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.
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:
Sturdy Kitchen Shears
Metal tape measure or yard stick
An extra pair of hands
Double faced Heavy Duty minimum 2 inch wide Velcro strips or large squares (more about this later!)
Duct or Gorilla Tape (if you have a double or queen bed and will need to piece together)
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.
If you have found other materials or fixes to prevent moisture from ruining your wood bed base or mattress let us know!
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!
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.
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.
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
We took the folding legs and wood hardware bracket off of the snack table.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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 outour 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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
(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.
#3Pave 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!
#4Provide 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.
#6with 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.
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!!).
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.
Steps we did:
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
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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!
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!!]
Check out these 1977 AVION Trailer OPTIONS and Standard Equipment lists!
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.
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.
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)
Once our hard plastic cover was removed, we knew it was going to need suring up of the center mounting hole.
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.
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!
For those following our Rock Guard 3R’s (rescue, restore, reinstall) we are on the final step. Installation of our beautiful, newly rehab’d rock guard we salvaged off of a 1983-84 crunched Avion we found by sheer luck not more than 1.5 hours from our house and in a campground bone yard in a tiny town in VT.
Here is the before….and after…..then…..”THE REST OF THE STORY” ( yes, dating myself)
Below (left) is soon to be salvaged rock guard off a ’83-84 found in VT, (right) is completely rehabbed and now rehung back onto our 1973 Avion. Note the “bling factor” and read on to see how and what we did!
Obviously the first steps of this rehab was literally just elbow grease to take off years of grime. You can see all the steps we did including photos and videos in our Phase 1 & 2 blog posts. We chose a high gloss finished on the interior and exterior of the guard which was professionally painted and finished by a local auto body detailer, Mac the Knife on Quaker Road in Queensbury NY. He loved the diversion this project gave him over the long Adirondack winter!
The final phase 3 of this big project has been to reinstall the guard. But there were some issues. The hanging track of our original (the part installed to nose of trailer) was smaller than the “new” rock guard. In fact it was 7 inches longer.
We determined that this longer length was actually preferable as it would take more of the pressure off those areas that historically start to show stress cracks on countless Avion’s we have seen (yes believe this was a 45 yr old design flaw on part of original manufacturers).
This meant, we had to first remove our original hanging track. A little scary since we had never worked with rivets, etc. But as usual Kevin had watched 100’s of hours on “how to rivet” on YouTube, purchased a few books and then all necessary equipment from Vintage Trailer Supply. He felt confident in what he had to do.
First step: Drill out old rivets holding hanging track on our rig. Old track drilled out and removed. Clean up of area really well is very important. We use a “bone tool” we buy at the auto parts store to remove old grime, butyl tape, any sticky stuff. This one works perfect, it has a flat scraper end and a rounded end. It is actually a hard nylon plastic which will not scratch your aluminum but give you the ability to get stuff off…even smushed bugs too! Kev is “all about the prep!”
Installed 3/4 inch Butyl tape strip on back edge of new track before installation.
Install replacement (longer) hanging track onto trailer front. Use stainless steel rivets for install, use Parbond to cover over each rivet head to prevent any possible water penetration. Parbond along seam that runs along top of guard hanger where attaches to trailer. This is a critical step. When riveting or screwing anything into the skin of your trailer, you create a possible way for water to eek in behind and roll down into the holes made by the rivets or screws. Using Parbond, (we use silver/aluminum colored and and our handy dandy dental hygiene syringe applicator (Amazon, 8 for $10) to a make perfect thin line edges.
We tried reusing as many of the original holes we could from where the original guard track was hung. Unused holes were pre-filled with Parbond completely sealing them. Kevin snipped off the tines of the rivets and used the rivet shaver to smooth them down. Photo above with my gorgeous purple gloves shows rivets before trimming all of them. Note the small magnetic level to ensure you are keeping the track placement level. You can see some of the Butyl tape has softened and eeked slightly below the track. No worries, as this will be unseen and underneath the top of the guard. Better to have a great seal.
We let the track sit for two days to allow Parbond to dry out pretty well. Then time to hang the rock guard. NOTE: All arm hardware had been removed before hanging so it was not in the way. WE ONLY REMOVED THE ACTUAL ARMS, NOT THE RECEIVING HARDWARE since that had been re- riveted on and reinforced during the rehab by our auto body person!
We also found that the hardware locations on the NEW guard were not exact to our original. So we did have to re position the “plunger” receiver on the bottom of the window on one side (only) about 1/4 ” out so that the receiver slot, see right photo below would meet the plunger pin. Plunger pin hardware (bottom photo) is the one on streetside, note parbond behind, on top and in screw holes before reinstalling with stainless screws. To re position the curbside one, Kevin drilled the holes into slot shaped and pushed the bracket to align as needed. Once parbonded and screwed in place it is secure.
How to Hang: Carefully we hung the new rock guard
NOTE: done as a two person job only please!!! lift guard parallel to the ground and both people using step ladders, you slide the track on top of guard into receiver hanging track that is installed on trailer, slide guard across length of hanging track.
Hanging Problem! Once hanging the guard- we noticed that our new guard was not seated very securely in its track.
This was the track salvaged with the guard so we knew it was right (and longer which was good) but for some reason it was way too easy to pop out when lifted up. To combat this we studied the lifting process closely, watching the relationships between the track on rig and track on guard. We realized there was too much “play” in the track on rig and that we needed to put something back there so that the bent “J” portion of the track on guard could not rotate back and the guard come unhinged should we hit some pot hole, etc. on the road.
