Tag Archives: avion trailer

Replacing the “Rub Rail” Exterior Vinyl Strips-Sources, Options, & Tips

This is our 1987 32S Avion, existing black rub rail

Perhaps one of the first projects often taken on (or at least put on the “to do” list) when purchasing an Avion is replacing the vinyl rub rail around the midline of the outside of the trailer.  We have written the following article mostly specific to 70-80s years of Avion’s.  Some models and earlier versions of Avion’s have different rub rail needs or no rub rails at all.  We encourage you, if you have this scenario to reach out to similar model year owners on one of the several Avion Facebook groups or forums for answers/information/resources.  Our experience has only been with our ’73 and now our ’87 Avion’s.

Often the original (many were black, some years were an orangy/red) has shrunk, become faded or in some cases- especially near both sides of the door, it is missing.  This is very common.  That can be due to mere shrinkage of the vinyl over time due to sun and weather conditions as well as not being maintained.  (Yes, it does need to be maintained for optimal life expectancy!)

Below is a slide show of typical 70’s-80’s Avion’s.   These are samples from existing or replaced rub rails from other Avion’s to give you an idea of various states of condition.  (In full disclosure…we have had to priority projects and while we have our vinyl replacement strapping simply have not had the time to do the project yet! Ours is missing about 14 inches from each side of the doorway due to shrinkage over its 34+ yrs)

NOTE: the closeup photos of the black rub rail is of our Pewter Palace 1987.  The ones that show a few small strips with green, blue and navy is ours too where we are missing vinyl due to age shrinkage.  What you are seeing is actual sample strips we ordered from the two resources we list below.  We drove around with them in place in 2022 to decide what color we liked the best- we have decided to go with the navy to match a stripe in our awnings.

WHERE TO PURCHASE REPLACEMENT STRAPPING FOR RUB RAILS?

https://www.sunnilandpatio.com/collections/replacement-vinyl-strapping-by-the-roll

Sunniland sells 16” lengths so it is advised if you are not sure which color you want order the colors in 16inch to see before ordering a whole roll.

https://www.patiofurnituresupplies.com/vinyl-strap-rivets.html

PatioFurniture sells sample pieces of color choices. The samples are only about 2 inches long.  if you want a better idea how it will look then you would need to actually order a specified length you wanted, we did 12″.

****Both companies sell the identical product. Even the color swatch numbers are the same as of this blog posting. It boils down to pricing at the time and shipping costs to your destination.

WHAT COLOR SHOULD I CHOOSE?

Both companies offer a literal rainbow of colors to choose from since this product is actually manufactured for vinyl strapped pool and patio furniture.  Color choice is really entirely up to you.  If you want to go traditional to what was originally used then the choice is really a black or an orangy/red, or red.  Just remember that any color you get will fade from sun exposure over time, so factor that in.  We went with a navy color to match one of the stripes in our awnings.  The original on our ’87 was black since we believe the rig was sold with the traditional black and white stripped awnings. Earlier 60s and 70s models may have had the red or orange/red inserts.

Towards the end of this post we have a slide show of a unique project undertaken by Christie Ann and her husband on their 70s era Avion.  She decided to SPRAY PAINT her existing rub rail because it was all in great condition.  This certainly is an option as well!  Check it out!

TIPS ON INSTALLING THE REPLACEMENT RUB RAIL VINYL

  • Install in warm weather so that material is flexible but do not stretch the material at all when installing! Over time the vinyl material will shrink due to sun and weather, so you want to actually push back on the ends a bit to leave it as tight butted up to your beginning and ending points as possible. Two people is best, one to feed into the track and the other to pull it through.  OR even better some have found they can insert it by pinching the warmed strap edges together and using a tool, perhaps a small hard plastic putty knife to help push it into the track as you move along- thereby omitting the need to “pull it thru”.  The latter may be the optimal way to insert.
  • Using dawn or similar dish soap in the track or rubbed against edges of strapping may help it to slide into the tracks easier
  • Start at one side of the door and work your way around in one continuous strap. Avoid seaming the product if at all possible (no seams in the original installs).  Some have used a set screw to anchor the ends of each strap if your original triangular metal tabs have been removed or broken off.
  • To maintain the suppleness of the vinyl it is suggested you go over it with a protectant like Armorall or T-9 Boeshield (which is also a great at least annual lubricant for your Awning hardware). Avail on Amazon.
  • We have had to use a heat gun to warm our vinyl strapping and used a pair of pliers on one end that is used to help pull it thru the track. It should be a tight fit so that the vinyl stays in place though.  See diagram of the correct profile below which is achieved with the 1.5” width of strapping.  This matches the original install best.

WHAT SHOULD IT LOOK LIKE WHEN INSTALLED?

Rub Rail profile illustration

Here is an illustration we have made to show a side profile of what the rub rail insert should look like when installed properly.  Notice it does have a “bulge” to it.  This is correct—it is truly supposed to act as a “rub rail” and prevent things from bumping up and scratching the side of your Avion.  Sadly, it does not really work that well- so be careful when driving near tree limbs/branches, or when carrying your ladder or equipment near the outside! Thankfully those of us with anodized exteriors have the benefit of a much harder surface so we don’t scratch from tree  or bushes quite as easily as Airstreams do!

OPTION!! SPRAY PAINT YOUR RUB RAIL INSTEAD OF REPLACING!

Our friend, fellow Avioner Christie Ann and her husband own this 70s era Avion and chose to do just that since the vinyl rub rail was in good shape. We met them and saw the finished project in person at the Silver Avion Fellowship Rally in Elkhart, IN in 2020 and it looked great! They did a great job! Christie Ann can be found on the Avion Facebook groups if you want to reach out to her directly.

MAINTAINING YOUR RUB RAIL

Just like all other parts of your Avion (inside and out) there is maintenance that should be done.  The rub rail is no exception.  It is plastic, vinyl and therefore subject to climates, sun, temperature variations, wind and weather.  To keep it in top shape, obviously if you can keep your Avion under cover or in a garage that will no doubt prolong its life.  But many of us don’t have that option.

Regardless of how pampered your Avion may be, putting a protective coating on your rub rail is something that should be done at least 1 time per year, perhaps in the spring as part of your annual spring prep.

There are a number of products that can be carefully applied to the vinyl rub rail by hand and a soft cloth.  Here are some suggestions

303 Aerospace Protectant https://www.303products.com.au/product-range/universal/303-outdoor-protectant  (this is what we use!)

Armorall original protectant https://www.armorall.com/ca/product/original-protectant/

Armorall Plastic Restorer https://www.armorall.com/ca/product/outlast-trim-plastic-restorer/

Boeshield T-9 https://boeshield.com/rv-trailer/

IN CONCLUSION

We sincerely hope this blog post has been helpful to you.  Please let us know with a thumbs up or a comment!  Please subscribe to our blog so you do not miss future articles and travel updates.  2023 is going to be a very busy year for the Pewter Palace and us!

If  you would like – EMAIL US for a PDF that you can print with a summary of items discussed in this blog post.  pewterpalace87@gmail.com

Thanks for your support, and as always, travel safe, travel often and travel healthy!

sign off image with PP and bitmo

 

 

Looking to Buy an Avion? Tips for your walk thru inspections!

Avion’s are HOT! The prices of them continue to go up, especially since the RV industry boom during COVID where new RVs simply could not be produced fast enough to meet demand. This blog post gives you information to help you in your search for your Avion.

Pricing (2023) can range from $FREE for a total wreck in a field to $40K for a pristine rig with upgraded systems like new plumbing, roof fans, new appliances, subfloor, furnace, on demand hot water heater and solar and more. Given their excellent construction over other all aluminum trailers they are normally worth the investment IF you are wiling to do some or most of the work yourself to maintain and do any further improvements needed. If you cannot do the work yourself- be prepared to have deep pockets and patience as there are very, very few professionals who can work on Avion’s correctly and they are in high demand-making a long wait for appointments. Please do not take your Avion to modern shops whose mechanics are not used to or trained to deal with vintage trailers. Oh sure, the simple refrigerator or toilet repair or replacement is fine, but not internal systems, frame, body or flooring please! Check out our “Resources & Links” page for list of where to get materials and tips/resources on where to get repairs done.

What does that mean for vintage trailers – and specifically Avion’s?

  • More and more people are scoping out abandoned woodlands, prairies and meadows and finding “hidden gems”- Avion’s long abandoned by once well meaning owners.
  • Many have found them in so-so shape and brought them back to life (sometimes to the good, sometimes to the not so good- but as they say “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”)
  • Some have been purchased by “flippers” and a word of caution here, that new interior paint job, new vinyl or wood flooring and a new staged look may be hiding shortcuts or missed necessary repairs just to make a buck on unsuspecting buyers. Do your homework! Use our list below to help!
  • Other’s have purchased a well cared for near original rig but perhaps continued to personalize it, or making some more modern upgrades but maintaining the classic Avion look.

ARE YOU MAKING APPOINTMENTS TO SEE AVION’S FOR SALE? Take along our handy reference sheet complete with helpful tools to bring, a check list of exterior and interior places to check, questions to ask.  Click this link below!

avion-rv-inspection-checklist-suggestions-thepewterpalace

It does not matter what, year, length or model.  Many of the components and things to inspect and look for are all the same.  The items on this list are purely suggestions and should not be construed as advice or a complete  list.  They are merely suggestions compiled from us and fellow Avion owners on various online forums and groups who have “been there, done that” and have responded many times over to this question. No one has all the answers but hopefully our check list will help you to find YOUR perfect Avion!

**Hiring a professional certified RV inspector is always a good investment and can save you huge $$ in the long run.  You may wish to give them our check list sheet since many inspectors may only be used to newer, more modern RVs and may not be familiar with the Avion construction or the known “weak points” they develop over the decades. Then, let them do their job!

You can find Certified RV Inspectors here-https://nrvia.org/locate/

We wish you every success in finding your Avion.  The hardest part is being objective when looking at trailers for sale.  The right one, at the right time, is out there for you.  Just be patient.

All the best,

sign off image with PP and bitmo

AVION Trailer- New Black Tank Installation, 2022-Tips, Sources and more!

