If you have a 32S feel free to contact us for our exact model we ordered. Different trailer models and lengths will have different size needs.

https://www.pellandent.com/RV-Holding-Tanks

Here is a diagram we made to show Pelland Enterprises exactly where we needed them to spin weld in (best way to do) the opening for our vent stack and for our toilet opening. They will do this step but be sure your measurements are clear and exact because all tanks are not returnable! We uploaded tons of photos and these drawings to them via email. Also note, it takes approximately a minimum of 6-8 weeks for delivery.

These are the waste level sensors on our old tank. If you want, Pelland will also spin weld in new connections on a new tank too. Again, make sure your diagrams are precise with measurements. BTW…we never trust the sensors! In the black tank, since it can be seen when opening/flushing the toilet we monitor the black tank levels by eye.

Once we received our new black tank, it was time for installation. Basically we reinstalled going in the reverse of our above steps.  Thankfully we were able to do the pipe hook ups relatively easy this time.  Once the pipes were reinstalled, we tested the tank and the connections by filling the tank with water thru the toilet pipe opening in the bathroom floor.  Kevin opened the bayonet valve to discharge the black tank and we watched for any signs of leaks.  All went super well.  Ditto for the grey tank with similar testing to ensure no leaks in the reconnected pipes and the bayonet valves.

At the instruction from Chuck Cayo we went ahead and once again installed a marine plywood board (coated several times with a marine epoxy resin “West System*” on all sides and edges) and positioned it in place covering the entire tank bottom, and extending about a 1 inch on the rear edge.  This board we strapped in with metal L brackets held in place to the frame pieces with self riveting screws. We have the some of these products we used listed on our Amazon Favorites list on our Resources & Links page on our website.  TIP:  Per Mr. Cayo and our own experience, it is VERY IMPORTANT to put a large board under all of your tanks to support them.  Only metal strapping is not enough-even if you never travel with stuff in your tanks.

Once the pipes were all reinstalled we purchased 2″ R-10 Styrofoam insulation boards (pink) at Home Depot and cut them precisely to fit around the tank and rest of underbelly area.  See photos below.

BUTTONING UP THE BELLY PAN:  Once all of the layers of insulation were put in place, Kevin re-screwed in (stainless self taping screws and in some places, rivets) the belly pan sections.  We have actually created a drawing showing how ours goes together including which panel goes under a neighboring one when installing.  The copper gas line was installed back in place outside the belly pan area with some rubber lined clamps screwed into the aluminum pan sheets.  Reminder, the gas line, by law must always be on the outside!

WET BAY FINISHING UP TIPS: Then we applied a spray in sealant foam (pest retardant type) around the openings where the grey and discharge black tank pipes come through the wet bay wall aluminum.  This helps to keep rodents from accessing into the belly pan area. TIP: Be sure NOT to get this anywhere near the bayonet valve areas themselves.  Also, while in this area, Kevin applied lubricant to the steal rods in the bayonet valves themselves.  The best lubricant to use here is dry silicone spray and prime the rod pushing the handle in and out several times.

TOILET REINSTALL:  once all the underbelly work was done we reinstalled the toilet.  This was also a great time to do a deep clean of the toilet’s main discharge shoot from the bottom up to the under side of the ball valve (the thing that opens and shuts during flushing).  Not a fun job but good to do when the toilet is uninstalled and then applying dry silicone gel around the toilet ball valve and replace all gaskets and seals. We also took many photos of the manufacturers labels and ordered back up parts while they are still available and we will have them on the road should a failure of some part happen. All were found on Amazon. Our toilet is Thetford Aqua Magic Plus II, porcelain bowl. The “plastic skirt” that wraps around the base is not shown in this photo

WHILE WE WERE AT IT WE ADDED A NEW FEATURE!: Since the toilet was off we also took advantage and ordered the spray hose with handle accessory and installed that before reinstalling the toilet itself. TIP– on our previous post and videos about our replumbing with PE piping we showed how we installed a shut off valve on the toilet water intake hose just to the left of the toilet base. This made removal of the toilet or any work needing to be done to it far easier than having to turn off all your water in the rig.

We hope this article may help you with some tips, or if you ever need to replace YOUR black tank. We sincerely hope that day will never come though!

If you found this article helpful please drop us a comment!

Be well and safe journeys! Kevin & Luise

5 “Living Small”- Organization Tips & Products

Whether you are living full time in your RV or doing just vacation travels at this point, one thing remains a constant. How to keep organized, how to fit “what you need” into a small space, how to maintain the organization you do set up.

Notice I said “what you need” NOT what you “want”. It is a hard pill to swallow- especially for those of us who have surrounded ourselves with tons of mementoes, family heirlooms, and “things” that seem to make us feel whole, cozy and satisfied in our sticks n’ bricks abodes.

My mind has been slowly but surely turning itself into preparing for that “full time mode” earnestly for at least the last 2 years. I think my grown children are still in shock that I could go from a 3000 sq ft home ( + huge storage barn) chocked with antiques, clutter and an overabundance of stuff collected for over 40 yrs of my adult life- to having all our stuff currently in a 1 bedroom 725 sq. ft. apartment!

I can credit the Marie Kondo and her KonMari method of dealing with tidying for increasing my mindfulness of living simply and with what you need rather than what you think you need/want. It becomes easier and easier to get rid of our “stuff” so it can bring pleasure, usefulness and joy to a new owner and move us ever closer to our ultimate goal of only owning what we can carry on our 8 wheels (trailer + truck) .

Am I there yet? Oh no, to be sure–when I just look around our tiny downsized apartment. We still have too much but at least right now, most of it is organized and up for sale online, or in totes marked “donate”. I try to donate a bag of clothes and/or a carton of items each week.

SO LET’S GET INTO SOME BASICS!

Some key basics of downsizing and living small that I have gathered over the past few years from fellow RVers, research and just plain living are these:

(1) Everything has a place to be stored and MUST be returned to that place immediately after use. Translation-—No more piles to be put away later– and everyone in the household must buy into this behavior!

TIP! Below is what I have done to ensure that each of us put back items used back to where they “live” for future use. Labels have especially helped remind us both what goes where! I use easy to remove green painters tape on these fabric bins (with metal frames to with hold their shape well-from Bed Bath & Beyond) this way if contents or uses change, I can easily replace with new tape labels and the painters tape does not leave any residual stickiness (at least not yet!).

(2) When at all possible items- especially in the kitchen and closet should have at LEAST 2 purposes/uses. Translation—- be creative, learn to do without to find ways to repurpose what you have rather than be lulled into marketing ploys to buy the next new gadget for your kitchen. You do not need half of the kitchen gadgets that Camping World tries to tell you that you do!

Some examples:

  • Rubbermaid waffle style shelf liner 6″ squares make great pads between dishes to prevent rattling BUT they also make great jar opening grips!
  • Our foldable, lidded storage ottoman’s are perfect shoes while the other holds my patio solar lights, picnic table cloth and string lights that we use each time we set camp. They are right by the door for easy access but also double as extra seating inside or outside (can hold up to 250# each) and pulled over to the sofa make great footrests or to hold a tray of snacks during happy hours indoors! Hey, great– that is at least 3 uses! Amazon link to see the ones we have. We have the charcoal grey.

A roll up dish draining rack makes a perfect extra countertop space during meal prep or plate set up. This is truly one of the best pieces of equipment we have bought in the past 8 years of RVing. I use it at least 2-3 times per DAY!

(3) Size Matters! Be aware of the sheer size of some items. Will they fit into your RV cabinets or drawers? Things might fit fine into a sticks n’ bricks kitchen cabinet or closets- but RV cabinets and closets are much smaller, often have curved back walls (like our Avions!) Translation—-Look for things that collapse, things that can nest into each other, smaller versions of household items, things are that a lower height on one end so they conform to the curve of your roof- magazine storage bins are a great example of these-just flip them around so the short side is towards your outside roof wall in those upper cabinets!

TIP: Here is a link to a great set of collapsible food storage containers that I use. I use them also as bowls per say to whip up things like tunafish, egg salad, etc. too! IMPORTANT NOTE: Square and rectangular storage containers fit far better ( than round bowls) and efficiently in refrigerator shelfs and storage cupboards!

(4) A Great Storage Idea for your Bathroom! Perhaps one of the hardest area of our Avion to store stuff in has been our bathroom. It is a side bath and therefore narrow and without the storage closet and cabinets we had in our rear-bath ’73 Avion. Our undersink cabinet has a lot of plumbing challenges, the shelve heights cannot handle normal sied bottles of shampoo, mouthwash, etc. and the vanity to the right where the hamper once had been also presents its challenges and certainly does not make items easy to get to (I store reserves of T-paper, paper towels and shopping bags when lifting up the hamper lid on the counter)

Recently, I happened upon a collapsible mesh toy storage hanging system at my local dollar store. It seemed the perfect thing to hang from our clothing rod in our shower to keep everyday toiletries, shampoos, etc. handy and in easy reach. After using it now on a 2 week trip–it has been great! Here is an amazon link to similar to what I purchased (for $3 at my dollar store!) Mine has all three openings on the same side so check out your own local dollar stores first!

Lastly…..

(5) Become more mindful of what you use every time you go camping….AND even more importantly what you don’t! Translation—-start a bag or box of items you find you are not using—and during each camping trip put at least a few things in there to put out at your site with a FREE marked on the carton, or donate them to a local charity. Obviously the same goes for clothing- layering is the name of the game!

Hope this little article has given you some helpful tips and inspiration! Below–I have put many of our regularly used items into a helpful shared list I created on Amazon several years ago. The link is below to find that list! (note, this is not a sponsored store, we do not get any residual from any purchases you make- its there to purely be helpful!)

CLICK THIS LINK TO OUR RESOURCES PAGE, THEN SCROLL DOWN JUST A LITTLE TO FIND OUR Amazon LIST LINK!

