Tag Archives: airstream

Replacing Avion Rubber Window Trims

With the exception of TIRES….the project that seems to get the most play on any of the Avion Forums, Facebook pages and Instant messaging is “what and how do I fix my windows that look like this??

We have had countless requests to create this comprehensive project blog post so here it goes.  Included is step by step “how-to’s”, where to buy materials, videos, tips and tricks!

By no means are we professionals at this-we just love our Avion and want to make her whole.  We make mistakes, we try to help others to not make those same mistakes if we can avoid it…but there are some folks on the Avion facebook pages and forums that have done 2, 3, 4. 6 makeovers of Avion windows who should and could be tapped for their expertise too!

(BELOW IS WHAT OUR 1987 32S LOOKED LIKE WHEN WE BOUGHT IT IN MARCH 2020)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This is what our windows looked like AFTER we finished (or nearly finished) our project

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

First...assemble the tools  we suggest  you have handy:

2020-05-31 11.23.55-1

  1. Heat gun (a hand held hair blow drier will work in a pinch)
  2. Power screwdriver
  3. Heavy duty scissors, or kitchen shears
  4. Needle nose pliers
  5. Set of picks (blue handles)  (can be found at big box hardware stores)

also, not pictured but needed…..

  1. Tape measure (we have found best to have a cloth measuring tape AND a regular metal measuring tape
  2. Phillips screwdriver (in case, like with ours, the screw cover had been screwed down to hold in place after shrinkage from age had started to pull away corners)
  3. Can of Pam cooking spray, to help lubricate the tracks before inserting new trim
  4. A hard plastic Bone tool (we have a link on our Resources/Links Page)
  5. Rages, shop cloths or disposable wipes & cleaner (we use GoJo Brand Workshop/Garage Hand wipes.  They have a ruff side but it does not hurt aluminum skin or window tracks, but really removes grease, grime and goo from window tracks.

NOTE: For the purpose of this blog post I am going to refer to the window glass bead as “trim” and the trim that goes around the outside of later model Avions like ours (87) as the “screw cover”.  The Glass Bead is what term to look for on the sites linked below that sell the right stuff.  The glass bead is the rubber trim that pushes into place that sits and hugs the glass of your window.  Don’t ask me why they call is a bead…it is far from that in my book…it is trim.  but using the right terms, Glass Bead and Screw Cover will keep you out of trouble, especially when trying to locate the stuff online or speaking with someone at these companies.

IMPORTANT TIPS- SOME OF THESE WE LEARNED THE HARD WAY!

(Don’t skip this part please!)

  • Do this project when weather is warm so old trim and new is as pliable as possible.
  • Take your cloth measuring tape, and measure each window around the metal trims- both the bead trim and the screw cover if applicable.  Using a cloth measuring tape makes it easier to loosely measure window curved corners.  Get that total for each project and ADD 10-15 feet for safe measure.

Pro Tip (ha ha) make a schematic of your trailer NOW and write down each glass bead trim track and  if you have them, screw cover track length for each window.  This will help in installation steps to follow.  ADD 2-3 INCHES TO EACH OVERALL LENGTH!

  • Always order at least 10-15 extra feet over what you think you need.  You are going to screw up your measurements or the 45 degree corner angles , etc. on occasion.
  • Do NOT take any old trim off until you are ready to tackle that particular window.  This we found was especially critical with the curved front and back windows.  We did not know this, removed all trim and over a few weeks of very hot 90 degree summer weather, the curved/bent glass pieces shifted down.  We had to manual slide them back into place and shim them to be able to get new trim into the tracks again.
  • We do not recommend microwaving (some do!) or laying out your new trim in the sun unless the temps outside are cold and you need to warm up the rubber to get it pliable.  The concern with heating new trim up too much is you do NOT want to stretch the trim as you are putting it in because once it cools it will shrink back to its normal length causing you problems in corners and seam areas.
  • We do recommend using the 3M trim adhesive we will  show in our steps.  We used this in all radius corners (rounded corners) as well as wherever seams butted up against each other (both under the trim as well as over top the seams).  This product is linked in our Amazon product list on our Resource/Links page.  We used just over (1) 5 oz tube for our ’32 foot trailer.  We did end up buying that second tube for like the last window, but this stuff will come in handy down the road for sure!

2020-06-28 15.23.48

  • This project requires strong finger strength.  There is no way around it.  Kevin was the only one with the finger strength to get especially the glass bead (the trim that sits against the windows) to seat in properly.  I had no problem putting in the screw cover which is in the outside track.  Be ready for finger cramping at night!
  • Use continuous lengths of trim for each window.  Do not piece together unless you absolutely have to.  The more seams you introduce the more likely you will have failures and leaks. Some of the curved windows will required a straight side piece and then one continuous piece for the rest-for example the curved front and, if you have them the rear side windows.  On our 32S we also had the small little windows underneath our picture window in salon.
  • 2018-09-02 15.31.52
    This is our 1973.  Note the trim piece on right is a straight piece with 45 degree angle cut corners . The rest is one continuous piece around the two curved outside corners.
  • When you receive your ordered new trim, dry fit a small piece in each window track to be sure  you have ordered the right stuff.  We found out the hard way (too!) that our front and rear large windows with curved side glass pieces had a very slightly different trim profile than ALL of the other windows.
  • We highly recommend using the fill-able syringe we have on our Resource Page to put the 3M Black Adhesive into so you can create a small exact bead of goo to put into track corners and at butted seams.  I snip off the first 1/8″ to use with Parbond and with this 3M material otherwise the tip as  it is made is so tiny, its really tough to push this thick material through.
2020-06-07 14.24.20
Here I am using the fill able syringe with Parbond to fill any open unused screw holes left when we removed the original screw cover rubber trim that lays outside the window.  This screw cover is not on earlier models (e.g.our 73 did not have)  but was on our 1987

STEP # 1:  ORDERING THE RIGHT TRIM FOR YOUR TRAILER WINDOWS

Decide what trim, for your model year Avion (or other vintage trailer for that matter) you are going to need.  Here is what we ordered and from whom for our 1987 Avion 32S window project.  (Caution!  this may or may not be what you need depending on year!)  You can use the resources we have listed below to take a bit of your old trim you have cut off to measure and try to match up with the product #s online.  For best search…you may want to actually SEND the company a sample and let their in house folks match you up with the right stuff you need.

Interstate and Pelland are the two we have dealt with the most.  They have very good customer service, thank goodness because their websites are really pretty bad!

(at the very end of this post we will show you specific links to the product #s and sources that we used on our ’73 28 Foot LaGrande Model and our  ’87 32S model)

STEP 2:  REMOVE OLD TRIM OFF A WINDOW AND PREP IT FOR NEW TRIM

Like with many or all projects, good surface preparation is key to a good finished product that will last.  

  • We found removing the Rock Guard really makes working on the front window much easier, but the rock guard can be left on if needed.  To remove your rock guard, check for any set screws in the upper track used to prevent guard from sliding out inadvertently.  To remove guard really is best done with 2 people on step stools.  Lift guard open up to an angle where the person (normally on the left) can begin to slide the guard out to the left along that upper track.  Keep sliding, the person on the right may have to help it over the bend of the guard on the end a little by flexing it out if possible or giving it a nudge, its going to be tight getting it past that point.  Continue to slide guard off which ever end of the track it feels most wanting to slide to.  We have found the person who helped on the right, needs to run around with their step stool to join the person on the left to guide it off due to overall length.  You do NOT want to bend this guard out of shape nor have it snap or crack.  They are nearly impossible to find original replacements for !

(1)  Remove old trim from the window you plan to work on today.  You may need a screw driver or needle nose pliers to pry it out and away from window track.  Do not bend metal track!  We highly suggest KEEP all the old Trim…at least for now!  See photo capture to learn why!

2020-05-31 13.55.18
Keep your old trim for now!  bundle it in froggy tape, mark which window it came from!  Case in point, we could not find the front/rear trim in time for our rally so we  “Frankenstein-ed” back the old trim putting it back in  and used 3M to hold it in again.  AND the black top trim piece we needed is back ordered…so we had to reuse that for now too!  Lessons learned!

(2)  Use cloths, scrubbies and a cleaner to get out all gunk, goo, bugs, etc from metal track.  Again, we use GoJo Brand Shop Wipes which are pre-moistened with a cleaner designed to remove grease, grime but are made for hands-so no harsh chemicals.

