Tag Archives: avion travel trailer

Mud Flap Install- Protecting the Beauty!

We spent the following week preparing for our big trip out to Elkhart, Indiana to enjoy the Silver Avion Fellowship Rally with 41, count ’em…41 other Avions! While at it…we installed a mud flap system to protect our silver beauty!! 

Back story.……When we returned from our longest road trip to date (16 days) to Dearborn, Michigan this past May/June for the TCT (Tin Can Tourist) Centennial Rally we noticed that at some point, we must have driven over some loose gravel, rock chips in a construction zone because on the curbside of our Avion front area (yes, the area where Airstreams have those protective “wings”) we had a whole lot of small, tiny dings into our aluminum skin.  We  know these were not there prior to our trip.  It is worthwhile to note that with our multiple excursions now through Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, and Indiana…that the roads in those states are not nearly as good, or well maintained as ours are in NYS.  So ok, higher gas taxes, and over all taxes may have some redeeming quality…but we still live in one of THE most expensive states in the union–so not much solace there.

So we have decided to purchase a mud flag bumper guard set up for our tow vehicle which is a 2011 GMC 2500 Denali HD, 6L gas, 4 WD, Crew Cab with Leer extended bed cap (which we LOVE!!).

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A mudflap system would have most likely 99% prevented these chips from happening.  Only sorry we did not do sooner, 46 years on the road and our baby got dinged!  Not only does a mudflap protect from errant rocks coming up and hitting your rig, or worse yet, your rockguard or windows…BUT it also handles…well….MUD (snow, slush, dead animal debris, floating garbage or UFO’s on the highway!-yes it happens!)  Kevin works for NYS DOT and can tell you amazing stories of what his crew finds on the highways.  Mud was the other thing that washed up onto our Avion body front during this most recent trip.

Kevin got lucky when he inquired about pricing for a Rockstar Mud Flap bumper system at our favorite local after-market auto parts detailer and installer- Mac The Knife (Mac also is the one who redid our rock guard and spare tire cover- he does great work!)  Mac happened to have a left over demo model of a Rockstar brand system that he had had on display in his shop a few years back.  Yeah, it was dusty but Kevin got it for less than 1/2 price off current retail …and it is the same system being sold today for over $479 list.  Here is link to similar set up that we have which is currently available through ETrailer.com.  FYI-We have purchased several things from ETrailer.com and are very impressed with the ease of ordering online, their quick shipping and quality products.  They have a huge inventory of tons of stuff and their customer service reps are very good.

Bear in mind, these things are heavy.  We realized that since this will be a one time purchase for us…and when we are in our 70’s and 80’s and still on the road (don’t laugh…we will be good LORD willin’ and the creek don’t rise!) we needed the easiest way possible to lift this baby off the back hitch to store it away if we did not want to cruise around with it on the truck (it does add weight= lesser gas efficiency when not towing)

Here is a good video to show how you hook on the system to your rear bumper.

So Kevin had the idea to create a semi-permanent fix which was to affix the flap system to the receiver piece insert which then can be pulled out with the mud flap bumper system.  Otherwise, we would also have to be pulling off the entire (and super heavy) GenY Torsion Hitch with the whole mudflap bumper system attached as one unit.  That GenY Torsion Hitch is also a great piece of equipment and we will do a separate post just on that and cross link it here at some point.

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view of bumper step, where guard sits atop for custom look

Steps we did:

  1. Retro fit a longer 12″ insert reducer from 2.5″ to 2″ so that we could bolt the mud flap guard system right to that. Here is the link to the additional hardware bracket needed as well.   Link to hardware sold at ETrailer.com
  2. Kevin used a DeWalt Saws-All with brand new blades to cut off the excess length off the reducer.  Be sure to clamp down the reducer so you get as straight a cut as possible.  The reducer was too long and butted right  up to our spare tire, so that needed to be trimmed back by several inches.  Doing this however, then threw off the alignment of the pre-drilled side holes in the reducer, making use of a hitch pin lock impossible.
  3. He then used several different drill bits to cut new holes in the correct positions needed to now be able to throw the hitch lock 5/8 ” pin through. It has a key lock and we have had it rekeyed to match the truck ignition so you always have it handy!
  4. We followed some video’s found on YouTube for the Rockstar brand installation because as we mentioned, this was a store demo unit and therefore we had no instructions or paperwork with it.
  5. Once installed where we knew it was properly in place, we also had to install a Heat Shield (bought on Amazon, see our link/resource page) to prevent the heat from our large exhaust pipe from damaging (a.k.a melting!) our heavy rubber mud flaps.

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It is very important to have this heat shield if your exhaust goes out back before using the mudflap unit. If your pipe exhausts to the side you will not need the heat shield.

IF you are purchasing a brand new kit, you may have to put your unit together yourself.  See Video    As a demo model…Kevin did not have to do these steps!  Ours was ready for install!

 

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This is showing the install WITH the GenY Torsion hitch in place.  The GenY now can be removed by itself and the mudflap guard system stays on the vehicle unless we decide we want to take it off for non-towing times, or touring. Still to do was install the heat shield, and apply some bumper pads on truck bumper to protect from rubbing of mud flap bumper tabs.

If you have any questions about this install, or why we chose our hitch or this mudflap system, feel free to email us directly at 1973Avion@gmail.com!  We would love to hear from you!

Safe journeys!  Share photos of your mud flap project with us on our facebook page!