Happy and Safe Travels!

Luise

Trick’in our Truck – for Safety, Comfort & Towing our Avion Travel Trailer

Lets face it, you can have a great route planned, your RV all geared up, food stocked, LP topped off,  campground reservations made BUT

BUT!!!! if your ride is uncomfortable, unsafe or not helping you with towing along the way—the TRIP CAN BE UNCOMFORTABLE, UNSAFE AND COULD END IN DISASTER for you, your truck and your beloved RV!

We purchased our 2011 GMC 2500 HD Denali Crew Cap truck in 2018.  It had just under 28K miles and in super condition.   It is a 4×4, 6 Liter gas engine with a 6-speed transmission and a 4.10 rear axle.   Here is a promo video of it when it was being sold by the dealership we bought it from.  It was a search on CARFAX that finally landed us our “Merlin”– so nicknamed because it was magical how our “must have list” of truck features was finally found….albeit in New Jersey!  So after calling them and putting down a small refundable “on hold” deposit with a CC, we made an overnight trip to NJ from our home in upstate NY traveling 5.5 hours to arrive as soon as the dealership had opened that morning.

OVERVIEW OF UPGRADES & SYSTEMS WE HAVE IMPLEMENTED SINCE PURCHASE:(Below this list we go into each upgrade in more detail with photos, etc.)

  1. Installed Sumo Springs Front & Rear Bump Stops,  Bilstien Shocks and SuperSprings Low Leveling Metal Springs on the rear to assist with suspension and overall handling.
  2. Installed ROCKSTAR Rear Mud Flap System to prevent rock chipping of trailer
  3. Installed DECKED Storage System in Truck Bed to increase storage capacity
  4. Installed Front Grill Guard to prevent excessive damage to grill and engine in case of accident or wildlife damage (affectionately called our “Moose Guard”- we live in the Adirondacks!)
  5. Installed Class 2 Hitch Receiver to hold spare tire or front storage flat rack on the front
  6. Installed WEATHERTECH Interior Mats to maintain carpet
  7. Installed Window Film in Cap to provide privacy and security of stored items or if using for overnight sleeping
  8. Purchased and use the TST brand, 507 model TPMS (Tire Pressure Monitoring System)
  9. Purchased and use the GARMIN RV specific GPS system
  10. Removed our back seat, covered back panel still utilizing the seat hooks and use bungy straps to secure items we use at every camp set up (other than boondock 1 nighters at Walmart, etc.)

Still to be done before we go full time in Spring/Summer 2023:  Installing a Meckman 400 AMP Alternator (to recharge our Lithium Ion Battleborn Battery system as we are driving)

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LET’S GET INTO THE “WEEDS” OF THE DETAILS!  we have included “where to buy” links where possible.  Feel free to reach out to us with any questions you have on any of the information we have in this post!

  1.  SUMO SPRINGS, BILSTIEN SHOCKS & SUPERSPRINGS INSTALL TO SUSPENSION:

Why?  We improved the ride and alleviated any “squatting” of our truck by adding additional suspension aids.

What? The old/original bump stops were old and very rough.  Sumu springs have a dampening cushioning effect which takes the rough ride out of the vehicle because they are open foam and they engage softly and become firmer with weight- hence a better ride when your truck is heavy and towing a heavy trailer.  We installed them front and rear.  We then added the SuperSprings to the rear.  They mount to the leaf springs on the back of the truck. These add support and weight carrying capacity to the leaf springs.  This helps alleviate the “squat” to the truck when hooking up our Avion travel trailer.  Use the link above to view the product and see a company video about these Supersprings and their application and purpose.

2.  ROCKSTAR MUD FLAP INSTALLATION:

Why?  After taking a long trip from our home in eastern upstate NY to MI we found a plethora of super small rock chips in the front of the 73 Avion we owned then.  They happened literally the last 15 minutes of the trip.  We had to go through a road construction zone where the crew was milling up the road- we were going less than 15 mph when it happened!  Now with these mud flaps we get far less mud, grime, and rock chips on our precious Avion (we now own an ’87 and use a Hensley hitch which is different than the GenY hitch in photos shown)

What? We got lucky that our local auto detailer (who had rehabbed our Avion rock guard and spare tire cover) had this ROCKSTAR mud flap system for sale in his shop- so no shipping fees!  He was ready to retire it from the showroom since it was a few years old.  We got it for less than half the going price for the same guard system.  This is the full bumper type that is installed, not just flaps screwed on.  The system CAN be completely slid off and removed if desired but it is very heavy and awkward for one person to do.  We have it installed by sliding  it over our 2.5″ hitch receiver which a 2″ hitch insert in it-the guard is fastened to that insert and locks in place.   Besides…we think it looks pretty jazzy!

Considering installing mud flaps?  Please read our more in depth article that covers installation tips, etc. Read more….

Link to Amazon listing– very similar to ours

3. DECKED TRUCK BED STORAGE SYSTEM WITH DRAWERS:

We cannot say enough about this system.  Yes, it is pricey, and we also paid to have it installed professionally by our local auto detailer.  But we have found over and over again it is a lifesaver.  It has actually increased our bed storage capacity since it covers over the wheel wells making a flat surface area to allow for more large storage totes.  It’s flat surface can now even fit a double sized air mattress easily to do overnight sleeping in the truck bed very easily and comfortably- + added bonus, you are not laying on metal truck bed.  The 2 full slide out drawers serve as awesome, double LARGE tool boxes-easy to pull out and access everything easily and within sight.  Kevin recently purchased some of the DECKED tool boxes that are made to fit inside, this is an option but not necessary.  Previously, he used other canvas tool bags, tool cases, etc. before this just fine. These drawers negates the need to have multiple tool kits packed in the truck cab or loosely flying around the storage with other RV gear. Your tools are all in one place and always quickly available-which for us is key!

Another plus of this system for security purposes, is that anyone looking into your truck bed through the windows will only see a floor.  They will not see any tools (which tend to be eye candy for many).  You really cannot tell that there is a DECKED system installed since the tailgate covers the drawers completely.  There are also two small, easy access storage compartments on either side end of the floor top.  We keep bungies, flares and other safety equipment in them for easy access.

Hey…it even has a built in bottle cap opener in the center!

Here is a Link to their site

4. & 5. INSTALLED FRONT GRILL “MOOSE” GUARD & HITCH RECEIVER FOR OUR SPARE TIRE:

Why? We have seen way too many front grills demolished by deer & moose hits and vehicle accidents.  We live in the NY Adirondacks afterall!  We also know that our full time RV life will include many areas where there are very large moose, caribou, deer, bison, etc. as well as crazy drivers. 

What? In order to better protect our truck’s major asset—its engine and grill–we installed this beefy grill guard 3 years ago. We did have to remove the factory tow hooks off the front to do the install, but the grill guard has built in hooks on its beefy frame.  Because the guard was heavy enough steel, we had a local welder install a hitch receiver on the front so we can now put our spare tire mount on the front.  We will carry our bikes on back of the Avion.  We actually have found the weight added by the grill guard and the spare tire has helped to equalize our our truck’s weight distribution especially when hooked up to the Avion and its tongue weight. 

Bonus!  This front grill guard also makes a dandy beach towel drying rack!

Here is a link to one we found that is very similar to ours on Amazon

6.  Installed WEATHERTECH interior mats 

Why? Let’s face it, as RVers we spend a lot of time in our vehicles in all sorts of weather, juggling all sorts of drinks, snacks and foodstuffs while plying the highways and byways of our country.

What? Our local auto detailer loves us!  We purchased these from them as well after carefully reviewing a whole lot of online sources and reviews.   These mats are molded and custom fitted to this model year-they fit perfect, do not slide around and are so easy to remove to hose off.  They protect our carpet from dirt, grime, stains, mud, snow, ice, etc.  Once we go full time in Spring 2023 this truck will be our home, this will be our everyday, only vehicle.  We want to do the best we can to maintain its condition and cleanliness.

Here is link to WeatherTech

7.  INSTALLED WINDOW FILM ON SOME BED CAP WINDOWS:

We installed this film early on after purchasing our truck.  We used household window privacy film purchased at Lowes.  It was very easy to use and install.  We have found that since the side slide windows have built in screens- we have not been able to install it there as the screening is unable to be removed easily.  We thought this was going to be an issue  however, now that we have put in our big black totes (with yellow tops from Lowes/Home Depot) they essentially block any views in from these side windows.   What you see is black tote side- so hence not really an issue anymore.  To date we have only covered the two odd sized large side windows in film for privacy when/if we sleep in the bed overnight or to provide some security of goods we have in the back.  We have NOT covered the back window yet because we still keep some totes out of the bed and can use the rear view mirror in cab to view rear when not hitched up.  Once we go full time and the back truck bed is fully loaded we may also install a limo film over all the windows. 

Link to Lowes- the actual film we used.  There are many other great design options available. Just be aware some are more transparent than others which may not give you the privacy you may want. 

Note- even though this is sold as household window film we have had excellent results using it in our truck bed cap.  It has held up well, no fading, peeling or failure due to swings in weather temperatures, etc.

8. TST Brand, Model 507- TIRE PRESSURE MONITORING SYSTEM

Another key safety factor (has saved our butts twice in just the last 2 yrs) is getting a Tire Pressure Monitoring System.  We have installed the monitors on BOTH our Truck AND our Avion Travel Trailer.  Some only install on their trailer.  In our opinion that is insufficient, as evidence by,  on a trip out to Indiana from upstate NY we got a signal our rear passenger side truck tire was losing air.  As it turns out, the valve stem had gone bad.  It was 9 PM at night and luckily we were on an interstate highway that had a large truck stop and the shop is open essentially 24/7 to assist truckers.  We limped in before our tire became too flat to travel-thanks to the TPMS warning!  It was fixed in less than 15 minutes and we were on our way.