(3)  Remove any unnecessary screws (in the case of the screw cover, remove any exterior screws that were put in to hold old trim stuff on.  You will NOT be putting screws into the new trim.

(4)  Fill any unneeded “screw holes” made from old screws with Parbond or similar.  If there is obvious gaps in where the metal tracking butts up against each end, you can fill that slightly too.  The premise is we want to close up any unnecessary holes that can allow water into the trailer walls.

(5)  CHECK YOUR WEEP HOLES!  This is a great time to check your weeping holes on most windows.  They will typically appear as 2 small holes or square slots at bottom of the window on the tracks.  These allow any water that does get in to “weep” out of the holes rather than “seep” into your Avion wall!  I take a small pick or a screwdriver or large pipe cleaner and stick it in each weep hole to clean out grime, bugs and debris.  This cleaning of weep holes can become part of annual (spring and fall) or monthly maintenance routine depending on where  you are camping!

(6) Now is the time to do any black paint touch ups on the metal track that may have been chipped off or clean up any rust and repaint.  We used basic Semi-gloss Black Rustoleum brush on paint and a small brush.

STEP 3:  READY TO APPLY THE WINDOW GLASS BEAD (Sore Finger alert!)

(1)  Take your cloth measuring tape again if you had not written down how many inches the tracks are for each window.  Get your complete measurement of the bead track.  Add at least 2-3 inches to that measurement.  Yes, there may be some waste but if you cut to short trust me you will have FAR more waste in the end.

(2)  Start at either one of the bottom corners OR the center, depending on how the original one was done.  For all corners you will be doing a 45 degree “picture frame” fit.  I cut it by eye but if you are a stickler for precision, I guess you can find some angle tool to help you measure it.  (I do the angle cutting, Kevin would need the angle tool!)  You can try to push the rubber glass bead in without using Pam spray first.  If it goes in, it will require a bit of pushing with strong fingers and putting it in on a slight angle into the track first then laying it flat to the window.  You may need to use the Bone Tool or a pick to get it in to some places.  Here is a video we shot doing our 1973 Avion which really shows the technique that works best to get the trim in and snug to the window glass itself.

(3)  The whole KEY to doing this right is to push back on the material as you push it in.  This is to ensure the material will sustain its integrity and length for as long as possible once exposed to heat, sun, wind and weather changes.  You do NOT want to stretch it, you want it to be in there really tight and seated into the corners, bends and butted seams.  At the seams, we apply a little 3M underneath the two ends and really back off that finishing end so that the butting is very very tight.  In the corners, the same thing.  Cutting each end on that 45, cut it a little long and use the pick tool to force those pointed ends down inside the metal track corners too.

(4)  Use the 3M Adhesive (or we used clear Parbond on the ’73) to seal those seamed joints well.

(5)  Step back and take a look.  If you see some areas bulging a little, go back over them with your fingers, or the Bone Tool to get them to lay flat.  The bead should lay very tightly on the window glass if installed properly.  (Annually check those butted seams and corners and fill with e.g. that black 3M as needed.

STEP # 4:  INSTALLING THE SCREW COVER TRIM- EASY PEASY!!

Now for the far easier part!  The screw cover really goes in quite easily.  This is where we did use Pam spray to lube the track on some windows, while others seemed not to need it at all.

Again, the use of the screw covers on the Hehr windows was not in play until we believe the 1980’s.  We also cannot vouge for fact that all screw cover product #’s are the same, so again, look at a piece of your original, measure the profile end and look at the vendors to get the right stuff.  Be sure it is rubber…NOT vinyl!  Although our Ebay Source (below) advertises the product we ordered as “vinyl” it is clearly a rubber product.  Both are sold as screw cover, but vinyl is really sold more for boating and will not be able to bend around your radius curves.  Screw cover trim is far easier to find as  it is in regular use today on boats, cargo trailers, etc.

(1)  Using your window measurement of that outside track with that added “fudge length” adding 2-3 inches.  Cut your rubber screw cover.

(2) if you have not already prepped, cleaned, touch up painted your screw cover metal track do that now.  Fill in any holes from removed exterior screws with Parbond or similar.  Sand off rust, carefully repaint with black Rustoleum paint

(3) We found all screw covers on our 87 started at center bottom with a straight butted two ends together seam.

2020-06-27 12.14.10

(4)  To start, we put a small bit of 3M adhesive on the side we started with, then “clicked/pushed” the screw cover into place going around radius corners.  We put a bead (using the syringe) around EACH CORNER RADIUS bend too!  These corners are where you will see pop out first from age/sun shrinkage.  Having an adhesive in there should help prolong life.

2020-05-31 11.27.59-1
Above photo closeup of the OLD Screw cover.  A previous owner-we suspect the one in FL had put screws in through the rubber in an attempt to hold the rubber in place on each seamed corner and radius curve.  By doing this you are essentially creating holes for water to get in and to penetrate behind the screw cover “seal” and leak into your window track and ultimately possibly into your walls.   When you feel the need to put screws in like this….DON’T— just simply buy new screw cover and install!

(5) Kevin found the Bone Tool very helpful by flattening out the screw cover rubber and really forcing those little hooked ends into the metal track to grip well.  (see video below)

 

ANOTHER TIP TO SHARE:  When applying the glass bead AND the screw cover it really helps to have a second person who can keep the remaining trim above or at least level with the shoulder of the person applying the trim into the windows.  This prevents the drag of gravity trying to pull down on the excess material and helps the install.  If you don’t have a second person, then at least lay the excess over your shoulders to lessen the gravity drag downward and fighting against you trying to install “upwards” which you have to do to do this project right!

(5) Again, just like with the glass bead, you want to NOT stretch this screw cover.  During the install keep pushing it back slightly upon itself, especially around the radius corners so you are getting as much trim in as the track can hold.

(6) Butting the ends together, cut long and trim slightly as needed but to ensure a really tightly butted seam.  We lay some 3M adhesive on the final few inches of the trim before we do the final cut and butting of the raw edges.  Make sure those edges are straight for the neatest look.

(7) Apply a thin bead of 3M black adhesive over top of this seam as well.

This new glass bead if installed correctly should last in normal conditions at least 8-15 years or more.  Of course, if you are in hot weather states in the summer and your trailer is outdoors, the longevity may be less.  We know that the glass bead on ours was at least 20 years or more old and may have even been original.  Our trailer was bought new in FL, lived in FL till 2012 then sold and moved to PA.  Was stored outdoors.

Here is a PDF that I created and have posted on the Avion Trailer Owners Club Facebook page for its members.  I”m happy to share it here with you too! UPDATED 6-29-20-AVION Flexible Screw Cover Rubber Molding, Tips, Source to Buy for ’80s models

OUR SHOPPING LIST:

WHAT SPECIFIC PRODUCTS WE ORDERED FOR OUR 1973 AND OUR 1987 AVIONS AND WHO WE ORDERED FROM!  This may or may not be what you need!  Do your research, purchase sample kits or ask them to send you a sample or buy a foot of what you think you need FIRST!

Special note-JULY 2020:  We have yet to find the correct new replacement glass bead for our curved front and rear windows.  We are sending a sample to a Pelland and Interstate to get them to ID and select correct one. When we get it, we will update this post with that info!  All other materials that have worked for us are listed below with links to products and their distributors.

SOURCE DETAILS:    PELLAND ENTERPRISES:

Pelland also sells a great sample kit on their website…worth getting before you place your order!    https://www.pellandent.com/RV-Window-Seal

WINDOW GLASS BEAD:    Pellandent.com    H009-344-19

009-3441-pelland, glass bead for 73 and 87

  • 1973-  Used for all windows
  • 1987- Used for all curb and streetside windows AND for the straight inner trim on front and rear curved windows on each side of our jalousie center windows.

Model #  H009-344-19    for Hehr 5900 windows   

——————————————————————————————————————————-

TOP SEAL TRIM (flat piece that you cut to fit.  May need 3M on edges for extra hold)

h009-482-1-Pelland Enterprises, Top Seal

1987- used on all windows needing it, which are the straight windows, jalousie type.

  • PellandEnt.com   Model # H009-482
  • above may look a little too curved at the bottom of the arrow but when it arrives it really is more the flat that you will need.
  • https://www.pellandent.com/7900-Top-Seal-Hehr
  • July 2020 Price was $4.48 per foot

——————————————————————————————————————

SCREW COVER TRIM:

SOURCE DETAILS:  EBAY  SELLER – She is excellent to deal with.  Responds directly to questions, ships super fast.  Very good transactions.  Her “store” is full of various trims, etc. for RVs and Boats.

