Category Archives: Refurbishment Projects

Mud Flap Install- Protecting the Beauty!

We spent the following week preparing for our big trip out to Elkhart, Indiana to enjoy the Silver Avion Fellowship Rally with 41, count ’em…41 other Avions! While at it…we installed a mud flap system to protect our silver beauty!! 

Back story.……When we returned from our longest road trip to date (16 days) to Dearborn, Michigan this past May/June for the TCT (Tin Can Tourist) Centennial Rally we noticed that at some point, we must have driven over some loose gravel, rock chips in a construction zone because on the curbside of our Avion front area (yes, the area where Airstreams have those protective “wings”) we had a whole lot of small, tiny dings into our aluminum skin.  We  know these were not there prior to our trip.  It is worthwhile to note that with our multiple excursions now through Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, and Indiana…that the roads in those states are not nearly as good, or well maintained as ours are in NYS.  So ok, higher gas taxes, and over all taxes may have some redeeming quality…but we still live in one of THE most expensive states in the union–so not much solace there.

So we have decided to purchase a mud flag bumper guard set up for our tow vehicle which is a 2011 GMC 2500 Denali HD, 6L gas, 4 WD, Crew Cab with Leer extended bed cap (which we LOVE!!).

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A mudflap system would have most likely 99% prevented these chips from happening.  Only sorry we did not do sooner, 46 years on the road and our baby got dinged!  Not only does a mudflap protect from errant rocks coming up and hitting your rig, or worse yet, your rockguard or windows…BUT it also handles…well….MUD (snow, slush, dead animal debris, floating garbage or UFO’s on the highway!-yes it happens!)  Kevin works for NYS DOT and can tell you amazing stories of what his crew finds on the highways.  Mud was the other thing that washed up onto our Avion body front during this most recent trip.

Kevin got lucky when he inquired about pricing for a Rockstar Mud Flap bumper system at our favorite local after-market auto parts detailer and installer- Mac The Knife (Mac also is the one who redid our rock guard and spare tire cover- he does great work!)  Mac happened to have a left over demo model of a Rockstar brand system that he had had on display in his shop a few years back.  Yeah, it was dusty but Kevin got it for less than 1/2 price off current retail …and it is the same system being sold today for over $479 list.  Here is link to similar set up that we have which is currently available through ETrailer.com.  FYI-We have purchased several things from ETrailer.com and are very impressed with the ease of ordering online, their quick shipping and quality products.  They have a huge inventory of tons of stuff and their customer service reps are very good.

Bear in mind, these things are heavy.  We realized that since this will be a one time purchase for us…and when we are in our 70’s and 80’s and still on the road (don’t laugh…we will be good LORD willin’ and the creek don’t rise!) we needed the easiest way possible to lift this baby off the back hitch to store it away if we did not want to cruise around with it on the truck (it does add weight= lesser gas efficiency when not towing)

Here is a good video to show how you hook on the system to your rear bumper.

So Kevin had the idea to create a semi-permanent fix which was to affix the flap system to the receiver piece insert which then can be pulled out with the mud flap bumper system.  Otherwise, we would also have to be pulling off the entire (and super heavy) GenY Torsion Hitch with the whole mudflap bumper system attached as one unit.  That GenY Torsion Hitch is also a great piece of equipment and we will do a separate post just on that and cross link it here at some point.

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view of bumper step, where guard sits atop for custom look

Steps we did:

  1. Retro fit a longer 12″ insert reducer from 2.5″ to 2″ so that we could bolt the mud flap guard system right to that. Here is the link to the additional hardware bracket needed as well.   Link to hardware sold at ETrailer.com
  2. Kevin used a DeWalt Saws-All with brand new blades to cut off the excess length off the reducer.  Be sure to clamp down the reducer so you get as straight a cut as possible.  The reducer was too long and butted right  up to our spare tire, so that needed to be trimmed back by several inches.  Doing this however, then threw off the alignment of the pre-drilled side holes in the reducer, making use of a hitch pin lock impossible.
  3. He then used several different drill bits to cut new holes in the correct positions needed to now be able to throw the hitch lock 5/8 ” pin through. It has a key lock and we have had it rekeyed to match the truck ignition so you always have it handy!
  4. We followed some video’s found on YouTube for the Rockstar brand installation because as we mentioned, this was a store demo unit and therefore we had no instructions or paperwork with it.
  5. Once installed where we knew it was properly in place, we also had to install a Heat Shield (bought on Amazon, see our link/resource page) to prevent the heat from our large exhaust pipe from damaging (a.k.a melting!) our heavy rubber mud flaps.

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It is very important to have this heat shield if your exhaust goes out back before using the mudflap unit. If your pipe exhausts to the side you will not need the heat shield.

IF you are purchasing a brand new kit, you may have to put your unit together yourself.  See Video    As a demo model…Kevin did not have to do these steps!  Ours was ready for install!

 

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This is showing the install WITH the GenY Torsion hitch in place.  The GenY now can be removed by itself and the mudflap guard system stays on the vehicle unless we decide we want to take it off for non-towing times, or touring. Still to do was install the heat shield, and apply some bumper pads on truck bumper to protect from rubbing of mud flap bumper tabs.

If you have any questions about this install, or why we chose our hitch or this mudflap system, feel free to email us directly at 1973Avion@gmail.com!  We would love to hear from you!

Safe journeys!  Share photos of your mud flap project with us on our facebook page!

Kevin & Luisa Sherman

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Avion ’73 Rear Tire Carrier & Tire Cover

Recently there has been several newer Avion owners seeking info on the rear tire carrier and their original hard plastic covers.

Did you know this was an OPTIONAL item back in the day when Avion’s were being ordered or purchased? Yup….a SPARE TIRE CARRIER for the rear bumper would set you back another whopping $33 for tire holder and $16 for the spare tire!!! This explains why you will see some Avion’s of this or earlier vintage with nothing on their rear bumper. I am not quite sure where or if the owners carried a spare, lets hope they did somewhere! Perhaps strapped down on the top of the 1973 Mercury Station Wagon roof rack!! [ my dad had one of these!!]

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Check out these 1977 AVION Trailer OPTIONS and Standard Equipment lists!

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(yeah…what happened to THOSE prices right!??) Above is an awesome list of options from a 1977 sales sheet we found at the archive library at the RV Hall of Fame Museum in Elkhart, Indiana in 2017!

Lucky for us our 1973 Avion (that we purchased from the 4th owner who resided in VT about 2 hours from us) had the original tire carrier welded onto the rear round bumper. We would never travel anywhere without a spare tire. But we are constantly amazed at how many RV owners of all brands and styles do! Seriously?? To us having a spare tire is safety and responsibility 101.

Here is a photo of the rear of our Avion in as purchased condition in fall 2016.

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Shortly thereafter, we purchased this great vinyl spare tire cover which I really love. This enabled us to take off the original hard plastic spare tire cover (another optional purchase when originally ordered) in prep for its refurb.

Note- if you are looking for reproductions to replace worn out Travelcade stickers like the one centered above our running lights, please visit our blog post all about Avion Medallions and Emblems. I have links to all about this sticker and where to purchase reproduction replacements!

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Here is the link to that vinyl tire cover. It has held up very well in 3 years. The elastic stays supple and strong, the vinyl has not faded and it comes in a variety of sizes.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001DL8PBG/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o02_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

These hard plastic covers were originally sold with a nice locking bolt feature (see picture below), but most of those locks are long gone now. Occasionally we will see one still existing on an Avion. Below is one that we came uponm for sale in Milford, Michigan when attending the 100th Centennial of the TCT (Tin Can Tourist) club rally. The owner of this ’74 Avion had her out on the end of a driveway for sale, BTW it was sold within 1 week of the rally! Some one got a good deal at $4500!

(below is NOT our Avion. Photo is a Avion for sale on side of road in MI in May 2019)

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Once our hard plastic cover was removed, we knew it was going to need suring up of the center mounting hole.

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There is a considerable amount of stress over 45 years that is put on that bolt and the center circular opening had stress cracks and its thickness of hard plastic worn thinner from rubbing and wear.

We took the cover to a local auto body repair shop, Dave Ure’s in Queensbury. We were pleased with the results but it came at a higher cost than anticipated, $434.00 when all was said and done. ouch!

They did do a great job of applying some additional reinforcement material on the back interior of the tire cover around the center hole while also applying a beautiful hard auto finish paint coating and sealant of the outside of the tire cover. We had selected the color to compliment our interior color scheme and add some pop to our rear end! The finish and coating applied resulted in a very durable, hard finish that no doubt will last a very long time.

