Tag Archives: travelcade

2021 Silver Avion Fellowship Rally- Elkhart, Indiana – Why Attend a SAF Rally?

SAF Happy Hour gets HAPPY!

If you have not been to a SAF (Silver Avion Fellowship) Rally you are really missing something special!  The Elkhart, Indiana Rally is the “Mother Ship” original rally that has now birthed other rallies to spring up in Texas and Arkansas to host rallies at least annually as well.  Every rally across the USA gives a huge warm welcome to fellow Avioners regardless of age of rig, condition or for that matter…if you don’t have one yet- attending a rally and staying at a local hotel, etc. to come to the rally to chat with current owners can be super valuable.  We all love to talk Avions!!

The Indiana SAF is held in mid-July annually and as of this post it is traditionally held at the Elkhart Campground which is easily accessed by major interstates.  On average 30-40 Avions of various ages, lengths, models and condition flock to the campground filling at least one of the full hook up site fields!  The campground is also very convenient to the RV Hall of Fame (a must see!), great antique shopping, grocery stores and any other retail you can imagine right in Elkhart.  Another short day trip is to Shipshewana, IN which is home to one of the largest groups of Amish and Mennonite communities- the area is chocked full of amazing stores, antiques, livestock and goods auctions, gorgeous gardens, even a Quilt Garden Trail and much much more!  Just watch out for buggies!

Not to be missed when you attend the rally is a trip “upcountry” to Bontragers and Johnson’s RV Salvage/Overstock type stores.  Since Elkhart, IN is the “Capital of the RV Building Industry” a lot of overstock parts, gently used parts, and salvage are snatched up by these two retailers to sell the general public.   It is said if you cannot find what you are looking for at one of their locations…its not available.  We have enjoyed going but in truth, we have found very little useful to our vintage trailer besides generic parts and RV supplies that typically can be found at any RV parts store.  But it’s a fun adventure anyway! We actually prefer to go to the Johnson’s location that is only about 10 minutes from the campground and located on a main drag right in Elkhart- just google it when there!

WHAT WILL I SEE WHEN I ATTEND THE ELKHART SAF RALLY?

Yes! It’s AVION HEAVEN MAIN STREET!

The Indiana rally starts on Thursday but at least a third of the attendees start rolling in from Tuesday forward.  By Friday evening, everyone has arrived.  The rally ends on Sunday at campground check out, 11 AM.

When you arrive the rally coordinators will warmly greet you (and everyone else will wave to you as you come in!) and give you your packet with schedule, a rally sticker for your rig or keepsake, info sheet on local retailers, restaurants, –and yes, directions to Bontragers and Johnsons!

Here is a slide show from the 2021 Elkhart SAF Rally!  Maybe you recognize someone you know?!!  If not, come to the rally and you will be one of the gang in no time!

THERE IS LOTS TO DO RIGHT AT THE RALLY!

  • Morning Coffee and snacks with topic chats from fellow Avion owners (Saturday and Sunday morning). A great place to get answers to your questions, offer tips (trials and tribulations too!) and hear about resources around an informal cup o’ Joe. Some owners have had their Avions for decades, others have worked in or owned Avion dealerships! This is time to really pick some brains!
  • Welcome Reception/Happy Hour: BYOB but refreshments are available and many bring a bottle of something to share too! Dive into some nibbles, meet fellow Avioners and get the low down from the rally hosts on schedule highlights, additions or any changes.
  • Saturday Evening Dinner: Once again the volunteer kitchen crew do a bang up job putting out a great buffet dinner (yes, all of this is included in your very affordable rally fee!) Bring your own plate, cup, bowl and utensils and dive in!
  • Evening Entertainments: This varies from year to year, sometimes its a costume dress up affair, other times its a techy online version of Trivial Pursuit, there is even a super hilarious mystery gift round robin exchange where I think its more fun to watch the antics than even getting a gift! Some years (since Avioners love to have fun) there are more than one of the above!
  • TECH Talk! This is a more formal, scheduled time that anyone is welcomed to join in the event hall to pose questions (or you can submit them in advance which is appreciated) and our panel of Avion Guru’s will do their best to answer your questions. There is also plenty of time again to share tips, resources and how to’s with fellow owners. This event is really a “must do” for first time owners or newbies to Avions! Don’t miss it! Special time and attention is given to first timers!
  • “Walk About Trailer Tour”- Wanna see inside some of the Avions at the Rally? This is your chance! Look for the “walk about” on the schedule and take a stroll with attendees to go inside any trailers on tour! Its totally optional to open your rig up for tour- we have had everything from “works in progress” to total gut and modernistic rehabs! Its a great way to get decorating ideas, discuss specifics about their rig and enjoy putting a face to the Avion!
  • Informal Happy Hours at Avions! Be sure to get the scoop and find out who may be hosting an impromptu Happy Hour right at their rig. Bring your chair, a dish to share and your own liquid potions! Rock back, enjoy the camaraderie that IS an AVION RALLY!