OLD on the left….NEW from Pelland Enterprises on the right

A little background to this story.…..In the summer of 2021 our original black tank had a major failure- sadly solely by human error. We had inadvertently threw “on” the tank warmer fuse during our MORryde install. The PO had not installed a heat override- so if you install tank warmers please also install that auto sensor override. The tank was empty and ended up frying itself and tearing substantial cracks in several areas of the bottom. Hard lesson learned. We thought we had solved the problem when we found a highly rated RV repair shop about an hour from us who specialized in plastic welding, repairing all sorts of “plastic issues” with RVs. He looked at the tank and felt sure he could repair it. We had been told by many that it was near impossible to find tank replacements, some had tried their own repairs to no avail and we even contemplated going with a composting toilet instead (in the end…nope not for us!) So…. 3-weeks and $600+ later, the multi-layer repair looked and worked awesomely. We were all set!! Needless to say removing a black tank and replacing a black tank is not for the fainthearted. We are eternally grateful we have a nice concrete floored garage to work in and higher ground clearance thanks to our MORryde Independent Suspension system install. We did successful camping trips in August and September- all systems were GO! The black tank was working just fine! For more about our original project click here.

FAST FORWARD TO JULY 2022

At the very last official stop on our 5-week RV trip through 7 states in June/July of 2022 we were at our last campground, Campfire Lodgings outside of Ashville, NC and atop a huge mountain! Lo and behold, we saw a slow leak coming out onto the beautiful concrete slab RV pad. We had a 3 day stay here so we quickly hooked up our sewer hose and kept the bayonet valve open (we normally never do this!) so that any liquids would go out to the sewer rather than drip. That did a pretty good job but we also used the campground bathrooms during the day and as much as possible (we were in bear country so I was not going to go out to walk to the bath house for my nature call at 2 AM!). We allowed the tank to dry out and the leaking stopped. TIP: In a pinch we turned off the water feed to our toilet and lined our toilet with boondocking camp toilet liner bags and improvised for the 2 day drive home when needed. These are easy enough to dispose of at rest area dumpsters.

The good, the bad…and the downright ugly!

Once back to our home RV storage barn garage we took to task removing the old (repaired) tank. These tanks come out a lot easier than they go in. We have found the toughest part is getting the discharge piping lined up and the bayonet valves in place. Those valves are actually the toughest to do- you need five pairs of hands and only have room for 1 pair in that outside compartment.

Steps to remove your black tank:

In our 1987, 32S we have a mid-bath. This means that our black tank is also under the area where our REAR Stabilizers are. These must be removed first.

PREP: Before beginning this project, if your tank has been used somewhat recently and may not be completely dried out we recommend using a Camco toilet and tank washing wand (we actually do this routinely at least 2-3 times per year when RVing part time. We will do it more frequently once we go full time). by hooking up a garden hose (not your fresh water hose) and using this pressure washing system through your toilet by holding the foot pedal down. They also make some that have a sink attachment end on a short hose. Extend the wand end down right into the tank and rotate it around all sides of the tank as much as possible. Hook up your sewer hose to drain out tank. We did this multiple times ensuring we had removed as much as we could.

  • Remove the belly pans underneath your black tank area. *TIP: be sure to label each of them on the underside first so you can easily see how they go back in. Sometimes you feel like you are working with a jigsaw puzzle.
  • Remove any insulation (ours has sheets of foam insulation bats all over the length of the trailer put in by a PO.)
  • Disconnect sewerage discharge pipe at the black tank opening. Keep rest of discharge piping from the elbow and as it goes through to the bayonet valve in the wet bay area.
  • Disconnect the vent stack connection (our 32S it is in the corner of the cabinet near the furnace)
  • Disconnect toilet and remove bolts and flange (should screw off with some force used)
  • once all pipes have been disconnected….
  • Unbolt the steel “L” channel that runs along the rear side of the black tank and holds it snugly to the front brace.
  • Remove tank slowly maneuvering it out of its location pulling down.

SOURCE FOR NEW BLACK TANKS: We were very fortunate that we were given a great tip from Chuck Cayo (recognized as a national guru on all things Avion. His family started the Avion Corp back in the day). Chuck suggested we call Pelland Enterprises. Their website is quite extensive and we were able to find the perfect replacement for our needs. The new tank is slightly smaller (shorter in length) than our original so holds perhaps a couple gallons less but the other dimensions were perfect including the location of the main discharge hole and width and height that would fit into our original location. If you have a 32S feel free to contact us for our exact model we ordered. Different trailer models and lengths will have different size needs.

https://www.pellandent.com/RV-Holding-Tanks

Here is a diagram we made to show Pelland Enterprises exactly where we needed them to spin weld in (best way to do) the opening for our vent stack and for our toilet opening. They will do this step but be sure your measurements are clear and exact because all tanks are not returnable! We uploaded tons of photos and these drawings to them via email. Also note, it takes approximately a minimum of 6-8 weeks for delivery.

These are the waste level sensors on our old tank. If you want, Pelland will also spin weld in new connections on a new tank too. Again, make sure your diagrams are precise with measurements. BTW…we never trust the sensors! In the black tank, since it can be seen when opening/flushing the toilet we monitor the black tank levels by eye.

Once we received our new black tank, it was time for installation. Basically we reinstalled going in the reverse of our above steps.  Thankfully we were able to do the pipe hook ups relatively easy this time.  Once the pipes were reinstalled, we tested the tank and the connections by filling the tank with water thru the toilet pipe opening in the bathroom floor.  Kevin opened the bayonet valve to discharge the black tank and we watched for any signs of leaks.  All went super well.  Ditto for the grey tank with similar testing to ensure no leaks in the reconnected pipes and the bayonet valves.

At the instruction from Chuck Cayo we went ahead and once again installed a marine plywood board (coated several times with a marine epoxy resin “West System*” on all sides and edges) and positioned it in place covering the entire tank bottom, and extending about a 1 inch on the rear edge.  This board we strapped in with metal L brackets held in place to the frame pieces with self riveting screws. We have the some of these products we used listed on our Amazon Favorites list on our Resources & Links page on our website.  TIP:  Per Mr. Cayo and our own experience, it is VERY IMPORTANT to put a large board under all of your tanks to support them.  Only metal strapping is not enough-even if you never travel with stuff in your tanks.

Once the pipes were all reinstalled we purchased 2″ R-10 Styrofoam insulation boards (pink) at Home Depot and cut them precisely to fit around the tank and rest of underbelly area.  See photos below.

BUTTONING UP THE BELLY PAN:  Once all of the layers of insulation were put in place, Kevin re-screwed in (stainless self taping screws and in some places, rivets) the belly pan sections.  We have actually created a drawing showing how ours goes together including which panel goes under a neighboring one when installing.  The copper gas line was installed back in place outside the belly pan area with some rubber lined clamps screwed into the aluminum pan sheets.  Reminder, the gas line, by law must always be on the outside!

WET BAY FINISHING UP TIPS: Then we applied a spray in sealant foam (pest retardant type) around the openings where the grey and discharge black tank pipes come through the wet bay wall aluminum.  This helps to keep rodents from accessing into the belly pan area. TIP: Be sure NOT to get this anywhere near the bayonet valve areas themselves.  Also, while in this area, Kevin applied lubricant to the steal rods in the bayonet valves themselves.  The best lubricant to use here is dry silicone spray and prime the rod pushing the handle in and out several times.

TOILET REINSTALL:  once all the underbelly work was done we reinstalled the toilet.  This was also a great time to do a deep clean of the toilet’s main discharge shoot from the bottom up to the under side of the ball valve (the thing that opens and shuts during flushing).  Not a fun job but good to do when the toilet is uninstalled and then applying dry silicone gel around the toilet ball valve and replace all gaskets and seals. We also took many photos of the manufacturers labels and ordered back up parts while they are still available and we will have them on the road should a failure of some part happen. All were found on Amazon. Our toilet is Thetford Aqua Magic Plus II, porcelain bowl. The “plastic skirt” that wraps around the base is not shown in this photo

WHILE WE WERE AT IT WE ADDED A NEW FEATURE!: Since the toilet was off we also took advantage and ordered the spray hose with handle accessory and installed that before reinstalling the toilet itself. TIP– on our previous post and videos about our replumbing with PE piping we showed how we installed a shut off valve on the toilet water intake hose just to the left of the toilet base. This made removal of the toilet or any work needing to be done to it far easier than having to turn off all your water in the rig.

We hope this article may help you with some tips, or if you ever need to replace YOUR black tank. We sincerely hope that day will never come though!

If you found this article helpful please drop us a comment!

Be well and safe journeys! Kevin & Luise

5 “Living Small”- Organization Tips & Products

Whether you are living full time in your RV or doing just vacation travels at this point, one thing remains a constant. How to keep organized, how to fit “what you need” into a small space, how to maintain the organization you do set up.

Notice I said “what you need” NOT what you “want”. It is a hard pill to swallow- especially for those of us who have surrounded ourselves with tons of mementoes, family heirlooms, and “things” that seem to make us feel whole, cozy and satisfied in our sticks n’ bricks abodes.

My mind has been slowly but surely turning itself into preparing for that “full time mode” earnestly for at least the last 2 years. I think my grown children are still in shock that I could go from a 3000 sq ft home ( + huge storage barn) chocked with antiques, clutter and an overabundance of stuff collected for over 40 yrs of my adult life- to having all our stuff currently in a 1 bedroom 725 sq. ft. apartment!

I can credit the Marie Kondo and her KonMari method of dealing with tidying for increasing my mindfulness of living simply and with what you need rather than what you think you need/want. It becomes easier and easier to get rid of our “stuff” so it can bring pleasure, usefulness and joy to a new owner and move us ever closer to our ultimate goal of only owning what we can carry on our 8 wheels (trailer + truck) .

Am I there yet? Oh no, to be sure–when I just look around our tiny downsized apartment. We still have too much but at least right now, most of it is organized and up for sale online, or in totes marked “donate”. I try to donate a bag of clothes and/or a carton of items each week.

SO LET’S GET INTO SOME BASICS!

Some key basics of downsizing and living small that I have gathered over the past few years from fellow RVers, research and just plain living are these:

(1) Everything has a place to be stored and MUST be returned to that place immediately after use. Translation-—No more piles to be put away later– and everyone in the household must buy into this behavior!

TIP! Below is what I have done to ensure that each of us put back items used back to where they “live” for future use. Labels have especially helped remind us both what goes where! I use easy to remove green painters tape on these fabric bins (with metal frames to with hold their shape well-from Bed Bath & Beyond) this way if contents or uses change, I can easily replace with new tape labels and the painters tape does not leave any residual stickiness (at least not yet!).

(2) When at all possible items- especially in the kitchen and closet should have at LEAST 2 purposes/uses. Translation—- be creative, learn to do without to find ways to repurpose what you have rather than be lulled into marketing ploys to buy the next new gadget for your kitchen. You do not need half of the kitchen gadgets that Camping World tries to tell you that you do!