Here is a great vendor (TechnoRV)  that we have purchased other equipment from. The link below is a current model, similar to what we have but with some improved features:

LINK to TST Tire Pressure Monitoring System 

Note- When we purchase new tires (we do at least every 5 yrs regardless of miles or condition) we will then order a new, current model TPMS system and we will be purchasing the type of sensors that are “internal sensors” that are mounted inside the rims, then the new tires are mounted and balanced-making the sensors less susceptible to weather conditions, with more longevity and less maintenance.

VERY IMPORTANT NOTE: If you purchase the type of sensors that mount on the tire valve stems–Due to the extra weight that the actual screw on monitors make onto valve stems it is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED that you switch out stock valve stems(rubber/plastic which even over time crack and degrade due to weather, sun, salt, etc.) with metal valve stems.  It is not a big deal but will greatly enhance the longevity of the system all around.

Presently, we remove our sensors after every camping season and store in our house since we store our trailer over the winter months.  We replace with new batteries in each sensor at least every other year to ensure they are fresh and sufficiently charged.  The monitor sensors come with a little locking clip that is used when they are put on and removed- this prevents theft for the most part.  Our system is about 4 years old now and we may replace with a newer bluetooth wireless type before going full time- but ours is working fine.  We have run the wire cable in the cab of our truck and Kevin prefers to keep it on his side of the dash when driving- I am responsible for the GPS and monitoring road grades, etc.  on my side of the dash. 

*You can also opt to have the sensors actually installed inside your tires if preferred.  Currently, we like having the option to take them off in winter months when trailer is not in use for right now but may do the internal application once we go full time.  Afterall, you should be replacing your tires every 5 years anyway.

9.  GARMIN GPS SYSTEM ( OR OTHER GPS SYSTEMS)

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We happen to have a Garmin GPS RV System- there are multiple screen sizes available now . It is about 4 years old and hopefully newer models have better voice command and display features.  For our needs it works for now.  We will tell you we do not always rely solely on this system and Luise will often be running her Google Map directions on her cell phone simultaneously especially when in more urban areas where it is easier to use the search feature quickly.  Please do NOT rely solely on Google Maps when towing your RV!  An RV GPS is programable to your trailer’s height, length, weight and width and the routing will steer you onto roads  you can do.  We live in the northeast where there are lots of old bridges and tunnels with weight limits and low heights from RR overpasses, etc.  Google will send you down a virtual rabbit hole!

We have found our model of Garmin is very POOR in the audio command module.  “She” rarely understands our most basic commands by voice and it is extremely frustrating (hence using Google on cell phone instead to ask quick search functions).  This model Garmin also really in our opinion requires a passenger to use while on a trip.  There are many times where Luise will need to scroll through settings to find things we are looking for and also to toggle between showing map and the split screen of Map/Road Grade features if we are on exceptionally hilly/mountainous terrain.   Our model is one that handles truck/RV settings.  This is very important!  You must preset the parameters for your trailers height, weight, width, and length in order to have the system run best and safely for your towing needs.

*The grade feature really came in handy on our trip on the Skyline Drive and Blue Ridge Parkways through the Shenandoah Mountains in 2021.  Using the grade setting showing gives you some very good advance notice of when there will be significant climbing or downward grades allowing some preparation.  Plus its really fun to see just how high in elevation you are at any given point on your trip!

On the second photo above you will see where we are using the setting that shows a photo image of an exit ramp driving view which we really like especially when coming up on multiple lane intersections or ramps.  It gives the driver a clear vision of which lane you should plan to be in.  It is nice when this works, but not all exits have been photographed to show this feature in our experience.  When a photo is not available, a closeup of the exit ramp or intersection in graphic form will show up on that right side of screen.

Below is a good photo showing the road grade  & elevation visual on the right side of the screen.  You have the ability to spread out this graph based on how far in advance you want to see it by miles.  We have it condensed so what you are seeing is probably the next 10-15 miles (yes, we went from over 5K elevation with a peak grade of 21% grade to a low of 1700′ elevation of 3% grade with a few mountain peaks in between on the Blue Ridge Parkway!)

KIMG1954

10.  RECAPTURING SOME STORAGE IN TRUCK CAB- REMOVING REAR SEATS

Removing our back crew cab split bench seats are a bit of a consternation for us.  On one hand we would like them to transport grandkids when/if they camp with us or taking guests with us into town, etc. on a day trip. In truth, those occasions are very rare and we suspect that once we go full time, it may only happen a couple times a year. In reality, gaining some amazing storage back there that is super easily accessible on a daily basis has won out- at least for now.  We removed the split seats (may put one back in since we typically will only have one grandchild at a time camping with us).  Along the back wall of the truck cab, Kevin installed a 1/4″ sheet of luan type board sheet to encase the back but allowed the U shaped bench seat hooks (that hold the seats in place) and these are what we use to hook bungy cords to.  Stored in this space we can put items that we use a nearly every 2+ night camp.  This includes; our 2 folding recliners, 2 everyday chairs, a folding table, our large cooler and a small cooler for drinks,  a first aid and emergency roadside kit and bag of snacks for the roadtrip.  We have found it very handy to have this space available- especially if we have set up camp and/or plan to be away from camp for the day, or it starts to pour rain and we want to get our chairs and small Weber gas grill inside and under cover quickly! (Has happened many times!)  Once camp is set up and this above equipment is set outside, this space in the truck also provides a great place for us to store our Ebikes folded up safe and sound.

OHIO-Youngtown Air Reserve Base FAM Camp- Campground Review

View as you approach the base from RT 11

Campground Review:  We traveled to this FAM camp enroute to the annual Silver Avion Fellowship Rally in Elkhart, Indiana from our home state of NY in July 2022.  We had never been to the site before, reviews were full of pro’s and con’s but we had decided we wanted to experience as many FAM camps as possible on our travels.

Why FAM CAMPS? FAM camps provide added security (you must go through gate checks and have specific military clearances to get onto the bases), and they often have gas stations, commissaries and exchanges where groceries and other goods can be purchased easily and sometimes less expensively too. Cost wise, they are typically on par or a little less than area private campgrounds- but sadly they often offer far less amenities along with that lower price.

Access and the Area: We did have to venture slightly out of our normal interstate highway route to reach this campground. RT 11 was a beautifully maintained and constructed highway and a true pleasure to drive compared to I-90! As far as what is in the area…not much. We did do a day trip ride to the nearest Amish community of Mesopotamia which boasts a cute historic general store, vintage gas station still in operation, town green and huge handmade horse and buggy sculpture- but nothing else. That was about a 50 minute ride through farm country. We also went south through Youngstown to visit the Magic Tree Pub which was a great restaurant featuring an amazing on site baked huge pretzel and a variety of hearty dips. It was worth the trip!

The Base Itself:  The base itself is an Air Reserve Base, quite small and by far the smallest one we have seen.  There are NO services to speak of on base as one would expect.  No Commissary, No Exchange, NO onsite gas stations.  Just a very small quick mart of sorts that was even very limited compared to off base ones.  They did not even sell bagged ice.  There were no barber shops on base, we had to go to a local mall about 20 minutes away. 

Reservation Staff:  The gentleman running the FAM camp was certainly personable enough and did well with pre arrival communications, etc..  He was friendly and efficient. 

Base Gate:  Using main gate, there is a visitor check in building to the direct right.  Our recommendation is to pull forward into the right hand lane of the gate as if you were going through.  But stop! The visitor check in building has a very small parking lot and not good for RVs to turn around in to get back out to the gate entrance.   Our guard allowed us to park our rig there so we were not blocking the other entrance lane.  We walked through the fence gate to the right to the check in building to get our ID check and credentials printed.  Kevin’s is easy as he has his military credentials, I have to get special paper pass which must be on my person at all times and shown each time with his military pass if you come and go off the base.    All good and off we went to the campground itself AFTER checking in with the FAM Camp staff office. They will give you the base pass to be kept in your vehicle windshield as well.  Parking to get into the FAM camp office is BAD!  Thankfully we arrived when the parking lot opposite his office building was pretty empty and we were able to navigate around in it and park and get back out.  There is no shoulder to park on the road and no where by the FAM camp office building near the main gate to park either.  Read the instructions sent to you in an email about checking into the FAMcamp office.

The CAMPGROUND PRO’s: 

Rate: Our Stay was at a rate of $15 per night for FHU asphalt paved site, pull through. Super cheap for FHU.  All services worked fine, decent water pressure, no issues with power or sewer.

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Onsite Bath House:  at the end of the FAM camp as you approach the sites so not super close but easy quick walk.  Super clean, air conditioned, newer building for sure.  Showers were clean, private and well maintained. There is a small library shelf as you enter the building- what is there is what folks have left and it was very minimal.  There is a dumpster at the rear end of the campground near the metal storage building.

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Quiet & Friendly:  with the exception of one plane leaving at about 8:30 AM our last morning we heard nothing from the base airplanes, etc.  As soon as we arrived we did have two different folks come up who where walking their dogs.  They were chatty and friendly and welcomed us.  Others waved from their rigs over the course of our stay.  This camp is used by DOD civilian contractors as well as military.  Some clearly are there for long stays, one camper had a cover on it.  

The CON’s:

The campsite area itself: 

No Useable Patio: The site itself where the RV is was paved but the “patio” is nothing more than chunked up road debris rubble full of asphalt chunks (sharp), gravel and sand.  It was horrible and even with our small patio rug down I could feel the chunks of asphalt through my sandals-even after I had (by hand) thrown a lot of the larger chunks to the side.  There were some areas of grass along the site but that was not the designated patio areas.

No picnic tables, no grills or fire pits (do not think the latter are allowed anyway)

Camp host??  It appeared the first pull through site MAY have been a camp host as evidenced by permanent looking structures, on ground large heavy blow up pool, a 28+ foot boat (covered up) on their pull through drive and lots of stuff all over the grassy area and asphalt pull through.  We did not see or was greeted by a host.  We did see one fellow on a golf cart drive around 1 time during our stay but he did not stop, wave or anything.  Interestingly the rules of the campground specifically call out NOTHING is to be placed on the grass at the campsites.  Ha ha.

