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!

 

 

 

 

Best Flag Pole Holder for an Avion or Airstream

When attending the Tin Can Tourist Northeastern Rally last September in the Finger Lakes of NY we loved seeing so many of the Avion’s and Airstream’s touting beautiful flags off their front end.  We took a few shots of the holders we liked and chatted with rig owners.  (below is vintage Avion gathering photo with singular flag).

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Below is a great shot found online of an Airstream rally…you kinda get the picture!  Flying flags has been a tradition for decades especially off Aluminum trailers (both Avion and Airstreams).

row airstreams with flag pole holders

I went online and did my research for who produces the best bracket system.  Hands down on both the Avion and Airstream forums one particular name kept coming up.  “Rob’s Flag Pole Holder”.  He can be found on Facebook using that as search tool if this link on my blog does not work.  I will have pricing and contact info at end of this blog entry as well as maintain it on our equipment and links page.  He does take payment via Paypal which is great.   Fact is though that from the sounds of it, Rob has in recent years wound down on his production levels a bit.  He did however, respond quickly to my message via his FB page—- and lucky for us he had a 3 slot and a 5 slot still in stock!  wow!! lucky!  We were tempted to order both but considering other gizmo’s we need to get this winter, we opted to just order the 5 flag model.   He shipped to us and we love it.

The product is heavy duty and will surely stand the test of time.  We also love the fact that this is essentially handcrafted by a fellow NYS resident.  Nice!  It does come without pre-drilled “U” bolt holes simply because he cannot foresee each installation needs for all different manufacturers of the power jack posts.  This is a heavy piece, welds are strong, holes for poles are 1.25″ in diameter.  We will now plan to look for 1″ poles to allow for easy in and out.  a rubber ring gasket could also be used to cushion I guess if needed.

Because of the location of our power jack motor housing (if you do not have one, you need one!) we will need to rotate that housing block and thumb switch to the curbside or back.  This is to allow sufficient room for the holder to be permanently mounted there using a stainless “U” bolt and locking nuts.  You can opt to take the holder on and off each time, but to us that is a hassle and with so little precious interior storage (and virtually none to spare on the two exterior storage compartments (yes, not nearly what our modern Class A had!) we figure we will just keep it mounted all the time.

We plan to get telescoping fiberglass poles and will be shopping for them next.  Our plan is to proudly fly the following flags:

  • American Flag
  • New York State Flag
  • Masonic Flag
  • Tin Can Tourist Flag
  • Avion Flag (may have to make our own up custom, since originals are highly prized and hard to find)

This is going to look awesome!  Watch for update photos.

HERE IS CONTACT INFO FOR ROB:

  • FB page:  Rob’s Flag  Pole Holder
  • Email:  Airstreamnut@gmail.com
  • Cost and payments:  (Per Rob to us in Feb 2018) 3 pole holder, $125 including s/h; 5 Pole holder, $150 including s/h.

Happy flying–these Aluminum Beauties deserve to be decked out and proud to be Americans!!

 

Keeping Your Trailer Safe from Thieves

It’s February and it is a great time to evaluate what equipment we have and for creating a punch list for the coming camping season.

I suspect our fellow camp trailer owners may be doing the same tasks! (Those who garden are also looking at seed catalogs right now too!)

Just this past year, two of our friends have purchased or are in process of purchasing a bumper pull travel trailer for themselves.  While we had truly hoped they were joining the vintage Avion owner family, they decided to purchase more contemporary rigs.  We wish them well and tons of wonderful miles of travels and hope we can camp together in the future!

One of the tips we would like to share with any and all travel trailer owners (motorhome owners can skip this blog entry! LOL) is how to KEEP YOUR TRAILER SAFE FROM THEFT!