 

Search for:  BLACK RV Trailer Thick Vinyl 3/4″ Insert Trim Mold Flexible Screw Cover 100 Ft.

3 QUARTER INCH THICK , FLEXIBLE

  • July 2020 Selling for 100 feet @ $72.95 with FREE shipping!
  • She does sell it in various precut length hanks.  Buy what you need, and then some!

NOTE:  Be sure to order the correct ” Thick Vinyl 3/4 inch”.  She has a lot of various similar trims in her Ebay Store.  We did not order the thick stuff the first time and it was way to thin and would not have held up in the track for long and would have fallen out on the road.

So that’s it.  This is hopefully a very helpful post to all who need repairs or total replacements of their window trims.  The project is worth taking on.  Window and seams areas are the leading source of water damage to vintage trailers.

We hope we have helped you on your journey!  We love feedback so please leave a comment!

Safe travels!  Hope to meet you on the road or at a rally someday!

Publication1

Baby’s Got New Shoes! (Tires & Rims)

Today in  90 degrees and 64% humidity…..we (well, ok Kevin did all the work, I did my typical go-fer job and took photos) installed 4 new tires and a spare onto our 1987 Avion 32S.

The tires that came on our 87 Avion were a mixed batch with DOT codes ranging from  2015 to 2018 (the spare).  3 were Load Star brand and 2 were Power King Tow Max STR.  We were not real comfortable with the miss match and ages.  So The Pewter Palace needed new shoes!

After  much research Kevin made the decision to go with new 16 Inch aluminum rims and 16 inch radial tires.  This effectively raised the trailer a 1/2 inch overall.  Not a lot, but since these Avion’s are notoriously low to the ground, anything helps.

There is a huge debate and preferences of radials to bias ply tires.  To each his own.  Our feeling is we are going to be doing a lot of long distance multi day travels on highways especially as full timers.  Radials can handle that 6-8 hour day of driving in high heat conditions better than bias.  But this is our opinion from research and we believe everyone had their preferences and their reasons and we do not plan to get into a debate over it.  If it works for you….then that is great.

2020-07-05 13.06.23

Here is what we bought to complete this project:

TIRES:

LT225/75R16 Michelin Agilis CrossClimate  M3JH02CX2220                                             (July 2020 price in NY@ our local tire store, Warren Tire, Queensbury NY, $240.95 per)

https://www.michelintruck.com/tires-and-retreads/selector/info/agilis-crossclimate

RIMS:

16X6 6-Lug on 5.5″ Aluminum T02 Trailer Wheel – T02-66655T                                     (July 2020 price, online-$121.99 per rim)

https://recstuff.com/trailer-wheels/aluminum-trailer-wheels/16×6-6-bolt-on-5-5-aluminum-t02-trailer-wheel/

CENTER CAPS FOR RIMS:

4.25″ Stainless Steel EZ Lube Center Cap CCS002 (July 2020, $10.99 each online)

https://recstuff.com/trailer-tires-wheels/wheel-accessories/4-25-stainless-steel-ez-lube-center-cap-ccs002/

METAL VALVE STEMS: (we strongly urge metal valve stems, why?  rubber breaks down over time due to exposure to sun, etc.  Also if you have tire pressure monitoring devices on the stems, they add weight and over time the rubber will flex enough that they will crack and you lose air out of the valve stem….been there…done that!)

High pressure, Bolt in Metal Valve Stems (0-131 PSI)  ($3.99 each)

https://recstuff.com/trailer-tires-wheels/wheel-accessories/valve-stems/high-pressure-bolt-in-metal-valve-stem-0-130-psi/

HERE ARE SOME PHOTOS TO SHOW COMPARISONS FROM THE 15″ TO 16″

2020-07-05 12.23.59
New Michelin 16″ on left…….original Load Star 15″ on right.                                                               Both are mounted on Aluminum rims.  We chose the new rims to match what is on our tow vehicle, our 2011 GMC Denali 2500HD, 4WD, Crew Cab, Gas Engine. Sorry due to close quarters in our RV garage I could not take the photo head on, so actually the 16 inch looks a little smaller…its not!

 

Even with the addition of the 16″ size there is still plenty of “head room” above the tire.  Original 15 inch is on right.  NOTE:  This FACE WIDTH  of the tires are the same width!

2020-07-05 12.24.442020-07-05 12.24.35

We did have these tires professionally mounted and balanced at our local, very reliable Warren Tire shop here in Queensbury NY.  We always recommend having your tires balanced professionally!!

STILL TO COME….(due to shipping delays have to go on later when we do bearings and brake checks)

We have ordered Centramatic Balancers: 

GENERAL INFO ABOUT THIS PRODUCT:  https://www.centramatic.com/balancers.rhtml

OUR ORDER:   AJP-10″ Light Duty 6 on 5.5″   (July 2020, pricing  4 pc set, $199.00 online only)

https://www.centramatic.com/wheel-balancer.rhtml?modelNumber=200-223

Wheel Bearing Check and Brake Checks will be done before our trip to the Silver Avion Fellowship Rally hopefully (leaving in 8 days), if not this will be done upon our return.  We had been told by previous owner bearing and brakes are good….appear so, but we always like to create our own “new benchmark” on our trailers for our own piece of mind.

Happy and safe travels….hope this post has helped you!  We LOVE COMMENTS!

Be safe, hope to meet  you on the road or at a campground or rally someday!

Kevin and Luisa Sherman

Publication1

 

Which Camping Club is a Good Fit?

2018-07-03 17.37.10There are a lot of camping club membership programs to chose from.  Each RVer has to do research and soul searching to find what fits their current and future needs best.  We spent years researching and deciding before pulling the plug to join the clubs we have so far to save $$ on camping fees and support.  

I am not going to go into every club membership here in detail.  A simple search of YouTube and the web will provide our followers with plenty of opinions by full time and part time RVer’s, and those who weekend (or vacation) camp only.

What I will focus on in this blog post are the decisions we made, that we felt worked best for us at this point in time.  Each of you will have different needs, preferences, geographies to consider for traveling–so only you can make a decision that is best for you.

What we have in our “travel club kit” currently is the following:

gs_black_member_card

Good Sam Club (regular membership, not the roadside assistance membership)

Why? for the discounts at Camping World and at participating campgrounds

aaa-logo

AAA with  RV Plus  ( you MUST have the RV Plus to get adequate RV/towing covered)

Why?  for roadside assistance, RV towing, and discounts at campgrounds, attractions, dining, hotels, general travel discounts at retailers.

Header-KOA-Logo

KOA Membership Small annual fee, you build points with stays but in truth you would have to do a lot of KOA nights to really make the points amount to much.  Meanwhile we do get discount on every booking at a KOA we do with this membership.  KOA’s are fairly consistent and we happen to have a few of them at points on our regular vacation travel routes- so why not stay a little cheaper?  You can purchase these memberships directly at the campground or when making a reservation online they will ask you.

CYReward_card

Jellystone RV Park membership: (basically same set up and reasons as KOA has)

def-slider-logo-v3

Passport America:  We made the decision to purchase the LIFETIME membership.  This membership gives you discount at participating campgrounds all over the country.  There typically are # of night restrictions and many parks do not offer the discounts peak season, weekends or holiday weekends- understandable.  Discounts vary from park to park.  The reason we bought our lifetime membership pass now is that while we are both still working and have good cash flow, and can purchase at 2017 rate…why not?  Now its paid for, and one less monthly bill coming in once we are retired and our incomes are more stretched.

logo-green

Thousand Trails:  This is the big kahuna!

You can purchase an annual pass…currently on their website that is $599 per year for one “zone” e.g. Northeast.

We also chose to purchase the VIP lifetime, nationwide membership package. BUT we did not buy “new” and we did not by the annual zone type pass.  We went through a resale broker who came very highly regarded by several full time RVers we have been following for years including RV Love who has an excellent video on this and other camping membership clubs.

header

By going through a re-seller, we used Campground Membership Outlet,located in Florida the process was pretty simple for us, but it did take a few months for TT to get their act together for the final processing and to send us our membership documents, etc.  Campground Membership Outlet has been in business over 20 yrs and we felt far more comfortable going through them than purchasing from a private seller on Ebay or Craigslist.  Yes, these plans are for sale on those sites too but buyer beware as there is a lot of fine print you need to be aware of and to be sure you are getting a legit membership.  The staff at CMO, Kim & Chad were excellent to work with and sent us explanations of what currently plans they had in their inventory at the time we were looking.  This inventory is going to change since it all depends on what current members are turning their packages in for resale.  Our package originated from someone who bought in the 1990’s.  We were able to purchase a membership package for $1,000’s less but actually with better perks and less restrictions on # of overnights, less restrictions on nights out of network before you can book again and a much better 120 day advance booking window. We felt it had advantages over the annual zone pass.  Thousand Trails is a national network (though there is definitely limited participating campgrounds in the middle sections of the country.  See the map graphic below and check out their link for more info.