Lack of Privacy:  The pull through sites are close together.  The back in sites have a little more room and grass around them.  There are no trees, no bushes, no landscaping.  You are essentially camping in an open parking lot.

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No base services/amenities:  As previously mentioned above, there are no other services on the base, no commissary, no exchange, no barber, no gas, not even bagged ice. No pool, movie theater, etc. like larger bases may have.

Would we stay again?  Quite frankly, no we would not unless there was some very compelling reason we had to be directly in this area.  There are way more FAM camps that offer more-even if you pay a higher premium to camp.

Happy travels!

Kevin and Luise & The Pewter Palace

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NY-Watkins Glen State Park Campground

Campground Review- Summer 2022

During our trip to Indiana to participate in an annual Silver Avion Fellowship (SAF) rally we made plans to stay at Watkins Glen State Park Campground for 4 nights.

Our Overall Rating: Watkins Glen State Park & Campground

3 Campfires our of potential 5

FIRST A LITTLE BACKGROUND ON THIS REVIEW:

I had booked site #1 (back 6 mo ago) specifically because it was (1) in one of the two loops that have electricity at the sites and (2) from the site map it appeared that the site was at an intersection of campground roads thereby providing some ease of manuevering backing into the site.

WRONG! Although Site #1 was listed as good for trailers up to 40′ long…Mother Nature and the park has seen to have 3 trees strategically placed at the opening edges and corner of the site–making angling into the site from ANY direction virtually impossible for our 32 foot long trailer (60 ft overall with our truck)

After several valiant but unsuccessful attempts Kevin managed to back it in on the side of the site where obviously others had also parked their rig but was clearly intended to be your “yard”. We also, due to our clearance height, backed overtop of the cement fire pit in order to fit. (we use our own portable LP fire bowl anyway if we want a campfire). I decided to call the office and discuss the matter. The campground director said she was going to send down the Assistant Manager to check things out. As the dust settled, he showed up within about 10 minutes and immediately agreed there was no way we were getting our rig into this site with the trees in the way. I requested to move diagonally across the road to site #39. Mind you, #39 is NOT on the list of reservable sites, it is their unofficial/official overflow or VIP lot. He said, no problem and we easily slipped into Site 39 which is by far one of the best sites in the park, with electricity and total privacy of woods on our curbside patio side. Perfect customer service, perfect site, plenty of back in room. We were “happy campers”! Kudos to decisive actions on the part of management.

So this above is leading up to the fact, I cannot actually give you a normal review of our Site #39 since you will not even see it show up on plot maps as it is not rentable. BUT as we often do, we did do a walk around and have noted in this review sites that we feel are really nice ones and ones that if you have a long set up like us—you will or should not have too much trouble getting in and out of those sites. Enjoy!

CAMPGROUND FACILITIES: This campground sits on the top of a very steep road just off the main drag of downtown Watkins Glen. When you enter the park ($10 to enter without a camping reservation) you will see a large swimming pavillion on the right.

Campground Roadways: most are easily navigated especially those with electric sites (Cayuga and Mohawk). As you get further into the park the upper loops clearly have more tight turns, most are all used for tenting sites. There is a dump station in one of the loops which was in very good condition and easy access in and out. There are a few sites that back onto the large lawn area (group camping) on the left of the road where there is a large playground. I do not believe those open grass sites have any electricity so would be dry camping. These would be nice for families with children but they are pretty much in open sun. ALL other sites in this state park are in wooded, shady or partly shady areas. Nice for summer!

THE OLYMPIC POOL IS GORGEOUS!! This is a huge Olympic pool which was truthfully one of the most beautiful pools, sparkling clean and well maintained we have ever seen in our lives. Sadly, their hours of operation stink. 11:30 to 6:45 PM daily. Best parking if you have a large vehicle is in the lower lot before the pool building and walk up the stairs to the lawn. Snack bar is closed, you have to walk through the gender specific bath house/bathroom/shower/change rooms on either side in order to get into the pool area proper. Yes, very odd- seems very old school and strange like some Coney Island flashback. Not enough benches or chairs for everyone so you may wish to bring your own-but the pool is worth it. Great ADA steps with railing to get in, 2 legit diving boards where there is a designated lifeguard and depth of pool is 16 feet! Water temp was perfect. Lifeguards are on duty during open hours and depending on staffing some sections of the pool may be closed off. There was plenty open for our needs and we were there on a Sunday and anticipated the pool would be full- gladly the crowds were really not that bad at all. Many of the cars in the parking lot were obviously there to take the trail to the gorge trail…not for swimming! There is no charge for campers to use the pool.

CAMPGROUND BATH HOUSES:  Each campground loop has bathroom facilities.  The bath houses in the two electric loops: Cayuga and Mohawk appear newer and were in very good repair and clean.  We wish they had put the large tub sink outside like at other state campgrounds though.  It is inside and with no shelves for doing dishes, folks tend to use all of the shelving and other sinks-hogging a bit.  The handicap shower is best to use since has some hooks and fold down bench to sit, otherwise, plan to bring your own stool or bench to set your towel, toiletries and garments on.  It was a little bit of a walk from our site to the bath house.  There is a dumpster near bath house and also another behind the main entry ranger booth which was closer to our site. The bath house below was in our Cayuga Loop.

BONUS!!!! ACCESS TO THE MAIN GORGE TRAIL IS DIRECT FROM THE CAMPGROUND!  A particularly great feature of this campground is that as a camper, you have a direct trail that is marked and leads to the main public gorge trail.  You have to walk to the end of that campsite loop, go through a gate and down a steep trail to a set of steps that then takes you over one of several stone arch bridges over the gorge.  Your decision is to go up, north to the end of the trail and (1) take the North parking lot shuttle down to the bottom and hike back up the rest of the gorge trail to intersect again with your campground trail or (2) take a right over the arch bridge and hike downhill on the main gorge trail.  This is what we chose to do.  We started our hike from the campground trail at about 8:30 AM to beat the bulk of the traffic on the main gorge trail which we definitely did!  It still was busy but by the time we got to the bottom (about 1.5 hours after pausing for photo ops, short rests) the crowds at the bottom visitor center were really getting large. Once at the bottom, you then can take the shuttle back up to the North parking lot and walk downhill to pick up your stone arch bridge trail back to the parking lot.  This works quite well and gives you the ability to do the whole gorge but  not have to deal with parking your vehicle in downtown (which will cost you $10 if you can even find a space!)  Do not forget your backpack with water and snacks, walking sticks and a hat! Quick virtual tour!

THE GORGE IS GORGEOUS!  This is the reason you come right??  yes!  This gorge and its waterfalls (some you can walk behind) is dubbed the “Grand Canyon of the East” and aptly so!  It is beautiful from so many angles as you traverse the stone staircases, walk over stone bridges and navigate through some cut winding grottos with staircases (one forged in 1908!)  We were here in mid-July and to be honest, the water levels were fairly low so some of the waterfalls were not as grand as they would have been in late spring.  NOTE- sometimes the trail is closed if water levels are too high so double check their website for alerts.  Nevertheless, being there on a sultry July day we enjoyed the cool misty atmosphere of the gorge itself.  Temps dropped easily by 20 degrees and the mist from some areas was a welcomed surreal bath.  I am sure the gorge in the fall is beautiful but note, much of it is rock so to see fall foliage you are going to need to be looking up more than around.  Do only wear closed, sturdy shoes!  The steps are stone, wet and uneven at times.  We wore our hiking shoes and were just fine. There are several staircases that shoot off and up to the top edge of the eastern side of the gorge.  We did not take any of these but we understand one leads to an old cemetery with grave markers of original settlers to the area and others lead to other more overarching overlooks of the gorge.  These could be fantastic with fall foliage in full swing and give you views of the surrounding lake area of Seneca lake itself. 

Here are photos we took along our gorge trail hike.  Every turn, every level met with OOHs and AHHs from us and everyone!  Pictures really do not do it justice so please plan to take a visit yourself!

TIP: I personally think that doing the trail downhill is more splendid and you can focus more on the views than trudging  up hill and looking at the backside of the person in front of you (just sayin’).

DOWNTOWN WATKINS GLEN:  to be sure, this is a tourist town!  WG sits at the southern foot of Seneca Lake, one of NY’s famous Finger Lakes.  A leisurely drive around the entire lake on the roadways that sit high above on the plateau is worth the time if you have it. There are tons of vineyards and breweries, quaint little towns some with nice boutiques and restaurants (not a lot of gas stations though so plan accordingly).  There is a WalMart just to the east edge of downtown- easy in and out with your RV to get grocery, ice, etc.

Watkins Glen is packed on the weekends and whenever there are special events (lots of them) and racing going on at the venerable car race track about 3 miles as the crow flies from the campground.  Yes, when the wind was blowing just right on Saturday we could hear the dull drone of the cars racing around the track- but it was not a biggie or obtrusive really.  In downtown proper you will see some nice boutiques, ice cream joints, various restaurants of all price points.  We visited the outdoor store (Famous Brands Outlet)  that sells all sorts of hiking and outdoor wear, shoes and gear- nice selection, a little pricey.  We treated ourselves to lunch on Main Street after our gorge hike- and enjoyed the food and ambiance at elrancho-ny.com/.  We ate breakfast our last morning at Tobey’s Donut Shop which is a local fav.  The bagel sandwiches were good but a tad greasy and not the best we have ever (had though some claim they are).  Their donuts are very good and especially the sour cream batter ones!  We bought 6 and they stayed very fresh for days. When they sell out, they close for the day so get there early!

IN SUMMARY: will we go back?  most likely yes, and hopefully bring our grandsons to see this breathtaking natural marvel.  Will we stay at the state campground, yes, definitely but only in a loop with electricity as the sites are better suited for RV travel.

