My husband Kevin and I are avid YouTube watchers and follow about a dozen full time RVers. A handful of them are in Airstreams, one is in an Avion. From time to time, these Vloggers end up talking about how they dodged a bullet and were able to miss a potentially damaging hail storm. (actually some of our tips could also be applied to impending hurricanes, tornadoes or high wind storms in general) In other cases, folks have not been that lucky. Owning a vintage aluminum trailer takes special attention. We and fellow owners know these shiny (or in our case, anodized) aluminum beauties require care and protection not only from the elements of weather but also from what it can dish out like falling trees, baking sun rays, forest fires, lightening….or hail!
In this blog I have gathered up some tips and suggestions from fellow RVers (of any type rig really) on how to try at least to minimize (or escape completely) the horrible and expensive damage that a hail storm can do to your Avion. Having to replace any of the skin panels on a vintage Avion is expensive and time consuming. To date, I am really only aware of one person who most would entrust to this task and that is Chuck Cayo of Watervliet, MI. I have Chuck’s contact info on my resource page and as a foot note on several of my blog posts. Chuck’s grandfather, uncle and father owned the Avion corporation. He grew up with them and repairs and restores them to this day. We drove our “Pewter Palace” to Chuck this spring (2018) –a 15 hour drive so we could have him work on it. Yes, he has that stellar of a reputation for anything Avion. SO–if my tips below come too late, and your Avion (or Airstream for that matter) has been damaged by Hail….call Chuck!
STEP #1 IS TO PURCHASE A GOOD QUALITY WEATHER ALERT RADIO AND KEEP IT ON WHEN USING YOUR AVION! Be sure to get one that runs on batteries too!
There are several good Apps found in the Iphone and Google Play Store that offer weather alerts. Keep them on when you are RVing but maybe away from your rig so you know when to ditch that grocery cart and get running! We use one from the National Weather Service and are sure to put in our location at the time.
Avoiding Hail Storm Damage:
#2—GET ‘OUTTA THERE! We are fortunate to have wheels on our beauties and hopefully yours is towable and with good tires. So hitch her up and get out and away if you have any forewarning that hail is even possible! Spend the weekend or a few days in a nice place away from harm.
This Avion did not escape…a hail storm! (photo by JoAnn Jackson Edgar (TX)
The saving grace is most hail storms are very fast moving….your task is to move before the storm moves over top of you!
if leaving your locale completely is not an option…..
#3 Hitch up your rig and tow it to one of these possible shelters:
- Many are free and available in most locations (if you are out in the open on BLM land, sorry…cannot help you other than try to find some trees somewhere to get her under).
Look around your neighborhood or a local town for any of the following:
(Hint—scope these out as you are approaching your overnight campground or stop if there is even a chance you may get a hail storm rolling through!)
- The Contractors entrance with large overhang at a LOWES or HOME DEPOT
- The outlying lanes of a drive up bank area with large overhang
- Local town, etc. park with lots of tall trees, or side road with same. Even getting tucked as far as you can under trees will break the direct fall of many hail stones.
- Highway Underpasses are perfect places to hide out. Just don’t run over the motorcyclist that is also seeking shelter from the storm!
- Do It Yourself Car Wash Bays. these are perfect! even if you have to let your tow vehicle be exposed, that is what insurance is for and the tow vehicle will be far easier to get fixed than your vintage Avion or AS.
- If you are fortunate enough to know someone who owns an airplane hangar-ask if you can bring your trailer into safety there till storm passes.
- If you know someone who owns a car dealership, or a large repair garage they may let you bring your rig in for the short time needed till storm passes.
- A covered pavilion at an Elks Club or similar, or a local park. Often these are flush to the ground on cement pads and can be driven on. (careful about permission first!)
- Some campgrounds we have seen in AZ ,TX and southwest actually have whole rows that are with covered pavilion style sites (often with solar panels on top)
- A local storage facility may have lockable storage garages large enough. Worth the call to find out and to ask if in a pinch like a storm coming if they would allow you to rent one just for a day in case of emergency. Bird in the hand, some may allow this!
- If time permits, you could I guess even get some sheets of thin 4 x 8′ plywood laid atop your rig (throw some guy ropes over top to secure down tie off on cement blocks, etc. on ground along side of rig) as best you can to protect the aluminum skin at least a good percentage of it. IF you have solar panels up there, this is a must to protect them!
- Keep your Avion in an RV Storage Garage (this is what we do) for the piece of mind that she is always protected from all elements when not in use. *this also prolongs the life of awnings, curtains, Eternabond tape on roof, Everbright or similar finish treatments, all sealants around windows, roof vents, skylights, etc too! We figure its an investment in the long run we would rather pay now…than pay later!
- If you are in a location in the USA (or elsewhere around the world) that is prone to hail storms, (tornado’s and hurricanes too) then investing if at all possible in your own secure built shelter/garage for your favorite Avion may be the best option-obviously if you have enough room on your property to do this.
Our RV Storage Garage. It was specially built for RV and Boat storage. Check your yellow pages!
If you have any further suggestions or tips please reach out to me so I can add them to this as an update. By no means do I consider myself an expert….I merely like to pass along what I have learned from others and “pay it forward”.
One life….live it!