Category Archives: Refurbishment Projects

AVION Trailer- New Black Tank Installation, 2022-Tips, Sources and more!

OLD on the left….NEW from Pelland Enterprises on the right

A little background to this story.…..In the summer of 2021 our original black tank had a major failure- sadly solely by human error. We had inadvertently threw “on” the tank warmer fuse during our MORryde install. The PO had not installed a heat override- so if you install tank warmers please also install that auto sensor override. The tank was empty and ended up frying itself and tearing substantial cracks in several areas of the bottom. Hard lesson learned. We thought we had solved the problem when we found a highly rated RV repair shop about an hour from us who specialized in plastic welding, repairing all sorts of “plastic issues” with RVs. He looked at the tank and felt sure he could repair it. We had been told by many that it was near impossible to find tank replacements, some had tried their own repairs to no avail and we even contemplated going with a composting toilet instead (in the end…nope not for us!) So…. 3-weeks and $600+ later, the multi-layer repair looked and worked awesomely. We were all set!! Needless to say removing a black tank and replacing a black tank is not for the fainthearted. We are eternally grateful we have a nice concrete floored garage to work in and higher ground clearance thanks to our MORryde Independent Suspension system install. We did successful camping trips in August and September- all systems were GO! The black tank was working just fine! For more about our original project click here.

FAST FORWARD TO JULY 2022

At the very last official stop on our 5-week RV trip through 7 states in June/July of 2022 we were at our last campground, Campfire Lodgings outside of Ashville, NC and atop a huge mountain! Lo and behold, we saw a slow leak coming out onto the beautiful concrete slab RV pad. We had a 3 day stay here so we quickly hooked up our sewer hose and kept the bayonet valve open (we normally never do this!) so that any liquids would go out to the sewer rather than drip. That did a pretty good job but we also used the campground bathrooms during the day and as much as possible (we were in bear country so I was not going to go out to walk to the bath house for my nature call at 2 AM!). We allowed the tank to dry out and the leaking stopped. TIP: In a pinch we turned off the water feed to our toilet and lined our toilet with boondocking camp toilet liner bags and improvised for the 2 day drive home when needed. These are easy enough to dispose of at rest area dumpsters.

The good, the bad…and the downright ugly!

Once back to our home RV storage barn garage we took to task removing the old (repaired) tank. These tanks come out a lot easier than they go in. We have found the toughest part is getting the discharge piping lined up and the bayonet valves in place. Those valves are actually the toughest to do- you need five pairs of hands and only have room for 1 pair in that outside compartment.

Steps to remove your black tank:

In our 1987, 32S we have a mid-bath. This means that our black tank is also under the area where our REAR Stabilizers are. These must be removed first.

PREP: Before beginning this project, if your tank has been used somewhat recently and may not be completely dried out we recommend using a Camco toilet and tank washing wand (we actually do this routinely at least 2-3 times per year when RVing part time. We will do it more frequently once we go full time). by hooking up a garden hose (not your fresh water hose) and using this pressure washing system through your toilet by holding the foot pedal down. They also make some that have a sink attachment end on a short hose. Extend the wand end down right into the tank and rotate it around all sides of the tank as much as possible. Hook up your sewer hose to drain out tank. We did this multiple times ensuring we had removed as much as we could.

  • Remove the belly pans underneath your black tank area. *TIP: be sure to label each of them on the underside first so you can easily see how they go back in. Sometimes you feel like you are working with a jigsaw puzzle.
  • Remove any insulation (ours has sheets of foam insulation bats all over the length of the trailer put in by a PO.)
  • Disconnect sewerage discharge pipe at the black tank opening. Keep rest of discharge piping from the elbow and as it goes through to the bayonet valve in the wet bay area.
  • Disconnect the vent stack connection (our 32S it is in the corner of the cabinet near the furnace)
  • Disconnect toilet and remove bolts and flange (should screw off with some force used)
  • once all pipes have been disconnected….
  • Unbolt the steel “L” channel that runs along the rear side of the black tank and holds it snugly to the front brace.
  • Remove tank slowly maneuvering it out of its location pulling down.

SOURCE FOR NEW BLACK TANKS: We were very fortunate that we were given a great tip from Chuck Cayo (recognized as a national guru on all things Avion. His family started the Avion Corp back in the day). Chuck suggested we call Pelland Enterprises. Their website is quite extensive and we were able to find the perfect replacement for our needs. The new tank is slightly smaller (shorter in length) than our original so holds perhaps a couple gallons less but the other dimensions were perfect including the location of the main discharge hole and width and height that would fit into our original location. If you have a 32S feel free to contact us for our exact model we ordered. Different trailer models and lengths will have different size needs.

https://www.pellandent.com/RV-Holding-Tanks

Here is a diagram we made to show Pelland Enterprises exactly where we needed them to spin weld in (best way to do) the opening for our vent stack and for our toilet opening. They will do this step but be sure your measurements are clear and exact because all tanks are not returnable! We uploaded tons of photos and these drawings to them via email. Also note, it takes approximately a minimum of 6-8 weeks for delivery.

These are the waste level sensors on our old tank. If you want, Pelland will also spin weld in new connections on a new tank too. Again, make sure your diagrams are precise with measurements. BTW…we never trust the sensors! In the black tank, since it can be seen when opening/flushing the toilet we monitor the black tank levels by eye.

Once we received our new black tank, it was time for installation. Basically we reinstalled going in the reverse of our above steps.  Thankfully we were able to do the pipe hook ups relatively easy this time.  Once the pipes were reinstalled, we tested the tank and the connections by filling the tank with water thru the toilet pipe opening in the bathroom floor.  Kevin opened the bayonet valve to discharge the black tank and we watched for any signs of leaks.  All went super well.  Ditto for the grey tank with similar testing to ensure no leaks in the reconnected pipes and the bayonet valves.

At the instruction from Chuck Cayo we went ahead and once again installed a marine plywood board (coated several times with a marine epoxy resin “West System*” on all sides and edges) and positioned it in place covering the entire tank bottom, and extending about a 1 inch on the rear edge.  This board we strapped in with metal L brackets held in place to the frame pieces with self riveting screws. We have the some of these products we used listed on our Amazon Favorites list on our Resources & Links page on our website.  TIP:  Per Mr. Cayo and our own experience, it is VERY IMPORTANT to put a large board under all of your tanks to support them.  Only metal strapping is not enough-even if you never travel with stuff in your tanks.

Once the pipes were all reinstalled we purchased 2″ R-10 Styrofoam insulation boards (pink) at Home Depot and cut them precisely to fit around the tank and rest of underbelly area.  See photos below.

BUTTONING UP THE BELLY PAN:  Once all of the layers of insulation were put in place, Kevin re-screwed in (stainless self taping screws and in some places, rivets) the belly pan sections.  We have actually created a drawing showing how ours goes together including which panel goes under a neighboring one when installing.  The copper gas line was installed back in place outside the belly pan area with some rubber lined clamps screwed into the aluminum pan sheets.  Reminder, the gas line, by law must always be on the outside!

WET BAY FINISHING UP TIPS: Then we applied a spray in sealant foam (pest retardant type) around the openings where the grey and discharge black tank pipes come through the wet bay wall aluminum.  This helps to keep rodents from accessing into the belly pan area. TIP: Be sure NOT to get this anywhere near the bayonet valve areas themselves.  Also, while in this area, Kevin applied lubricant to the steal rods in the bayonet valves themselves.  The best lubricant to use here is dry silicone spray and prime the rod pushing the handle in and out several times.

TOILET REINSTALL:  once all the underbelly work was done we reinstalled the toilet.  This was also a great time to do a deep clean of the toilet’s main discharge shoot from the bottom up to the under side of the ball valve (the thing that opens and shuts during flushing).  Not a fun job but good to do when the toilet is uninstalled and then applying dry silicone gel around the toilet ball valve and replace all gaskets and seals. We also took many photos of the manufacturers labels and ordered back up parts while they are still available and we will have them on the road should a failure of some part happen. All were found on Amazon. Our toilet is Thetford Aqua Magic Plus II, porcelain bowl. The “plastic skirt” that wraps around the base is not shown in this photo

WHILE WE WERE AT IT WE ADDED A NEW FEATURE!: Since the toilet was off we also took advantage and ordered the spray hose with handle accessory and installed that before reinstalling the toilet itself. TIP– on our previous post and videos about our replumbing with PE piping we showed how we installed a shut off valve on the toilet water intake hose just to the left of the toilet base. This made removal of the toilet or any work needing to be done to it far easier than having to turn off all your water in the rig.

