Category Archives: Vintage Resources, Avion Ads, brochures, etc.

Avion Medalions and Emblems and more….including Resource List

Clearly anyone who owns an Avion understands that they are historic preservationists in the most fundamental sense.  Not only do they maintain, restore and covet their aluminum beauty…they also USE it as it was intended to be used—for enjoying the outdoors, sheltering from weather and creating memories with loved ones and dear friends.  If they did not revere history and love nostalgia they would own a modern cardboard box, flat top trailer with little to no personality and certainly not built for the longevity that the Avions can boast to this day.  (our Avion turned 45 years old this year-2018, and I challenge any modern box campers to be on the road in excellent running order in 45 years!).


NOTE:  at the end of this blog post I have a list of resources for reproduction items talked about throughout this post.  Enjoy!


Almost monthly, there are questions about, or seekers of information on the various medallions, decals, numbers and company markers on the trailers. 

In this article I will attempt to answer many of the questions and in some cases provide some current links to where some of these items (or reproductions of same) may still be obtained today.  Also included are links to other websites where directories of the Travelcade member ID # may still be looked up.  Sadly, currently no one source of all those numbers exist so the hunt is on and if someone would eventually scan and post the books in an archive it would be like winning the lottery for a lot of us!  More about that in a subsection below.

Lets start at the beginning…the birth so to speak when an Avion was coming off of the assembly line.

As a side note, see our post about our trip to Benton Harbor MI in April 2018 to see a video of the plant that still exists but now is a cheese factory.

Avion Coach Company Medallions and Logo Markers:

pre 73 avion nose front
This is the company logo on front of a pre-1973 Avion.  How to tell?  The originals from 1956-1972 have the “pie slice” multiple riveted sections converging in the front, then from 1973 onward the design changed dramatically -see example below which is our Avion.  This was the first and only real major structure change the Avion (Cayo) corporation ever made to these trailers.
our 73 Avion nose, breadloaf style
Notice that the design change in 1973 created what many of us call  the “breadloaf” style.  This design change added significant headroom inside and more front storage over sofa or dinette and far more headroom in the rear bathroom area.  It also meant a far larger, and curved three section front window which was fitted with a rock guard.  The rock guard is on hinges and raises up.  The guard provides protection to windows and shade for the interior.   I will put a source to purchase a reproduction rock guard at end of this post.  The metal Avion Logo was moved to below the window and a stenciled AVION motif added to the rock guard.  We will be repainting ours this spring.
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This is the rear of our Avion the day we bought her.  She was quite dirty and needed a bath!  You will see the Avion logo medallion also on the rear above the bathroom window. More about the decal sticker above the light later in a separate blog post.

These logo medallions from what we have seen were almost always painted red.  Today many look like a pale/faded tomato red, but from what we understand a deep true red was more similar to its original color. Over time, the colors have faded.  This is the same with the rub rail- that vinyl strip that slides into a channel that goes around the trailers mid-belly in two layers with a shiner (non-anodized) strip in between them (at least on the years surrounding our years of production.  In the 80-90’s the colors for Avions turned more to using blues and black.  You can see that along the way one of the three previous owners of our trailer replaced the rub rail with black which is very common to see these days.  The rub rail material is not easily found in the right size.  Resource list at end of this post.  Some people have taken to painting the rub rail vinyl back to red, or from faded black to black.  It can be done, but I have seen them and to me it looks a bit like a cob job.  Perhaps if you were to actually remove the vinyl and spray paint it it might be better—but no way am i promising you will ever get that rub rail back in the channels again very easily!

2018-04-01 14.08.23As another side note to the company medallions, above is the dealership plate from where our 1973 Avion was originally sold from.  This dealership does not exist anymore but we have located where it was through old news clippings and at the time surely it was on the outskirts of Dearborn Heights in a rural area– but now that address is smack dab in the middle of a very built up almost urban environment.  Our little lady did not travel that far from her birth place to be purchased for the first time.  Many Avion’s also still have their original dealer emblem on them.  Again, its all about nostalgia for us and we wear it proudly.