We found some “U” shaped aluminum in the exact length needed at Lowes. Cheap enough, under $15. You can see it in photo below just in front of the wood strips we used as shims to force it close to the hanger on the guard. We then used stainless screws and screwed this track (parbonded over each) 5 places on this track thereby securing it into the hanger track affixed to the trailer. This process allows the rotation of the guard perfectly but it cannot slip upwards and pop out unexpectedly.
Below you can also see some of the added steel reinforcement strip that we had our auto body fellow fabricate to provide additional rigidity and support to the top of the plastic rock guard itself. As mentioned previously, these guards are notorious for cracking where the arm hinges are due to years of stress on that particular part when traveling down the road. These reinforcements are on the outside and inside so the plastic guard is sandwiched between. They are applied with rivets and were painted at same time as guard so all match, inside and out.
Here is the results, we are very pleased and safe in the knowledge that the guard is not going anywhere with our filler aluminum track safety addition. You can see the reinforcement steel strip clearly on the video below too. Obviously we removed the wood shims after this part of the project was tested and done.
Some still shots of the aluminum U track we added. The last image shows the track before we installed this added piece. You can clearly see all the “play” space that was there and needed filling up to prevent the guard’s track from jumping out by accident.
Next came the re-installation of the support arms. Here Kevin is showing a prelim of how we plan to add additional support arms when set up in camp. First we needed to order additional arms, and do some changes to hardware.
We had decided to copy a fellow long time Avioner we met at the Silver Avion Fellowship Rally in IN in 2017 and ordered two additional awning lift arms from Vintage Trailer Supply. These would be used in conjunction with our originals to create add on support arms when we are camped. More on that in a minute.
The new sets (sold separately) from Vintage Trailer Supply were a little shorter than our originals but would work. Kevin drilled out the receiver hardware off the new ones opting to use our original hinge hardware to mount in its original location and holes on our window frames. He used stainless screws, lock washers and nuts to install the arms to the hardware rather than riveting like was originally done. Using screws allows for adjustments, replacing or repairs on the fly far easier than riveting. Below is original mounting bracket that goes on window frame but with the NEW guard arm from VTS installed with stainless screw and lock washer, nut.
We applied Parbond again behind the hardware before installing back on to the window uprights. Using the original mounting hardware we could reuse the original holes which is always preferred over making more holes in your Avion.
Once we did this, we reattached to the bracket on inside bottom of guard. These arm brackets stay attached permanently and are adjusted using wing nuts and washers on stainless screws (1 inch #10) so that the guard can be raised or lowered to just about any height.
The “new” old arms, now with just holes on both ends will be used for additional support for the guard when we are set up in a campsite. These are screwed on with washers and nuts each time they are applied. We strongly feel that this additional support (downward) provide superior support for the guard and take away some of the stress on the permanently mounted cantilever ones that hold up and out the guard. We will simply store them in a little pouch and inside our exterior battery box so they are handy.
Finishing up the new support arm system and we are all done with this major rehab project. Notice we have repainted the underside of our rock guard in a lite off white, high gloss. What this does is it serves to reflect back out the light coming from our lamp (when guard is closed) and also to create a far brighter feeling when guard is open. Previously, the back of the guard was the medium dark grey of the plastic composite material of the guard. This darker color absorbed the light rather than reflecting it. This small change to white has made a huge effect and one we highly encourage. Even just spray painting the underside white with over the counter high gloss paint yourself will help if you do not want to spend the money on the whole auto body finish like we did.
There is nothing more heartwarming and welcoming to us than the Avion Glow!!
“We travel not to escape life….but for life not to escape us”
We are among tens of thousands of RV owners who due to many circumstances (work being ours) we cannot just pick up stakes and move to follow the “70’s” (temperatures that is!). That day WILL COME….but just not now!
So we, like many will do the annual ritual of putting our RV “to bed” in winter storage.
I thought I would share with our followers some tips and pointers that we have employed and picked up along the way from other veteran RVers.
New to our routine this year is the employment of low voltage LED tube rope lights on the floor underneath the perimeter of our 1973 Avion 28′ travel trailer.
In following one of our all time favorite fulltimers, AStreaminLife.com, Steve and Courtney have promoted the use of under trailer lighting to ward off mice and other varmints when camping in the great outdoors. Using their suggestion, we have purchased solar powered spot lights (check out AStreaminLife’s Amazon shop for the ones we purchased based on their excellent reviews) to use when boondocking and then the above pictured LED Rope lights when we have electric hook ups available.
Well, so we got to thinking that if this has worked for them in the wild….why would it not also serve as a good deterrent indoors? Since our RV storage garage (we rent near our house) has electricity (and we pay a little more for that each month) why not use this low voltage LED rope lighting we purchased to use while camping….during the winter too! I akin the look to a bit of a “STAR WARS” effect!
We have consistently put rat/mouse bait traps in and around this garage for the past two seasons where we have stored our Pewter Palace. This has been more of a preventative action but we have seen where the little green bait blocks have shown some “tooth wear” from nibbling varmints so yes, they are there. BUT we have, knock on wood, not had ONE bit of any hint of varmint intrusion into our RV itself.