If this isn’t enough, the campground has a nice pool, and other amenities and of course, don’t forget that visit to the nearby (10 min) RV Hall of Fame to see vintage camping rigs dating back to the early 1900’s, kitchy ones from the 40-50’s and groovy ones (yes, shag carpet) from the 70-80’s!

At the 2021 Rally a small group  of us opted to do a private group authentic Amish/Mennonite dinner at a Barn!  It was fabulous!

SO DON’T MISS OUT ANY LONGER!    PLAN TO ATTEND AN UPCOMING SAF RALLY IN INDIANA, TEXAS OR ARKANSAS!!  OR ALL THREE!!  BUT HOW?? 

Simply really!  Each of these rallies has their own dedicated Facebook group page where all the specifics about their rallies (date, where, how to register, highlights of events to happen and a direct way to contact the rally coordinator(s) if needed.  Folks are very responsive so reach out!

Remember, any Avion, any age and condition is welcomed!  Don’t own one yet but want to?  That’s fine too just let the rally coordinators know and they can fill you in on how to attend and may have some suggestions for local lodging or if the campground has rentals or cabins.  In most cases registered attendees to the rallies make their own camp site registrations when contacting the campground directly.  Discount rates typically are given for rally dates.

These Facebook group pages are by invite, so go to the site and click on the button to ask to join!  Yes, that simple really!!

We hope to see you at an upcoming Avion Rally!  Once we go full time in 2023 we plan to visit the rallies in TX and AR but in the meantime, we have also joined their Facebook pages to get to know folks virtually!  

As always please feel free to reach out to us directly with any questions you have and please visit our YouTube Channel and our online market place for all things Avion!  Many thanks!

Safe travels, 

Luisa & Kevin Sherman

What do these numbers mean?

Many first time Avion owners wonder what the big (normally black but sometimes red) numbers mean on one of the front side and back side panels of their Avion! These are NOT your VIN#!!

These are member numbers from a prior owner of your trailer, who back in the day joined the official Avion “Travelcade Club” which conducted all sizes of Avion exclusive rallies (some as big as 2000 trailers!!) around the USA and also conducted escorted caravan tours all over the USA ….even to Alaska!

Here are some examples of these numbers on ours and other trailers! ***If you have one on yours please share a photo of it to us so we can add it to this slideshow! (we have a link to a source to order #s and unit sets at end of this post!)

One of our subscribers sent us this photo of his Travelcade #s on his rig. His trailer is a ’59 “Regal” model. This rig attended MANY travelcade events and tours so the owners at the time were very active Avioners! The trailer’s current owner is trying to find out the history of owners of his rig #8463.
So far his research has not netted results.
Can you help? Please email us at Pewterpalace87@gmail.com

If you have a “ghost” number, meaning the vinyl numbers are no longer there but due to fade, etc. you can see these aprox 3″ high numbers that was the Member’s number- you are half way there! It is NOT unique to that trailer, it belonged to the Member themselves. As we all know, and Kevin and I are examples of this, the first Avion you buy may not be the LAST Avion you buy! So by having the Travelcade # assigned to the Member, versus the trailer, you can “move” your number to your next Avion!