Some examples:

  • Rubbermaid waffle style shelf liner 6″ squares make great pads between dishes to prevent rattling BUT they also make great jar opening grips!
  • Our foldable, lidded storage ottoman’s are perfect shoes while the other holds my patio solar lights, picnic table cloth and string lights that we use each time we set camp. They are right by the door for easy access but also double as extra seating inside or outside (can hold up to 250# each) and pulled over to the sofa make great footrests or to hold a tray of snacks during happy hours indoors! Hey, great– that is at least 3 uses! Amazon link to see the ones we have. We have the charcoal grey.

A roll up dish draining rack makes a perfect extra countertop space during meal prep or plate set up. This is truly one of the best pieces of equipment we have bought in the past 8 years of RVing. I use it at least 2-3 times per DAY!

(3) Size Matters! Be aware of the sheer size of some items. Will they fit into your RV cabinets or drawers? Things might fit fine into a sticks n’ bricks kitchen cabinet or closets- but RV cabinets and closets are much smaller, often have curved back walls (like our Avions!) Translation—-Look for things that collapse, things that can nest into each other, smaller versions of household items, things are that a lower height on one end so they conform to the curve of your roof- magazine storage bins are a great example of these-just flip them around so the short side is towards your outside roof wall in those upper cabinets!

TIP: Here is a link to a great set of collapsible food storage containers that I use. I use them also as bowls per say to whip up things like tunafish, egg salad, etc. too! IMPORTANT NOTE: Square and rectangular storage containers fit far better ( than round bowls) and efficiently in refrigerator shelfs and storage cupboards!

(4) A Great Storage Idea for your Bathroom! Perhaps one of the hardest area of our Avion to store stuff in has been our bathroom. It is a side bath and therefore narrow and without the storage closet and cabinets we had in our rear-bath ’73 Avion. Our undersink cabinet has a lot of plumbing challenges, the shelve heights cannot handle normal sied bottles of shampoo, mouthwash, etc. and the vanity to the right where the hamper once had been also presents its challenges and certainly does not make items easy to get to (I store reserves of T-paper, paper towels and shopping bags when lifting up the hamper lid on the counter)

Recently, I happened upon a collapsible mesh toy storage hanging system at my local dollar store. It seemed the perfect thing to hang from our clothing rod in our shower to keep everyday toiletries, shampoos, etc. handy and in easy reach. After using it now on a 2 week trip–it has been great! Here is an amazon link to similar to what I purchased (for $3 at my dollar store!) Mine has all three openings on the same side so check out your own local dollar stores first!

Lastly…..

(5) Become more mindful of what you use every time you go camping….AND even more importantly what you don’t! Translation—-start a bag or box of items you find you are not using—and during each camping trip put at least a few things in there to put out at your site with a FREE marked on the carton, or donate them to a local charity. Obviously the same goes for clothing- layering is the name of the game!

Hope this little article has given you some helpful tips and inspiration! Below–I have put many of our regularly used items into a helpful shared list I created on Amazon several years ago. The link is below to find that list! (note, this is not a sponsored store, we do not get any residual from any purchases you make- its there to purely be helpful!)

CLICK THIS LINK TO OUR RESOURCES PAGE, THEN SCROLL DOWN JUST A LITTLE TO FIND OUR Amazon LIST LINK!

Happy and Safe Travels!

Luise

Trick’in our Truck – for Safety, Comfort & Towing our Avion Travel Trailer

Lets face it, you can have a great route planned, your RV all geared up, food stocked, LP topped off,  campground reservations made BUT

BUT!!!! if your ride is uncomfortable, unsafe or not helping you with towing along the way—the TRIP CAN BE UNCOMFORTABLE, UNSAFE AND COULD END IN DISASTER for you, your truck and your beloved RV!

We purchased our 2011 GMC 2500 HD Denali Crew Cap truck in 2018.  It had just under 28K miles and in super condition.   It is a 4×4, 6 Liter gas engine with a 6-speed transmission and a 4.10 rear axle.   Here is a promo video of it when it was being sold by the dealership we bought it from.  It was a search on CARFAX that finally landed us our “Merlin”– so nicknamed because it was magical how our “must have list” of truck features was finally found….albeit in New Jersey!  So after calling them and putting down a small refundable “on hold” deposit with a CC, we made an overnight trip to NJ from our home in upstate NY traveling 5.5 hours to arrive as soon as the dealership had opened that morning.

OVERVIEW OF UPGRADES & SYSTEMS WE HAVE IMPLEMENTED SINCE PURCHASE:(Below this list we go into each upgrade in more detail with photos, etc.)

  1. Installed Sumo Springs Front & Rear Bump Stops,  Bilstien Shocks and SuperSprings Low Leveling Metal Springs on the rear to assist with suspension and overall handling.
  2. Installed ROCKSTAR Rear Mud Flap System to prevent rock chipping of trailer
  3. Installed DECKED Storage System in Truck Bed to increase storage capacity
  4. Installed Front Grill Guard to prevent excessive damage to grill and engine in case of accident or wildlife damage (affectionately called our “Moose Guard”- we live in the Adirondacks!)
  5. Installed Class 2 Hitch Receiver to hold spare tire or front storage flat rack on the front
  6. Installed WEATHERTECH Interior Mats to maintain carpet
  7. Installed Window Film in Cap to provide privacy and security of stored items or if using for overnight sleeping
  8. Purchased and use the TST brand, 507 model TPMS (Tire Pressure Monitoring System)
  9. Purchased and use the GARMIN RV specific GPS system
  10. Removed our back seat, covered back panel still utilizing the seat hooks and use bungy straps to secure items we use at every camp set up (other than boondock 1 nighters at Walmart, etc.)

Still to be done before we go full time in Spring/Summer 2023:  Installing a Meckman 400 AMP Alternator (to recharge our Lithium Ion Battleborn Battery system as we are driving)

_______________________________________________________________________________

LET’S GET INTO THE “WEEDS” OF THE DETAILS!  we have included “where to buy” links where possible.  Feel free to reach out to us with any questions you have on any of the information we have in this post!

  1.  SUMO SPRINGS, BILSTIEN SHOCKS & SUPERSPRINGS INSTALL TO SUSPENSION:

Why?  We improved the ride and alleviated any “squatting” of our truck by adding additional suspension aids.

What? The old/original bump stops were old and very rough.  Sumu springs have a dampening cushioning effect which takes the rough ride out of the vehicle because they are open foam and they engage softly and become firmer with weight- hence a better ride when your truck is heavy and towing a heavy trailer.  We installed them front and rear.  We then added the SuperSprings to the rear.  They mount to the leaf springs on the back of the truck. These add support and weight carrying capacity to the leaf springs.  This helps alleviate the “squat” to the truck when hooking up our Avion travel trailer.  Use the link above to view the product and see a company video about these Supersprings and their application and purpose.

2.  ROCKSTAR MUD FLAP INSTALLATION:

Why?  After taking a long trip from our home in eastern upstate NY to MI we found a plethora of super small rock chips in the front of the 73 Avion we owned then.  They happened literally the last 15 minutes of the trip.  We had to go through a road construction zone where the crew was milling up the road- we were going less than 15 mph when it happened!  Now with these mud flaps we get far less mud, grime, and rock chips on our precious Avion (we now own an ’87 and use a Hensley hitch which is different than the GenY hitch in photos shown)

What? We got lucky that our local auto detailer (who had rehabbed our Avion rock guard and spare tire cover) had this ROCKSTAR mud flap system for sale in his shop- so no shipping fees!  He was ready to retire it from the showroom since it was a few years old.  We got it for less than half the going price for the same guard system.  This is the full bumper type that is installed, not just flaps screwed on.  The system CAN be completely slid off and removed if desired but it is very heavy and awkward for one person to do.  We have it installed by sliding  it over our 2.5″ hitch receiver which a 2″ hitch insert in it-the guard is fastened to that insert and locks in place.   Besides…we think it looks pretty jazzy!

Considering installing mud flaps?  Please read our more in depth article that covers installation tips, etc. Read more….

Link to Amazon listing– very similar to ours

3. DECKED TRUCK BED STORAGE SYSTEM WITH DRAWERS:

We cannot say enough about this system.  Yes, it is pricey, and we also paid to have it installed professionally by our local auto detailer.  But we have found over and over again it is a lifesaver.  It has actually increased our bed storage capacity since it covers over the wheel wells making a flat surface area to allow for more large storage totes.  It’s flat surface can now even fit a double sized air mattress easily to do overnight sleeping in the truck bed very easily and comfortably- + added bonus, you are not laying on metal truck bed.  The 2 full slide out drawers serve as awesome, double LARGE tool boxes-easy to pull out and access everything easily and within sight.  Kevin recently purchased some of the DECKED tool boxes that are made to fit inside, this is an option but not necessary.  Previously, he used other canvas tool bags, tool cases, etc. before this just fine. These drawers negates the need to have multiple tool kits packed in the truck cab or loosely flying around the storage with other RV gear. Your tools are all in one place and always quickly available-which for us is key!

Another plus of this system for security purposes, is that anyone looking into your truck bed through the windows will only see a floor.  They will not see any tools (which tend to be eye candy for many).  You really cannot tell that there is a DECKED system installed since the tailgate covers the drawers completely.  There are also two small, easy access storage compartments on either side end of the floor top.  We keep bungies, flares and other safety equipment in them for easy access.

Hey…it even has a built in bottle cap opener in the center!

Here is a Link to their site

4. & 5. INSTALLED FRONT GRILL “MOOSE” GUARD & HITCH RECEIVER FOR OUR SPARE TIRE:

Why? We have seen way too many front grills demolished by deer & moose hits and vehicle accidents.  We live in the NY Adirondacks afterall!  We also know that our full time RV life will include many areas where there are very large moose, caribou, deer, bison, etc. as well as crazy drivers. 

What? In order to better protect our truck’s major asset—its engine and grill–we installed this beefy grill guard 3 years ago. We did have to remove the factory tow hooks off the front to do the install, but the grill guard has built in hooks on its beefy frame.  Because the guard was heavy enough steel, we had a local welder install a hitch receiver on the front so we can now put our spare tire mount on the front.  We will carry our bikes on back of the Avion.  We actually have found the weight added by the grill guard and the spare tire has helped to equalize our our truck’s weight distribution especially when hooked up to the Avion and its tongue weight. 

Bonus!  This front grill guard also makes a dandy beach towel drying rack!

