WHY? People have had the windows on their Avions blow open and get broken off of the rig when a gust of wind hit their rig while going down the road or in a bad wind storm. Don’t let this happen to you!
When we owned our 1973 Avion, 28′ LaGrande Model we noticed that one of the three prior owners had put on some “make do” hardware that held the windows more solidly closed while rolling down the road or during winter or very bad weather (rain or wind). Below is one of those “make do” clips but overtime it was only functional with our little slip of a wood shim in it! So the time to find a new “fix” was due!
CAUTION! These old Hehr windows especially the “awning type” which are the one piece large windows that crank open from the bottom out…CAN AND DO have the potential to catch a wind and fly open when rolling down the road at 50+ MPH. In case you do unfortunately lose a window or purchase a reno project Avion, Hehr does still make awning style (and Jalousie) windows and some online companies also carry a limited amount of dimensions. NO ONE in our research makes the rounded front curved windows that flank your center front window so please baby those fixed windows- we also have them in the rear bedroom of our ’87!
*note, since purchasing our 1987 32S Avion (jalousie window style) we do not have this issue with rattling or fly open accidently windows but we still make double-triple sure they are fully secured before we begin towing because if open even a little bit the wind could catch the smaller pane of a jalousie and pull it open to and strip your window crank system in the process. It seems the issues of rattling windows is more prevalent with the awning style windows found on pre mid 80’s models.
Additionally, some of our window torque operators (those little metal boxes that your crank handle fits into to raise the window out) were less than perfect, wear out quickly due to soft metal gears inside and did not always “snuggly” hold our window shut.
WHAT TO DO TO PREVENT WINDOWS HAVING A MIND OF THEIR OWN??
They are cheap, come in boxes of multiples and made for a decently attractive but functional solution to ensuring our windows were all securely closed to prevent accidental opening during trailering.
We put a stainless steel screw into the pre-drilled hole and the “pin” which is intended to fit into a round hold in a bookshelf wall is actually what holds the window closed. (sorry evidently did not take a photo of this before we sold our 73 Avion!)
Part of our routine before we got underway for a trip and then when we arrive to set up at our campsite was simply to take a cordless power drill and unscrew the stainless screw to be able to rotate the clip away from the window frame to allow the window to open. We did not remove the clip entirely, merely rotated out of the way so it was ready to be deployed again to do its job once we were packing up and making ready to leave our campsite.
Last but not least….we cannot stress enough the importance of a “WALK AROUND” safety check BEFORE you tow your RV 2 feet! The walk about is Luisa’s job so there is a second pair of eyes on the hitch area and all its hook ups, etc. This Walk-Around will be where you check to see that all of your windows are secured down, if using clips like we outline above, they are engaged and tightened, awnings latched/locked in place. I will be posting a complete other “walk around” post to go into more details on this very important safety standard of practice.
We have had a request to post some photos of the exterior, aftermarket “clips” that were on our original 1973 Avion, 28 foot LaGrande.
Here is one of them below.
A previous owner had put these on because, lets face it, those window crank mechanisms are far from reliable, or sturdy.
Last thing you want is your window to accidentally open enough to catch a gust of wind as you tool down the road and bend the window frame out of alignment or worse, rip it off!
We suspect you can probably find similar clips to the original ones on our Avion in a good hardware store that has screen door replacement parts too.
Along the way, we had to add and also replace some and what we used was actually those small shelf support holders that you see in some bookcases, kitchen cabinets, etc.
SEE BELOW for what we found worked. The rounded pin end was what was against the window frame and held it snugly in place. We reused the original holes from prior “safety clips” that were either lost or lost their ability to hold the window and used these clips below with a small screw in place.
Using these make shift safety clips does help in preventing the inadvertent opening of your window when going down the road at 60-70 MPH (we never go over 60-63 MPH when towing!). Those window cranks are not failsafe and can over time fail to hold your window securely closed. We have read where especially when traveling in high wind areas where windows have opened enough to be sheared off.
Just remember, if you do go the way of installing these or similar types of clips, you will need to bring a portable power drill with Philips head on it to loosen them up once you get to your campsite so you can rotate them out of the way and open your windows. We do not recommend taking them completely out every time (you will lose them and you may prematurely strip the holes)
Hope this short article helps! If it has…let us know with a comment!
Let us know if you have come up with another idea on securing your windows from accidental opening when towing!
With the exception of TIRES….the project that seems to get the most play on any of the Avion Forums, Facebook pages and Instant messaging is “what and how do I fix my windows that look like this??
We have had countless requests to create this comprehensive project blog post so here it goes. Included is step by step “how-to’s”, where to buy materials, videos, tips and tricks!