There a lot of research and comparing that needs to be done when you are looking into Thousand Trails.  We have heard their TT direct sales people are pretty high pressure…(another reason we liked going through the resale broker).  And yes, depending on the resold club membership package you purchase- you can also resell your membership down the road if desired and recoup some of your initial investment.

With a Thousand Trails membership you do incur the initial investment, and you do pay an annual maintenance fee.  Ours is right around $550-600 per year.  This too is locked in with only up to a 3% raise after 5 yrs.  Again, even before we go full-timing, right now if we do 8-10 nights of camping  at a TT campground we have more than paid for our annual maintenance fee.

Why did we purchase the LIFETIME membership package now in a lump sum? 

  • We saved money compared to contemporary plans which are only going to go up in cost each year.
  • We have the disposable income now  while we are both working full time
  • With inflation who knows what these packages will be once we do retire
  • The longer we wait, the less of those more lucrative older plans that are available because they are being snatched up by many full time RVers.
  • We live debt free now and want to continue that once we full time. Honestly, we have heard some folks who have purchased new plans paying upwards of $10-15K for their memberships.  YIKES!  P.S.Thousand Trails corporation does do financing but again, we did not want to have those monthly bills after we retire.
  • We use our membership now to save overnight camping costs, but more importantly we crunched the numbers and once we go full time we will literally pay for our entire package  (ours was $3500) by the very first year we are full timing after less than 100 days of overnights in participating TT campgrounds.
  1. Thousand trails participating campground fees for us now range from free to $5.00-$8.00 per night versus rack retail of $35-65 per night for the same park!
  2. With our package we can book up to 120 days in advance, stay up to 3 weeks at the same campground, get a newspaper and 2 free coffees per day
  3. Our children can use our membership to rent a campsite or a cabin rental with hefty discounts for up to 2 weeks each year.
  4. We can also gift this membership package as a legacy inheritance to our children when we no longer can be on the road- and then they have it for their lifetime.

map-all-resorts

There are add on packages (some are shown on map above as blue and gold) that also include the Trails Collection (gives you access to Encore RV Resorts).  We have chosen  not purchase this collection yet, but will as soon as we launch full time. Encore RV properties do tend to be nicer, with more amenities and are in some prime resort areas. There is one here in the Lake George Region (Lake George Escape Campground)- but even with our current plan we can stay there for a significant discount which is ok for us right now without having invested in the $200 per year additional cost for the Trails Collection.

Full disclosure…from what we have heard and experienced ourselves, not all TT participating campgrounds are equal.  In the basic TT plan, many are older parks, some certainly not what we would consider a “resort” level by any means…but when you are staying in a full hook up site for free (our program they are free for us!) to under $10 per night..we are certainly willing to deal with some cobwebs in the bathrooms, some peeling paint on playgrounds (or no playground) and perhaps worn down gravel driveways.  The way we look at it, once we full time we will plan to spend 2-3 weeks in a TT campground cheaply (do our laundry, take long showers, pump out our tanks, refill our water, perhaps dip in a pool or hot tub) then roll on out to either boondock a bit…or use the money we saved by staying in a TT campground to book a week at a luxury RV resort stay at a future date.  Works for us!

In closing, again, this is our plan and may not be right for you.  Only you can decide by doing the research needed.

This year, in 2020 we will also become life time members of ESCAPEES. 

escapees

This is a national club with a lot of member support, great online forums and meet-ups, conventions with workshops, etc.   It is not just for full timers, though many full time RVers belong to it and love it.  Reason for this is they host rallies and RV caravan trips, club members get excellent discounts on certain RV equipment needs and they too have their own RV parks where we can stay for really cheap for a great stop off point along our wanderlust trail.

Once we know our full time launch date we will most likely add Coach-net RV Roadside Assistance membership since it is deemed the most comprehensive and best for national travelers.  We plan to continue our AAA RV plus however, just to be sure we are covered in all geographies and to continue to get their travel discounts  no matter how we are traveling.

We also are members of Tin Can Tourists and Harvest Host too….but those and others are for another blog post in the future!

Happy travels from Kevin & Luisa Sherman in the Pewter Palace!

bitmoji-20200101073824wp-15389208541527304097254956314973.png

 

 

 

Prevent Moldy Mattresses! Moisture protection for mattresses- project

WHO WANTS MOLDY MATTRESSES?

There are many reports about moisture issues from underneath RV mattresses.  This is a real issue and one not only that can cause rotting wood structure of your bed platform but also cause unhealthy mold to form there as well as literally on the outside and inside of your mattress itself.  Not good!

This issue becomes more prevalent with those who full time in their rigs or especially for those who are in high humidity areas or who winter in their rigs where internal heat temps versus external surfaces (e.g. in ours the wheel wells under our bunks which essentially are “the outside”.  This converging of a heated surface (body heat, furnace heat) and a cold surface will cause sweating and condensation.

After researching and doing a lot of checking of reviews and posts from full time RVers we found the following product.  We ordered it last spring and did our install before beginning our 2019 camping season.

https://www.mattressinsider.com/mattress-condensation-prevention.html

59374459_798732200501978_9172026463040307200_n
This is the roll, as received and standing atop my curbside Avion bunk.  Note I am not sure all bunks come with the cut out handles like this.  Could have been something done by one of our rig’s previous owner, but a great idea even though you also have the below bunk cabinets!

It is sold by the foot and is I believe 4 ft wide. So for our Avion bunks @ 34″ we did have to cut to fit both width and length.  The stuff is very sturdy but also simple enough for me to cut with sturdy kitchen shears.

GATHER ITEMS NEEDED:

  1. Sturdy Kitchen Shears
  2. Metal tape measure or yard stick
  3. An extra pair of hands
  4. Double faced Heavy Duty  minimum 2 inch wide Velcro strips or large squares (more about this later!)
  5. Duct or Gorilla Tape (if you have a double or queen bed and will need to piece together)

STEPS:

Measure width and length of your bed/bunk.  If you have an Avion floor plan like ours and two bunks, simply double the length of one bunk for what total length you will need to place for your order.

Place order, will be shipped directly to you. Is not super heavy. Watch for when company may have sales on free shipping!

We took our measurements of bunk base, first cut new mat the correct length, then marked and measured the correct width and cut. Note- we have a slight molding lip on our bunk base that is intended to create a bit of a lip to prevent mattress sliding off.  So we cut our mesh mat to also fall just inside that small lip.

For the actual install, we followed the manufacture’s recommendations and we placed the “mesh pocket” side down on our plywood bunk base, then placed the mattress on top of the breathable fabric side of the mesh.

** after using for a few trips this way we did find that the mesh side was very likely to cause our whole mattress to slide a lot and often found our mattresses half into the hallway after being on the road.  A fix we plan to do this year is to take a few large strips of the 2 inch wide sticky back Velcro strips and place them a few places on the mesh side to stick down onto the wood bunk base.  The small molding on the bunk base that DID keep the mattress itself in place was not enough to hold the mesh layer in place.  The mesh layer is a woven plastic and a bit slippery.  We anticipate that the Velcro strips will do the trick and highly suggest this modification.

After securing down with the Velcro strips, replace mattresses down on top of fabric side of new mesh mat.

Sleep well!

If you have found other materials or fixes to prevent moisture from ruining your wood bed base or mattress let us know!

Kevin & Luisa Sherman

K-L and Avion-bitmoji-withCopyright2bHr

Adding Extra Counter Space-Project under $30

Like many RV of ANY age (ours is 46 years old this year-2019!) there never seems to be enough kitchen counter space.  Especially now with the advent of Instapots, Keurig coffee machines, etc. there are times where we just need MORE!

2018-09-08 12.43.11

Here is a 1/2 day project we did to nearly double the size of our counter space in our 1973 Avion, 28 foot LaGrande model.