I belong to many, many facebook sites and there are a few FB pages that specifically cater to sending up alerts to recent thefts of camp trailers.  It seems that the theft of especially vintage trailers is on the rise in the USA because of their popularity and growing value. If you do not currently subscribe to any of those site, I suggest you at least join one.  Who knows, while you are tooling down the road some day you may be able to help return a stolen rig to its rightful (and very distraught) owners!  You also may learn some valuable tips on how NOT to be premiered in the next new theft alert!

My husband Kevin is notorious for using YouTube and other means to carefully and methodically research RV products.  After much research, we purchased what is known by many in the know as “the most bullet-proof anti-theft hitch lock out there”.  It is made by Proven Industries, a USA based, family business who offer a LIFETIME GUARANTEE on their products. (no, we do not receive any incentive or endorsement perk from them)

Word to the wise!!!!  The traditional hitch lock that simply sends a large bolt-like pin through the hole in your hitch clamp or the kind that fits into just your ball socket with a bale type that goes over your hitch tongues are NOT going to stop thieves.

No matter how big the pin, how great the padlock.  Case in point- we had one of those MasterLock U shaped locks on our hitch two winters ago.  This is the kind that has a ball that fits into the underside of where your hitch ball normally goes then the U shaped lock goes over the top of your hitch tongue.  When we went to get her out of the winter storage garage about 40 min. from our house, we realized we had forgotten the key to the pad lock.  Kevin simply used a hammer and within about 40 seconds had busted the deadbolt U shaped thing off and removed the lock. Literally it took about two swipes of the hammer. Please do not be a statistic!

Proven Industries is the manufacturer of what is considered the Cadillac of the hitch locks and it is made in the USA and the customer service and reputation of the company is stellar.

In going to their site you will see that you must select the right lock for YOUR rig.  All hitch configurations, coupler sizes, etc. are NOT alike!  If in doubt, call them like we did especially for vintage rigs.  They know their product and can direct you to the right fitting product for your needs.

Check out their demo video’s to see the strength and effectiveness of these hitch locks.  Well worth the $$$.

A few other tips we can offer to you for keeping your rig safe are—-

  • Pull down your shades during the day if you are away so that it is not so obvious there is no one home.  Ditto at night if you are away from your trailer.
  • When you are in camp, but maybe somewhere out hiking, at the pool or walked into town, back your tow vehicle right up to or broadside to your locked hitch ball so no one can drive right up to your hitch.
  • Install trailer wheel locks (operate like a scissor system) in between your tires if you have a dual axle system.
  • Put a tire lock on your tow vehicle. (see fellow bloggers Long Long Honeymoon (AS owners)  and the TriMax lock they recommend). On our list to purchase this year!
  • If you get a Proven Industry lock system try to also lock your safety chain ends also into the lock area.
  • Install an aftermarket deadbolt on your door(s).  Factory trailer door knob locks are notoriously poor.  Especially on vintage trailers (many brands) the doors have been known to fly open as you are on the highway- resulting in lots of $$ to repair (that is if it was not left by the side of the road a mangled mess).

Hope you have found this blog article helpful.  We would welcome your suggestions, comments and any tips you have for preventing theft of your trailer.

PS:   We will be doing a post soon on LED light replacements (save money, reduce in cabin heat and save 12 V battery life!) so keep watching and reading!

Kitchen Tips…what we have learned so far living tiny!

As many of you know,  we have transitioned from 2400 sq.ft. house to 1400 sq. ft. townhouse apartment this past fall.  During the time the house was for sale and during our (not to be repeated as too stressful) move- we spent a LOT of time in the sanctuary of our 1973 Avion LaGrande, 28 foot vintage travel trailer we affectionately call, “The Pewter Palace”.  We truly count our blessings for having her and the ability to have a place to lay our heads and feel released of cardboard boxes and all that goes along with a big move.

I found as I spent more and more time cooking in our tiny RV kitchen several very important things that i have carried forward into our small galley style kitchen– and some well, are just tips for RV kitchen day to day use.  When we eventually do our final transition to full time RV living some of these will really come into play while still more remain yet undiscovered.