For the lettering, we wanted something that would add some “bling” and even more pop to our “rear end” of the RV. We also wanted to some double duty marketing opportunity to promote ourselves and this blog. So we laid out a rendering of the lettering we wanted and took it to Mac The Knife who we had refurb our rock guard and had done an awesome job (better and cheaper than Dave Ure’s shop) Mac followed our instructions to a tee. Mac The Knife is an auto detailer on Quaker Road in Queensbury only about a mile from our house. We are very happy with the results.

Total cost of the lettering by Mac the Knife was: $200.

So while we have a considerable investment (nearly $700) in our original cover, she is beautiful and will surely last us a lifetime of enjoyment! yes, its secured in place!


Below are some photos of our rear tire carrier hardware.

This is the optional feature that sold for the $33 in 1973 when our first owner (we are owner #5) purchased our 1973, 28 foot LaGrande.

We have yet to do a repaint on this. It honestly does not show since the cover is on, but at some point we will repaint it completely. The photos may help those of you who are chosing to have one fabricated. To the best of our knowledge there is no one who currently has these for sale in stock, so you would need to be lucky enough to find one from a parts salvager. NOTE, we believe that the 1980 models and newer of Avions had a very different configuration and system for spare tire storage.

It should be noted that this carrier is really hefty and well made. It is securely welded to the round bumper. We have since installed a clamped on (with long bolts) hitch receiver so that we can mount a bike carrier or a storage shelf on the back of our bumper when needed.

One of our plans include attaching vintage metal coolers (aluminum skinned, bought on Ebay, $25-45) to the rear bumper to serve as extra storage area for sewer hose, and spare electrical cords. They can also double as ice chests for beverages once set up at camp. They even have bottle openers built into their side handles! The original hollow bumpers are too small of a diameter to handle modern sewer hoses and couplers. We DO however keep a spare 30 amp RV power cord in stuffed in there and snake it out when needed…which has happened that we need an extension to our regular built in cord. For example, at Sampson State Park in the Finger Lakes of NY.

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Safe and Happy travels to you! If you have enjoyed this post, or found it helpful please follow our blog by activating the box at top right of this page!

Let us know if you have enjoyed this information. Also let us know if there are topics that you wish we would cover and have not yet! We are always interested in what YOU are interested in when it comes to Avion life and passion!

Thank you!

Kevin & Luisa Sherman

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Rock Guard Rescue- PT 3

For those following our Rock Guard 3R’s (rescue, restore, reinstall) we are on the final step.  Installation of our beautiful, newly rehab’d rock guard we salvaged off of a 1983-84 crunched Avion we found by sheer luck not more than 1.5 hours from our house and in a campground bone yard in a tiny town in VT.

Here is the before….and after…..then…..”THE REST OF THE STORY” ( yes, dating myself)

Below (left) is soon to be salvaged rock guard off a ’83-84 found in VT, (right) is completely rehabbed and now rehung back onto our 1973 Avion.  Note the “bling factor” and read on to see how and what we did!

Obviously the first steps of this rehab was literally just elbow grease to take off years of grime.  You can see all the steps we did including photos and videos in our Phase 1 & 2 blog posts.  We chose a high gloss finished on the interior and exterior of the guard which was professionally painted and finished by a local auto body detailer, Mac the Knife on Quaker Road in Queensbury NY.  He loved the diversion this project gave him over the long Adirondack winter!

The final phase 3 of this big project has been to reinstall the guard.  But there were some issues.    The hanging track of our original (the part installed to nose of trailer) was smaller than the “new” rock guard.  In fact it was 7 inches longer.

We determined that this longer length was actually preferable as it would take more of the pressure off those areas that historically start to show stress cracks on countless Avion’s we have seen (yes believe this was a 45 yr old design flaw on part of original manufacturers).

This meant, we had to first remove our original hanging track.  A little scary since we had never worked with rivets, etc.  But as usual Kevin had watched 100’s of hours on “how to rivet” on YouTube, purchased a few books and then all necessary equipment from Vintage Trailer Supply.  He felt confident in what he had to do.

First step:  Drill out old rivets holding hanging track on our rig.  Old track drilled out and removed.  Clean up of area really well is very important. We use a “bone tool” we buy at the auto parts store to remove old grime, butyl tape, any sticky stuff.  This one works perfect, it has a flat scraper end and a rounded end.  It is actually a hard nylon plastic which will not scratch your aluminum but give you the ability to get stuff off…even smushed bugs too!   Kev is “all about the prep!”

Installed 3/4 inch Butyl tape strip on back edge of new track before installation.

Install replacement (longer) hanging track onto trailer front.  Use stainless steel rivets for install, use Parbond to cover over each rivet head to prevent any possible water penetration.  Parbond along seam that runs along top of guard hanger where attaches to trailer.  This is a critical step.  When riveting or screwing anything into the skin of your trailer, you create a possible way for water to eek in behind and roll down into the holes made by the rivets or screws.  Using Parbond, (we use silver/aluminum colored and and our handy dandy dental hygiene syringe applicator (Amazon, 8 for $10) to a make perfect thin line edges.

We tried reusing as many of the original holes we could from where the original guard track was hung.  Unused holes were pre-filled with Parbond completely sealing them.  Kevin snipped off the tines of the rivets and used the rivet shaver to smooth them down.  Photo above with my gorgeous purple gloves shows rivets before trimming all of them.  Note the small magnetic level to ensure you are keeping the track placement level.  You can see some of the Butyl tape has softened and eeked slightly below the track.  No worries, as this will be unseen and underneath the top of the guard.  Better to have a great seal.

We let the track sit for two days to allow Parbond to dry out pretty well.  Then time to hang the rock guard.  NOTE:  All arm hardware had been removed before hanging so it was not in the way.  WE ONLY REMOVED THE ACTUAL ARMS, NOT THE RECEIVING HARDWARE since that had been re- riveted on and reinforced during the rehab by our auto body person!

We also found that the hardware locations on the NEW guard were not exact to our original.  So we did have to re position the “plunger” receiver on the bottom of the window on one side (only) about 1/4 ” out so that the receiver slot, see right photo below would meet the plunger pin.  Plunger pin hardware (bottom photo) is the one on streetside, note parbond behind, on top and in screw holes before reinstalling with stainless screws.  To re position the curbside one, Kevin drilled the holes into slot shaped and pushed the bracket to align as needed.  Once parbonded and screwed in place it is secure.

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How to Hang:  Carefully we hung the new rock guard

NOTE:  done as a two person job only please!!!  lift guard parallel to the ground and both people using step ladders, you slide the track on top of guard into receiver hanging track that is installed on trailer, slide guard across length of hanging track.

Hanging Problem!  Once hanging the guard- we noticed that our new guard was not seated very securely in its track.

This was the track salvaged with the guard so we knew it was right (and longer which was good) but for some reason it was way too easy to pop out when lifted up.  To combat this we studied the lifting process closely, watching the relationships between the track on rig and track on guard.  We realized there was too much “play” in the track on rig and that we needed to put something back there so that the bent “J” portion of the track on guard could not rotate back and the guard come unhinged should we hit some pot hole, etc. on the road.

We found some “U” shaped aluminum in the exact length needed at Lowes.  Cheap enough, under $15.  You can see it in photo below just in front of the wood strips we used as shims to force it close to the hanger on the guard.  We then used stainless screws and screwed this track (parbonded over each) 5 places on this track thereby securing it into the hanger track affixed to the trailer.  This process allows the rotation of the guard perfectly but it cannot slip upwards and pop out unexpectedly.

Below you can also see some of the added steel reinforcement strip that we had our auto body fellow fabricate to provide additional rigidity and support to the top of the plastic rock guard itself.  As mentioned previously, these guards are notorious for cracking where the arm hinges are due to years of stress on that particular part when traveling down the road.  These reinforcements are on the outside and inside so the plastic guard is sandwiched between.  They are applied with rivets and were painted at same time as guard so all match, inside and out.

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Here is the results, we are very pleased and safe in the knowledge that the guard is not going anywhere with our filler aluminum track safety addition.  You can see the reinforcement steel strip clearly on the video below too.  Obviously we removed the wood shims after this part of the project was tested and done.

 

Some still shots of the aluminum U track we added.  The last image shows the track before we installed this added piece.  You can clearly see all the “play” space that was there and needed filling up to prevent the guard’s track from jumping out by accident.

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Next came the re-installation of the support arms.  Here Kevin is showing a prelim of how we plan to add additional support arms when set up in camp.  First we needed to order additional arms, and do some changes to hardware.