Having the original Travelcade Club numbers on a vintage trailer is cache and special! In our opinion, and many others share the same feeling—you SHOULD RETAIN THEM and preserve them for nostalgia purposes. Some will note, the trailer may even fetch a higher resale amount if it has the original numbers–even though we know they were not issued to you since you may be the 3,rd, 4th or 8th owner of that particular trailer.

There are Avion owners who have the originally published member annual rosters and with a little patience on your part, they can assist in helping you find out who the Travelcade member was, where they lived at the time, etc. Its kinda fun to know that part of your trailer’s history back decades! To have assistance to look up your numbers go to one of the Avion owners facebook pages, and post preferably a photo of your numbers or ghost image. The folks with the books will see it and reach out to you if they find something! (Avion owners are good folks, and generous to the core!)

Our 1973, 28 Foot LaGrande Avion we owned from 2016-2020 did have to original Travelcade member #s and we were very proud of them. Below is a photo of our ’73 with our numbers 14229.

Sadly our current (and forever) 1987, 32S model owners during the days the club was in operation never joined, so we do not have any on our rig.

YOU HAVE OPTIONS-—if you have a ghost number showing you can order a new set of those numbers and apply them. Sometimes there was also a “state unit” identified underneath the numbers. I have posted a link below to a reputable source for new replacement numbers.

If your rig NEVER had numbers, you technically can, if you wish – create your own, perhaps personalized to something that connects to you. The Travelcade Club no longer exists (died out in the 90s once Fleetwood took over the company and phased out the Avions), so technically you are ok to create something new. ******You may wish to contact one of the folks who own the old registries to see if that # sequence was already used. If it was an assigned number you may want to go with something different, or at least honor that original member and know the # history to share with others. BELOW I HAVE A LINK TO WHERE TO ORDER NEW NUMBER AND STATE UNIT SETS!

Here are some other pictures of the Travelcade Club paraphernalia and other memorabilia! Please visit our other blog articles that go into more depth about the Travelcade club and also other emblems you may find on the outside of your Avion!

NEW!!!! GREAT RESOURCE FOR HAVING REPLICA TRAVELCADE NUMBERS MADE UP FOR YOUR TRAILER! See link below. We know folks who have ordered from this Ebay store and have been very pleased.

https://www.ebay.com/str/cannedhamdecals?_trksid=p2047675.l2563

We hope this information helps! If you have any questions or need resources for other Avion trailer items please check our Resource page! We do our best to keep links current and we apologize up front if a link is broken or no longer exists…the world is constantly evolving and its hard to keep up sometimes!

Be well!! From Kevin and Luisa Contact us at PewterPalace87@gmail.com

3 weeks along the Shenandoah National Park-Summer ’21(Part 1, NY-PA-VA)

[Buckle your seatbelt, this is a long post but can be done in segments!]

Originally our 2021 “big trip” of the summer was going to begin by crossing over the border to Toronto, Canada and proceeding in a leisurely path west along the Canadian highways and byways reaching the “mitten” of Michigan- The Upper Peninsula and then heading south to join up with fellow Avioner’s in Elkhart, Indiana for the annual SAF rally.

The lingering Covid 19 and the pandemic restrictions of travel crossing borders and prohibition to enter Canada put a total kabash on all that. We had to cancel reservations and rethink our plans.

Answer! Let’s go South and experience the Shenandoah’s and Smoky Mountains! I have always said to Kevin, give me campsites with views of water or mountains- preferably both….and my heart sings and my soul rejoices. So in mid December 2020 we switched plans…..South we go instead of North!

PLANNING……..

PRIMARY GOALS: We would do a 3-week adventure with the goal of driving the entire length of the Skyline Drive (toll to get on), the Blue Ridge Parkway and end up at one of our “national bucket list of European-themed USA towns”–Helen, Georgia which boasted a Bavarian/German theme and set in a mountain setting.

Alpine Helen, Georgia- This will be handled in the Part 3 blog post in more details along with best campground near by!

SECONDARY GOALS: in planning this trip we also had some important secondary goals we wanted to accomplish.

(1) Stay at a minimum of one Military Base FAM/TRAVEL camps. I will do a separate blog post about this program in the future and link it back here. There are specific classifications of military or former military that can use these parks. They are not open to the general public.