Here is a link to one we found that is very similar to ours on Amazon

6.  Installed WEATHERTECH interior mats 

Why? Let’s face it, as RVers we spend a lot of time in our vehicles in all sorts of weather, juggling all sorts of drinks, snacks and foodstuffs while plying the highways and byways of our country.

What? Our local auto detailer loves us!  We purchased these from them as well after carefully reviewing a whole lot of online sources and reviews.   These mats are molded and custom fitted to this model year-they fit perfect, do not slide around and are so easy to remove to hose off.  They protect our carpet from dirt, grime, stains, mud, snow, ice, etc.  Once we go full time in Spring 2023 this truck will be our home, this will be our everyday, only vehicle.  We want to do the best we can to maintain its condition and cleanliness.

Here is link to WeatherTech

7.  INSTALLED WINDOW FILM ON SOME BED CAP WINDOWS:

We installed this film early on after purchasing our truck.  We used household window privacy film purchased at Lowes.  It was very easy to use and install.  We have found that since the side slide windows have built in screens- we have not been able to install it there as the screening is unable to be removed easily.  We thought this was going to be an issue  however, now that we have put in our big black totes (with yellow tops from Lowes/Home Depot) they essentially block any views in from these side windows.   What you see is black tote side- so hence not really an issue anymore.  To date we have only covered the two odd sized large side windows in film for privacy when/if we sleep in the bed overnight or to provide some security of goods we have in the back.  We have NOT covered the back window yet because we still keep some totes out of the bed and can use the rear view mirror in cab to view rear when not hitched up.  Once we go full time and the back truck bed is fully loaded we may also install a limo film over all the windows. 

Link to Lowes- the actual film we used.  There are many other great design options available. Just be aware some are more transparent than others which may not give you the privacy you may want. 

Note- even though this is sold as household window film we have had excellent results using it in our truck bed cap.  It has held up well, no fading, peeling or failure due to swings in weather temperatures, etc.

8. TST Brand, Model 507- TIRE PRESSURE MONITORING SYSTEM

Another key safety factor (has saved our butts twice in just the last 2 yrs) is getting a Tire Pressure Monitoring System.  We have installed the monitors on BOTH our Truck AND our Avion Travel Trailer.  Some only install on their trailer.  In our opinion that is insufficient, as evidence by,  on a trip out to Indiana from upstate NY we got a signal our rear passenger side truck tire was losing air.  As it turns out, the valve stem had gone bad.  It was 9 PM at night and luckily we were on an interstate highway that had a large truck stop and the shop is open essentially 24/7 to assist truckers.  We limped in before our tire became too flat to travel-thanks to the TPMS warning!  It was fixed in less than 15 minutes and we were on our way.

Here is a great vendor (TechnoRV)  that we have purchased other equipment from. The link below is a current model, similar to what we have but with some improved features:

LINK to TST Tire Pressure Monitoring System 

Note- When we purchase new tires (we do at least every 5 yrs regardless of miles or condition) we will then order a new, current model TPMS system and we will be purchasing the type of sensors that are “internal sensors” that are mounted inside the rims, then the new tires are mounted and balanced-making the sensors less susceptible to weather conditions, with more longevity and less maintenance.

VERY IMPORTANT NOTE: If you purchase the type of sensors that mount on the tire valve stems–Due to the extra weight that the actual screw on monitors make onto valve stems it is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED that you switch out stock valve stems(rubber/plastic which even over time crack and degrade due to weather, sun, salt, etc.) with metal valve stems.  It is not a big deal but will greatly enhance the longevity of the system all around.

Presently, we remove our sensors after every camping season and store in our house since we store our trailer over the winter months.  We replace with new batteries in each sensor at least every other year to ensure they are fresh and sufficiently charged.  The monitor sensors come with a little locking clip that is used when they are put on and removed- this prevents theft for the most part.  Our system is about 4 years old now and we may replace with a newer bluetooth wireless type before going full time- but ours is working fine.  We have run the wire cable in the cab of our truck and Kevin prefers to keep it on his side of the dash when driving- I am responsible for the GPS and monitoring road grades, etc.  on my side of the dash. 

*You can also opt to have the sensors actually installed inside your tires if preferred.  Currently, we like having the option to take them off in winter months when trailer is not in use for right now but may do the internal application once we go full time.  Afterall, you should be replacing your tires every 5 years anyway.

9.  GARMIN GPS SYSTEM ( OR OTHER GPS SYSTEMS)

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We happen to have a Garmin GPS RV System- there are multiple screen sizes available now . It is about 4 years old and hopefully newer models have better voice command and display features.  For our needs it works for now.  We will tell you we do not always rely solely on this system and Luise will often be running her Google Map directions on her cell phone simultaneously especially when in more urban areas where it is easier to use the search feature quickly.  Please do NOT rely solely on Google Maps when towing your RV!  An RV GPS is programable to your trailer’s height, length, weight and width and the routing will steer you onto roads  you can do.  We live in the northeast where there are lots of old bridges and tunnels with weight limits and low heights from RR overpasses, etc.  Google will send you down a virtual rabbit hole!

We have found our model of Garmin is very POOR in the audio command module.  “She” rarely understands our most basic commands by voice and it is extremely frustrating (hence using Google on cell phone instead to ask quick search functions).  This model Garmin also really in our opinion requires a passenger to use while on a trip.  There are many times where Luise will need to scroll through settings to find things we are looking for and also to toggle between showing map and the split screen of Map/Road Grade features if we are on exceptionally hilly/mountainous terrain.   Our model is one that handles truck/RV settings.  This is very important!  You must preset the parameters for your trailers height, weight, width, and length in order to have the system run best and safely for your towing needs.

*The grade feature really came in handy on our trip on the Skyline Drive and Blue Ridge Parkways through the Shenandoah Mountains in 2021.  Using the grade setting showing gives you some very good advance notice of when there will be significant climbing or downward grades allowing some preparation.  Plus its really fun to see just how high in elevation you are at any given point on your trip!

On the second photo above you will see where we are using the setting that shows a photo image of an exit ramp driving view which we really like especially when coming up on multiple lane intersections or ramps.  It gives the driver a clear vision of which lane you should plan to be in.  It is nice when this works, but not all exits have been photographed to show this feature in our experience.  When a photo is not available, a closeup of the exit ramp or intersection in graphic form will show up on that right side of screen.

Below is a good photo showing the road grade  & elevation visual on the right side of the screen.  You have the ability to spread out this graph based on how far in advance you want to see it by miles.  We have it condensed so what you are seeing is probably the next 10-15 miles (yes, we went from over 5K elevation with a peak grade of 21% grade to a low of 1700′ elevation of 3% grade with a few mountain peaks in between on the Blue Ridge Parkway!)

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10.  RECAPTURING SOME STORAGE IN TRUCK CAB- REMOVING REAR SEATS

Removing our back crew cab split bench seats are a bit of a consternation for us.  On one hand we would like them to transport grandkids when/if they camp with us or taking guests with us into town, etc. on a day trip. In truth, those occasions are very rare and we suspect that once we go full time, it may only happen a couple times a year. In reality, gaining some amazing storage back there that is super easily accessible on a daily basis has won out- at least for now.  We removed the split seats (may put one back in since we typically will only have one grandchild at a time camping with us).  Along the back wall of the truck cab, Kevin installed a 1/4″ sheet of luan type board sheet to encase the back but allowed the U shaped bench seat hooks (that hold the seats in place) and these are what we use to hook bungy cords to.  Stored in this space we can put items that we use a nearly every 2+ night camp.  This includes; our 2 folding recliners, 2 everyday chairs, a folding table, our large cooler and a small cooler for drinks,  a first aid and emergency roadside kit and bag of snacks for the roadtrip.  We have found it very handy to have this space available- especially if we have set up camp and/or plan to be away from camp for the day, or it starts to pour rain and we want to get our chairs and small Weber gas grill inside and under cover quickly! (Has happened many times!)  Once camp is set up and this above equipment is set outside, this space in the truck also provides a great place for us to store our Ebikes folded up safe and sound.

You Just Bought an Avion….Now What?

A useful quick guide to getting support from fellow Avion Owners !

In this article:

  • Tips for finding and using online Facebook and other Avion Owner Forums,
  • 6 Basic Tips for New-to-You Avion Owners,
  • Links to Avion Rally Event Sites,
  • Resource lists including a printable “check list” for setting up to camp and preparing to tow your Avion.

At the end of this article we have a great downloadable/PDF document we are happy to share with you- “Our Avion TAKE OFF & LANDING Camp list”. We have also includes links to Avion Facebook and Rally Event groups and also links to several of our other blog posts and videos to help you out on your new journey as an Avion owner!

The great news is, you have taken the first step to buy what we all concur is one of the most iconic designs and best made campers ever–AN AVION! 

Of course, owners of other vintage campers will tell you theirs is the best- we have to politely disagree!  LOL.

  • We know it can feel pretty overwhelming!
  • Where to start? 
  • What questions to ask and to who? 

It’s not like you can call up an Avion Dealership anymore right?  (click here to see what we feel is one of the best and most  up to date articles on the Avion History.  The article is published by the non profit national vintage trailer/RV club called The Tin Can Tourists (TCT)- which by the way you should join, its very cheap ($25 p/yr/2022) and the club hosts rallies around the USA and has great resource info, newsletters, etc.) There were 18 Avion’s at the TCT Michigan Rally in 2019!

MORE QUESTIONS YOU MAY HAVE…..

  • Where do you get parts? Who can fix these things if you cannot? Check out our RESOURCES & LINKS page!
  • What tools are “must have’s”? 
  • How to determine just what needs fixing and what does not?
  • Are there ways to connect to other Avion owners with experience?

What is super important is that you have purchased an Avion and there is a huge Avion Family out there rooting for you and there to help!  If you are also brand new to the world of RVing and camping- we definitely have your back!  There…do you feel better already?  Hope so!

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DID YOU KNOW? 

We AVION OWNERS rock!!

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SOCIAL MEDIA PRESENCE: oh yeah!!!!  We are SOCIAL!  🙂

There are no less than 5 online Facebook Pages solely dedicated to Avion travel tips, repairs, buy/sell forum and general owner share pages?  Hey there is even a FB Avion owners group to exchange Christmas & Holiday Cards with each other!  There are Avion Rally groups too!     

YES!  and each of them has some overlap but each has its own purpose too—so we suggest you ask to join ALL of them.   I have posted the links to each of them at the end of this article. (sneaky huh…I want you to read on first!)