By no means are we professionals at this-we just love our Avion and want to make her whole. We make mistakes, we try to help others to not make those same mistakes if we can avoid it…but there are some folks on the Avion facebook pages and forums that have done 2, 3, 4. 6 makeovers of Avion windows who should and could be tapped for their expertise too!
(BELOW IS WHAT OUR 1987 32S LOOKED LIKE WHEN WE BOUGHT IT IN MARCH 2020)
This is what our windows looked like AFTER we finished (or nearly finished) our project
First...assemble the tools we suggest you have handy:
Heat gun (a hand held hair blow drier will work in a pinch)
Heavy duty scissors, or kitchen shears
Needle nose pliers
Set of picks (blue handles) (can be found at big box hardware stores)
also, not pictured but needed…..
Tape measure (we have found best to have a cloth measuring tape AND a regular metal measuring tape
Phillips screwdriver (in case, like with ours, the screw cover had been screwed down to hold in place after shrinkage from age had started to pull away corners)
Can of Pam cooking spray, to help lubricate the tracks before inserting new trim
Rages, shop cloths or disposable wipes & cleaner (we use GoJo Brand Workshop/Garage Hand wipes. They have a ruff side but it does not hurt aluminum skin or window tracks, but really removes grease, grime and goo from window tracks.
NOTE: For the purpose of this blog post I am going to refer to the window glass bead as “trim” and the trim that goes around the outside of later model Avions like ours (87) as the “screw cover”. The Glass Bead is what term to look for on the sites linked below that sell the right stuff. The glass bead is the rubber trim that pushes into place that sits and hugs the glass of your window. Don’t ask me why they call is a bead…it is far from that in my book…it is trim. but using the right terms, Glass Bead and Screw Cover will keep you out of trouble, especially when trying to locate the stuff online or speaking with someone at these companies.
IMPORTANT TIPS- SOME OF THESE WE LEARNED THE HARD WAY!
(Don’t skip this part please!)
Do this project when weather is warm so old trim and new is as pliable as possible.
Take your cloth measuring tape, and measure each window around the metal trims- both the bead trim and the screw cover if applicable. Using a cloth measuring tape makes it easier to loosely measure window curved corners. Get that total for each project and ADD 10-15 feet for safe measure.
Pro Tip (ha ha) make a schematic of your trailer NOW and write down each glass bead trim track and if you have them, screw cover track length for each window. This will help in installation steps to follow. ADD 2-3 INCHES TO EACH OVERALL LENGTH!
Always order at least 10-15 extra feet over what you think you need. You are going to screw up your measurements or the 45 degree corner angles , etc. on occasion.
Do NOT take any old trim off until you are ready to tackle that particular window. This we found was especially critical with the curved front and back windows. We did not know this, removed all trim and over a few weeks of very hot 90 degree summer weather, the curved/bent glass pieces shifted down. We had to manual slide them back into place and shim them to be able to get new trim into the tracks again.
We do not recommend microwaving (some do!) or laying out your new trim in the sun unless the temps outside are cold and you need to warm up the rubber to get it pliable. The concern with heating new trim up too much is you do NOT want to stretch the trim as you are putting it in because once it cools it will shrink back to its normal length causing you problems in corners and seam areas.
We do recommend using the 3M trim adhesive we will show in our steps. We used this in all radius corners (rounded corners) as well as wherever seams butted up against each other (both under the trim as well as over top the seams). This product is linked in our Amazon product list on our Resource/Links page. We used just over (1) 5 oz tube for our ’32 foot trailer. We did end up buying that second tube for like the last window, but this stuff will come in handy down the road for sure!
This project requires strong finger strength. There is no way around it. Kevin was the only one with the finger strength to get especially the glass bead (the trim that sits against the windows) to seat in properly. I had no problem putting in the screw cover which is in the outside track. Be ready for finger cramping at night!
Use continuous lengths of trim for each window. Do not piece together unless you absolutely have to. The more seams you introduce the more likely you will have failures and leaks. Some of the curved windows will required a straight side piece and then one continuous piece for the rest-for example the curved front and, if you have them the rear side windows. On our 32S we also had the small little windows underneath our picture window in salon.
When you receive your ordered new trim, dry fit a small piece in each window track to be sure you have ordered the right stuff. We found out the hard way (too!) that our front and rear large windows with curved side glass pieces had a very slightly different trim profile than ALL of the other windows.
We highly recommend using the fill-able syringe we have on our Resource Page to put the 3M Black Adhesive into so you can create a small exact bead of goo to put into track corners and at butted seams. I snip off the first 1/8″ to use with Parbond and with this 3M material otherwise the tip as it is made is so tiny, its really tough to push this thick material through.
