There is no doubt that one of the key features of vintage trailers is their craftsmanship and quality of products/materials. Later in this post I will talk about what we do to maintain our cabinetry so well, but first, a little history and photos.
The Avion Coach Company spared no expense when manufacturing their signature aluminum trailers prior to the late 1970’s. Given the price tag at the time, these beauties were high end, luxury trailers. It was after that time that the company was sold to the Fleetwood RV company and incrementally over subsequent years the quality and craftsmanship started to wane. For more history about the Avion Corporation we highly recommend purchasing Bob Muncy’s book shown here. There is a link to how to purchase on our resources page.
Our 1973 is considered by many articles we have seen to be in the “perfect window years” of style, amenities and design of the Avion Coach Company. Truthfully, many prefer the pre-1973 models which have more rounded, Airstream-type styling (photo below left) with more front/rear fan panels—but in 1973 when they changed to our “breadloaf” front and rear (ours at photo below right) you gained some really valuable headspace and storage inside and more room to move about in the rear bathroom.
One of the things however that did not change during these pre- late 70’s years and even into the 80’s at least was the superb quality of their use of real wood and excellent craftsmanship of their cabinetry. Real hinges on drawers, metal tracks and wheels. Full length piano hinges on all tall cabinets and closet doors are all standard. Our LaGrande model has the extra French Provincial molding and flourish handle pulls (our kitchen cabinet below). The more basic, entry level trailer, The Travelcader, and Sportsman models had plain fronts and simple pulls.
Now owners of Avion’s are tasked with maintaining the condition of these beautiful wood cabinets. Some have chosen to paint over the stained finish-perhaps because of worn, dried out condition of their trailer, others because there is a growing preference especially among Millennials to have a crisp, bright, clean look so white or pale grey painted cabinets seem to be the rage. Below is a great beautiful example of a more “modern 21st century look” recently put on one of our Avion Facebook forums. It is a very, very nice look but not one that we would feel comfy in for any full time living. It always amazes me how varied style interiors each Avion owner does with their trailer. We are all starting with basically the same bones!
For us traditionalists, we relish the mellowed wood stain of our cabinets and do all we can to ensure they stay that way. Look at the difference! Only you can decide for your personal style which you prefer!
Now, about keeping up this stained cabinetry.
Each spring, we wipe over all of the wood cabinetry, closet doors inside and out with “Restor-A-Finish” oil by a company called Howard. Here is the link to it on Amazon, but they also have other colors available too like Cherry and others. One can has now lasted me two complete seasons. I did go over the cabinets this fall again because we had used the trailer more this season and they just seemed to need a bit more. We purchased this Restor-A-Finish can at our local large Antique Co-op Shop (Glenwood Antiques in Queensbury, NY) and it is something that many antique dealers use routinely on furniture. It does come in a variety of stain colors and we found that the Maple-Pine was the closest match to our cabinets. The Avion Corp. did offer a few different finish colors so some interiors are going to be different than ours, lighter, or darker. The wood is birch with beautiful grain as you can see from our photos.
I use an old Tee shirt or other smooth rag to apply the oil. Careful…it is quite thin and runny!
It does go on somewhat oily but that is fine and over a day or two it penetrates in and rejuvenates the wood. There is no need to go back over it with a dry cloth. Let the oil soak in. What I do like is that it does NOT leave a sticky film like some other furniture oils do. The smell is not bad and it does wash off your hands fairly easy with a scrubby but I do try to wear rubber gloves when applying it because it will stain your fingernails a bit for a time afterwards.
I like that it is a little shiny when being applied because it allows me to more easily see where i have daubed and where I have not. I have also used this same restorer if we had a scratch accidentally onto a cabinet door or trim piece. It covers it beautifully!
Here is a perfect photo to show the treated cabinet on left, and not-yet-treated on right:
In conclusion, we would highly recommend Restor-A-Finish for refurbishing your wood stained cabinetry and maintaining its vibrancy and condition by using it at least annually. We have seen photos of Avion and other RV interiors where the cabinets were not treated regularly and what happens is that they get brittle, chip, peel and look washed out and faded.
So please give treat your wood cabinets to a luscious spa treatment to keep them in beautiful condition always!
See you on the road! One Life….Live It!!
Kevin & Luisa Sherman ~ The Pewter Palace
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