A few tips to get started:

In the RV having a small double bowl sink is preferable over a large sink.  In the RV the dual sink allows for putting in one of those small dish drainer racks so you do not need to clutter up precious counter space with a rack or pad. (I only have a large sink in our apartment, which i like but I do not use a dish drying rack on the counter.  I have a pad I store away under the sink for when needed, but for the most part I use my dishwasher far more, and when I do have dishes that need drying, I dry them right away and put them away instantly.  Keeping a cleaned off tidy counter is far more satisfying for me now).

My sink area in the Pewter Palace when we first bought it (on left) and before I added my personal touches. It gives you a good idea of layout though and the dual sink setup.  We luckily found the original cutting board covers for each sink buried under junk under the sink.  You can see what I mean by precious counter space!  Picture on right was from Summer 2017 at the Tin Can Tourist NE Rally at Sampson State Park in the Finger Lakes Region of upstate NY.

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Dual RV sink also allows for:

  • Easier to rinse lettuce, veggies, etc.
  • A place to store counter items when rolling down the road ( I wrap items in dry dishtowels to prevent rattling)
  • Filled with ice cubes they both make a dandy place to put cold beer or dish that needs to be kept cold during entertaining
  • You typically do not have large platters or serving pieces on an RV so you do not need a large basin sink to fully submerge dishes.
  • One sink can double as storage space for your loaf of bread or bagels (i just put the sink cover on and wholla–bread is handy for sandwich making but not taking up space in fridge or cupboard.

Collapsible Bowls, Measuring Cups, Food Storage Containers and Strainers are awesome!                                       

GET SQUARE when you can!

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I just purchased these on Amazon based on referral by a full time RVer.  Yes, it totally makes sense to have square items in a square cupboard!

There are ever increasing amounts of online and big box (Bed, Bath and Beyond for one) who are selling collapsible kitchen gear.  Get square shapes when you can because they sit next to each other or other items in storage easier in cupboards and drawers.  Ditto on the square shapes for food storage containers too.

Keep your collapsible bowls in the cupboard right above your head at the sink.  These bowls will be used at least two times a day and should be readily handy and not buried.

Try to get bowls that come with lids.  They double as food storage as needed in a pinch but do not rely on them—otherwise when you need it to scramble eggs in one morning you are SOL and have to dump your leftovers or scramble the eggs in your coffee mug.

Get one BIG collapsible mixing bowl besides 2-3 that are small , 4-7″ diameter to medium (9″ diameter).  That is truly all you need.   That big size mixing bowl (about 11-13″ diameter) does come in handy for making a big pot luck salad to share, popcorn by the fire pit or even for soaking some ketchup stained shirt in some OxiClean (yeah…been there!).

To Strain or Not to Strain—that is the question!   In my quest to go collapsible to save precious space I did purchase a collapsible strainer for the Pewter Palace.  Thinking it would be perfect for pasta straining and……hmmmm???…what else would i use it for?  Well, actually in our first year of camping (including our four months nearly full timing) I have only used it once.  I really prefer my flat Pampered Chef grey pot drainer paddle.  Here is a photo because I cannot remember what they call it.  I love this thing and use it weekly at home too.  This is one item that I admit I will have to purchase one exclusively for the RV and just have not gotten around to it.  It is so easy to use for any size pots (more on them later too!) and is flat and simple.  So who knows….the question of to Strain or not to Strain- may make my collapsible strainer end up for sale at one of our RV rally swap meet sessions.  Space is way too valuable in an RV to have stuff in a cupboard that is not used nearly every day.

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One more collapsible item I purchased was a very large collapsible bucket.  It sits kinda buried under my kitchen sink but because it folds down to only about a 1.5″ high it does not really take up much space.  We really could not fit a 5 gallon plastic bucket anywhere in our rig (inside or outside storage) so this does the trick.  Additionally, it comes in handy if you want to give your baby (I am talking about your RV here….not a real baby) a bath or as we found this summer when Kevin needed to soak his feet….it worked awesome!

