We love our Avion,but lets face it, at under 200 sq. feet there is precious space for everything! Our kitchen is no exception. By the way….did you know that in some of the original sales brochures we have seen for ’70’s era Avion’s they called the kitchen/galley the “entertainment center”! What a hoot! I figure that is because many women during that time were stay at home wives and mothers and spent a lot of time in the “kitchen” so when it was time to get away in their Avion and travel they were “entertaining”, not slaving in the kitchen!
So back to our project! Our front area had been altered from a jack knife sofa to a banquette dinette area by the previous owner as I have mentioned in previous posts. So we were without the small angle/corner cabinet at the end of the kitchen counter area to the right of the kitchen window. We have found a perfect (love it!!) covered ottoman/box (see photo at end of this post) that serves as storage, a footrest and as a spare seat if needed inside or outside. But the ottoman is low and does not help with needed counter space.
Items and tools you will need:
wood snack table that measures no more than depth of your base cabinet
pencil or marking device
paper for hinge template
locking hinges and screws (be sure they are not too long and would poke through tray table top!)
scrap board for backing support
power drill and screwdriver
A “helper” helps!
DEAD SPACE is ABOVE
I had seen on many other RV videos where many B+ and others have installed the flip up extension to their counter with locking hinges. I decided that we no longer needed four wood snack tables at our apartment (just two of us anyway!) so I decided on re-purposing a solid wood snack table top for our Avion’s kitchen counter extension.
I purchased two of the brown locking hinges at our local Albany RV supply store for under $10 each. I like the way the brown blended into the cabinetry and also the fact that they are lockable is very important so once the extension is tilted up and deployed it stays put. Be sure when you are installing them that you are putting the correct long side on the top so that when you want to fold the table extension back down you are gently lifting up a little to disengage the lock and then lower the extension. I have found some similar on Amazon, linked here but the locking mechanism is a bit different than ours. There are plenty of types and colors available on Amazon but oddly, no brown. I like our brown with our trailer.
We used the side that shows on top in photo below as our “top” which got secured to the underside of the tray table top.
Tray Table Stand: After gathering needed supplies we proceeded to un-attach the wood snack tray top from its wooden scissor “X” stand. Our snack trays had been purchased from Walmart years ago but I believe they still have them. Going onto Walmart.com now I see only sold in a four piece set with holder for about $60. But I believe our local Walmart store sells them in person as singles and price is under $10 each. Here is a link to one on Amazon that is similar in style to what we used in case you want that as reference.
Once tray top was on its own we decided exactly where to locate it on the base cabinet end wall. This wall is solid wood (Avion cabinetry is gorgeous and real….no particle board on these beauties!) but nevertheless we still will put a scrap board behind to give the screws/hinge/extension table and this cabinet board further vertical support. I decided not to try to make the extension flush with the kitchen counter. This is both for aesthetics and to be able to keep edges clean, but also because I did not want to risk the tray extension ending up even a tad higher than the counter when we were fixing in place. Below you can see the horizontal pencil line which we marked while laying the extension against the cabinet base wall. Also note the pilot holes drilled after positioning the first of the two hinges. (you can see faint remnants of a line where the original corner cabinet was installed a little further down)
Below are photos showing the scrap board we used behind where we would be drilling and then screwing in the bracket hinges. This provides great extra support. The scrap wood does not impede the drawers from closing. Be sure to use a thin enough piece so the drawers still go in but sturdy enough to be a reinforcement for the hinges. Use your measurements on the outside to then draw your measurement/placement for the scrap wood on the inside of the cabinet wall.
Use your level to ensure you are positioning the hinges level so that your extension is level too! We did pilot holes through the cabinet base and directly into the scrap wood. This is where the helper comes in because someone has to hold the vertical scrap boards in place while the hinges are being drilled in. You can use double face tape, etc. to hold them in place if you do not have a helper.
In order to be sure that we had the position of the holes for the hinges correctly placed on the underside of the extension table, we made a paper template up.
Once the hinges are on, and you have your template ready, you are ready to drill pilot holes into the underside of the snack tray table. Here is a great trick (see video below) Kevin used to be sure that he did not drill into tray table any further than needed and poke through the top by accident. Just a little strip of duct tape put around the drill bit at the bottom most measurement needed for the screws so that the screws would secure through the hinge and into the table extension without poking through.
Once all pilot holes are drilled, once again here is where a helper comes in handy. Place the extension tray table top onto the first hinge. We started with front most hinge and insert screws from underside and up into the tray table top. Then do back hinge. It helps to have someone holding onto the tray table and exerting just a little downward pressure on the extension table top to ensure a good bond.
What I like most about using the already finished tray table is that it gives an immediate finished look unlike if you just slapped a pine or square sided oak board there. These tray tables are built to handle dishes, water, food being dropped on them, beverage glasses sweating onto them. They are pre-finished, solid and have held up for over 10 years and still look nearly new for us!
Here is a photo (above) of the finished project with the extension down. You can also see we measured and positioned it optimally so that it did not impede me being able to pull out and get into the storage ottoman either. We are really, really happy that we have just DOUBLED our useable counter space for the cost of under $30 and about a half hour of project time work. Can you tell by the video that I am really excited!!
Let us know if you take on this project for your RV so we can post it on our facebook page and share your results with others to inspire them!
VIDEO OF THE FINISHED PROJECT! SO EXCITED!!
Safe journeys! Remember if you do this or a similar counter extension project let us know!
Sampson State Park, Romulus, NY was once again the site of the Annual Northeastern Tin Can Tourist Rally September 12-15, 2018. This was our second year attending and we were fortunate to have Thursday as our travel day this year so we could enjoy the evening festivities that night AND be able to select an awesome campsite more in the “hub” of the action.
(Avioners sure to read all the way to the end to see photos of fellow Avions at the rally too!)
Reddy helped co-pilot…of course! (ha ha- you should have heard her snoring!)
We arrived (after a five hour trip) at around 1:30 PM and selected site #53 this year. It was a great choice because we could park parallel to the street, be more in the center hub and also an quick walk down the slope to the concert and happy hour tent and bathroom building (which saves on black water tank use) since this state campground only provides electric hook ups. They have a communal dump station and fresh water fill at end of campground drive. More about that later in another post.
Towing this 28 foot Avion is a breeze. Kevin continues to remark how you hardly know it is there. We average a cruising speed of 60 mph which we feel is safe and comfortable for us, our truck and the trailer. The weather was warm, mid to high 80’s and expected to be that for the entire weekend which for this time of year is very warm. We like 70’s thank you!!
Once at the campground Kevin proceeded with his normal set up routine and I with mine. I have the responsibility of decor, outside amenities and helping with the flag install. This was the first time we were officially using our new flag holder which holds 5 flags. Sadly not all of the ones we ordered came in on time, but we did have our American Flag and our TCT (Tin Can Tourist) flags. I will be doing a specific post on how we repurposed things from Lowe’s to make our flagpoles since the cost of ready made ones were crazy expensive!
Many of the vintage campers had already come in and more rolled in as we were setting up our campsite. Here are some great photos!
These rallies are chocked full of great people and many opportunities to socialize and get to know each other, and their RV’s better. Rarely can you take your pet for a walk, or saunter to the Rec Hall or lavatory without sparking up a conversation with someone else who is passionate about their vintage rig. We feel right at home!
Thursday evening we had a pizza party in the Rec Hall which is reserved exclusively for our TCT group use all weekend. Yes, we indulged in Pizza and it was yummy and plenty pot luck salads and desserts! (these “canners” know how to party and cook!) We also indoctrinated several new TCT members (flash back for me how i totally messed up the theme song last year when we were newbies!) Everyone had a blast!
Friday morning was a coffee and donut informal gathering back at the Rec Hall. These are always great ways to move around, sit with different people and share tips, travels and tales about vintage RVing. Friday and Saturday we also were each allowed to have a “flea market table” at our sites if we wanted to. Luck will have it we still have plenty to sell and were able to sell quite a bit of stuff which essentially paid for our entire trip! Nice!! and it clears out more from our RV garage and home that we need to downsize.
Friday night there was a happy hour under the huge social tent which is set up in the middle of the campground making it easy for everyone to get to. (it is also next to the bathroom pavilion which is doubly handy cause lets face it, there is quite a bit of libations flowing! Happy Hour was at 5 PM with pot luck appetizers. I made cantalope melon bites wrapped in prosciutto then put on skewers with mozzarella balls, and a sprig of fresh mint. Then laced with Balsamic glaze, these little beauties were gobbled up by the over 30 attendees in a heartbeat. They were yummy and perfect for a warm, very warm September evening. A little later we all strolled en-mass up to the Rec Hall at 6 PM for the Famous Mac N Cheese and Chili Cookoff Dinner competition. I did not partake in competing this year, but I brought a tossed salad. Once again, the wonderful food selections were amazing and plentiful with 13 varieties of homemade chili and nearly that many Mac N Cheese casseroles. Add to that tons of various salads and a whole table of desserts and no one would go “home” hungry! We sure did not! It is so great not having to plan to make all your own meals for four days! Wow!