Why did we give this campground a 3 Campfire rating rather than higher?  a few reasons….pool hours are too limited, poor cell service, no campground Wifi, only electric hook ups available, no laundry facilities, tight campsites for modern RVs with minimal gravel base-could get muddy with heavy rains.  Additionally downtown WG has some issues…. traffic in downtown is very heavy, quite a few shops in downtown still closed or very limited hours/days open and not recovered after pandemic levels, limited close access to other areas or attractions- it is kind of out in middle of nowhere.

Let us know if you have visited and camped at the Watkins Glen State Park Campground!  We welcome your feedback to help our readers!

Have Safe travels and joy-filled moments!

Kevin & Luise

Our 4 Week June 2022 NY to TN Trip

We are members of the national RV club called “Escapee’s”. This year, their national rally was held at the Wilson County Fairgrounds in Lebanon, TN. We have been members of the club for 4 years and had yet to get to attend one of these rallies since they have been out west and with Luise working up until Jan 2020 we could not get the needed time off to attend.

This time, on the east coast albeit 994 miles away we made the decision to go despite crazy gas prices ranging from $4.40 to 5.00 per gallon! Were we nuts? Probably, but now that we have the time to travel for 4 weeks at a clip—the event would be fun and we built in a return to our beloved Smoky Mountain National Park and a swing through PA, Amish Country OH, Mammoth Cave, KY and WV which we had stops we wanted to see. * We will be publishing specific reviews on each of the campgrounds we stayed at in the future so be on the look out for these and subscribe to our blog so you get notifications of all new articles and reviews! Thanks!

Here is a breakdown of our total trip costs, miles driven, gas consumption and all those other costs of the trip if you wish to see it. TRIP COST SUMMARY

OUR TRIP ITINERARY:

JUNE 1, 2022– leave mid afternoon, pit stop at the Seneca-Iroquois Museum in Salamanca, NY for a visit then late evening Boondock Kanona Rest Area on RT 86 Westbound in Bath, NY. Wilkins RV center is just across the highway. Good overnight stop. Link to info on rest area.

JUNE 2-4: 2 nights @ Shenago Recreation Area-Army COE Campground, Transfer, PA. Perfect spot on beautiful waterfront site. Dry camping. Campground link.

JUNE 5-6: 3 nights @ Timbercrest Campground, Walnut Creek, OH (OH Amish Country) Fun Shopping, Ft. Laurens Historic Site, zoar historic village. Not much to campground for price. We loved the Amish food grocery shop at Walnut Creek and the Sugar Valley Meat Market was awesome! Location of campground was good, but would stay elsewhere in future as there are more options in the area with better facilities/shade/walkable to shops, etc. More to see on a future trip for sure! Campground Link.

JUNE 7-8: 2 nights@ Wright-Patterson Air Force Base FAM Camp, OH *Visited the National Museum of the US Air Force in Dayton, OH (free…and amazing!) Site #14 was great FHU pull thru. Campground link

JUNE 9-11: 3 nights@ Wilmington Thousand Trails (TT) Campground, Wilmington, OH. We are TT members so stay for FHU was free. Great pool and hot tub! Visited the Airstream Museum and Factory TOUR and Store, nice! Originally planned to visit Cincinnati but concerns over parking our large truck and over 1 hr drive changed our minds. Huge flea market down the road on Sat/Sun. was great with indoor and outdoor stalls, 100’s of them! Great campground, site # 24 was perfection! (PS- if you can stay at Wright-Patterson FAM camp, the Airstream museum is also easy day trip from there too-we just ran out of time!) Campground Link and the Airstream Museum Link. The Factory tour is worth the time, about 2 hours and well done. Research the schedules though as some days its only one time per day so you want to time your visit appropriately.

JUNE 12-18: 6 nights@ Mammoth Cave NPS Campground, Mammoth Cave, KY. Amazing and perfect site #93 with FHU (91 & 93 are only FHUs) , concrete pad and patio, convenient to all. Day tripped to Nolin State Park Reservoir for swimming. Did Extended Historic Cave Tour which is a must do! Love the little town of Horse Cave. Visited National Cave Museum and the Hidden River Cave in Horse Cave, both worth the visit. Beautiful area!! Campground link

JUNE 19-24: 5 nights@ ESCAPADE RALLY hosted by national Escapee’s RV club, Wilson County Fairgrounds in Lebanon, TN. Very close to Nashville but not our gig, so we kept primarily busy with attending seminars, meeting fellow members, social activities, live music and many sponsored happy hours by RV manufacturers, trade show and more. Never heard of the Escapee’s RV club? Check out these benefits and join our new specialty “Birds of a Feather” group (BoF) of Escapee members just for Vintage & Classic RVs (RVs 25 yrs or older). Kevin and I just started it after the rally and it has been sanctioned by the national board of directors of the club! You must be an Escapee member to join the VC-BoF.

JUNE 24-25: 2 nights @ Ripplin’ Waters RV Campground, Sevierville, TN Right on the main access road to all that is Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg and Sevierville. We really enjoyed our ride through the famous Cade’s cove, had a Black Bear Encounter in the Cove and did a mountaintop drive for about 11 miles on a one way mountain ridge route-never saw another vehicle. Near the campground is a Flea market just down the road on weekends, the Veteran’s Store in Pigeon Forge on the strip is a must do for any Vets, dined out at Tony Gore’s BBQ (probably walkable from campground) and rested from rally. Enjoyed their pool. Probably would not stay there again though since there are many other options in the area. We were at site 43. Campground Link

JUNE 26-29: 3 nights@ Campfire Lodgings, Ashville, NC. Beautiful mountain top edge site #2. Site #4 or 5 are best for sunset views but they also have a wonderful social gathering area with benches and chairs so all can get best view of sunsets each night. We enjoyed ooohing and ahhhing with fellow campers! FHU with concrete pad and patio. Pricey but worth it. Convenient to Biltmore and downtown Ashville is about 15 minutes away-which is very artsy, great restaurants, shops, galleries. No other campground amenities but nice very private bath facilities with showers, and nice laundry. Will stay again for sure! Steep one way access road to get to mountain top location- no early entry! Campground link.

JUNE 30: Boondock, Walmart along RT 81 in Martinsburg, West Virginia. Yeah we could finally put WV on our state travel map as having overnighted in the state. PS the 1 state rest area in WV on RT 81 is very small, busy and noisy. Go another few more miles and find this Walmart right off the highway and park broadside near the tree buffer at far end of the parking lot. Tons of walkable restaurants in adjacent parking lots. We have bookmarked this Walmart for future stays if passing through.

JULY 1: Long day, 9 hours of driving home (see our note about being flexible with travel plans below) with a pit stop at Cabela’s in Hamburg, PA our usual stop (and sometimes boondock stop). Not nearly as good as it used to be, since they were bought out by Bass Pro Shop they have reduced their footprint with no in house restaurant, the discount “cave” is gone that had great finds sometimes and their inventory is reduced, no more little cabins outside, kayaks galore, etc. its too bad really. But we still like the stop AND they still do have a dump station and rinse out if you need it. There is also a Camping World just across the street a bit for any needed supplies in their store. We chugged it home and were pulling in by the evening hours.

Total miles driven (by Kevin- bless him! I do drive on interstates when the traffic is lighter- this trip the traffic was horrible!) 3287 Miles

Total Gallons of Gas: 368 Fuel Cost: $1636.38 Average of $4.44 per gallon (southern states definitely cheaper- KY being the cheapest)

Reminder…..For more details on our overall cost categories including food, activities, dine out, camping fees, see the link to document summary above.

Map of our Trip: (we use RV Trip Wizard for our planning and love it.)

NOTE: We ended up cancelling our reservations for US Space & Rocket Museum Campground in Huntsville AL due to gas costs. So essentially we went from the RED “E” to the Red “B” directly instead.

What did we learn along the way?

  1. The highways are super busy despite super high gas prices!  We cannot wait till full retirement and hitting the roads west of the Mississippi River!
  2. We definitely like to stay 3 nights at any one campground if there is any thing remotely interesting to do in the area.  It gives you the chance to unwind from driving, at least one solid day of exploring and then a day to putter, clean and prep for new adventure.
  3. If a campground has a pool AND hot tub it is definitely worth the extra miles or cost to enjoy especially if you have been doing a lot of long driving days. Serves as a great sub for a shower too!
  4. The use of a rear view camera to see what is going on behind you is really important, especially on the east coast where traffic is so nuts.
  5. Truckers in the south head into rest areas early in the day and do not leave till late morning.  Get to a rest area early if you want a spot but try to find something other than truck stops- there are a lot of trucks these days that need those spots more than you do!
  6. We will be purchasing a plug in cooler before too long.  What we had to spend on bagged ice was ridiculous, about $150 for the month…..melted into water!
  7. When camping in 98 degree heat and 90% humidity, in an open field (our rally) be sure you have put Reflectics on the windows, run a dehumidifier and keep your AC running on low all the time and kick it up to high when you are in the rig.
  8. Be flexible with your travel plans.  Originally we planned to head to Huntsville, AL and the US Space & Rocket Museum/Campground but this would have been a one way down and back between our Rally and NC campgrounds and so due to gas expense we cancelled it and booked into Sevierville a day earlier instead.  Ditto, due to some maintenance issues on our RV that were needed before our trip in mid July to IN we cancelled stays over at Natural Bridge KOA in VA, Caledonia SP and Hershey TT in PA on the way home. Kevin drove a 9 hr day but with breaks to stretch was not that bad. Our original plans were not to be home until July 3.  You need to be flexible with travel!

If you haven’t already subscribed to this blog—please do! This way you will get an email notification when a new article, review or “how to/tips” are published by us.

We always appreciate your feedback too so please leave a comment, or perhaps you have other info for any of these stops or locations we visited that would help future travelers!