Below is our LaGrande “model” medallion which appears on both sides of the trailer to the rear-basically even with where the bathroom is located (at least with 70’s models).  Early Avion photos (50’s-60’s)  we have seen do not appear to have these though there were some model names.  See second photo below for placement.  Many of these model plates that we have seen are, like ours is pitted.  They are stainless but age, and in our case, being kept in Florida near the ocean in the winters for many years has caused the pitting.  If a rig has been kept under cover or in a garage these emblems may be in far nicer condition.  The background is dappled/textured a bit and supposed to be painted all flat black. Only the raised lettering is supposed to be shiny.  The “Travelcade” models (a wee bit of a step down, basic model of Avion) also have them in the same locations.  It is not advisable to remove these unless you really know what you are doing.  (again, this was before our baby had her first bath!)

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This photo is after her bath!  Note location of the LaGrande emblem on rear, about even with the bathroom shower area.  These are also riveted on.

HOW CAN I TELL HOW OLD MY AVION IS AND HOW LONG IT IS?  In the photo below you will see the vehicle details on the orange plate that was afixed to the trailer upon completion at the Avion assembly line plant.  This is not our trailer but you can see and tell the year, month, and production # as well as the model style “LaGrande”.

These plates are very important when looking at purchasing a new to you Avion or for reference for a rig you currently own.  Hopefully you still have one on your trailer.  This one is located just to the right of the door entry.  This is also where ours is, however there is another plate on the streetside as well that also has important trailer information and should be documented.

There is an excellent resource website maintained by “DR G”, Dr. Don Gradeless that is a treasure trove of manuals (PDF by year) you can download or view, info regarding Avion specs and also early rosters of some Travelcade member units.

His website is at:      http://my.execpc.com/~drg/avionrem.html

Here is how to read the numbers (see image below)- this stands for trailers made at least in the 1970’s that we know and cannot attest to how earlier or later models may be marked.

 SERIAL NUMBER         75-L-28043

1975 production year   L = LaGrande Model      28 = foot length   043 = 43rd trailer made that year.

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Trailer Travelcade Member ID Numbers and Units:

I will be including a whole separate blog post about the history of the “Travelcade” membership club because it really was cool!  But for purpose of this post, I refer to the wonderful Avion history book written by Robert Muncy (link to purchase here) entitled SILVER AVIONS AND CAYOS.  Muncy writes that the Travelcade club of Avion owners got its start in 1959 and had its highest rendezvous turn out of 818 Avions in Coldwater MI in 1970.  Please see my future post about the Travelcaders and their club soon!

The photo below is our Avion, our “Pewter Palace” as we call her with her original Travelcade ID numbers and geographical unit emblem.  Not all Avion owners joined this optional club and so if you do not see any type of stickers like this (front and rear streetside is where they should be) then the owners did not partake.  Benefits of the club included a printed newsletter, attendance at rendezvous (FL, MI, WI) and the ability to order and wear some of the truly awesome “Travelcader Swag” like earings, jackets, knitted caps, pith helmets, bolo ties and more….remember….this IS the 1960-70’s!!  See some of the swag we have gotten so far in this previous post or on our Avion Swag post page.

Our trailer’s second owner was from CT and therefore was part of the New England Unit which sadly no longer exists.  In fact, the whole “Travelcade” club and movement died out after the corporation sold to the Fleetwood RV company in the 80’s.  Happily, a diehard group have resurged the zeal for hosting rallies of Avions again and now there is are very active “Sliver Avion Fellowship ” units based in MI, TX and more recently one started in Arkansas.  The trend and desire to all get together again is growing each year as is the popularity of owning one of these classic, well-built beauties.  We attended the Silver Avion Fellowship Rally in Elkhart MI in the summer of 2017 and had a blast with over 25 Avions of all designs, lengths and styles present.  The MI group, I believe is the one who got the whole Fellowship rolling again.  Search Facebook for The Silver Avion Fellowship and ask to join. There is a similar named fb site for the event too. I believe that black numbers and letters were the standard issue of these rigs.  People attending the Travelcade official rallies back in the day would register with their trailer number.  There were published member directories for each year and geographical unit.  If you are lucky, someone at one of today’s Fellowship Rallies may come with one and you can look up your original Travelcade member’s name, address, etc.    On occasion someone will also post out on one of the Avion FB pages that they have access to one of the books , or you can post out on the Avion Owners facebook pages that you are seeking a “look up” for the numbers on your rig.  Folks are more than happy to help find this nostalgic piece of history out for a fellow Avion owner.