Supplies:

  • 1 wood topped snack/TV table tray.  Here is the $10 one we used purchased at our Walmart. (we already had a set of these in our sticks n bricks home, so no cost to our project!)
  • Aprox. 3/4″ thick x 2″wide wood strip (for support inside drawer cabinet).  Length should be based on interior cabinet (under countertop) to floor of cabinet.
  • Folding and locking wall mount table hinges.  Here is a selection on Amazon
  • Power drill
  • Pencil and tape measure
  • Carpenters Level
  • Screws (will vary based on thickness of your exterior wall base cabinet)
  • sheet of paper (for making a template)
  • flashlight (to have helper light up inside base cabinet for marking drill holes)
  • extra pair of hands-always helps and is needed!
  • NOTE:  If you prefer to purchase a kit from Camco for a 12″ counter extension here is that product along with an install video which may help you even if you do the do-it-yourself one like we did below.  Camco RV Counter Extension Kit

Step 1:

We took the folding legs and wood hardware bracket off of the snack table.

Step 2:

We made a paper template of the positions for the hinges by placing on tray back, taking measurements of the distance in between the 2 brackets we felt would provide optimal support.

This template will later help us know where on the side of the kitchen base cabinet we need to drill our pilot holes.  You can choose to position your lift up counter extension at same height as your existing kitchen counter or just below.  We recommend to install it just below the bottom edge of our formica countertop.  By doing it that way, our extension, when folded down is flush with the cabinet. See position below.

2018-09-08 12.43.11

Step 3:

Using the hinge template, we made marks on the exterior side of our kitchen base cabinet where we wanted the hinges placed.  Careful to take into account that your hinges are going to be below the finished edge of your extension snack table board.

We measured from just under the formica counter edge down to the position of the top holes for the hinges to ensure this jived with our template.

We used the template to figure out where on the INSIDE of our base cabinet (drawers had been pulled out) that our vertical wood slat needed to be positions to provide additional support to the cabinet once hinges and extension table was in place.

Here is a photo of the wood support slats in place waiting to receive the screwed in hinges from the outside.  Note, we used small screws that did not protrude through the base cabinet but were sufficient to hold the slats in place independently before we proceeded with project from outside of the base cabinet.

2018-09-08 12.22.38

Step 4:

We then double checked and with a pencil marked the holes using our template were we would be screwing in the hinges onto the exterior side of the base cabinet, and screwed in the hinges.  Be sure to ensure they are level.  Install 1, then use this to hold your level in place while you position the second one the same distance apart as your wood slats are on the inside that are being used as support to receive the long screws that go from the hinge exterior, through your base cabinet wall and sink into the wood support slate on inside of cabinet.

 

Step 5:

Next we used the template again to drill pilot holes into the underside of table tray top.  Ours was oak and very hard so pilot holes are a must.  It should be noted that wood top snack trays come in many colors, honey oak, walnut, etc. and you may wish to select a tray top that compliments your base cabinets.  We used a snack tray we already had on hand to save money-hence the “butcher block” look rather than matching our base cabinet stain.

2018-09-08 12.34.28

Step 6:

Perhaps the hardest part of the whole project was laying the tray table down on fully deployed and locked in place hinges and from the bottom, screwing the table top to the hinges.  This really does require a helper to ensure the top stays in place and is level.

All Done!

 

Safe travels….one life…Live it riveted!

K-L and Avion-bitmoji-withCopyright2bHr

Kevin & Luisa Sherman–ThePewterPalace.com

Please subscribe and follow our blog!

Moose Hillock Camping Resort, NY-Review & Suggestions for Improvements

SNAPSHOT REVIEW:   1= poor……5 stars = Outstanding

  • Location (ease of access, things to do in the area) = 4 (Lake George is 10 miles away)
  • Camp Site Quality (ease of getting into site, surface, hookups quality, privacy) = 4
  • Campground Amenities (onsite pool, laundry, common areas, snack bar, etc) = 4
  • Kid-Friendly = 4
  • Adult-Friendly Amenities/Adult getaway  = 2
  • Pet Friendly (amenities like dedicated dog park, trails, activities) = 2
  • Cell Signal = 1  (2 bars on 4G, Verizon), (Wifi only around pool area)
  • Site # we had this trip  #704
  • Cleanliness:  excellent.  Sites are cleaned after check out, public buildings are very clean, modern and in good working order
  • Cost  $96 per night, 4 night minimum in Summer season (all sites are FHU)

We are fortunate to live in an area of upstate NY and at the base of the Adirondack Mountains where there are a plethora of campgrounds and RV resorts.  Some are older, a tad run down but usable, others are newer or have kept up with upgrades and attract huge numbers of RVers with tons of amenities and great sites.  To name some of the better, largers ones; Moose Hillock-NY, Lake George Escape, Lake George RV Park, King Phillips Campground, Riverbend Campground.  The first two being large resorts with tons to offer, others being more modest but very decent traditional campgrounds but with great access to all that the Lake George region has to offer.

For our annual “grandson getaway” weekend this summer we chose to do a stay at Moose Hillock Camping Resort on RT 149 in Fort Ann, NY. (they say Lake George on their marketing  materials only for marketing purposes, it is not located in Lake George)

20190821_0714384526201291438729145.jpg

There were several reasons for selecting this campground, one of which was our kids have to drive right by it to get to our house when they are coming from their home in VT- so this made the trip easier for them to drop off and pick up the kiddies.  Secondly, we knew from pictures and reports from friends who had stayed here that their pool is amazing, heated and large and the kids would love it.  Lastly, that the sites are super huge (room for kids to play) and very private from each other.  We hate feeling stacked up like jets on a runway which has unfortunately become more the norm in many RV campgrounds these days.

I am just going to cover a few key things for us about this campground in this review.  Certainly we encourage our readers to check out our review on Campendium, or others in Trip Advisor and other online review sites.

SITES:  Moose Hillock opened about 8 years ago and sits on 182 acres.  It has 749 sites and each one is thoughtfully carved out of the woods with a ton of privacy woods, bushes and topography between each site.  90% of the sites were definitely laid out with big 5th wheel trailers in mind.   We loved all the room around our rig as it made a great space for the kids to play and for us to even park our extra car (was handy to have to shuttle up to pool and to Lake George, or drop off garbage-more on that later).

20190817_085720

A drawback for us regarding the site was that all the roads in the park and the sites themselves are all hard pack gravel.  This surface prevented me from pushing in my lawn flags and also was not a soft, nice ground for kids to play on.  Even walking on our patio mat bare foot was a bit uncomfortable.  On the positive side, the drainage is very good, so no muddy sites like we have experienced elsewhere so i guess comfort versus mud is a worthwhile trade off.

There were no issues with the electrical hook up (50-30-20), but we always use our Progressive Industries monitor regardless to ensure no issues.  Cable worked well.  Cell signal was nearly non existent and only Wifi is available up at pool area.  Sewer hookup was set up for 5th wheelers and was closer to front of site and higher than normal for us.  This caused us to have to pull further forward in the back in site than we normally would have because we have our discharge valve towards rear of our rig versus 5ers who typically have their mid way on their curbside.

20190817_085716
A barely visible neighbor to our north

Site privacy was excellent and certainly the best we have ever had at a privately owned for profit campground.  We could barely see our neighbors curbside a little from our site, but it was not an issue.  The site pad is huge and hard pack gravel with good drainage. We were on site #704 and would use again but it would be nice if we did not have the skunk smell every day and night–so maybe he will move?!  Not sure if skunks were a problem in other sites and we do not leave any food out, nothing in campfire area either but wow…the smell at night even caused me to have to close my bedroom window one night- the skunk had to be right underneath me!

AMENITIES:  Their pirate-themed pool area certainly is the claim to fame for this campground.  I would argue, compared to other campground “resorts” we have stayed at ….this is their ONLY real claim to fame.  The pool is lightly salted water, no eye stinging and hey, salt water is far better for you than chlorine!  It is heated just enough for us to take that initial chill off when dipping in, but not so hot that you feel like you are in a bathtub-which we do not like either and is in our opinion a breeding ground for germs especially when loaded with kids.  So we were all good with pool temp and salt water.  The large 2 story rock backdrop with skull head was a “wow” for our grandsons but they were intimidated by the water slides and would not go down either one.  Kevin and I did go down the big one…gotta say, had been many many moons since I one, but I wanted to show the kids that I could do it!  It was fun!  The pool has a whole side that is a gradual walk in so perfect for any age toddler to grown up.  One side has a nice ledge for adult sitters too which we liked.  There are some faux rocks around the edges shooting streams of water which we and the kids liked.  A night, the whole “mountain” and skull are lit up as well as nice colored lights in the pool.  See best photos of this on their website.

