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 Avion Luxury Coach Camper