A few things you will need from the store before you dive into winter storage prep:
BOUNCE Brand scented dryer sheets (get the big box!)
Clorox (or similar with color-safe bleach) brand pop up wipes
Scented draw string tall kitchen garbage bags
LED Rope lights, white light bulbs- not colored
RV Antifreeze (the pink stuff!)
Plastic box type varmint bait boxes and the green hard bait blocks (these do not trap the varmint and let them rot in there, they bait them to the green block which then eventually kills them when they go to see a water source away from your rig!)
NOTE: for the purpose of this blog post, I am not going to go through the entire black and grey tank dumping and prepping procedure or the system flushing for long term storage. I am purely focusing on interior tips for winter storage to protect from varmints and any damage to interiors.
A few basic and kinda “no brainer” tips to prepping your RV for winter storage:
Remove ALL and ANY types of food stuffs, oils, herbs/spices -ANYTHING that acute little noses could sniff out and consider a potential food source during bleak, long winters.
Remove all liquid, aerosols, pumps and semi liquid items including canned goods because freezing will cause them to burst and create a total mess (not to mention serve as a glorious buffet dinner for varmints)!
Remove any rags, towels, pot holders that may contain even trace of oils, food handling, etc. Varmints love to nest in cloth and paper goods like paper towels, napkins so remove them too and use them at home over the winter or store for next summer…..if you leave anything hang it on a hook or put in a scented trash bag with a Bounce brand scented dryer sheet in side bag with items.
Wipe off all counters, refrigerator inside and out, stove top, table tops, sink, dish drainer, cutting boards, pots/pans with a Clorox bleach brand pop up style wipes.
More about the cook stove– be sure to lift the stove top off, remove any crumbs, food particles, grease where the mechanicals are and wipe down entire area, grates, gas pipes, burners, etc with Clorox wipes,
Use a Clorox (or similar) brand pop up wipe to go over interior and exterior of refrigerator, toilet, sink, tub, all handles in kitchen and bathroom areas in particular.
Why Bounce Brand? We have sworn by the Bounce Brand of scented dryer sheets for over two decades now when camping doing our living history reenacting to keep away varmints AND crawling/flying bugs and insects. Doing this type of camping we use a canvas tent, a canvas floor cloth (that is not connected to the tent sides like moderns are) and have often slept on air mattresses on the floor. We are sometimes camping for 3-8 days and in all sorts of open fields, woodlands and in all sorts of weather conditions. Bounce sheets are excellent for putting around the perimeter of the interior of a tent and they really DO keep insects away. A benefit is that the inside of the tent always smells nice too! We put sheets under our bedding, around the interior perimeter of the tent itself and inside our clothing bags/boxes. It serves to rights that Bounce’s ability to ward off insects and varmints in a tent will do the same in a garage and RV! We have used them successfully when we owned a Class A motor home for five years and now in our Avion for past two years. (knock off brands have not proven themselves nearly as effective!)
Prepping your bedding and cushioned areas:
We strongly recommend tilting up all mattresses and cushions that are in your sleeping and dining areas if you cannot or chose not to remove these completely and store them at home over winter. Not only does this provide less of a “hacienda of dark seclusion” for any varmint intruders to build a nest, but it also provides far more air circulation around such materials thereby inhibiting mold, mildew, etc from building up on both the cushion/mattress and the boards that lay underneath them.
Doing this we have (knock on wood here…) never had any issues.
Below you will see on the left photo, our dinette cushions standing on long end and one of our twin mattresses on its side. Note the other bagged items and placement of dryer sheets all around too! These bags do contain comforters, extra throw pillows, beach towels. We DO take our bed sleeping pillows home for winter storage and do not leave them on the RV.
What about Clothing Storage over the Winter in the RV?
We do keep a complete set of camping clothing on our RV at all times so we are ready to go at a moments notice. We keep things organized by putting items in plastic lock lid style shoe storage boxes (they fit best in our over bed cupboards) and under bed lock lidded plastic totes, so winter prep is actual pretty minimal.
Here are some additional steps we do take for winter storage for clothing/dressing areas:
Bounce sheets get put inside the floor of all drawers and then on top of any items left in drawers. Bounce Sheets also get placed inside every overhead storage cupboard and placed in every scented trash bag that is used for linen storage.
I am sure to remove any liquids, eg. perfume, deodorants, mousse, hair spray cans/pumps, etc. due to potential for freezing/bursting. Check bathroom areas and remove from all over and under cupboards from bath area too!
We remove any leather shoes/sandals due to potential for dusty mold and leather could be a food source in a pinch for varmints. I leave things like rubber flip flops, crocs, etc.
Final Steps… that are often forgotten!
Remove ALL batteries from any flashlights, headlamps, portable radios, clocks, alarm clocks, kitchen devices, etc. and TAKE THEM HOME and use them over the winter.
Ensure you have correctly used RV antifreeze in your systems and retain some visible in the toilet bowl and put an extra dose down each sink drain to ensure there is some sitting in traps and bends in piping.
Be sure you have put Bounce sheets also in all interior AND exterior storage/mechanical areas like water heater box, oven fan area, exterior refrig access panel area, sewer service area, exterior storage areas that go underneath dinettes or beds, etc. Here you can see our furnace and sewer pipe vent area being protected with dryer sheets.