Friday night beginning at 7 PM there was a great bluegrass four piece live band under the social tent. We went close by for a while then moved up to our camper and could enjoy the great music wafting over the lawn while stoking up our own nice campfire. We were only perhaps 100 feet from the tent so it was like our own private concert. We were tired after a full day of flea market sales and giving tours!
(this photo above is actually Saturday night’s impromptu Happy Hour , not on the schedule but we all said….”why not”??!!
You are beginning to see a theme here…..Canners like to party…and EAT! (did I forget to mention that at every evening meal and happy hour there is wine and other non alcoholic beverages!)
Saturday was no exception, first a pancake breakfast in the Rec hall, Come dressed in your favorite RV Jammies contest!…… then Saturday night the catered Chicken BBQ with again a myriad of pot luck dishes and desserts. Check out these photos above!
In between during the day on Saturday we all hosted three hours of an OPEN HOUSE TOUR where most of us have our trailers or RVs open for public visitors and fellow canners to tour, talk with the owners and share stories. I did not count how many visitors we had but it had to be at least 80 people. Some were vintage camper owners who had gotten nixed out of being in the TCT loop because the event sold out this year in 31 minutes! Next year, there is talk to expand into a second loop at the campground so more TCT member can get in on all the special events, etc. that comes with your official TCT event registration package. That would be good.
One outstanding RV this year was just two sites away from us. Called “THE ROCKET” this 42 foot 1956 trailer is right out of an I Love Lucy story! Check out these photos. This was a “field find” with trees and yuck growing out of every crevasse and has been completely and faithfully restored and used quite regularly for camping. It was set up in a Christmas theme this year and totally awesome!
Saturday night was capped off with the awards for Best Lights, Best of Show and Best PJ’s awards being given out at the Chicken BBQ dinner. Fun times and great conversation!
Below is the vintage Airstream that won Best in Show….beautifully restored we believe the owners are from Canada. As participants we do get a list of everyone who has attended with their year of rig, name, address and email so we can keep in touch. Nice again!
Sunday we decided to loaf around our camp in the morning and cooked breakfast (our favorite meal when camping) and savored a beautiful morning having breakfast in our PJ’s at our picnic table. I love morning coffee, etc. outdoors….so nice! By 11 AM most were leaving and so were we. We stopped at the campground at Turning Stone Casino in Verona on our way back to scope out our reservations for the end of the month….we will be out camping again from Sept 28-Oct 5 while I attend a convention at the Casino event center.
I would be remiss without thanking publicly Ed and Miriam Moore who have orchestrated and coordinated this rally for at least the last 5-8 years. They are lovely folks who try and succeed so well to make everyone happy and to plan so many great aspects of this rally. The Moore’s announced they are retiring from coordinating after this year and their successor has yet to be announced, but will have big shoes to fill. It will be nice for Ed and Miriam to be able to actually fully enjoy just being participants next year!
I HAVE SAVED THE BEST FOR LAST! There were FOUR (including us) Avioner couples present at this years TCT Rally and we understand next year a few more are going to make every effort to attend. Since this is an Avion blog I will leave you with the photos of our Avion buddies at the rally!
So this draws to a close the fun time we had once again at the Northeastern Tin Can Tourist Rally at Sampson State Park. Clearly as we get more time to travel we will make attending other TCT rallies in other states a priority. We love the club and all it is about and encourage our fellow Vintage Camper lovers to get involved in TCT!
Not the most “romantic” or instant joy repair….but a necessity for sure!
Our Avion had its rear side, kitchen and bath window’s re-glazed last June when at Fletcher’s RV Service in the Finger Lakes but they had forgotten to do the front when the rock guard was down. UGH. Similarly and much to our chagrin, when we were picking up our Avion at Cayo in MI THIS June he told us he did not do it either because he did not have a source for the glaze bead. (Had he told us that prior to us picking up our Avion assuming all of the punch list was done correctly—-and asked, we DID know the source, since we had ordered it for Fletch to install) DOUBLE UGH!
So anyway, long story short…our Pewter Palace still needed its front windows redone with new rubber window glaze bead. And we decided after two failed attempts getting someone else to do it, we better just start learning to do way more for ourselves when it comes to working on this trailer. Once we go full time, we are going to have to be far more self-reliant anyway. This way we also only have ourselves to blame when “repairs” are not done correctly or fail shortly thereafter.
Back in early 2017—After conferring with multiple fellow Avion owners online we had found a reliable source in Interstate RV Metal Supply. (they also sell other Hehr window parts, replacements, etc. and are very friendly and accommodating on the phone. ). I will have other potential resource sites linked at end of this blog post in case you have a different style bead or different brand of vintage trailer.
** they do not have a very online user-friendly site. You do have to call them to order this product, but gladly, their customer service folks are wonderful.
This glaze bead comes in two colors–white and black. We strongly recommend the BLACK because as you will see from our photos, once installed gives a nice finished look, will not get dirty looking and simply visually recesses and matches the windows rather than the white which we feel would stick out like a sore thumb against the aluminum skin of the trailers.
(left photo below is with old bead removed, right photo is after new bead put in)
So over Labor Day weekend, 2018…we labored! And Bingo!….we managed to get all three of the front windows cleaned out of the old glaze bead (45 years later) removed. It had to be done because it had shrunk considerably and the 45 degree angle cut corners had over 1 inch gaps between them where silicone had been slathed in to prevent water from seeping in and underneath. The aluminum tracks had to be cleaned out of an over zealous black butyl tape that had been applied when the windows had been set in. Major goo had oozed into the outside of the window edges and was underneath the window glaze. The weather was warm, about 84 degrees with some humidity and this project DOES need to be done in warm weather so that the rubber glaze bead (both the existing you have to remove, and the new that needs to be installed) stays pliable and warm to make it easier to get in.
Use a cloth tape measure and generously measure your total lengths needed for each window. Then at at least a foot for each window to ensure you have plenty!
Only do the install in warm weather and preferably with sun out and place the rubber glaze bead in the sun, on an asphalt drive if possible so it really warms up.
Remove the rock guard lock pin plates off front of window mullions first. You may need a power drill with correct bit to get these off.
We suggest NOT using your old bead for measuring the length of your new bead. The old bead may have shrunk and is not accurate measurement.
Apply the new bead in one length from your stock (in other words…do not precut what you think is your exact length needed for that window) and when getting close to your seam cut, cut it longer by at least 2 inches, then start trimming in until you have a really tight, snug fit. Back it off a bit so the rubber is really tightly butting together. This will reduce gaps in seams after a time where it is exposed to elements and starts to shrink from sunlight, etc.
Be sure to clean out the tracks really well once you remove the old bead. Remove any dirt, bits of glue, Butyl tape ooze, silicone or anything that may impede the new bead being installed. Use your toothbrush, plastic putty knife, plastic bone tool and scrubbies for this part of the job.
You may want to have the following pieces of equipment handy to help remove and to install the bead.
Needle nose and flat nose pliers
Sturdy scissors (for cutting the bead at 45 degree angle for any 90 degree window corners.
Old toothbrush (or the one you got from a hotel when you forgot yours!)
Some plastic paint/putty knives, or better yet, a “bone tool” which is a hard plastic scraper type gizmo that is great for getting off the silicone or any other crud that may be on your aluminum skin. The plastic bone tool will not scrape or mar your skin. You can find a great bone tool on the amazon page of one of our favorite bloggers—Long Long Honeymoon (they have a vintage airstream)
Set of Pick tools, (see photo of kit with blue handles, found at Home Depot, Lowes)
Rags, scrubbies/we used Kevin’s GoJo brand cleaning wipes
Cleaning/Polishing the Front Windows—Plexiglas caution!!
We also took this opportunity to polish the front windows since they are Plexiglas and after 45 years have had their share of scratches, dirt and grime. BE CAREFUL WITH PLEXIGLAS!!! you cannot use regular Windex or window cleaners on them! Using the wrong stuff will result in a fogging and haze on the plastic window. Yes, a former owner of our trailer neglected to remember this and our front left curved plexi window has that “fog” permanently and we will replace it at some point with new Lexan. Just water is fine, but we have been using a cleaner especially formulated for Plexiglas that is available most anywhere other cleaners are found. Ours is pink so you can really tell it is different than the traditional blue stuff that normally has ammonia or vinegar in it.
We used this plexiglas polish to do our windows. We only used the foam pad, but the kit comes with various grits of sandpaper circles to use if you wish. We did not attempt this because we were afraid of doing more damage to the hazy window and without having a replacement ready- we could not take the chance, two weeks from our Tin Can Tourist Rally trip. But the polish paste worked well and did make a difference for sure so we are happy for now with the results. We used a rechargable power drill and it worked great.
After the cleaning and polishing of the windows, here is the actual application of the rubber glaze bead. Looks easy in video but takes a bit to get the “knack”.
The video’s kind of make this look easier than it is. Just take your time, you will need strong, nimble fingers to do this. I did not have enough strength in my fingers–but Kevin did! Nice thing is that until you finish the corners or seams with a bit of Parbond sealant you can take it out and re position as needed till you get it right.
