Category Archives: Refurbishment Projects

Bathroom facelift-May 2017

I spent a few days making up new curtains and the shower curtain for our bathroom on the Pewter Palace.  Amazingly enough, the shower curtain onboard when we bought the trailer WAS the original, 43 years old and in fabulous, fully useable shape, but i wanted to do a themed approach in the bathroom too so, it went into safe storage.

When we first purchased the trailer and were doing the initial straightening and clean out we came upon a funky fun strand of decorative lights with pink flamingos and palm trees on it.  Anyone who knows us knows very well that this type of thing is really farthest from our norm of 18th c. style, period fabrics and lighting, etc.  But they were so funky cute–i took them as a great sign that this adventure on our 1973 Avion was going to be great!  So we decided they would come out of the closet and find a permanent home in our bathroom.

So pink flamingos and palm trees became the official theme of the bathroom- which surprisingly for a 28 foot rig (really only 23 feet of living space total) has great room to move around, a full shower and small tub as well as tons of storage closets, an original medicine cabinet and tons of mirror space.

I did handsew the living room and kitchen curtains- but admit with these i did resort to quick dash on my machine!

Here is before and after.  Will have to add more when the funky lights are in place and of the shower curtain.  Fun is!!

 

Avion LaGrande-Exterior Storage Compartment Weatherproofing

May 21-22, 2017:  We have had perhaps one of THE wettest Spring in memory here in the Southern Adirondacks of NYS this year.  With the tons of rain has come the realization that our curbside, exterior storage compartment (which also is a direct access to MY underbed storage area too) has leaks around the compartment door.

Fletch had done a very good job of resealing the outside flanges with Parbond, but the critical issue now was obviously the alignment and need for new gasket that worked properly.

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It seems that at some point, a former owner of the trailer replaced the foam gasket that was supposed to provide a good seal against wind and weather—however either due to time (it had gotten hard) or perhaps not being the correct gasket from the start, this black gasket weatherproofing has failed.

What has resulted is that the door of the compartment does not recess and lay flush or slightly inside the exterior skin of the trailer sidewall. So, when it rains, the rain literally runs down the side of the trailer and right into the gap and into the compartment. Not good!!

Kevin took off the door completely.  Removed and cleaned up the aluminum track area where door seats into body of trailer.  He also found a weatherstrip gasket in a light grey which worked perfectly.  It is far softer and wider and allowed for readjustment of the door so that now it sits correctly and flush to the body of the trailer.  Wholla…no more leaks….but we continue to get rain, rain, rain!  

Finished project.  Works great!

Great job Kevin!!

Sneak Peek at Interior Redecorating-May 23, 2017

We have been super busy since bringing the Palace home two weekends ago.  There were still many small projects to do including switching out the old lightbulbs with LED’s (this will be another blog post itself), cleaning the AC unit, filling the water tanks and doing final checks on that.

But by far….the BEST thing is that I have finally gotten the chance to begin in earnest my interior redecorating project.  When we bought the trailer, it had an interior color scheme of beige, blue and green.  The former owner’s grandmother had made some curtains, throw pillows and recovered the dinette cushions and did a pretty decent job of it, but honestly it really looked ’70’s and I wanted an interior that felt more homey, more personal to us…and unique.    I think we have succeeded and here is a sneak peak!

Our theme colors are predominately dark turkey red (one of my fav’s) and also tapping into my beloved German/Bavarian heritage.  Kevin also loves this German theme because it reminds him of when we was stationed in Auschaffenburg, Germany when he was in the army in the 80’s.

Here is the before….                Here is the after….

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This is a sneak peek at the bedroom area only (not quite finished with kitchen and living area yet)...we put down oriental wall to wall carpet, I made two twin bedspreads from one king, antique “good night and good morning” pillow covers, privacy curtains with beautiful crewel work tie backs (from local antique shop) and we painted unfinished wood corbels (from Home Depot) for accent pieces in the corners of the transition between kitchen and bedroom areas.  Just a nice touch!

