Tag Archives: avion travel trailer

Rock Guard Rescue-Avion Trailer, PT 1

We purchased our 1973 Avion in September 2016.  Quite a birthday present for me if I do say so!

Our rock guard (original to 1973) was in decent shape, with the logo faded and some stress cracks at the angle support hinge area on top.  Both of these “age-related illnesses” are ones that are very common and frequently seen in Avions especially those pre-1980’s. (you can easily see the cracks in photo below).

The previous owner to us had done a decent repair job on that right crack by reinforcing with a piece of steel behind it and filling in the crack on the outside with Parbond or something similar, but now after two years of our use we started to see the left side begin to show more of a pronounced stress crack too.

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These cracks in the solid formed hard plastic original rock guards like ours are common due to the sheer weight of the guard and the jiggling, torquing and bouncing it experiences when rolling down the road even though it is locked in at the bottom.  Hey, and our baby has done Alaska 2xs, California at least 4 times and Florida annually for at least 6 years—so after a total of 45 years and having only these cracks in her is truly not bad!

In May of 2018 we had taken our Avion out to Cayo Repair in MI to have some work done and on the punch list was to sure up that left crack to prevent further damage and to ensure that it would hold, at least for a few more years.  Chuck Cayo did a decent job with it which you can see on photo below where the rivet stud backs are showing through the horizontal piece of sandwiched steel plate.  But we knew at some point the inevitable question would have to be addressed to repair again or replace completely.

In the photo below you will also see where the two support hinges mount up underneath the top inside of the rock guard.  These hinges bear the full weight of the guard when opened (as shown) but also lock in place in the pull latches on bottom edge center of window to lock the guard in place for towing mode.  Thus all the stress is there despite the long tubular hinge that connects from the guard itself to the rig.

The photo below clearly shows the system by which the rock guard is “hung” to attach to the trailer body. (also the horizontal steel plate repair by Cayo) .The body has a receiver tube as we call it that the guard slides into from one side.

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It takes two people to effectively and safely remove or install the guard to the rig using this system.  The sheer weight of these original guards is a lot.

Newer replacement guards are being manufactured by Cayo RV Repair in MI and some other private owners these days. I believe they are made of fiberglass and therefore far lighter which is a good thing, however the ones we have seen are all black which we do not care for at all.   We prefer our muted grey which blends in with the aluminum body of the trailer better.

Here is a good photo for comparison, ours being on the left with its original as is condition, the one on the right is the fiberglass black replacement.

 

To Repair or Replace….THAT is the Question!

We knew we had only really two options with our ever growing cracks in our original existing rock guard.

  1. Bite the bullet and purchase one of the new fiberglass knockoffs (around $700-800 +S/H)
  2. Try to once again do repairs to our existing one in hopes to sure it up sufficiently for the wear and tear it would eventually get once we begin full timing in a few years.

Never Underestimate a Sunday drive to VT!

It brought us a TREASURE FIND or TWO!

One sunny Saturday in July 2018 I suggested to Kevin it would be nice to go over to nearby VT to scope out some potential campgrounds where we may wish to stay in coming years.  We like to physically see the campground and identify specific sites that we take note of for future calls for reservations.  We wanted places that would be grandkid-friendly and relatively easy to get to distance for us and for my daughter and son-in-law to drive to as they would be transporting the two grandchildren to us for a camping weekend.

Living in eastern upstate NY we can be to VT in a matter of 40 minutes.  Our trip that day took us over through Cambridge NY and then into the Bennington and Manchester VT areas of mid-state/western VT.  Using just my google map locator asking “campgrounds near me” we found several close by with no problem.  Our third one to visit though was the charm.  Not because we would want to end up camping there (no amenities, mostly all very run down, entrenched seasonals) but because on our way out the driveway Kevin shouted STOP! (I was driving) “WAIT…THERE IS AN AVION!”.  Yes, it was, abandoned and sitting among wreck, trash, bits and pieces from other trailers.  It was the campground owners graveyard of discards from two generations of ownership.  Yeah, they did not ever throw anything away!  Thank goodness!!

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We pulled off the drive and into the graveyard.  Wrangled over debris and checked her out.  Appeared to be a 1988 but the rock guard looked really, really similar in design and size to ours.  The poor rig had had a tree fall on her, breaking her center spine and was left in the graveyard to fill with rain, leaves, etc. etc. and used for storage, sort of, for perhaps a decade or more.  But the rock guard was crack free, moveable and hopefully would be ours!  We did have a tape measure with us, took measurements and tried texting and calling Cayo and posting on the Avion FB pages quickly to see if anyone could answer our question about if size of this one was same as our ’73 which of course was safely and out of reach back in NY.  A couple online FB Avioners replied they thought it would fit, but if the price was right, even if it did not fit ours, there was surely a market to sell it to another Avion owner who could use it.  That was enough security for us!