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We had decided to copy a fellow long time Avioner we met at the Silver Avion Fellowship Rally in IN in 2017 and ordered two additional awning lift arms from Vintage Trailer Supply.  These would be used in conjunction with our originals to create add on support arms when we are camped.  More on that in a minute.

The new sets (sold separately) from Vintage Trailer Supply were a little shorter than our originals but would work.  Kevin drilled out the receiver hardware off the new ones opting to use our original hinge hardware to mount in its original location and holes on our window frames.  He used stainless screws, lock washers and nuts to install the arms to the hardware rather than riveting like was originally done.  Using screws allows for adjustments, replacing or repairs on the fly far easier than riveting.  Below is original mounting bracket that goes on window frame but with the NEW guard arm from VTS installed with stainless screw and lock washer, nut.

 

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We applied Parbond again behind the hardware before installing back on to the window uprights.  Using the original mounting hardware we could reuse the original holes which is always preferred over making more holes in your Avion.

Once we did this, we reattached to the bracket on inside bottom of guard.  These arm brackets stay attached permanently and are adjusted using wing nuts and washers on stainless screws (1 inch #10) so that the guard can be raised or lowered to just about any height.

The “new” old arms, now with just holes on both ends will be used for additional support for the guard when we are set up in a campsite.  These are screwed on with washers and nuts each time they are applied.  We strongly feel that this additional support (downward) provide superior support for the guard and take away some of the stress on the permanently mounted cantilever ones that hold up and out the guard.  We will simply store them in a little pouch and inside our exterior battery box so they are handy.

Finishing up the new support arm system and we are all done with this major rehab project.  Notice we have repainted the underside of our rock guard in a lite off white, high gloss.  What this does is it serves to reflect back out the light coming from our lamp (when guard is closed) and also to create a far brighter feeling when guard is open.  Previously, the back of the guard was the medium dark grey of the plastic composite material of the guard.  This darker color absorbed the light rather than reflecting it.  This small change to white has made a huge effect and one we highly encourage. Even just spray painting the underside white with over the counter high gloss paint yourself will help if you do not want to spend the money on the whole auto body finish like we did.

 

There is nothing more heartwarming and welcoming to us than the Avion Glow!!

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“We travel not to escape life….but for life not to escape us”

Safe journeys!

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Front Running/Marker Lights-Reworked

As many of you have read, we are undergoing a major redo of our rock guard on our 1973 Avion, 28′ LaGrande.  While doing this we were “up close and personal” with the nose of our Avion and realized that some dingo along the way of line of ownership of this Avion installed 5 of our running or “marker” light fixtures upside down. Below is with existing fixtures before our rehab project started.

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What does that mean?  How can you tell fixture is upside down?

Is there a right side and wrong side, right way and wrong way?

Well, yes….the outside housing (normally white or off white) of these fixtures have pre-cut “weep” holes  (normally one on center edge and one on the lower half of each side) that allow any moisture and rain to seep out rather than be trapped inside the fixture causing the internal workings to rust and eventually fail.

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Here is a great photo (above) of our center one that obviously was installed upside down (don’t be confused by the manufacturers writing being upside down when you install it properly.  Just be sure the weep holes face downward) and therefore had been a collector of water for who knows how long.  The rusted metal is quite evident and this as can be seen on the photo above had also caused a rust streak to show on the Avion’s skin below the fixtures themselves.  You can see the rust stains in this quick video clip below.  You can also clearly see the left fixture is upside down with weep holes facing the sky whereas the right fixture is correctly installed with weep holes on the bottom facing the ground.

Not to mention, the potential of enough build up of rain to find their way to the hole made by the wire coming out of your rig’s skin and thereby allowing that water to get in between your skin.  Not good!

So while we had our rock guard off, it was much easier to work on the three running lights on the “nose” of our rig.  One had been replaced by Fletch (see previous posts and our resource page) and installed correctly, but we were not sure he had used stainless steel screws (a must do according to Kevin) but it also had not been sealed with par bond along the top and part of the sides and so Kevin decided, lets just take all three down, update their bulbs and do a little maintenance while we were at it.

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First step was to purchase one replacement fixture to retire out the rusted one (see bag picture below).  Kevin purchased a replacement easy at our local Auto Parts store.  Most will carry them unless you need a real vintage look one.  At some point we believe all of our truly original ones had been switched out- what we have now is modern standard style anyway.  The wiring placement was just a little different though.  The ones on our rig have the electrical wire (single) come through a hole in the fixture back and then connect to the wire of lamp on front.  Kevin had to drill a small hole in the new fixture to guide that Avion wire  to the front.  No biggie.

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To LED or Not to LED….that is the question!

While Vintage Trailer Supply (VTS) does carry LED fixtures we decided for now now to replace with LED quite yet.  In time we will definitely put in LEDs because reports are they are so much brighter and of course, also are far less on your battery.  For now, we went with those like what they identify as “1970’s Marker Lights” on this same linked page.  We noticed some reviews said that the VTS LED fixtures are for wiring to be done on rear of the fixture.  Hmmm…that could require some modifications for our set up, so we decided hold off on LEDs and to talk to other Avion owners on the Facebook chats or in person at rallies this summer first to see what they have done.

We took down all fixtures.  None of the fixtures had a rubber gasket behind them.  This may be a step you wish to take. VTS does sell sheets of rubber gasket that then you can cut to fit any fixture, etc. you need it for.  We chose not to use gaskets and leave them as they had been installed.

My job was cleaning up the plastic lenses and other housings.  Meanwhile, Kevin took to cleaning up the area underneath the fixtures and making sure that the aluminum skin underneath was clean, prepped and treated.  The fixture that had the rusted stuff had in fact begun to eat rust through our aluminum skin so we were really glad we had taken on the project.  In order to prevent any more rust corrosion he gently sanded away the rust (green scrubby) and lots of elbow grease.  He cleaned and prepped the area well.  I then did a very small touch up with grey rust inhibitor paint (same as was used on our frame and hitch) that will be totally invisible when fixture is reinstalled but we have piece of mind that no more rust will grow there.

2019-04-21-13.14.44.jpgWe had trouble finding the very small wire caps at Lowes like what was on there, so we purchased these and they worked fine on the two original fixtures we had but Kevin did have to re-use one of the smaller grey caps on the new fixture simply due to the different interior design did not allow for a comfortable fit using the blue cap.

It goes without saying be sure your wires are in good shape.  Be sure that you are using plastic caps AND use only STAINLESS STEEL screws when doing your install.  Stainless will not rust up and add to the potential for rusty water stains on your Avion aluminum skin.  Stainless steel screws should be the only type used on your RV in our opinion (in addition to rivets obviously)

Be sure to put a dab of Parbond INSIDE each of the screw holes before screwing in anything into your Avion skin!!  We did this with the marker light installation too.

Kevin intentionally installed the NEW fixture in the center since the outside casing was just a little different than the existing two.  I applauded him for recognizing that slight detail but having it look intentional and more symmetrical really did look great.

After the new or cleaned up existing fixtures were installed, my job “as artist” was to apply Parbond around the top and partially down both sides of each fixture.  Kevin tends to have a heavy hand with any of this kind of step, so since I have a steady hand these tasks fall to me.  I did apply straight out of the Parbond tube because I needed a goodly bead to ensure that no gap existed between the fixture edge and our rig.  Be sure to NOT cover the side weep holes if your fixture has them as long as they are low enough to be effective.

You may notice on the large bottom picture above there is a different color silver on the left side of the fixture. This is because our NEW fixture did not fit completely flush against the skin of the Avion.  So I cut a 1/3 width of our Eternabond Tape and applied that just around the side sections (covering weep holes there since too high) and all along the top lapping half of the width of the tape to the skin of the trailer to create a perfect seal against water penetration.  Then I applied Parbond over that.  Done!  This baby is not gonna leak!

**If you tend to be heavy handed and shaky you may wish to put some Parbond into a smaller disposable syringe with plunger and use that. See short video clip below to see what we use in narrow spaces or edges.   We will have detailed on these in our post about our rock guard final install post and also source for what we use on our blog’s Resources Page.

Note- the new fixture had two large weep holes on the bottom so we were not concerned about covering the one on either side.  Since these fixtures sit so high on your rig, you will not ever even notice the Parbond unless you get on a ladder.  When camped, most times we have our rock guard open so the fixtures are even less noticeable.  Far better to secure from leaking than to worry about aesthetics.

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Another project checked off our 2019 Spring Punch List!