AVION INSIDER TIP:  while each of the Facebook group pages do have their own generalized specific purpose- sometimes you may have a post that is worth sharing/posting on all the FB pages- that’s OK, but my personal recommendation is to use that “broadcasted ” share sparingly. WHY?  well most of us Avion owners do belong to all of the FB groups so if we start seeing every one of your posts like 4 times in our feed we may start to tune you out a bit.  So, in my opinion, be selective. 

  • If you have something to sell, put it on the sell page group first. 
  • If you have a repair question, post on the repair/restoration page first- wait for answers, if none after a week- then go ahead and post on the two Avion owners group pages to cast a bigger net. 
  • if you have some great travel tips, campgrounds or general info to share- post it on one of the “owners” themed pages 
  • An exception to all this is if a piece of info you have is “time sensitive” for example a new rally announcement,  or rally registration reminders or God forbid you are traveling and stuck with a breakdown–you should definitely should be broadcasted on all pages!

Here is a great example of the above: 

TRUE STORY! In 2018 Kevin and I were doing just a nice Sunday drive just over the border into western VT from where we live.  We decided to check out some campgrounds for future stays.  Lo and behold one had a wrecked Avion in its back storage yard.  It had an intact rock guard and we wanted a spare!!  I posted out on all four FB pages from the campground parking lot in VT asking fellow Avion owners if a rock guard from an 84 would fit our 73?  Within 3 minutes I had folks responding that it would! We borrowed tools from the campground owner and drove away with our spare rock guard treasure!

Again, just my opinion to be selective on what you post where.  I think it better supports each of the group pages in their own right to exist if you post questions etc. on the Facebook page that best suits your question or information-however, some Avion owners do choose to put 90% of their general posts on all the page groups-and that works for them so its ok by me too!  We’re all easy to get along with!

REMEMBER—WE ALL HAVE BEEN NEW, FIRST TIME AVION OWNERS AT SOME POINT! 

Based on a plethora of posts made by fellow Avion owners who have all been in your shoes (a brand new owner) at one time or another here is a short list of what we have seen as recurring tips, suggestions and worthwhile bits of info for brand new Avion owners!

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6 BASIC TIPS TO GET YOU STARTED:

(1) Take your time!!!!  Do not rush to completely gut the inside and start from scratch.  Live with the interior a little (unless totally ruined by mold or deconstructed already).  Mr. Clean Magic Sponges, Awesome Spray Cleaner (at dollar stores) are great for cleaning interior walls and ceilings.  Howard’s Restor-A-Finish is excellent for reviving cabinetry.

We have seen so many people go for the complete gut job only to run out of steam, money or time and have to forfeit their RV dreams and sell their now gutted rig (less of a resale market!)

(2) If you do decide to gut the inside of the trailer, put the cabinets, etc up for resale on one of the facebook sites and/or on Ebay!  There are 1000’s of fellow Avion owners always in the market for Avion parts, door handles, locks, windows, hinges, and hardware-no matter how small and insignificant it may seem all are in demand.  Cabinet trims, lights, cabinet pulls, louvered doors, sinks, tub bases, mirrors, etc. all have a chance at a new life in someone else’s Avion.  Please try to recycle rather than take it to the dump.  These items are NOT made today and many are irreplaceable!

(3) Give your baby a bath-But Do It Right!  You know how good you feel when stepping out of the shower or after a nice warm tub bath!  Your Avion will feel the same!  BUT—there are definite do’s and don’t to bathing an anodized all aluminum body camper! Once your Avion is clean you will have a better idea of condition. Please listen to our instructional podcast first before doing your first wash down!  

(4) Secure from the Top Down!  Just like a sticks ‘n bricks home, your roof condition and ongoing roof maintenance is vital to the longevity of your Avion.  First on your agenda of “to do list”, after a first bath,  should be repairing all the exterior (side and roof) seams, and ensuring that the roof seams, places where vents, A/C, etc are on the roof also have good seals to prevent water penetration in between your exterior and wood interior.

(5) Install a Deadbolt Lock NOW!   Time after time we see the tragedy of a door swinging open while and Avion is being towed or camped in a super windy location.  Reminder, these doors are not being made anymore!  The old, original Bargman locks are nice but they do NOT provide enough security to keep latched.  Avion’s have a certain amount of flexing of the aluminum body that happens when being towed.  We and many other strongly recommend installing a deadbolt lock in ADDITION to your door handle lock.  We also bungy cord ours It is safer for you when camping inside and certainly safer for your door when trailer is being towed. 

(6) Reseal and Secure Window Seals if Cracked, Missing or Falling Off! Just like the exterior seams, the windows in many Avion’s that have not been maintained properly have seals that have failed. Many times, the seals have pulled away from the corners and where spliced.  This is another major area where leaks happen.  On a priority list, windows rank right  up there with exterior side and roof seam repairs.  It can feel daunting to do, but with practice, it can be done in a couple weekends.  Good news is, once they are redone, you should not have to muss with them for at least 5-8 years or more! 

More

As promised, here are valuable links just for you!

Below is our “Take Off & Landing” Checklist.  You can download and print it out to carry with you too!   Bear in mind, depending on the specific equipment you may have – some of the steps we outline may be a bit different.  Use this checklist as a general guide to help you practice the art of setting up a camp and breaking down your camp and hitting to road accordingly.

ONLINE FORUM PAGES: There are a couple of active online FB forums that have great resources and people in them.  Just another platform to look for answers and post questions!  See we are all in it to win it and help!  these are by subscription, so you will need to ask to join!

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DEDICATED AVION FACEBOOK PAGES:

Use the simple search of “Avion trailers” on social media and you will be amazed! here are some that we belong to and comment in fairly regularly on Facebook: (note, most if not all of these are monitored very well and do require you request to join)

kimg3148LOOKING FOR AVION RALLIES TO ATTEND? 

These are facebook group sites so again, ask to join.  Many of us travel to these rallies from all over the USA.  You can be a member of for example the Texas group but live in NY (like us!)  Avioner’s  know how to have fun, learn together and break bread—so come to a rally!!  Check out our post on the Indiana Rally we have attended for years now! Read  more….

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KEEP AN EYE OUT FOR MORE TIPS AND ARTICLES GEARED SPECIFICALLY FOR FIRST TIME AVION OWNERS!

A sample of our blog posts, podcasts and videos coming soon…

  • Punch list of what to inspect when looking to purchase your first Avion (will include what tools, etc. to bring with you!)
  • Basic repair and maintenance tool kit must have’s for Avion Owners
  • ABC’s of Using Stabilizers for your Avion trailer
  • Tips on how to repair and maintain exterior seams on aluminum trailers
  • I am just boondocking at Walmart for the night—what should (or shouldn’t) I do besides put my vehicle in park and go to sleep?

How do you find them once we post them AND how do you find all the other articles and videos we have published?

  Be sure to subscribe to this blog/website AND to our YouTube Channel! By subscribing you are the first to be alerted to new info!

We thank you for subscribing —- and really look forward to meet  you (and your Avion) on the road or at rally in the near future!

All the Very Best, from Kevin and Luise Sherman

Luise & Kevin Sherman, we own a 1987 Avion, 32S Model and currently are based in the Lake George Region of upstate eastern New York. We LOVE to hear from our subscribers!

Making your RV Feel Like Home- Keeping Things STUCK in Place Even When on the Road!

View of our 32 S model 1987 Avion. This “rare breed” floorplan was only produced for three years by the Avion Coach Corporation.

One of the first things anyone says when they visit us in our Avion is how “homey” it feels, comfortable, cozy and not sterile like many “off the lot” modern RV’s today.

Often, the next question we get is…

“it must take you a long time [when setting up camp] to put out all of these décor items (some would say clutter or chachkies! ) and knickknacks and then store them all away again”. 

Actually—no!  Everything you see in our coach stays in place where it is displayed.   I do not have to move anything except dish soap bottle on the kitchen counter, our authentic cuckoo clock, and the soap dispenser in the bathroom!

In the photo above you will see I have opted to keep the upper and lower curtain rails in place and just have narrower side curtains.  These curtains are wide enough to create privacy for the curved front windows when the center pull down shade does the rest at night.  Notice I use the bottom curtain rail to store some things during travel time too! ( I DO take down the white vintage ’70’s swag lamp and it sits in the left corner of the front counter when we roll down the road)

HERE IS A QUICK LIST OF TIPS & PRODUCTS I USE TO KEEP THINGS IN PLACE IN YOUR RV—EVEN WHEN TOWING DOWN THE ROAD!

A 6″ wide shelf behind the sofa creates a great storage space with metal framed fabric bins!

Metal Framed Fabric Bins Sit on Shelf behind our Jack knife Sofa.
See purchasing link below.

The photo above shows three of the five storage bins I purchased at Bed, Bath & Beyond in 2021.  They have a wire frame for durability and are perfect for storing those things that we use routinely when traveling including:  TV and other remotes, LED lanterns and flashlights, Binoculars, Travel Journal, Travel brochures, etc. and a vase of artificial flowers I often put outdoors on our dining table.  We are still able to pull out our jack knife sofa when we have guests staying over. * I left about 5″ in between two of the bins.  This is where I tend to put my beverage water bottle or travel mug of coffee when relaxing on the sofa when we are set up at camp. Source, 2021

Using forms of “anchor” putty’s to hold things in place are perfect for RVs.  Read on to read ‘my reviews’ on three products I have used.

The photo slideshow above shows various items in our RV we leave out and do not move during towing.  Things like a ceramic beer stein with flowers that sits on our front kitchen counter, our mid-century modern looking table organizer (link) with a vintage 70’s table lamp and other items set in place.  In our bathroom, my mother’s china cup and saucer- now a home for a gnome sits on our bathroom vanity and back in the living room/salon even our faux “stag head clock” in our living room–all stay out and stay put every day we travel. 

We have clocked multiple trips over 3000 miles each, up mountains of 17-24% grade roads to 5K elevations (and back down) as well as dirt roads, washboard roads and surviving way too many roads with pot holes and frost heaves!

Review of THREE putty brands I have used: and my recommendation!

Quake Hold (Museum Putty) 

 This is my “GO TO” product!  It is great and what I have used successfully on the ceramic beer stein, the gnome in the tea cup,  the dinette table shelf organizer and our faux (plastic but very real looking) stag head wall clock.  I also put this behind each corner of any framed pictures I put up on picture hooks.  It keeps the pictures level and keeps them from potentially swinging and marring stained walls or wallboard.