I have had these antique pillow covers for many years, they as well as the red homespun striped curtains were flea market finds that my Aunt Linda gave me at least 15 years ago.  The antique curtains I have used in various of my houses…and have a deep sentimental attachment to them. I did have to cut them down to fit into the trailer windows but so much of each panel was faded from age and use, that it all worked out and I was able to use the best of the best and it was enough!  ..I just love the fact that they are in my home on wheels now!

I made this wreath and used the heart decoration that Kevin and I had purchased during our 2013 trip to the UK, Scotland and Germany.  This heart was from Rothenburg–our very favorite walled city in Bavaria. Yes, those are artificial Edelweiss flowers that I had to purchase from an Ebay seller in the UK- could not find them in the USA at all!!

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The final effect!  Love it so much!

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Over the next few days we will be working on the final touches for the kitchen and living/dining room area…..just wait till you see our Pewter Palace redo soon!

Avion ’73 Fuse Panel Upgrade and Wiring Mess Cleanup

May 7, 2017- Fletch (Bill Fletcher) has sent over this photo update today to show how they have upgraded the fuse box to a more modern system and also cleaned up and provided some safety and order to the wiring that goes to the inverter box which is under our curbside dinette bench storage.

We had previously experienced some problems with the fuse box (old glass fuses) blowing really when they should not have.  Also, the location of the fuse box was on the front wall of the interior of the rig, just to right of center.  This location was fine when the rig was new and it had a jack knife or pull out sofa covering it.  Since the front of these rigs, like Airstreams are bowed, and the manufacturers used to build a little shelf at just under front window height with under-storage and so the sofa back could be folded down and access to the fuse box was easy, but when the sofa was used on a regular basis the fuse box was safely hidden (in other words…away from little grandson’s curious hands and eyes).  Since this was no longer the case– our rig’s former owner had removed the sofa and put in a custom built dinette with two benches.  The fuse box now was completely exposed, ugly and unsafe.

We had hoped that Fletch would be able to have enough wire and a clear path between the wallboard and exterior of rig to snake all the lines to underneath the dinette bench and completely relocate a new fuse box under the bench.  Not to be.  Avion’s are so well constructed there are steel braces, sprayed in solid foam insulation and other supports that prevented him from getting a straight shot.  So we opted for retaining the same location, but a wood box cover would be made to install over the top.  (see below)

We not only wanted a more modern fuse system, but that area had to be secured and look better since now it is visible (….and remember those curious grandkids….)

So here is his carpenter, EJ’s handiwork, a great upgrade and custom made cover which we will stain to match other woodwork or paint.  I have not decided quite yet.

From Fletch on May 7, 2017:
Hi Luisa,
 Here are a few shots of the work I did yesterday and today.
 As you will recall the factory fuse panel and wiring looked like this.
old fuse box wiring set up
The first step was to unhook all the connections and remove the panel.
 Various wires had to be traced to find what and where they went.
old fuse box removed, bare wires
 [yes, he did make us a template with a mapping of what wire goes to what.]
The larger ‘hot’ wires had to be lengthened to reach the appropriate terminal on the new box.
All wires that needed extending (6 on the panel box) were soldered together.
wire extensions completed
And finally we ended up with this. Modern fuses and a compact design.
new fuse box upgrade, wires wrapped
The wiring on the converter wasn’t much better. Rather a rats nest.
Fletch was able to make some improvements here as well.
 Below is the wood cover E.J. made for the fuse box exterior.  I requested that the cabinet door be hinged on bottom so that it flips down, fully exposing the entire panel with out it being in the way when you want to work in there.  We will also doubleface tape the wiring plan and key to wires on this inside of the door (smart eh?).  Magnetic closures on the top fully secure the door (we can always put a 90 degree angle hasp and lock if need be to keep out little fingers).
Here are a few shots of the electrical box cover that Fletch sent over:

We are very pleased with how this fuse box project came out and feel much more confident and safe with our electrical work now too!

