Rear Bumper Storage Ideas for Vintage Avion Travel Trailers

In our travel last summer to Michigan and Indiana, we stopped by Cayo Service & Repair which is located in Watervliet, MI where current owner, Chuck Cayo continues to work his magic restoring, repairing and promoting vintage Avion Luxury Travel Coaches.  They do not have a website, but they do have a facebook page with limited info including their contact info and map for directions.

My goal in this post is to share some storage ideas we have come across that owners of Avion’s have employed to garner some much needed additional storage space.  

  • Please remember- there is a cautionary tale about adding excess weight to the rear of any travel trailer.  It can throw off your correct weight distribution and tongue weight ratios and therefore safety-so please use caution and get professional advise as needed. 

Anyone who currently owns an Avion, regardless of year (except perhaps those five 5th Wheel Avions that were produced and may be still in service) you know that Avions’ suffer from a real lack of exterior storage for important things like modern sewer hoses, fresh water hoses, repair kits, emergency roadside warning kits for breakdowns, not to mention the proverbial citronella candles, exterior carpet mats, camp chairs, gas grill, etc.

The extent of our exterior storage on our 1973 Avion LaGrande 28′ that is not already dedicated to the sewer/grey water flush system and electric hook up is very minimal compared to the huge storage found on modern trailers or Class A’s especially.  The streetside compartments we have are filled with sewer, water and electrical apparatus for the most part and offer very little if any additional storage.  Below is shot of our streetside “business compartments” that include  our Hot water heater (one with vent plate), and behind that our water/sewer connection compartment.  The small one underneath that drops down to open and contains some cleaning supplies but that is about it. Note how a former owner cut a hole into that door so that the sewer hose comes down through.  Nice idea but now the compartment is virtually useless to keep anything contained much less dry! (BTW yes, we LOVE our red Anderson leveler system and strongly recommend!!)

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Our ’73 Avion LaGrande, 28 foot streetside storage and compartments for water heater, sewer/water hook up and one small lower compartment.

With regards to this curbside “storage area” in the two photos directly above—- it should be mentioned these are underneath my curbside bunk used for sleeping.  So really..no sewer hose is going in there!!  We also found when we bought our trailer (we are fourth owners) that this area had been leaking due to poorly maintained rubber gasket around the door flap.  Kevin has since replaced and realigned and it no longer leaks.  We do manage to cram our Anderson leveler system into the small curbside drop down compartment (see sample in photo below) as well as some chocks for wheels and the plastic pads for our crank down levelers. See previous blog post for details on this project from Summer 2017.

Some Avion owners have taken to install water run off shields over top of these curbside access panels.  This is a great  after market idea and one we are going to still look into for double protection from the rain that literally flows like a river down the side of the rig.  Here are two photos from the same rig that we saw on an older Avion parked at Cayo for repairs.  The smaller, lower one is where we store our leveler system, etc.

It should be noted that NONE of these small drop down exterior storage areas are waterproof by any means.  The aluminum panel underbellies of these Avions are great, but after e.g.  45 years of being on the road (our rig has been to Alaska at least 2 xs and Florida annually for over a decade or more) they are not water tight- not sure if they were ever truly meant to be.  So whatever you plan to put in these smaller areas that are on the sloped down lower part of your Avion…be sure it is nothing that will rot, mold or get otherwise ruined by splash from your wet tires, or rain seeping in would wreck.  Also, replacing the original latches with new stainless steel latches is also advisable. The originals do rust and can stain your exterior finish with their run off, or rot off completely at some point.  Source for the stainless ones is Cayo themselves, or here is a link to the exact latches themselves at VintageTrailerSupply.com.

BTW- VintageTrailerSupply.com is a great source for tons of stuff and their customer service is outstanding- I know this from personal experience. Some have reported getting them at your local big box hardware store, but I am not sure if those are 100% stainless–I suspect not.

Other ideas for increasing your exterior storage:

Here is another photo we took at Cayo last summer.

avion-bumper-storage-e1523206727373.jpg

 

You can see where some ingenious owner fabricated a rear bumper storage area similar to what is found on many Airstreams.  This one had two liftable storage lids that lifted up from the top.  The hinge end was near the spare tire mounted in the center.  Note--the spare tire mounts (and tire covers-we have that too!) were OPTIONAL gear when these trailers were made, at least in the 70’s and so the original owners would have had to have them ordered as part of their options package at the time.  Some used ones can still be found by scouring the facebook pages where Avion parts are being sold by folks who are salvaging the ones unable to be fully restored but are still good for parts.  There are several, just do a simple search on Facebook for Avion Trailer Parts.  You may have to ask to be invited as some may be closed groups to keep out spammers and ner-do-wells that could clog up the process of Avion owners reaching real Avion owners.