Kevin & Luisa Sherman

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Avion ’73 Rear Tire Carrier & Tire Cover

Recently there has been several newer Avion owners seeking info on the rear tire carrier and their original hard plastic covers.

Did you know this was an OPTIONAL item back in the day when Avion’s were being ordered or purchased? Yup….a SPARE TIRE CARRIER for the rear bumper would set you back another whopping $33 for tire holder and $16 for the spare tire!!! This explains why you will see some Avion’s of this or earlier vintage with nothing on their rear bumper. I am not quite sure where or if the owners carried a spare, lets hope they did somewhere! Perhaps strapped down on the top of the 1973 Mercury Station Wagon roof rack!! [ my dad had one of these!!]

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Check out these 1977 AVION Trailer OPTIONS and Standard Equipment lists!

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(yeah…what happened to THOSE prices right!??) Above is an awesome list of options from a 1977 sales sheet we found at the archive library at the RV Hall of Fame Museum in Elkhart, Indiana in 2017!

Lucky for us our 1973 Avion (that we purchased from the 4th owner who resided in VT about 2 hours from us) had the original tire carrier welded onto the rear round bumper. We would never travel anywhere without a spare tire. But we are constantly amazed at how many RV owners of all brands and styles do! Seriously?? To us having a spare tire is safety and responsibility 101.

Here is a photo of the rear of our Avion in as purchased condition in fall 2016.

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Shortly thereafter, we purchased this great vinyl spare tire cover which I really love. This enabled us to take off the original hard plastic spare tire cover (another optional purchase when originally ordered) in prep for its refurb.

Note- if you are looking for reproductions to replace worn out Travelcade stickers like the one centered above our running lights, please visit our blog post all about Avion Medallions and Emblems. I have links to all about this sticker and where to purchase reproduction replacements!

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Here is the link to that vinyl tire cover. It has held up very well in 3 years. The elastic stays supple and strong, the vinyl has not faded and it comes in a variety of sizes.

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These hard plastic covers were originally sold with a nice locking bolt feature (see picture below), but most of those locks are long gone now. Occasionally we will see one still existing on an Avion. Below is one that we came uponm for sale in Milford, Michigan when attending the 100th Centennial of the TCT (Tin Can Tourist) club rally. The owner of this ’74 Avion had her out on the end of a driveway for sale, BTW it was sold within 1 week of the rally! Some one got a good deal at $4500!

(below is NOT our Avion. Photo is a Avion for sale on side of road in MI in May 2019)

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Once our hard plastic cover was removed, we knew it was going to need suring up of the center mounting hole.

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There is a considerable amount of stress over 45 years that is put on that bolt and the center circular opening had stress cracks and its thickness of hard plastic worn thinner from rubbing and wear.

We took the cover to a local auto body repair shop, Dave Ure’s in Queensbury. We were pleased with the results but it came at a higher cost than anticipated, $434.00 when all was said and done. ouch!

They did do a great job of applying some additional reinforcement material on the back interior of the tire cover around the center hole while also applying a beautiful hard auto finish paint coating and sealant of the outside of the tire cover. We had selected the color to compliment our interior color scheme and add some pop to our rear end! The finish and coating applied resulted in a very durable, hard finish that no doubt will last a very long time.

For the lettering, we wanted something that would add some “bling” and even more pop to our “rear end” of the RV. We also wanted to some double duty marketing opportunity to promote ourselves and this blog. So we laid out a rendering of the lettering we wanted and took it to Mac The Knife who we had refurb our rock guard and had done an awesome job (better and cheaper than Dave Ure’s shop) Mac followed our instructions to a tee. Mac The Knife is an auto detailer on Quaker Road in Queensbury only about a mile from our house. We are very happy with the results.

Total cost of the lettering by Mac the Knife was: $200.

So while we have a considerable investment (nearly $700) in our original cover, she is beautiful and will surely last us a lifetime of enjoyment! yes, its secured in place!


Below are some photos of our rear tire carrier hardware.

This is the optional feature that sold for the $33 in 1973 when our first owner (we are owner #5) purchased our 1973, 28 foot LaGrande.

We have yet to do a repaint on this. It honestly does not show since the cover is on, but at some point we will repaint it completely. The photos may help those of you who are chosing to have one fabricated. To the best of our knowledge there is no one who currently has these for sale in stock, so you would need to be lucky enough to find one from a parts salvager. NOTE, we believe that the 1980 models and newer of Avions had a very different configuration and system for spare tire storage.

It should be noted that this carrier is really hefty and well made. It is securely welded to the round bumper. We have since installed a clamped on (with long bolts) hitch receiver so that we can mount a bike carrier or a storage shelf on the back of our bumper when needed.

One of our plans include attaching vintage metal coolers (aluminum skinned, bought on Ebay, $25-45) to the rear bumper to serve as extra storage area for sewer hose, and spare electrical cords. They can also double as ice chests for beverages once set up at camp. They even have bottle openers built into their side handles! The original hollow bumpers are too small of a diameter to handle modern sewer hoses and couplers. We DO however keep a spare 30 amp RV power cord in stuffed in there and snake it out when needed…which has happened that we need an extension to our regular built in cord. For example, at Sampson State Park in the Finger Lakes of NY.

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Safe and Happy travels to you! If you have enjoyed this post, or found it helpful please follow our blog by activating the box at top right of this page!

Let us know if you have enjoyed this information. Also let us know if there are topics that you wish we would cover and have not yet! We are always interested in what YOU are interested in when it comes to Avion life and passion!

Thank you!

Kevin & Luisa Sherman

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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