Black & Grey Tank Bayonet and Seal Fix

May 11, 2017-  We have had our rig at Fletcher’s Trailer Sales & Repair in Trumansburg NY (Finger Lakes Region) for the past three weeks.  We are calling this time her “Spa treatment”.  Fletch (Bill Fletcher) has been methodically going through the punch list we left with him and yesterday he repaired leaking bayonet system to drain black & grey water tanks and in the process also found some of the seals where the two systems come into needed repairs.  Also he needed to replace the thermostat on our hot water heater because, while it worked, it would not shut off…well, so i guess that means it really did not work!  LOL

We are fortunate to have someone working on our Avion who is an Avion owner himself and respects and knows the rigs.  On the online forums and YouTube with folks we follow (both Avion and Airstream owners) some folks have horror stories about RV repair folks (more from some of the dealers who just sell cheaper modern camp trailers) who have done some real cob jobs down to downright $1,000’s of dollars of damage to new and vintage all aluminum rigs.

Here is Fletch’s latest update. These updates are great and he sends them at least a few times each week describing and providing photos of work done that day.

Here are some pictures from yesterday:
The grey and black water drains.
waste water bayonets needed work
 Started by testing the integrity of the existing drains  by flushing the system.  Well….not so great was the prognosis by Fletch.
It not only leaked past the seals, but it also leaked at the slide handle. These were shot.
worn out bayonet valve
An access panel needed to be cut. Here he has cut it out.  It will have overlap flanges attached to the edges and then be sealed and riveted back in place should it need to be removed again.
access panel created to get to blk wtr drain area
 Most of the bolts and screws that hold this section of plumbing in place were so worn out it was hard to even get a vice grip around them or get them out.  Hey, 40+ years they have provided service….they deserved a decent burial.
screws worn out from age, rust
A spreader bar is inserted to gently push the fittings apart.  And out come the valves.
One of the valves showing the bad gasket. Note the flange hole on the bottom left. Rust will expand and push apart the surrounding plastic. When this happens to the corresponding flange that’s glued to the trailer, we have to make a reinforcement. (see later pictures)
new flange holder had to be created
Showing the cracked flange where the reinforcement needs to be made.
broken valve sealFirst a pattern is traced onto a piece of steel.
The piece is cut to length and put into our mill to have the radius cut.
What it looks like with new valves in place.
new valves and supports installed
Forgot to mention that the water heater gas valve was bad. So we replaced with a new hot water heater thermostat.  Here is picture of old one.
old hot water heater valve, needed new one

Phase Two- Spring 2017 Refurb projects, 5-1-17: Rear lights, Eternabonded roof

Updates are streaming in from Fletch of Fletcher’s Trailer Sales in Trumansburg NY on how our Pewter Palace is coming along.  There were some parts we needed to source out and thank goodness for the awesome fellow Avion owners who monitor the numerous Facebook and yahoo sites for newbies like us who are looking for sources for parts and input on how to’s.  It is not always easy finding current parts that work in a 44 year old trailer, but we did great and our window glazing bead material and non-electric reflectors for the lower sides are enroute to Fletch for installation this week and next.

Found out that our license plate lamp socket was none existent.  Explains why it did not light (duh!) and we joke that it must have fell out somewhere between here and one of her two trips (that we know of) to Alaska over the past 44 years.   Fletch had to replace the socket by drilling out the holder from the bracket first, then install new wiring and socket–but she is all set now.  Gotta love our license plate huh!!

Next there was the resealing of the major lateral roof seams (Fletch said others looked fine) that run the front to rear length of the rig and across the front and rear noses.  The fix of choice among vintage Avion and Airstream owners is called Eternabond.  This is a high performance, long lasting tape-that may look like common duct tape, but is not.  This tape adheres like cement and prevents any water penetration at all.  No leaks happenin’ in our Palace!