Be well, travel safe and spread happiness!

Kevin & Luise Sherman……The Pewter Palace!

How We Survived High 90°s in an Open Field for 6 Days!

This article will discuss techniques, equipment and how to’s for maximizing our roof top AC, cooling the inside of our 1987 32 foot Avion when we attended a rally at an open field fairground in TN in late June.

**we did have 30 amp shore power! We have installed a EasyStart system on our AC which does enable us to run our AC off of our 2200 Honda generator if no shore power is available. Kevin converted our generator to run on LP as we do not want to carry gerry jugs of gas and we have two 40lb LP tanks on front always anyway.

Temps ranged from 90 to 98° all week with 75 to 95% humidity! Using these techniques our AC functioned well WITHOUT AN AIR CONDITIONER FREEZE UP and we kept comfortable.

Note: Your situation is going to depend on the type and BTU of rooftop AC you have and length AND floorplan of your Avion. We have a front kitchen, mid bath and rear bedroom. We have all the original spray foam insulation and insulated layer of our original flooring too which we feel is outstanding and helps a lot!!

Our AC Unit is a 1500 Dometic brand. It is approximately 4.5 to 5 years old. We clean the fins and filters annually as part of our spring shake down. Wr clean the inside filter and cover routinely as needed which on our trip had been 3 weeks in it needed it. If you are in a high wind/sand/dirt location you will need to do the exterior and interior AC cleaning more frequently. We have the supplies we use on our Amazon list on our Resources page on this website.

Our Dometic 1500 AC and MaxAir roof fan cover(R)

We found to avoid a freeze up of your AC in extreme temps and/or prolonged use needs that you should keep all four directional vent slots inside on your ceiling open. This allows proper air circulation and helps air flow around the condenser to allow proper cycling on and off.

all 4 side of vent flaps open for better circulation inside AC

****IF you do get a freeze up and your AC stops working (but you have power and its just not blowing, the compressor is not coming in) .you peobably have a freeze up. Turn the swtich to FAN and temp dial to off or warm. So you are just using the fan mode, let it thaw. It could take an hour or more. You may want to put a bucket underneath to protect flooring or carpet should it drain inside. (It may drain inside if you are not completely level or if any of the weep holes on the AC roof cover are blocked)

AC SETTINGS: this will depend on temps outside. As an example the best you can hope for is to maintain the inside of your rig at 20° below the outside temp. Believe me it will feel great! So when the temp outside was 98° with 90% humidity we ran our AC on coolest setting but low fan during the day when we were out and about doing seminars, social events etc when at the rally.

*it is important to try to NOT let your rig heat up during the day and expect to cool it off starting the AC at 5 pm for a cool night sleep. Keep your rig cool all the time and the system will run more efficiently and work less hard.

TIP: We found by closing our bedroom privacy curtain we could keep the main part of the coach cooler with lower temp setting on the AC so it did not have to work so hard. We did this during the day and opened the curtain to get air back into our rear bedroom beginning around 5 pm.

When our day away from the rig was done and we were in for the night we could lower the temp dial a little as the sun went down and things cooled down a bit to the 80s to high 70s. While in the rig we kept the fan mode on high fan dial on high for all night.

Reflectix in Windows: On our way to TN we purchased 2 rolls of 45 ” reflectix. Hindsight, one 50 ft roll would have probably been enough. However, Later on as time permits and in cooler temps to work on projects I will be lining the interior outside walls of our cabinets with Reflectix sheet panels too. I noticed the interiors of our cabinets, especially the uppers were warm. We have seen Airstreamers mention this lining of cabinets works well. Again, if you are lucky to have shade on the rig this may not be totally necessary. We were in an open field and surrounded by huge 5th Wheels and Class A’s so we only got breeze when there was any from front to back.

TIP: measure your windows with a fabric tape measure so you get true interior dimensions of inside tracks of windows without screens. Cut your piece at least a 1/2″ to 1″ larger so you can crease and fold the edges for a super great fit on those stationary windows. Use velcro, painters temporary tape to secure panels that go over screened windows as you will not have those deep tracks like the fixed windows do and it’s basically a flush mount.

Auxiliary Fans: we always carry 2 small electric powdered fans with us. They are about 9″ low profile and very quiet. In hot temps we use them on the floor in hall to push cold air towards bedroom at night. In winter temps we may use one to even better circulate warm air from furnace if needed to one area.

Dehumidifier: after doing research we bought a dehumidifier to keep the humidity at between 30 and 40%. Again this helps the air conditioner by transferring the moisture out of the AC and thereby run more efficiently with less effort. A good video pu lished by the RV School staff in TX on the rationale for this is saved in our YouTube Library for you to view. Good info! We had little options on sizes buying on the road and needing quick. We bought a 25 pints at Lowes. Overkill on the size and we will get a smaller one to take up less space once we get home. If you camp in cooler temps and run your furnace you will need a dehumidifier anyway. So we always like things that have dual purpose when space is so tight! We will get an 8 or 10 pint table top version after doing more review research.

Blinds & Curtains: keep them both closed all the time when running your AC. Yes between the Reflectix and shades down you will feel like you live in a cave…but caves are 😎 right?!!

Vent Fan Covers: we have Fantastik Fans and roof top MaxAir Covers. Our roof covers are the grey smokey color which helps to reduce sunlight and heat into the rig. Putting either Reflectix or some sort of cover on your ceiling fan opening to cover the ambient heat that comes thru these is a very good idea.

Exterior Window Awnings: we highly recommend getting window awnings installed if you do not have them. We can lower the inside temp of our Avion by 10 degrees just by deploying our 2 streetside awnings (also really helps the streetside refrig stay cooler and work properly without excess strain when in the shade), the rear window awning and bedroom awning. We leave them deployed all day even if away from the rig unless a storm or high winds are expected. They can take a lot more wind, rain etc than the main patio awning due to their size.

Rear and curbside window awnings. We have 2 on streetside covering nearly the entire length of the trailer.

Speaking of the Patio Awning.…when you are physically at your Avion by all means deploy your patio awning to give shade to that side of your rig. We recommend rolling it up and storing when you are not within a “run to the rig!!!!!” quick proximity. Replacing a torn patio awning or worse, broken hardware arms etc can cost you $1000’s of $$$$!

Hughes Auto Transformer: this is a new piece of equipment for us. Kevin bought it just before our trip to the Escapee Rally because he knew we were going to be sharing power pedestals at a County Fairgrounds. The transformer basically takes your 30 amps and if you get a low voltage reading it boosts it up back to a safe zone to run your sensitive equipment like your AC. This will keep your voltage up even if there is a brown out or a neighbor is sucking more than their share of power. This is not a straight surge peotector but it does also work like that. A surge protector will simply shut down if there is a low or high spike from your shore power.

We hope these tips have given you some good tools to use to survive a heat wave.

Please subscribe to our blog and YouTube channel so you get first insider notification of new articles and videos! We appreciate your support.

TRAVEL SAFE…enjoy the open road!

Luise and Kevin

You Just Bought an Avion….Now What?

A useful quick guide to getting support from fellow Avion Owners !

In this article:

  • Tips for finding and using online Facebook and other Avion Owner Forums,
  • 6 Basic Tips for New-to-You Avion Owners,
  • Links to Avion Rally Event Sites,
  • Resource lists including a printable “check list” for setting up to camp and preparing to tow your Avion.

At the end of this article we have a great downloadable/PDF document we are happy to share with you- “Our Avion TAKE OFF & LANDING Camp list”. We have also includes links to Avion Facebook and Rally Event groups and also links to several of our other blog posts and videos to help you out on your new journey as an Avion owner!

The great news is, you have taken the first step to buy what we all concur is one of the most iconic designs and best made campers ever–AN AVION! 

Of course, owners of other vintage campers will tell you theirs is the best- we have to politely disagree!  LOL.

  • We know it can feel pretty overwhelming!
  • Where to start? 
  • What questions to ask and to who? 

It’s not like you can call up an Avion Dealership anymore right?  (click here to see what we feel is one of the best and most  up to date articles on the Avion History.  The article is published by the non profit national vintage trailer/RV club called The Tin Can Tourists (TCT)- which by the way you should join, its very cheap ($25 p/yr/2022) and the club hosts rallies around the USA and has great resource info, newsletters, etc.) There were 18 Avion’s at the TCT Michigan Rally in 2019!

MORE QUESTIONS YOU MAY HAVE…..

  • Where do you get parts? Who can fix these things if you cannot? Check out our RESOURCES & LINKS page!
  • What tools are “must have’s”? 
  • How to determine just what needs fixing and what does not?
  • Are there ways to connect to other Avion owners with experience?

What is super important is that you have purchased an Avion and there is a huge Avion Family out there rooting for you and there to help!  If you are also brand new to the world of RVing and camping- we definitely have your back!  There…do you feel better already?  Hope so!

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DID YOU KNOW? 

We AVION OWNERS rock!!

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SOCIAL MEDIA PRESENCE: oh yeah!!!!  We are SOCIAL!  🙂

There are no less than 5 online Facebook Pages solely dedicated to Avion travel tips, repairs, buy/sell forum and general owner share pages?  Hey there is even a FB Avion owners group to exchange Christmas & Holiday Cards with each other!  There are Avion Rally groups too!     

YES!  and each of them has some overlap but each has its own purpose too—so we suggest you ask to join ALL of them.   I have posted the links to each of them at the end of this article. (sneaky huh…I want you to read on first!)

AVION INSIDER TIP:  while each of the Facebook group pages do have their own generalized specific purpose- sometimes you may have a post that is worth sharing/posting on all the FB pages- that’s OK, but my personal recommendation is to use that “broadcasted ” share sparingly. WHY?  well most of us Avion owners do belong to all of the FB groups so if we start seeing every one of your posts like 4 times in our feed we may start to tune you out a bit.  So, in my opinion, be selective. 