Some notes on exterior/interior prep…
If storing your RV outside in winter the issue of “to cover or not to cover” is going to be yours. It is recommended that all aluminum campers like our Avion and Airstreams NOT be covered because covers can adversely scratch the surface. That being said, we do know Avion owners who have had decent luck with covers-much will depend on where you live. If you do use a cover, be sure you allow sufficient ventilation so that mold and mildew do not happen inside the RV.
If your RV is outside in winter, be sure to check pressures, treat the tires with tire protectant and cover them from daylight with either a tire cover and/or sheet of plywood, etc.
Close all curtains to prevent fading of cushions and interior finishes-especially if wood interior like ours is. If you have those pseudo fabric type pleated horizontal blinds I believe it is NOT recommended to drop them down as the pleats will stretch out and the shade will not look or work well in future. Perhaps in this case, if no curtains are available to draw closed, then take some old sheet, cut it up and place it over the valance and hang down over window to prevent interior fading while keeping the fabric blind up and pleated for storage.
We do not recommend installing Reflectix or similar silver insulation batting on windows because you may cause undo condensation on interior of windows unless you keep ceiling vents open to allow air exchange. Plus, using Reflectix inside on windows will create a totally dark cave inside your RV which is what varmints would just love!
Spray all locks (storage bays, doors, hitch locks, spare tire locks, bike locks, etc) with your preference of lubricant to keep in good shape when not used for length of time.
Put RV house batteries on trickle charger.
Chock your wheels, sounds crazy if you are on a level garage, but its just one of those things Kevin is fixated about…but its good practice because once you get in the behavior of always chocking your wheels you are less apt to forget when really needed!
You have NO IDEA who may be able to access your storage area……why take a chance?
Lock your RV doors even if in a locked storage garage.
Apply your hitch lock even if RV is locked in storage garage.
As possible visit your baby at least once a month over the long winter— just to do a quick visual check around the inside and outside and to hug her and let her know you miss her and cannot wait to get back taking her camping again!
Safe Travels! We LOVE to hear your feedback about this post or any of our blog posts!
We purchased our 1973 Avion in September 2016. Quite a birthday present for me if I do say so!
Our rock guard (original to 1973) was in decent shape, with the logo faded and some stress cracks at the angle support hinge area on top. Both of these “age-related illnesses” are ones that are very common and frequently seen in Avions especially those pre-1980’s. (you can easily see the cracks in photo below).
The previous owner to us had done a decent repair job on that right crack by reinforcing with a piece of steel behind it and filling in the crack on the outside with Parbond or something similar, but now after two years of our use we started to see the left side begin to show more of a pronounced stress crack too.
These cracks in the solid formed hard plastic original rock guards like ours are common due to the sheer weight of the guard and the jiggling, torquing and bouncing it experiences when rolling down the road even though it is locked in at the bottom. Hey, and our baby has done Alaska 2xs, California at least 4 times and Florida annually for at least 6 years—so after a total of 45 years and having only these cracks in her is truly not bad!
In May of 2018 we had taken our Avion out to Cayo Repair in MI to have some work done and on the punch list was to sure up that left crack to prevent further damage and to ensure that it would hold, at least for a few more years. Chuck Cayo did a decent job with it which you can see on photo below where the rivet stud backs are showing through the horizontal piece of sandwiched steel plate. But we knew at some point the inevitable question would have to be addressed to repair again or replace completely.
In the photo below you will also see where the two support hinges mount up underneath the top inside of the rock guard. These hinges bear the full weight of the guard when opened (as shown) but also lock in place in the pull latches on bottom edge center of window to lock the guard in place for towing mode. Thus all the stress is there despite the long tubular hinge that connects from the guard itself to the rig.
The photo below clearly shows the system by which the rock guard is “hung” to attach to the trailer body. (also the horizontal steel plate repair by Cayo) .The body has a receiver tube as we call it that the guard slides into from one side.
It takes two people to effectively and safely remove or install the guard to the rig using this system. The sheer weight of these original guards is a lot.
Newer replacement guards are being manufactured by Cayo RV Repair in MI and some other private owners these days. I believe they are made of fiberglass and therefore far lighter which is a good thing, however the ones we have seen are all black which we do not care for at all. We prefer our muted grey which blends in with the aluminum body of the trailer better.
Here is a good photo for comparison, ours being on the left with its original as is condition, the one on the right is the fiberglass black replacement.
To Repair or Replace….THAT is the Question!
We knew we had only really two options with our ever growing cracks in our original existing rock guard.
Bite the bullet and purchase one of the new fiberglass knockoffs (around $700-800 +S/H)
Try to once again do repairs to our existing one in hopes to sure it up sufficiently for the wear and tear it would eventually get once we begin full timing in a few years.
Never Underestimate a Sunday drive to VT!
It brought us a TREASURE FIND or TWO!
One sunny Saturday in July 2018 I suggested to Kevin it would be nice to go over to nearby VT to scope out some potential campgrounds where we may wish to stay in coming years. We like to physically see the campground and identify specific sites that we take note of for future calls for reservations. We wanted places that would be grandkid-friendly and relatively easy to get to distance for us and for my daughter and son-in-law to drive to as they would be transporting the two grandchildren to us for a camping weekend.
