We purchased our 1973 Avion in September 2016. Quite a birthday present for me if I do say so!
Our rock guard (original to 1973) was in decent shape, with the logo faded and some stress cracks at the angle support hinge area on top. Both of these “age-related illnesses” are ones that are very common and frequently seen in Avions especially those pre-1980’s. (you can easily see the cracks in photo below).
The previous owner to us had done a decent repair job on that right crack by reinforcing with a piece of steel behind it and filling in the crack on the outside with Parbond or something similar, but now after two years of our use we started to see the left side begin to show more of a pronounced stress crack too.
These cracks in the solid formed hard plastic original rock guards like ours are common due to the sheer weight of the guard and the jiggling, torquing and bouncing it experiences when rolling down the road even though it is locked in at the bottom. Hey, and our baby has done Alaska 2xs, California at least 4 times and Florida annually for at least 6 years—so after a total of 45 years and having only these cracks in her is truly not bad!
In May of 2018 we had taken our Avion out to Cayo Repair in MI to have some work done and on the punch list was to sure up that left crack to prevent further damage and to ensure that it would hold, at least for a few more years. Chuck Cayo did a decent job with it which you can see on photo below where the rivet stud backs are showing through the horizontal piece of sandwiched steel plate. But we knew at some point the inevitable question would have to be addressed to repair again or replace completely.
In the photo below you will also see where the two support hinges mount up underneath the top inside of the rock guard. These hinges bear the full weight of the guard when opened (as shown) but also lock in place in the pull latches on bottom edge center of window to lock the guard in place for towing mode. Thus all the stress is there despite the long tubular hinge that connects from the guard itself to the rig.
The photo below clearly shows the system by which the rock guard is “hung” to attach to the trailer body. (also the horizontal steel plate repair by Cayo) .The body has a receiver tube as we call it that the guard slides into from one side.
It takes two people to effectively and safely remove or install the guard to the rig using this system. The sheer weight of these original guards is a lot.
Newer replacement guards are being manufactured by Cayo RV Repair in MI and some other private owners these days. I believe they are made of fiberglass and therefore far lighter which is a good thing, however the ones we have seen are all black which we do not care for at all. We prefer our muted grey which blends in with the aluminum body of the trailer better.
Here is a good photo for comparison, ours being on the left with its original as is condition, the one on the right is the fiberglass black replacement.
To Repair or Replace….THAT is the Question!
We knew we had only really two options with our ever growing cracks in our original existing rock guard.
- Bite the bullet and purchase one of the new fiberglass knockoffs (around $700-800 +S/H)
- Try to once again do repairs to our existing one in hopes to sure it up sufficiently for the wear and tear it would eventually get once we begin full timing in a few years.
Never Underestimate a Sunday drive to VT!
It brought us a TREASURE FIND or TWO!
One sunny Saturday in July 2018 I suggested to Kevin it would be nice to go over to nearby VT to scope out some potential campgrounds where we may wish to stay in coming years. We like to physically see the campground and identify specific sites that we take note of for future calls for reservations. We wanted places that would be grandkid-friendly and relatively easy to get to distance for us and for my daughter and son-in-law to drive to as they would be transporting the two grandchildren to us for a camping weekend.
Living in eastern upstate NY we can be to VT in a matter of 40 minutes. Our trip that day took us over through Cambridge NY and then into the Bennington and Manchester VT areas of mid-state/western VT. Using just my google map locator asking “campgrounds near me” we found several close by with no problem. Our third one to visit though was the charm. Not because we would want to end up camping there (no amenities, mostly all very run down, entrenched seasonals) but because on our way out the driveway Kevin shouted STOP! (I was driving) “WAIT…THERE IS AN AVION!”. Yes, it was, abandoned and sitting among wreck, trash, bits and pieces from other trailers. It was the campground owners graveyard of discards from two generations of ownership. Yeah, they did not ever throw anything away! Thank goodness!!
We pulled off the drive and into the graveyard. Wrangled over debris and checked her out. Appeared to be a 1988 but the rock guard looked really, really similar in design and size to ours. The poor rig had had a tree fall on her, breaking her center spine and was left in the graveyard to fill with rain, leaves, etc. etc. and used for storage, sort of, for perhaps a decade or more. But the rock guard was crack free, moveable and hopefully would be ours! We did have a tape measure with us, took measurements and tried texting and calling Cayo and posting on the Avion FB pages quickly to see if anyone could answer our question about if size of this one was same as our ’73 which of course was safely and out of reach back in NY. A couple online FB Avioners replied they thought it would fit, but if the price was right, even if it did not fit ours, there was surely a market to sell it to another Avion owner who could use it. That was enough security for us!
The owner of the campground came by driving his backhoe to gawk at these unfamiliars climbing around his Avion. No worries, nice guy and Kevin quickly sparked up a perfect, nonthreatening conversation to allay the owners fears that we were some city slickers. We are not, we are North Country folk too and Kevin knows his mechanicals, trucks, etc. to dazzle any New England car/truck junky. After a very short and amenable conversation the deal was struck, tools offered to assist us in the guard’s removal and within about 15 minutes the new rock guard was being hoisted by Kevin and I into our Suburban. Reddy our Cavalier Spaniel who had come along for the ride was not quite sure what this big canopy was coming over top her bed!
This ends Part 1 of our ROCK GUARD RESCUE.
BUT THERE’S MORE LUCK TO BE FOUND! Never underestimate what gems you may find on a Sunday drive!
Not more than 15 minutes down the road from rescuing this rock guard did we see a much earlier Avion (can you spot it in first photo below?) at a horse show along the road.
We veered quickly there to see that too! And to our sheer delight, it belonged to a woman who ran a mobile embroidery business who was actually based out of CT. Turns out it was a 1974, 23′ Travelcade. She had pretty much gutted the inside but had done some tasteful redecorating in prep for her boutique.
She was making custom designed hats, shirts, jackets for the horsey set. She needed an awning for her new Avion soon to be traveling boutique on wheels. Perfect! We struck a deal to trade our old Carefree Awning system hardware for some custom designed clothing using our trademarked Avion artwork that we had commissioned an artist to do for us in 2017. This was truly our double lucky day!
My next post will be on the Rehab phase! Until then…safe journeys!