  • If you have something to sell, put it on the sell page group first. 
  • If you have a repair question, post on the repair/restoration page first- wait for answers, if none after a week- then go ahead and post on the two Avion owners group pages to cast a bigger net. 
  • if you have some great travel tips, campgrounds or general info to share- post it on one of the “owners” themed pages 
  • An exception to all this is if a piece of info you have is “time sensitive” for example a new rally announcement,  or rally registration reminders or God forbid you are traveling and stuck with a breakdown–you should definitely should be broadcasted on all pages!

Here is a great example of the above: 

TRUE STORY! In 2018 Kevin and I were doing just a nice Sunday drive just over the border into western VT from where we live.  We decided to check out some campgrounds for future stays.  Lo and behold one had a wrecked Avion in its back storage yard.  It had an intact rock guard and we wanted a spare!!  I posted out on all four FB pages from the campground parking lot in VT asking fellow Avion owners if a rock guard from an 84 would fit our 73?  Within 3 minutes I had folks responding that it would! We borrowed tools from the campground owner and drove away with our spare rock guard treasure!

Again, just my opinion to be selective on what you post where.  I think it better supports each of the group pages in their own right to exist if you post questions etc. on the Facebook page that best suits your question or information-however, some Avion owners do choose to put 90% of their general posts on all the page groups-and that works for them so its ok by me too!  We’re all easy to get along with!

REMEMBER—WE ALL HAVE BEEN NEW, FIRST TIME AVION OWNERS AT SOME POINT! 

Based on a plethora of posts made by fellow Avion owners who have all been in your shoes (a brand new owner) at one time or another here is a short list of what we have seen as recurring tips, suggestions and worthwhile bits of info for brand new Avion owners!

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6 BASIC TIPS TO GET YOU STARTED:

(1) Take your time!!!!  Do not rush to completely gut the inside and start from scratch.  Live with the interior a little (unless totally ruined by mold or deconstructed already).  Mr. Clean Magic Sponges, Awesome Spray Cleaner (at dollar stores) are great for cleaning interior walls and ceilings.  Howard’s Restor-A-Finish is excellent for reviving cabinetry.

We have seen so many people go for the complete gut job only to run out of steam, money or time and have to forfeit their RV dreams and sell their now gutted rig (less of a resale market!)

(2) If you do decide to gut the inside of the trailer, put the cabinets, etc up for resale on one of the facebook sites and/or on Ebay!  There are 1000’s of fellow Avion owners always in the market for Avion parts, door handles, locks, windows, hinges, and hardware-no matter how small and insignificant it may seem all are in demand.  Cabinet trims, lights, cabinet pulls, louvered doors, sinks, tub bases, mirrors, etc. all have a chance at a new life in someone else’s Avion.  Please try to recycle rather than take it to the dump.  These items are NOT made today and many are irreplaceable!

(3) Give your baby a bath-But Do It Right!  You know how good you feel when stepping out of the shower or after a nice warm tub bath!  Your Avion will feel the same!  BUT—there are definite do’s and don’t to bathing an anodized all aluminum body camper! Once your Avion is clean you will have a better idea of condition. Please listen to our instructional podcast first before doing your first wash down!  

(4) Secure from the Top Down!  Just like a sticks ‘n bricks home, your roof condition and ongoing roof maintenance is vital to the longevity of your Avion.  First on your agenda of “to do list”, after a first bath,  should be repairing all the exterior (side and roof) seams, and ensuring that the roof seams, places where vents, A/C, etc are on the roof also have good seals to prevent water penetration in between your exterior and wood interior.

(5) Install a Deadbolt Lock NOW!   Time after time we see the tragedy of a door swinging open while and Avion is being towed or camped in a super windy location.  Reminder, these doors are not being made anymore!  The old, original Bargman locks are nice but they do NOT provide enough security to keep latched.  Avion’s have a certain amount of flexing of the aluminum body that happens when being towed.  We and many other strongly recommend installing a deadbolt lock in ADDITION to your door handle lock.  We also bungy cord ours It is safer for you when camping inside and certainly safer for your door when trailer is being towed. 

(6) Reseal and Secure Window Seals if Cracked, Missing or Falling Off! Just like the exterior seams, the windows in many Avion’s that have not been maintained properly have seals that have failed. Many times, the seals have pulled away from the corners and where spliced.  This is another major area where leaks happen.  On a priority list, windows rank right  up there with exterior side and roof seam repairs.  It can feel daunting to do, but with practice, it can be done in a couple weekends.  Good news is, once they are redone, you should not have to muss with them for at least 5-8 years or more! 

More

As promised, here are valuable links just for you!

Below is our “Take Off & Landing” Checklist.  You can download and print it out to carry with you too!   Bear in mind, depending on the specific equipment you may have – some of the steps we outline may be a bit different.  Use this checklist as a general guide to help you practice the art of setting up a camp and breaking down your camp and hitting to road accordingly.

ONLINE FORUM PAGES: There are a couple of active online FB forums that have great resources and people in them.  Just another platform to look for answers and post questions!  See we are all in it to win it and help!  these are by subscription, so you will need to ask to join!

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DEDICATED AVION FACEBOOK PAGES:

Use the simple search of “Avion trailers” on social media and you will be amazed! here are some that we belong to and comment in fairly regularly on Facebook: (note, most if not all of these are monitored very well and do require you request to join)

kimg3148LOOKING FOR AVION RALLIES TO ATTEND? 

These are facebook group sites so again, ask to join.  Many of us travel to these rallies from all over the USA.  You can be a member of for example the Texas group but live in NY (like us!)  Avioner’s  know how to have fun, learn together and break bread—so come to a rally!!  Check out our post on the Indiana Rally we have attended for years now! Read  more….

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KEEP AN EYE OUT FOR MORE TIPS AND ARTICLES GEARED SPECIFICALLY FOR FIRST TIME AVION OWNERS!

A sample of our blog posts, podcasts and videos coming soon…

  • Punch list of what to inspect when looking to purchase your first Avion (will include what tools, etc. to bring with you!)
  • Basic repair and maintenance tool kit must have’s for Avion Owners
  • ABC’s of Using Stabilizers for your Avion trailer
  • Tips on how to repair and maintain exterior seams on aluminum trailers
  • I am just boondocking at Walmart for the night—what should (or shouldn’t) I do besides put my vehicle in park and go to sleep?

How do you find them once we post them AND how do you find all the other articles and videos we have published?

  Be sure to subscribe to this blog/website AND to our YouTube Channel! By subscribing you are the first to be alerted to new info!

We thank you for subscribing —- and really look forward to meet  you (and your Avion) on the road or at rally in the near future!

All the Very Best, from Kevin and Luise Sherman

Luise & Kevin Sherman, we own a 1987 Avion, 32S Model and currently are based in the Lake George Region of upstate eastern New York. We LOVE to hear from our subscribers!

Making your RV Feel Like Home- Keeping Things STUCK in Place Even When on the Road!

View of our 32 S model 1987 Avion. This “rare breed” floorplan was only produced for three years by the Avion Coach Corporation.

One of the first things anyone says when they visit us in our Avion is how “homey” it feels, comfortable, cozy and not sterile like many “off the lot” modern RV’s today.

Often, the next question we get is…

“it must take you a long time [when setting up camp] to put out all of these décor items (some would say clutter or chachkies! ) and knickknacks and then store them all away again”. 

Actually—no!  Everything you see in our coach stays in place where it is displayed.   I do not have to move anything except dish soap bottle on the kitchen counter, our authentic cuckoo clock, and the soap dispenser in the bathroom!

In the photo above you will see I have opted to keep the upper and lower curtain rails in place and just have narrower side curtains.  These curtains are wide enough to create privacy for the curved front windows when the center pull down shade does the rest at night.  Notice I use the bottom curtain rail to store some things during travel time too! ( I DO take down the white vintage ’70’s swag lamp and it sits in the left corner of the front counter when we roll down the road)

HERE IS A QUICK LIST OF TIPS & PRODUCTS I USE TO KEEP THINGS IN PLACE IN YOUR RV—EVEN WHEN TOWING DOWN THE ROAD!

A 6″ wide shelf behind the sofa creates a great storage space with metal framed fabric bins!

Metal Framed Fabric Bins Sit on Shelf behind our Jack knife Sofa.
See purchasing link below.

The photo above shows three of the five storage bins I purchased at Bed, Bath & Beyond in 2021.  They have a wire frame for durability and are perfect for storing those things that we use routinely when traveling including:  TV and other remotes, LED lanterns and flashlights, Binoculars, Travel Journal, Travel brochures, etc. and a vase of artificial flowers I often put outdoors on our dining table.  We are still able to pull out our jack knife sofa when we have guests staying over. * I left about 5″ in between two of the bins.  This is where I tend to put my beverage water bottle or travel mug of coffee when relaxing on the sofa when we are set up at camp. Source, 2021

Using forms of “anchor” putty’s to hold things in place are perfect for RVs.  Read on to read ‘my reviews’ on three products I have used.

The photo slideshow above shows various items in our RV we leave out and do not move during towing.  Things like a ceramic beer stein with flowers that sits on our front kitchen counter, our mid-century modern looking table organizer (link) with a vintage 70’s table lamp and other items set in place.  In our bathroom, my mother’s china cup and saucer- now a home for a gnome sits on our bathroom vanity and back in the living room/salon even our faux “stag head clock” in our living room–all stay out and stay put every day we travel. 

We have clocked multiple trips over 3000 miles each, up mountains of 17-24% grade roads to 5K elevations (and back down) as well as dirt roads, washboard roads and surviving way too many roads with pot holes and frost heaves!

Review of THREE putty brands I have used: and my recommendation!