We hope this article may help you with some tips, or if you ever need to replace YOUR black tank. We sincerely hope that day will never come though!

If you found this article helpful please drop us a comment!

Be well and safe journeys! Kevin & Luise

Trick’in our Truck – for Safety, Comfort & Towing our Avion Travel Trailer

Lets face it, you can have a great route planned, your RV all geared up, food stocked, LP topped off,  campground reservations made BUT

BUT!!!! if your ride is uncomfortable, unsafe or not helping you with towing along the way—the TRIP CAN BE UNCOMFORTABLE, UNSAFE AND COULD END IN DISASTER for you, your truck and your beloved RV!

We purchased our 2011 GMC 2500 HD Denali Crew Cap truck in 2018.  It had just under 28K miles and in super condition.   It is a 4×4, 6 Liter gas engine with a 6-speed transmission and a 4.10 rear axle.   Here is a promo video of it when it was being sold by the dealership we bought it from.  It was a search on CARFAX that finally landed us our “Merlin”– so nicknamed because it was magical how our “must have list” of truck features was finally found….albeit in New Jersey!  So after calling them and putting down a small refundable “on hold” deposit with a CC, we made an overnight trip to NJ from our home in upstate NY traveling 5.5 hours to arrive as soon as the dealership had opened that morning.

OVERVIEW OF UPGRADES & SYSTEMS WE HAVE IMPLEMENTED SINCE PURCHASE:(Below this list we go into each upgrade in more detail with photos, etc.)

  1. Installed Sumo Springs Front & Rear Bump Stops,  Bilstien Shocks and SuperSprings Low Leveling Metal Springs on the rear to assist with suspension and overall handling.
  2. Installed ROCKSTAR Rear Mud Flap System to prevent rock chipping of trailer
  3. Installed DECKED Storage System in Truck Bed to increase storage capacity
  4. Installed Front Grill Guard to prevent excessive damage to grill and engine in case of accident or wildlife damage (affectionately called our “Moose Guard”- we live in the Adirondacks!)
  5. Installed Class 2 Hitch Receiver to hold spare tire or front storage flat rack on the front
  6. Installed WEATHERTECH Interior Mats to maintain carpet
  7. Installed Window Film in Cap to provide privacy and security of stored items or if using for overnight sleeping
  8. Purchased and use the TST brand, 507 model TPMS (Tire Pressure Monitoring System)
  9. Purchased and use the GARMIN RV specific GPS system
  10. Removed our back seat, covered back panel still utilizing the seat hooks and use bungy straps to secure items we use at every camp set up (other than boondock 1 nighters at Walmart, etc.)

Still to be done before we go full time in Spring/Summer 2023:  Installing a Meckman 400 AMP Alternator (to recharge our Lithium Ion Battleborn Battery system as we are driving)

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LET’S GET INTO THE “WEEDS” OF THE DETAILS!  we have included “where to buy” links where possible.  Feel free to reach out to us with any questions you have on any of the information we have in this post!

  1.  SUMO SPRINGS, BILSTIEN SHOCKS & SUPERSPRINGS INSTALL TO SUSPENSION:

Why?  We improved the ride and alleviated any “squatting” of our truck by adding additional suspension aids.

What? The old/original bump stops were old and very rough.  Sumu springs have a dampening cushioning effect which takes the rough ride out of the vehicle because they are open foam and they engage softly and become firmer with weight- hence a better ride when your truck is heavy and towing a heavy trailer.  We installed them front and rear.  We then added the SuperSprings to the rear.  They mount to the leaf springs on the back of the truck. These add support and weight carrying capacity to the leaf springs.  This helps alleviate the “squat” to the truck when hooking up our Avion travel trailer.  Use the link above to view the product and see a company video about these Supersprings and their application and purpose.

2.  ROCKSTAR MUD FLAP INSTALLATION:

Why?  After taking a long trip from our home in eastern upstate NY to MI we found a plethora of super small rock chips in the front of the 73 Avion we owned then.  They happened literally the last 15 minutes of the trip.  We had to go through a road construction zone where the crew was milling up the road- we were going less than 15 mph when it happened!  Now with these mud flaps we get far less mud, grime, and rock chips on our precious Avion (we now own an ’87 and use a Hensley hitch which is different than the GenY hitch in photos shown)

What? We got lucky that our local auto detailer (who had rehabbed our Avion rock guard and spare tire cover) had this ROCKSTAR mud flap system for sale in his shop- so no shipping fees!  He was ready to retire it from the showroom since it was a few years old.  We got it for less than half the going price for the same guard system.  This is the full bumper type that is installed, not just flaps screwed on.  The system CAN be completely slid off and removed if desired but it is very heavy and awkward for one person to do.  We have it installed by sliding  it over our 2.5″ hitch receiver which a 2″ hitch insert in it-the guard is fastened to that insert and locks in place.   Besides…we think it looks pretty jazzy!

Considering installing mud flaps?  Please read our more in depth article that covers installation tips, etc. Read more….

Link to Amazon listing– very similar to ours

3. DECKED TRUCK BED STORAGE SYSTEM WITH DRAWERS:

We cannot say enough about this system.  Yes, it is pricey, and we also paid to have it installed professionally by our local auto detailer.  But we have found over and over again it is a lifesaver.  It has actually increased our bed storage capacity since it covers over the wheel wells making a flat surface area to allow for more large storage totes.  It’s flat surface can now even fit a double sized air mattress easily to do overnight sleeping in the truck bed very easily and comfortably- + added bonus, you are not laying on metal truck bed.  The 2 full slide out drawers serve as awesome, double LARGE tool boxes-easy to pull out and access everything easily and within sight.  Kevin recently purchased some of the DECKED tool boxes that are made to fit inside, this is an option but not necessary.  Previously, he used other canvas tool bags, tool cases, etc. before this just fine. These drawers negates the need to have multiple tool kits packed in the truck cab or loosely flying around the storage with other RV gear. Your tools are all in one place and always quickly available-which for us is key!

Another plus of this system for security purposes, is that anyone looking into your truck bed through the windows will only see a floor.  They will not see any tools (which tend to be eye candy for many).  You really cannot tell that there is a DECKED system installed since the tailgate covers the drawers completely.  There are also two small, easy access storage compartments on either side end of the floor top.  We keep bungies, flares and other safety equipment in them for easy access.

Hey…it even has a built in bottle cap opener in the center!

Here is a Link to their site

4. & 5. INSTALLED FRONT GRILL “MOOSE” GUARD & HITCH RECEIVER FOR OUR SPARE TIRE:

Why? We have seen way too many front grills demolished by deer & moose hits and vehicle accidents.  We live in the NY Adirondacks afterall!  We also know that our full time RV life will include many areas where there are very large moose, caribou, deer, bison, etc. as well as crazy drivers. 

What? In order to better protect our truck’s major asset—its engine and grill–we installed this beefy grill guard 3 years ago. We did have to remove the factory tow hooks off the front to do the install, but the grill guard has built in hooks on its beefy frame.  Because the guard was heavy enough steel, we had a local welder install a hitch receiver on the front so we can now put our spare tire mount on the front.  We will carry our bikes on back of the Avion.  We actually have found the weight added by the grill guard and the spare tire has helped to equalize our our truck’s weight distribution especially when hooked up to the Avion and its tongue weight. 

Bonus!  This front grill guard also makes a dandy beach towel drying rack!

Here is a link to one we found that is very similar to ours on Amazon

6.  Installed WEATHERTECH interior mats 

Why? Let’s face it, as RVers we spend a lot of time in our vehicles in all sorts of weather, juggling all sorts of drinks, snacks and foodstuffs while plying the highways and byways of our country.

What? Our local auto detailer loves us!  We purchased these from them as well after carefully reviewing a whole lot of online sources and reviews.   These mats are molded and custom fitted to this model year-they fit perfect, do not slide around and are so easy to remove to hose off.  They protect our carpet from dirt, grime, stains, mud, snow, ice, etc.  Once we go full time in Spring 2023 this truck will be our home, this will be our everyday, only vehicle.  We want to do the best we can to maintain its condition and cleanliness.

