Tag Archives: tin can tourists

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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2019 Tin Can Tourists Centennial Rally-Mega Avion Sightings!!

2019 marked the 100th birthday of the original Tin Can Tourists club and we were excited to be part of honoring its rich history.  The best part of THIS particular rally was that there were 17 Avions!

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More about the history of this international club can be found here at Tin Can Tourists can be read here on their very interesting history page.  

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We joined TCT in 2017 when we purchased our 1973 Avion travel trailer. Its super affordable at $20 per person per year.  This grants you access to their forums, newsletters, TCT swag, and of course, to attend TCT rallies that are held all over the USA! This club promotes safe, fun camping and camaraderie among fellow campers. It does focus on antique, vintage and classic camp trailers but is open to all modes of wheeled campers, motorhomes, and car/tent campers and no longer has a mandatory vehicle age to join as long as members support the goals and mission of the club.  It’s no wonder that the club theme song is “The More We Get Together”.   We certainly can attest to them holding up these goals.  So far we have attended TCT rallies 2 times in the Finger Lakes of NY and this trip put us square one in their large Centennial rally which was held at Camp Dearborn in Milford, MI and have had terrific times.  We will look forward to hopping around the country once we are full timing and attending more and more TCT events.

We started our adventure out to TCT by first going to Watkins Glen NY to meet up with fellow “aluminum lovers” Steve & Courtney Adcock, full time Airstreamers who go by “AStreaminLife.com“.  Then we spent two full days in Frankenmuth, Michigan one of our favorite unique get away spots since it is a Bavarian themed little city.  You can read about this part 1 of our Spring 2019 trip here. 

We arrived on Monday, May 13 at Camp Dearborn in Milford, MI.  This massive city-owned park has a very unique history itself and is filled with a variety of camping options.  TCT uses this camping site annually for their Fall rally which is well attended.  But this spring Centennial Rally had over 170 rigs registered…for a total of over 350 attendees which was terrific.  Even more terrific was the sheer variety of the rigs that converged!  I took so many photos that I am going to put most of these into slideshows on this blog in an effort to save space.  However some of the trailers were just SO notable that I have chosen a select few to post their photos individually as well as our photos to show what a great time we had and our campsite.

Our campsite at Camp Dearborn all set up….Site 98 (paved site, huge 8 person table, fire ring with full hook ups, 30 Amp service, special rally rate I think of $37 per night) which was right on what could be considered the 100% corner intersection which was awesome because we had such nice sweeping views of the campground and no one on one side of us since it was a corner lot.  Also, the bath house is right across the lane if that is important to you.

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We had been experiencing some very chilly and rainy weather along the trip, but as soon as we got to Camp Dearborn it seemed the Sun God decided it was time to give us a break and it reached into the mid to high 70’s nearly every one of the 5 days we were at the rally.  Perfect camping weather!

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Here we are in our original vintage “Avion Travelcader” knitted caps.  We purchased these on Ebay and they were a hit for sure! Back in the day, all Avioners at rallies wore them!
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These great gals were camped in site behind us.  Wendy (on left) was from GA and had flown in to stay at her first vintage rally with her sister, Laurel (camper owner and from PA) who owns a 2015 reproduction Shasta camper.  These gals were terrific and we have made lasting friends.  Looking forward to seeing Laurel again at the TCT at Sampson State Park in NY in September!

The Centennial rally boasted a nice selection of group activities each day.  Not too many to where you feel you are on a hamster wheel but each evening there was a different nationality themed dinner.  (actually we would have liked to see a few more “how to” or other types of learning/sharing workshops during the day as options to attend).  Italian, French, Canadian, Polish Buffet dinners all were good.  It was actually fun standing in line with 100’s of fellow “Canners” and those lines moved fast but allowed all of us to get to know each other.  The “big tent” was also the site of live band music 2 different nights, a few slide shows, safety workshops, new member welcome and the Centennial Rally Dance which touted a “Roaring 20’s” theme that we dove into (well, I dove….Kevin came along for the ride as a wonderful husband will do!)

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Here is a slide show of some of the unique campers that I took photos of.  These certainly are just a sampling of what was there.  Kevin and I enjoyed taking full walks around the entire massive campground on their paved roads at least 1 x per day to see what had just pulled in since some folks started coming in on Monday like we did, but others continued to come in all the way up to Friday afternoon.  So each walk held new surprises to see!