(2) Stay at as many National Park (NPS) Campgrounds and State Campgrounds as possible to save $$ and see how our 32 foot travel trailer will be in these eastern seaboard, and older campgrounds.

(3) Stay at an Army Corps of Engineer Campground to see what they are like.

(4) Use Luise’s recently obtained National Park Service Senior Lifetime Access Pass to its fullest advantage to save $$ on park entrance and campground fees. (Mission accomplished!you can get as soon as you turn 62)

(5) Use our new subscription to RV Trip Wizard to do the planning, routing and travel assistance. (see my notes later on how we felt this went for this type of trip)

Let’s start with the planning portion. While we are still recreational campers (not full time living yet!) and the constraints of a start and end date- planning is important to get your desired trip in within the time you have been granted vacation from work. I retired at the end of 2020 but Kevin is still working full time (bless his heart).

We had purchased a subscription to RV Trip Wizard thinking this would be the be all-end all to our planning needs. We based this on fabulous multiple reviews from bloggers we follow, fellow travelers, etc.

“The Bad/Ugly” What we found out, or rather I found out was that RV Trip Wizard likes highways….not scenic byways. It constantly tried to route me off of the Skyline Drive and Blue Ridge Parkway! I tried applying the “avoid highway” setting but that did not work because some of our trip needed highways/intertstates to get from point A to point B.

“The Fix” so what I ended up having to do was to create a Part A, Part B and Part C of our trip—each with its own unique trip plan and had to save each of them seperately. This way I could segment out and use interstates when desired, or the avoid highway mode when needed for the byways and back roads we wanted. It was VERY time consuming, tedious and not at all what I had hoped the program could do. I am totally sure if you are choosing to do long trips using major highways that the software will be fabulous as it does offer a lot of nice features.

“What the Program DID do Well!” there were pluses to using RV Trip Wizard though. That included a great pin point locator of campgrounds along our route with many filters we could apply as desired e.g. National, state, private campgrounds, things nearby to see, gas station locations, etc.

In the end, although I had printed out each PART on paper (yeah about 23 pages worth) I never used one of the sheets nor did we trust to use it as our GPS- so we resorted to our Garmin RV which is also only so-so. Published paper maps from the NPS and state tourism bureaus worked in tandem with our GPS- we only took a wrong way twice!

BTW— We booked 95% of our campground reservations by January 15, 2021 ( for a May 28 departure date) so we would assure ourselves places to stay! Booking this far ahead is critical in our opinion if you have a larger rig like ours, are somewhat picky what type of site you want. You can always cancel a reservation but these days with the glut of RVers on the road- do not wait to make early reservations if you have specific destinations in mind.

SO ONTO OUR TRIP! ….WHEW! Thought we would never get there!

PART ONE- NY, PA TO VA & onto THE SKYLINE DRIVE

SECTION 1 Plan- leave home Thursday, May 28 and drive to first overnight- boondock (about 6 hrs) at Cabella’s in Hamburg, PA. LINK This is a frequent boondock for us because we avoid NYC and RT 95 completely. We prefer to loop through PA going out to Harrisburg and then south. Although the roads in PA have been in perpetual construction mode since the early 90’s we still find this route preferable to going through lower NYS, NJ and MD along RT 95-especially when towing a trailer!

Overnight Day ONE at Cabella’s in Hamburg, PA. Of course we dropped some $$ shopping. Sadly restaurant closed due to low staffing and Covid 19. NOTE- they have dedicated RV parking area to far left of lot and have a dump station , dog walk area, horse exercise pens for RV users too. The lot is not the most level- we used our Anderson levelers while hitched up on our return overnight stay.

ON TO VIRGINIA….FORT BELVOIR ARMY BASE- TRAVEL CAMP! As I mentioned above, thanks to Kevin’s Army service and discharge classification (there are only specific ones allowed) we are able to use these FAM or Travel camps as they are called which are right on a military base (all branches of service) and in many cases RVers are granted use of the PX the Commissary and other on base services. The rates to stay are not necessarily cheaper than the rack rate at nearby private campgrounds, but the security is outstanding, you know you are only camped next to other military folks, and the use of the other base services like pool, hair salons, gyms, etc. granted at some bases is really nice. PLUS..in this case WE CAMPED RIGHT ALONG THE POTOMAC RIVER AND A 1/2 HOUR FROM WASHINGTON DC! CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO ON THE TRAVEL CAMP.