Here is link to WeatherTech

7.  INSTALLED WINDOW FILM ON SOME BED CAP WINDOWS:

We installed this film early on after purchasing our truck.  We used household window privacy film purchased at Lowes.  It was very easy to use and install.  We have found that since the side slide windows have built in screens- we have not been able to install it there as the screening is unable to be removed easily.  We thought this was going to be an issue  however, now that we have put in our big black totes (with yellow tops from Lowes/Home Depot) they essentially block any views in from these side windows.   What you see is black tote side- so hence not really an issue anymore.  To date we have only covered the two odd sized large side windows in film for privacy when/if we sleep in the bed overnight or to provide some security of goods we have in the back.  We have NOT covered the back window yet because we still keep some totes out of the bed and can use the rear view mirror in cab to view rear when not hitched up.  Once we go full time and the back truck bed is fully loaded we may also install a limo film over all the windows. 

Link to Lowes- the actual film we used.  There are many other great design options available. Just be aware some are more transparent than others which may not give you the privacy you may want. 

Note- even though this is sold as household window film we have had excellent results using it in our truck bed cap.  It has held up well, no fading, peeling or failure due to swings in weather temperatures, etc.

8. TST Brand, Model 507- TIRE PRESSURE MONITORING SYSTEM

Another key safety factor (has saved our butts twice in just the last 2 yrs) is getting a Tire Pressure Monitoring System.  We have installed the monitors on BOTH our Truck AND our Avion Travel Trailer.  Some only install on their trailer.  In our opinion that is insufficient, as evidence by,  on a trip out to Indiana from upstate NY we got a signal our rear passenger side truck tire was losing air.  As it turns out, the valve stem had gone bad.  It was 9 PM at night and luckily we were on an interstate highway that had a large truck stop and the shop is open essentially 24/7 to assist truckers.  We limped in before our tire became too flat to travel-thanks to the TPMS warning!  It was fixed in less than 15 minutes and we were on our way.

Here is a great vendor (TechnoRV)  that we have purchased other equipment from. The link below is a current model, similar to what we have but with some improved features:

LINK to TST Tire Pressure Monitoring System 

Note- When we purchase new tires (we do at least every 5 yrs regardless of miles or condition) we will then order a new, current model TPMS system and we will be purchasing the type of sensors that are “internal sensors” that are mounted inside the rims, then the new tires are mounted and balanced-making the sensors less susceptible to weather conditions, with more longevity and less maintenance.

VERY IMPORTANT NOTE: If you purchase the type of sensors that mount on the tire valve stems–Due to the extra weight that the actual screw on monitors make onto valve stems it is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED that you switch out stock valve stems(rubber/plastic which even over time crack and degrade due to weather, sun, salt, etc.) with metal valve stems.  It is not a big deal but will greatly enhance the longevity of the system all around.

Presently, we remove our sensors after every camping season and store in our house since we store our trailer over the winter months.  We replace with new batteries in each sensor at least every other year to ensure they are fresh and sufficiently charged.  The monitor sensors come with a little locking clip that is used when they are put on and removed- this prevents theft for the most part.  Our system is about 4 years old now and we may replace with a newer bluetooth wireless type before going full time- but ours is working fine.  We have run the wire cable in the cab of our truck and Kevin prefers to keep it on his side of the dash when driving- I am responsible for the GPS and monitoring road grades, etc.  on my side of the dash. 

*You can also opt to have the sensors actually installed inside your tires if preferred.  Currently, we like having the option to take them off in winter months when trailer is not in use for right now but may do the internal application once we go full time.  Afterall, you should be replacing your tires every 5 years anyway.

9.  GARMIN GPS SYSTEM ( OR OTHER GPS SYSTEMS)

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We happen to have a Garmin GPS RV System- there are multiple screen sizes available now . It is about 4 years old and hopefully newer models have better voice command and display features.  For our needs it works for now.  We will tell you we do not always rely solely on this system and Luise will often be running her Google Map directions on her cell phone simultaneously especially when in more urban areas where it is easier to use the search feature quickly.  Please do NOT rely solely on Google Maps when towing your RV!  An RV GPS is programable to your trailer’s height, length, weight and width and the routing will steer you onto roads  you can do.  We live in the northeast where there are lots of old bridges and tunnels with weight limits and low heights from RR overpasses, etc.  Google will send you down a virtual rabbit hole!

We have found our model of Garmin is very POOR in the audio command module.  “She” rarely understands our most basic commands by voice and it is extremely frustrating (hence using Google on cell phone instead to ask quick search functions).  This model Garmin also really in our opinion requires a passenger to use while on a trip.  There are many times where Luise will need to scroll through settings to find things we are looking for and also to toggle between showing map and the split screen of Map/Road Grade features if we are on exceptionally hilly/mountainous terrain.   Our model is one that handles truck/RV settings.  This is very important!  You must preset the parameters for your trailers height, weight, width, and length in order to have the system run best and safely for your towing needs.

*The grade feature really came in handy on our trip on the Skyline Drive and Blue Ridge Parkways through the Shenandoah Mountains in 2021.  Using the grade setting showing gives you some very good advance notice of when there will be significant climbing or downward grades allowing some preparation.  Plus its really fun to see just how high in elevation you are at any given point on your trip!

On the second photo above you will see where we are using the setting that shows a photo image of an exit ramp driving view which we really like especially when coming up on multiple lane intersections or ramps.  It gives the driver a clear vision of which lane you should plan to be in.  It is nice when this works, but not all exits have been photographed to show this feature in our experience.  When a photo is not available, a closeup of the exit ramp or intersection in graphic form will show up on that right side of screen.

Below is a good photo showing the road grade  & elevation visual on the right side of the screen.  You have the ability to spread out this graph based on how far in advance you want to see it by miles.  We have it condensed so what you are seeing is probably the next 10-15 miles (yes, we went from over 5K elevation with a peak grade of 21% grade to a low of 1700′ elevation of 3% grade with a few mountain peaks in between on the Blue Ridge Parkway!)

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10.  RECAPTURING SOME STORAGE IN TRUCK CAB- REMOVING REAR SEATS

Removing our back crew cab split bench seats are a bit of a consternation for us.  On one hand we would like them to transport grandkids when/if they camp with us or taking guests with us into town, etc. on a day trip. In truth, those occasions are very rare and we suspect that once we go full time, it may only happen a couple times a year. In reality, gaining some amazing storage back there that is super easily accessible on a daily basis has won out- at least for now.  We removed the split seats (may put one back in since we typically will only have one grandchild at a time camping with us).  Along the back wall of the truck cab, Kevin installed a 1/4″ sheet of luan type board sheet to encase the back but allowed the U shaped bench seat hooks (that hold the seats in place) and these are what we use to hook bungy cords to.  Stored in this space we can put items that we use a nearly every 2+ night camp.  This includes; our 2 folding recliners, 2 everyday chairs, a folding table, our large cooler and a small cooler for drinks,  a first aid and emergency roadside kit and bag of snacks for the roadtrip.  We have found it very handy to have this space available- especially if we have set up camp and/or plan to be away from camp for the day, or it starts to pour rain and we want to get our chairs and small Weber gas grill inside and under cover quickly! (Has happened many times!)  Once camp is set up and this above equipment is set outside, this space in the truck also provides a great place for us to store our Ebikes folded up safe and sound.

How to Gain Storage Under Your Sofa in your RV!

Our sofa, “pre-project” and Reddy approved!

If you are like us you are always looking to maximize storage spaces on your RV

In our 1987 32S Avion we have a gaucho style sofa.  This pulls forward and then down to create essentially a double sized bed for guests.  It is original to the trailer, but was fully reupholstered by the previous owner in about 2018.  As you can see from the photo above, we do keep a quilted sofa cover on it not only to protect from our dog (sadly Reddy died in Dec 2020) but also, grandkids and us spilling something since the fabric is a similar color to the grey throw and plain so it will show any and all stains, etc.  I don’t know if it was scotch guarded and do not want to take the chance it was not!  This was a cover we already had from our other 73 Avion.  Our 87 sofa is a bit longer.

In early Spring 2021 Kevin had the brainstorm that we could expand the under sofa storage by elevating the frame of the sofa.  We would also gain the benefit of the sofa being a little higher so as we age, it would be easier to get up from sitting on it.  Not that it was super low but any little bit helps once arthritis sets in!

Another reason for this project was that I found it very hard, and downright uncomfortable to try to have to kneel on or straddle that flip down solid upholstered sofa skirt panel when trying to get things out from under the sofa.   It was so in the way!  The skirt panel had the hinges and sat off the floor by at least nearly 2″ so that also reduced the height of what I could fit under there—and get out!  See next photo below if we have you totally confused on what we are talking about here!