We also replaced a few cracked and non-functioning vent caps with nice looking retro styled vent caps.  Fletch applied Dycor lap seal to ensure a good weathertight seal around these.

We also have had work done on our inside roof vents but that is going to be chronicled in its own separate blog post.

All for now.  If all goes according to plan, we will be headed out over Mother’s Day weekend to pick her up.  Can’t wait…but I really have to get cracking on making the interior curtains!  yikes!

Phase One-Rehab update 4-21-17: Window seals, roof fan work

News update and photos in from Bill “Fletch” Fletcher owner of Fletcher’s Trailer Restoration and Sales in Trumansburg NY (Finger Lakes Region) was received today. Owner Fletch has two Avions he personally owns and has restored and maintains. Plus he has a sales yard full of some really cool vintage aluminum trailers ready for their new owners to finish off.  I saw a Spartan that was awesome and ready for a new interior!  Kevin was partial to the Holiday Rambler that Fletch owns and uses.  Kevin was raised up during his youth with his parents owning several Holiday Ramblers and ultimately with so many kids (Kevin is youngest of 8) they owned a 32 footer.

Here is our Pewter Palace parked snug and a bug in a rug indoors while being worked on.

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The palace is inside the shop and windows and exterior curbside compartment being recaulked with Par Bond which is the aluminum color caulk/sealant of choice for aluminum trailers.

2017-04-21 15.21.38It looks great and will certainly provide some needed sealant especially for that outside compartment that holds our leveling blocks, etc.  Not that anything in there cannot get wet, but it also provides more protection so that moisture does not get in there and possibly compromise any adjoining internal areas like the bathtub area, etc.

Good news is that Fletch said our roof and its seams, and sealants around roof vents, etc looks quite good.  He has ordered Eternabond tape to go over a few seams but for the most part she is in really good shape.   Yeah!  We had not seen any but wanted to be sure.

They are also working on replacing the roof fan shrouds with the new ones we had already purchased direct from Cayo in Watervliet, Michigan–the guru of Avions and whose family started the company.  Chuck Cayo continues to be the go to man for things having to do with Avions and their restoration.  These shrouds were so hard to find, that he took initiative to have a prototype made up and now offers replacements identical to the originals.  These new ones are nice a light, bright and clean looking and will certainly last another 40 years.  Fletch will then replace the toggle switches and motors for the fans.  I in the meantime will be restoring the mesh screens that get inserted at the final stage inside.  Once complete…we will be all set.  These are the 18″ square fans which are much larger than the typical fantastic fans made today (14″) and really they let a lot of nice light in too.  One thing I wish we did have that newer Airstreams have is a skylight…but oh well…we have a vintage rig and we love her.

Here is E.J. one of the workers at Fletcher’s fitting up the holes on the new shrouds using the original  ones for template for drill holes.  Note the brittle, almost butterscotch color of the 44 year old ones.  I will be doing a whole separate blog page just on the roof fan systems since Avion restorer’s who have these are always sharing photos and tips.

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2017-04-21 22.52.40We also have a few windows where the gaskets around the windows after 40+ years have either broken off in small sections or have shrunk where the seal is not sufficient. Fletch is on the hunt for the right stuff….

This is the curbside front window which is the one that we knew was leaking a slow leak last fall. Definitely have to get it fixed.  It is great that we were able to get our rig out about two weeks ahead of Fletch’s original schedule  because he got a chance to start working on her earlier than expected.

We continue to amass stuff to outfit the inside.  I have yet to begin working on the curtain rehab….more to come!

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Removing old caulk and applying new Par Bond sealant.  See the difference below on top track of window.

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P.S.  Sorry some of these photos are a bit wonky.  Fletch sent them embedded in an email and I had a really tough time working with them and could not download them separately so I had to use screen shot images.