20190817_153026

The max depth of the pool is 4 feet so our 6 year old grandson could touch bottom almost 3/4 of the way in.  There are lots of kids in the pool, this is after all a family resort to be sure.  There are no “adult only” hours or areas sectioned off.  This might be a great idea for them to do as the pool certainly is large enough.  Most of the kids were actually very respectful of the adults but I was surprised at the allowance of floats, tubes and ball play which the latter sometimes got a bit out of hand.  The weather during our stay was not super sunny or hot, so the pool was not to capacity but i can imagine when it is, that ball play could be downright dangerous and maybe they curtail it.  There are NO lifeguards on duty but there are staffers atop the two slides to ensure no foul play or too young venture down where they should not.

Their playground area in our opinion was very lacking considering this is clearly marketed as a family, kid friendly resort.  The playground consisted of one piece of traditional swings and then five or so pressure treated climb on items like a ship, train, tractor with hay trailer.  These were nothing unique or that captivating for our 4 & 6 year olds to be sure.  They spent all of maybe 10-15 minutes in the playground and were bored.  Thankfully there was one bench that we adults could at least sit down on to watch.

They do have a large 400 seat pavilion which is near the pool area and set on a large swath of nice grass.  Due to intermittent showers the whole weekend we did not partake in any of the planned activities but we will assume they were still held underneath the pavilion.  This is not closed in, but since the park has a pretty short season Mid May to Mid October, as long as you bring a jacket in shoulder seasons you should be warm enough.  Their planned activities seem to definitely focus around weekends.  The activities include live bands, musicians, magic shows, science projects and of course the proverbial bingo!  This area is also the only part of the park that has nice paved trails and we saw several kids really taking advantage of it and going round and round this small rotary just to get some bike riding in.  A further testament that the resort gravel and dirt roads are not bike friendly.

20190818_105834

Laundry Facilities:  There are two very clean and modern facilities, again near the main hub of the pool, pavilion and golf cart rental area.  The cost was $3.00 for a wash and again for a dry.  There were no signs for how long the dryer ran for that amount, but this rate is quite a bit higher than other parks we have visited.  The facility I photographed was very clean, nice new machines which had an app feature that you could download, use and directly pay via a stored credit card-thereby avoiding the need to spit dollars into a change machine or carry around tons of quarters to meet the $6 it was going to cost you for one load.  We did see one person using the dryer, i suspect more to just dry soggy beach towels.  This park definitely attracts more regional visitors who are staying a week or so and in fact, many 5ers have their own W/D so i suspect this laundry really does not get a lot of use.  There are NOT a lot of seasonal sites here that are used every day but rather they are weekend get away’s for folks living in the Albany/Capital District area which is only 1.5 hours to the south.

Main Lodge:  The main lodge is located right at the main entrance to the campground.  Registration lines are ample to pull off to go inside to check in.  The staff was very friendly and helpful and reviewed all necessary information.

Also inside this building to the right is an arcade which features top line thrill rides like motocross, Jurassic Park, several shoot em up military modern games (my son in law would have loved) and of course several of those grab the toy game machines.  They also have 2 skee bowl lanes which I love but the signs on them clearly say that they are NOT for prize tickets, so you are just playing for scores, not prizes.  This deflated Lucas, our 6 year old and he moved on.  At least the bells, sounds and lights of other machines were more reward for his $1.  Kevin amused the boys for nearly 2 hours and $20 later on Saturday when I had errands to run into town.

Their snack bar sits off the back side of the building and overlooking the pool which you can see in the photo above.  Pricing was pretty typical for a captive audience (we are talking pirate theme here afterall!) and so for the four of us for lunch, burger, chix fingers, and two grilled cheese sandwiches, one fry and 1 soda was around $33.  Sawyer and I had the grilled cheese @$4 which was decent I thought and the cheapest thing on the menu.  It was fun for the kids to eat at the pool area and under the Hawaiian style palm laden umbrella tables for one time.

20190818_105844.jpg

They have a pretty decent camp store full of all the expected essentials and basic RV supplies.  Their gift line focuses around a pirate theme as well as their own logo items which include their signature moose.  Speaking of moose….they do have a mascot but we did not see him/her anywhere the four days we were there.

My suggestion would be they take a cue from Jellystone Parks and do a tractor pulled hayride type of thing through the park at least one x per day on weekends and have the mascot on board for the kids.

2018-07-04 17.02.14
Hay ride with Yogi the Bear at Paradise Pines, Jellystone Campground, North Hudson NY (2018)

(if they do something like this I did not see it on our schedule)More of my suggestions for this park to follow below….

SUGGESTIONS FOR IMPROVEMENT: (these are ranked in order of importance in my opinion of importance and ease of adoption)

#1  Provide trash pick up at campsites on a daily basis.  This is fairly routine at most campgrounds we go to these days both large and small operations.  Garbage pickup prevents hoarding of trash outside (we do not do) which begets skunks and other varmints (could be reason for our invasion each night).  Surely at $96 per night and seemingly more than enough staff and workampers this could be done.

#2  Post an adult only swim time in the evenings even if only for one hour, or better yet, cordon off a section of the pool that is for adult swimming only at all times.  Easy peasy to do.

#3  Pave at least the main roads in and out of each loop in campground.  Thankfully it was pretty rainy during our stay, but the roads here must be so dusty when dry.  The rigs along the main loop roads must get filthy (outside and in) and their towels out to dry must as well!  yuck!

#4 Provide some sort of “quiet inside wifi and libary area” either in main lodge or separate building.  There is no table game room, no where to visit if bad weather with a bunch of friends.  Have this also have adult only times so adults that may need to do work while traveling can get good signal and peace and quiet.  There were no area we say with a book lending, dvd lending, etc. either.  Most campground all have something.

#5  Do a tractor pull wagon ride through the camp 1 x per day at least and feature the Moose mascot on board.    The moose could also do cameo showings at the arcade now and then too.

#6 with 182 acres, perhaps they could create a nice paved bike trail system through the grounds for means to safely get to the activity areas or to just enjoy the woods without fear of being hit by a car or falling on sharp, hard gravel.

Some readers may think I am being overly critical of this campground by venturing suggestions for improvements.  Those who know me, know my background in regional tourism.  I am a former Executive Director/CEO of the Lake George Regional Chamber of Commerce & CVB and have been deeply involved in operating both my own local tourist guide service as well as involved in other tourism attractions and have consulted local and regional businesses in tourism marketing, etc.  Add onto that an RV camping background grown over 20 years off and on and staying in many parks in the northeast especially…So my suggestions come with a background of knowledge of what today’s marketplace consumer is looking for and how a business could position themselves from being good, very good…to spectacular!

Hope you enjoyed this candid review.  We did enjoy ourselves at this park? Yes.  Will we stay here again?  maybe, but I would bring the grandsons to other “resort” campgrounds in our area first for their expert opinions to be the judge of which is the best!  The kids did say they would love to visit the NH Moose Hillock to see the pirate ship pool….it does look cool!! 

As always, we welcome your feedback.  If you like our blog, please follow us, check out our other blog posts on how to’s, reviews, must see’s and other tips to RV travel.

Safe Journeys!

Luisa and Kevin Sherman

K-L and Avion-bitmoji-withCopyright2bHr

 

 

 

Rock Guard Rescue- PT 3

For those following our Rock Guard 3R’s (rescue, restore, reinstall) we are on the final step.  Installation of our beautiful, newly rehab’d rock guard we salvaged off of a 1983-84 crunched Avion we found by sheer luck not more than 1.5 hours from our house and in a campground bone yard in a tiny town in VT.

Here is the before….and after…..then…..”THE REST OF THE STORY” ( yes, dating myself)

Below (left) is soon to be salvaged rock guard off a ’83-84 found in VT, (right) is completely rehabbed and now rehung back onto our 1973 Avion.  Note the “bling factor” and read on to see how and what we did!

Obviously the first steps of this rehab was literally just elbow grease to take off years of grime.  You can see all the steps we did including photos and videos in our Phase 1 & 2 blog posts.  We chose a high gloss finished on the interior and exterior of the guard which was professionally painted and finished by a local auto body detailer, Mac the Knife on Quaker Road in Queensbury NY.  He loved the diversion this project gave him over the long Adirondack winter!