(we will do a complete campground review in the future, watch for the link!)

Our timing for over Memorial Day to be at Fort Belvoir was in hindsight not perfect. DC was a mob scene and most of the museums in DC that we had not already seen where still closed or on severe limited pre-reservation timed entry passes due to Covid-19 still. It was a bummer, but we did spend a great full day at nearby (about 35 min drive) in Fredericksburg, VA. This is a colonial town with tons of history, historic buildings, great restaurants and shopping. We enjoyed a great “German lunch” at Deutschland Downtown and had fun touring some of the historic buildings. Worth the day trip in our opinion.

OH…and did I mention there is a huge IKEA store about 15 minutes from the campground. Yup…dropped some coinage there too another day!

Here we are just down the street from the Deutschland Downtown restaurant and going into the visitor center in Fredericksburg, VA

SECTION 2NEXT STOP- ONTO THE SKYLINE DRIVE TO LURAY, VA

We stayed four nights at Fort Belvoir, in VA then drove essentially west to pick up the Skyline Drive just south of the town of Front Royal (we will cross paths with Front Royal on our way home too!) It was an easy drive west and Front Royal is a good place to GAS UP before starting the Skyline Drive. There is only ONE GAS STATION ON THE SKYLINE DRIVE at Big Meadows (Byrd Visitor Center) which is about a halfway point. PLAN YOUR VISIT……

**Fee to enter the DRIVE is $30 unless you have a NPS (National Park Service) Pass. I have a Senior Lifetime Access Pass so we were FREE!

“Ca-Ching”…first savings on my NPS Senior Pass!

–Info about regular annual pass....Here

–Info about Senior Lifetime Access Pass (you must be at least 62 years young!) ....Here

PRO-NOTE– if you show up after 5 PM or before 9 AM to the entry gates at any of the four entries to the DRIVE you will most likely get in for free and see a note that says….”please pay when you exit” . This, is at least the case right now, with staffing stressed to the max in part due to Covid 19 and previous years drastic funding reductions to National Parks. Be a good doobie…and pay when you leave! They need the $$!

** BE SURE TO GET THE OFFICIAL SKYLINE DRIVE MAP! You will need it as there is little to NO CELL SIGNAL for most of the drive and the map gives you mile markers, locations and services at rest areas and key sites to not miss.

** if you have a CD player in your car or available, the first NPS visitor center ( Dickey Ridge) southbound on the Skyline Drive sells a really nice auto tour CD that narrates what you are seeing as you drive along, allows you to pause it for stops and gives you background history of areas you are passing through. Worth the small cost in our opinion. Sorry…they do not have an app…and with no cell signal-not gonna work anyway! LOL

As soon as you enter the Skyline Drive you will see it is a tad winding in spots, but not too bad and there are TONS of SCENIC PULL OFFS on both sides of the road. The roadway is one lane south (our direction) and one lane north. All rest areas with/without services are accessible from both directions. That being said:

there were many scenic pull offs that clearly were intended to visit when traveling northbound. We were traveling southbound and with our total length of 56 feet—we passed by some because the pull out was on a blind turn or there were too many vehicles already there, making it tough for us to easily get in and out. “

Best time to do pull offs is earlier in the morning. You will find the traffic lightest then too. There are no street lights, so when it gets dark…it is DARK- we recommend NOT doing the DRIVE in the dark due to wildlife, winding blind turns and narrow roadways. (there are no guardrails, no shoulders). We were traveling through on the first full week of June, 2021 and the traffic was very, very light. We were surprised and often had no one within any eyeshot of us for miles. There were many times where we felt we were the only ones left in the world!

We found the Skyline Drive to be a beautiful and very relaxing drive. the drive includes going through lush woodlands, and riding atop the mountains, slicing through carved out divides and circling around the midline of 4000 foot high mountains. No semi-trucks, no commercial vehicles, no billboards, just wooded wilderness, beautiful vistas and lots of “oh wow!”, “amazing” and “look how far we can see!”. It was enchanting and exhilarating at the same time!