Be sure when you are putting it in that when in correctly it will be very snug and hold tight to the window itself. If you see any bulge or gap, then it is not in properly so take back out that section and try again.
if you are doing your front windows your seams will be in the top and bottom of the vertical inside edges. Whenever you have 90 degree corners you will need to cut your glaze bead at 45 degrees like a picture frame. This is our first corner and before Parbond sealant is put in. The rippling in corner is because Kevin was sure to really stuff as much of the rubber in as possible to avoid shrinkage issues later.
IF you are doing your side windows then it is recommended that you place your seam at the center bottom with a straight cut- butting the two ends together really tightly and firmly. Positioning your bead around rounded corners is not a problem but be sure you are not stretching it at all to get it in there, Kevin recommends pushing it back a bit even to ensure that there is no tension on the rubber glaze bead so that it does not want to pop out of the corners. (this was our first corner, not bad but we got better!) This is before Parbond sealant was applied.
Some sites we saw did recommend putting a little silicone on the starting points and also on the corners. We did not. It might be something we regret, but as Kevin noted, he did really push back on the rubber as it was installed to be sure that there was no tension on the corners, etc. We have seen where on other rigs that corners pull out when the shrinkage starts. We do plan to apply some conditioner to this each year to keep it more pliable and soft and hopefully this will also reduce shrinkage. We noticed that the glaze seams from where Fletch did the windows just over a year ago have already pulled apart perhaps an 1/8th inch. We will place some more clear Parbond in those to reseal again.
FINAL STEPS IN THIS PROJECT:
Sealing the seams of glaze bead: After you have the bead in place and are pleased with the snug fit then put a bead of clear Parbond sealant over that seam. We have not found Parbond in black which would have been our preference, but the clear basically works fine and the black glaze bead makes the clear look black anyway. We purchase our Parbond from http://www.VintageTrailerSupply.com We also use the hypodermic tube injectors that they sell on the same page since that does allow for better control of flow than direct from the tube of Parbond. Parbond is great stuff to have around and is used many places on a trailer to prevent leaks, seal joints, etc. It comes in clear and aluminum. Cayo used aluminum stuff to block holes caused when we switched out our Carefree awning with our Zipdee.
Maybe it is because we really would love to be camping every day if we could…but we are finding that when a weekend comes where we are “home-bound” we get antsy and all we seem to want to do is watch travel video’s, You Tubers who are living the full time life (oh we are so jealous!!!)…and plan for projects, trips AND CAMPGROUNDS that we want to bring our Pewter Palace to!
Some of these campgrounds are literally in our backyard. We are fortunate to live just outside of NY’s Adirondack Park. A public/private land mass of 6 million acres. Much of it is designated Forever Wild, Wilderness Land and also there are vast tracks of beautiful woodlands, mountains, rivers, lakes and ponds. Sounds heavenly? it is!!
So this past weekend we hopped in the car (it was supposed to be rainy on Saturday anyway) and took off to explore about 2 hours north of us-some of the NY State Campgrounds to see what potential they may hold for our camping getaways…that are not too taxing on the budget or with limited time off.
Here is our check list to help you when deciding to check out campsites and campgrounds for future reference:
Before you start hunting for the PERFECT site in a campground scoping mission:
When to Scope? Do not go off season….go peak season so you can see what the campground is like in full swing! If you are going to be there in slow or off season then it only gets better….not worse! (more on specifics to watch for later in this blog)
Bring your camping guide book (I like to write directly in the margins what sites and comments we want to remember) and printed maps. We have learned that there is very limited, if any cell coverage in the ADK areas where campgrounds are located so your GPS and ability to access their websites when on site is nil.
Bring a pad and pen to jot down notes on things you observe along the way, restaurants that look good or that you stopped at for a meal and enjoyed. Note interesting side trips or shops (for me its Antiques and Local Crafts!) along the way that you were unaware of.
Note things like very steep inclines/declines getting into some places. (Far easier to monitor this buzzing around in just your car than when towing your rig!)
Bring a Tape Measure if you want. Does not hurt to even bring a 50′ or longer (depending on your rig size) retractable tape measure if you really want to be sure you can fit your rig and park your tow vehicle in a site you have fallen in love with (of course, please do not do this if the site is taken when you visit—you might get some wild looks!)
Stop at the ranger station, explain you are there to do a pre-camping check of sites to select a few that you would want to book in future. Let them know what size/length rig you have so they can forewarn you if some areas are not for you.
Pick up the site map at the ranger station, double check on their daily and weekly rates, length of max stay, and how far in advance you can book sites. I say this because not all websites are always up to date. NYS is pretty good and in fact they are doing some reconstruction of specific sites in every campground and have a list online as well as have them marked in the campgrounds–so you don’t get your heart set to find out its unavailable!
REALLY IMPORTANT NOTE: you really cannot do this MISSION by yourself. I have tried and it is really unsafe and not easy and far more time consuming. So grab a buddy and one of you drives and watches out for pedestrians, bike riders and pot holes and the other one of you read the map, jot down site numbers and orients the driver on where to turn next!
So we planned strategically, using the point to point method and we were going to follow a continuous path in a northerly direction checking out any and all state campgrounds along the way on our path. We had two specific ones we had checked out online and they were the main target. But we like free wheeling a bit too so we also planned for a few stops at shops, for dining and for any other private campgrounds along our way that seemed interesting. For this trip, we were checking out specifically Lake Eaton and Fish Creek.
PREVIEW TIP- VLOGS, BLOGS AND PHOTO MONTAGES:
Many campgrounds, even state campgrounds have video’s on line now done by either amateur You Tube camping folks or in some cases by somewhat professional folks who have done a great job noting campsites themselves within parks. Here are a few of our very favorite ones that we always preview ahead of doing any “Scope Mission”. It is definitely worth the time to do!
VLOGGERS: These Full Time RVers do great campground reviews and incorporate a terrific bike ride with Go-Pro style narrated tour of the campgrounds that they visit. They travel all over the USA.
WheelingIt (online and on YouTube) Paul & Nina have now moved to Europe to begin RV adventures there, but their website remains an excellent resource of Vlog posts and videos from all over the USA. They even did a review on Sampson State Park in NYS where our Tin Can Tourist Rally is each September! Cheers!!
These folks are just one of many who do campground reviews, so just search You Tube for the campground you are thinking about and check out what shows up.
PHOTOS COLLECTIONS of campground actual # camp sites from around the country close up and by number for easy reference are awesome. This site below is by far THE BEST resource to get a feel for campsites and to armchair surf specific campsites by Site # before you even go through the gate! They categorize by public and private campgrounds, have numerous links, etc. and it is our GO TO site before we travel to anywhere with our camper.
How to know what is best for you, your preferred camping experience
Trust your gut!
Again, be sure you have a buddy doing this with you so one can drive and the other is navigator.
What to Look For- Positives and Negatives–BE OBSERVANT!
How friendly is the person staffing the entrance booth?
What is the physical condition of buildings, pavilions, bath and shower houses? If they are not maintained well, then chances are the campsites are not either.
Is the signage directing you around the campground adequate? one way roads to lessen traffic is always preferred.
Check out the public spaces like beach, pavilions, communal fire pit, playgrounds. Are they in good repair? being used? Dip your toe in the water, or at least look to see if it is a sandy beach or slimy.
Is there a boat or kayak access area? Can you find a campsite waters edge and be able to launch your kayak right from there? Boat rentals? Do they have life preservers available or do you have to bring your own? Place to park your boat trailer if you are bringing one? Fishing dock?
Do they sell fishing licenses at office (NYS they do not so you have to purchase at a local store…how far away is that??)
Visit at least ONE of the camper bath houses with toilets. Are the flushable? pit? condition? smell? hot and cold water? soap or at least sanitizer? Bugs/spiders, critters? ditto for the shower buildings- do they have lockable doors? separate showers for each person? or one room with stalls with curtains. (Lake Eaton, Fish Creek, Luzerne Campground and Scaroon Manor all had very nice to very decent facilities)
Other campers…do they wave hello or at least a nod when you drive by them walking or in their sites? no one wants an unfriendly campground—at least we do not.
State campgrounds do not have planned activities for the most part but some will have specific scheduled nature talks or history walks by a camp host or ranger. Check into that.
Dump Station. Is it working? easy to access with length of your rig? away from where your campsite is….(wafting fumes is not our idea of a pleasant weekend!)
Garbage Dumpster Area. Is is cleaned up? accessible? do they recycle? Some note in their rules they REQUIRE Clear bags! remember to bring them!
What to AVOID!
Rig Length and Width: We have a 28 foot bumper pull travel trailer. Add to that our 3/4 Ton Pick Up Truck and we are over 50 feet in total length. We are narrower than many modern rigs…only 8’5″ wide. The size of your rig and total length needs to be an important consideration.
Campsite roadways and sites themselves: As you drive through the campground, be very mindful of sharp turns, narrow roadways. How are people parked? Are tow vehicles left to park on side of the road because the sites are too shallow? Are visitors cars to spend the day with camping friends making getting around the campground difficult? Low hanging tree limbs?? (again we are far lower than most modern rigs so we always feel sorry for Class A’s and 5Vers because they are so tall and a ripped rubber roof is a real bummer!