Hope this blog post has helped you in some way to tackle your light fixture projects.  If it has, please leave a comment– if it did not help….please tell us that too and what would have been more helpful.  We always want to create not only a journal of what we did for nostalgia sake for ourselves but we strive to be a helpful resource and inspiration for Avion and other aluminum trailer lovers.

Please subscribe to our blog so you get notified of future posts on other how to projects and our travels!

Safe Travels…..One Life…LIVE IT!!

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Luisa & Kevin Sherman  at ThePewterPalace.com           Visit and LIKE us on FACEBOOK!

Rock Guard Rescue- Avion Trailer, Part II

Spoiler alert—be sure to visit our Rock Guard Rescue Part I before jumping in here!

In this part II blog post I am going to review how we made measurements and decisions on how to best do the “THREE R’S” (rescue, repair and re-invigorate) our classic original Avion rock guard.  As mentioned in our previous blog this was a junk yard find and it is NOT one of the knock off reproduction ones currently being made out of fiberglass (see photo at end of this post for sample) or other such materials.

(Photo below: our junk yard find on ground in front of our Avion)

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I will put some links to how to video’s and sources for rock guards at end of this post for those who are not as lucky as we have been to find an original for sale.

So once we had our junkyard find home, it was time to decide the best course of action for restoring it to its former glory and functionality.  But wait….could we do more??  Could we jazz her up a bit with some subtle “bling” and wow factor??  YES!

But how? without going too far and destroying the classic Avion look and we did not want to offend those traditionalists and preservationists who would not want to see too much altered–ours is a classic after all.

First Step:

First step was to put our new-to-us rock guard on two saw horses to support the hard plastic form and to prevent any torquing/flexion which could cause some unwanted cracks.  It is best to have two people handling these rock guards.  This was done in preparation for a good, gentle cleaning.

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Cleaning:

After removing cobwebs from the hardware on the back,

we gave it a good washing with just clear warm water to start to get the surface all wet.  We then decided to use the same purple colored HD Simple Green brand cleaner (purchased at Home Depot).  It is very important and is highly recommended to ONLY USE THE HD PURPLE type of Simple Green on Avion’s for all the washing of the trailer’s aluminum bodies.  Since this is the recommended cleaner for the bodies themselves, we felt that we were also safe to use it on the rock guard.  We also employed the recommendation to not do this washing in the sunshine, so we picked a cloudy day to do our rock guard washing too–just to be safe.  Perhaps not as necessary as it is critical when washing the aluminum bodies (so detergent does not have a chance to dry on metal and the metal is not warm/hot from the sun–which causes cloudy streaks) but why not right?? We diluted it following the instructions on the container and used a regular boat washing hand brush with medium bristles and then soft terry towels. (yes, we baby our Avion!)

Taking Measurements:

We decided to take measurements of the existing original Avion logo stencil so that we had them for future use to make a stencil ourselves for other possible purposes.  Also so that we would have photo references to show for before and after looks, etc. or to assist anyone who  is looking to replicate the logo because they have a knock off repro, etc.

You can see by the large photo above that our logo had been touched up by hand by some former owner.  Honestly they did a decent job but this was no where near the quality look that we wanted.  Also note the bottom right photo where you can see the nicks and missing paint off of the round edge.

From the facebook Avion Owner’s site managed by Mark Obinterio here from their files are PDFs of both the older avions (pre 80’s and the newer Avions) in case you want to download, print and use.

Downloadable Avion Logos: (many thanks to those generous folks who have posted them on the Avion Owners facebook page files)

avion_logo_old-from Avion Owners fB files     

Avion Rockguard Decal_pdf on Avion Owners FB file page

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Design Decisions:

We  knew we wanted our rock guard to be somewhat of a “Rock Star” when it was finished.  The rock guard is a very prominent feature of this trailer and what people see first when you are coming into a campground or rally.  It is also your “front door” so to speak about what kind of rig this is and when down is your hallmark.  At least this is the way we view it.  We are very proud of our Avion and wanted her to have her best foot forward–quite literally all the time.

So after much consideration, and review of sample sheets of aluminum being put on the rock guard (Chuck Cayo had given us these actual samples of aluminum that he uses for his body restorations on Avions) we decided on a “grey” that would best compliment our aluminum trailer body and be just slightly different so it did not look like we were trying to match the aluminum…rather we were trying to compliment it.

Below you can see where I went to Lowes and picked up a variety of paint chip samples in grey’s and also the red we ultimately chose for the lettering accent color.

 

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It was not easy to decide on what level of darkness of grey we would go with.  We did use the center aluminum piece as our guide and ultimately chose the one that I have encircled with blue pen.  We did this paint swatch so that we could see what it looked like in daylight, dusk, and with our porch light on so we could really make the best all around decision.  The rock guard is a large piece and it would be a large and highly visible swath of grey.  We felt the one we chose would look rich and classy and if/when it faded would still have the contrast to the aluminum Avion body we wanted.

Below is a closer look at the red sample chosen.  It is not a true red, it is more of a dark red which again, we feel is more classy and rich looking.  You can see the two colors together now.  Each have similar intensity and color value. (yes, I was an art major in HS!)

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You will notice the final paint chip above is a Dover White.  We had the brainstorm to have our auto body fellow also paint the underside of the rock guard in this white in a high gloss finish.  This way when the rock guard is closed due to windy days (yes, please keep your rock guard latched and locked down in wind…they will flex, crack and or could even get ripped from the hinge on windy days-it does not take much- these are like big hard rigid sails on a ship!) the high gloss will actually help to reflect BACK into the trailer your lights you have on inside on the dinette table, reading lamps or ceiling fixtures.  As of this post we have not tested our theory but are convinced this will be the case.  How we know is that currently when our rock guard is closed, it really creates a dark grey cave-like feel.  So looking out the front window and seeing white will help a lot!  When I posted this idea on the Avion Owners Facebook page, one of the long time owners said …wow…what a great idea! Guess we were the first to try this experiment in 46 years??!!

Off to the Spa for a FACELIFT!

So at this point, our rock guard is clean, prepped and ready to take to our local and highly regarded auto body painter/detailer shop.  It is only about 2 miles from our house and the business is called “Mac The Knife, Designer Autocrafts, LLC” and is located at 310 Quaker Road in Queensbury NY.  Phone is  518-798-0872 (tell them Kevin & Luisa Sherman sent you! – no we do not get anything  from a referral but a smile!)

(Mac is also the one who redid our original spare tire cover of the same material as the rock guard (that’s another blog post coming!) installed our DECKED system and front grill brush guard, and did the paint job on our front receiver hitch on our truck)

Sources:

  • A very frequently referenced blog post that was originally posted on the AS forums.  This project really was quite well done and could be replicated for an Avion no doubt.

YouTube Videos how to make your own rock guard.

This is a photo (at right) of a circa ’80’s Avion with what appears to us to be one of thefiberglass, cayo repro avion rock guards reproduction/replacement fiberglass rock guards available from Cayo.  See our resource page for their contact info.

Stay tuned, the repair shop process and final reveal will be in blog post Part III

BE SURE TO SUBSCRIBE TO OUR BLOG SO YOU DO NOT MISS A POST!

(keep coming back!…  some decorating ideas using any RV rock guard and front window/tongue area will be put into another future blog post!)

One life….Live It Riveted!

Kevin & Luisa Sherman

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Rock Guard Rescue-Avion Trailer, PT 1

We purchased our 1973 Avion in September 2016.  Quite a birthday present for me if I do say so!

Our rock guard (original to 1973) was in decent shape, with the logo faded and some stress cracks at the angle support hinge area on top.  Both of these “age-related illnesses” are ones that are very common and frequently seen in Avions especially those pre-1980’s. (you can easily see the cracks in photo below).

The previous owner to us had done a decent repair job on that right crack by reinforcing with a piece of steel behind it and filling in the crack on the outside with Parbond or something similar, but now after two years of our use we started to see the left side begin to show more of a pronounced stress crack too.

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These cracks in the solid formed hard plastic original rock guards like ours are common due to the sheer weight of the guard and the jiggling, torquing and bouncing it experiences when rolling down the road even though it is locked in at the bottom.  Hey, and our baby has done Alaska 2xs, California at least 4 times and Florida annually for at least 6 years—so after a total of 45 years and having only these cracks in her is truly not bad!

In May of 2018 we had taken our Avion out to Cayo Repair in MI to have some work done and on the punch list was to sure up that left crack to prevent further damage and to ensure that it would hold, at least for a few more years.  Chuck Cayo did a decent job with it which you can see on photo below where the rivet stud backs are showing through the horizontal piece of sandwiched steel plate.  But we knew at some point the inevitable question would have to be addressed to repair again or replace completely.