Living in eastern upstate NY we can be to VT in a matter of 40 minutes. Our trip that day took us over through Cambridge NY and then into the Bennington and Manchester VT areas of mid-state/western VT. Using just my google map locator asking “campgrounds near me” we found several close by with no problem. Our third one to visit though was the charm. Not because we would want to end up camping there (no amenities, mostly all very run down, entrenched seasonals) but because on our way out the driveway Kevin shouted STOP! (I was driving) “WAIT…THERE IS AN AVION!”. Yes, it was, abandoned and sitting among wreck, trash, bits and pieces from other trailers. It was the campground owners graveyard of discards from two generations of ownership. Yeah, they did not ever throw anything away! Thank goodness!!
We pulled off the drive and into the graveyard. Wrangled over debris and checked her out. Appeared to be a 1988 but the rock guard looked really, really similar in design and size to ours. The poor rig had had a tree fall on her, breaking her center spine and was left in the graveyard to fill with rain, leaves, etc. etc. and used for storage, sort of, for perhaps a decade or more. But the rock guard was crack free, moveable and hopefully would be ours! We did have a tape measure with us, took measurements and tried texting and calling Cayo and posting on the Avion FB pages quickly to see if anyone could answer our question about if size of this one was same as our ’73 which of course was safely and out of reach back in NY. A couple online FB Avioners replied they thought it would fit, but if the price was right, even if it did not fit ours, there was surely a market to sell it to another Avion owner who could use it. That was enough security for us!
The owner of the campground came by driving his backhoe to gawk at these unfamiliars climbing around his Avion. No worries, nice guy and Kevin quickly sparked up a perfect, nonthreatening conversation to allay the owners fears that we were some city slickers. We are not, we are North Country folk too and Kevin knows his mechanicals, trucks, etc. to dazzle any New England car/truck junky. After a very short and amenable conversation the deal was struck, tools offered to assist us in the guard’s removal and within about 15 minutes the new rock guard was being hoisted by Kevin and I into our Suburban. Reddy our Cavalier Spaniel who had come along for the ride was not quite sure what this big canopy was coming over top her bed!
This ends Part 1 of our ROCK GUARD RESCUE.
BUT THERE’S MORE LUCK TO BE FOUND! Never underestimate what gems you may find on a Sunday drive!
Not more than 15 minutes down the road from rescuing this rock guard did we see a much earlier Avion (can you spot it in first photo below?) at a horse show along the road.
We veered quickly there to see that too! And to our sheer delight, it belonged to a woman who ran a mobile embroidery business who was actually based out of CT. Turns out it was a 1974, 23′ Travelcade. She had pretty much gutted the inside but had done some tasteful redecorating in prep for her boutique.
She was making custom designed hats, shirts, jackets for the horsey set. She needed an awning for her new Avion soon to be traveling boutique on wheels. Perfect! We struck a deal to trade our old Carefree Awning system hardware for some custom designed clothing using our trademarked Avion artwork that we had commissioned an artist to do for us in 2017. This was truly our double lucky day!
My next post will be on the Rehab phase! Until then…safe journeys!
Over the last 9-10 years, Kevin and I have put considerable time into researching, planning and beginning to execute a thoughtful plan towards our goal of “going full time” RVing. In this blog post we tell you about four of our most favorite RV bloggers/vloggers and include a little about them and links to their blogs and YouTube channels. They are entertaining, inspirational, educational and oh yeah…..travel to amazing destinations!
Originally and shortly after we sold our Class A 32′ motor home back in 2012 we realized then–after she was not in our driveway, how much we missed life on the road. Albeit at that time, and it continues, we only get to do long weekends and the occasional big trip of a week or two around the eastern half of the USA but—each time we do we are more and more convinced this is the right path for us. We also know it is not for everyone.
Along our journey we have found some truly inspirational friends in bloggers/vloggers who have chronicled their similar journeys from the decision to forego the traditional and head into the non-conventional life of making a rolling home….your only home. We also have learned there are many variances in between this. Some people live a portion of their year on their RV while returning to their sticks N bricks for the rest of the time. More times than not, these are snowbirds who fly south in the winter RV in tow (or behind the wheel) and spend a warm and sunny February in FL, AZ or TX.
There are others who “escape” the brutal hot sizzling summers of those same places for their “camp in the northern woods, cottage on a New Hampshire lake or the beach family compound on Cape Cod or the rugged shores of Maine. For many and varied reasons they prefer (or cannot quite imagine not having) a structure to call home base.
For us….that decision was easily made. We did not want to be tied to the maintenance of our rolling home AND the maintenance, cost and distance filled with concerns about the safety, etc. of a northern sticks N bricks home base. We would rather have what we own on our back so to speak and know that where ever we wanted to be…we would be and that could change from year to year, season to season depending on where the wind and whims blew us. I personally have owned one home or another since 1982 and I am more than ready to not have that responsibility. We simply do not want to deal with frozen pipes, switching out storm windows or raking leaves in our retirement years. Been there….done that….done!
So we watched, learned, read, and chatted with many who have made similar decisions such as ours to “go full time”. This is not a decision we have made on a whim. But don’t be fooled, we have some family and friends who think we are nuts….and others-like my adult children….who are totally supportive and know we will succeed.
After being “RV-less” for about three years the itch became unbearable. We started falling for Airstreams but did not want to do a total restore and ones in road worthy, camping shape were out of our price range. Quite by accident we stumbled upon Avions. Their iconic aluminum, rounded exteriors, quality interior and exterior build and their reputation for excellent tow-ability had us sold. It took us another two years to find one we wanted….and although we had anticipated having to fly across the country to buy one, we found one on Craig’s List right in VT not more than 15 minutes from my daughter and son-in-law’s house!