Out of Hibernation, into Refurb Mode

After getting four new tires on our rig on Thursday, the brakes checked and our new vanity “1973 Avion” license plate on….we were off!20161225_113532

Last Saturday we woke up at 3 AM, hit the road by 4:15 AM for a 4-5 hour ride out to Fletcher’s Trailer Sales & Service in Trumansburg, NY.  “Fletch” is an Avion affectionado who currently owns two, but has owned others including a C-10 slide in model in the past.  He also was president of the Tin Can Tourists Northeastern division some years back and it was really cool seeing some of his memorabilia and photos in his shop.

We had our punch list of little to medium sized things that we wanted to get done on the Pewter Palace, and well…we had read horror stories of Avion owners (and Airstreams too) who took their rigs to local RV dealers (big and small) to be worked on with disasterous results.  So we decided that a five hour one way trip to the Finger Lakes Area of upstate NY was worth it to have someone who knows, loves and respects Avions could give her the TLC we were looking for.

2017-04-08 04.14.25So our early morning departure had an initial unexpected joy when the rear running lights (we thought were not working) ended up coming on!  wow…great!  well…not really, it was short lived and they must have a short or some wiring glitch because they only stayed on for a few miles.  Kevin had jury rigged some temp lights though on the rear bumper so we were fine.  The front running lights and the brake and signal lights all work fine all the time….so the mystery is now squarely in Fletch’s lap!

The trip was very uneventful with breakfast at a Denny’s outside Oneonta, NY and then continuing on RT 88 over many, many medium to very large hills which gave our Suburban’s new transmission and the Pewter Palace her towing trial.  She performed beautifully and Kevin continues to remark how smoothly these Avion’s tow.

The rig on the whole is in very good shape.  We do have two small window leaks on the curbside and some LP hoses and electrical wiring we need checked and repaired.  We figured, lets get it all done now and enjoy the next few years without much care or worry about safety or periodic issues.  All the systems worked when we bought her and when we slept on her last November, the furnace worked like a charm too and we were cozy, cozy despite it being 38 degrees outside that night.

We are planning to get the palace back by mid-May and have a few events planned as well as going to do a few campground jaunts too.   Gotta say, when we arrived back home at about 6:30 Saturday night, my brain was pretty much jello.  It had been a long day- but we are hopeful and glad to have our trailer in good hands.   Hopefully after we pay the bill at Fletcher’s we still have enough money left for gas!  LOL

Stay tuned.

Bedroom Carpet Facelift and Upgrade

Oct 22, 2016.  Our coach originally came with an off white sheet vinyl with gold veining.(guess they wanted to match the jazzy mirrors with gold veining which we actually adore!) However the vinyl is a bit tired and having a cozy carpet to step on in the early morning wake up is really welcomed. So we decided to do a carpet facelift.  The previous owner can cut and fitted an off-white Berber rug remnant in place. It was in decent shape and clean. What you see are just shadows. But the transition from kitchen to rug was never completed with any threshold etc. And you also had to be careful not to catch or chip the raw vinyl edge.

So we used the remnant for our pattern. Luck would have it, Home Depot ( yes about our 8th HD trip in two weeks… uuugh) had a 26″ w oriental runner sold by the foot. That was the exact width we needed! And the color will go fine with my Spring 2017 decor refit.  That is secret for now.  Our length needed was 74 1/2″ and this provided enough to once again notch out the moulding door jam at the bathroom transition.  The door in the bathroom was plenty high so this was deemed not a problem for a carpet install right into and even with the door threshold. In fact the BR door is very high clearance off the ground. I know the ’72 brochure I have seen said Avions came with “deep pile quality shag carpet” .  I suspect just cause our owners chose vinyl the production line was not bout to change their jig for one coach.  Hey we ARE talking the 70’s folks and I remember shag all over our house!  But really? In a camper? Yikes! The dirt build up had to be disgusting.  I believe our first owners voted for vinyl from the start. Reason we think so is because the white with gold veins is sheet vinyl and runs clearly under all bathroom cabinets, under beds, under kitchen cabinets. Suggesting that it was put down first during the coaches construction and all else was installed on top.