Next stop….LURAY Jellystone Campground & Luray Caverns!

We picked Luray Jellystone Campground because it was easy off the SD (Skyline Drive) and had quick access to gas, the caverns, downtown shopping, etc. **There are ONLY FOUR entrances onto the SD so planning where to camp overnight you should factor that in so you are not spending a lot of time traveling back roads to get to a campground if you are only spending a night or two and hopping back onto the SD.

I will not go into detail here on this campground here. Suffice it to say, it was a typical Jellystone. Lots of kids, families with golf carts, sites were ok but nothing out of the ordinary. Please read our campground review for the good, bad and ugly details.

We stayed there two nights, mid week. Would we stay there again? probably only if we had the grandsons with us.

We LOVED Luray Caverns and their “add-on at no charge” other attractions in their complex. Just minutes from the campground on the same highway too. We arrived just as it was opening (I think we were ticket #4 & 5) so it was nice and cool. No worries…inside the Caverns is beautifully tepid cool all the time- a great place to go on a scorcher summer day! Plan to spend the day there is a lot to see and do from the caverns to the Heritage Museum to the Antique Auto Museum and the Toy Museum (not so great, a little tired and forgotten) and for an additional fee, a tree tops ropes course.

PRO-NOTES:

Get there early to have the cave nearly to yourself to stroll!

Just new within the past year, the caverns has gone completely NO STAIRS! They built and extensive ramp with easy grade to access the main entrance and all of the pathways through the caverns are all ramps or easy paths with sturdy handrails. This is a wonderful thing! They are very proud of this accessibility feature and rightly so!

There is a very RV FRIENDLY pull-through Gas station right at the foot of their huge parking lot. Plenty of room for RV parking if you get there in the morning!

My FAV photo inside the Caverns. This is the reflecting pool. What you see on the bottom is water…with the reflection of the stalagtites from above! This is my photo…not a postcard!

When in Luray, take a few more minutes to visit COOTER’S GARAGE and the DUKES OF HAZZARD MUSEUM -owned by Ben Jones an original cast member! It’s just west by a few minutes from the Luray Caverns (on same highway). Its a great stop, we missed on our southbound route, so we caught it going back up north on our return trip. Easy access off of Interstate 81 that northbound or southbound direction too! There is no charge to enter the museum, but they have a nice small gift shop attached that you will want to purchase something to support their efforts. I purchased some locally made jam.

There is RV parking to the east side of their parking lot. We got there just before closing and so the parking lot was virtually empty mid week. The cafe unfortunately has very odd and limited hours so do not count on a bite to eat there. The museum is great with tons of memorabilia and actual cars (or some repro’s) used in the TV show. Dating ourselves, watched it regularly! The gift shop also has DoH stuff to purchase to show you remember when……Daisy Duke was America’s heartthrob!

PRO-NOTE: Even if you have to get there after hours, you can still see these cars as well as others like the ones used in the show displayed outside 24/7!

SECTION 3- BACK ONTO THE SKYLINE DRIVE TO LOFT MOUNTAIN!

We hopped back onto the Skyline Drive (SD) after spending 2 nights at Luray Jellystone. The drive continued to keep us in awe with beautiful scenery, the occasional deer spotting and amazing woodland vistas. The NPS rest areas are excellent, some with snack bars and all with gift shops (of course!) and clean restrooms, 24/7 maps to take, hiking maps, etc. There is usually at least one NPS Ranger during (9-4 pm) who can also answer specific questions about hikes, natural wonders, wildlife, etc.

Below is SKYLAND rest area which also features a restaurant, grab n go snack bar, gift shop and what appear to be beautiful lodging cabins that have spectacular private balconies overlooking the valley to the west. They were doing construction on the exterior to add we believe a large outside dining deck to the restaurant area. Restaurant has limited hours. If you are not camping, or want a night of blissful luxury you may want to book a stay! One of the most beautiful rest areas, however the bathrooms i the rest area itself were down a very large flight of stairs. really?? I must have missed the main floor ones! Check out the link here…

IT’S ALL ABOUT THE MILE MARKERS! Skyland is Mile Marker 45, Loft Mountain is Mile Marker (MM) 80. (reminder, below you will see Big Meadow Visitor Center on the map below my fingers a bit. This is the ONLY GAS/DIESEL station on the entire 105 miles of the Skyline Drive! Top off or Gas Up here!

