Dining Area Redecoration-2017

May 28, 2017-Queensbury, NY:  Our redecoration of the interior of the Pewter Palace is almost finished.  Today we tackled the finishing touches of our dining area.  This final step included a repainting of a very rusted ceiling fixture and installation of the curtains and lace valances.  The cut glass crystal cover is original too and cleaned up well and sparkles with the new LED bulb we exchanged.  We refitted all of our fixtures with LED bulbs from M4LED.com which offers great products and customer service.

(Kevin got a kick out of the “Western Germany” label–obviously pre-Berlin wall take down era!  and yes, we did save the sticker and gently placed it back onto the newly repainted fixture base for posterity)

We also were able to do some staging of our German goods and theme too–including one of the fabulous vintage German tablecloths I purchased off Ebay last winter and two pewter tankards.  These tankards were thank you gifts to Mr. & Mrs. Johnson of MD in the ’80’s at one of the big Avion rallies that used to be held around the country.  They were member # 2018 and belonged to the Mid-Atlantic Unit.  This along with some other “travelcade swag” was also an Ebay find.  The seller was the Johnson’s son who now we are in contact with offline and he is providing us with some great photos of his fond memories growing up as an Avioner from 1968 and forward into the 80’s.  So cool!  Watch for a separate post on all this. (I think we have had a hand in re-igniting his passion for Avions too!)

Here is our lovely, cozy dining area in our Pewter Palace.  We repurposed one of our custom made wood reenacting tables made by Fort Augustus Woodworks which collapses down and folds away when this dinette needs to be used as a bed for guests.

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We just love it.  I am awaiting delivery of the small clock face that goes underneath the vintage Black Forrest Deer Head mount (what legitimate “Gasthaus” would be without one right?!).  It was found at a local antique shop and is actually hard plastic so its lightweight and we could really secure it to the wall with no problems at all.  When we take our big trip to MI and IN this summer- one of our stops is Frankenmuth, MI which is a Bavarian town.  I hope to find a quartz table top style cuckoo clock for the trailer….THAT will be the crowing glory!  For now, the small antler clock on the table works.

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The little red car and trailer on the table are Salt & Pepper Shakers from Vintage Trailer Supply— are they adorable or what!?  The fab vintage look lamp was a find at the Goodwill Store on Shelburne Rd.  in VT (I always try to make a stop when coming or going to visit our daughter Sarah and her family)–for $4 what a find!

Avion LaGrande-Exterior Storage Compartment Weatherproofing

May 21-22, 2017:  We have had perhaps one of THE wettest Spring in memory here in the Southern Adirondacks of NYS this year.  With the tons of rain has come the realization that our curbside, exterior storage compartment (which also is a direct access to MY underbed storage area too) has leaks around the compartment door.

Fletch had done a very good job of resealing the outside flanges with Parbond, but the critical issue now was obviously the alignment and need for new gasket that worked properly.

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It seems that at some point, a former owner of the trailer replaced the foam gasket that was supposed to provide a good seal against wind and weather—however either due to time (it had gotten hard) or perhaps not being the correct gasket from the start, this black gasket weatherproofing has failed.

What has resulted is that the door of the compartment does not recess and lay flush or slightly inside the exterior skin of the trailer sidewall. So, when it rains, the rain literally runs down the side of the trailer and right into the gap and into the compartment. Not good!!

Kevin took off the door completely.  Removed and cleaned up the aluminum track area where door seats into body of trailer.  He also found a weatherstrip gasket in a light grey which worked perfectly.  It is far softer and wider and allowed for readjustment of the door so that now it sits correctly and flush to the body of the trailer.  Wholla…no more leaks….but we continue to get rain, rain, rain!  

Finished project.  Works great!

Great job Kevin!!

Sneak Peek at Interior Redecorating-May 23, 2017

We have been super busy since bringing the Palace home two weekends ago.  There were still many small projects to do including switching out the old lightbulbs with LED’s (this will be another blog post itself), cleaning the AC unit, filling the water tanks and doing final checks on that.

But by far….the BEST thing is that I have finally gotten the chance to begin in earnest my interior redecorating project.  When we bought the trailer, it had an interior color scheme of beige, blue and green.  The former owner’s grandmother had made some curtains, throw pillows and recovered the dinette cushions and did a pretty decent job of it, but honestly it really looked ’70’s and I wanted an interior that felt more homey, more personal to us…and unique.    I think we have succeeded and here is a sneak peak!