EASY STEPS to our Project:

(1)  Unscrew the flip down front padded sofa skirt panel and remove floor mounted hinges, hardware.  We decided not reuse this after completing our project.  You could, I suppose opt to make either (a.) a new flip down panel out of wood then upholster with sofa material and reinstall the flip down hinges or (b.) add an extension board to the top of the existing flip down panel somehow and support it and then recover it all so it looks like one piece.  We opted to make a fabric pleated sofa skirt that simply velcro’s across the front of the sofa and hangs to the floor.  Since the fabric skirt weighs less than that original panel it’s another win!20210429_192140

(2)  Unbolt and get sofa out of the way.  TIP- we recommend NOT trying to get the sofa completely out of the rig due to narrowness of the entry door.  This thing is heavy and bulky AND honestly the project went so fast, it would have probably taken us longer to maneuver the sofa out of the door than the entire project took!  So leave it just tipped forward and out of the way.  NOTE- we left the panel nearest refrig in place on the side of the sofa end.  See more on this later.

You will need to unbolt from the floor and from the rear support as shown above which was screwed in. well, actually it wasn’t but we guess it was supposed to have been at some point!

NOTE we have carpet tile flooring done by previous owner. The brownish linoleum you see is original to the trailer when manufactured.

Before I knew it. our sofa was sitting in the middle of our living room!

(3)  Use this time to clean up, check water and waste connections and apply steel wool around pipe openings to ward of mice and other crawling critters from entering your living space!  Note– we still have the original grey water piping for our fresh water to kitchen sink. As of this post, we have purchased all materials to change everything out to PEX plastic piping and that is on the to do list for Spring 2022- ha ha so the sofa will have to come out again to the middle of the living room!

(4) Cut 6 blocks of 2×4 wood (2 for each mounting- laying on their side for a total elevated height of 3″) to a size sufficient to carry the floor mount sofa hardware to be rebolted back in.  Kevin fastened the 1st wood block layer in by itself using the old holes left in the floor as guides so they would be in the correct position.  He used 2 1/4″, #10 heavy duty wood screws.  He predrilled all holes in 2x4s to avoid any possible splitting.  He then mounted the second layer of the blocks directly on top of the first layer, and used 3 1/4″ #10 wood screws to mount it to the lower layer.  Be sure you know where those first screws are so you don’t try to screw down on top of them!

NOTE- we had LEFT the panel (bottom right corner of photo below it can be seen) at the tongue side of the original sofa in place since we hoped it would still work to hide that open end of the sofa. And it did!

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***This is also a good time to put some small, low wood “stops” mounted into the floor just in front of your water pipes to prevent anything stored under the sofa to get hooked on or that could push back the water tubing.  We held off doing this until we install our PEX system and will know exactly where the tubes will lie.

(5) Put the sofa back in place and re-screw it down in all locations.  NOTE- since now the crossmember support arm no longer hit the wood box along back, we put a 4×4 in underneath it, clamped it to the 4×4 with a “U” and secured the 4×4 to the wood box by toenailing (screwing) it in with more wood screws.  We did not want to put holes into the sidewall of the trailer.  It is very secure.  Considering when we unbolted the sofa to begin with, this cross member had never been secured- we figure its more secure now!

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(6) Load in the totes!  I tried various combinations of totes to find just the right mix for what we store under here.  Your needs may be different but I store the following under our sofa:  our Dyson Vacuum, totes with table cloths, Set of Sheets for sofa bed, multiple exterior solar light strands, swim floaty rafts, our cuckoo clock for traveling time, citronella table candles, and our Avion spare parts tote.  It a lot of stuff but its all in various totes that fit like a puzzle.  With the extension height of an additional 3″ I was able to now lay two totes on top of each other.  I prefer totes because it is far easier to pull out a tote than to have to reach under to pull out each separate item.  Also being in totes there is less concern over something hooking onto and tugging at or pushing against the water piping that lays along the bottom of the sidewall.  

In the photo below where you can see I now have a blue lidded and white lidded tote—I could only fit ONE of them before this project.  Essentially we have doubled our storage space under our sofa!

Additional Comments & Notes:

  1. As much as we would have preferred that the previous owner had carpeted completely under the sofa, actually we have found that even that little 1/4″ lip transition from the linoleum to the carpet aids in keeping the tote bottoms very well in place even during travel.  If you do not have that carpet lip, you may want to install a 1/8″ or 1/4″ strip of molding flush to the floor in between the sofa support blocks.  This will help keep totes in place during travel.
  2. I did find after a few trips that attaching an elastic bungy cord from one leg support (behind the sofa skirt) to the other was necessary to keep the higher tier of my totes from sliding out during travel.  This has solved that issue completely.
  3. We found that the sticky back velcro we tried first to hold the new fabric skirt on did not hold up well enough during travel or “leg traffic” from us using the couch.  I will have to secure the velcro either by sewing it on or by using a glue to adhere, letting it dry with clamps to ensure a good seal.  In the meantime, what I did was extended the length of the quilted sofa cover we use making it longer in the front and that covers 90% of the opening and really is working fine for now.  
  4. Kevin and I are not tall, we have pant inseams of 30″ (a.k.a short legs) and we have found that the raised height of our sofa is extremely comfortable for us.  Our feet just touch the floor now and it feels more relaxing on our legs.  If you are a taller person you may find raising your sofa could make your muscles relax even more!  We also find that as we age getting up and down from the sofa will be even easier as arthritis no doubt will kick in. 
  5. BEST TIP OF THE DAY! I should mention that at some point one of the owners of our trailer put a full shelf behind our sofa.  It is simply attached with 4 angle braces screwed into the sidewall and it about 4″ wide.  We would be lost without this shelf and store all sorts of things there.  I have found wire framed fabric bins at Bed, Bath and Beyond that fit there perfectly and keep things organized.  We also have one magazine storage holder (sits mostly behind our curtain) there for travel books, brochures and maps when currently on a trip, then the bins hold things like our battery lantern, binoculars, a plant, a container for our TV remote and other small misc items. One bin is open for me to set a mug or cup in while reclining on the sofa!  The change in height of our sofa had no impact on the usefulness of this shelf and we highly recommend you install one during this project while the sofa is out!  It runs the entire length of the sofa back.
  6. Sorry I do not have a photo of the sofa back in form with the pleated skirt attached.  I will try to get that done in spring when our RV is out of winter storage and update this post when available.

Hope you enjoyed this project article.  If you decide to undertake this project we would LOVE to hear from you and see  your photos!  Please feel free to leave us any comments on this project- we love to hear from our subscribers!

Until next time…safe travels and please visit our Avion merchandise store at www.MyAvionMarketplace.com and don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel and this blog to get notified of future posts and videos!

Sincerely- Kevin and Luise Sherman

K-L and Avion-bitmoji-withCopyright2019_bye

MORryde Suspension System & Kodiak 7K Hydraulic Disc Brakes -Major UPgrades to our ’87 Avion

Up on the lifts at MorRyde in Elkhart, Indiana. They do allow you to sleep on your rig and plug into shore power during the installation process….but up and out by 5:45 AM because they start working at 6 AM sharp!

Anyone who has an Avion (or Airstream for that matter) knows that the clearance underneath these silver babies is less than optimal and can really cause issues especially trying to do boondocking or dispersed camping-which is something we plan to do a lot of once we are full timing starting in 2023.  We found in our 28′ we had issues, but it was even more pronounced in our 32′  since our tail end extends that much further back from the tire axels. 

At times we were even limited as to what gas stations, parking lots or even campsites because of the “dip” from street to lot/site.  NO MORE!

 

HERE IS A GREAT VIDEO about the IS and disc brake systems in easy to understand language.  We are happy to share with you from vloggers Crazy Family Adventure.

After lengthy research, discussion with people who have installed it and with Technicians at MORryde and then more research we decided to take the big plunge and have the MORryde Independent Suspension System AND Kodiak (7K lb) hydraulic disc brakes installed on our 1987, 32S model Avion.  This decision is not for the faint hearted and a huge investment (just over $7K total for axels/suspension/Kodiak Disc brakes as of this post in Fall 2021) and this does not include the new 8 Lug tires and rims we needed to get for the hydraulic brake install we wanted.

Anyone who has the original MORryde suspensions on their Avion’s (late 60s into late 70s) knows that the center rubber sheer spring that hangs down (encased in steel) in between your tandem tires takes  a ton of the impact from road travel and it is certainly touted as one of the best suspension systems that Avion installed back in the day and any travel trailer can have.  We loved it on our ’73 and missed it once we started traveling with our ’87.  This new version from MORryde, called their “I.S.” (Independent Suspension) system basically replicates that type of system from the older Avion’s WITH ONE HUGE DIFFERENCE! 