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Pro’s:  Terrific holding power, re-useable, no smell, no staining on walls. Holds up well under all interior temperature conditions we have been in so far (-10 to 95 degrees).  It allows you to remove items from their hold by twisting and pulling at the same time.  You will truly be impressed by how secure it makes things and how hard you have to twist/pull to release its hold.  I have not had any issues with its color staining any surfaces.

Con’s:  it is a light off-white in color )they call it “neutral”- so it is not completely invisible when used under items.  You can see this from my photos as little white stuff sticking out from underneath Honestly, it is really hardly noticeable.  Through trial and error I have found the best holding power is when you allow some of the putty to be on the outside of the edge of your item as well as underneath for those items that sit on flat surfaces.  For framed photos, etc. held vertically you do not need to do that.  I simply put pea sized blobs under each frame corner.

Rock N’ Roll Clear Gel Putty

As the packaging says, this GEL is really only for glass and china type stuff.  They do also now make a putty similar to Quake hold but I prefer the quality of Quake Hold better.  I have tried this Rock N Roll Gel and found it does not hold as well as the Quake Hold.  Also a real ‘con’ is that this stuff MELTS when your rig gets hot inside (aka if you are away for the day not using AC/or when stored at home when not camping and temps rise above 80 degrees. Source* (*note, this is not where I purchased from so I cannot validate reputation of online source)

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Pro’s:  it is clear, highly pliable.  Does work well on glass or mirror items (not sure how many of us have crystal figurines on display in our RV’s though)

Con’s:  It melts when temp inside RV gets hot.  It melted and puddled under some items on our dinette table. Does not do well on vertical applications in my experience. (yes, I tried to use it behind corners on picture frames, only to find it melting and running down my wall one summer day!- ugh)  Because of its propensity to melt, I no longer recommend this for RV use.

Museum Putty Wax

I have used this on a variety of surfaces from metal to wood to ceramic and it does work but I find it not as convenient as the white putty Quake Hold above- nor does it have the same holding power for heavier things, especially those made of wood and/or sticking to a wood surface.  

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Pro’s:  it is somewhat clearer and less conspicuous when used than Quake Hold putty.  It does a decent job of holding not too heavy items.  Somewhat easier to twist/pull items you need to reposition.  Does not stain finishes.

Con’s:  Due to its consistency, I find it harder to get out a blog from the container- I use a bottle cap with its serrated edges to dig into the container to get out sufficient for use.  It is simply too hard to dig any out with your fingers.  It is a wax base and therefore may also have a tendency to melt in hotter environments.  For this reason I would not recommend a vertical application either.  In my experience it does not work well on wood items  but works ok on plastic, ceramic and glass.

LAST BUT NOT LEAST….WHAT TO DO WITH “RUN-AWAY” PAPER TOWELS!

How many times have you opened the door of your RV after a day of travel to find your paper towels have unrolled and are strewn across your kitchen floor?

These ARE THE ANSWER!

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Viva Paper towels do cost a little more but they will not unroll after a day of road travel.  They are also darn good paper towels and very absorbent so in truth you will use less overall.  We currently have this vertical paper towel holder but in our old ’73, 28 foot LaGrande model we had a traditional horizontal holder above the counter and we never had unrolled paper towels with Viva brand– AND I did road test others like store brands and Scott’s brand and other name brands and none did the job of staying on the roll on the road!

PARTING TIPS….. FOR HANGING PHOTOS, FRAMED ART, ETC and other WALL DECOR ITEMS:

Most folks already know that 3M stick on hooks are a Godsend for RVers.  We use them all the time! 

BUT I have found that if you really want pictures or things of any weight like barometers, framed art, etc. I use these stick on Velcro strips.  Specifically, the type that have the lock-n-grip type, not the traditional type that has soft fuzzy on one side and teeth on the other.  I use the heavy duty type of Velcro that have teeth which interlock when put together.  I  always purchase the one that is rated for heavier than my item really is.  These work really well and so far (knock on wood) I have found that I can also peel off the Velcro strip I may have secured to our Avion wall board since it is a vinyl composite board, not paper applied to wood.   I have also used the Command Brand similar type too on less heavy hanging items, apply as directed.

DISCLAIMER: As with all the products we have discussed here, it is best you test out products first.  For wall applications, your interior walls may have had some sort of after market application that could make it different than ours.  Please don’t send me a bill for any broken item!  [smiling]

Well, that is my review of keeping things in place!  We all love to have a homey feel in our home on wheels!  Hope you have found this little article helpful! 

Let us know what types of tricks/products you have found help with this issue! To be sure, a simple search on Amazon nets many companies touting great sticking power of their putty’s and other products.  

Please visit our YOUTube Channel and please subscribe!    We have great videos on many topics from renovations, tips, other favorite gadgets, as well as travel videos and campground reviews.  We appreciate your support of our efforts to help others along the way!

-Luise

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How to Gain Storage Under Your Sofa in your RV!

Our sofa, “pre-project” and Reddy approved!

If you are like us you are always looking to maximize storage spaces on your RV

In our 1987 32S Avion we have a gaucho style sofa.  This pulls forward and then down to create essentially a double sized bed for guests.  It is original to the trailer, but was fully reupholstered by the previous owner in about 2018.  As you can see from the photo above, we do keep a quilted sofa cover on it not only to protect from our dog (sadly Reddy died in Dec 2020) but also, grandkids and us spilling something since the fabric is a similar color to the grey throw and plain so it will show any and all stains, etc.  I don’t know if it was scotch guarded and do not want to take the chance it was not!  This was a cover we already had from our other 73 Avion.  Our 87 sofa is a bit longer.

In early Spring 2021 Kevin had the brainstorm that we could expand the under sofa storage by elevating the frame of the sofa.  We would also gain the benefit of the sofa being a little higher so as we age, it would be easier to get up from sitting on it.  Not that it was super low but any little bit helps once arthritis sets in!

Another reason for this project was that I found it very hard, and downright uncomfortable to try to have to kneel on or straddle that flip down solid upholstered sofa skirt panel when trying to get things out from under the sofa.   It was so in the way!  The skirt panel had the hinges and sat off the floor by at least nearly 2″ so that also reduced the height of what I could fit under there—and get out!  See next photo below if we have you totally confused on what we are talking about here!

EASY STEPS to our Project:

(1)  Unscrew the flip down front padded sofa skirt panel and remove floor mounted hinges, hardware.  We decided not reuse this after completing our project.  You could, I suppose opt to make either (a.) a new flip down panel out of wood then upholster with sofa material and reinstall the flip down hinges or (b.) add an extension board to the top of the existing flip down panel somehow and support it and then recover it all so it looks like one piece.  We opted to make a fabric pleated sofa skirt that simply velcro’s across the front of the sofa and hangs to the floor.  Since the fabric skirt weighs less than that original panel it’s another win!20210429_192140

(2)  Unbolt and get sofa out of the way.  TIP- we recommend NOT trying to get the sofa completely out of the rig due to narrowness of the entry door.  This thing is heavy and bulky AND honestly the project went so fast, it would have probably taken us longer to maneuver the sofa out of the door than the entire project took!  So leave it just tipped forward and out of the way.  NOTE- we left the panel nearest refrig in place on the side of the sofa end.  See more on this later.

You will need to unbolt from the floor and from the rear support as shown above which was screwed in. well, actually it wasn’t but we guess it was supposed to have been at some point!

NOTE we have carpet tile flooring done by previous owner. The brownish linoleum you see is original to the trailer when manufactured.

Before I knew it. our sofa was sitting in the middle of our living room!

(3)  Use this time to clean up, check water and waste connections and apply steel wool around pipe openings to ward of mice and other crawling critters from entering your living space!  Note– we still have the original grey water piping for our fresh water to kitchen sink. As of this post, we have purchased all materials to change everything out to PEX plastic piping and that is on the to do list for Spring 2022- ha ha so the sofa will have to come out again to the middle of the living room!

(4) Cut 6 blocks of 2×4 wood (2 for each mounting- laying on their side for a total elevated height of 3″) to a size sufficient to carry the floor mount sofa hardware to be rebolted back in.  Kevin fastened the 1st wood block layer in by itself using the old holes left in the floor as guides so they would be in the correct position.  He used 2 1/4″, #10 heavy duty wood screws.  He predrilled all holes in 2x4s to avoid any possible splitting.  He then mounted the second layer of the blocks directly on top of the first layer, and used 3 1/4″ #10 wood screws to mount it to the lower layer.  Be sure you know where those first screws are so you don’t try to screw down on top of them!

NOTE- we had LEFT the panel (bottom right corner of photo below it can be seen) at the tongue side of the original sofa in place since we hoped it would still work to hide that open end of the sofa. And it did!

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***This is also a good time to put some small, low wood “stops” mounted into the floor just in front of your water pipes to prevent anything stored under the sofa to get hooked on or that could push back the water tubing.  We held off doing this until we install our PEX system and will know exactly where the tubes will lie.

(5) Put the sofa back in place and re-screw it down in all locations.  NOTE- since now the crossmember support arm no longer hit the wood box along back, we put a 4×4 in underneath it, clamped it to the 4×4 with a “U” and secured the 4×4 to the wood box by toenailing (screwing) it in with more wood screws.  We did not want to put holes into the sidewall of the trailer.  It is very secure.  Considering when we unbolted the sofa to begin with, this cross member had never been secured- we figure its more secure now!

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(6) Load in the totes!  I tried various combinations of totes to find just the right mix for what we store under here.  Your needs may be different but I store the following under our sofa:  our Dyson Vacuum, totes with table cloths, Set of Sheets for sofa bed, multiple exterior solar light strands, swim floaty rafts, our cuckoo clock for traveling time, citronella table candles, and our Avion spare parts tote.  It a lot of stuff but its all in various totes that fit like a puzzle.  With the extension height of an additional 3″ I was able to now lay two totes on top of each other.  I prefer totes because it is far easier to pull out a tote than to have to reach under to pull out each separate item.  Also being in totes there is less concern over something hooking onto and tugging at or pushing against the water piping that lays along the bottom of the sidewall.  

In the photo below where you can see I now have a blue lidded and white lidded tote—I could only fit ONE of them before this project.  Essentially we have doubled our storage space under our sofa!