Quake Hold (Museum Putty) 

 This is my “GO TO” product!  It is great and what I have used successfully on the ceramic beer stein, the gnome in the tea cup,  the dinette table shelf organizer and our faux (plastic but very real looking) stag head wall clock.  I also put this behind each corner of any framed pictures I put up on picture hooks.  It keeps the pictures level and keeps them from potentially swinging and marring stained walls or wallboard.

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Pro’s:  Terrific holding power, re-useable, no smell, no staining on walls. Holds up well under all interior temperature conditions we have been in so far (-10 to 95 degrees).  It allows you to remove items from their hold by twisting and pulling at the same time.  You will truly be impressed by how secure it makes things and how hard you have to twist/pull to release its hold.  I have not had any issues with its color staining any surfaces.

Con’s:  it is a light off-white in color )they call it “neutral”- so it is not completely invisible when used under items.  You can see this from my photos as little white stuff sticking out from underneath Honestly, it is really hardly noticeable.  Through trial and error I have found the best holding power is when you allow some of the putty to be on the outside of the edge of your item as well as underneath for those items that sit on flat surfaces.  For framed photos, etc. held vertically you do not need to do that.  I simply put pea sized blobs under each frame corner.

Rock N’ Roll Clear Gel Putty

As the packaging says, this GEL is really only for glass and china type stuff.  They do also now make a putty similar to Quake hold but I prefer the quality of Quake Hold better.  I have tried this Rock N Roll Gel and found it does not hold as well as the Quake Hold.  Also a real ‘con’ is that this stuff MELTS when your rig gets hot inside (aka if you are away for the day not using AC/or when stored at home when not camping and temps rise above 80 degrees. Source* (*note, this is not where I purchased from so I cannot validate reputation of online source)

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Pro’s:  it is clear, highly pliable.  Does work well on glass or mirror items (not sure how many of us have crystal figurines on display in our RV’s though)

Con’s:  It melts when temp inside RV gets hot.  It melted and puddled under some items on our dinette table. Does not do well on vertical applications in my experience. (yes, I tried to use it behind corners on picture frames, only to find it melting and running down my wall one summer day!- ugh)  Because of its propensity to melt, I no longer recommend this for RV use.

Museum Putty Wax

I have used this on a variety of surfaces from metal to wood to ceramic and it does work but I find it not as convenient as the white putty Quake Hold above- nor does it have the same holding power for heavier things, especially those made of wood and/or sticking to a wood surface.  

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Pro’s:  it is somewhat clearer and less conspicuous when used than Quake Hold putty.  It does a decent job of holding not too heavy items.  Somewhat easier to twist/pull items you need to reposition.  Does not stain finishes.

Con’s:  Due to its consistency, I find it harder to get out a blog from the container- I use a bottle cap with its serrated edges to dig into the container to get out sufficient for use.  It is simply too hard to dig any out with your fingers.  It is a wax base and therefore may also have a tendency to melt in hotter environments.  For this reason I would not recommend a vertical application either.  In my experience it does not work well on wood items  but works ok on plastic, ceramic and glass.

LAST BUT NOT LEAST….WHAT TO DO WITH “RUN-AWAY” PAPER TOWELS!

How many times have you opened the door of your RV after a day of travel to find your paper towels have unrolled and are strewn across your kitchen floor?

These ARE THE ANSWER!

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Viva Paper towels do cost a little more but they will not unroll after a day of road travel.  They are also darn good paper towels and very absorbent so in truth you will use less overall.  We currently have this vertical paper towel holder but in our old ’73, 28 foot LaGrande model we had a traditional horizontal holder above the counter and we never had unrolled paper towels with Viva brand– AND I did road test others like store brands and Scott’s brand and other name brands and none did the job of staying on the roll on the road!

PARTING TIPS….. FOR HANGING PHOTOS, FRAMED ART, ETC and other WALL DECOR ITEMS:

Most folks already know that 3M stick on hooks are a Godsend for RVers.  We use them all the time! 

BUT I have found that if you really want pictures or things of any weight like barometers, framed art, etc. I use these stick on Velcro strips.  Specifically, the type that have the lock-n-grip type, not the traditional type that has soft fuzzy on one side and teeth on the other.  I use the heavy duty type of Velcro that have teeth which interlock when put together.  I  always purchase the one that is rated for heavier than my item really is.  These work really well and so far (knock on wood) I have found that I can also peel off the Velcro strip I may have secured to our Avion wall board since it is a vinyl composite board, not paper applied to wood.   I have also used the Command Brand similar type too on less heavy hanging items, apply as directed.

DISCLAIMER: As with all the products we have discussed here, it is best you test out products first.  For wall applications, your interior walls may have had some sort of after market application that could make it different than ours.  Please don’t send me a bill for any broken item!  [smiling]

Well, that is my review of keeping things in place!  We all love to have a homey feel in our home on wheels!  Hope you have found this little article helpful! 

Let us know what types of tricks/products you have found help with this issue! To be sure, a simple search on Amazon nets many companies touting great sticking power of their putty’s and other products.  

Please visit our YOUTube Channel and please subscribe!    We have great videos on many topics from renovations, tips, other favorite gadgets, as well as travel videos and campground reviews.  We appreciate your support of our efforts to help others along the way!

-Luise

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West Point NY- Military FAM camp Review: Round Pond Recreation Area

View from check in building to beach area across the pond.

We stayed two nights at this FAM camp on our way back from our month long trip on the Blue Ridge Pkwy and Skyline Drive.  It was in late June 2021 and we made last minute reservations enroute back to our NY home- not wanting our trip to come to an end we decided to explore this campground.  We chose it because of its proximity to the museum at the very famous West Point Military Academy (aprox 3 miles away) and only a short detour from our planned route home-and after staying here –that would be the ONLY reason we would say it was worth the visit. Please read on for the details of our visit…..

We were in Site 9. Basically a short gravel pull off spoke from a larger gravel open parking lot. It worked for us as we had a lot of laundry to do and proximity to Laundry building was about 100 steps-making it great to put laundry in and go back to RV rather than have to watch and wait. It was ALSO one of the ONLY sites that could handle the length of our trailer (32ft). We did disconnect and parked our truck broadside across our front. Site was W & E only.

This is an older campground and has seen better days as evidenced by the following some vintage log structures that in the hey dey must have been used for great gatherings, poorly maintained RV sites and roads. The check in building is modest with only basic snack foods available for sale. This is where they do the boat rentals, etc. By the signage inside the check in building it seems that the park is much more focused on being a day recreational area for those who live on the Army base. There are lots of rentals for grills, camping and sport equipment, fishing equipment, party equipment, etc.

It is a shame as an Army facility that maintenance is not better. West Point Academy is known for schooling outstanding engineers and this campground would be a great class project to have cadets put in some elbow grease!

What you DO get staying here is a “boom boom” to rattle your teeth when the nearby Army installation is testing their ordinates. Kevin, having served in the Army felt right at home! LOL

We paid $28 per night- way too much in our opinion for what condition and amenities the campground provides for a W & E site only. They do have a dump station, laundry facilities, playground and in season- boat rentals/fishing, etc.

You can see this is the condition of our Site #9. This area sites 9-13 are pretty much out in the open, some privacy at the rear when you back in.

There are some beautiful, vintage log constructed buildings around the campground but as far as we could see they have not been used for a long time and are locked up tight.  This is surely the case of the one at the beach. It is completely closed off and inaccessible. 

The beach was not well maintained at all– goose poop everywhere!  Lily pads and other water plants nearly clogged most of the swimming area-so you can feel them on your feet and body when trying to swim. Thank goodness we had our floats so was not too bad once we got out to the little deeper area.  Worse part is the beach is fenced and gated and the hours of use are very limited!  We were shoo’d out by a guard at 4 PM.  Hours for swimming I believe were 11 AM to 4 PM.  That is ridiculous since there is no lifeguard so why the restrictions?  Their website says they have guards during summer months. We suspect this early locking of the beach is only for the convenience of the staff.  It is not like there was evidence of any beach cleaning/sweeping or raking.  There was some litter/trash left on sand and again…more goose poop than we have ever seen anywhere- it was like dodging landmines trying to get from the gate into the water!

Beach front lodge is locked off, this is gravel access to our site. Lawn not mowed, picnic tables in fair condition.

We did not use the playground below but it seems that would be the best feature of this campground’s amenities.

Our trip to the West Point Military Academy Museum was a highlight for us. 

Museum is only 3 miles from campground. Free parking in front of building. Free entry-at least when we were there.

We had never been there before and as history buffs we were in awe of their collection of everything from Roman through modern military history.  Also included is a complete history of the Academy itself with interesting collection of evolution of the cadet uniforms, sports and rivalry with Navy, etc. This museum is definitely worth the visit!  They also have a nice gift shop full of Army and WP souvenirs, logo items , etc The museum is modern, well kept and very well done. Exhibits are well cataloged and include easy to follow descriptions. There is an elevator for ease of floors. See slideshow below…

Something VERY important to note!  The entrance to this campground is up (and down) a 24% grade narrow winding hilly access road to get up to the campground from the highway.  There is only this one road up and down. There are NO mirrors mounted on side of curves to help you see anything that may be coming around a bend.  Thank goodness we did not have to negotiate an oncoming vehicle much less a fifth wheel because we do not think the two will fit.  Again, this is a project that should be upgraded due to the size of most RVs these days.  If you have a big RV we are suggesting you pass by this campground.  The site we had was one of a handful that can handle anything over about 26 feet.  Many of the sites are on small winding roads, uneven and trees make negotiating into sites a challenge.

Sites 9-13 would be the only ones we would say could fit any modern 26foot or larger trailer or RV.  There was a 40′ Class A in site next to us. They are Water & Electric only sites- but dump station is right nearby (maybe too close in the dog days of summer-the smell might be bad if you are there on a Sunday when everyone is leaving and dumping!)

Would we stay there again, simple answer is no.  Sadly there are little to no other campgrounds (public or private run) in this immediate area to offer any other choices.

Adventures with a Vintage Avion Luxury Travel Trailer