Our theme colors are predominately dark turkey red (one of my fav’s) and also tapping into my beloved German/Bavarian heritage.  Kevin also loves this German theme because it reminds him of when we was stationed in Auschaffenburg, Germany when he was in the army in the 80’s.

Here is the before….                Here is the after….

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This is a sneak peek at the bedroom area only (not quite finished with kitchen and living area yet)...we put down oriental wall to wall carpet, I made two twin bedspreads from one king, antique “good night and good morning” pillow covers, privacy curtains with beautiful crewel work tie backs (from local antique shop) and we painted unfinished wood corbels (from Home Depot) for accent pieces in the corners of the transition between kitchen and bedroom areas.  Just a nice touch!

I have had these antique pillow covers for many years, they as well as the red homespun striped curtains were flea market finds that my Aunt Linda gave me at least 15 years ago.  The antique curtains I have used in various of my houses…and have a deep sentimental attachment to them. I did have to cut them down to fit into the trailer windows but so much of each panel was faded from age and use, that it all worked out and I was able to use the best of the best and it was enough!  ..I just love the fact that they are in my home on wheels now!

I made this wreath and used the heart decoration that Kevin and I had purchased during our 2013 trip to the UK, Scotland and Germany.  This heart was from Rothenburg–our very favorite walled city in Bavaria. Yes, those are artificial Edelweiss flowers that I had to purchase from an Ebay seller in the UK- could not find them in the USA at all!!

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The final effect!  Love it so much!

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Over the next few days we will be working on the final touches for the kitchen and living/dining room area…..just wait till you see our Pewter Palace redo soon!

Avion ’73 Fuse Panel Upgrade and Wiring Mess Cleanup

May 7, 2017- Fletch (Bill Fletcher) has sent over this photo update today to show how they have upgraded the fuse box to a more modern system and also cleaned up and provided some safety and order to the wiring that goes to the inverter box which is under our curbside dinette bench storage.

We had previously experienced some problems with the fuse box (old glass fuses) blowing really when they should not have.  Also, the location of the fuse box was on the front wall of the interior of the rig, just to right of center.  This location was fine when the rig was new and it had a jack knife or pull out sofa covering it.  Since the front of these rigs, like Airstreams are bowed, and the manufacturers used to build a little shelf at just under front window height with under-storage and so the sofa back could be folded down and access to the fuse box was easy, but when the sofa was used on a regular basis the fuse box was safely hidden (in other words…away from little grandson’s curious hands and eyes).  Since this was no longer the case– our rig’s former owner had removed the sofa and put in a custom built dinette with two benches.  The fuse box now was completely exposed, ugly and unsafe.

We had hoped that Fletch would be able to have enough wire and a clear path between the wallboard and exterior of rig to snake all the lines to underneath the dinette bench and completely relocate a new fuse box under the bench.  Not to be.  Avion’s are so well constructed there are steel braces, sprayed in solid foam insulation and other supports that prevented him from getting a straight shot.  So we opted for retaining the same location, but a wood box cover would be made to install over the top.  (see below)

We not only wanted a more modern fuse system, but that area had to be secured and look better since now it is visible (….and remember those curious grandkids….)

So here is his carpenter, EJ’s handiwork, a great upgrade and custom made cover which we will stain to match other woodwork or paint.  I have not decided quite yet.

From Fletch on May 7, 2017:
Hi Luisa,
 Here are a few shots of the work I did yesterday and today.
 As you will recall the factory fuse panel and wiring looked like this.
old fuse box wiring set up
The first step was to unhook all the connections and remove the panel.
 Various wires had to be traced to find what and where they went.
old fuse box removed, bare wires
 [yes, he did make us a template with a mapping of what wire goes to what.]
The larger ‘hot’ wires had to be lengthened to reach the appropriate terminal on the new box.
All wires that needed extending (6 on the panel box) were soldered together.
wire extensions completed
And finally we ended up with this. Modern fuses and a compact design.
new fuse box upgrade, wires wrapped
The wiring on the converter wasn’t much better. Rather a rats nest.
Fletch was able to make some improvements here as well.
 Below is the wood cover E.J. made for the fuse box exterior.  I requested that the cabinet door be hinged on bottom so that it flips down, fully exposing the entire panel with out it being in the way when you want to work in there.  We will also doubleface tape the wiring plan and key to wires on this inside of the door (smart eh?).  Magnetic closures on the top fully secure the door (we can always put a 90 degree angle hasp and lock if need be to keep out little fingers).
Here are a few shots of the electrical box cover that Fletch sent over:

We are very pleased with how this fuse box project came out and feel much more confident and safe with our electrical work now too!