Additional Comments & Notes:

  1. As much as we would have preferred that the previous owner had carpeted completely under the sofa, actually we have found that even that little 1/4″ lip transition from the linoleum to the carpet aids in keeping the tote bottoms very well in place even during travel.  If you do not have that carpet lip, you may want to install a 1/8″ or 1/4″ strip of molding flush to the floor in between the sofa support blocks.  This will help keep totes in place during travel.
  2. I did find after a few trips that attaching an elastic bungy cord from one leg support (behind the sofa skirt) to the other was necessary to keep the higher tier of my totes from sliding out during travel.  This has solved that issue completely.
  3. We found that the sticky back velcro we tried first to hold the new fabric skirt on did not hold up well enough during travel or “leg traffic” from us using the couch.  I will have to secure the velcro either by sewing it on or by using a glue to adhere, letting it dry with clamps to ensure a good seal.  In the meantime, what I did was extended the length of the quilted sofa cover we use making it longer in the front and that covers 90% of the opening and really is working fine for now.  
  4. Kevin and I are not tall, we have pant inseams of 30″ (a.k.a short legs) and we have found that the raised height of our sofa is extremely comfortable for us.  Our feet just touch the floor now and it feels more relaxing on our legs.  If you are a taller person you may find raising your sofa could make your muscles relax even more!  We also find that as we age getting up and down from the sofa will be even easier as arthritis no doubt will kick in. 
  5. BEST TIP OF THE DAY! I should mention that at some point one of the owners of our trailer put a full shelf behind our sofa.  It is simply attached with 4 angle braces screwed into the sidewall and it about 4″ wide.  We would be lost without this shelf and store all sorts of things there.  I have found wire framed fabric bins at Bed, Bath and Beyond that fit there perfectly and keep things organized.  We also have one magazine storage holder (sits mostly behind our curtain) there for travel books, brochures and maps when currently on a trip, then the bins hold things like our battery lantern, binoculars, a plant, a container for our TV remote and other small misc items. One bin is open for me to set a mug or cup in while reclining on the sofa!  The change in height of our sofa had no impact on the usefulness of this shelf and we highly recommend you install one during this project while the sofa is out!  It runs the entire length of the sofa back.
  6. Sorry I do not have a photo of the sofa back in form with the pleated skirt attached.  I will try to get that done in spring when our RV is out of winter storage and update this post when available.

Hope you enjoyed this project article.  If you decide to undertake this project we would LOVE to hear from you and see  your photos!  Please feel free to leave us any comments on this project- we love to hear from our subscribers!

Until next time…safe travels and please visit our Avion merchandise store at www.MyAvionMarketplace.com and don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel and this blog to get notified of future posts and videos!

Sincerely- Kevin and Luise Sherman

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MORryde Suspension System & Kodiak 7K Hydraulic Disc Brakes -Major UPgrades to our ’87 Avion

Up on the lifts at MorRyde in Elkhart, Indiana. They do allow you to sleep on your rig and plug into shore power during the installation process….but up and out by 5:45 AM because they start working at 6 AM sharp!

Anyone who has an Avion (or Airstream for that matter) knows that the clearance underneath these silver babies is less than optimal and can really cause issues especially trying to do boondocking or dispersed camping-which is something we plan to do a lot of once we are full timing starting in 2023.  We found in our 28′ we had issues, but it was even more pronounced in our 32′  since our tail end extends that much further back from the tire axels. 

At times we were even limited as to what gas stations, parking lots or even campsites because of the “dip” from street to lot/site.  NO MORE!

 

HERE IS A GREAT VIDEO about the IS and disc brake systems in easy to understand language.  We are happy to share with you from vloggers Crazy Family Adventure.

After lengthy research, discussion with people who have installed it and with Technicians at MORryde and then more research we decided to take the big plunge and have the MORryde Independent Suspension System AND Kodiak (7K lb) hydraulic disc brakes installed on our 1987, 32S model Avion.  This decision is not for the faint hearted and a huge investment (just over $7K total for axels/suspension/Kodiak Disc brakes as of this post in Fall 2021) and this does not include the new 8 Lug tires and rims we needed to get for the hydraulic brake install we wanted.

Anyone who has the original MORryde suspensions on their Avion’s (late 60s into late 70s) knows that the center rubber sheer spring that hangs down (encased in steel) in between your tandem tires takes  a ton of the impact from road travel and it is certainly touted as one of the best suspension systems that Avion installed back in the day and any travel trailer can have.  We loved it on our ’73 and missed it once we started traveling with our ’87.  This new version from MORryde, called their “I.S.” (Independent Suspension) system basically replicates that type of system from the older Avion’s WITH ONE HUGE DIFFERENCE! 

We now have that 70’s type of MORryde Rubber Sheer Spring on EACH OF OUR TIRES!  The results is a super smooth ride, less wear and tear on the trailer frame–and with new axels and all these new components there is piece of mind that we will not likely have problems with axel failure/breakage and have a hard time trying to find the correct old “split axels- the Dexter Adjust-a-ride” we did have.

If you think about your suspension like we do, it is the foundation of your “house”.  It needs to be strong, in good working order and built to last.  Our Avion is our home (full time starting in 17 months, 3 days, 2 hours, 29 seconds but who is counting right??) and we want a strong foundation for the tens of thousands of miles we plan to do each year with her over some pretty challenging terrains.

For the sake of brevity, we will list PRO’s and CON’s of our experience, the system and the end results.  In the end, would we do it again?  yes, but read on!!

Inside our OLD external battery box is where the Kodiak hydraulic brake controller was being installed. We had to move our 2 AGM house batteries to under our streetside rear bunk temporarily as part of this project. Our next big project is installing our 6 Battleborn Lithium Ion batteries to underneath our curbsite bunk. The hydraulic brakes are awesome!!

PRO’s to our process-products-end result:

  1. Increased our ground clearance from 8.5″ (at low point of old axels) to over 15″.  No more worries about getting off road, into gas stations or parking lots. Our rear side frame and front tongue frame sit at right around 26″. NO more worrying about dips into parking lots from the street or uphill grades from street.
  2. The MORryde website has excellent information and videos.  And phone calls in advance to their tech folks were very helpful in our decision making to go with the IS versus the 3000 or 4000 systems. Your Avion may benefit from the other systems and worth inquiring about!
  3. The Kodiak Hydraulic Disc brakes are game changers!  Wow!  what stopping power and peace of mind.  So different than electric brakes!  Makes braking of the trailer feel totally “as one” with our tow vehicle. No more grabbing, no more concerns on long down or uphill travels.  These are beefy! Just the new brake system alone was worth the install!
  4. All new axels, rotors and all brake components so less chance of failure or need to hunt down vintage parts to fit/work. We like having a new, rocksteady foundation under our trailer.
  5. During install process we were able to examine the trailer frame since belly pan was removed (we had not done that prior) to see it was in excellent condition- even our Tech was super impressed with quality and condition of this 34 yr old frame!
  6. MORryde allows you to park the night before your appointment in their lot outside garage, then once install commences you are allowed back onto your “elevated rig” after the day shift is done.  This saves on hotel costs– our install took 2.5 days.
  7. The MORryde Service center staff are very good.  The Tech and Service Manager listened to our questions, were responsive to our concerns and talked us through the process as it was happening in real time. (BTW we were the first vintage trailer to get an IS install) They also gave us a tour of the entire facility so we could see these IS  systems being fabricated on site.
  8. We knew what our costs would be before they started and this was all reviewed with us in advance.  There was no type of upselling or gimmicks.  The products stand on their own and we really feel their shop labor rates were very fair.
  9. The Tech you get is assigned to your rig from start to finish and are highly skilled and trained.  They are very professional, the shop is clean, well managed and everyone is super friendly. (well you are spending a bundle too!)
  10. The waiting area during the day is stocked with goodies, drinks, etc. and very comfortable with overstuffed sofas and with WIFI and rest rooms.  You can also order and get a complimentary lunch from several area restaurants who delivers to the MORryde office.  No charge to you- we did Panera both days.
  11. To their credit, when an issue was relayed from us back to MORryde they made good on sending out new parts at their cost and covered the labor costs  in a refund to us to have this correction done locally at a shop we found near to us. Kudos out to Adirondack Truck of Queensbury!

CON’s to our process-product and end result

  1. We did not know that the rig was going to be lifted SO high. Originally we were told up by 4-6″ and we were fine with that. Then as install progressed we were told it changed to 7-8″. We now have a full 11.5″ from top of our tire to top inside of wheel well. Looks odd because all of us are used to seeing our low lying, stealth to the ground rigs.  To counter this somewhat we have purchased Fender Flares (aftermarket bought at Bontragers near Elkhart) to install by riveting on the exterior of the well lip to help mitigate the space visually.  We will temporarily remove the track you see below that we riveted on to slide our Zipdee Tire Shades into, then will rivet the fender flares on using the same rivet holes and refasten the tire shade track over top of this once again.  Due to the curvature of the wheel well opening (at approx. 1 pm and 11 pm locations) we are going to have to apply small sheets of anodized alluminum from behind to fill in those gaps.  Not an ideal fix, but its the best we have come up with.  If you have another idea please let us know! kimg3454
  2. Our frame, (measured at front and rear frame on tail before it rises upward) now sits at 26″ above the ground. Before this install it was approximately 18″. This height has resulted in perhaps a lessening of the aerodynamic nature of the Avion design. However on our trips since we have not encountered any issues with this even on highways with winds and Semi trucks zooming by- but we also use a Hensley hitch which certainly is a big help and have a high top cap on our pick up which deflects wind.
  3. No pre install weigh in like video’s said they would do.  When we watched the MORryde videos during our decision making process we really liked the fact that part of the process included weighing your rig so that the correct sheer springs weight range would be installed. We know our trailer is street side heavy due to Corian countertops and all appliance on that side. We had hoped this weighing step and install to account for this would solve any undo stress on one side of the axels/tires. Needless to say when we arrived we were told they no longer do that weighing part of the process. We were not happy with that explaining again we knew we were heavier on one side and in the end (keep reading full story) it would have saved a lot of angst as a result.
  4. We were not made aware that our specific I.S. axels were going to be wider than our original ones.  We were told this is due to the necessary deflection needed for the tires to toe out or in independently we now had our tires extending out about 2.5-3″ outside of the wheel well! We question the need for this still.  Was it really because this is the standard length for modern RV’s and what their shop is set up to make?  This was a total surprise to us and not a happy one .  We did not realize it until the entire install was complete. It really changed the look of the trailer profile. Hence another reason to purchase the aftermarket tandem aluminum fender flares at about $75 each. We have added another project to our list to rivet these in place after removing our tire shade track and replacing it over top the fender flares (a project just completed). ** The tires extending past our sidewall profile also can mean more damage should a tire fail, and certainly without the fender flare, way more road grime, water from wet roads, mud etc. spewing onto our vintage aluminum skin trailer body.  
  5. “Houston we have a problem!”  On our trip back to upstate NY (Lake George area) from Elkhart, IN- this is a 780 mile trip of all highways we found at our pit stops that some of our interior decor, drawers,  gear, and equipment that NEVER had bounced around or shifted before was now doing just that!  Wait a minute!!!!!!
  6. We were supposed to have a smoother ride, not a bumpier one!  We also noticed porpoising  (rocking nose down to nose up) of our trailer when hitting even slight road seam bumps that we had not seen before.  Houston!!???? another issue!
  7. Not all communications via email were responded to in what we feel was a timely manner by MORryde staff, especially with our issue after install was brought to their attention.  We do recognize that Covid-19 certainly had a part in this as did some staffing changes at MORryde.  We know everyone is busy but waiting weeks for a reply is not appropriate in this tech age.  Once a reply was gotten, we were instructed what measurements we needed to do and send to them.  With this information, MorRyde determined that indeed the WRONG SHEER SPRINGS had been installed *Yup, that weight thing again”- Avion’s are heavy!!-they are not the cardboard box trailers produced today.  Even though we had given them our weight parameters…someone obviously did not compute this correctly from the get go.  So what was happening was that the #2 Sheer springs originally put on at the shop were insufficient to carry our weight and were causing the axels to bottom out when hitting even mild to medium bumps in the roadways-trashing our trailer inside and pounding on our frame unnecessarily on that first trip.
  8. Sheer Spring REDO!  With new #3 sheer springs in hand, you can see the big difference in size! See photo below.  We had to take another day off from work and had a local shop (Adirondack Truck on Big Boom Rd, Queensbury- who were great!) take out the springs from our install and replace with these beefier ones.  We are very happy to report a 2.5 hr trip two days later on our next camping adventure proved we had no more jostling, drawers were shut, gear not strewn about–so issue appears to be solved and the ride is smooth as we had hoped for and been promised.  Needless to say, the issue we had caused us undo stress wondering what on earth we spent all this money for?  Did we ruin the quintessential look of our Avion only to have a bumpier ride?  In the end…the ride is better, the clearance is better and we have the peace of mind of a very strong foundation (suspension) and a new braking system second to none! 