Anyway, I digress. Sorry. Back to our project. Here we are measuring and cutting out the notches to fit BR door moulding. Remember to lay your pattern piece same facedown direction as your new carpet!

Remember if you ARE using an existing carpet that you have both of them facing in the same direction on the table…not pile to pile (like I almost did) because notches may not be identical from side to side when you flip your new carpet right side up. Ours notched areas were not  identical and so your cuts will not be correct if you screw this up.  Our carpet cost us 26.00, the two oak thresholds were $11 each, plus stain which we had.  1/4 inch carpet pad was $8.50 again a remnant cast-off from a local carpet store.

The new Carpet was cut first with a box cutter. (Could not find our carpet cutter). Then little final trims retire able to be done in coach with sturdy household scissors which gave us more control for tiny slices to ensure perfect fit at doorway. I also recommend leaving any of the edge building threads long. Wrap them to the back of your new carpet and tape them down with gorilla tape. This prevents any short traveled threads from. Showing or eventually popping loose and showing on the top side.

Below is carpet pad being trimmed and pieced to fit. Note orig gold veined Vinyl flooring. Not bad for 44 yrs old!

You could butt together and tape any pieces of padding. we did not bother on such a small seam. Larger seams should be taped to hold in place well.

Below are final adjustments and oak transition thresholds screwed in place. Be careful not to screw any deeper than you have to. Be especially careful in BR to bedroom areas. There have been more than one Avioner who ended up using too long a screw and drilled into a holding tank by mistake! Total bummer!

Below the thresholds are being screwed down You want to be sure you grab enough of the carpet to keep it secured. Our entire dining and kitchen area subfloor and vinyl had been replaced in last six yrs with 3/4″ marine plywood so our carpet and kitchen vinyl is now even. It was not before. Here is bathroom transition.

Here is kitchen transition. Sure does feel nice under foot! Fits perfect under the under bed cabinets and drawers no problem. We did have to take the heat vent cover on curbside under my twin bed and screw back in place after carpet was down.

The finished project! Looks and feels grand. Lucky for us HD also had an already found piece that matched at 31″x48″ so that is in kitchen area. That small area rug did coat another $20 but worth it to ensure the match.  We are really happy with this. Total project time, not including obtaining materials, 1 hr. Total project cost, under $80.

Replacing Refrig Panels

Oct. 22, 2016.  We were not thrilled with the black plexiglass, sticker laden refrig panels that the previous owner had. Granted we were impressed with how much and far they had traveled ND, FL, CA, ME but it just seemed so “in your face” and not us.

Do we had one 2’x2′ repro vinyl “tin” ceiling tile in the “Cracked Copper” finish that we wanted to try in place of the black plexiglass panels. We had this one panel already because we had bought a few different ones to try in our old Class A RV as a protective backsplash in our kitchen/stove area

It had always worked well, was super easy to clean and yes easy to cut to size with household scissors!  So we cut one to size to see how it would look on the top panel. And LOVED it!

After running to HD and Lowes however we found that the company does not sell their ceiling tile size at these stores any more. They only sell what is sized to actually fit as kitchen backsplash, which is too small for our 8 cubic foot Domestic refrig which is about 6 yrs old. So on to trusty Amazon.com to search. Found them easily and at the same price we paid per panel 6 yrs ago. Amazon prime free shipping and we had them in three days.
Another  project check box completed and we love the look.  And because these are actually vinyl they don’t dent, scratch or rust. they wash with soapy rag and are easy to switch out. If you like the silver tin look they have those too! The Cracked Copper finish compliments our wood cabinetry and the refrig really melds in much better than standing out as a black box.  Happy us!