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.

Tow Vehicle….update

It has been a very long winter here in the Southern Adirondacks.  A lot of snow, cold and dreary days.

Last weekend, while riding back in our tow vehicle, our 2005 Chevy Suburban, 1500 Z71 4 x 4 our transmission went on RT 28A south of Vergennes VT–about an hour north of our house.  Thank goodness for AAA RV Plus and we were towed back to our local transmission shop for repairs without a dime out of our pocket.

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We love this vehicle and did not hesitate to put the new trany into her…but to a tune of $2800 ouch.  We did beef up a few of the components which did add a couple $100 to the ticket–but worth it when towing our 1973 Avion trailer.

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We are so thankful that we were not towing when the transmission went, or that we were not half way down the east coast or mid-west.  It is worth it to put the money into her since she is expected to last us a good  many years and will need to be in prime shape for towing our Pewter Palace this summer and many more.

Kevin and I enjoy watching many of the great Vlogs on YouTube with full timers who have Airstreams (Like “A Streamin’ Life“, “Long Long Honeymoon” and “Less Junk, More Journey” and are learning a lot from them in preparation for the day/year we take our final step to full time RV living.

One thing we noticed is that all or most of them have adopted pet names for their tow vehicles.

I have been trying to come up with a pet name for our Suburban and yesterday when I was hopping in to go to work it hit me when I wasn’t even trying—whammo!

Darth Vader!!  “Darth” for short.

Notice the resemblance?? (pardon the mud on “Darth” I was off-roading a bit today)

darth22017-04-01 17.13.55

So home from ABC Transmissions in South Glens Falls, who by the way were awesome and really stand behind their work.  Its a quality deal, with quality people and we would recommend anyone to go there.  Heck, the owner owns a 2004 LT Suburban…a kissing cousin to ours so he can’t be all that bad right!?? (BTW–he did love our vehicle and loved all of our bells and whistles that comes with the Z71 package…and he said wow, that is a sharp looking vehicle)  We agree…

So parting shot, here is Kevin with Darth and the Pewter Palace!!

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Happy Trails!  many more miles to go…..

Avion Travelcader Swag!

Back in the day when the Cayo family originally owned and operated the Avion Corp. there was a trailer owner’s club that served as a social network that planned rallies, provided peer support and camaraderie.  They also shared some SWAG that separated them out as “Travelcaders” which was the term used to denote an Avion owner.

1972_AVION_23-travelcade club info, brochure page

(Credit:  Above photo from SilverAvions.com which is a fabulous resource for Avion lovers)

We were fortunate enough in March 2017 to find this original “Travelcader” knitted argyle cap which was one of the hallmark “swag” pieces that Avion owners wore at rallies held in the heyday of the Travelcade Club.  Here Kevin is modeling his hat and cannot wait to wear it at the rally we are going to this summer! [scroll down to see two collectible rally photo’s with everyone wearing them!]

Sadly, this company-supported club and its rallies and programs vanished after subequent owners of the corporation and in April 2005 the “all-Avion” club was merged into the Fleetwood Travel Club and the club was spun off to fend for themselves with no continued financial support from the Fleetwood company which then was building the Avion models. Fleetwood discontinued building the Avion Travel Trailers in 1990.

Many Avion owners lamented this decision of the corporation because as they note that once multiple brands were introduced into the club, the fellowship and uniqueness of Avioners was diminished.  Eventually most, if not all Avion owners did not renew their memberships. (check out the guy second in from the left…sporting his Travelcader beanie just like Kevin’s!) Below photo also thanks to www.SilverAvion.com

1972_AVION_15- around the campfire, rally1

We are happy to report that a new group was formed the Silver Avion Fellowship Club and that group is still going strong and hosts an annual big rally each year.  Here is link to rally info.    Additionally, with the advent of the internet and particularly with Facebook, many (maybe even too many-I subscribe to all of them and have a tough time keeping up and keeping them straight!) Avion-oriented facebook pages have arisen and thrived. These include pages just for discussing repairs, Avion trailers and parts for sale, restoration focused pages and Avion Owner pages.   Some pages have over 1500 friends, mostly Avion owners and facebook and a few dedicated yahoo groups continue to provide the camaraderie, peer support and rekindle that “travelcader” mentality of we are stronger together than apart.  Visit our Vintage Resources page for links to forum sites.

Here are some more images of the Travelcader swag that existed in the 60-80’s and some that  is still available today!

We purchased these off Ebay in Nov 2016.  These are about 8 inch in diameter, vinyl pressure sensitive stickers that will be put on to replace our very worn out originals. The medallions were put above the running lights both in the front and rear of each rig.  This ensures that fellow Avion owners knew you belonged to the club and could even give  you a wave on the road.  Our stickers are new reproductions of originals with some slight modification.  ( I believe the originals had a line drawing of an Avion trailer in the middle, so perhaps the new designer of these wanted to avoid any trademark issues)

The Classic Avion Travelcader rally photo below!  Notice each of them wearing the trademark knitted argyle cap like Kevin has now!travelcaders around the fire with hats

bw, cookout at rally

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!