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One of the special features of this particular Centennial Rally was that any vintage rigs “Made in Michigan” were specifically featured and showcased.  TCT did that by issuing each of us a special commemorative sign that we had out and could keep.  Also one evening a guest speaker did a great presentation on Michigan “wheeled” industry from car making in Detroit to RV trailer making history.

Even our dog Reddy got into the act by wearing her “Avion” sweater I had recently crocheted for her.  She also loved her stroller since at age 11 her arthritis gets the best of her on long walks we did around the rally.  Many thanks to Avioner Rhonda who has now given me a Travelcade patch to sew on Reddy’s coat to complete the look!

With this “Made in MI” focus, 17 Avion trailer owners descended on this rally and it was so completely awesome to see Avions of all ages, sizes, and levels of renovation!!  We met several new Avioners who we had only known of by mutual facebook posts (so nice to put faces with names!) , but also got to get even better reacquainted with several Avion owners who we had met 2 years ago when we attended the Silver Avion Fellowship Rally in Elkhart, IN. (which we are attending again this summer!)  Truly building these relationships with fellow Avion and other vintage camper lovers is such an important part of our zest for this hobby.  We learn, laugh, share and support each other.

HERE IS THE AVION TRAILER SHOWCASE!!

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We stayed at the rally until Sunday morning and then pulled out to take a fairly easy time home.  We (well, Kevin did) drove 7 hours through MI, OH, PA and into NY along Interstate 90.

As part of our trip home we overnighted at a winery who is a member of Harvest Host which is a membership organization that allows wineries, museums, golf courses, historic sites, organic and regular farms an opportunity to showcase their facilities by allowing Harvest Host RV members to stay overnight on their property.  These are typically boondocking overnights and only fully contained RV’s (motorhomes and trailers) are allowed.  No tent camping is permitted.  Some hosts we have seen do have some limited hook ups, some will allow a few nights if requested.  The impetus of this is that the RVer will support the business by taking a tour, a tasting in their winery, purchasing of goods at their site store in lieu of being charged for a camping stay.

We stayed at Merritt Estate Winery, a Harvest Host member which is a nice place, but admittedly, their parking lot and accessibility could be really challenging if you are not coming in at a very “off” time, e.g. early in morning or definitely before 2-3 pm.  After that time of day, if there are any trucks, vans or cars in their parking lot- where they want you to turn around in is going to be really tough unless you are a small camper van or small class A.  When we got there, they had not moved a large white truck or van of theirs out of the parking area where they wanted us to turn around in .  They say they are tour bus friendly but I suspect that the buses disembark their passengers at the top of the driveway, not below in their small parking lot.

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We did enjoy having a nice quiet picturesque site and the wines were good and gift shop had some nice cheeses and I bought three bottles of their wine…so we more than paid for our site in the end.  But a Harvest Host site is a nice alternative, and this site was only about 10 minutes off I-90 which made it also convenient.   Below is a slideshow of some more pictures of our overnight at Merritt Estate Winery.

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A word of warning to fellow Harvest Host members, PLEASE check out their Harvest Host site using Google Satellite before committing to go.  Call the host on the phone and clearly discuss what kind of space and turn around area and access they have.  These owners (normally non RVers) do not understand the turning and backing capabilities of RVs.  Our combined rig and trailer is just under 50 feet long and cannot spin on a dime.  One Harvest Host site in OH we had checked out enroute to MI would have been a disaster trying to use, although the owners were very willing to have us stay over.

If you are interested in joining Harvest Host, please use our exclusive 15% discount codeYou save money and we get a small referral fee credit (that we put towards future purchases at Harvest Host site gift shops to support their businesses)

Hope you have enjoyed our Part 2 of our Spring 2019 trip in our 1973 Avion. Here is a link to Part 1 (Watkins Glen/Finger Lakes to Frankenmuth MI) if you want to check that out!  If you want to be sure to get notifications of future posts and travels, please subscribe to our blog!

Thank you!  Safe travels!

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Luisa Sherman

Rock Guard Rescue- PT 3

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

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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!!

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“We travel not to escape life….but for life not to escape us”

Safe journeys!

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