STEP # 1: ORDERING THE RIGHT TRIM FOR YOUR TRAILER WINDOWS
Decide what trim, for your model year Avion (or other vintage trailer for that matter) you are going to need. Here is what we ordered and from whom for our 1987 Avion 32S window project. (Caution! this may or may not be what you need depending on year!) You can use the resources we have listed below to take a bit of your old trim you have cut off to measure and try to match up with the product #s online. For best search…you may want to actually SEND the company a sample and let their in house folks match you up with the right stuff you need.
Interstate and Pelland are the two we have dealt with the most. They have very good customer service, thank goodness because their websites are really pretty bad!
(at the very end of this post we will show you specific links to the product #s and sources that we used on our ’73 28 Foot LaGrande Model and our ’87 32S model)
STEP 2: REMOVE OLD TRIM OFF A WINDOW AND PREP IT FOR NEW TRIM
Like with many or all projects, good surface preparation is key to a good finished product that will last.
We found removing the Rock Guard really makes working on the front window much easier, but the rock guard can be left on if needed. To remove your rock guard, check for any set screws in the upper track used to prevent guard from sliding out inadvertently. To remove guard really is best done with 2 people on step stools. Lift guard open up to an angle where the person (normally on the left) can begin to slide the guard out to the left along that upper track. Keep sliding, the person on the right may have to help it over the bend of the guard on the end a little by flexing it out if possible or giving it a nudge, its going to be tight getting it past that point. Continue to slide guard off which ever end of the track it feels most wanting to slide to. We have found the person who helped on the right, needs to run around with their step stool to join the person on the left to guide it off due to overall length. You do NOT want to bend this guard out of shape nor have it snap or crack. They are nearly impossible to find original replacements for !
(1) Remove old trim from the window you plan to work on today. You may need a screw driver or needle nose pliers to pry it out and away from window track. Do not bend metal track! We highly suggest KEEP all the old Trim…at least for now! See photo capture to learn why!
(2) Use cloths, scrubbies and a cleaner to get out all gunk, goo, bugs, etc from metal track. Again, we use GoJo Brand Shop Wipes which are pre-moistened with a cleaner designed to remove grease, grime but are made for hands-so no harsh chemicals.
(3) Remove any unnecessary screws (in the case of the screw cover, remove any exterior screws that were put in to hold old trim stuff on. You will NOT be putting screws into the new trim.
(4) Fill any unneeded “screw holes” made from old screws with Parbond or similar. If there is obvious gaps in where the metal tracking butts up against each end, you can fill that slightly too. The premise is we want to close up any unnecessary holes that can allow water into the trailer walls.
(5) CHECK YOUR WEEP HOLES! This is a great time to check your weeping holes on most windows. They will typically appear as 2 small holes or square slots at bottom of the window on the tracks. These allow any water that does get in to “weep” out of the holes rather than “seep” into your Avion wall! I take a small pick or a screwdriver or large pipe cleaner and stick it in each weep hole to clean out grime, bugs and debris. This cleaning of weep holes can become part of annual (spring and fall) or monthly maintenance routine depending on where you are camping!
(6) Now is the time to do any black paint touch ups on the metal track that may have been chipped off or clean up any rust and repaint. We used basic Semi-gloss Black Rustoleum brush on paint and a small brush.
STEP 3: READY TO APPLY THE WINDOW GLASS BEAD (Sore Finger alert!)
(1) Take your cloth measuring tape again if you had not written down how many inches the tracks are for each window. Get your complete measurement of the bead track. Add at least 2-3 inches to that measurement. Yes, there may be some waste but if you cut to short trust me you will have FAR more waste in the end.
(2) Start at either one of the bottom corners OR the center, depending on how the original one was done. For all corners you will be doing a 45 degree “picture frame” fit. I cut it by eye but if you are a stickler for precision, I guess you can find some angle tool to help you measure it. (I do the angle cutting, Kevin would need the angle tool!) You can try to push the rubber glass bead in without using Pam spray first. If it goes in, it will require a bit of pushing with strong fingers and putting it in on a slight angle into the track first then laying it flat to the window. You may need to use the Bone Tool or a pick to get it in to some places. Here is a video we shot doing our 1973 Avion which really shows the technique that works best to get the trim in and snug to the window glass itself.
(3) The whole KEY to doing this right is to push back on the material as you push it in. This is to ensure the material will sustain its integrity and length for as long as possible once exposed to heat, sun, wind and weather changes. You do NOT want to stretch it, you want it to be in there really tight and seated into the corners, bends and butted seams. At the seams, we apply a little 3M underneath the two ends and really back off that finishing end so that the butting is very very tight. In the corners, the same thing. Cutting each end on that 45, cut it a little long and use the pick tool to force those pointed ends down inside the metal track corners too.