The owner of the campground came by driving his backhoe to gawk at these unfamiliars climbing around his Avion.  No worries, nice guy and Kevin quickly sparked up a perfect, nonthreatening conversation to allay the owners fears that we were some city slickers.  We are not, we are North Country folk too and Kevin knows his mechanicals, trucks, etc. to dazzle any New England car/truck junky.  After a very short and amenable conversation the deal was struck, tools offered to assist us in the guard’s removal and within about 15 minutes the new rock guard was being hoisted by Kevin and I into our Suburban.  Reddy our Cavalier Spaniel who had come along for the ride was not quite sure what this big canopy was coming over top her bed!

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This ends Part 1 of our ROCK GUARD RESCUE.

BUT THERE’S MORE LUCK TO BE FOUND!  Never underestimate what gems you may find on a Sunday drive!

Not more than 15 minutes down the road from rescuing this rock guard did we see a much earlier Avion (can you spot it in first photo below?) at a horse show along the road.

We veered quickly there to see that too!  And to our sheer delight, it belonged to a woman who ran a mobile embroidery business who was actually based out of CT.  Turns out it was a 1974, 23′ Travelcade. She had pretty much gutted the inside but had done some tasteful redecorating in prep for her boutique.

She was making custom designed hats, shirts, jackets for the horsey set.  She needed an awning for her new Avion soon to be traveling boutique on wheels.  Perfect!  We struck a deal to trade our old Carefree Awning system hardware for some custom designed clothing using our trademarked Avion artwork that we had commissioned an artist to do for us in 2017.  This was truly our double lucky day!

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My next post will be on the Rehab phase! Until then…safe journeys!

Luisa

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Sharing Holiday Joy from NY to AZ!

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Along the way of our past six years of researching, planning and dreaming about our eventual “full time RV life” we have enjoyed and learned from many who have taken the plunge before us!

Among those who we respect and have learned from the most are a handful which include at top of our list, Steve & Courtney from AStreaminLife.

We have followed their journey from their initial change of lifestyle decision, to sale of their house, to downsize and deciding what trailer to get (Courtney was totally new to camping and RV life while Steve had grown up with parents who RV’d tons!) , to their first year commuting daily from full time RV living in a local KOA campground in Tucson AZ,  but keeping their day jobs…..to their first years + now full time on the road.

Each episode they post on YouTube we learn something, laugh (at sometimes Steve’s dry humor jokes) share similar likes, dislikes and we know we are far more better equipped when our day comes because of them and others who have taken the journey and are willing to share their successes, failures and “whoops” candidly and honestly.

For more information about AStreaminLife  visit their full website too!  link

So this year, in the season of thanksgiving for many blessings we have, we also wanted to let Steve and Courtney know how much we have appreciated their friendship and effort to allow viewers like us to be included in their daily life.  We knew they were going to be coming up to the ADK’s hopefully this summer and that they loved to visit and film waterfalls.  Well, we know the DACKS are full of neat spots but knowing Courtney loves the “epic planning” part of their trips we sent a Christmas present to them in Scottsdale AZ where they were going to be celebrating with Courtney’s folks over Christmas time.  Included in our gift to them was a travel guide to ADK waterfalls, and each of them got a pair of socks befitting to their lifestyle and their tastes.  Steve’s socks were a custom beer bottle (he loves craft beer and breweries just like Kevin does!) and for Courtney I picked out a pair of socks that had a camping theme complete with trailer, campfire, etc.   It appears they loved them and we are so happy for that!

Here is a clip of their Scottsdale AZ video published on their YouTube Channel.  Specific reference to receiving our Christmas present socks (and showing them off) is at about 5:47 minutes in–HOW SWEET OF THEM TO THANK US IN THIS VERY PUBLIC WAY!  WOW-did not expect that and they have over 11K YouTube followers!!  Please watch the whole video (and their other videos on early retirement how to and RV living and travels to magnificent places in the USA!) so you can learn more about who they are and you will see why we enjoy following them on their journey so much. Better yet!  subscribe to their YouTube Channel and see the many valuable and educational videos they have posted from selecting a generator, to downsizing tips, to finding the perfect campground…or the not to perfect dip into a BLM spot that got them stuck AND cost them a portion of an underbelly pan which had to be repaired!

BTW- they typically camp in exactly the same kind of BLM and private campgrounds that we know we plan to go to as well…over this Christmas ’18 they are in Cave Creek which is a town Kevin and I have spent quite a bit of time in already as it is only about 35 minutes north of where my son David lives with his wife Bri.  Kevin and I had already checked out and put the campground in Cave Creek (Cave Creek Canyone road below) on our list of must stays.