In the photo below you will also see where the two support hinges mount up underneath the top inside of the rock guard.  These hinges bear the full weight of the guard when opened (as shown) but also lock in place in the pull latches on bottom edge center of window to lock the guard in place for towing mode.  Thus all the stress is there despite the long tubular hinge that connects from the guard itself to the rig.

The photo below clearly shows the system by which the rock guard is “hung” to attach to the trailer body. (also the horizontal steel plate repair by Cayo) .The body has a receiver tube as we call it that the guard slides into from one side.

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It takes two people to effectively and safely remove or install the guard to the rig using this system.  The sheer weight of these original guards is a lot.

Newer replacement guards are being manufactured by Cayo RV Repair in MI and some other private owners these days. I believe they are made of fiberglass and therefore far lighter which is a good thing, however the ones we have seen are all black which we do not care for at all.   We prefer our muted grey which blends in with the aluminum body of the trailer better.

Here is a good photo for comparison, ours being on the left with its original as is condition, the one on the right is the fiberglass black replacement.

 

To Repair or Replace….THAT is the Question!

We knew we had only really two options with our ever growing cracks in our original existing rock guard.

  1. Bite the bullet and purchase one of the new fiberglass knockoffs (around $700-800 +S/H)
  2. Try to once again do repairs to our existing one in hopes to sure it up sufficiently for the wear and tear it would eventually get once we begin full timing in a few years.

Never Underestimate a Sunday drive to VT!

It brought us a TREASURE FIND or TWO!

One sunny Saturday in July 2018 I suggested to Kevin it would be nice to go over to nearby VT to scope out some potential campgrounds where we may wish to stay in coming years.  We like to physically see the campground and identify specific sites that we take note of for future calls for reservations.  We wanted places that would be grandkid-friendly and relatively easy to get to distance for us and for my daughter and son-in-law to drive to as they would be transporting the two grandchildren to us for a camping weekend.

Living in eastern upstate NY we can be to VT in a matter of 40 minutes.  Our trip that day took us over through Cambridge NY and then into the Bennington and Manchester VT areas of mid-state/western VT.  Using just my google map locator asking “campgrounds near me” we found several close by with no problem.  Our third one to visit though was the charm.  Not because we would want to end up camping there (no amenities, mostly all very run down, entrenched seasonals) but because on our way out the driveway Kevin shouted STOP! (I was driving) “WAIT…THERE IS AN AVION!”.  Yes, it was, abandoned and sitting among wreck, trash, bits and pieces from other trailers.  It was the campground owners graveyard of discards from two generations of ownership.  Yeah, they did not ever throw anything away!  Thank goodness!!

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We pulled off the drive and into the graveyard.  Wrangled over debris and checked her out.  Appeared to be a 1988 but the rock guard looked really, really similar in design and size to ours.  The poor rig had had a tree fall on her, breaking her center spine and was left in the graveyard to fill with rain, leaves, etc. etc. and used for storage, sort of, for perhaps a decade or more.  But the rock guard was crack free, moveable and hopefully would be ours!  We did have a tape measure with us, took measurements and tried texting and calling Cayo and posting on the Avion FB pages quickly to see if anyone could answer our question about if size of this one was same as our ’73 which of course was safely and out of reach back in NY.  A couple online FB Avioners replied they thought it would fit, but if the price was right, even if it did not fit ours, there was surely a market to sell it to another Avion owner who could use it.  That was enough security for us!

The owner of the campground came by driving his backhoe to gawk at these unfamiliars climbing around his Avion.  No worries, nice guy and Kevin quickly sparked up a perfect, nonthreatening conversation to allay the owners fears that we were some city slickers.  We are not, we are North Country folk too and Kevin knows his mechanicals, trucks, etc. to dazzle any New England car/truck junky.  After a very short and amenable conversation the deal was struck, tools offered to assist us in the guard’s removal and within about 15 minutes the new rock guard was being hoisted by Kevin and I into our Suburban.  Reddy our Cavalier Spaniel who had come along for the ride was not quite sure what this big canopy was coming over top her bed!

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This ends Part 1 of our ROCK GUARD RESCUE.

BUT THERE’S MORE LUCK TO BE FOUND!  Never underestimate what gems you may find on a Sunday drive!

Not more than 15 minutes down the road from rescuing this rock guard did we see a much earlier Avion (can you spot it in first photo below?) at a horse show along the road.

We veered quickly there to see that too!  And to our sheer delight, it belonged to a woman who ran a mobile embroidery business who was actually based out of CT.  Turns out it was a 1974, 23′ Travelcade. She had pretty much gutted the inside but had done some tasteful redecorating in prep for her boutique.

She was making custom designed hats, shirts, jackets for the horsey set.  She needed an awning for her new Avion soon to be traveling boutique on wheels.  Perfect!  We struck a deal to trade our old Carefree Awning system hardware for some custom designed clothing using our trademarked Avion artwork that we had commissioned an artist to do for us in 2017.  This was truly our double lucky day!

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My next post will be on the Rehab phase! Until then…safe journeys!

Luisa

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Keeping RV Cabinetry in Tip Top Shape

There is no doubt that one of the key features of vintage trailers is their craftsmanship and quality of products/materials.  Later in this post I will talk about what we do to maintain our cabinetry so well, but first, a little history and photos.

The Avion Coach Company spared no expense when manufacturing their signature aluminum trailers prior to the late 1970’s.  Given the price tag at the time, these beauties were high end, luxury trailers.   It was after that time that the company was sold to the Fleetwood RV company and incrementally over subsequent years the quality and craftsmanship started to wane.  For more history about the Avion Corporation we highly recommend purchasing Bob Muncy’s book shown here.  There is a link to how to purchase on our resources page.

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Our 1973 is considered by many articles we have seen to be in the “perfect window years” of style, amenities and design of the Avion Coach Company.  Truthfully, many prefer the pre-1973 models which have more rounded, Airstream-type styling (photo below left) with more front/rear fan panels—but in 1973 when they changed to our “breadloaf” front and rear (ours at photo below right) you gained some really valuable headspace and storage inside and more room to move about in the rear bathroom.

 

One of the things however that did not change during these pre- late 70’s years and even into the 80’s at least was the superb quality of their use of real wood and excellent craftsmanship of their cabinetry.   Real hinges on drawers, metal tracks and wheels.  Full length piano hinges on all tall cabinets and closet doors are all standard.  Our LaGrande model has the extra French Provincial molding and flourish handle pulls (our kitchen cabinet below).  The more basic, entry level trailer, The Travelcader, and Sportsman models had plain fronts and simple pulls.

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Now owners of Avion’s are tasked with maintaining the condition of these beautiful wood cabinets.  Some have chosen to paint over the stained finish-perhaps because of worn, dried out condition of their trailer, others because there is a growing preference especially among Millennials to have a crisp, bright, clean look so white or pale grey painted cabinets seem to be the rage.  Below is a great beautiful example of a more “modern 21st century look” recently put on one of our Avion Facebook forums.  It is a very, very nice look but not one that we would feel comfy in for any full time living.  It always amazes me how varied style  interiors each Avion owner does with their trailer.  We are all starting with basically the same bones!

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For us traditionalists, we relish the mellowed wood stain of our cabinets and do all we can to ensure they stay that way.  Look at the difference!  Only you can decide for your personal style which you prefer!

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Now, about keeping up this stained cabinetry.

Each spring, we wipe over all of the wood cabinetry, closet doors inside and out with “Restor-A-Finish” oil by a company called Howard.  Here is the link to it on Amazon, but they also have other colors available too like Cherry and others.  One can has now lasted me two complete seasons.  I did go over the cabinets this fall again because we had used the trailer more this season and they just seemed to need a bit more.  We purchased this Restor-A-Finish can at our local large Antique Co-op Shop (Glenwood Antiques in Queensbury, NY)  and it is something that many antique dealers use routinely on furniture.  It does come in a variety of stain colors and we found that the Maple-Pine was the closest match to our cabinets.  The Avion Corp. did offer a few different finish colors so some interiors are going to be different than ours, lighter, or darker.  The wood is birch with beautiful grain as you can see from our photos.

I use an old Tee shirt or other smooth rag to apply the oil.  Careful…it is quite thin and runny!

It does go on somewhat oily but that is fine and over a day or two it penetrates in and rejuvenates the wood.  There is no need to go back over it with a dry cloth.  Let the oil soak in. What I do like is that it does NOT leave a sticky film like some other furniture oils do.  The smell is not bad and it does wash off your hands fairly easy with a scrubby but I do try to wear rubber gloves when applying it because it will stain your fingernails a bit for a time afterwards.