LOOK FOR THESE CAMPSITE SPECIFICS:
A site that is on a bend in the road. This site will be easier to back into because the angle of the road creates an automatic angle for backing in rather than having to angle your rid and tow vehicle. You therefore can drive just past your site and then put her into reverse and back in nearly straight back. We prefer sites on the right with the roadway bearing a curve to the left. That’s just us and what we prefer. Remember that angling may not always be possible due to trees, neighbors vehicles or a large rig parked in a site opposite yours. MOST of the campsites we saw at four state campgrounds this weekend were back in sites with very narrow roadways. Fifth wheels and motor homes have it a little easier with this, but at 50 feet in length for us and a bumper pull, maneuverability is key to getting into a site without pulling your hair out before you even get started camping!
Is the firepit/fire place and picnic table in good condition? Not insurmountable but nice to have something useable. We have had to balance our Weber grill on a boulder before because there was no where to put our grill. And our evening fire was on the ground with that same boulder as a spark shield and backing plate.
What is the land like at the site? Sand? soft loamy mulch from leaf and bark rot? What is the drainage pattern? We find that going to look at sites right after there has been some really good rain is a great thing to do! See which ones are in “flood zones” and avoid! Are there a lot of rocks protruding up where you will be constantly going back and forth from your rig to your chair and tables?? that will wear you down, is a trip hazard and could also wreak havoc to your patio mat if you chose to put it down. If sandy or soft, you may wish to bring a few boards to put under your leveling blocks and/or stabilizers. This site below at Jellystone Campground in North Hudson NY was very sandy and after a week there, we had become slightly unlevel because of it despite having boards and levelers, pads.
Sun or Shade? Which do you prefer? We like trees but we also like to get sunlight through each day if the sun is shining. We find that being in too dark of a site with tons of trees brings us into melancholia a bit, and also nothing ever dries out like swim suits, damp cushions or chairs, etc. I also have solar powered fairy lights and other lanterns and without sunlight they will not work. Also, you run the risk of rolling up a damp awning. Not good!
Room for your unhitched vehicle or visitor vehicle to be safely parked? We have a long truck and always are sure to look where we can park our vehicle for easy access but also so that more times than not, it also provides a privacy screen for us from road noise. Especially when we have the grand kids with us, we like to have a bit of a wall between the roadway and our “outdoor living room”.
Where is the Water? Where are the Bathrooms? always important to locate and see how far away they are from the site you are selecting. All of the NYS campgrounds we visited (and most all others) have NO hook ups at all so you will be using a portable water jug to refill water tanks if needed or use from atop your picnic table and using the public toilets for “big business” to cut down on filling your waste water tanks too quickly. You can also get one of those rolling portable honey wagon tanks and take that to the dump station. We are going to look into this because we do plan to camp for a week or more and know that our black tank can only handle about 6 days if we use our camper bathroom exclusively.
Pine Pitch? We try to avoid heavily wooded sites that are covered with pine trees. They leak sap onto your rig and your awning.
Low Hanging Limbs or dead limbs and trees (widow makers)– these may prevent your tall rig from fitting in, or any rig from being able to extend your awning. Dead or rotted limbs or trees could be literally the downfall of your camping experience if they crash into your awning or worse…your rig!
How close is your neighbor? We prefer ours way more than arms length. There is a trend at private campgrounds to pack folks in like sardines. Luckily, most state campgrounds that we have here in the ADK’s at least have very decent space and privacy between sites. But always good practice to really see how close your neighboring sites are. Again, our ideal site backs up to the woods, and has perhaps only one neighbor on our street side of the camper so we get the most privacy. Not that we are not friendly, I just like to have my coffee in my bathrobe when camping! Obviously if you are camping next to already known friends with their own camper then close is nice!
Cell Signal? is that a deal breaker for you? check it out during your Scope Mission from a variety of sites that look good to you. or is there a booster somewhere near the ranger station or public gathering areas- chances are no but worth checking out. Along these lines, telephone?? we saw a good old fashioned telephone booth today at the Luzerne Campground. You need to know how and who to reach in case of emergency.
Fire Wood Restrictions?Bans? in NYS you are only allowed to bring your own wood in from a max of 50 miles from the campground. This has created quite the cottage industry for small time entrepreneurs who you will see dot the roadway leading to the campground entrance. They often are selling a bundle of decent stuff for $3-7. Stock up. You can bring Kiln-dried wood with you from further away but it should say it is on the wrapping. Also, when checking into your site day of your trip, be sure to be aware of any fire bans or restrictions due to dry conditions. They normally have that posted at the gates.
S’Mores…..remember you cannot deface, remove or tamper with any trees in a state campground or most private ones…so bring your own S’More Sticks…and enjoy!
Hope this blog has been useful to you and welcome your tips and tricks to picking great campsites!
Site # 221– “elite” category FHU site, waterfront to Alpine Lake.
Price points: $62-70 per night
Arrival time: around 3-3:30 PM. Friday, (too late-read post to find out why) Check in rules are 1PM, check out is noon (nice!)
Discount programs: they only accept Thousand Trails or Encore member discounts. They do not accept AAA, Good Sam or Passport America.
Pets and kids.…friendly to both, and there are lots of them.
Monday.... we decided the weather forecast looked decent enough for the upcoming weekend to catch a quick camping trip just to relax and so I could finish putting up and installing all the decor goodies, etc. I had purchased over the winter months for our trailer. Tuesday we went on a scope out mission to tour the campground and to jot down various # sites at this campground. It is a nice, rural drive about 40 minutes from our home. We make it a practice to try to visit campgrounds first when possible INSEASON to get a real feel for what the park is like in full bloom (people and rigs that is) rather than off season when sites are empty, facilities winterized, etc.
So we came up with about five sites that truly interested us for their views, size and privacy to some degree. The sites we would recommend are: parallel sites 218-220, 223, back in sites 207, 208, then along the lower south shoreline, back in sites 15, 16, 17- all these having water frontage. I have only two basic requirements or must haves for most of my camping excursions….water or mountain views or preferably both in the same venue from my campsite! To me, then it really feels like a relaxing change of pace. We tried to book our top pick on Tuesday night while we were there, but were told by a nice staffer at reservation desk that she has to keep those waterfront “elite” sites open until Friday mornings in July and August in hopes of getting someone to book at least a 7 night stay. Ugh…ok, so we were told to call back on Friday morning and if one of our choice #’s was available we could book it for the two nights we desired.
Friday came around, weather forecast still looked good. Reservation desk opens at 8 AM. At 8:03 AM I was dialing. BINGO! our site #220 was available! Yeah! “book it Danno” (those of you old enough will understand that phrase). We were happy campers….till we got there around 3 PM.
Hmm….no check in packet was ready for us..a sign all may not be well. Oh, ok, found us on the computer….site 221. Ah….no, that is not the site that is on my email confirmation or that we wanted and was told was available at 8:03 AM this morning and confirmed by Susan (who by the way, ended up we find out was the assistant manager). So now I am upset, I just had my heart set on a water view for the weekend. In luck!!…says a new and very pleasant young desk worker who was trying very hard to calm me down and doing a good job of it. She had two other sites in the same locale available and we could have our choice of either one (221 or 223). So, ok, not prime, but comparable with a few more trees blocking the lake, but livable and not sandwiched in like other parts of the park or among the many, many seasonal set ups that have everything from Tiki bars to 8 person fire pits to full blown landscaped (some nice, some junk) or the topper…the triple length dining canopy with count ’em four picnic tables together end to end right next to the road (whoa, that must sound like a rock concert or a NASCAR Tailgate party when they get ripping on a Saturday night!).
So off we go to our site road which is on a narrow peninsula causeway with a pond on north side and Alpine lake on the south side. We stop shy of the first site, 221 to scope it out and also look at 223 which was to be available. Whoops…no, someone with a large trailer had already claimed 223 and it was no longer an option. (still wondering how the computer did not know this and wonder if they actually were supposed to be at another, less priced, site and hijacked the site to be next to their friends in 222) So, #221 was it, or go home. Home was not an option for me at that point—but then again I was not going to be the one to have to “thread the needle” trying to back our Avion into our site with TWO HUGE 5th Wheels as bookends on either end. Wait…it gets better.
We got attitude from the lady in the 5er that was in 222 because she had to fold up her “rear porch” because it literally extended into our site where our tow vehicle was going to be parked. Mind you, they already had their awning out facing the water and each campsite does come with a very nice cement patio which they already had their dog pen and chairs on. To quote her, “this is why I wanted lake view so i could sit on the porch and see it”. Oh well, pack it up folks- which they did with some grumbling. About this time, a staffer from the campground showed up to assist Kevin with backing in instruction—I am sure it helped that we figured out, he also was the owner of the campground so our 5er figured they better not push things. Hey, all the campers on the street pay the same price for their sites. If a huge fifth wheel with 4 slides and towering what seemed like a full story above our Avion needed or wanted a porch (which is like four feet off the ground!)…they certainly always have the option to purchase two sites…then no issue right??