Final thoughts read below…..

For those who wish to see some of the quick video footage we took during the install process here you go!

Welding of new brackets to support axels. Video link

New axels with highlight on the Kodiak Disc Brake system. Video Link

First axel being lined up for install. Video link

Our Tech, Matt doing the welding of first axel onto frame. Video link

Closer look at streetside axels after being welded to frame. Video link

Balancing and aligning our new tires on axels-Hunter System. Video link

In summary...it was a stressful project from start to finish.  We were under the gun to have our house batteries relocated before we left for Elkhart, then a 780 mile trip out there.  We did not get our Avion into the shop until 2pm on first day of appointment, ended up being there 2.5 days and missed two days with fellow Avioners at our SAF rally.  We were shocked by the resulting height of the trailer and over extended tires past our sidewalls. AND, the saga did not stop and we had to have our sheer springs replaced within a month due to a size miscalculation on their part of which they did send us the correct replacements and covered labor.   But all is well now and we are happy!

In the end…we have a super rugged, solid foundation to our home and now we have an AVION OVERLANDER® rig now….and that is the beginning of a new story!

PLEASE SUBSCRIBE TO THIS BLOG SOYou can stay tuned so you can see the debut of a new separate off grid adventure blog from us with a separate, additional URL at AvionOverlander.com that will only focus on off-grid, off road- boondock and dispersed camping adventures, tips and more—coming in 2023 when we hit the road full time and do a lot of boondocking and off road/off grid adventures! (not to worry thePewterPalace.com will not be going away and will continue to be the repository for our campground reviews, regular trips, projects, tips and more!)

As always, if you have any questions, want more measurements, etc. please do not hesitate to reach out to us at any time via direct email to PewterPalace87@gmail.com!

Till we meet on the road or around the campfire!

2021 Silver Avion Fellowship Rally- Elkhart, Indiana – Why Attend a SAF Rally?

SAF Happy Hour gets HAPPY!

If you have not been to a SAF (Silver Avion Fellowship) Rally you are really missing something special!  The Elkhart, Indiana Rally is the “Mother Ship” original rally that has now birthed other rallies to spring up in Texas and Arkansas to host rallies at least annually as well.  Every rally across the USA gives a huge warm welcome to fellow Avioners regardless of age of rig, condition or for that matter…if you don’t have one yet- attending a rally and staying at a local hotel, etc. to come to the rally to chat with current owners can be super valuable.  We all love to talk Avions!!

The Indiana SAF is held in mid-July annually and as of this post it is traditionally held at the Elkhart Campground which is easily accessed by major interstates.  On average 30-40 Avions of various ages, lengths, models and condition flock to the campground filling at least one of the full hook up site fields!  The campground is also very convenient to the RV Hall of Fame (a must see!), great antique shopping, grocery stores and any other retail you can imagine right in Elkhart.  Another short day trip is to Shipshewana, IN which is home to one of the largest groups of Amish and Mennonite communities- the area is chocked full of amazing stores, antiques, livestock and goods auctions, gorgeous gardens, even a Quilt Garden Trail and much much more!  Just watch out for buggies!

Not to be missed when you attend the rally is a trip “upcountry” to Bontragers and Johnson’s RV Salvage/Overstock type stores.  Since Elkhart, IN is the “Capital of the RV Building Industry” a lot of overstock parts, gently used parts, and salvage are snatched up by these two retailers to sell the general public.   It is said if you cannot find what you are looking for at one of their locations…its not available.  We have enjoyed going but in truth, we have found very little useful to our vintage trailer besides generic parts and RV supplies that typically can be found at any RV parts store.  But it’s a fun adventure anyway! We actually prefer to go to the Johnson’s location that is only about 10 minutes from the campground and located on a main drag right in Elkhart- just google it when there!

WHAT WILL I SEE WHEN I ATTEND THE ELKHART SAF RALLY?

Yes! It’s AVION HEAVEN MAIN STREET!

The Indiana rally starts on Thursday but at least a third of the attendees start rolling in from Tuesday forward.  By Friday evening, everyone has arrived.  The rally ends on Sunday at campground check out, 11 AM.

When you arrive the rally coordinators will warmly greet you (and everyone else will wave to you as you come in!) and give you your packet with schedule, a rally sticker for your rig or keepsake, info sheet on local retailers, restaurants, –and yes, directions to Bontragers and Johnsons!

Here is a slide show from the 2021 Elkhart SAF Rally!  Maybe you recognize someone you know?!!  If not, come to the rally and you will be one of the gang in no time!

THERE IS LOTS TO DO RIGHT AT THE RALLY!

  • Morning Coffee and snacks with topic chats from fellow Avion owners (Saturday and Sunday morning). A great place to get answers to your questions, offer tips (trials and tribulations too!) and hear about resources around an informal cup o’ Joe. Some owners have had their Avions for decades, others have worked in or owned Avion dealerships! This is time to really pick some brains!
  • Welcome Reception/Happy Hour: BYOB but refreshments are available and many bring a bottle of something to share too! Dive into some nibbles, meet fellow Avioners and get the low down from the rally hosts on schedule highlights, additions or any changes.
  • Saturday Evening Dinner: Once again the volunteer kitchen crew do a bang up job putting out a great buffet dinner (yes, all of this is included in your very affordable rally fee!) Bring your own plate, cup, bowl and utensils and dive in!
  • Evening Entertainments: This varies from year to year, sometimes its a costume dress up affair, other times its a techy online version of Trivial Pursuit, there is even a super hilarious mystery gift round robin exchange where I think its more fun to watch the antics than even getting a gift! Some years (since Avioners love to have fun) there are more than one of the above!
  • TECH Talk! This is a more formal, scheduled time that anyone is welcomed to join in the event hall to pose questions (or you can submit them in advance which is appreciated) and our panel of Avion Guru’s will do their best to answer your questions. There is also plenty of time again to share tips, resources and how to’s with fellow owners. This event is really a “must do” for first time owners or newbies to Avions! Don’t miss it! Special time and attention is given to first timers!
  • “Walk About Trailer Tour”- Wanna see inside some of the Avions at the Rally? This is your chance! Look for the “walk about” on the schedule and take a stroll with attendees to go inside any trailers on tour! Its totally optional to open your rig up for tour- we have had everything from “works in progress” to total gut and modernistic rehabs! Its a great way to get decorating ideas, discuss specifics about their rig and enjoy putting a face to the Avion!
  • Informal Happy Hours at Avions! Be sure to get the scoop and find out who may be hosting an impromptu Happy Hour right at their rig. Bring your chair, a dish to share and your own liquid potions! Rock back, enjoy the camaraderie that IS an AVION RALLY!

If this isn’t enough, the campground has a nice pool, and other amenities and of course, don’t forget that visit to the nearby (10 min) RV Hall of Fame to see vintage camping rigs dating back to the early 1900’s, kitchy ones from the 40-50’s and groovy ones (yes, shag carpet) from the 70-80’s!

At the 2021 Rally a small group  of us opted to do a private group authentic Amish/Mennonite dinner at a Barn!  It was fabulous!

SO DON’T MISS OUT ANY LONGER!    PLAN TO ATTEND AN UPCOMING SAF RALLY IN INDIANA, TEXAS OR ARKANSAS!!  OR ALL THREE!!  BUT HOW?? 

Simply really!  Each of these rallies has their own dedicated Facebook group page where all the specifics about their rallies (date, where, how to register, highlights of events to happen and a direct way to contact the rally coordinator(s) if needed.  Folks are very responsive so reach out!

Remember, any Avion, any age and condition is welcomed!  Don’t own one yet but want to?  That’s fine too just let the rally coordinators know and they can fill you in on how to attend and may have some suggestions for local lodging or if the campground has rentals or cabins.  In most cases registered attendees to the rallies make their own camp site registrations when contacting the campground directly.  Discount rates typically are given for rally dates.

These Facebook group pages are by invite, so go to the site and click on the button to ask to join!  Yes, that simple really!!

We hope to see you at an upcoming Avion Rally!  Once we go full time in 2023 we plan to visit the rallies in TX and AR but in the meantime, we have also joined their Facebook pages to get to know folks virtually!  

As always please feel free to reach out to us directly with any questions you have and please visit our YouTube Channel and our online market place for all things Avion!  Many thanks!

Safe travels, 

Luisa & Kevin Sherman