In a pinch, the large collapsible bucket can also be used for:

  • toting laundry to and from the campsite laundry facilities
  • a game bucket to have your grandkids try to aim for with some balls or acorn tops or anything handy-well, almost anything handy.
  • makes a great cooler for beer when filled with ice when entertaining
  • soak dirty clothes in and do a mini laundry on the fly when needed
  • fill up to use as a clean water flush when cleaning your black/grey water systems

Another gadget that I have found to be indispensable, easy care and to store is my stove top toaster (best one ever!) which I have already done a separate blog post in detail about this gadget if you want to order one yourself.  This thing is non mechanical so great for boondocking.  Does not take up even a fraction of what an electric two slice toaster would take up in storing but also does not take away my counter space either!

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Dishes, plates, cereal bowls, coffee mugs Only put onboard a dish service for four max.  I use Corelle ware because it is light, takes a beating and does not break as easy as iron stone.  I do not like plastic plates for anything beyond a sandwich.  It is plenty, just wash your dishes and put them right away!  We do have some papergoods on board but do not use them routinely unless boondocking.

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Pots and pans can be kept to a minimum too.  You are camping—use the outside grill!  we have one small deep saucepan, one 9″ diameter deep sauce pan (that’s for that pasta or rice!) and two very small non stick fry pans, one with a lid.  I do not use cast iron because it is too heavy.  I do have one cast iron oblong sided griddle (an antique and rare) that i will bring when the grand kids or company come camping with us just to use on the grill or if pancakes are called for so I can do a decent size batch.

Coffee maker?  We LOVE our Farberware 10 cup Perculator.   I refuse to go the Keurig route because of space it takes up, wastefulness of those pod cups and the cost!  See a past blog post or our FB page for more info on our Perculator.  Again, no taking up counter space.  Easy to store in the cupboard, makes outstanding coffee.  Hint–we love to grind our own so I do pre-grind a bunch of coffee and put it in my Coffee keeper on board.  I will have to do a future post on that container because it is outstanding too and easily purchased on Amazon. (yeah, you are getting it that I do a lot of shopping there.  That is because I also have a CC tied to my Amazon so I get amazing points for stuff I would be purchasing locally every week like gas, groceries, or even co-pays at MD appointments.  Then I go “RV shopping” to Amazon and buy things with my points….no cash outlay– nice!

Hanging String Bags for Produce, Baked Goods, Fruits:  These babies are the best way to not fill up your 8 cubic foot fridge with odd sized, big stuff.  We simply screwed some of those safety clip cup hooks under this wood shelf and hook them in there.  Very secure and easy access.  Plus I have definitely noticed that the fruit and veggies keep longer because of air flow.  Plus, right handy when doing meal prep.

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They are completely washable and can also double for other things when needed;

  • Like a bag to take towels and gear to the lake, beach or pool.
  • A bag to use to put plastic dishes in to toss into a stream to wash off if water is getting low in holding tanks
  • Laundry bag for dirties
  • Tote sandbox or pool toys for kiddo’s.

We originally kept them up and with food in them when rolling down the road, but Kevin has since suggested that they come down if I have heavy things in them like in this photo where I had lot of apples.   So now I will just sit then in the sink or on the dinette bench seat when traveling just so we are not putting undo strain on the underside of the wood shelf.

12 slot large cupcake pans (one for each person).  THIS is a Keeper for sure!  We had to learn it the hard way as newbies and run to the closest WalMart when at our first TCT Rally.  Many rallies have fabulous Pot Luck Dinners built into the group social plans.  They are wonderful, provide lo-cost ways to get your meals and outstanding ways to meet fellow RVers.  True long timer’s know the best thing to do is to bring a cupcake pan as your plate!!  This way you take samples of all the yummies you want, ok–you can fill a few of the spaces with chili and desserts if that pleases you!  You may be tempted to not look quite so much like a glutton by only buying a nine or six slot pan, but honestly the 12 slot is the best because you can do salads, veggies, main course and dessert in one swoop.  As anyone knows…camping folks are hungry folks and if you do not snag something your first time in line- it may not be there when you go up for seconds! This cup cake pan plate allows you to not have to bring a separate bowl for any soups or chili’s (there are always awesome chili’s of all types that are brought to these pot lucks).  And it is FAR easier not to have to try to balance carrying all of that either.  This was one of those —wow!!…what a great idea things that we learned from experienced campers and we cherish it totally and love the fact we may be passing on this tip to someone reading this blog that is a newbie like us!