As it was, if we had allowed them to keep their porch down, we literally feel like we would be having them for breakfast, lunch and dinner under our awning each meal. Not to mention, we would not have been able, nor any one else save a mini Rpod get in to 221.
The folks in 220 (the site we had reserved) were actually really nice. They explained they had booked the site back in January. We suspect that they had actually booked 221 but because that big “porch” 5er was already parked, our nice neighbors could not maneuver their 5 slide huge fifth wheel there either. They let it slip that when trying to get into the site they backed over our sewer hook up. Nevertheless, they were nice and good neighbors for the weekend. We were impressed that with four teenagers we did not see them all hunkered down over ipads or cell phones or blaring music. Instead the kids were out fishing, kayaking or biking–nice job raising kids to disconnect during camping (LOL…wish i could get Kevin to do that—he was on his ipad a lot and I am just as guilty on my phone posting photos, etc. to facebook)!
Well so now to the good part. The campground is nice (busy…but it is summer afterall) and the amenities are nice. So many of the other campgrounds in the region are minimal, run down and do not offer much. There are a couple higher end resorts, this one is kind of upper/upper middle but not quite at the top. The pool is well kept, there are two of them. One is only max 3 feet deep. Graduates from 1 foot to 3 foot. Great for toddlers, our grandkids would have loved it…..we did too because we were the only ones in there for a while and even once some young kids came in it still was less busy than the main pool The main pool is a little wider, same length but deeper. Nice thing is this is one campground that actually posts there are “Adult only” hours from 8-9 PM nightly. Sure wish more campgrounds did this rule! The chairs, lounges and umbrella tables were plentiful and the entire area was very well maintained and landscaped. In fact, the landscaping throughout the campground was very good for this region.
The main lodge, which is waterfront has a very decent snack bar restaurant with everything from pizza to quesadilla’s, ice cream to jalapeno poppers. I had a chicken Caesar salad, $9 which was very decent. Kevin had a burger with toppings and chips, again, $9.
They serve lunch and dinner x 7 days per week and breakfast starting at 8 AM on Sat/Sun only. The breakfast special was two different kinds of omelets for $7, add homefries and bacon for an additional $2. Not bad, but we prefer breakfast in camp and relaxing in our PJ’s and bathrobes enjoying the quiet view of the lake. The pizza smelled good later that night as we took a 7 pm dip in the nearby pool. The restaurant was packed for dinner from what we could tell on Saturday night.
Other amenities: The laundry facilities were just OK. Did not seem large enough for the amount of total sites on property but when we were there on Saturday afternoon, none were being used so perhaps its fine. As I mentioned there are a lot of seasonal sites and I suspect a lot of folks do laundry mid week at their homes, not at camp. The main shower room was a hike from our campsite and next to the laundry room. It was decently clean but not spotless. What i did not like was that the shower stalls only had flimsy curtains for privacy. They did each have a bench to put your towel, but that was right next to the shower so not sure how dry your towel is going to stay. I prefer showers to be separate with their own exterior entrance with a lockable solid door rather than feeling somewhat like a high school locker room. The shower stalls were clean. Kevin said he tested one of them and it ran 6 minutes before you would have to reach outside the curtain to reactivate the button to turn it on again. Not a great system but I understand why they must be timed to prevent from being left on by pranksters or absent mindedness.
Beware of visitors! The sites along the lower lake level, southern edge of Alpine Lake are all back in’s and because of their being literally on grade with the lake I would be careful when tons of rain is forecast. You may end up with a very soggy site, or worse, your tires sinking. You will most likely always end up with two legged visitors….Canada geese. There is a large flock of them on the lake and while they look majestic gliding smoothly along the lake, they make a total mess with their poop along a lot of the walkways, roads and yes….lakefront low lying campsites. We could see from across the lake on our high ground, many of the low lying sites having to constantly shoo away the geese who were coming to visit their campsite. Signs everywhere say please do not feed them. No kidding-they might try to hop onto your picnic table if you are not careful and put on a bib!
Beach and fishing areas: We did not try out the beach area- it is large and roped off so fishing folks do not enter, but one thing is for sure, both lakes (or some may call them ponds) on either side of our site road are good for fishing. We could see the little devils rabidly groping at flies as the sun set in front of our campsite. Not sure if they stock but there were lots of folks enjoying fishing. Some put their bass boats in the pond on our north side and could use the beach to pull them up for mooring. The campground does have kayaks, peddle boats, sail boards for rent as well as golf carts if you are so inclined. BTW a lot of the seasonal folks have their own golf carts and the roadways are quite busy with back and forth traffic. I can’t say I blame them. This is a large park and if you have one of the seasonal sites far back it is a long hike to the pool, lodge and other activity areas which are clustered near the main entrance.
Other amenities at the site include a few activity pavilions, a camp store (not the best we have seen, but decent) staff is friendly and do their best to make you feel welcomed. The park does offer a daily trolley ride service ($4 pp) if you want to spend the day in Lake George without bringing your car and dealing with parking meters, etc. In July and August the trolley also goes to nearby Saratoga Springs in case the horse race track is your thing. Saratoga also has awesome boutique shopping and really good restaurants in their downtown. We did not partake in any of their organized activities but could hear the DJ clear enough on Friday night (was on the calendar as a movie night with DJ on Saturday night- so not sure what happened there). Quiet times appeared to be enforced while we were there however other reviewers have said that noise after hours has been a problem…I suspect they were on that seasonal row with the four picnic table freight train!.
Oh, BTW…yes, they have dinosaurs too….but honestly they are out of place in the ADK’s and they need a bit of TLC at this point. Not sure why they are here, but could be a throw back to when the park first opened in the early 1970’s when kiddie themed type stuff was big in this part of upstate NY. (There is a giant chipmunk next to the lodge restaurant too).
So despite a rough start not getting the site we paid for, we still enjoyed a lake view site, relaxing time and will plan to come again to Alpine Lake RV Resort. Next time though we are going to hold out for sites 207 or 208 which are opposite the beach, on the high ground (sans Geese) and back in sites. This will make for a far easier in and out no matter how packed the park is.
Hope you enjoyed this review! Let us know if you plan to visit this campground in the future!
In June of 2018 our “Pewter Palace” got a new set of “clothes! Our original main awning fabric had been replaced by the trailer’s most recent owner about 7 years ago. He had purchased a Carefree brand, vinyl awning (see below right photo) which for us was too dark and the color scheme and design was not vintage looking enough for our taste.
The main awning hardware was still the original Carefree equipment (1973) as well and functioning fine. The side and rear bath windows of our Avion had never had their own awnings and we really wanted to add them to our rig for the following reasons:
Positives about Window awnings…..
Keeps the interior of your trailer cooler by preventing sun from streaming in during hot weather.
Lessons the fading of your interior fabrics (curtains, bedspreads, dinette cushions, etc.).
Provides the ability to open windows even in most rain or drizzle, thereby affording continued air flow through trailer.
Look downright awesome! and we think add to the vintage homelike feel.
Why switch to Zipdee all the way around?Because we were going to install window awnings for the first time, the logical choice was Zipdee based on their reputation for quality, outstanding customer service and for the fact that during certain production years the Avion Corporation did install Zipdee awning systems on the trailers on the assembly line. Also, the Zipdee Corporation is still going strong and has not varied their design to much over the decades and they continue to produce older parts so you can always get them. Carefree stopped making these bent arm model awning systems many moons ago and in fact our original 1973 hardware is very hard to find and in demand by folks who need parts or are purists and want the original for their period rig. Lastly, since we were putting on window awnings we wanted everything to match from the hardware to the “software” of the awning fabric itself. When we considered removing our old vinyl awning fabric, the cost to have a new one made out of our new Sunbrella material–between labor and materials it just did not make sense. Not to mention the fact that we have read horror stories of lay folks like us trying to switch out awning materials themselves. It is not easy and requires at least three strong individuals to manage this feat. We were not going there!
The ordering process: We looked on the Zipdee Awning website which is expansive and offers some great information about ordering, history, parts, installs, how to videos and more. (see links in this blog for some of these pages) but also they have a very good variety of Sunbrella patio awning fabrics to pick from. You WANT to get specific patio awning material because it is going to hold up to wind, rain, rot and fade issues and the elements of weather far better than any lesser grade or household canvas awnings would.
We wanted a color scheme that would compliment our Bavarian feel and predominate colors of deep red, hunter green and spikes of Dresden blue and yellow. Wholla!!! We found just what we wanted in their “vintage fabric” list by choosing their (#4751) Hemlock Tweed Fancy. Honestly, if my memory serves me correctly, my paternal grandmother had this very same stripe on her camp chairs at her circa 1940’s lake cottage in South Jersey when I was a little girl. It brought back a flurry of wonderful summertime memories. So that was it, hands down! We had to laugh when Chuck Cayo called us to say that the awning had been delivered and he described it as “wow its really bright and looks like a Mexican blanket”! Once we explained our Bavarian/German color scheme and motif he understood since there is still a lot of German influence to be found in Michigan for sure (hunter green and deep red are very traditional German/Bavarian colors and seen on many chalets and houses in Europe)!