We purchased our 1973 Avion, 28′ LaGrande in September, 2016 (some Birthday gift for me eh??!!) and we have never have looked back. Each month we grow more and more fond of her. We sold our house in Oct. 2017 and moved into a townhouse apartment all under the methodical plan of incrementally doing our downsizing exercises in prep for full time RV life when we retire.
Below are a few of our very favorite bloggers/vloggers and for various reasons we have noted underneath each one. Along the way we have internalized and put into practice some of their suggestions and methods, and in other cases it forced us to have heart to hearts with each other to realize….yeah, that may have worked for them…but we will be more comfortable doing it “our way”. Watching literally hundreds of hours of YouTube videos (we subscribe to most of our fav’s so we don’t miss an episode) to reading countless articles and books on the topic….we have grown in our understanding of what life is like on the road…and what we as a couple expect from the journey, each other and life in general. It has been a good way to learn…together to prepare for this next chapter.
Here are our favorite bloggers/vloggers. They are not in any particular order because each offers us different windows on life on the road that are equally important in our planning phases. You will notice a bit of a pattern here where 3 of our 4 fav’s are also Airstream owners. Similar enough to our Avion…we all love round aluminum corners! LOL
A Streamin’ Life: Steve and Courtney. Now mid- 30-somethings who figured out a way to retire early (31 & 34) and we have followed since their decision to sell their two houses a couple years ago (had recently married), sell their stuff, purchase an Airstream (an older one, 30′) and hit the road full time. Both were still working the first year in their Airstream, living stationery in an RV park in Tucson, AZ while preparing their rig (and themselves) for hitting the road full time. They are level headed, practical and very good money savers and managers. Their blog is full of helpful videos on managing trip expenses, planning big trips and week long trips, downsizing to what is really needed and what is not. They travel with their two dogs which also has given us tips on travel with our dog, Reddy as well. Courtney and Steve are a terrific resource for how to determine your financial needs to go full time, save up for early retirement and more. The recently launched a terrific online course to teach others how to plan Epic RV Adventures– for more about that click here. To check out more about Courtney & Steve and their adventures around the USA visit…..Their Blog/websiteTheir YouTube Channel
Less Junk, More Journey: Marisa and Nathan. Once again, these are “kids” as we refer to them as…basically Marisa is one year younger than my son, and Nathan is three years older than my daughter. I am sure in some way I live vicariously through them and their journeys trying to imagine them as extended family. Kevin and I will often refer to them as “the kids”. Their blog has some terrific, easy to navigate pages like their FAQ that really gives you a terrific way to see their answers to many questions you may have about how they made their decision to go full time, steps they took, etc. Their young daughter, Hensley is a year younger than our grandson Lucas and a year older than our grandson Sawyer. She has been on the road since infancy and it is so fun to watch her explore, learn and travel with her fabulous, down to earth parents. Watching where they go, how Hensley enjoys it and some of their methods for keeping sanity on the road with a toddler has given us great ideas for when our grandsons are with us in our RV (it is our hope and plan that they will do more and more of it as we have more time to travel) Their Blog Their YouTube Channel.
Long, Long Honeymoon: Kristy & Sean. Also known as “Lo Lo Ho“. What started out as a honeymoon on an RV has progressed into well over a decade of extended travels from this wonderful couple. For over 12 years, Kristy and Sean have made dozens of highly informational videos on everything from backing into a campsite, to dissertations on generators,hitch locks, and many more pieces of equipment, etc. to their epic journey across Alaska (actually our other two bloggers have just done the Alaska trip now too in the last year!) Last year, Sean was diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor but with proper medical intervention and a bit of a slowing down of some of their multiple month trips he is fully on the mend with no tumor reported at his recent medical check up. Wow! miracles do happen! This couple maintains a bricks N sticks home and plans big trips each year to various parts of the USA from the Keys to Maine, from Seattle to Atlanta and everywhere in between. Their video titles are well organized and were especially helpful when we first started RVing….they have some great tutorials to keep you out of trouble! Their sense of humor and little bit of Laurel & Hardy type of format is so fun. Sean’s writing style and sense of humor is unbeatable and Kristy is the perfect foil! Their BlogTheir YouTube Channel
TechnoMadia: Cherie and Chris. These were one of the very first full time RV couples we found and began following. They are wanderlust spirits who travel the country in their upgraded retro vintage bus (yes, converted from a passenger tour bus). Their specialty is their amazing knowledge of tech tools, internet on the road gear, trouble shooting electronics and over the years they have tested, reviewed and scoped out many pieces of internet and mobile gear that full timers may need or want. A little over a year ago, Cherie and Chris decided to park their RV bus part of the year and bought a large trawler style yacht which they plan to do the “great loop” the Inter coastal Waterway around the eastern/central USA in sections over the next five years or so. They are typically based in the FL area but also do presentations and speaking engagements at many large national rallies so they also travel all over. They could be considered more of the senior statesman when it comes to full time life on the road, having done so for well over 15 years now. They travel with Kiki their cat who is a star all on her own. Their Blog Their YouTube Channel
Summing it all up…..