We now have that 70’s type of MORryde Rubber Sheer Spring on EACH OF OUR TIRES!  The results is a super smooth ride, less wear and tear on the trailer frame–and with new axels and all these new components there is piece of mind that we will not likely have problems with axel failure/breakage and have a hard time trying to find the correct old “split axels- the Dexter Adjust-a-ride” we did have.

If you think about your suspension like we do, it is the foundation of your “house”.  It needs to be strong, in good working order and built to last.  Our Avion is our home (full time starting in 17 months, 3 days, 2 hours, 29 seconds but who is counting right??) and we want a strong foundation for the tens of thousands of miles we plan to do each year with her over some pretty challenging terrains.

For the sake of brevity, we will list PRO’s and CON’s of our experience, the system and the end results.  In the end, would we do it again?  yes, but read on!!

Inside our OLD external battery box is where the Kodiak hydraulic brake controller was being installed. We had to move our 2 AGM house batteries to under our streetside rear bunk temporarily as part of this project. Our next big project is installing our 6 Battleborn Lithium Ion batteries to underneath our curbsite bunk. The hydraulic brakes are awesome!!

PRO’s to our process-products-end result:

  1. Increased our ground clearance from 8.5″ (at low point of old axels) to over 15″.  No more worries about getting off road, into gas stations or parking lots. Our rear side frame and front tongue frame sit at right around 26″. NO more worrying about dips into parking lots from the street or uphill grades from street.
  2. The MORryde website has excellent information and videos.  And phone calls in advance to their tech folks were very helpful in our decision making to go with the IS versus the 3000 or 4000 systems. Your Avion may benefit from the other systems and worth inquiring about!
  3. The Kodiak Hydraulic Disc brakes are game changers!  Wow!  what stopping power and peace of mind.  So different than electric brakes!  Makes braking of the trailer feel totally “as one” with our tow vehicle. No more grabbing, no more concerns on long down or uphill travels.  These are beefy! Just the new brake system alone was worth the install!
  4. All new axels, rotors and all brake components so less chance of failure or need to hunt down vintage parts to fit/work. We like having a new, rocksteady foundation under our trailer.
  5. During install process we were able to examine the trailer frame since belly pan was removed (we had not done that prior) to see it was in excellent condition- even our Tech was super impressed with quality and condition of this 34 yr old frame!
  6. MORryde allows you to park the night before your appointment in their lot outside garage, then once install commences you are allowed back onto your “elevated rig” after the day shift is done.  This saves on hotel costs– our install took 2.5 days.
  7. The MORryde Service center staff are very good.  The Tech and Service Manager listened to our questions, were responsive to our concerns and talked us through the process as it was happening in real time. (BTW we were the first vintage trailer to get an IS install) They also gave us a tour of the entire facility so we could see these IS  systems being fabricated on site.
  8. We knew what our costs would be before they started and this was all reviewed with us in advance.  There was no type of upselling or gimmicks.  The products stand on their own and we really feel their shop labor rates were very fair.
  9. The Tech you get is assigned to your rig from start to finish and are highly skilled and trained.  They are very professional, the shop is clean, well managed and everyone is super friendly. (well you are spending a bundle too!)
  10. The waiting area during the day is stocked with goodies, drinks, etc. and very comfortable with overstuffed sofas and with WIFI and rest rooms.  You can also order and get a complimentary lunch from several area restaurants who delivers to the MORryde office.  No charge to you- we did Panera both days.
  11. To their credit, when an issue was relayed from us back to MORryde they made good on sending out new parts at their cost and covered the labor costs  in a refund to us to have this correction done locally at a shop we found near to us. Kudos out to Adirondack Truck of Queensbury!

CON’s to our process-product and end result

  1. We did not know that the rig was going to be lifted SO high. Originally we were told up by 4-6″ and we were fine with that. Then as install progressed we were told it changed to 7-8″. We now have a full 11.5″ from top of our tire to top inside of wheel well. Looks odd because all of us are used to seeing our low lying, stealth to the ground rigs.  To counter this somewhat we have purchased Fender Flares (aftermarket bought at Bontragers near Elkhart) to install by riveting on the exterior of the well lip to help mitigate the space visually.  We will temporarily remove the track you see below that we riveted on to slide our Zipdee Tire Shades into, then will rivet the fender flares on using the same rivet holes and refasten the tire shade track over top of this once again.  Due to the curvature of the wheel well opening (at approx. 1 pm and 11 pm locations) we are going to have to apply small sheets of anodized alluminum from behind to fill in those gaps.  Not an ideal fix, but its the best we have come up with.  If you have another idea please let us know! kimg3454
  2. Our frame, (measured at front and rear frame on tail before it rises upward) now sits at 26″ above the ground. Before this install it was approximately 18″. This height has resulted in perhaps a lessening of the aerodynamic nature of the Avion design. However on our trips since we have not encountered any issues with this even on highways with winds and Semi trucks zooming by- but we also use a Hensley hitch which certainly is a big help and have a high top cap on our pick up which deflects wind.
  3. No pre install weigh in like video’s said they would do.  When we watched the MORryde videos during our decision making process we really liked the fact that part of the process included weighing your rig so that the correct sheer springs weight range would be installed. We know our trailer is street side heavy due to Corian countertops and all appliance on that side. We had hoped this weighing step and install to account for this would solve any undo stress on one side of the axels/tires. Needless to say when we arrived we were told they no longer do that weighing part of the process. We were not happy with that explaining again we knew we were heavier on one side and in the end (keep reading full story) it would have saved a lot of angst as a result.
  4. We were not made aware that our specific I.S. axels were going to be wider than our original ones.  We were told this is due to the necessary deflection needed for the tires to toe out or in independently we now had our tires extending out about 2.5-3″ outside of the wheel well! We question the need for this still.  Was it really because this is the standard length for modern RV’s and what their shop is set up to make?  This was a total surprise to us and not a happy one .  We did not realize it until the entire install was complete. It really changed the look of the trailer profile. Hence another reason to purchase the aftermarket tandem aluminum fender flares at about $75 each. We have added another project to our list to rivet these in place after removing our tire shade track and replacing it over top the fender flares (a project just completed). ** The tires extending past our sidewall profile also can mean more damage should a tire fail, and certainly without the fender flare, way more road grime, water from wet roads, mud etc. spewing onto our vintage aluminum skin trailer body.  
  5. “Houston we have a problem!”  On our trip back to upstate NY (Lake George area) from Elkhart, IN- this is a 780 mile trip of all highways we found at our pit stops that some of our interior decor, drawers,  gear, and equipment that NEVER had bounced around or shifted before was now doing just that!  Wait a minute!!!!!!
  6. We were supposed to have a smoother ride, not a bumpier one!  We also noticed porpoising  (rocking nose down to nose up) of our trailer when hitting even slight road seam bumps that we had not seen before.  Houston!!???? another issue!
  7. Not all communications via email were responded to in what we feel was a timely manner by MORryde staff, especially with our issue after install was brought to their attention.  We do recognize that Covid-19 certainly had a part in this as did some staffing changes at MORryde.  We know everyone is busy but waiting weeks for a reply is not appropriate in this tech age.  Once a reply was gotten, we were instructed what measurements we needed to do and send to them.  With this information, MorRyde determined that indeed the WRONG SHEER SPRINGS had been installed *Yup, that weight thing again”- Avion’s are heavy!!-they are not the cardboard box trailers produced today.  Even though we had given them our weight parameters…someone obviously did not compute this correctly from the get go.  So what was happening was that the #2 Sheer springs originally put on at the shop were insufficient to carry our weight and were causing the axels to bottom out when hitting even mild to medium bumps in the roadways-trashing our trailer inside and pounding on our frame unnecessarily on that first trip.
  8. Sheer Spring REDO!  With new #3 sheer springs in hand, you can see the big difference in size! See photo below.  We had to take another day off from work and had a local shop (Adirondack Truck on Big Boom Rd, Queensbury- who were great!) take out the springs from our install and replace with these beefier ones.  We are very happy to report a 2.5 hr trip two days later on our next camping adventure proved we had no more jostling, drawers were shut, gear not strewn about–so issue appears to be solved and the ride is smooth as we had hoped for and been promised.  Needless to say, the issue we had caused us undo stress wondering what on earth we spent all this money for?  Did we ruin the quintessential look of our Avion only to have a bumpier ride?  In the end…the ride is better, the clearance is better and we have the peace of mind of a very strong foundation (suspension) and a new braking system second to none! 