Black & Grey Tank Bayonet and Seal Fix

May 11, 2017-  We have had our rig at Fletcher’s Trailer Sales & Repair in Trumansburg NY (Finger Lakes Region) for the past three weeks.  We are calling this time her “Spa treatment”.  Fletch (Bill Fletcher) has been methodically going through the punch list we left with him and yesterday he repaired leaking bayonet system to drain black & grey water tanks and in the process also found some of the seals where the two systems come into needed repairs.  Also he needed to replace the thermostat on our hot water heater because, while it worked, it would not shut off…well, so i guess that means it really did not work!  LOL

We are fortunate to have someone working on our Avion who is an Avion owner himself and respects and knows the rigs.  On the online forums and YouTube with folks we follow (both Avion and Airstream owners) some folks have horror stories about RV repair folks (more from some of the dealers who just sell cheaper modern camp trailers) who have done some real cob jobs down to downright $1,000’s of dollars of damage to new and vintage all aluminum rigs.

Here is Fletch’s latest update. These updates are great and he sends them at least a few times each week describing and providing photos of work done that day.

Here are some pictures from yesterday:
The grey and black water drains.
waste water bayonets needed work
 Started by testing the integrity of the existing drains  by flushing the system.  Well….not so great was the prognosis by Fletch.
It not only leaked past the seals, but it also leaked at the slide handle. These were shot.
worn out bayonet valve
An access panel needed to be cut. Here he has cut it out.  It will have overlap flanges attached to the edges and then be sealed and riveted back in place should it need to be removed again.
access panel created to get to blk wtr drain area
 Most of the bolts and screws that hold this section of plumbing in place were so worn out it was hard to even get a vice grip around them or get them out.  Hey, 40+ years they have provided service….they deserved a decent burial.
screws worn out from age, rust
A spreader bar is inserted to gently push the fittings apart.  And out come the valves.
One of the valves showing the bad gasket. Note the flange hole on the bottom left. Rust will expand and push apart the surrounding plastic. When this happens to the corresponding flange that’s glued to the trailer, we have to make a reinforcement. (see later pictures)
new flange holder had to be created
Showing the cracked flange where the reinforcement needs to be made.
broken valve sealFirst a pattern is traced onto a piece of steel.
The piece is cut to length and put into our mill to have the radius cut.
What it looks like with new valves in place.
new valves and supports installed
Forgot to mention that the water heater gas valve was bad. So we replaced with a new hot water heater thermostat.  Here is picture of old one.
old hot water heater valve, needed new one

Phase Two- Spring 2017 Refurb projects, 5-1-17

Updates are streaming in from Fletch of Fletcher’s Trailer Sales in Trumansburg NY on how our Pewter Palace is coming along.  There were some parts we needed to source out and thank goodness for the awesome fellow Avion owners who monitor the numerous Facebook and yahoo sites for newbies like us who are looking for sources for parts and input on how to’s.  It is not always easy finding current parts that work in a 44 year old trailer, but we did great and our window glazing bead material and non-electric reflectors for the lower sides are enroute to Fletch for installation this week and next.

Found out that our license plate lamp socket was none existent.  Explains why it did not light (duh!) and we joke that it must have fell out somewhere between here and one of her two trips (that we know of) to Alaska over the past 44 years.   Fletch had to replace the socket by drilling out the holder from the bracket first, then install new wiring and socket–but she is all set now.  Gotta love our license plate huh!!

Next there was the resealing of the major lateral roof seams (Fletch said others looked fine) that run the front to rear length of the rig and across the front and rear noses.  The fix of choice among vintage Avion and Airstream owners is called Eternabond.  This is a high performance, long lasting tape-that may look like common duct tape, but is not.  This tape adheres like cement and prevents any water penetration at all.  No leaks happenin’ in our Palace!

We also replaced a few cracked and non-functioning vent caps with nice looking retro styled vent caps.  Fletch applied Dycor lap seal to ensure a good weathertight seal around these.

We also have had work done on our inside roof vents but that is going to be chronicled in its own separate blog post.

All for now.  If all goes according to plan, we will be headed out over Mother’s Day weekend to pick her up.  Can’t wait…but I really have to get cracking on making the interior curtains!  yikes!