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Replacing Avion Rubber Window Trims

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

also, not pictured but needed…..

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

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

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

(Don’t skip this part please!)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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(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.

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

OUR SHOPPING LIST:

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

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

SOURCE DETAILS:    PELLAND ENTERPRISES:

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

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

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

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

Model #  H009-344-19    for Hehr 5900 windows   

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

h009-482-1-Pelland Enterprises, Top Seal

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

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

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SCREW COVER TRIM:

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

 

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

3 QUARTER INCH THICK , FLEXIBLE

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

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

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

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

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

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Baby’s Got New Shoes! (Tires & Rims)

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

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

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

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

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Here is what we bought to complete this project:

TIRES:

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

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

RIMS:

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

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

CENTER CAPS FOR RIMS:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

2020-07-05 12.24.442020-07-05 12.24.35

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

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

We have ordered Centramatic Balancers: 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kevin and Luisa Sherman

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Great Marker Light Replacements for Avions!

We needed to find a good source for our 1987 32S front and rear marker lights.

Amber in front (4) plus one centered on curbside near awning roller cover….

( 3 ) red lenses in rear.

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Front of our 1987 32S, Rockguard removed so we could more easily work on the marker light project AND for replacement of all window glass bead (seals, etc.) June 2020
20200414_135837
Front

 

Below is the excellent new product we found that fits perfectly to the 3″ on center and continues to be the same style as the originals with the rubber base and slip in lenses.

https://www.easternmarine.com/rubber-body-mount-amber-marker-light-1506ad?fbclid=IwAR3ZU7WNOMLPoDsqfUivnJtwQhGQVPClhDZL96hLh30_VPYixcEfs_ub314

I have put this photo specifically in below to show how we use a thin bead of Parbond along the top and 1/2 to 3/4 the way down each side of ANY light, or any fixed object, plate, etc. that must be installed on the exterior of the Avion.  This protects those vulnerable areas (now that have screws or rivets through the skin) from water penetration.

Kevin used 5/32 Olympic Rivets to secure the fixture in place.

20200607_131800
Notice the aluminum colored bead of Parbond along the top and part way down each side to prevent water penetration into fixture or rivet holes. (Rivets were dipped in Parbond before install.

So very often, as was the case with our ’73 Avion and now in our ’87, because of a lack of Parbond or similar sealant above the light fixtures, water gets in there, rusts the bulb clips and in some cases aids to corrode the wiring junctions.  A few seconds of Parbond application (see our other posts or our FB page about the fill-able syringes we use to feed a nice thin bead-rather than straight from the tube!)  solves water penetration issues.  Parbond sets up firm, but not permanent and can be removed. We use the aluminum color on this type of project, and clear Parbond on our black rubber window trims.  Clear could certainly be used on the light fixture project too.  Any other things you may have to afix to the side, e.g. an aluminum patch, etc. we recommend using the aluminum colored Parbond if the area will be eye level or lower.  This is what Chuck Cayo used when repositioning our awning brackets when we changed from an original Carefree system on our ’73 to a new Zipdee system in 2018.  So if its good for Avion-Guru, Cayo…it works for us too!!

2019-04-22 18.20.172018-09-02 17.21.24

Last step on this project….

These marker lights come with incandescent, typical automotive bulbs.  Fine enough and what is shown in the lit up photo above.  However, we plan to change out EACH of these lights with LED bulbs to save energy, burn cooler and even brighter, and above all…so we get far longer life out of each bulb and should not need to do much maintenance at all with them.

We have worked with M4Products.com customer service AND the makers of the light fixtures to verify that the following small style LED bulb replacement will work in these new marker light fixtures.

https://m4products.com/ba9s-3d-2-cw-cool-white-led-light-bulb-with-mini-round-base/?fbclid=IwAR3qDP3lLHlLJ1fMBP5Sy2ZdqiZfkJqBdZQMnbjckg0PwXXOi06TeJRnxUo

We hope this post has helped you with this project!  Let us know!

Be well, travel safe, enjoy the journey!

Kevin & Luisa Sherman, thankfully Covid-19 free!

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Looking to Connect with Avion Owners?

What are you doing at 7 PM (EST) on Tuesday nights? 

Join us for a live, virtual chat ZOOM meeting with fellow Avioner’s from all over the USA (and the world)!

If it is one thing that this Covid-19 Coronavirus pandemic has taught me, it is how to connect virtually with people in meaningful ways despite not being with them in person.

For my work, I have become very proficient at hosting live ZOOM meetings (you can start a basic Zoom account for free!) and have found that these LIVE virtual in-person meetings have enabled my colleagues, friends and family members to share stories, tips, timely topics and even share documents, photos, etc. in a meaningful easy way.  SO WHY NOT DO IT WITH AVION OWNERS?  LET’S GET TOGETHER TO “TALK AVION!”

Avion Tuesday Talks_instagram_eveninglight

SO…..Kevin and I are launching “Avion Tuesday Talks” –weekly topic —  live chats via ZOOM at 7 PM (EST).  Each week, we will have one manageable topic and hope to attract long time Avion owners to brand new owners….and everyone in between.  Even members of any of the Avion Facebook groups who are still “in the market to buy their first Avion” are welcomed.

Suggestions for future topic talks are always welcomed by shooting us an email, posting a suggestion on our facebook page or posting a comment on this blog anytime!

NOTE:  These meetings are best joined by you using a laptop with built in camera and speakers.  PC’s with audio and video are fine too.  Cell phones are ok but a little clunky to get the best experience.