Final thoughts read below…..

For those who wish to see some of the quick video footage we took during the install process here you go!

Welding of new brackets to support axels. Video link

New axels with highlight on the Kodiak Disc Brake system. Video Link

First axel being lined up for install. Video link

Our Tech, Matt doing the welding of first axel onto frame. Video link

Closer look at streetside axels after being welded to frame. Video link

Balancing and aligning our new tires on axels-Hunter System. Video link

In summary...it was a stressful project from start to finish.  We were under the gun to have our house batteries relocated before we left for Elkhart, then a 780 mile trip out there.  We did not get our Avion into the shop until 2pm on first day of appointment, ended up being there 2.5 days and missed two days with fellow Avioners at our SAF rally.  We were shocked by the resulting height of the trailer and over extended tires past our sidewalls. AND, the saga did not stop and we had to have our sheer springs replaced within a month due to a size miscalculation on their part of which they did send us the correct replacements and covered labor.   But all is well now and we are happy!

In the end…we have a super rugged, solid foundation to our home and now we have an AVION OVERLANDER® rig now….and that is the beginning of a new story!

PLEASE SUBSCRIBE TO THIS BLOG SOYou can stay tuned so you can see the debut of a new separate off grid adventure blog from us with a separate, additional URL at AvionOverlander.com that will only focus on off-grid, off road- boondock and dispersed camping adventures, tips and more—coming in 2023 when we hit the road full time and do a lot of boondocking and off road/off grid adventures! (not to worry thePewterPalace.com will not be going away and will continue to be the repository for our campground reviews, regular trips, projects, tips and more!)

As always, if you have any questions, want more measurements, etc. please do not hesitate to reach out to us at any time via direct email to PewterPalace87@gmail.com!

Till we meet on the road or around the campfire!

RV Fresh Water Hook up Safety Tips

The Good, The Bad…the Ugly!  It may not be the most glamorous topic for discussion, but keeping you and your family healthy has a direct correlation to continued enjoyment of the RV travel hobby.

The UGLY! Cross contamination of the fresh water spigot tap can cause serious illness—and contamination of your entire fresh water system!  It can happen very easily, without your knowledge or even innocently on your part and it DOES happen!

Here are just a few possible CAUSES OF CONTAMINATION to your fresh water tank:

HOW DOES CONTAMINATION OF FRESH WATER HAPPEN?

Campground issues…..these are out of your control!

  • Campgrounds are not regularly testing their potable water supply (yes, it happens*)
  • Local municipal contamination, causing an emergency “boil water” advisory- especially prevalent after major storms.
  • Fresh water pipes could be broken underground before they get to spigot.
  • Improper placement of fresh water spigots by campground ownership

AND THE BIGGEST/MOST COMMON REASON??  Fresh water spigot tap contamination from a previous camper!

What YOU and OTHER CAMPERS do DOES makes a difference!

  1. Lack of proper procedures during their black water tank flush process
  2. Improper series/order of steps when hooking up or breaking down camp- we have seen people cleaning/rinsing their septic hose by turning on the fresh water spigot and rinsing under the water flow.  Do you have any idea how much bacteria is splashing back up on to that faucet outlet??
  3. Improper storage of your fresh water and sewer hoses
  4. Broken, cracked, frayed hoses or couplers on hoses

There are countless conversations on facebook, YouTube and other blogs about first hand witnessing of unsanitary (for you and them) practices or lack thereof.  This is serious business, ecoli infections can kill someone!

TIPS TO BE MORE SAFE WHEN USING CAMPGROUND DUMP STATIONS AND FULL HOOK UP SITES:

  1. Always wear clean disposable gloves when doing your sewer dumping and DO NOT leave those gloves anywhere but in your own trash bag!
  2. Put a small spray bottle of H2O with a mild bleach solution in your outside fresh water compartment. I bought a 4 inch travel size one with spritzer nozzle at Wally World for a couple of $.
  3. Spray your bleach water solution EACH and every time you hook up and break down!  Spray it on…both ends of your fresh water hose, the spigot at the campground pedestal/faucet before you hook up your hose.  Spray the ends of your fresh water filter(s) too.  When spraying spray around the outside and into the openings of hoses, filters, and spigot.
  4. NEVER set the open ends of  your fresh water hoses or filter ends on the ground!! NEVER NEVER! Have a helper hold them.   If you must set stuff down because you are alone, then take a clean new plastic kitchen garbage bag and put that on the ground near the water spigot and lay your items on it like a carpet.  Throw bag away after use.
  5. DO NOT store your water filters  in your basement storage areas. (may be ok for modern campers with large storage areas where you can have lidded plastic totes)  Way too much dirt, germs and debris can find their way into them.  We store ours in a clean dish pan in our shower floor or kitchen sink.
  6. If the weather has been wet, use a paper towel or sponge to slide down the length of the fresh water hose before storing to take off mud, dirt, bugs, etc.  Be sure you get all or 99% of the water out of your hoses before storing.
  7. Always screw the two ends of  your fresh water hose together so nothing can get in there while not in use.  Would not hurt to again spray with the water/bleach solution before storing.
  8. Using your water/bleach spritzer spray off your dump valves regularly.  Keep them properly greased/lubed up as directed by manufacturers recommendations.  Keep your storage bays as clean as possible.  
  9. Store your “stinky slinky”, septic hose in a separate area from your fresh water hose and equipment.
  10. Have a box of gloves, a bucket of clorox wipes and paper towels always handy in that basement bay or next one over.
  11. Consider always carrying a gerry jug (we have two 6 gals) with you filled with fresh water you know you can trust.  Just in case the water from your campsite smells a little off, has high iron or sulfur content even though it may be potable.  Your AM coffee will thank you!
  12. Install an under counter fresh water filter below your faucet.  There are many types from electronic to flow through traditional. We have one on our dedicated drinking water faucet.  It is so good it even removed the pink dye color from the winter antifreeze!
  13. Consider buying a Berkey Water Filtration system that sits on your counter.  Found on Amazon or their dedicated Berkey site.  Not cheap but great peace of mind.

and remember…..

Dump the black water tank first….then the grey water!

Put at least 4-6  or so gallons of water (depends on size of your tank or how long you will be not camping)  back into your toilet and add your black tank digester.  We prefer Happy Camper or Unique brands.

You do not need to use RV toilet paper….any Septic Safe labeled T-paper is fine as long as you use sufficient water each time you flush.  What I tell my grandsons is if you do #2…then hold the pedal down for as long as it takes you to slowly count to at least 6.

*I recall reading numerous reviews about a campground in south western Arizona that had multiple complaints and even was shut down by their local health department due to fouled fresh water being run through pipes to their campsites. It pays to read campground reviews before you park! (NOTE: we always have at least 4-6 filled milk jugs of our own home water with us on any given trip. If anything, we use them to “flush” when boondocking or using our toilet at a rest area.

Here’s to happy and SAFE camping!

From Kevin & Luisa Sherman

Loose windows? Here’s a quick fix!

WHY? People have had the windows on their Avions blow open and get broken off of the rig when a gust of wind hit their rig while going down the road or in a bad wind storm. Don’t let this happen to you!

When we owned our 1973 Avion, 28′ LaGrande Model we noticed that one of the three prior owners had put on some “make do” hardware that held the windows more solidly closed while rolling down the road or during winter or very bad weather (rain or wind). Below is one of those “make do” clips but overtime it was only functional with our little slip of a wood shim in it! So the time to find a new “fix” was due!

The original after market “make do” window securing clip needed a shim when we bought the 73 Avion!

CAUTION! These old Hehr windows especially the “awning type” which are the one piece large windows that crank open from the bottom out…CAN AND DO have the potential to catch a wind and fly open when rolling down the road at 50+ MPH. In case you do unfortunately lose a window or purchase a reno project Avion, Hehr does still make awning style (and Jalousie) windows and some online companies also carry a limited amount of dimensions. NO ONE in our research makes the rounded front curved windows that flank your center front window so please baby those fixed windows- we also have them in the rear bedroom of our ’87!

*note, since purchasing our 1987 32S Avion (jalousie window style) we do not have this issue with rattling or fly open accidently windows but we still make double-triple sure they are fully secured before we begin towing because if open even a little bit the wind could catch the smaller pane of a jalousie and pull it open to and strip your window crank system in the process. It seems the issues of rattling windows is more prevalent with the awning style windows found on pre mid 80’s models.

Additionally, some of our window torque operators (those little metal boxes that your crank handle fits into to raise the window out) were less than perfect, wear out quickly due to soft metal gears inside and did not always “snuggly” hold our window shut.