As you can see by our membership number—our trailer owner’s were the 14229 members enrolled.  WOW!

Below these emblems, or on the curbside somewhere near the front side panel, some Avions also have a vertical list with smaller letters of the location and date of EACH Travelcade Rendezvous that they had attended.  It is an amazing story for your Avion and we highly recommend that you LEAVE it, or if needed get repro stickers if some of the letters or dates are worn off.  Some trailers only have a shadow (left from fading of the finish) on their rigs.  Again—this is a badge of honor that should be maintained in our opinion and we know many other Avioners agree.  So please keep them visible!  We wish we had some but perhaps our owners were more interested in just reading the member newsletter than traveling south.  We do know they took our trailer to Alaska twice though!

If you look very closely below you will see under the “pie slices” a discolored area on the body.  In the right light, you can see EACH of the rendezvous that this trailer has been to.  It was quite amazing and yes—a badge of honor we are happy to see they have kept even though the actual black letters are long gone.  Those letters were issued to you when you arrived at the Travelcade Rendezvous.  Today’s Silver Avion Fellowship Rally we attended in MI is reissuing these once again and we will put it on our trailer once we get our clear coating done by Chuck Cayo this spring.

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Below are some resources for items mentioned above.  Please do remember to check back to my blog often as I will be adding an entire post about the Travelcaders and club which will include some vintage photos of rallies, people wearing Travelcade swag and more… including where to buy reproduction Travelcade Large Member Stickers like what is on the front and rear of our rig (we have purchased new ones to replace our very faded and worn out ones)

CURRENT RESOURCES THAT WE ARE AWARE OF: 

(these were viable at date of this post, sorry if no longer active)  Please contact me if you find new or other sources!!

Our Facebook Page for the Pewter Palace: https://www.facebook.com/PewterPalace/


Avion reproduction Rock Guards:   Chuck Cayo- Cayo Repair, Watervliet MI.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Cayo-Repair-Service/116726535054286  (Chuck is an old school kinda guy—-and is the guru of Avions (his grandfather co-owned the original company and Chuck grew up with them from his father.  They do not have a website, but this listing gives phone info)


SILVER AVIONS AND CAYOS, book by Robert Muncy (a must have for any Avion owner)

https://www.muncywinds.com/silver-avions-and-cayos.html


Rub Rail Vinyl strips:

(1)  Chuck Cayo (above) keeps black in stock most of the time.

(2)  Others have used sources found on Airstream (gasp!) forums, recently someone used vinyl stripping found on a website that sells it for lawn chairs.  He said it worked well.  I got some samples, nice colors but is very thick and not sure how well it will last with temp changes/extremes of full timing plus would be really hard to insert in because it is flat, not curved and very stiff.  They said do it on a sunny warm day, and use a heat gun to soften and insert- perhaps with a putty knife to help tuck into track gutter.

(3)  Vintage Trailer Supply also at least from time to time does carry limited sizes and colors since this is a type of trim that is found not only on Avions, but Airstreams and other vintage rigs.  https://www.facebook.com/vintagetrailersupply/


(4)  Travelcade Member ID #’s and Units:  This is a very recent link that I found posted on one of the handful of Avion facebook pages that i belong to.  So far, I believe the folks who have ordered from her have had a positive experience.  Mind you, you must have a steady hand to apply these…or take the letters and numbers to a professional sign shop or automotive detailer who does this kind of thing and have them apply them!  As mentioned, so far, we have only seen black letters on originals but I believe some current owners are using red for their numbers.  I guess its a matter of choice.

https://www.etsy.com/listing/598338016/avion-number-decals-airstream-avion-rv?ref=shop_home_active_1

As always, I hope you have enjoyed this post and gotten some “take aways” from it.  I would love to hear your feedback, or if you have other sources for the items discussed above or anything to do with Avions.  Its all about helping each other to preserve and enjoy our beloved Avions as much as we call.

We look forward to meeting fellow Avioners on the road in days ahead….till then…

ONE LIVE–LIVE IT!

–Luisa

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RV-MH Hall of Fame- 2017 Visit to Elkhart, Indiana, RV Travels with the Pewter Palace

The city of Elkhart, Indiana may not mean anything to someone who has never owned or camped in an RV.  However, for those of us who have fully ingested the “bug” Elkhart, Indiana is the RV Manufacturing capital of the WORLD!  No kidding!! Really! In this blog post I include many links that bring this history of RVing to life!