I like that it is a little shiny when being applied because it allows me to more easily see where i have daubed and where I have not.  I have also used this same restorer if we had a scratch accidentally onto a cabinet door or trim piece.  It covers it beautifully!

Here is a perfect photo to show the treated cabinet on left, and not-yet-treated on right:

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In conclusion, we would highly recommend Restor-A-Finish for refurbishing your wood stained cabinetry and maintaining its vibrancy and condition by using it at least annually.  We have seen photos of Avion and other RV interiors where the cabinets were not treated regularly and what happens is that they get brittle, chip, peel and look washed out and faded.

So please give treat your wood cabinets to a luscious spa treatment to keep them in beautiful condition always!

See you on the road!  One Life….Live It!!

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Kevin & Luisa Sherman ~ The Pewter Palace

Inexpensive Handy Counter Extension Project-Under $30 in Under 30 Minutes

We love our Avion, but lets face it, at under 200 sq. feet there is precious space for everything!  Our kitchen is no exception.  By the way….did  you know that in some of the original sales brochures we have seen for ’70’s era Avion’s they called the kitchen/galley the “entertainment center”!  What a hoot!  I figure that is because many women during that time were stay at home wives and mothers and spent a lot of time in the “kitchen” so when it was time to get away in their Avion and travel they were “entertaining”, not slaving in the kitchen!  

So back to our project!  Our front area had been altered from a jack knife sofa to a banquette dinette area by the previous owner as I have mentioned in previous posts.  So we were without the small angle/corner cabinet at the end of the kitchen counter area to the right of the kitchen window.  We have found a perfect (love it!!) covered ottoman/box (see photo at end of this post) that serves as storage, a footrest and as a spare seat if needed inside or outside.  But the ottoman is low and does not help with needed counter space.

Items and tools you will need:

  • wood snack table that measures no more than depth of your base cabinet
  • pencil or marking device
  • paper for hinge template
  • locking hinges and screws (be sure they are not too long and would poke through tray table top!)
  • scrap board for backing support
  • power drill and screwdriver
  • tape measure
  • small level
  • A “helper” helps!

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  DEAD SPACE is ABOVE

I had seen on many other RV videos where many B+ and others have installed the flip up extension to their counter with locking hinges.  I decided that we no longer needed four wood snack tables at our apartment (just two of us anyway!) so I decided on re-purposing a solid wood snack table top for our Avion’s kitchen counter extension.

I purchased two of the brown locking hinges at our local Albany RV supply store for under $10 each.  I like the way the brown blended into the cabinetry and also the fact that they are lockable is very important so once the extension is tilted up and deployed it stays put.  Be sure when you are installing them that you are putting the correct long side on the top so that when you want to fold the table extension back down you are gently lifting up a little to disengage the lock and then lower the extension.  I have found some similar on Amazon, linked here but the locking mechanism is a bit different than ours.  There are plenty of types and colors available on Amazon but oddly, no brown.  I like our brown with our trailer.

We used the side that shows on top in photo below as our “top” which got secured to the underside of the tray table top.

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Tray Table Stand:  After gathering needed supplies we proceeded to un-attach the wood snack tray top from its wooden scissor “X” stand.  Our snack trays had been purchased from Walmart years ago but I believe they still have them.  Going onto Walmart.com now I see only sold in a four piece set with holder for about $60.  But I believe our local Walmart store sells them in person as singles and price is under $10 each.  Here is a link to one on Amazon that is similar in style to what we used in case you want that as reference.

Once tray top was on its own we decided exactly where to locate it on the base cabinet end wall.  This wall is solid wood (Avion cabinetry is gorgeous and real….no particle board on these beauties!) but nevertheless we still will put a scrap board behind to give the screws/hinge/extension table and this cabinet board further vertical support.  I decided not to try to make the extension flush with the kitchen counter.  This is both for aesthetics and to be able to keep edges clean, but also because I did not want to risk the tray extension ending up even a tad higher than the counter when we were fixing in place. Below you can see the horizontal pencil line which we marked while laying the extension against the cabinet base wall.  Also note the pilot holes drilled after positioning the first of the two hinges. (you can see faint remnants of a line where the original corner cabinet was installed a little further down)

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Below are photos showing the scrap board we used behind where we would be drilling and then screwing in the bracket hinges.  This provides great extra support.  The scrap wood does not impede the drawers from closing.  Be sure to use a thin enough piece so the drawers still go in but sturdy enough to be a reinforcement for the hinges.  Use your measurements on the outside to then draw your measurement/placement for the scrap wood on the inside of the cabinet wall.

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Use your level to ensure you are positioning the hinges level so that your extension is level too!  We did pilot holes through the cabinet base and directly into the scrap wood. This is where the helper comes in because someone has to hold the vertical scrap boards in place while the hinges are being drilled in.  You can use double face tape, etc. to hold them in place if you do not have a helper.

In order to be sure that we had the position of the holes for the hinges correctly placed on the underside of the extension table, we made a paper template up.

Once the hinges are on, and you have your template ready, you are ready to drill pilot holes into the underside of the snack tray table.  Here is a great trick (see video below) Kevin used to be sure that he did not drill into tray table any further than needed and poke through the top by accident.  Just a little strip of duct tape put around the drill bit at the bottom most measurement needed for the screws so that the screws would secure through the hinge and into the table extension without poking through.

Once all pilot holes are drilled, once again here is where a helper comes in handy.  Place the extension tray table top onto the first hinge.  We started with front most hinge and insert screws from underside and up into the tray table top.  Then do back hinge.  It helps to have someone holding onto the tray table and exerting just a little downward pressure on the extension table top to ensure a good bond.

What I like most about using the already finished tray table is that it gives an immediate finished look unlike if you just slapped a pine or square sided oak board there.  These tray tables are built to handle dishes, water, food being dropped on them, beverage glasses sweating onto them.  They are pre-finished, solid and have held up for over 10 years and still look nearly new for us!

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Here is a photo (above) of the finished project with the extension down.  You can also see we measured and positioned it optimally so that it did not impede me being able to pull out and get into the storage ottoman either.  We are really, really happy that we have just DOUBLED our useable counter space for the cost of under $30 and about a half hour of project time work.  Can you tell by the video that I am really excited!!

Let us know if you take on this project for your RV so we can post it on our facebook page and share your results with others to inspire them!

VIDEO OF THE FINISHED PROJECT!  SO EXCITED!!

Safe journeys!  Remember if you do this or a similar counter extension project let us know!

—Luisa and Kevin

1973 Avion, LaGrande, 28 foot

“One Life… Live it!”

Replacing the Front Window Gasket (Glaze Bead)

Not the most “romantic” or instant joy repair….but a necessity for sure!

Our Avion had its rear side, kitchen and bath window’s re-glazed last June when at Fletcher’s RV Service in the Finger Lakes but they had forgotten to do the front when the rock guard was down.  UGH.  Similarly and much to our chagrin, when we were picking up our Avion at Cayo in MI  THIS June he told us he did not do it either because he did not have a source for the glaze bead.  (Had he told us that prior to us picking up our Avion assuming all of the punch list was done correctly—-and asked, we DID know the source, since we had ordered it for Fletch to install) DOUBLE UGH!

So anyway, long story short…our Pewter Palace still needed its front windows redone with new rubber window glaze bead.    And we decided after two failed attempts getting someone else to do it, we better just start learning to do way more for ourselves when it comes to working on this trailer.  Once we go full time, we are going to have to be far more self-reliant anyway.  This way we also only have ourselves to blame when “repairs” are not done correctly or fail shortly thereafter.

Back in early 2017—After conferring with multiple fellow Avion owners online we had found a reliable source in Interstate RV Metal Supply.  (they also sell other Hehr window parts, replacements, etc. and are very friendly and accommodating on the phone. ).  I will have other potential resource sites linked at end of this blog post in case you have a different style bead or different brand of vintage trailer.

www.InterstateMetalRVandsupply.com

Catalog # 009-344     1/8″ Glaze Bead.   PH 1-800-587-3463 or 503-786-8860

** they do not have a very online user-friendly site.  You do have to call them to order this product, but gladly, their customer service folks are wonderful.

This glaze bead comes in two colors–white and black.  We strongly recommend the BLACK because as you will see from our photos, once installed gives a nice finished look, will not get dirty looking and simply visually recesses and matches the windows rather than the white which we feel would stick out like a sore thumb against the aluminum skin of the trailers.