(4) Use the 3M Adhesive (or we used clear Parbond on the ’73) to seal those seamed joints well.
(5) Step back and take a look. If you see some areas bulging a little, go back over them with your fingers, or the Bone Tool to get them to lay flat. The bead should lay very tightly on the window glass if installed properly. (Annually check those butted seams and corners and fill with e.g. that black 3M as needed.
STEP # 4: INSTALLING THE SCREW COVER TRIM- EASY PEASY!!
Now for the far easier part! The screw cover really goes in quite easily. This is where we did use Pam spray to lube the track on some windows, while others seemed not to need it at all.
Again, the use of the screw covers on the Hehr windows was not in play until we believe the 1980’s. We also cannot vouge for fact that all screw cover product #’s are the same, so again, look at a piece of your original, measure the profile end and look at the vendors to get the right stuff. Be sure it is rubber…NOT vinyl! Although our Ebay Source (below) advertises the product we ordered as “vinyl” it is clearly a rubber product. Both are sold as screw cover, but vinyl is really sold more for boating and will not be able to bend around your radius curves. Screw cover trim is far easier to find as it is in regular use today on boats, cargo trailers, etc.
(1) Using your window measurement of that outside track with that added “fudge length” adding 2-3 inches. Cut your rubber screw cover.
(2) if you have not already prepped, cleaned, touch up painted your screw cover metal track do that now. Fill in any holes from removed exterior screws with Parbond or similar. Sand off rust, carefully repaint with black Rustoleum paint
(3) We found all screw covers on our 87 started at center bottom with a straight butted two ends together seam.
(4) To start, we put a small bit of 3M adhesive on the side we started with, then “clicked/pushed” the screw cover into place going around radius corners. We put a bead (using the syringe) around EACH CORNER RADIUS bend too! These corners are where you will see pop out first from age/sun shrinkage. Having an adhesive in there should help prolong life.
(5) Kevin found the Bone Tool very helpful by flattening out the screw cover rubber and really forcing those little hooked ends into the metal track to grip well. (see video below)
ANOTHER TIP TO SHARE: When applying the glass bead AND the screw cover it really helps to have a second person who can keep the remaining trim above or at least level with the shoulder of the person applying the trim into the windows. This prevents the drag of gravity trying to pull down on the excess material and helps the install. If you don’t have a second person, then at least lay the excess over your shoulders to lessen the gravity drag downward and fighting against you trying to install “upwards” which you have to do to do this project right!
(5) Again, just like with the glass bead, you want to NOT stretch this screw cover. During the install keep pushing it back slightly upon itself, especially around the radius corners so you are getting as much trim in as the track can hold.
(6) Butting the ends together, cut long and trim slightly as needed but to ensure a really tightly butted seam. We lay some 3M adhesive on the final few inches of the trim before we do the final cut and butting of the raw edges. Make sure those edges are straight for the neatest look.
(7) Apply a thin bead of 3M black adhesive over top of this seam as well.
This new glass bead if installed correctly should last in normal conditions at least 8-15 years or more. Of course, if you are in hot weather states in the summer and your trailer is outdoors, the longevity may be less. We know that the glass bead on ours was at least 20 years or more old and may have even been original. Our trailer was bought new in FL, lived in FL till 2012 then sold and moved to PA. Was stored outdoors.
WHAT SPECIFIC PRODUCTS WE ORDERED FOR OUR 1973 AND OUR 1987 AVIONS AND WHO WE ORDERED FROM! This may or may not be what you need! Do your research, purchase sample kits or ask them to send you a sample or buy a foot of what you think you need FIRST!
Special note-JULY 2020: We have yet to find the correct new replacement glass bead for our curved front and rear windows. We are sending a sample to a Pelland and Interstate to get them to ID and select correct one. When we get it, we will update this post with that info! All other materials that have worked for us are listed below with links to products and their distributors.
Search for: BLACK RV Trailer Thick Vinyl 3/4″ Insert Trim Mold Flexible Screw Cover 100 Ft.
July 2020 Selling for 100 feet @ $72.95 with FREE shipping!
She does sell it in various precut length hanks. Buy what you need, and then some!
NOTE: Be sure to order the correct ” Thick Vinyl 3/4 inch”. She has a lot of various similar trims in her Ebay Store. We did not order the thick stuff the first time and it was way to thin and would not have held up in the track for long and would have fallen out on the road.
So that’s it. This is hopefully a very helpful post to all who need repairs or total replacements of their window trims. The project is worth taking on. Window and seams areas are the leading source of water damage to vintage trailers.
We hope we have helped you on your journey! We love feedback so please leave a comment!
Safe travels! Hope to meet you on the road or at a rally someday!
Adventures with a Vintage Avion Luxury Travel Trailer