My Pewter Palace Zoom account can handle up to 95 attendees.  Right now, I am also doing just the free subscription so our chat can only be 35 minutes (yup, i know i will have to put the timer on!).  If this catches on, we will explore upgrading to the paid service where longer 1 hr chats can be done.  But lets crawl….before we walk and see if the interest among Avioners is there first!

HOPE YOU WILL JOIN US AND HELP SPREAD THE WORD!  You can find the events listed by date on ourPewter Palace facebook page under the “events” tab.  This is where the topic of the week will be listed as well as the direct link info to log in and then join us at 7 PM.

Not familiar with Zoom??  It is super easy to learn and use!  Here is a terrific tutorial to view before your first live Zoom meeting!     Watch now!

87 Microwave Gets a Facelift (removal++)

On our project list for our new to us ’87 Avion was to remove the original 1987 humongous microwave.  In truth–the edges of interior box were rusty and surely this behemoth sucks a huge amount of juice when “fired up” and running.  Plus…do we really want to trust the safety of a 33-year-old Microwave?

As an aside, in case you don’t know…Kevin and I have over 30+ years of 18th century living history reenacting at historic sites, museums, national and state historic parks from Nova Scotia to Colonial Williamsburg.  Yes…we are THOSE people who make and wear clothing and live the life of our forefathers and mothers in 1757-1781.  As a result of the immersion into this hobby, Kevin and I have long ago learned how to cook, clean and survive without a microwave for days on end.

Yes, at home I do use a microwave, but camping life and its pace and fresh air seems to shrug microwaving for us.

When we bought our ’73 Avion right off the bat we began looking to see what cabinet we could retrofit to install a small microwave thinking we needed one in an Rv.  Doesn’t every RV have one after all? (our Class A did).  But our common sense took hold and I asked discerningly- “what do we really use it for??”.  Perhaps heating a left over cup of coffee (can be done in a sauce pan), or reheating a left over (we rarely have leftovers and if so, tin foil can do the trick on the grill, in a covered pot on the stove or in our Avion oven)So did we REALLY need a microwave and to hack into the pristine, original cabinetry that Avion’s were/are known for?  We decided to wait a year of using our 73 before we hacked.  A year turned into three and there was no doubt, no microwave was needed for us.  We are resourceful camping souls from the 1700’s after all-  having logged literally 1000’s of hours in reproduction canvas tents, hauling water and cooking over an open fire even in 95 degree summers (with 3-4 layers of wool and linen clothing to boot)!  Running water and a toilet are high style for us!

So fast forward to our newly purchased ’87 Avion.  The 32S has a front kitchen.  It’s one of the big reasons we love this floor plan.  Here is a photo of the behemoth microwave that came with her off the assembly line in Michigan 33 years ago this past February. Yeah, the # buttons were like the size of a postage stamp!

orig microwave in our 1987, 32S_ march 2020

Here below are some photos after the microwave was removed, and the cabinet interior cleaned up, a floor created over the framing and wiring for the stove exhaust hood safely wrapped, encased and secured.  Kevin did a super job on this and WOW!!  Look at all this space I have now!  More than enough for some modern convenience contraptions I really do use like…my air fryer, small InstaPot, my crockpot and metal stock pot (for the occasional Lobsta’ dinners now and then or the rally chili cook-off contest!)  Plus maybe even some oversized boxes perhaps of dry cereals, oatmeal, etc.

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I had the brainstorm one night that instead of trying to salvage some original Avion cabinet doors to put in here, how about a corkboard?  In 225 Sq Ft of living space you always want to err on the side of versatility and each thing, full timers will tell you, should have at least 2 purposes!  So onto Amazon I went and found this beauty–a wood framed, magnetic chalkboard!  I have the link for it in our page that features our Favorite things/resources. (no, we do not have an Amazon store, we do not get any residuals from anything you order, its just us helping you to find things we love, use and have tried before)

 

I love the way the black chalkboard matches the look of the black front refrigerator and oven.  Really looks like it belongs!

So let us know?? what cha’ think?  We simply love it!  We used the same hardware as we had replaced in the kitchen (seen on right photo above) and so here is the big reveal below side by side….you decide!!  BTW…this board is chalkboard and magnetized so i am thinking a fun place to put grandsons current photos and some little magnets from special places we go to around the USA!!

 

Another project checked off the list!  This one took about a total of about 3-4 hours total including refit of interior cupboard, staining of frame, going to store to get hinges and the intallation this evening

Happy travels!

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Prevent Moldy Mattresses! Moisture protection for mattresses- project

WHO WANTS MOLDY MATTRESSES?

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

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

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

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

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

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

GATHER ITEMS NEEDED:

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

STEPS:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sleep well!

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

Kevin & Luisa Sherman

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Adding Extra Counter Space-Project under $30

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

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

Supplies:

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

Step 1:

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

Step 2:

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

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

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Step 3:

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

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

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

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

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Step 4:

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

 

Step 5:

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

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Step 6:

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

All Done!

 

Safe travels….one life…Live it riveted!

K-L and Avion-bitmoji-withCopyright2bHr

Kevin & Luisa Sherman–ThePewterPalace.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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A barely visible neighbor to our north

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Safe Journeys!

Luisa and Kevin Sherman

K-L and Avion-bitmoji-withCopyright2bHr

 

 

 

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.

heat shield

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.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001DL8PBG/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o02_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

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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