ABOVE- Sill Torque Operator, for LEFT side
ABOVE- Awning style window on our 1973 Avion opened and you can see the Torque Operator installed on right side of this window with its arm extended, cranked out.

WHAT TO DO TO PREVENT WINDOWS HAVING A MIND OF THEIR OWN??

We purchased these simple metal “shelf clips” at our local hardware store. https://www.lowes.com/pd/Hillman-20-Pack-0-25-in-Shelf-Pins/3013872

They are cheap, come in boxes of multiples and made for a decently attractive but functional solution to ensuring our windows were all securely closed to prevent accidental opening during trailering.

We put a stainless steel screw into the pre-drilled hole and the “pin” which is intended to fit into a round hold in a bookshelf wall is actually what holds the window closed. (sorry evidently did not take a photo of this before we sold our 73 Avion!)

Another closeup of the original “clips” that had been installed on our 73 Avion by a former owner to prevent window rattle and secure when towing to prevent possible blow open and ruin!

Part of our routine before we got underway for a trip and then when we arrive to set up at our campsite was simply to take a cordless power drill and unscrew the stainless screw to be able to rotate the clip away from the window frame to allow the window to open. We did not remove the clip entirely, merely rotated out of the way so it was ready to be deployed again to do its job once we were packing up and making ready to leave our campsite.

Last but not least….we cannot stress enough the importance of a “WALK AROUND” safety check BEFORE you tow your RV 2 feet! The walk about is Luisa’s job so there is a second pair of eyes on the hitch area and all its hook ups, etc. This Walk-Around will be where you check to see that all of your windows are secured down, if using clips like we outline above, they are engaged and tightened, awnings latched/locked in place. I will be posting a complete other “walk around” post to go into more details on this very important safety standard of practice.

Be well, happy travels!

Sneak preview Video, Our big Bathroom expansion VIDEO! just for our Blog Subscribers!!

We have completed our walk through video of our BIG Avion trailer mid bath expansion project!

As loyal subscribers to our blog YOU GET TO SEE IT FIRST!

If you LIKE this video please give it a “thumbs UP”, if you disliked…a thumbs down.

If you have not checked out the many videos we have made over our Avion ownership, or trusted other bloggers videos we have in our YouTube library now is a great time to explore. Happy travels in 2021!

sharing 5 Problem-solver tips for rv-travelers

I thought I might give you a list of 5 “problem solving” tips, items or techniques that we have learned in our years of RV camping.

Enjoy and please let us know what other “problem solvers” you have discovered! Please leave comments in the “leave a reply” field!

RUN AWAY PAPER TOWELS!

PROBLEM SOLVER #1: VIVA BRAND PAPER TOWELS

If you have had the problem of entering your RV after a trip and finding that as you “rolled down the road…so did your paper towels and they have literally unrolled themselves from one end of your RV kitchen to the other….VIVA brand solves your problem!

Viva brand do not unroll with road vibration and movement. In fact, they actually stick to the roll and require you to “peel” a towel off. They are admittedly a little more pricey but they have an excellent absorbency rate as well as they stay put! Worth it in our mind for sure!

MY CHAIR MAKES HOLES IN MY PATIO RUG!

PROBLEM SOLVER #2: FURNITURE GLIDES

Many of our RV park or boondock sites we have found have very soft or sandy surfaces where we put our patio carpet out on. We have a large 6 x 20 carpet we use, purchased from Camping World it is the plastic weave type which is great for durability (we still have a smaller one that is 6 yrs old and fine) and dries well without molding.

BUT, because of the “weave” we found that the leg ends of our camp chairs would penetrate through and cause a lot of stress on the plastic fibers.

We had some heavy furniture glide discs (hard plastic on one side, foam on other side) that can be bought at any hardware or big box store.

We store the discs in one of the side pockets in our chairs so they are always handy and have found they do the trick to prevent any potential ruining of our patio carpet. We have not found we need them on our little table simply because there is never enough weight on the table to cause the legs to poke through the carpet.

RUN AWAY MATTRESSES!

PROBLEM SOLVER # 3: ANTI-SKID RUG MAT

In our Class A motorhome and in our 1973 Avion we were constantly finding that our mattress would slide off the bed board and be askew when we were finished traveling for the day.

We purchased a package of the anti-skid area carpet pad at Lowes and cut it to fit just about 1 inch in from the perimeter of our mattress. There are different grades/qualities and we found this one did the best. Problem solved, the mattresses no longer move and this also provides a buffer zone of a waffle of air between your bed board foundation and your mattress which prolongs the life of the mattress and helps prevent mold and condensation on the bottom of the mattress.

REMOVING STICKERS, BUGS, TAR AND MARS ON THE ALUMINUM SKIN

PROBLEM SOLVER #4: THE BONE TOOL

We learned about this invaluable tool from fellow RV (Airstream) long time travelers. The bone tool is versatile, affordable and takes up no storage room. Especially on the aluminum skin, owners of Avions and Airstreams have to be very careful not to mar the skin by using anything that will scratch, discolor or eat away at the aluminum. We have found we use the bone tool to help get the rubber window glaze bead into place, scrape off old unwanted stickers from the aluminum and fend off extra stuck bugs and even tar from our rig. We have this tool linked to our shared Avion Amazon list on our blog under our LINKs page.

GOSH MY MESH FAN SCREENS ARE FILTHY!

PROBLEM SOLVER #5: PET HAIR ROLLER

We found on our 1973 Avion that a simple sticky tape pet hair/lint roller did a fabulous, quick (and no water necessary) job of cleaning off dust, grime, and dirt from our vent screens. No need to even take down the screen if in a pinch for time, or on a trip. BTW if your screen looks dingy we repainted ours with an ivory colored spray paint that said it was ok for fabrics. It worked great!

PetLovers Lint Rollers for Pet Hair Extra Sticky 6 Pack - Lint Remover for Clothes

Well that is our 5 tips for this time! Hope you found one or more of them helpful!

Be well, Be Healthy…..Enjoy your travels!

Please visit our online shop at www.MyAvionMarketplace.com for our uniquely designed, fun and useful Avion and AS themed clothing, gifts, trailer and household items. Lot of items are on amazing sales right now for the holidays!

-Luisa

QuiCk Take!- No Microwave? No “reheat” problem!

Let’s get it right out on the table now….we do NOT have a microwave in our Avion trailer. We did not have one in our prior Avion trailer. We DID have one in a 32 foot class A we owned for 5 years...it was a great breadbox!

To Microwave or no Microwave…that is the question!

Our ’73 Avion was not made with a microwave in it. We did not want to destroy the pristine original cabinetry either. So we did a critical review of how we (I) cook, what we cook, space considerations. Before we tore into those pretty real wood cabinets, we would camp in her at least 1 season first before installing a microwave to do a real eval of if it was needed. That summer, due to our house being on the market (yes, it had a microwave on the counter!) we LIVED full time in our 28 foot, 1973 Avion travel trailer for 3 months. NOT ONCE did i miss my microwave. Decision made….we do not need a microwave as long as we practiced a little ingenuity along the way for reheating items normally “zapped”.

This same trend continued when we bought our 1987, 32 foot, S model Avion just as the Covid-19 pandemic was hitting in March 2020. She was delivered to us in April, by June the original huge, heavy clunker microwave was on the trash heap. The cabinet that once held it now has been usefully repurposed to hold kitchen contraptions I DO USE…my Instapot, my small sized air fryer, my mini Belgian waffle maker…and then a felt bin that holds batteries, quick little tool box and my sewing box. It will probably hold my portable sewing machine for the first few years of our full timing…cause I just wont be able to part with it yet! LOL

Our new cupboard also sports a hinged lift up magnetic blackboard purchased on Amazon that fit perfectly and was already wood framed and i just added a bit darker stain to match our cabinet colors. We installed two Earth Magnets on the ceiling which hold the door open by clamping onto the metal pull. See photos below

BEFORE….check out the size of those 1987 buttons! The thing weighed 47 pounds!

AFTER……

SO HOW DO I REHEAT RESTAURANT LEFT OVERS? OR THE MID MORNING COFFEE??

When we carefully analyzed what we normally eat, drink and reheat it was apparent that the 2 fry pans, 1 lid and 2 pots are all I need in my kitchen arsenal to do all my cooking (we also cook on grill or fire pit outside a lot too!). When “living small” (we are in less than 200 sq. feet) the name of the game is to strive for everything you have can be used for at least 2 or more purposes.