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Happy New Year Everyone!

Kevin & Luisa Sherman, The Pewter Palace

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Keeping RV Cabinetry in Tip Top Shape

There is no doubt that one of the key features of vintage trailers is their craftsmanship and quality of products/materials.  Later in this post I will talk about what we do to maintain our cabinetry so well, but first, a little history and photos.

The Avion Coach Company spared no expense when manufacturing their signature aluminum trailers prior to the late 1970’s.  Given the price tag at the time, these beauties were high end, luxury trailers.   It was after that time that the company was sold to the Fleetwood RV company and incrementally over subsequent years the quality and craftsmanship started to wane.  For more history about the Avion Corporation we highly recommend purchasing Bob Muncy’s book shown here.  There is a link to how to purchase on our resources page.

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Our 1973 is considered by many articles we have seen to be in the “perfect window years” of style, amenities and design of the Avion Coach Company.  Truthfully, many prefer the pre-1973 models which have more rounded, Airstream-type styling (photo below left) with more front/rear fan panels—but in 1973 when they changed to our “breadloaf” front and rear (ours at photo below right) you gained some really valuable headspace and storage inside and more room to move about in the rear bathroom.

 

One of the things however that did not change during these pre- late 70’s years and even into the 80’s at least was the superb quality of their use of real wood and excellent craftsmanship of their cabinetry.   Real hinges on drawers, metal tracks and wheels.  Full length piano hinges on all tall cabinets and closet doors are all standard.  Our LaGrande model has the extra French Provincial molding and flourish handle pulls (our kitchen cabinet below).  The more basic, entry level trailer, The Travelcader, and Sportsman models had plain fronts and simple pulls.

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Now owners of Avion’s are tasked with maintaining the condition of these beautiful wood cabinets.  Some have chosen to paint over the stained finish-perhaps because of worn, dried out condition of their trailer, others because there is a growing preference especially among Millennials to have a crisp, bright, clean look so white or pale grey painted cabinets seem to be the rage.  Below is a great beautiful example of a more “modern 21st century look” recently put on one of our Avion Facebook forums.  It is a very, very nice look but not one that we would feel comfy in for any full time living.  It always amazes me how varied style  interiors each Avion owner does with their trailer.  We are all starting with basically the same bones!

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For us traditionalists, we relish the mellowed wood stain of our cabinets and do all we can to ensure they stay that way.  Look at the difference!  Only you can decide for your personal style which you prefer!

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Now, about keeping up this stained cabinetry.

Each spring, we wipe over all of the wood cabinetry, closet doors inside and out with “Restor-A-Finish” oil by a company called Howard.  Here is the link to it on Amazon, but they also have other colors available too like Cherry and others.  One can has now lasted me two complete seasons.  I did go over the cabinets this fall again because we had used the trailer more this season and they just seemed to need a bit more.  We purchased this Restor-A-Finish can at our local large Antique Co-op Shop (Glenwood Antiques in Queensbury, NY)  and it is something that many antique dealers use routinely on furniture.  It does come in a variety of stain colors and we found that the Maple-Pine was the closest match to our cabinets.  The Avion Corp. did offer a few different finish colors so some interiors are going to be different than ours, lighter, or darker.  The wood is birch with beautiful grain as you can see from our photos.

I use an old Tee shirt or other smooth rag to apply the oil.  Careful…it is quite thin and runny!

It does go on somewhat oily but that is fine and over a day or two it penetrates in and rejuvenates the wood.  There is no need to go back over it with a dry cloth.  Let the oil soak in. What I do like is that it does NOT leave a sticky film like some other furniture oils do.  The smell is not bad and it does wash off your hands fairly easy with a scrubby but I do try to wear rubber gloves when applying it because it will stain your fingernails a bit for a time afterwards.

I like that it is a little shiny when being applied because it allows me to more easily see where i have daubed and where I have not.  I have also used this same restorer if we had a scratch accidentally onto a cabinet door or trim piece.  It covers it beautifully!

Here is a perfect photo to show the treated cabinet on left, and not-yet-treated on right:

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In conclusion, we would highly recommend Restor-A-Finish for refurbishing your wood stained cabinetry and maintaining its vibrancy and condition by using it at least annually.  We have seen photos of Avion and other RV interiors where the cabinets were not treated regularly and what happens is that they get brittle, chip, peel and look washed out and faded.

So please give treat your wood cabinets to a luscious spa treatment to keep them in beautiful condition always!

See you on the road!  One Life….Live It!!

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Kevin & Luisa Sherman ~ The Pewter Palace