Adding more shaded living space: Chuck actually did the ordering and install process for us so we cannot comment much on that other than we also gave instructions that we wanted to have the longest awning possible (given the curvature of Avion’s front and rear) on our curbside main awning. Our existing awning was a tad short and we knew we could go at least two feet longer which would provide just that much more space underneath the awning for a picnic table in case of hot or rainy weather besides our camp chairs and side table, etc. The longer awning also ensures that the curbside bedroom window is fully protected from rain and sun and can be opened and never worry about a rain soaked bed (on my side of course!) Our new awning is 19′ 6 3/4″ long–we gained nearly 3 feet over our Carefree system! Score another reason to replace!
The Zipdee awning has proven itself to be a real winner! It is lighter in weight which is always key with Avion’s since they do tend to be far heavier than other trailers of their size. This is because of the quality construction, beefy frame, solid wood cabinetry and construction techniques. We are not knocking that…this is one of the key reasons why we chose an Avion in the first place…but it does bring with it issues of needing to really be mindful of how much you are loading into the rig. Even if your tow vehicle can handle it, your Avion was not made to transport an elephant!
Rear Bath Window Awning System– Our rear window is far more useful too now! As those who own Avion’s know, the rear bath models have a sliding window (others are crank out awning-style) and so without an awning in place you had to close that window even if the slighted hint of rain was coming so that the interior cabinetry etc. did not get wet. The window is slightly tipped so that the bottom of the window is out a little more than the top due to the design of the overall body (at the mid-belt area the trailers actually are at their widest). So this window was essentially a “water catcher”. With the rear awning system, once you deploy that awning, you can fully keep your rear bath window completely slid open. NOTE: in our ordering spec’s we also told Chuck to order as long a rear awning as possible to extend as far beyond the rear window frame sides as possible, again to provide more shade and protection from rain driving in.
The rear awning hardware system is slightly different than the side windows or main awning. It does not get the “hook in ” system for the strap like others. This hardware actually has small lightweight swing arms that set in place into the awning bracket arms to fix the awning in place. This is necessary again, due to how the body of the Avion is designed. This awning, like the others has a self wrapping metal cover to protect it when rolled up (really nice!) and is very easy to deploy and put small arms in place. You can see them mid-way down each of the side arms.
One Minor Complaint…..One thing we have noticed is that it appears Zipdee really should have centered the stripes on this rear awning. In other words, there should have been a few inches of green on the left side and on the right. We will be showing this to Zipdee and get their feedback on this. To many folks this may not be an issue, but as a one time Art Major, it drives me nuts! The other awnings are fine, so perhaps this was a end of the bolt or a lazy day issue at Zipdee that day!
Zipdee Customer Service: is outstanding! When we arrived at Cayo to pick up our Avion, Chuck had not ordered the center support bar. Kevin was sure that due to length of awning we needed that. Chuck found a used one in his shop that worked for the short term and to his credit and in 90+ degree weather did install on the spot. But when we did our first camping trip we realized it actually was too short and came unhitched at the slighted breeze that lifted the awning a bit. So obviously it was not going to do what it is intended to do which is to help stabilize the awning and add additional support to the awning arms. So we called Zipdee right from the campsite. Did photos with a tape measure and they sent us the correct one within one day. Chuck also had not installed the one safety clip which does come with the main awning ayatem. So they included one of those with complete instructions on install of both of them. Kevin will most likely do this project on his own- seems simple enough for us to do. Through it all, the customer service folks at Zipdee have been friendly and outstanding to work with. Our entire awning system is Model AV2. Here is the tag which remains on the main awning for reference for any future need. Zipdee needs this # for any orders.
Pennant Embellishments: When we were attending the Tin Can Tourist Rally last fall and also in many Vintage Camping magazines, etc. we review I noticed that many folks were using fabric pennants as a way to embellish their vintage-ness! So over this past early spring I got to work creating our pennants for the Pewter Palace. I used a bunch of fabrics that I had already, some given to me by a German friend in Lake George, Margit Herzog, and a German linen table cloth that I had purchased on Ebay that had German people and town shields. To create a little continuity I also purchased the yellow fabric to create a bit of color pop! This was an easy project. I made my own triangular pattern, sewed them on two sides, turned, pressed then set into a full length strip of Wrights, double fold bias tape quilt binding in red. The tape is .875″ wide x 3 yards long. I used one 3 yard length for across the rock guard front of trailer, then 2 of the 3 yard strings for along awning length. I was tickled pink when a fellow modern RVer (with a huge 5th Wheel) came over to our camp one morning that we were at Jellystone RV park with grandkids over July 4th and complimented on the pennants and said she loved them and they have inspired her to make some for her awning because hers is so plain. VBG! Also, the next day, the owner of the campground mentioned to Kevin that he loved the pennants and that “back in the day” when he was just starting out in RVing that everyone had fabric pennants on their trailers. He loved the nostalgia look! Yeah again! You will see from the photos that I simply used the same (conference name badge clips) to hold up the pennants to the awning edge- then tucked in my fairy light string like I always do to hold everything together.
Clips to hold my solar fairy lights and homemade fabric pennants: I use a tip gotten from Airstream Vlogger Courtney Adcock (www.AStreaminLife.com). She recommends purchasing a bag of the plastic and aligator clips that are used at conferences to clip through a name badge. I have ordered them really cheaply from Amazon and they work great. And they are FAR cheaper than the clips that are sold at most RV supply places. As of this posting, the link above has them on Amazon for 150 of them for under $15. A Deal! Best thing is that if you have to take down your awning in a hurry, e.g. storm or wind coming in quick) you can pull these off in a flash compared to the ones that slip into your awning track. IMPORTANT NOTE--Zipdee awnings DO NOT have that internal open track (Carefree does) for the more traditional light clips to slide in. That also means you cannot insert any of those LED light strips either. So purchase some of these badge clips and hang from them! I have used them now for two years and they still look new.
So here is a shot of the “finished” new set of clothes for our baby! She looks so happy! We love them and hope you consider Zipdee as an awning choice as many, many Avion and Airstreamers do. (Zipdee is the brand that Airstream uses for all of their trailers so if you do have a problem on the road, any AS dealer will be able to fix for you!)
PS: The only two other things to add to her “wardrobe” –the first is we will be making up tire skirts in the Hemlock Tweed Fancy to snap in place covering the tires from sun and so we are not looking at them when sitting under awning. The other one is that once we go full time living on our Avion, we plan to purchase an “add a room” system to put up on the main awning when we are staying more than a week or two in one location. This additional screened in space will allow us to extend our 24/7 living space and create a spare bedroom if need be for visitors. More on that as it develops….that’s a blog for another day!
Our 1973 Avion LaGrande 28ft travel trailer was ready to pick back up at Cayo Repair Service in Watervliet MI on June 29. So we hopped into our tow vehicle and pulled off a whirlwind trip! Nothing like cutting it close… We have to leave Tuesday afternoon for a five day camping adventure with our two you grandsons. Could not disappoint them (or me!)
Check out our video during our return trip. All total with Kevin and I sharing the driving we did 1650 miles with 30 hours of actual drive time all in 2.5 days. Ugh! But worth it.
My husband Kevin and I are avid YouTube watchers and follow about a dozen full time RVers. A handful of them are in Airstreams, one is in an Avion. From time to time, these Vloggers end up talking about how they dodged a bullet and were able to miss a potentially damaging hail storm. (actually some of our tips could also be applied to impending hurricanes, tornadoes or high wind storms in general) In other cases, folks have not been that lucky. Owning a vintage aluminum trailer takes special attention. We and fellow owners know these shiny (or in our case, anodized) aluminum beauties require care and protection not only from the elements of weather but also from what it can dish out like falling trees, baking sun rays, forest fires, lightening….or hail!
In this blog I have gathered up some tips and suggestions from fellow RVers (of any type rig really) on how to try at least to minimize (or escape completely) the horrible and expensive damage that a hail storm can do to your Avion. Having to replace any of the skin panels on a vintage Avion is expensive and time consuming. To date, I am really only aware of one person who most would entrust to this task and that is Chuck Cayo of Watervliet, MI. I have Chuck’s contact info on my resource page and as a foot note on several of my blog posts. Chuck’s grandfather, uncle and father owned the Avion corporation. He grew up with them and repairs and restores them to this day. We drove our “Pewter Palace” to Chuck this spring (2018) –a 15 hour drive so we could have him work on it. Yes, he has that stellar of a reputation for anything Avion. SO–if my tips below come too late, and your Avion (or Airstream for that matter) has been damaged by Hail….call Chuck!
STEP #1 IS TO PURCHASE A GOOD QUALITY WEATHER ALERT RADIO AND KEEP IT ON WHEN USING YOUR AVION! Be sure to get one that runs on batteries too!
There are several good Apps found in the Iphone and Google Play Store that offer weather alerts. Keep them on when you are RVing but maybe away from your rig so you know when to ditch that grocery cart and get running! We use one from the National Weather Service and are sure to put in our location at the time.