Here is a sneak peak of the RV/MH Hall of Fame exhibit area!  See more links below!

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For decades upon decades countless brand name RV manufacturers have set up their company production lines in and around the Elkhart area. If you visit, you can plan to take a factory tour if you want too but check ahead because they are only offered at certain factories on certain days of the week and times.    Because of this, a multitude of outsourcing smaller manufacturing businesses have populated the area producing everything possible for those large brands like Fleetwood, Winnebago, Forrest River, Thor, etc.  Things like smaller plants that make the windows, the cushions, the hitches, the extruded plastic AC covers, electrical and plumbing fixtures.  It was comical being at a stop light and seeing flatbed trailers stacked with 15 shower stalls, trailer frames, stacks of windows being rolled down the road to finish off someones new trailer or motorhome! The majority of all the RV’s from tiny pods to large 45 foot diesel pusher Class A’s are made in Elkhart.

SO–it is no coincidence that the RV & Manufactured Homes Hall of Fame is located in Elkhart, easily seen and reached by Interstate 80.  Don’t get me started on why the MH does not stand for Motor Home…but it actually stands for Manufactured Houses which to some degree is also represented in this museum (especially a small MH outside the building that is open for a tour- more of a sales pitch for the builder than anything I feel) .  I suspect it was during lean years of funding for the museum that they had to expand their scope to include manufactured houses into the museum’s mission.  It is just my humble opinion, but doing this inclusion of manufactured homes into an RV museum was a disservice to the tens of thousands of RV owners whose homes (whether part time or full time) are truly on “wheels”.   Manufactured homes may be indeed built on an assembly line like an RV but by no means do they function nor are intended to be moved from spot to spot weekly, seasonally or for that matter ever…once put on their foundations.

Neverthless, when we were venturing to our very first (and not to be our last for sure!) Silver Avion Fellowship Rally in Elkhart in the summer of 2017 we made the pilgrimage to the Hall of Fame and enthusiastically became Life Members!  (Actually this was more a fiscal decision than anything because they made it easy to justify a Life Membership versus us just paying for admission to the two of us for the day–a difference of about $10 if i remember correctly.  So now we can go anytime we want!)

Here is a link to the museum’s website so you can do your own “touring”!!  WE DO encourage you to visit this museum, support its livelihood and share with your friends.  Its exhibits truly do paint an accurate and colorful vision into the thread of our own Americana!

 

One of the reasons, we justify for return visits is that the museum was in the process of expanding their parking area to the north of the building and supposedly this will allow for even more boondocking (or limited hookups) for the RV family of which we are a part of and supposedly special events, perhaps even themed rallies (by year of RV or brand perhaps?!!).  On the second floor of the museum is an archive library which although very unorganized by Library Science codes (our librarian friend Robin Stiles would throw a fit the way someone has tried to organize their collection–NOT!) we did find quite a treasure trove of Avion files including manuals, advertising pieces, etc.   The archive section of hanging files is fairly easy to use- someone thankfully put those in alpha order so at least the “A”s were easy enough to find.  As for the stacks..not so much–we scratched our head for a half hour trying to figure out what method someone had employed to categorize the shelves and shelves of RV manuals, books, how to guides and more…to no avail.  Sadly, there was no volunteers present in the library that day either- perhaps that could have helped.  BTW- in our exit survey we did comment that we highly recommended they tap a college intern who was studying Library Sciences or a retired librarian who would get in there and reorganize the stack system so that folks could find things.  Even if they did not go by Dewey Decimal system…alphabetical like the hanging file folders would have been better.  And then please…label the shelves or areas!  Ok enough of my rant, I should talk, my files at home are not much better!

For the purpose of this blog post, i am going to literally add in all the photos we took while on tour at the museum  into a flip book on our website at some point-but it is time consuming (so will be perhaps a 2019 winter project).  For now, here is a great link to the exhibit area of the museum.  The photos are arranged by vehicle type so will be pretty easy for you to scour and select.  Check out the other link below which actually lists by rig their complete inventory with description and photo.   We spent over 4 fours and really enjoyed going in and out of many of the vintage trailers and RV’s of all types, names, shapes and sizes.  Some homemade, some “state of the art” when produced in the 1920’s, 30’s, -70’s.