This does not sound like much of a trek, but when there is an awesome view from pull offs along the way and you stop to take pictures and drool….it can take a while believe me! Plus remember…the speed limit on the SD is 35 MPH and that is all you want to go anyway so you do not miss anything or anyone (like a deer or bear!) We did 25-30mph most of the time.

LOFT MOUNTAIN NPS CAMPGROUND

LOFT MOUNTAIN was our first National Park Service campground experience. I had used online booking, reviewed online sites that show photos of the actual sites and thought this would be a good fit. We were Site # F165. Non electric, no services site….which is all they have ANYWAY! I booked this in late December and there were already limited sites available so book early! We stayed 2 nights and rate was $15 per night but with my Senior NPS pass (see above for link) it was HALF PRICE…A WHOPPING $15 FOR TWO NIGHTS OF DRY CAMPING on top of a mountain with deer out our door and spectacular sunsets!

Loft Mountain NPS Campground, atop Big Flat Mountain in Crozet, VA.
Best photo I took in the entire trip! this was from the Amphitheater, not from our campsite itself.

Be sure if you do camp at Loft Mountain campground that you take one of the several paths to the Amphitheater to watch the sunsets! You may get lucky like we did and see Elk literally 5 feet from you on the path! Sadly, again due to Covid restrictions/ and we think low staffing again, there were no programs scheduled at the outdoor theater but we understand there normally would be nature talks, music bands, solo musicians, etc. at least on weekends. We were there June 4-6, 2021.

Below are photos of our campsite itself in the Loop F, site # 165. We would try for other sites next time. This site is fine for a trailer under 28 feet due to the curve and the very un-levelness (is that a word?) of the site. Our power jack barely had enough pole to level us. Thank goodness we had the large red Anderson Jack Block to secure us in place. Even with this, I had nightmares of us falling off our block, and dreamt of a bear using our trailer as a scratching post and knocking us off our “perch”. (read that story “Mr MaGee Goes Camping” to my grandsons once too many times I think!)

While at Loft Mountain on our first full day we did a day ride (no trailer in tow) to Staunton, VA using the southern most entry point to the SD which is ROCKFISH GAP. We wanted to have a nice lunch at another highly rated German restaurant, The Edelweiss. You are getting the theme here about our culinary preferences aren’t you!? ** let us know if there is a super good German restaurant where you live or travel—we would love to check it out!

We also did some walking around the campground looking at sights (including views, deer and elk) but did not do any of the many hikes off of here due to my arthritic knee acting up. We would definitely recommend this restaurant if you are on the SD or doing Interstate 81 as it is right off of there as well. Just use Google!

So this will end our PART 1 from our 2021 Summer 3-Week trip over the Shenandoah Mountains and the Shenandoah National Park. Thank you for taking the ride with us! Here I am pointing to my Shenandoah National Park sticker on our 1987 Avion travel trailer we affectionately call “The Pewter Palace”!

Part 2 will include the Blue Ridge Parkway beginning in Rockfish Gap, through the rest of the Shenandoah National Park and Blue Ridge Mountain Range and on into the Smoky Mountain National Park.

Be well, travel safe, slow down and enjoy the journey!

Sincerely, Kevin & Luisa Sherman

Sneak preview Video, Our big Bathroom expansion VIDEO! just for our Blog Subscribers!!

We have completed our walk through video of our BIG Avion trailer mid bath expansion project!

As loyal subscribers to our blog YOU GET TO SEE IT FIRST!

If you LIKE this video please give it a “thumbs UP”, if you disliked…a thumbs down.

If you have not checked out the many videos we have made over our Avion ownership, or trusted other bloggers videos we have in our YouTube library now is a great time to explore. Happy travels in 2021!

QuiCk Take!- No Microwave? No “reheat” problem!