The final phase 3 of this big project has been to reinstall the guard.  But there were some issues.    The hanging track of our original (the part installed to nose of trailer) was smaller than the “new” rock guard.  In fact it was 7 inches longer.

We determined that this longer length was actually preferable as it would take more of the pressure off those areas that historically start to show stress cracks on countless Avion’s we have seen (yes believe this was a 45 yr old design flaw on part of original manufacturers).

This meant, we had to first remove our original hanging track.  A little scary since we had never worked with rivets, etc.  But as usual Kevin had watched 100’s of hours on “how to rivet” on YouTube, purchased a few books and then all necessary equipment from Vintage Trailer Supply.  He felt confident in what he had to do.

First step:  Drill out old rivets holding hanging track on our rig.  Old track drilled out and removed.  Clean up of area really well is very important. We use a “bone tool” we buy at the auto parts store to remove old grime, butyl tape, any sticky stuff.  This one works perfect, it has a flat scraper end and a rounded end.  It is actually a hard nylon plastic which will not scratch your aluminum but give you the ability to get stuff off…even smushed bugs too!   Kev is “all about the prep!”

Installed 3/4 inch Butyl tape strip on back edge of new track before installation.

Install replacement (longer) hanging track onto trailer front.  Use stainless steel rivets for install, use Parbond to cover over each rivet head to prevent any possible water penetration.  Parbond along seam that runs along top of guard hanger where attaches to trailer.  This is a critical step.  When riveting or screwing anything into the skin of your trailer, you create a possible way for water to eek in behind and roll down into the holes made by the rivets or screws.  Using Parbond, (we use silver/aluminum colored and and our handy dandy dental hygiene syringe applicator (Amazon, 8 for $10) to a make perfect thin line edges.

We tried reusing as many of the original holes we could from where the original guard track was hung.  Unused holes were pre-filled with Parbond completely sealing them.  Kevin snipped off the tines of the rivets and used the rivet shaver to smooth them down.  Photo above with my gorgeous purple gloves shows rivets before trimming all of them.  Note the small magnetic level to ensure you are keeping the track placement level.  You can see some of the Butyl tape has softened and eeked slightly below the track.  No worries, as this will be unseen and underneath the top of the guard.  Better to have a great seal.

We let the track sit for two days to allow Parbond to dry out pretty well.  Then time to hang the rock guard.  NOTE:  All arm hardware had been removed before hanging so it was not in the way.  WE ONLY REMOVED THE ACTUAL ARMS, NOT THE RECEIVING HARDWARE since that had been re- riveted on and reinforced during the rehab by our auto body person!

We also found that the hardware locations on the NEW guard were not exact to our original.  So we did have to re position the “plunger” receiver on the bottom of the window on one side (only) about 1/4 ” out so that the receiver slot, see right photo below would meet the plunger pin.  Plunger pin hardware (bottom photo) is the one on streetside, note parbond behind, on top and in screw holes before reinstalling with stainless screws.  To re position the curbside one, Kevin drilled the holes into slot shaped and pushed the bracket to align as needed.  Once parbonded and screwed in place it is secure.

2018-09-27 16.47.22

How to Hang:  Carefully we hung the new rock guard

NOTE:  done as a two person job only please!!!  lift guard parallel to the ground and both people using step ladders, you slide the track on top of guard into receiver hanging track that is installed on trailer, slide guard across length of hanging track.

Hanging Problem!  Once hanging the guard- we noticed that our new guard was not seated very securely in its track.

This was the track salvaged with the guard so we knew it was right (and longer which was good) but for some reason it was way too easy to pop out when lifted up.  To combat this we studied the lifting process closely, watching the relationships between the track on rig and track on guard.  We realized there was too much “play” in the track on rig and that we needed to put something back there so that the bent “J” portion of the track on guard could not rotate back and the guard come unhinged should we hit some pot hole, etc. on the road.

We found some “U” shaped aluminum in the exact length needed at Lowes.  Cheap enough, under $15.  You can see it in photo below just in front of the wood strips we used as shims to force it close to the hanger on the guard.  We then used stainless screws and screwed this track (parbonded over each) 5 places on this track thereby securing it into the hanger track affixed to the trailer.  This process allows the rotation of the guard perfectly but it cannot slip upwards and pop out unexpectedly.

Below you can also see some of the added steel reinforcement strip that we had our auto body fellow fabricate to provide additional rigidity and support to the top of the plastic rock guard itself.  As mentioned previously, these guards are notorious for cracking where the arm hinges are due to years of stress on that particular part when traveling down the road.  These reinforcements are on the outside and inside so the plastic guard is sandwiched between.  They are applied with rivets and were painted at same time as guard so all match, inside and out.

2019-04-27 12.00.11

Here is the results, we are very pleased and safe in the knowledge that the guard is not going anywhere with our filler aluminum track safety addition.  You can see the reinforcement steel strip clearly on the video below too.  Obviously we removed the wood shims after this part of the project was tested and done.

 

Some still shots of the aluminum U track we added.  The last image shows the track before we installed this added piece.  You can clearly see all the “play” space that was there and needed filling up to prevent the guard’s track from jumping out by accident.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Next came the re-installation of the support arms.  Here Kevin is showing a prelim of how we plan to add additional support arms when set up in camp.  First we needed to order additional arms, and do some changes to hardware.

2019-04-22 19.30.19

We had decided to copy a fellow long time Avioner we met at the Silver Avion Fellowship Rally in IN in 2017 and ordered two additional awning lift arms from Vintage Trailer Supply.  These would be used in conjunction with our originals to create add on support arms when we are camped.  More on that in a minute.

The new sets (sold separately) from Vintage Trailer Supply were a little shorter than our originals but would work.  Kevin drilled out the receiver hardware off the new ones opting to use our original hinge hardware to mount in its original location and holes on our window frames.  He used stainless screws, lock washers and nuts to install the arms to the hardware rather than riveting like was originally done.  Using screws allows for adjustments, replacing or repairs on the fly far easier than riveting.  Below is original mounting bracket that goes on window frame but with the NEW guard arm from VTS installed with stainless screw and lock washer, nut.

 

20190430_192609

We applied Parbond again behind the hardware before installing back on to the window uprights.  Using the original mounting hardware we could reuse the original holes which is always preferred over making more holes in your Avion.

Once we did this, we reattached to the bracket on inside bottom of guard.  These arm brackets stay attached permanently and are adjusted using wing nuts and washers on stainless screws (1 inch #10) so that the guard can be raised or lowered to just about any height.

The “new” old arms, now with just holes on both ends will be used for additional support for the guard when we are set up in a campsite.  These are screwed on with washers and nuts each time they are applied.  We strongly feel that this additional support (downward) provide superior support for the guard and take away some of the stress on the permanently mounted cantilever ones that hold up and out the guard.  We will simply store them in a little pouch and inside our exterior battery box so they are handy.

Finishing up the new support arm system and we are all done with this major rehab project.  Notice we have repainted the underside of our rock guard in a lite off white, high gloss.  What this does is it serves to reflect back out the light coming from our lamp (when guard is closed) and also to create a far brighter feeling when guard is open.  Previously, the back of the guard was the medium dark grey of the plastic composite material of the guard.  This darker color absorbed the light rather than reflecting it.  This small change to white has made a huge effect and one we highly encourage. Even just spray painting the underside white with over the counter high gloss paint yourself will help if you do not want to spend the money on the whole auto body finish like we did.

 

There is nothing more heartwarming and welcoming to us than the Avion Glow!!

2019-05-04 19.53.21

“We travel not to escape life….but for life not to escape us”

Safe journeys!

wp-15509711827561645158159757528833.png

 

Winter Storage Tips-Protecting your “Innards”!

We are among tens of thousands of RV owners who due to many circumstances (work being ours) we cannot just pick up stakes and move to follow the “70’s”  (temperatures that is!).  That day WILL COME….but just not now!

So we, like many will do the annual ritual of putting our RV “to bed” in winter storage.

I thought I would share with our followers some tips and pointers that we have employed and picked up along the way from other veteran RVers.

New to our routine this year is the employment of low voltage LED tube rope lights on the floor underneath the perimeter of our 1973 Avion 28′ travel trailer.

In following one of our all time favorite fulltimers, AStreaminLife.com, Steve and Courtney have promoted the use of under trailer lighting to ward off mice and other varmints when camping in the great outdoors.  Using their suggestion, we have purchased solar powered spot lights (check out AStreaminLife’s Amazon shop for the ones we purchased based on their excellent reviews)  to use when boondocking and then the above pictured LED Rope lights when we have electric hook ups available.