Avoiding Hail Storm Damage:
#2—GET ‘OUTTA THERE! We are fortunate to have wheels on our beauties and hopefully yours is towable and with good tires. So hitch her up and get out and away if you have any forewarning that hail is even possible! Spend the weekend or a few days in a nice place away from harm.
This Avion did not escape…a hail storm! (photo by JoAnn Jackson Edgar (TX)
The saving grace is most hail storms are very fast moving….your task is to move before the storm moves over top of you!
if leaving your locale completely is not an option…..
#3 Hitch up your rig and tow it to one of these possible shelters:
Many are free and available in most locations (if you are out in the open on BLM land, sorry…cannot help you other than try to find some trees somewhere to get her under).
Look around your neighborhood or a local town for any of the following:
(Hint—scope these out as you are approaching your overnight campground or stop if there is even a chance you may get a hail storm rolling through!)
The Contractors entrance with large overhang at a LOWES or HOME DEPOT
The outlying lanes of a drive up bank area with large overhang
Local town, etc. park with lots of tall trees, or side road with same. Even getting tucked as far as you can under trees will break the direct fall of many hail stones.
Highway Underpasses are perfect places to hide out. Just don’t run over the motorcyclist that is also seeking shelter from the storm!
Do It Yourself Car Wash Bays. these are perfect! even if you have to let your tow vehicle be exposed, that is what insurance is for and the tow vehicle will be far easier to get fixed than your vintage Avion or AS.
If you are fortunate enough to know someone who owns an airplane hangar-ask if you can bring your trailer into safety there till storm passes.
If you know someone who owns a car dealership, or a large repair garage they may let you bring your rig in for the short time needed till storm passes.
A covered pavilion at an Elks Club or similar, or a local park. Often these are flush to the ground on cement pads and can be driven on. (careful about permission first!)
Some campgrounds we have seen in AZ ,TX and southwest actually have whole rows that are with covered pavilion style sites (often with solar panels on top)
A local storage facility may have lockable storage garages large enough. Worth the call to find out and to ask if in a pinch like a storm coming if they would allow you to rent one just for a day in case of emergency. Bird in the hand, some may allow this!
If time permits, you could I guess even get some sheets of thin 4 x 8′ plywoodlaid atop your rig (throw some guy ropes over top to secure down tie off on cement blocks, etc. on ground along side of rig) as best you can to protect the aluminum skin at least a good percentage of it. IF you have solar panels up there, this is a must to protect them!
Keep your Avion in an RV Storage Garage (this is what we do) for the piece of mind that she is always protected from all elements when not in use. *this also prolongs the life of awnings, curtains, Eternabond tape on roof, Everbright or similar finish treatments, all sealants around windows, roof vents, skylights, etc too! We figure its an investment in the long run we would rather pay now…than pay later!
If you are in a location in the USA (or elsewhere around the world) that is prone to hail storms, (tornado’s and hurricanes too) then investing if at all possible in your own secure built shelter/garage for your favorite Avion may be the best option-obviously if you have enough room on your property to do this.
Our RV Storage Garage. It was specially built for RV and Boat storage. Check your yellow pages!
If you have any further suggestions or tips please reach out to me so I can add them to this as an update. By no means do I consider myself an expert….I merely like to pass along what I have learned from others and “pay it forward”.
Anyone who has done even a modest amount of Avion researching has stumbled across the term “Travelcade” or “Travelcaders” on more than one occasion. But what is this term all about?
Why do some of our vintage trailers have large circular Travelcade stickers (and ID # numbers) and some do not?
WHAT WAS THE TRAVELCADE CLUB?
In brief, the Avion corporation started an “Avion owners fan club” if you will of Avion owners who liked to get together and host large and regional rallies with their trailers. The term Travelcade was used as the name of these gatherings and the people who attended were called “Travelcaders”. Belonging to the membership club was optional for Avion owners and hence that is why some Avion trailers do not have ID #’s and others do. Bob Muncy’s book goes into great detail about the Travelcade club and is a must read. Additional information about owners/#’s can be found at Dr. G’s website and others.
Sadly, after the Avion production was sold to the Fleetwood Corp, the club began allowing owners of any type of Fleetwood RV into the fold. This created a homogenization of the camaraderie which was ultimately perhaps led to the demise of the Avion portion of the club. (also, originally the Avion Corp provided funds to host rallies, Fleetwood did not continue that tradition and began charging members). Thankfully we have branches of the Silver Avion Fellowship around the country that are doing their best to keep that kind of owner gatherings and camaraderie going!
Vintage photo of a Travelcade gathering-note the knitted caps with the official “Travelcade” patch on them! (yes—we have TWO of these originals!) See our previous blog post for more photos of original Travelcade swag we have purchased and proudly wear when we are at Tin Can Tourist rallies and the annual Silver Avion Fellowship rallies which are held today!
The member number was applied to your trailer (facing the trailer on streetside front and back) so that when you rolled into an event the spotters at registration could identify you quickly AND there were large membership directories printed and published so you could easily find friends, locals to your state, etc. by those numbers on their rigs.
TRAVELCADE CAPS AND SEW ON PATCHES:
From time to time you can find an official original travelcade cap for sale on Ebay. That is where we found ours which were being sold by a gentleman who grew up with his parents Avioning at many big rallies (over 500 Avions or more!). He was also parting with some other Travelcade swag which we gladly purchased and love to wear at rallies! Here is Kevin sporting his cap!
You will see they are slightly different than our originals but at $6 each they are great to have to sew on your own windbreaker or baseball cap.
FYI- we have seen original photos of men wearing official “Avion Pith” helmets at the original rallies (makes sense as many where held in Florida where heat had to be a huge issue!). The pith helmets were traditional white. We have yet to find any of those for sale.
TRAVELCADE MEMBER ID NUMBERS:
Our original numbers are still in very good condition (perhaps at some point one of the three prior owners did replace them but they are the original numbers. You can tell this because there is no ghost images other than those numbers we have) and at some point, when we find someone with a directory from the New England Unit we will be able to verify once again our original owners name and home address back in the day.
The best place to find out the history of the Travelcade club is to visit Dr. G’s website. He has a comprehensive online story about it as well as a list of Travelcade members (I believe original owners with their member ID #s) and also current Avion owners. The lists are not comprehensive by any means, nor, i think kept too current. That would be a daunting task for anyone. I know, for example, we have asked to be added quite a while back but this has yet to happen. Nevertheless, its a great resource and the story of the Travelcade club is told well. So sit back, visit the site and enjoy reading!
Want to see some original Avion Travelcade event brochures and ephemera? click here!
OFFICIAL TRAVELCADE TRAILER STICKER EMBLEMS
If your Avion does not have any Travelcade stickers, or originals are in bad shape and you want to replace them, here is a link to a fellow who sells them on Ebay. The price is reasonable enough and we have ordered from him with very good results. The stickers came promptly and are of good quality. So stay tuned on their life expectancy!
Again, not everyone will have these SECURITY UNIT stickers to the right of their entry door above the handle. These Avion owners, from what we understand were often times police or security officers in their “day jobs” or were very involved with the organizing group of volunteers for the Travelcade rallies. These rallies were huge and could exceed 500 trailers so an amount of decorum, safety and management had to be maintained. Our trailer does have such a sticker and again, for purposes of anyone who was attending the rallie (from young children to adults) you would be able to quickly locate a safety person to assist you if you got lost, or needed medical or safety help. We understand that some of these folks primary functions was during load in and load out days where hundreds of trailers needed to be parked and maneuvered. We are not aware of any reproductions of these stickers currently being made and that is really kind of neat for us…we are proud to have ours in such perfect condition for an original (most likely from the late 70’s-80’s)-our original intact and on our trailer is pictured below.
Many thanks to fellow Avion owner Sherry Holmes Kinzey (PA) who just posted this photo of memorabilia found in her parent’s Avion. Obviously those who were part of the Avion security were also issued a badge to wear! (photo by Sherry Holmes Kinzey)
More travelcade nostalgia–pictures from Travelcade rallies in the 60’s-80’s….enjoy! If I recall correctly, we took these photos from archives at the RV & Manufactured Homes National Museum in IN.
Hope to see you at an upcoming Tin Can Tourist or Silver Avion Fellowship Rally (which is basically the modern day equivalent of the Travelcade clubs).
There are currently Silver Avion Fellowship clubs based in Texas, Arkansas and Michigan. All host rallies and welcome fellow Avion owners to attend. The easiest way to find them is via a search on Facebook!
Clearly anyone who owns an Avion understands that they are historic preservationists in the most fundamental sense. Not only do they maintain, restore and covet their aluminum beauty…they also USE it as it was intended to be used—for enjoying the outdoors, sheltering from weather and creating memories with loved ones and dear friends. If they did not revere history and love nostalgia they would own a modern cardboard box, flat top trailer with little to no personality and certainly not built for the longevity that the Avions can boast to this day. (our Avion turned 45 years old this year-2018, and I challenge any modern box campers to be on the road in excellent running order in 45 years!).
NOTE: at the end of this blog post I have a list of resources for reproduction items talked about throughout this post. Enjoy!
Almost monthly, there are questions about, or seekers of information on the various medallions, decals, numbers and company markers on the trailers.