(left photo below is with old bead removed, right photo is after new bead put in)

So over Labor Day weekend, 2018…we labored!  And Bingo!….we managed to get all three of the front windows cleaned out of the old glaze bead (45 years later) removed.  It had to be done because it had shrunk considerably and the 45 degree angle cut corners had over 1 inch gaps between them where silicone had been slathed in to prevent water from seeping in and underneath.  The aluminum tracks had to be cleaned out of an over zealous black butyl tape that had been applied when the windows had been set in.  Major goo had oozed into the outside of the window edges and was underneath the window glaze.  The weather was warm, about 84 degrees with some humidity and this project DOES need to be done in warm weather so that the rubber glaze bead (both the existing you have to remove, and the new that needs to be installed) stays pliable and warm to make it easier to get in.

TIPS:

  • Use a cloth tape measure and generously measure your total lengths needed for each window.  Then at at least a foot for each window to ensure you have plenty!
  • Only do the install in warm weather and preferably with sun out and place the rubber glaze bead in the sun, on an asphalt drive if possible so it really warms up.
  • Remove the rock guard lock pin plates off front of window mullions first.  You may need a power drill with correct bit to get these off.
  • We suggest NOT using your old bead for measuring the length of your new bead.  The old bead may have shrunk and is not accurate measurement.
  • Apply the new bead in one length from your stock (in other words…do not precut what you think is your exact length needed for that window) and when getting close to your seam cut, cut it longer by at least 2 inches, then start trimming in until you have a really tight, snug fit.  Back it off a bit so the rubber is really tightly butting together.  This will reduce gaps in seams after a time where it is exposed to elements and starts to shrink from sunlight, etc.
  • Be sure to clean out the tracks really well once you remove the old bead.  Remove any dirt, bits of glue, Butyl tape ooze, silicone or anything that may impede the new bead being installed.  Use your toothbrush, plastic putty knife, plastic bone tool and scrubbies for this part of the job.

You may want to have the following pieces of equipment handy to help remove and to install the bead.

  1. Needle nose and flat nose pliers
  2. Sturdy scissors (for cutting the bead at 45 degree angle for any 90 degree window corners.
  3. Screw driver
  4. Old toothbrush (or the one you got from a hotel when you forgot yours!)
  5. Some plastic paint/putty knives, or better yet, a “bone tool” which is a hard plastic scraper type gizmo that is great for getting off the silicone or any other crud that may be on your aluminum skin.  The plastic bone tool will not scrape or mar your skin.  You can find a great bone tool on the amazon page of one of our favorite bloggers—Long Long Honeymoon (they have a vintage airstream)
  6. Set of Pick tools, (see photo of kit with blue handles, found at Home Depot, Lowes)
  7. Rags, scrubbies/we used Kevin’s GoJo brand cleaning wipes

Cleaning/Polishing the Front Windows—Plexiglas caution!!

We also took this opportunity to polish the front windows since they are Plexiglas and after 45 years have had their share of scratches, dirt and grime. BE CAREFUL WITH PLEXIGLAS!!!  you cannot use regular Windex or window cleaners on them!  Using the wrong stuff will result in a fogging and haze on the plastic window.  Yes, a former owner of our trailer neglected to remember this and our front left curved plexi window has that “fog” permanently and we will replace it at some point with new Lexan.  Just water is fine, but we have been using a cleaner especially formulated for Plexiglas that is available most anywhere other cleaners are found.  Ours is pink so you can really tell it is different than the traditional blue stuff that normally has ammonia or vinegar in it.

2018-09-02 12.58.44We used this plexiglas polish to do our windows.  We only used the foam pad, but the kit comes with various grits of sandpaper circles to use if you wish.  We did not attempt this because we were afraid of doing more damage to the hazy window and without having a replacement ready- we could not take the chance, two weeks from our Tin Can Tourist Rally trip.  But the polish paste worked well and did make a difference for sure so we are happy for now with the results.  We used a rechargable power drill and it worked great.

 

 

After the cleaning and polishing of the windows, here is the actual application of the rubber glaze bead.  Looks easy in video but takes a bit to get the “knack”.

 

The video’s kind of make this look easier than it is.  Just take your time, you will need strong, nimble fingers to do this.  I did not have enough strength in my fingers–but Kevin did!  Nice thing is that until you finish the corners or seams with a bit of Parbond sealant you can take it out and re position as needed till you get it right.

Be sure when you are putting it in that when in correctly it will be very snug and hold tight to the window itself.  If you see any bulge or gap, then it is not in properly so take back out that section and try again.

Seams: 

2018-09-02 15.32.39if you are doing your front windows your seams will be in the top and bottom of the vertical inside edges.  Whenever you have 90 degree corners you will need to cut your glaze bead at 45 degrees like a picture frame.   This is our first corner and before Parbond sealant is put in.  The rippling in corner is because Kevin was sure to really stuff as much of the rubber in as possible to avoid shrinkage issues later.

 

IF you are doing your side windows then it is recommended that you place your seam at the center bottom with a straight cut- butting the two ends together really tightly and firmly. Positioning your bead around rounded corners is not a problem but be sure you are not stretching it at all to get it in there, Kevin recommends pushing it back a bit even to ensure that there is no tension on the rubber glaze bead so that it does not want to pop out of the corners. (this was our first corner, not bad but we got better!)  This is before Parbond sealant was applied.

Some sites we saw did recommend putting a little silicone on the starting points and also on the corners.  We did not.  It might be something we regret, but as Kevin noted, he did really push back on the rubber as it was installed to be sure that there was no tension on the corners, etc.  We have seen where on other rigs that corners pull out when the shrinkage starts.  We do plan to apply some conditioner to this each year to keep it more pliable and soft and hopefully this will also reduce shrinkage.  We noticed that the glaze seams from where Fletch did the windows just over a year ago have already pulled apart perhaps an 1/8th inch.  We will place some more clear Parbond in those to reseal again.

FINAL STEPS IN THIS PROJECT:

2018-09-02 17.21.24 Sealing the seams of glaze bead:  After you have the bead in place and are pleased with the snug fit then put a bead of clear Parbond sealant over that seam.  We have not found Parbond in black which would have been our preference, but the clear basically works fine and the black glaze bead makes the clear look black anyway.  We purchase our Parbond from http://www.VintageTrailerSupply.com    We also use the hypodermic tube injectors that they sell on the same page since that does allow for better control of flow than direct from the tube of Parbond.  Parbond is great stuff to have around and is used many places on a trailer to prevent leaks, seal joints, etc.  It comes in clear and aluminum.  Cayo used aluminum stuff to block holes caused when we switched out our Carefree awning with our Zipdee.

Other possible sources for Avion Window supplies:

Replacement of some of these torque operators for our windows will be done in a future blog so keep and eye out for that soon!

 

 

 

So that is all for this project!  Hope your window re-glazing is successful!  Let us know!

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Picture of front window unit.  At this point, just the left curved window had been done and the old glaze bead removed from the center and right window and polishing had been done of the windows.

Our Baby Has New Clothes! Our New Zipdee Awning Systems

In June of 2018 our “Pewter Palace” got a new set of “clothes!  Our original main awning fabric had been replaced by the trailer’s most recent owner about 7 years ago.  He had purchased a Carefree brand, vinyl awning (see below right photo) which for us was too dark and the color scheme and design was not vintage looking enough for our taste. 2018-07-14 12.41.52.jpg

The main awning hardware was still the original Carefree equipment (1973) as well and functioning fine.  The side and rear bath windows of our Avion had never had their own awnings and we really wanted to add them to our rig for the following reasons:

Positives about Window awnings…..

  1. Keeps the interior of your trailer cooler by preventing sun from streaming in during hot weather.
  2. Lessons the fading of your interior fabrics (curtains, bedspreads, dinette cushions, etc.).
  3. Provides the ability to open windows even in most rain or drizzle, thereby affording continued air flow through trailer.
  4. Look downright awesome! and we think add to the vintage homelike feel.

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Why switch to Zipdee all the way around?  Because we were going to install window awnings for the first time, the logical choice was Zipdee based on their reputation for quality, outstanding customer service and for the fact that during certain production years the Avion Corporation did install Zipdee awning systems on the trailers on the assembly line.  Also, the Zipdee Corporation is still going strong and has not varied their design to much over the decades and they continue to produce older parts so you can always get them.  Carefree stopped making these bent arm model awning systems many moons ago and in fact our original 1973 hardware is very hard to find and in demand by folks who need parts or are purists and want the original for their period rig.  Lastly, since we were putting on window awnings we wanted everything to match from the hardware to the “software” of the awning fabric itself.  When we considered removing our old vinyl awning fabric, the cost to have a new one made out of our new Sunbrella material–between labor and materials it just did not make sense.  Not to mention the fact that we have read horror stories of lay folks like us trying to switch out awning materials themselves.  It is not easy and requires at least three strong individuals to manage this feat.  We were not going there!