Well, so we got to thinking that if this has worked for them in the wild….why would it not also serve as a good deterrent indoors?  Since our RV storage garage (we rent near our house) has electricity (and we pay a little more for that each month) why not use this low voltage LED rope lighting we purchased to use while camping….during the winter too!  I akin the look to a bit of a “STAR WARS” effect!

We have consistently put rat/mouse bait traps in and around this garage for the past two seasons where we have stored our Pewter Palace.  This has been more of a preventative action but we have seen where the little green bait blocks have shown some “tooth wear” from nibbling varmints so yes, they are there.  BUT we have, knock on wood, not had ONE bit of any hint of varmint intrusion into our RV itself.

A few things you will need from the store before you dive into winter storage prep:

  • BOUNCE Brand scented dryer sheets (get the big box!)
  • Clorox (or similar with color-safe bleach) brand pop up wipes
  • Scented draw string tall kitchen garbage bags
  • LED Rope lights, white light bulbs- not colored
  • RV Antifreeze (the pink stuff!)
  • Plastic box type varmint bait boxes and the green hard bait blocks (these do not trap the varmint and let them rot in there, they bait them to the green block which then eventually kills them when they go to see a water source away from your rig!)baitbox

NOTE:  for the purpose of this blog post, I am not going to go through the entire black and grey tank dumping and prepping procedure or the system flushing for long term storage.  I am purely focusing on interior tips for winter storage to protect from varmints and any damage to interiors.

A few basic and kinda “no brainer” tips to prepping your RV for winter storage:

Remove ALL and ANY types of food stuffs, oils, herbs/spices -ANYTHING that acute little noses could sniff out and consider a potential food source during bleak, long winters.

Remove all liquid, aerosols, pumps and semi liquid items including canned goods because freezing will cause them to burst and create a total mess (not to mention serve as a glorious buffet dinner for varmints)!

2018-10-21 14.01.04
Our throw pillows, lap blankets, table clothes bagged in scented bags with Bounce sheets inside too!

Remove any rags, towels, pot holders that may contain even trace of oils, food handling, etc.   Varmints love to nest in cloth and paper goods like paper towels, napkins so remove them too and use them at home over the winter or store for next summer…..if you leave anything hang it on a hook or put in a scented trash bag with a Bounce brand scented dryer sheet in side bag with items.

Wipe off all counters, refrigerator inside and out, stove top, table tops, sink, dish drainer, cutting boards, pots/pans with a Clorox bleach brand pop up style wipes.

More about the cook stove– be sure to lift the stove top off, remove any crumbs, food particles, grease where the mechanicals are and wipe down entire area, grates, gas pipes, burners, etc with Clorox wipes,

Use a Clorox (or similar) brand pop up wipe to go over interior and exterior of refrigerator, toilet, sink, tub, all handles in kitchen and bathroom areas in particular.

2018-10-21-13.53.39.jpgWhy Bounce Brand?  We have sworn by the Bounce Brand of scented dryer sheets for over two decades now when camping doing our living history reenacting to keep away varmints AND crawling/flying bugs and insects.  Doing this type of camping we use a canvas tent, a canvas floor cloth (that is not connected to the tent sides like moderns are) and have often slept on air mattresses on the floor.  We are sometimes camping for 3-8 days and in all sorts of open fields, woodlands and in all sorts of weather conditions.  Bounce sheets are excellent for putting around the perimeter of the interior of a tent and they really DO keep insects away.  A benefit is that the inside of the tent always smells nice too!  We put sheets under our bedding, around the interior perimeter of the tent itself and inside our clothing bags/boxes.  It serves to rights that Bounce’s ability to ward off insects and varmints in a tent will do the same in a garage and RV!  We have used them successfully when we owned a Class A motor home for five years and now in our Avion for past two years. (knock off brands have not proven themselves nearly as effective!)

Prepping your bedding and cushioned areas:

We strongly recommend tilting up all mattresses and cushions that are in your sleeping and dining areas if you cannot or chose not to remove these completely and store them at home over winter.  Not only does this provide less of a “hacienda of dark seclusion” for any varmint intruders to build a nest, but it also provides far more air circulation around such materials thereby inhibiting mold, mildew, etc from building up on both the cushion/mattress and the boards that lay underneath them.

Doing this we have (knock on wood here…) never had any issues.

Below you will see on the left photo, our dinette cushions standing on long end and one of our twin mattresses on its side.  Note the other bagged items and placement of dryer sheets all around too!  These bags do contain comforters, extra throw pillows, beach towels.  We DO take our bed sleeping pillows home for winter storage and do not leave them on the RV.

What about Clothing Storage over the Winter in the RV?

We do keep a complete set of camping clothing on our RV at all times so we are ready to go at a moments notice.  We keep things organized by putting items in plastic lock lid style shoe storage boxes (they fit best in our over bed cupboards) and under bed lock lidded plastic totes, so winter prep is actual pretty minimal.

Here are some additional steps we do take for winter storage for clothing/dressing areas:

  • Bounce sheets get put inside the floor of all drawers and then on top of any items left in drawers.  Bounce Sheets also get placed inside every overhead storage cupboard and placed in every scented trash bag that is used for linen storage.
  • I am sure to remove any liquids, eg. perfume, deodorants, mousse, hair spray cans/pumps, etc. due to potential for freezing/bursting. Check bathroom areas and remove from all over and under cupboards from bath area too!
  • We remove any leather shoes/sandals due to potential for dusty mold and leather could be a food source in a pinch for varmints.  I leave things like rubber flip flops, crocs, etc.

Final Steps… that are often forgotten!

Remove ALL batteries from any flashlights, headlamps, portable radios, clocks, alarm clocks, kitchen devices, etc. and TAKE THEM HOME and use them over the winter.

Ensure you have correctly used RV antifreeze in your systems and retain some visible in the toilet bowl and put an extra dose down each sink drain to ensure there is some sitting in traps and bends in piping.

Be sure you have put Bounce sheets also in all interior AND exterior storage/mechanical areas like water heater box, oven fan area, exterior refrig access panel area, sewer service area, exterior storage areas that go underneath dinettes or beds, etc.  Here you can see our furnace and sewer pipe vent area being protected with dryer sheets.

Some notes on exterior/interior prep…

If storing your RV outside in winter the issue of “to cover or not to cover” is going to be yours.  It is recommended that all aluminum campers like our Avion and Airstreams NOT be covered because covers can adversely scratch the surface.  That being said, we do know Avion owners who have had decent luck with covers-much will depend on where you live.  If you do use a cover, be sure you allow sufficient ventilation so that mold and mildew do not happen inside the RV.

If your RV is outside in winter, be sure to check pressures, treat the tires with tire protectant and cover them from daylight with either a tire cover and/or sheet of plywood, etc.

Close all curtains to prevent fading of cushions and interior finishes-especially if wood interior like ours is.  If you have those pseudo fabric type pleated horizontal blinds I believe it is NOT recommended to drop them down as the pleats will stretch out and the shade will not look or work well in future. Perhaps in this case, if no curtains are available to draw closed, then take some old sheet, cut it up and place it over the valance and hang down over window to prevent interior fading while keeping the fabric blind up and pleated for storage.

We do not recommend installing Reflectix or similar silver insulation batting on windows because you may cause undo condensation on interior of windows unless you keep ceiling vents open to allow air exchange.  Plus, using Reflectix inside on windows will create a totally dark cave inside your RV which is what varmints would just love!

Spray all locks (storage bays, doors, hitch locks, spare tire locks, bike locks, etc) with your preference of lubricant to keep in good shape when not used for length of time.

  • Put RV house batteries on trickle charger.
  • Chock your wheels, sounds crazy if you are on a level garage, but its just one of those things Kevin is fixated about…but its good practice because once you get in the behavior of always chocking your wheels you are less apt to forget when really needed!

You have NO IDEA who may be able to access your storage area……why take a chance?

  • Lock your RV doors even if in a locked storage garage.
  • Apply your hitch lock even if RV is locked in storage garage.

FINAL NOTES…..

As possible visit your baby at least once a month over the long winter— just to do a quick visual check around the inside and outside and to hug her and let her know you miss her and cannot wait to get back taking her camping again!

IMG_1507168528568

Safe Travels!  We LOVE to hear your feedback about this post or any of our blog posts!

One life..Live it!

K-L-PP_copyrighted image midres

Kevin & Luisa Sherman