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)

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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.

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(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

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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 !!

Inspirational folks…..

My friends look at me a bit strangely and with a bit of that….well ok, we will see….. type of look….when I explain our rationale for wanting to divest ourselves of a full time big house, of paying high property & school taxes (yes, they are separate here in NYS), working full time and spending our precious off work time and money just to maintain and keep up the property.  There is never enough time and it greatly takes away from our time of doing what we love to do which is camping and travel.  Don’t get me wrong, some folks get sheer pleasure and enjoyment out of gardening, cooking in a full tricked out kitchen, fixing this and that and doing home improvements. I am happy for them, if they are happy.   Been there, done that—about 25 years ago–and yes, it was fun and rewarding, but not any longer.

It might help readers to understand that from about 1983 to 1999 my first husband and I were totally into “fix and flipping” houses–long before the HGTV phenomenon hit.  I moved, with small children way too many times and well, that took the wind out of my sails. I also owned and operated a B & B for  time in a huge 5000 sq foot 210 yr old farmhouse.  I had to get it out of my system too, and after four years of up at 4 AM to bake muffins and to bed at 11 PM after the final laundry was done (and working part time and full time during those years)…I was done.

At this point in my life (late 50’s) I am totally done with all that.   Once my father, who had been living with us, passed away about 18 months ago, we took stock and realized that Kevin and I are literally using three rooms (about 600 sq ft) in a 2500 square foot house. And best part is..we are good with that small living space.  Very comfortable, not crowded. It is crazy to pay for and maintain a space you no longer need just to house your “stuff” that you have amassed over the years.    We both have good jobs, but work lots of hours and have minimal times during the year when our work allows us to both take time together.  Our children and grandchildren are out of state (VT and AZ) which means planned trips away. We covet our time for travel, visiting family, and being together exploring historic places and the open road.   We also enjoy researching full timing RV life from others who are doing it currently.  YouTube has a plethora of great bloggers giving good, real life tips and tribulations. Its the life we want to lead…..

These are REAL folks doing amazing things that Kevin and I love to learn about, study and digest for how it will work for us.  There is no doubt in our minds…this is where we will be in less than 10 years.

Here is one of the several Vlogs we subscribe to and watch religiously.  This is Steve and Courtney and they live currently in Tucson AZ and in their mid-30s have decided to forgo the traditional homeownership life for an “Airstream Life”.  I was quite honored when Courtney answered some questions for me and liked our FB page and this website.

Several years ago, we owned an entry level Class A motorhome for about five years.  We traveled in it quite a bit and loved it, but it was aging and becoming a money pit so we sold it.  We did not realize until it was not in the driveway ready at our beck and call for a getaway just how much we missed that lifestyle.  So, about two years ago we started looking again.  After going to the Hershey PA, huge RV show we realized how we loved the Airstream look and how much more bang for your buck you can get with a trailer versus a Class A.  We love the Tiffin Class A’s but lets be honest, when i retire, I do not want a big monthly payment over my head, so we ruled those out.  Along the way of discussing and researching trailers, we literally stumbled upon the Avion brand of aluminum, curved style camp trailers. They are no longer being made and the best years of production were 1972-1977.  Airstream actually sued the company for design infringement, but lost.   We loved the quality build, the stylish aerodynamic look and function, and well…we started doing all sorts of research, combing Craigs lists nationally and getting on to some blogs and chat lists about them. We found our ’73 in VT.   But I digress….this entry was really supposed to focus on why we want to full time in our RV.   Whether it will be in this 1973, 28 foot Avion, our Pewter Palace, or not, the fact remains we simply are really engaged in pursuing the living simple, small and somewhat mobile when we retire (or before!).  Trust me, if we lived in a climate that allowed full time trailer living we would be living in her right now and commuting to work for sure.

Every time we (well, actually Kevin) has to haul out the snowblower for the 15th time, or climb onto the porch roofs to hook in the storm windows (yes, circa 1950 and they work like a charm as long as you don’t mind heights getting them into place) or mow the lawn after a long day at work we realize there are many other things we would rather be doing. The upkeep of a large house and yard is just overwhelming at times and we do not make enough money to hire out someone to do this like some of our friends do.  Its all us…or nothing.   So we even are starting to look around the house, make piles here and there of what we want to keep and what is going to be going to auction in the spring.  I have enough to tempt some auctioneer to want to take our stuff.  Figure that is more expeditious and less tedious than trying to do all of this by tag sale.  I do not want to spend my summer weekends doing that for sure.  I want to be on my Avion, enjoying life.  We have even started looking at townhouse apartments in our area for the purpose of downsizing our living space and saving money and upkeep time in the process. We figure if we start the process now, then bit by bit things will become so easy to live tiny, simply and enjoy life rather than amass possessions.  Kevin cannot WAIT till he can sell the lawnmowers, snow blowers, lawn tools, etc. etc.  that alone has him salivating for the day!

I am going to be posting some more links to full time bloggers, etc. in this “Full Time Life” section as time goes by…thanks for reading! Hope we provided some inspiration too!

First Snow…October 2016.

As we were preparing for putting our trailer in storage we experiences the first snow of winter in Early October!

Sure wish we lived in a climate that would allow for full time use of our Pewter Palace.  I so would like to simplify living and start spending more time living a more minimal and simple life and less time trying to maintain our very large house which is daunting at times.  We love watching the many full timer blogs we subscribe to that have couples living the RV life. Some work full time, other part time and still others have managed to make ends meet enough to keep happily on the road. I envy them.

Snow pictures….here is a video kevin took during the first snow…with our beautiful Pewter Palace….

First snow 2016

2016 Winter Hibernation

Sadly our first tow of the Pewter Palace had to be to bring her to our winter hibernation garage.

At least she will be high and dry and that is good. Kev said she towed like a dream. Suburban had no problems with weight or anything. You can see from the video she really tracks the car well, no sway or swagger. 

We winterized her, opened all cabinets as others on blogs have suggested just to let mice know there is no safe haven. Put mouse blocks and large box trap down just in case too. But the big garage is well fitted out and we never had any probs with our motorhome stored there in past years either.

I did take all cushions off because I am going to recover in a red theme over the winter. We decided to take mattresses off too just so they are safe here at home in case a rodent does get in.

Snug as a bug in a rug…

So here is her maiden Sherman voyage!!

https://youtu.be/jomB1oF1YdI 

Adventures with a Vintage 1973 Avion Luxury Coach Camper