So for an example….recently we treated ourselves to a big lunch out at the Vermont Country Store restaurant in Weston, VT. The portion of “Northerner” Mac n Cheese I got was heaped with BBQ pulled pork and delicious but enough for two meals.

How to reheat leftovers with pans you routinely use:

To reheat this type of meal so that I could keep in the moisture (like a microwave does esp. if you use one of those plastic plate covers) I did this…

(1) Put a piece of aluminum tin foil a little larger than my small fry pan into the fry pan. Shiny side facing up towards you!

(2) Put my leftovers in center on the foil, create a loosely folded packet

(3) Place large fry pan on the burner, place smaller fry pan with foil leftover packet inside on top of it.

This is just before I poured in the water to create essentially a double boiler!

(4) Now pour enough water into the LARGE fry pan to come up to about a half inch from lip of smaller fry pan. Place large metal fry pan lid cover over top (yes, handle of smaller fry pan makes it so it cannot close completely. If you do not have a lid, lay another piece of foil tightly over the top and tuck under

Tip: If you have a smaller round cake pan to fit inside large fry pan that works best. I do not carry cake pans in my trailer…I bake in my instapot or air fryer if the mood hits me.

(5) Turn on the burner- I used medium heat initially then turned it down to low once water boiled, allow the water to boil in the large fry pan, heating the inner one. Keep an eye and replenish water as needed so you do not burn it dry and ruin your pans.

Essentially I have created a moist heat, buffered by two layers of metal so the leftovers do not burn– a Double Boiler of sorts. The steam also created under the lid heated the foil and created a perfect environment for luscious, reheated and a very yummy moist 2nd Mac N Cheese dinner!

OTHER REHEATS…

Left over coffee….use a saucepan!

Potatoes? par boil, wrap in aluminum foil and grill over fire or on LP portable grill

Aluminum foil packets can be used for tons of packet cooking options. Load in veggies, like potatoes, onions, squash, tomatoes, some spices, olive oil or other marinating type of fused cooking oil and put on the grill above the fire, or you can even bury the packets somewhat into the coals themselves.

Reheating steak and other meats- TIP– I learned from a chef long ago to put a lettuce leaf on the top to exude moisture but no flavor into the meat when reheating. Use the same two fry pan method I show above!

WHAT IDEAS AND TRICKS DO YOU HAVE? I would love to hear from you!

–Luisa

Deadbolts and Avion Doors-A perfect marriage!

If we can prevent just ONE more Avion travel trailer door from being turned into a pretzel because it flew open while tooling down the highway we will be happy!

Not a year goes by that some poor soul posts a picture of their mangled Avion trailer door where the original Bargman lock did not hold, or even worse, a ill-suited or perhaps not well seated deadbolt failed to do the trick to hold the door locked.

laura vandermate, 2020 SAF

In truth, and in our opinion, the failure truly is in the original design fact that the hinges for these doors are “downwind” of the air flow (doors swing out and to the left) as you glide down the road.  Yes, the fact the door swings out towards the back end of the trailer was no doubt to ensure that you did not impede on the view from the window in your front living room, kitchen, etc. depending on floor plan makes sense.  BUT think about it…if the door swung open to the right, those hinges and the door would have the added benefit of wind sheer working to keep them closed, rather than working to rip them open.

WHY DO THESE DOORS BLOW OPEN?  Fact is, our trailers are beautifully made, but they also are not living, breathing things.  They are metal, they are layers of various materials and as they roll down the road, go over bumps, stop and go, they tork, they shift, the metal bends and flexes. The Bargman locks are notorious for not having a huge long throw bolt and can very easily tork and come lose enough to allow the door to pop open.  Over years of use their internal latching mechanisms become worn out, stripped or even inoperable.  Couple that with the wind helping to get into that slight opening and boom…you have catastrophe!

TO REPLACE, OR REPAIR A WRECKED VINTAGE AVION DOOR CAN COST $1,000.00’s of dollars!  Sometimes they can be bent back into shape, other times they re a loss.

WHAT STEPS CAN YOU TAKE TO PREVENT A MANGLED AVION DOOR?

  1. Routinely check your door hinges.  These aircraft hinges need tightening and realigning now and then to ensure the door seats into the door frame properly
  2. When possible, have a working Bargman lock (we consider ours a back up to the deadbolt, not the other way around).  Reconditioned or new (old stock) Bargman 300L and 400L series locks do come onto Ebay now and then.  Plan to pay between $350-$900 for the lock with key.   Note– our ’73 and our ’87 both have the 400L series.  NO…these Bargman’s are NOT made anymore!  Not sure which Bargman you have?  Open it up and you should find part #s.  Keep your Bargman maintained, check the latching mechanism, we have had to do adjustments now and then on ours.
  3. Install a HIGH QUALITY deadbolt lock keyed lock.  Turn knob is on interior.
  4. Lock, check, double check again that  your deadbolt is completely turned, fully engaged and seated in its receiver.  Check it again!

BELOW IS THE DEADBOLT WE JUST INSTALLED (July 2020) TO REPLACE A WORN OUT KWIKSET DEADBOLT ON OUR ’87.

NOTE:  I chose to rotate the faceplate putting the rounded ends on the side.  On company website it will show the faceplate with rounded sides on the top and bottom.  I like the rounded to the sides (1) because it does not hide the reminder sticker -original- to “lock deadbolt in transit” and (2) the rounded sides remind me of the design of the Avion itself, rounded front and rear.

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Schlage Commercial 12633626 B600 Series Square Corner Deadbolt with 5″ backset and 1 1/8″ Face Satin Chrome Finish.  CAMELOT STYLE  Packing Slip says:  Item # B60CAM619

IMPORTANT: we had to especially request and order the 5″ backset (throw bolt i call it) because of the length of our distance to really seat that bolt inside our door jam well.  We suspect most Avion owners will need to also use the 5″ backset length as well.  A too short backset (bolt) risks it not holding during those torks, flexes and bends that the trailer does while being towed.

Order Summary


thumbnail image

Default Image may not reflect chosen options.
B60CAM619 / +Part # 12633626 Schlage B60 Camelot Style Single Cylinder Deadbolt
Finish: Satin Nickel
Backset: 5 Inch Backset – $13.43
Door Thickness: Standard 1 3/8 – 2 Inch
$69.43 x 1
$69.43

Subtotal: $69.43
Discount: $0.00
Shipping: $19.00
Sales Tax: $0.00
Total: $88.43

Source: www.DirectDoorHardware.com

Inside of our trailer with new Schlage deadbolt.  We had to put the faceplate as they show to line up the screws and to have it fit in space we had.

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Position of the deadbolt varies.  Rule of thumb….Go with where the current hole is from an old deadbolt if already there.  If not and you have to make the hole, we have seen installations where the lock is on the door and throws into the door frame jam (our 87 is that) and also where the deadbolt lock is in the body of the Avion and throws into the door (our 73 had that and Cayo’s garage in Watervliet MI installed that in the 80’s if that tells you anything — as we had the original receipt from a previous owner.)  There maybe rationale for preference one way or the other and we would love to see that in comments/discussion on this blog post!

Samples of installations on other Avions we have seen posted or in person:

our 73, Cayo installed orig deadbolt in 80s in body
This was the Cayo garage installed deadbolt on the body of our 1973, 28′ LaGrande

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A heavy duty commercial grade Yale lock bought at Grainger Supply, posted by Jeff Carroll, June 2018

Mark Obintaro, 84V
Deadbolt install on Mark Obintario’s 34V.  Mark is the host of the Avion Trailer Owners Club FB page.

INSTALLATION OF OUR NEW SCHLAGE DEADBOLT, JULY 2020:

Kevin did have to do a small clean up of the hole in the strike place removing just a little bit of the foam insulation so that the bolt could fully engage.  Be careful not to open up too much, you want it snug.   We also did not use the round collar on the circle of the lock and against the faceplate on the exterior because the size of our already cut hole was slightly too small.  If you want to, you can recut your hole opening to adjust to fit the collar and faceplate.

We did use our Avion since this installation on a trip from NY to IN over 1600 miles with no issues at all.  That being said, after speaking with so many about the door issues, we did do an extra bungy cord wrap of our door to door handle just for some added piece of mind since our Bargman lock is not working at all anymore. (thats another day’s project! VBG)

Here is the end result of our new Schlage Deadbolt install onto our 1987, 32S Avion.  We hope this blog post has helped you.  Let us know how your project goes in the comments box below!

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Safe Journeys!

From Kevin and Luisa

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