At some point, when I have time—I am also going to include a “flip book” of the Avion brochures and sales pieces that we found that were right around our rig’s year which is 1973 onto the resources page of our http://www.ThePewterPalace.com website for easy access anytime.  For some reason (maybe the Avion Coach Corp was feeling a fiscal pinch in 1973) we have a hard time finding that particular year or even 1975 brochures, etc.

Interestingly enough, this was also the year (1973) that the Avion Coach Company made the most significant change to their body style and design.  So you would have thought this would have been a major push to new marketing.  The transition between the front and rear sections from ’72 to ’73 is very noticeable.  It went from the more traditional fan sections of aluminum nose to the more “bread loaf” style like ours is with only three sections.   You will see the difference immediately in the photos below..

PRE-1973 AVION Nose and Rear construction:

Below is our 1973 with NEW AVION design rolled out that same year (affectionately called the “breadloaf” style) design which afforded more interior headroom, less seams that can leak too!

Not only was this a major exterior change visually, but it also greatly opened up the living space in the nose and rear bathroom areas extending headroom on both sides.  When we were at our Silver Avion Fellowship Rally going inside the 1960-early 70’s models you can really tell.  Now don’t get me wrong, there are some purists who love the earlier styles and while we do love them too as they are truly the classic look…we appreciate the bit wide open more space of ours especially since we will be living in ours full time when we retire.  When you are dealing with less than 200 sq. feet of living space on a full time basis—every square inch of floor and head space counts.  I would also go so far as to say, anyone who is over 6′ tall would definitely want the newer (tongue in cheek, ours is 45 years old this year!) style affording more headroom and less a feel you have to crouch to get into your dinette area.

our 73 Avion nose, breadloaf style

(our 1973 Avion, dubbbed “The Pewter Palace” in winter storage in Queensbury, NY for the LONG winter of 2017-2018)

So back to our trip to the RV-MH Hall of Fame Museum.  Surely, for anyone interested in “vintage” anything, this is a great place to visit.  Also, if you own a vintage Shasta, Scotty, Winnebago, Bolus, Silver Streak, Airstreams or any of the other dozens out there, you will want to visit this mecca of motor and non-motor recreation vehicles.

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Spend some time in the archive library to find and take photos (no they do not have a place to pay for copies to be made either—zheesh!) with your cell phone or camera.  Fellow RV’ers and the actual manufactures or collectors of such ephemera have been very generous in donating volumes of great stuff to peruse through–so please do check it would when visiting and leave yourself enough time…and storage space for photos on your camera.

Enjoy and hope to bump into you someday at the RV Hall of Fame!  If you are an RV hobbyist or depend on your RV full time to keep a roof (albeit mobile one) over your head—please support this museum and its mission in any way that you can.  This is a core part of our American History experience and the American experiment!

Here are directions!

 

 

 

 

Tin Can Tourists-Just joined!

We have taken the plunge and are jumping in head first to the vintage camping subculture…and have joined the national “Tin Can Tourists” camping club.  This group has been around since 1919 and is going strong.  There is a northeast chapter who hold rallies and events in Pa, NY and sometimes New England states.  This year, there is a one in early June in Forestville NY, not too far from us…and we hope to get there.

Video from a TCT Rally in upstate NY, Seneca Lake area in Sept 2016

The Tin Can Tourist website is a treasure trove of information and their resource list alone of links to vendors, information, how to documents, etc is phenomenal and they also sell some kitchy t-shirts and stuff too on their site.

If you are looking to find vintage camper events across the USA this is one of the best resources to use.  Even if you are not a member, but perhaps are considering purchasing a vintage camper, most TCT rallys and events do have some posted public hours where you can come in, tour some of the ones  on the open house tours, talk to owners and yes…we see from photos that there are many in fact that may have a for sale sign on them…so you could just end up becoming an “official tin can owner” yourself that day!

Tin Can Tourist membership is open to anyone with a vintage trailer or motorhome. There are lots of Airstreams, Avions, Scotty Campers, VW Van poptops, GMC motorhomes, and all sorts of unusual and rare rigs too.   Some events where judging contests (optional if you want to participate) do require the rig be at least 25 years or older….no prob for us….our Pewter Palace is 44 years young this year!

Check out http://www.tincantourists.com for great info!