Oh—almost forgot—–Your oven?  we do have one- have not used it yet but it does work… But I, like tons of other RVers, find it great for storing things in!  I keep my stove top toasters( yes, we have two), a disposable aluminum roasting pan and one cookie sheet in there.  Just never, ever store anything on that lower level area where your gas pilot inlet is.  Only store on the wire rack shelf.

Hope you have enjoyed my musings…..get your cupcake pan!  Smell the coffee and get out there and enjoy cooking in a tiny kitchen you call home!

~~  One Life….Live it!

2018 Silver Avion Fellowship Rally is on!

Info about this year’s gathering of fellow Avion owners has been posted on Facebook. I will try to insert the link below but for some reason the link is not working when I have tried to post it on our Pewter Palace Facebook page. If you have trouble just go to Facebook and search for  “silver avion fellowship rally” and find the one that is in Elkhart Indiana.

We may not get to this awesome rally this year just because I only have limited vacation time from work and other obligations and planned travel may gobble up that precious time.

But we had such a good time last year as newbies that I would encourage any Avion owners to attend.

The folks were so friendly and welcoming and we learned a lot. It is so cool seeing the inside of other Avions too!!

Have fun and tell them Luisa and Kevin Sherman sent you!!

https://www.facebook.com/groups/284409031667225/permalink/1544786348962814/

The Long Hibernation

Winters come early and linger late here in the Adirondacks of NY.  Our bevolved Pewter Palace is safe and sound tucked into her “den” till at least April.  It is not uncommon to still see some snow piles then.

This fall, we sold our big house and moved into a townhouse apartment. We are loving our new place and the decision we made. The only downside is that obviously we no longer could have our camper in our backyard. We miss her a lot and miss the convenience of being able to get on board in a minute notice to putter or work on some things. Heck I think we would even spend some nights on her too since we know our furnace works like a charm. But alas, other arrangements had to be made.

We decided to rent a large 45 foot long indoor RV storage garage to keep her in as well as our other reenacting gear, spare tools and stuff we want, at leaat for now.

I will tell you that last week we went over to check on her and look for some Xmas stuff I cannot seem to track down. Yikes when we got there and opened up the overhead door we both were flooded with emotion and realized how much we truly miss not living in her. We quickly went on board and were like petting her and cooing to her. I don’t know why we are so attached to this rig but we are. Maybe it’s because we know she will be our full time home in ten years. Maybe it’s because we love the German decor, maybe it’s the simplicity of life in a trailer where all you need is a reflection of really how little you need to be happy. Maybe a combination of everything.

I am sure that some of our friends who have been fortunate enough to inherit a family cabin or camp, or a beach cottage know how this feeling takes you over. You arrive to the door after stressful week at work, kick off your shoes and put on the slippers that you leave at your hideaway… And whammy… De-stress and comfort overwhelms you. That familiarity calms you and transports you into a different way of looking at life. I know… We feel it now too, but ours has wheels, so we also have the luxury of being able to change our view, She says with a big smile……

Sleep tight Pewtty Pal…. Spring will come and so will we!

Its All About the BLACK TANK!

You would think we would have better things to discuss with the holidays approaching and time spent now daydreaming (or really planning) for our 2018 Avion Adventures!

But honestly, with our Pewter Palace in winter storage, it seems like a good time to discuss those not so popular things like….black tanks and sewer smells!

