Spoiler alert—be sure to visit our Rock Guard Rescue Part I before jumping in here!
In this part II blog post I am going to review how we made measurements and decisions on how to best do the “THREE R’S” (rescue, repair and re-invigorate) our classic original Avion rock guard. As mentioned in our previous blog this was a junk yard find and it is NOT one of the knock off reproduction ones currently being made out of fiberglass (see photo at end of this post for sample) or other such materials.
(Photo below: our junk yard find on ground in front of our Avion)
I will put some links to how to video’s and sources for rock guards at end of this post for those who are not as lucky as we have been to find an original for sale.
So once we had our junkyard find home, it was time to decide the best course of action for restoring it to its former glory and functionality. But wait….could we do more?? Could we jazz her up a bit with some subtle “bling” and wow factor?? YES!
But how? without going too far and destroying the classic Avion look and we did not want to offend those traditionalists and preservationists who would not want to see too much altered–ours is a classic after all.
First step was to put our new-to-us rock guard on two saw horses to support the hard plastic form and to prevent any torquing/flexion which could cause some unwanted cracks. It is best to have two people handling these rock guards. This was done in preparation for a good, gentle cleaning.
After removing cobwebs from the hardware on the back,
we gave it a good washing with just clear warm water to start to get the surface all wet. We then decided to use the same purple colored HD Simple Green brand cleaner (purchased at Home Depot). It is very important and is highly recommended to ONLY USE THE HD PURPLE type of Simple Green on Avion’s for all the washing of the trailer’s aluminum bodies. Since this is the recommended cleaner for the bodies themselves, we felt that we were also safe to use it on the rock guard. We also employed the recommendation to not do this washing in the sunshine, so we picked a cloudy day to do our rock guard washing too–just to be safe. Perhaps not as necessary as it is critical when washing the aluminum bodies (so detergent does not have a chance to dry on metal and the metal is not warm/hot from the sun–which causes cloudy streaks) but why not right?? We diluted it following the instructions on the container and used a regular boat washing hand brush with medium bristles and then soft terry towels. (yes, we baby our Avion!)
We decided to take measurements of the existing original Avion logo stencil so that we had them for future use to make a stencil ourselves for other possible purposes. Also so that we would have photo references to show for before and after looks, etc. or to assist anyone who is looking to replicate the logo because they have a knock off repro, etc.
You can see by the large photo above that our logo had been touched up by hand by some former owner. Honestly they did a decent job but this was no where near the quality look that we wanted. Also note the bottom right photo where you can see the nicks and missing paint off of the round edge.
From the facebook Avion Owner’s site managed by Mark Obinterio here from their files are PDFs of both the older avions (pre 80’s and the newer Avions) in case you want to download, print and use.
Downloadable Avion Logos: (many thanks to those generous folks who have posted them on the Avion Owners facebook page files)
avion_logo_old-from Avion Owners fB files
Avion Rockguard Decal_pdf on Avion Owners FB file page
We knew we wanted our rock guard to be somewhat of a “Rock Star” when it was finished. The rock guard is a very prominent feature of this trailer and what people see first when you are coming into a campground or rally. It is also your “front door” so to speak about what kind of rig this is and when down is your hallmark. At least this is the way we view it. We are very proud of our Avion and wanted her to have her best foot forward–quite literally all the time.
So after much consideration, and review of sample sheets of aluminum being put on the rock guard (Chuck Cayo had given us these actual samples of aluminum that he uses for his body restorations on Avions) we decided on a “grey” that would best compliment our aluminum trailer body and be just slightly different so it did not look like we were trying to match the aluminum…rather we were trying to compliment it.
Below you can see where I went to Lowes and picked up a variety of paint chip samples in grey’s and also the red we ultimately chose for the lettering accent color.
It was not easy to decide on what level of darkness of grey we would go with. We did use the center aluminum piece as our guide and ultimately chose the one that I have encircled with blue pen. We did this paint swatch so that we could see what it looked like in daylight, dusk, and with our porch light on so we could really make the best all around decision. The rock guard is a large piece and it would be a large and highly visible swath of grey. We felt the one we chose would look rich and classy and if/when it faded would still have the contrast to the aluminum Avion body we wanted.
Below is a closer look at the red sample chosen. It is not a true red, it is more of a dark red which again, we feel is more classy and rich looking. You can see the two colors together now. Each have similar intensity and color value. (yes, I was an art major in HS!)
You will notice the final paint chip above is a Dover White. We had the brainstorm to have our auto body fellow also paint the underside of the rock guard in this white in a high gloss finish. This way when the rock guard is closed due to windy days (yes, please keep your rock guard latched and locked down in wind…they will flex, crack and or could even get ripped from the hinge on windy days-it does not take much- these are like big hard rigid sails on a ship!) the high gloss will actually help to reflect BACK into the trailer your lights you have on inside on the dinette table, reading lamps or ceiling fixtures. As of this post we have not tested our theory but are convinced this will be the case. How we know is that currently when our rock guard is closed, it really creates a dark grey cave-like feel. So looking out the front window and seeing white will help a lot! When I posted this idea on the Avion Owners Facebook page, one of the long time owners said …wow…what a great idea! Guess we were the first to try this experiment in 46 years??!!
Off to the Spa for a FACELIFT!
So at this point, our rock guard is clean, prepped and ready to take to our local and highly regarded auto body painter/detailer shop. It is only about 2 miles from our house and the business is called “Mac The Knife, Designer Autocrafts, LLC” and is located at 310 Quaker Road in Queensbury NY. Phone is 518-798-0872 (tell them Kevin & Luisa Sherman sent you! – no we do not get anything from a referral but a smile!)
(Mac is also the one who redid our original spare tire cover of the same material as the rock guard (that’s another blog post coming!) installed our DECKED system and front grill brush guard, and did the paint job on our front receiver hitch on our truck)
- A very frequently referenced blog post that was originally posted on the AS forums. This project really was quite well done and could be replicated for an Avion no doubt.
YouTube Videos how to make your own rock guard.
This is a photo (at right) of a circa ’80’s Avion with what appears to us to be one of the reproduction/replacement fiberglass rock guards available from Cayo. See our resource page for their contact info.
Stay tuned, the repair shop process and final reveal will be in blog post Part III
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(keep coming back!… some decorating ideas using any RV rock guard and front window/tongue area will be put into another future blog post!)
One life….Live It Riveted!
Kevin & Luisa Sherman