In this article I will attempt to answer many of the questions and in some cases provide some current links to where some of these items (or reproductions of same) may still be obtained today. Also included are links to other websites where directories of the Travelcade member ID # may still be looked up. Sadly, currently no one source of all those numbers exist so the hunt is on and if someone would eventually scan and post the books in an archive it would be like winning the lottery for a lot of us! More about that in a subsection below.
Lets start at the beginning…the birth so to speak when an Avion was coming off of the assembly line.
As a side note, see our post about our trip to Benton Harbor MI in April 2018 to see a video of the plant that still exists but now is a cheese factory.
Avion Coach Company Medallions and Logo Markers:
These logo medallions from what we have seen were almost always painted red. Today many look like a pale/faded tomato red, but from what we understand a deep true red was more similar to its original color. Over time, the colors have faded. This is the same with the rub rail- that vinyl strip that slides into a channel that goes around the trailers mid-belly in two layers with a shiner (non-anodized) strip in between them (at least on the years surrounding our years of production. In the 80-90’s the colors for Avions turned more to using blues and black. You can see that along the way one of the three previous owners of our trailer replaced the rub rail with black which is very common to see these days. The rub rail material is not easily found in the right size. Resource list at end of this post. Some people have taken to painting the rub rail vinyl back to red, or from faded black to black. It can be done, but I have seen them and to me it looks a bit like a cob job. Perhaps if you were to actually remove the vinyl and spray paint it it might be better—but no way am i promising you will ever get that rub rail back in the channels again very easily!
As another side note to the company medallions, above is the dealership plate from where our 1973 Avion was originally sold from. This dealership does not exist anymore but we have located where it was through old news clippings and at the time surely it was on the outskirts of Dearborn Heights in a rural area– but now that address is smack dab in the middle of a very built up almost urban environment. Our little lady did not travel that far from her birth place to be purchased for the first time. Many Avion’s also still have their original dealer emblem on them. Again, its all about nostalgia for us and we wear it proudly.
Below is our LaGrande “model” medallion which appears on both sides of the trailer to the rear-basically even with where the bathroom is located (at least with 70’s models). Early Avion photos (50’s-60’s) we have seen do not appear to have these though there were some model names. See second photo below for placement. Many of these model plates that we have seen are, like ours is pitted. They are stainless but age, and in our case, being kept in Florida near the ocean in the winters for many years has caused the pitting. If a rig has been kept under cover or in a garage these emblems may be in far nicer condition. The background is dappled/textured a bit and supposed to be painted all flat black. Only the raised lettering is supposed to be shiny. The “Travelcade” models (a wee bit of a step down, basic model of Avion) also have them in the same locations. It is not advisable to remove these unless you really know what you are doing. (again, this was before our baby had her first bath!)
HOW CAN I TELL HOW OLD MY AVION IS AND HOW LONG IT IS? In the photo below you will see the vehicle details on the orange plate that was afixed to the trailer upon completion at the Avion assembly line plant. This is not our trailer but you can see and tell the year, month, and production # as well as the model style “LaGrande”.
These plates are very important when looking at purchasing a new to you Avion or for reference for a rig you currently own. Hopefully you still have one on your trailer. This one is located just to the right of the door entry. This is also where ours is, however there is another plate on the streetside as well that also has important trailer information and should be documented.
There is an excellent resource website maintained by “DR G”, Dr. Don Gradeless that is a treasure trove of manuals (PDF by year) you can download or view, info regarding Avion specs and also early rosters of some Travelcade member units.
Here is how to read the numbers (see image below)- this stands for trailers made at least in the 1970’s that we know and cannot attest to how earlier or later models may be marked.
SERIAL NUMBER 75-L-28043
1975 production year L = LaGrande Model 28 = foot length043 = 43rd trailer made that year.
Trailer Travelcade Member ID Numbers and Units:
I will be including a whole separate blog post about the history of the “Travelcade” membership club because it really was cool! But for purpose of this post, I refer to the wonderful Avion history book written by Robert Muncy (link to purchase here) entitled SILVER AVIONS AND CAYOS. Muncy writes that the Travelcade club of Avion owners got its start in 1959 and had its highest rendezvous turn out of 818 Avions in Coldwater MI in 1970. Please see my future post about the Travelcaders and their club soon!
The photo below is our Avion, our “Pewter Palace” as we call her with her original Travelcade ID numbers and geographical unit emblem. Not all Avion owners joined this optional club and so if you do not see any type of stickers like this (front and rear streetside is where they should be) then the owners did not partake. Benefits of the club included a printed newsletter, attendance at rendezvous (FL, MI, WI) and the ability to order and wear some of the truly awesome “Travelcader Swag” like earings, jackets, knitted caps, pith helmets, bolo ties and more….remember….this IS the 1960-70’s!! See some of the swag we have gotten so far in this previous post or on our Avion Swag post page.
Our trailer’s second owner was from CT and therefore was part of the New England Unit which sadly no longer exists. In fact, the whole “Travelcade” club and movement died out after the corporation sold to the Fleetwood RV company in the 80’s. Happily, a diehard group have resurged the zeal for hosting rallies of Avions again and now there is are very active “Sliver Avion Fellowship ” units based in MI, TX and more recently one started in Arkansas. The trend and desire to all get together again is growing each year as is the popularity of owning one of these classic, well-built beauties. We attended the Silver Avion Fellowship Rally in Elkhart MI in the summer of 2017 and had a blast with over 25 Avions of all designs, lengths and styles present. The MI group, I believe is the one who got the whole Fellowship rolling again. Search Facebook for The Silver Avion Fellowship and ask to join. There is a similar named fb site for the event too. I believe that black numbers and letters were the standard issue of these rigs. People attending the Travelcade official rallies back in the day would register with their trailer number. There were published member directories for each year and geographical unit. If you are lucky, someone at one of today’s Fellowship Rallies may come with one and you can look up your original Travelcade member’s name, address, etc. On occasion someone will also post out on one of the Avion FB pages that they have access to one of the books , or you can post out on the Avion Owners facebook pages that you are seeking a “look up” for the numbers on your rig. Folks are more than happy to help find this nostalgic piece of history out for a fellow Avion owner.
As you can see by our membership number—our trailer owner’s were the 14229 members enrolled. WOW!
Below these emblems, or on the curbside somewhere near the front side panel, some Avions also have a vertical list with smaller letters of the location and date of EACH Travelcade Rendezvous that they had attended. It is an amazing story for your Avion and we highly recommend that you LEAVE it, or if needed get repro stickers if some of the letters or dates are worn off. Some trailers only have a shadow (left from fading of the finish) on their rigs. Again—this is a badge of honor that should be maintained in our opinion and we know many other Avioners agree. So please keep them visible! We wish we had some but perhaps our owners were more interested in just reading the member newsletter than traveling south. We do know they took our trailer to Alaska twice though!
If you look very closely below you will see under the “pie slices” a discolored area on the body. In the right light, you can see EACH of the rendezvous that this trailer has been to. It was quite amazing and yes—a badge of honor we are happy to see they have kept even though the actual black letters are long gone. Those letters were issued to you when you arrived at the Travelcade Rendezvous. Today’s Silver Avion Fellowship Rally we attended in MI is reissuing these once again and we will put it on our trailer once we get our clear coating done by Chuck Cayo this spring.
Below are some resources for items mentioned above. Please do remember to check back to my blog often as I will be adding an entire post about the Travelcaders and club which will include some vintage photos of rallies, people wearing Travelcade swag and more… including where to buy reproduction Travelcade Large Member Stickers like what is on the front and rear of our rig (we have purchased new ones to replace our very faded and worn out ones)
CURRENT RESOURCES THAT WE ARE AWARE OF:
(these were viable at date of this post, sorry if no longer active) Please contact me if you find new or other sources!!
(1) Chuck Cayo (above) keeps black in stock most of the time.
(2) Others have used sources found on Airstream (gasp!) forums, recently someone used vinyl stripping found on a website that sells it for lawn chairs. He said it worked well. I got some samples, nice colors but is very thick and not sure how well it will last with temp changes/extremes of full timing plus would be really hard to insert in because it is flat, not curved and very stiff. They said do it on a sunny warm day, and use a heat gun to soften and insert- perhaps with a putty knife to help tuck into track gutter.
(4) Travelcade Member ID #’s and Units: This is a very recent link that I found posted on one of the handful of Avion facebook pages that i belong to. So far, I believe the folks who have ordered from her have had a positive experience. Mind you, you must have a steady hand to apply these…or take the letters and numbers to a professional sign shop or automotive detailer who does this kind of thing and have them apply them! As mentioned, so far, we have only seen black letters on originals but I believe some current owners are using red for their numbers. I guess its a matter of choice.
As always, I hope you have enjoyed this post and gotten some “take aways” from it. I would love to hear your feedback, or if you have other sources for the items discussed above or anything to do with Avions. Its all about helping each other to preserve and enjoy our beloved Avions as much as we call.
We look forward to meeting fellow Avioners on the road in days ahead….till then…
ONE LIVE–LIVE IT!
Adventures with a Vintage 1973 Avion Luxury Coach Camper