We appreciate the time and talent that each of these bloggers/vloggers bring to the world of full time RV living or mega traveling. Each of them share a candid snapshot all the time into their lives, their ups and downs, their triumphs and tribulations. We have learned so much and not to seem like we are bragging but we sense we are far more informed that many other would be, soon to be, or already are..full time wanderers. We owe this all to these folks and the many others who we watch from time to time on their blogs. We follow or at least check in with about a dozen RV couples and singles who focus on various subjects. We simply wanted to highlight the top four that we follow…otherwise this blog post would be longer than it already is!! LOL
Thanks for tuning in. Please visit our friends above. and PLEASE……Let them know that Kevin and Luisa Sherman from “The Pewter Palace.com” turned you on to them!
Safe travels and please subscribe to our blog so you don’t miss a another post!
Clearly anyone who owns an Avion understands that they are historic preservationists in the most fundamental sense. Not only do they maintain, restore and covet their aluminum beauty…they also USE it as it was intended to be used—for enjoying the outdoors, sheltering from weather and creating memories with loved ones and dear friends. If they did not revere history and love nostalgia they would own a modern cardboard box, flat top trailer with little to no personality and certainly not built for the longevity that the Avions can boast to this day. (our Avion turned 45 years old this year-2018, and I challenge any modern box campers to be on the road in excellent running order in 45 years!).
NOTE: at the end of this blog post I have a list of resources for reproduction items talked about throughout this post. Enjoy!
Almost monthly, there are questions about, or seekers of information on the various medallions, decals, numbers and company markers on the trailers.
In this article I will attempt to answer many of the questions and in some cases provide some current links to where some of these items (or reproductions of same) may still be obtained today. Also included are links to other websites where directories of the Travelcade member ID # may still be looked up. Sadly, currently no one source of all those numbers exist so the hunt is on and if someone would eventually scan and post the books in an archive it would be like winning the lottery for a lot of us! More about that in a subsection below.
Lets start at the beginning…the birth so to speak when an Avion was coming off of the assembly line.
As a side note, see our post about our trip to Benton Harbor MI in April 2018 to see a video of the plant that still exists but now is a cheese factory.
Avion Coach Company Medallions and Logo Markers:
These logo medallions from what we have seen were almost always painted red. Today many look like a pale/faded tomato red, but from what we understand a deep true red was more similar to its original color. Over time, the colors have faded. This is the same with the rub rail- that vinyl strip that slides into a channel that goes around the trailers mid-belly in two layers with a shiner (non-anodized) strip in between them (at least on the years surrounding our years of production. In the 80-90’s the colors for Avions turned more to using blues and black. You can see that along the way one of the three previous owners of our trailer replaced the rub rail with black which is very common to see these days. The rub rail material is not easily found in the right size. Resource list at end of this post. Some people have taken to painting the rub rail vinyl back to red, or from faded black to black. It can be done, but I have seen them and to me it looks a bit like a cob job. Perhaps if you were to actually remove the vinyl and spray paint it it might be better—but no way am i promising you will ever get that rub rail back in the channels again very easily!
As another side note to the company medallions, above is the dealership plate from where our 1973 Avion was originally sold from. This dealership does not exist anymore but we have located where it was through old news clippings and at the time surely it was on the outskirts of Dearborn Heights in a rural area– but now that address is smack dab in the middle of a very built up almost urban environment. Our little lady did not travel that far from her birth place to be purchased for the first time. Many Avion’s also still have their original dealer emblem on them. Again, its all about nostalgia for us and we wear it proudly.
Below is our LaGrande “model” medallion which appears on both sides of the trailer to the rear-basically even with where the bathroom is located (at least with 70’s models). Early Avion photos (50’s-60’s) we have seen do not appear to have these though there were some model names. See second photo below for placement. Many of these model plates that we have seen are, like ours is pitted. They are stainless but age, and in our case, being kept in Florida near the ocean in the winters for many years has caused the pitting. If a rig has been kept under cover or in a garage these emblems may be in far nicer condition. The background is dappled/textured a bit and supposed to be painted all flat black. Only the raised lettering is supposed to be shiny. The “Travelcade” models (a wee bit of a step down, basic model of Avion) also have them in the same locations. It is not advisable to remove these unless you really know what you are doing. (again, this was before our baby had her first bath!)
HOW CAN I TELL HOW OLD MY AVION IS AND HOW LONG IT IS? In the photo below you will see the vehicle details on the orange plate that was afixed to the trailer upon completion at the Avion assembly line plant. This is not our trailer but you can see and tell the year, month, and production # as well as the model style “LaGrande”.
These plates are very important when looking at purchasing a new to you Avion or for reference for a rig you currently own. Hopefully you still have one on your trailer. This one is located just to the right of the door entry. This is also where ours is, however there is another plate on the streetside as well that also has important trailer information and should be documented.
There is an excellent resource website maintained by “DR G”, Dr. Don Gradeless that is a treasure trove of manuals (PDF by year) you can download or view, info regarding Avion specs and also early rosters of some Travelcade member units.
Here is how to read the numbers (see image below)- this stands for trailers made at least in the 1970’s that we know and cannot attest to how earlier or later models may be marked.
SERIAL NUMBER 75-L-28043
1975 production year L = LaGrande Model 28 = foot length043 = 43rd trailer made that year.