We are fortunate in that our 1973 Avion has both a grey water and black water tank. Up to and through 1972 Avions were built with only one discharge tank (held black and grey combined).  yikes!  That would not do for us at all–Especially once we start full timing.  These tanks, when our rigs were built were not the size that most modern trailers are.  In fact, our grey water is 25 gallons and our black is also 25 gallons.  Through our experience, we pretty much can get a little over a week with our grey water (assuming no showers – we use the campgrounds shower, and not dumping dish water on the ground outside rather than down the drain).  We can get about 5-7 days with black water tank, again, depends on if we are spending most of the day away from camp either siteseeing or going to work.

Lets remember, that up to that point (1972) these rigs were totally produced for the leisure market and living full time in them was virtually inconceivable.  Were there some full timers in the 70’s?  I suspect so, but nothing like the ever increasing rage and trends that are going on now.  The internet has certainly made it all so much easier and seamless-even for those who telecommute now for work.  Full Time living on an RV is really quite simple and easy.

Also, I would bet that most travel trailer campers also were using private or public campgrounds that at least had some hook ups with at minimum, dump stations.  We still see a considerable amount of campgrounds, especially those in more rural locations having just electric and water intake available at the actual site you have, and then you have to drive to the dump station to empty your black/grey water.  The NY State Campground we were at this summer for the Tin Can Tourist NE Rally (Sampson State Park, nice place!) had water and electric at our site, but a communal dump station area for discharge.  Many, many state and national campgrounds and parks are still this way.  Lets face it, the cost for putting separate lines to a campground with over 200 sites would be outrageous in today’s costs.

So back to the original intention of my blog post.  Black water…..how to manage it as efficiently as possible with NO smells.

When we had our 1998 Class A Itasca Motor home, we constantly had issues with “smells” which were sewer gases leaking from (I guess)  improperly constructed vent tanks. it seemed more prevalent when we were on the road down the highway but none the less, we still could “smell” when we had to dump.  We tried a variety of toilet treatment chemicals purchased at a variety of camp and RV stores…all supposed to offer the best in waste breakdown and prevention of smells.  We tried the gadget on top of the roof that was a directional rotating wing type cap that was supposed to help.  I guess the swivel vent did help a little.

But guess what…back in 1973 the engineers of the Avion’s knew what they were doing.  To date, we have NEVER had any of those smells in our Avion! And remember, we just got done living in her for three and a half months full time, stationary.   We have the vintage, standard fixed cap on the vent pipe that comes up thru the roof.  Yes, we do have a more modern (but still plastic) toilet but the fact that the black water holding tank is directly below the toilet I think helps to prevent issues.  You literally can “see” when your tank is getting filled…ok, not a great site to behold- but a good check and balance anyway.

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A photo of our 1973 Avion LaGrande, 28 foot bathroom.  What you cannot see is the tub/shower and two very spacious storage closets in addition to the under counter storage.

 

BUT…what I truly think has really made the different is using this!  UNIQUE Brand RV Digester (remember…we do not get paid for any endorsements…this is just our feedback to help fellow RVers)

Our rig came with a bunch of the traditional and well recognized brands of other digesters, but i really wanted something different to avoid past issues.  In doing research and with checking LOTS of reviews on Amazon, this one consistently rose to the top…pardon the pun.

This stuff is so eco-friendly too!  (My daughter would hopefully even approve!)  Reviews note that Unique RV Digester is also proven to “unstop clogs, dried out and caked on gunk”.  Glad we did not have that issue…but truly, we see lots of posts on RV FB chat sites where especially vintage RVs have sat for so long unattended that their sewer systems have to be pretty yucky.  Supposedly, if you load your tank with the prescribed amount of this stuff….let it sit, then take your rig on the road for a little hula dancing down the road this stuff will unshake and degrade the sludge and make it possible to drain and start reusing your system effectively again.  There were many testimonials to this effect on Amazon and honestly, I was quite impressed reading them.