This one had its sewer hose neatly tucked in.  The tray underneath can be made to go completely underneath the whole area.  Its just that due to the spare tire placement your access can only be from one side or another.  I do not recall if these lift lids were fastened down with latch locks or simple 90 degree angle hasp locks with pad lock but simple enough to do!  Again, this tray sits exactly between the round bumper and the trailer body.

How About Vintage Camp Coolers as Outside Permanent Storage:

Originally, we had a plan of attaching brackets to hold vintage aluminum camp coolers to the back of our rig.  (That is until we went to Cayo and Kevin saw the rig in photo above) The idea being when on the road, they could hold our water hose on one side and our sewer hose (in a plastic trash bag) in the other.  They would each sit on top of the bumper area and on either side of the spare tire.  Reminder, if you go this route, be sure to select one cooler small enough to fit underneath your original license plate holder and light bracket because I really think you want to keep that original feature intact.

I really like this idea and am still trying to convince my husband that my Ebay purchase of these two coolers was not in vain.  He is leaning more towards the inline tray concept instead.  Let’s see who wins this one!  Maybe Cayo can fabricate something inline that has the access doors opening on either end and thereby satisfying both parties!!

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This is the larger of the two that I bought on Ebay.  Sadly, during shipping it got the dent on the top.  Does not affect use, but did break my heart a bit.  Note the bottle opener built into the handle.  This cooler would be on the curbside rear making it very handy to you when under the awning enjoying a cold beer…or…whatever!

DUEL PURPOSE!!  With the vintage aluminum cooler concept (they are highly collectible so plan to pay a bit for decent shape ones) I like the idea that after you park and take out your hoses, these coolers can actually still perform a viable purpose.  I don’t know about you, but I hate  my 8 cubic foot refrig being taken up with bottles of beer (or a growler is the worst!) and any other soda cans or large pitchers of green tea, juice, etc. that could find a far more suitable home and keep deliciously cold in our vintage coolers on the “poop deck”.  Heck, one of our coolers even has its original bottle opener right on the side.  How convenient is that!!??

Here is a photo of both of them on the back.

They are not installed at this point in time.  Kevin’s plan was to drill through the bottom of each one, using a rubber gasket to block leakage (but who cares if water drips out right?) so that when we have our gear in there, a simple hasp lock with padlock could be used to prevent (or deter) access to inside and ability to undo any straps, etc. and steal the cooler.  We also do have the original hard plastic spare tire cover but it does not fit when we have the coolers in place as well.  Its do-able but the coolers would have to go a bit further to the outside edge more as the hard plastic cover is wider by at least 3 inches overall to the vinyl cover we have on there now.

ADD ON BRACKET to hold a STORAGE BOX:

While at the Silver Avion Fellowship Rally, summer 2017 in Elkhart, IN we also saw this Avion. The owners had actually had an additional mounting bracket installed beyond the rear bumper so that they could hold this lockable, hard plastic after market storage container.  We have seen these on cars, but honestly we wonder about the added weight that this box and then its contents includes.  There are many stories about not putting too much weight on the rear of Avions (or any trailers for that matter) that will skew the delicate balance between your weight distribution, tongue weight, etc.  So please be careful about any added weight (vintage cooler, generator, etc. of any weight) that you put on your rear end.

SIMPLE BUMPER AREA CAGE IDEA:

Here is another example we have seen that utilizes that area between your bumper and your rig itself.  This was on a 60’s Avion Sportsman model that we were fortunate enough to meet the owner and take a tour inside when at the Northeastern Tin Can Tourist Rally at Sampson State Park in the NY Finger Lakes, September 2017.  There were FIVE Avion’s at this awesome rally!!!  He simply used bungy cords to secure the hose while traveling o the road.  This is a basic fix but for a sewer hose and some other weather proof types of supplies (waterhose in a vinyl bag?)—it works….and is completely ventilated!

LAST WORD ON EXTRA STORAGE FOR LONGER ELECTRIC CORD NEEDS:

Somewhere along the way, a former owner of our rig applied rubber cup covers with adjustable and removable stainless steel bands on both ends of our tubular rear bumper.  Yes the bumpers are hollow!  So my husband, Kevin decided this would also be a great place to store a longer, spare electrical cord for our trailer besides the one that is permanently attached to the rig in the streetside compartment. Its a little tricky snaking the cord in and getting it out but thank goodness he did!  We had to use it when at the Tin Can Tourist Rally we attended last summer.  Due to some uneven ground and where we had to park in order to extend our awning we were too far a distance for our onboard cord to reach.  Wholla….out from our rear bumper appeared the extension with a double ended link to reach the electric post!

 

Well that is all I have for now, but I will continue to provide updated photos as we are on the road and see creative ways to increase your Avion’s exterior storage.

Safe travels, and remember….ONE LIFE!  LIVE IT!!!

Luisa & Kevin Sherman, The Pewter Palace, 1973 Avion LaGrande, 28′- Queensbury, NY

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