Trailer Travelcade Member ID Numbers and Units:
I will be including a whole separate blog post about the history of the “Travelcade” membership club because it really was cool! But for purpose of this post, I refer to the wonderful Avion history book written by Robert Muncy (link to purchase here) entitled SILVER AVIONS AND CAYOS. Muncy writes that the Travelcade club of Avion owners got its start in 1959 and had its highest rendezvous turn out of 818 Avions in Coldwater MI in 1970. Please see my future post about the Travelcaders and their club soon!
The photo below is our Avion, our “Pewter Palace” as we call her with her original Travelcade ID numbers and geographical unit emblem. Not all Avion owners joined this optional club and so if you do not see any type of stickers like this (front and rear streetside is where they should be) then the owners did not partake. Benefits of the club included a printed newsletter, attendance at rendezvous (FL, MI, WI) and the ability to order and wear some of the truly awesome “Travelcader Swag” like earings, jackets, knitted caps, pith helmets, bolo ties and more….remember….this IS the 1960-70’s!! See some of the swag we have gotten so far in this previous post or on our Avion Swag post page.
Our trailer’s second owner was from CT and therefore was part of the New England Unit which sadly no longer exists. In fact, the whole “Travelcade” club and movement died out after the corporation sold to the Fleetwood RV company in the 80’s. Happily, a diehard group have resurged the zeal for hosting rallies of Avions again and now there is are very active “Sliver Avion Fellowship ” units based in MI, TX and more recently one started in Arkansas. The trend and desire to all get together again is growing each year as is the popularity of owning one of these classic, well-built beauties. We attended the Silver Avion Fellowship Rally in Elkhart MI in the summer of 2017 and had a blast with over 25 Avions of all designs, lengths and styles present. The MI group, I believe is the one who got the whole Fellowship rolling again. Search Facebook for The Silver Avion Fellowship and ask to join. There is a similar named fb site for the event too. I believe that black numbers and letters were the standard issue of these rigs. People attending the Travelcade official rallies back in the day would register with their trailer number. There were published member directories for each year and geographical unit. If you are lucky, someone at one of today’s Fellowship Rallies may come with one and you can look up your original Travelcade member’s name, address, etc. On occasion someone will also post out on one of the Avion FB pages that they have access to one of the books , or you can post out on the Avion Owners facebook pages that you are seeking a “look up” for the numbers on your rig. Folks are more than happy to help find this nostalgic piece of history out for a fellow Avion owner.
As you can see by our membership number—our trailer owner’s were the 14229 members enrolled. WOW!
Below these emblems, or on the curbside somewhere near the front side panel, some Avions also have a vertical list with smaller letters of the location and date of EACH Travelcade Rendezvous that they had attended. It is an amazing story for your Avion and we highly recommend that you LEAVE it, or if needed get repro stickers if some of the letters or dates are worn off. Some trailers only have a shadow (left from fading of the finish) on their rigs. Again—this is a badge of honor that should be maintained in our opinion and we know many other Avioners agree. So please keep them visible! We wish we had some but perhaps our owners were more interested in just reading the member newsletter than traveling south. We do know they took our trailer to Alaska twice though!
If you look very closely below you will see under the “pie slices” a discolored area on the body. In the right light, you can see EACH of the rendezvous that this trailer has been to. It was quite amazing and yes—a badge of honor we are happy to see they have kept even though the actual black letters are long gone. Those letters were issued to you when you arrived at the Travelcade Rendezvous. Today’s Silver Avion Fellowship Rally we attended in MI is reissuing these once again and we will put it on our trailer once we get our clear coating done by Chuck Cayo this spring.
Below are some resources for items mentioned above. Please do remember to check back to my blog often as I will be adding an entire post about the Travelcaders and club which will include some vintage photos of rallies, people wearing Travelcade swag and more… including where to buy reproduction Travelcade Large Member Stickers like what is on the front and rear of our rig (we have purchased new ones to replace our very faded and worn out ones)
CURRENT RESOURCES THAT WE ARE AWARE OF:
(these were viable at date of this post, sorry if no longer active) Please contact me if you find new or other sources!!
(1) Chuck Cayo (above) keeps black in stock most of the time.
(2) Others have used sources found on Airstream (gasp!) forums, recently someone used vinyl stripping found on a website that sells it for lawn chairs. He said it worked well. I got some samples, nice colors but is very thick and not sure how well it will last with temp changes/extremes of full timing plus would be really hard to insert in because it is flat, not curved and very stiff. They said do it on a sunny warm day, and use a heat gun to soften and insert- perhaps with a putty knife to help tuck into track gutter.
(4) Travelcade Member ID #’s and Units: This is a very recent link that I found posted on one of the handful of Avion facebook pages that i belong to. So far, I believe the folks who have ordered from her have had a positive experience. Mind you, you must have a steady hand to apply these…or take the letters and numbers to a professional sign shop or automotive detailer who does this kind of thing and have them apply them! As mentioned, so far, we have only seen black letters on originals but I believe some current owners are using red for their numbers. I guess its a matter of choice.
As always, I hope you have enjoyed this post and gotten some “take aways” from it. I would love to hear your feedback, or if you have other sources for the items discussed above or anything to do with Avions. Its all about helping each other to preserve and enjoy our beloved Avions as much as we call.
We look forward to meeting fellow Avioners on the road in days ahead….till then…
ONE LIVE–LIVE IT!
Adventures with a Vintage 1973 Avion Luxury Coach Camper