Handy Heater

Took advantage of the seasonal display at Lowes on space heaters, etc.  Will work well to warm the entire trailer when we are hooked up to shore power and we can save our LP.

We bought this great little electric heater in a beautiful wood cabinet on three sides. It will fit perfect next to our dinette bench on the street side and make a perfect end table too.   1500 watts and draws 12.5 amps. Has thermostat remote, blower settings  etc. Sweet!! $99.00 a good buy.

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Winter Wait Game

Probably the hardest thing about this winter is waiting to get back to projects needing to be done on the Pewter Palace.

I have found the fabric to make the dinette cushion slipcovers but also have decided to spend the money to have them professionally made.  This will give me time to  make the curtains and throw pillow covers.  Truth is I hate working with sewing in zippers and do not want to mess that up.

Meanwhile Kevin is scouring YouTube to find countless videos on reviews of duel fuel generators,  and bloggers on full timing.  Oh how I wish we could be one of them right now!

The Champion Duel Fuel 3400 or 3500 generator  seem to be leading the pack.

We did take advantage of our winter season  recently and purchased  an awesome Duraflame  electric heater. Model 9HM1000-C240.  It’s 1500 watts,  has remote control with thermostat  setting and timer if you want.  It is extremely quiet and kicks out a lot of heat.  We figured it will be perfect supplemental  heat  or if we are on shore power we will be able to save our LP.  The heater comes in a very nice wood stained enclosure which will match our kitchen cabinets and it will fit perfect in the open space between the dinette seat and sink cabinet. Will do a separate  post on this soon.

Back to my hot cocoa!!

 

 

2016- An Avion Christmas

Let it be known that Christmas 2016 was truly an Avion Christmas.  Thanks to Amazon, Ebay and of course http://www.VintageCamperTrailers.com among other places I was able to find some awesome things for Kevin  (and me).

The Personalized Tee: 20161225_113532  I made this custom T-shirt for Kevin.  This will be great to wear at rallies!it was easy to create on VistaPrint.com.  More about the license plate below.

Another great source for gifts for Vintage Camper lovers of all types and “flavors” is VintageCamperTrailers.com.          I have found some great things there in gift ware but they also have one of the better selections of things you need for repairs (both interior and exterior) hardware, exterior finishes, windows, electrical, etc. etc.    The folks there are super nice too and unknown to me Kevin had actually gotten me a fabulous $100 gift certificate to the site so i am really looking forward to shopping for me over the coming months.

For Christmas, Santa brought Kevin and I a selection of all the back issues of the Vintage Camper Trailers magazine, which is available on their site too.  These, along with great logo T-shirts was what i ordered.  No doubt, the magazines are going to provide tons of winter reading as we hunker down in our Southern Adirondack NY winter…

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These magazine are of a very good quality with full color pages and terrific photography of exterior and interiors of a great variety of vintage trailers.  My only wish is that someday someone does a bang up great story on an Avion.    The magazine is a great resource for calendar listings of upcoming rallies and vintage camp outings and shows.

A Christmas could not be complete without a few ornaments….trailers of course!  Kevin laughs that perhaps the toughest thing for me when we eventually downsize to the point we are moving onto our RV full-time is going to be what to do with all my Christmas decorations.  Well, I can tell you I WILL find a place for my vintage trailer ornaments for sure!

Even our NY Department of Transportation got into the vintage camper game this Christmas….delivered was our custom license plate we had ordered for the Pewter Palace.  We figured if we got this, that a lot of the initial questions folks might have about our rig will be clearly answered just by reading the license plate as we are tooling along US highways, byways and back roads enjoying ourselves.  So check it out !

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Rounding out our fun holiday gift giving was this wooden sign that I found locally.  It is a perfect saying for a camper trailer, and we had been looking for something to put in the little empty space just above the bathroom door in the Pewter Palace.  I am hoping it fits,I did forget to measure that space before we put her into hibernation, but my eye says it will be a perfect fit.  Time will tell!20161225_131301_001

Last but certainly not least, Kevin found these tin “A’s” which are awesome and will look great as non-breakable decor in the trailer.  I especially love the battery operated one with little lights.  Both were at Hobby Lobby.  Also I found on Ebay a fellow who has reproduced the Avion Travelcade large stickers that our rig has on it but they are very old and in not so great shape.  Actually, the one on the front is not in too bad a condition but the one on the rear of the rig basically disintegrate when we gave the rig a bath this fall.  So these are excellent quality and will really look bright, neat and great on her.  The Avion Travelcade was the membership organization that originally was associated with Avion Owners.  The “travelcaders” as the members were called planned rallies and gatherings all over the USA and had signature hats, vests and programs for members. It was a great network and the numbers on the front and back of our rig indicate the membership number of the trailer’s former owners then they belonged.  Sadly, the association fell apart after the Fleetwood Company bought the Avion company from the Cayo family back in the 80’s and they started allowing any Fleetwood RV owners as members too…I suspect it just homogenized the rally experience so much that the comaraderie fizzled out.  Hmmmm do I hear opportunty knocking??  VBG

So that is a bit about our wonderful Vintage Camper Christmas this year!  Looking forward to an amazing new year !!

Adventures with a Vintage 1973 Avion Luxury Coach Camper