The ordering process:  We looked on the Zipdee Awning website which is expansive and offers some great information about ordering, history, parts, installs, how to videos and more.  (see links in this blog for some of these pages) but also they have a very good variety of Sunbrella patio awning fabrics to pick from.  You WANT to get specific patio awning material because it is going to hold up to wind, rain, rot and fade issues and the elements of weather far better than any lesser grade or household canvas awnings would.

We wanted a color scheme that would compliment our Bavarian feel and predominate colors of deep red, hunter green and spikes of Dresden blue and yellow.  Wholla!!!  We found just what we wanted in their “vintage fabric” list by choosing their (#4751) Hemlock Tweed Fancy.  Honestly, if my memory serves me correctly, my paternal grandmother had this very same stripe on her camp chairs at her circa 1940’s lake cottage in South Jersey when I was a little girl.  It brought back a flurry of wonderful summertime memories.  So that was it, hands down!  We had to laugh when Chuck Cayo called us to say that the awning had been delivered and he described it as “wow its really bright and looks like a Mexican blanket”!  Once we explained our Bavarian/German color scheme and motif he understood since there is still a lot of German influence to be found in Michigan for sure (hunter green and deep red are very traditional German/Bavarian colors and seen on  many chalets and houses in Europe)!

Adding more shaded living space:  Chuck actually did the ordering and install process for us so we cannot comment much on that other than we also gave instructions that we wanted to have the longest awning possible (given the curvature of Avion’s front and rear) on our curbside main awning.  Our existing awning was a tad short and we knew we could go at least two feet longer which would provide just that much more space underneath the awning for a picnic table in case of hot or rainy weather besides our camp chairs and side table, etc.  The longer awning also ensures that the curbside bedroom window is fully protected from rain and sun and can be opened and never worry about a rain soaked bed (on my side of course!)  Our new awning is 19′ 6 3/4″ long–we gained nearly 3 feet over our Carefree system!  Score another reason to replace!

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The Zipdee awning has proven itself to be a real winner!  It is lighter in weight which is always key with Avion’s since they do tend to be far heavier than other trailers of their size.  This is because of the quality construction, beefy frame, solid wood cabinetry and construction techniques.  We are not knocking that…this is one of the key reasons why we chose an Avion in the first place…but it does bring with it issues of needing to really be mindful of how much you are loading into the rig.  Even if your tow vehicle can handle it, your Avion was not made to transport an elephant!

Rear Bath Window Awning System Our rear window is far more useful too now!  As those who own Avion’s know, the rear bath models have a sliding window (others are crank out awning-style) and so without an awning in place you had to close that window even if the slighted hint of rain was coming so that the interior cabinetry etc. did not get wet.  The window is slightly tipped so that the bottom of the window is out a little more than the top due to the design of the overall body (at the mid-belt area the trailers actually are at their widest).  So this window was essentially a “water catcher”.  With the rear awning system, once you deploy that awning, you can fully keep your rear bath window completely slid open.  NOTE: in our ordering spec’s we also told Chuck to order as long a rear awning as possible to extend as far beyond the rear window frame sides as possible, again to provide more shade and protection from rain driving in.

The rear awning hardware system is slightly different than the side windows or main awning.  It does not get the “hook in ” system for the strap like others.  This hardware actually has small lightweight swing arms that set in place into the awning bracket arms to fix the awning in place.  This is necessary again, due to how the body of the Avion is designed.  This awning, like the others has a self wrapping metal cover to protect it when rolled up (really nice!) and is very easy to deploy and put small arms in place.  You can see them mid-way down each of the side arms.

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One Minor Complaint…..One thing we have noticed is that it appears Zipdee really should have centered the stripes on this rear awning.  In other words, there should have been a few inches of green on the left side and on the right.  We will be showing this to Zipdee and get their feedback on this.  To many folks this may not be an issue, but as a one time Art Major, it drives me nuts!  The other awnings are fine, so perhaps this was a end of the bolt or a lazy day issue at Zipdee that day!

Zipdee Customer Service:  is outstanding!  When we arrived at Cayo to pick up our Avion, Chuck had not ordered the center support bar.  Kevin was sure that due to length of awning we needed that.  Chuck found a used one in his shop that worked for the short term and to his credit and in 90+ degree weather did install on the spot.  But when we did our first camping trip we realized it actually was too short and came unhitched at the slighted breeze that lifted the awning a bit. So obviously it was not going to do what it is intended to do which is to help stabilize the awning and add additional support to the awning arms.  So we called Zipdee right from the campsite.  Did photos with a tape measure and they sent us the correct one within one day.  Chuck also had not installed the one safety clip which does come with the main awning ayatem.  So they included one of those with complete instructions on install of both of them.  Kevin will most likely do this project on his own- seems simple enough for us to do. Through it all, the customer service folks at Zipdee have been friendly and outstanding to work with.  Our entire awning system is Model AV2.  Here is the tag which remains on the main awning for reference for any future need.  Zipdee needs this # for any orders.

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Pennant Embellishments:  When we were attending the Tin Can Tourist Rally last fall and also in many Vintage Camping magazines, etc. we review I noticed that many folks were using fabric pennants as a way to embellish their vintage-ness!  So over this past early spring I got to work creating our pennants for the Pewter Palace.  I used a bunch of fabrics that I had already, some given to me by a German friend in Lake George, Margit Herzog, and a German linen table cloth that I had purchased on Ebay that had German people and town shields.  To create a little continuity I also purchased the yellow fabric to create a bit of color pop!  This was an easy project.  I made my own triangular pattern, sewed them on two sides, turned, pressed then set into a full length strip of Wrights, double fold bias tape quilt binding in red.  The tape is .875″ wide x 3 yards long.  I used one 3 yard length for across the rock guard front of trailer, then 2 of the 3 yard strings for along awning length.   I was tickled pink when a fellow modern RVer (with a huge 5th Wheel) came over to our camp one morning that we were at Jellystone RV park with grandkids over July 4th and complimented on the pennants and said she loved them and they have inspired her to make some for her awning because hers is so plain.  VBG!  Also, the next day, the owner of the campground mentioned to Kevin that he loved the pennants and that “back in the day” when he was just starting out in RVing that everyone had fabric pennants on their trailers.  He loved the nostalgia look!  Yeah again!  You will see from the photos that I simply used the same (conference name badge clips) to hold up the pennants to the awning edge- then tucked in my fairy light string like I always do to hold everything together.

Clips to hold my solar fairy lights and homemade fabric pennants:  I use a tip gotten from Airstream Vlogger Courtney Adcock (www.AStreaminLife.com). She recommends purchasing a bag of the plastic and aligator clips that are used at conferences to clip through a name badge.  I have ordered them really cheaply from Amazon and they work great.  And they are FAR cheaper than the clips that are sold at most RV supply places.  As of this posting, the link above has them on Amazon for 150 of them for under $15. A Deal! Best thing is that if you have to take down your awning in a hurry, e.g. storm or wind coming in quick) you can pull these off in a flash compared to the ones that slip into your awning track.  IMPORTANT NOTE--Zipdee awnings DO NOT have that internal open track (Carefree does)  for the more traditional light clips to slide in. That also means you cannot insert any of those LED light strips either.  So purchase some of these badge clips and hang from them!  I have used them now for two years and they still look new.

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So here is a shot of the “finished” new set of clothes for our baby!  She looks so happy!  We love them and hope you consider Zipdee as an awning choice as many, many Avion and Airstreamers do.  (Zipdee is the brand that Airstream uses for all of their trailers so if you do have a problem on the road, any AS dealer will be able to fix for you!)

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PS:  The only two other things to add to her “wardrobe” –the first is we will be making up tire skirts in the Hemlock Tweed Fancy to snap in place covering the tires from sun and so we are not looking at them when sitting under awning.  The other one is that once we go full time living on our Avion, we plan to purchase an “add a room” system to put up on the main awning when we are staying more than a week or two in one location. This additional screened in space will allow us to extend our 24/7 living space and create a spare bedroom if need be for visitors.  More on that as it develops….that’s a blog for another day!

Have fun and remember…ONE LIFE…LIVE IT!

Cheers!

Luisa