Many Avion owners (and other vintage trailer owners for that matter) have realized the fact that well…those “monitor panels” really do not work well or at all after decades.  The sensors they use on even more modern units to signal when your tanks are getting full leave much to be desired.  In fact, their lousy.

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Unique RV Digester, in some cases has even proven itself to clean the detectors and get those lights working again.  That did not happen to us…but no problem…like i said–we can give it an “eye spy” and see when our black water/sewer tank is gonna need an emptying.  Nothing like an eye witness right??

What I can tell you is that the Unique RV Digester solution has worked beautifully for us.  We have NO Smells, No clogs, and everything drains beautifully.  We did follow the initial start up instructions and for the rest of the season were on the “maintenance” dosage after each dump.  We also put a little in our grey water too, just to help breakdown any food particles and grease that may have slipped down when doing dishes.

An added funny….you know part of what we love about RV camping is meeting other folks, sitting around a communal campfire and sharing stories, jokes and fun times.  Well, wouldn’t  you know, when we were at the Silver Avion Fellowship Rally this summer in Elkhart Indiana the conversation turned to RV Black Tanks.  (Don’t ask how we got there!!) but lo and behold, a fellow Avioner mentioned this same UNIQUE RV Digester with the same gusto and recommendation we had.  He also has been a long timer and it was great for Kevin and I to hear others have had such success and recommend it too.

So armed with this first season going so well, we have stocked up on our Unique RV Digester and are ready for smell free travels!

Hope this blog post helps fellow Trailer and motorhome owners too.  If you want to order this stuff…here is an Amazon link.  They do track you down and the company will offer you coupons for future purchases.  Read about their company, they are pretty cool too!

One life….Live it!

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If you see us on the road…beep, wave and say HI!!

 

 

 

 

Anderson Levelers are Awesome!

After using the traditional leveling blocks on our Class A Motorhome for five years we were anxious to find something better for our Avion.

Kevin is a YouTube Research fanatic and thank goodness he is! He found the Anderson Levelers System which is THE best thing going.

They are a bit more expensive than the blocks but are sturdy, rugged and do a far better and quicker job. They store easily too!

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We purchased the deluxe kit which also included an extra leveler and extra chocks, etc.  The Rapid Jack leveler also has come in handy with some challenging elevations we have encountered. It is called their Rapid Jack and it works on duel axles to allow for tire changing.

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Here is a great video to show you how they work.

The only thing we did wish that the levelers were just another two inches wider because we would prefer our tires did not extend past the levelers at all. This issue does not affect their use though. They are awesome!  Also as some users have recommended, on certain terrain they could slip when you are trying to roll up onto them. We did find what happened to us at one campground was the campsite had a lot of fresh new small gravel and our leveler plowed forward rather than the tire being able bite and roll onto it. We believe fixing some of those stair tread asphalt type strips would solve this problem.

Our online friends at “Less Junk, More Journey” and Courtney and Steve from “AStreamin’ Life” both use them.

Get some! You will not be sorry!!

Winter Quarters 2017-2018

It’s November 1st and last weekend we Sadly had to put the Pewter Palace into winter storage.

Living in upstate New York,  at the entry region to the Adirondack Mountains,  we can easily get snow in November and we average about 9-10 total feet of snowfall annually. This fall was exceptionally warm and that allowed us to extend out camping season into third week of October with Temps so nice we only out the heat on a few mornings for a half hour. Then the rest of the days were in mid to high 70’s which was awesome. Several evenings we sat at our campfire with Pj’s,  bathrobe and slippers. Nice!!

Now that we have sold our house and downsized into a townhouse apartment we needed a place to store the trailer year round. Our apartment complex does not have any common parking or storage lot like some do.

We had toyed with renting a garage to keep the Palace in from the start. Knowing many Avion and vintage trailer promote inside storage for best preservation we knew that was the route to go if we could. Last year she was inside but our former storage place got locked up for winter and we had no access. We didn’t like that because sometimes we have small projects we could be working on over winters.

Needing space for some of our belongings that we knew could not fit into apartment (yes still more downsizing to go for sure) it seemed like a no Brainer to get a storage garage to handle all our needs.

We found a great place one exit south of us at exit 18 which caters to RV and boat owners. It’s brand new, clean and we have electric outlets. The garage is 43’long x14′ wide x super tall over 20′.  Big huge class A RVs have no problems getting in.

Kevin got the Pewter Palace backed in perfectly on first try. Tires up on rubber pads to breath and off concrete, water lines all blown out and RV antifreeze down the sinks, tub and toilet and we are all set. Till early spring!

We will be itching on get her out and will shoot for March or April at the latest to get in a nice long second camping season.

 

 

 

 

 

Top 10 things we have learned in Year #1 of Avion Life

It’s mid October 2017 and while we are celebrating owning our Avion for one year I have decided to reflect back on things learned over the past 12 months.

Mind you, our past twelve months might be considered a bit out of the norm for most recreational RV owners. We bought our Avion in October, slept on her one night (in our driveway) before tucking her into winter storage for four months. In spring we decided to sell our big 2650 Sq.  ft farmhouse and downsize to a 1400 Sq ft townhouse apartment in town. Our house sold in nine days with a contract happening two days after we got back from our first big RV trip of 1800 miles to Ontario, MI, Indiana, OH and back thru NY. We decided at that point we loved living on board so much we would continue to do that so we could keep the house clean and more efficiently sort, purge and pack necessary things to keep for moving. We held four big tag/barn sales selling tons of stuff. Enough in fact to pay for our move!

Now let’s get to our top 10 things we learned: (in no special order)

1.  The aerodynamic design of the Avions is second to none. Kevin has to look in the rear view to remind himself she is still there. Our 28 foot length is the perfect size for us.

2. We are thankful to have black and grey waste tanks. Older Avion models only had one. However, without full hook ups the grey water tank fills in about 4 days.  Smaller tank than our more modern Class A had.  We used the house toilet so cannot really measure that. We used plastic step stools in tub to keep our stored stuff out of grey water back flow. Yes, u will know its time to dump your grey water when u see dish water coming up in tub drain. No biggie, it is essentially just soapy water.

3. Command hooks are priceless to put inside closet doors. Lift up style Cabinet hinges loosen up with regular use so keep a screw driver handy to tighten every week or so.

4. Our 24 pocket fabric shoe organizer mounted just inside our door on wall of refrigerator has been one of the best tips yet! Thank you Courtney & Steve of A Streamin Life!! It makes a great handy place for dog leashes, flashlight, recycle bags, work gloves, outgoing mail and bug spray.

5. An old fashioned but new Farberware percultor makes the best coffee and does not need electricity nor takes up counter space. Ditto for my box toasters which I have done a separate post on.

6. As a safety precaution it is good practice to shut off the water intake valve in the outside compartment when leaving for work for the day. Not that anything has happened, but if something had gone awry then water would not have been flowing into our trailer all day. I had to put a reminder note on inside our screen door to remember each morning!

7. We need so much less than we think we do. We have done so well with two fry pans, two small sauce pans and a service for four of dishes, cups, and silverware. It’s all we need. Also, wash, dry and put away after every meal. Everything has a place and everything in its place keeps order in small places. Now that we live ten feet from our beds, we each make our bed everyday too!

8. People give you some odd looks when in a vintage trailer. Avion owners and vintage trailer rallies are a blast and super fun.

9. I am still learning how to line up the car to the hitch ball.  But the LevelMatePRO is awesome for leveling!

10.  We have Learned that living in 200 Sq. Ft is not as tough as we thought. It actually is very relaxing and evokes a sense of freedom from other encbrances that is hard to explain.

This is a good place to end our first year with our Pewter Palace Avion.

Good night all!

Adventures with a Vintage 1973 Avion Luxury Coach Camper