Let’s get it right out on the table now….we do NOT have a microwave in our Avion trailer. We did not have one in our prior Avion trailer. We DID have one in a 32 foot class A we owned for 5 years...it was a great breadbox!

To Microwave or no Microwave…that is the question!

Our ’73 Avion was not made with a microwave in it. We did not want to destroy the pristine original cabinetry either. So we did a critical review of how we (I) cook, what we cook, space considerations. Before we tore into those pretty real wood cabinets, we would camp in her at least 1 season first before installing a microwave to do a real eval of if it was needed. That summer, due to our house being on the market (yes, it had a microwave on the counter!) we LIVED full time in our 28 foot, 1973 Avion travel trailer for 3 months. NOT ONCE did i miss my microwave. Decision made….we do not need a microwave as long as we practiced a little ingenuity along the way for reheating items normally “zapped”.

This same trend continued when we bought our 1987, 32 foot, S model Avion just as the Covid-19 pandemic was hitting in March 2020. She was delivered to us in April, by June the original huge, heavy clunker microwave was on the trash heap. The cabinet that once held it now has been usefully repurposed to hold kitchen contraptions I DO USE…my Instapot, my small sized air fryer, my mini Belgian waffle maker…and then a felt bin that holds batteries, quick little tool box and my sewing box. It will probably hold my portable sewing machine for the first few years of our full timing…cause I just wont be able to part with it yet! LOL

Our new cupboard also sports a hinged lift up magnetic blackboard purchased on Amazon that fit perfectly and was already wood framed and i just added a bit darker stain to match our cabinet colors. We installed two Earth Magnets on the ceiling which hold the door open by clamping onto the metal pull. See photos below

BEFORE….check out the size of those 1987 buttons! The thing weighed 47 pounds!

AFTER……

SO HOW DO I REHEAT RESTAURANT LEFT OVERS? OR THE MID MORNING COFFEE??

When we carefully analyzed what we normally eat, drink and reheat it was apparent that the 2 fry pans, 1 lid and 2 pots are all I need in my kitchen arsenal to do all my cooking (we also cook on grill or fire pit outside a lot too!). When “living small” (we are in less than 200 sq. feet) the name of the game is to strive for everything you have can be used for at least 2 or more purposes.

So for an example….recently we treated ourselves to a big lunch out at the Vermont Country Store restaurant in Weston, VT. The portion of “Northerner” Mac n Cheese I got was heaped with BBQ pulled pork and delicious but enough for two meals.

How to reheat leftovers with pans you routinely use:

To reheat this type of meal so that I could keep in the moisture (like a microwave does esp. if you use one of those plastic plate covers) I did this…

(1) Put a piece of aluminum tin foil a little larger than my small fry pan into the fry pan. Shiny side facing up towards you!

(2) Put my leftovers in center on the foil, create a loosely folded packet

(3) Place large fry pan on the burner, place smaller fry pan with foil leftover packet inside on top of it.

This is just before I poured in the water to create essentially a double boiler!

(4) Now pour enough water into the LARGE fry pan to come up to about a half inch from lip of smaller fry pan. Place large metal fry pan lid cover over top (yes, handle of smaller fry pan makes it so it cannot close completely. If you do not have a lid, lay another piece of foil tightly over the top and tuck under

Tip: If you have a smaller round cake pan to fit inside large fry pan that works best. I do not carry cake pans in my trailer…I bake in my instapot or air fryer if the mood hits me.

(5) Turn on the burner- I used medium heat initially then turned it down to low once water boiled, allow the water to boil in the large fry pan, heating the inner one. Keep an eye and replenish water as needed so you do not burn it dry and ruin your pans.

Essentially I have created a moist heat, buffered by two layers of metal so the leftovers do not burn– a Double Boiler of sorts. The steam also created under the lid heated the foil and created a perfect environment for luscious, reheated and a very yummy moist 2nd Mac N Cheese dinner!

OTHER REHEATS…

Left over coffee….use a saucepan!

Potatoes? par boil, wrap in aluminum foil and grill over fire or on LP portable grill

Aluminum foil packets can be used for tons of packet cooking options. Load in veggies, like potatoes, onions, squash, tomatoes, some spices, olive oil or other marinating type of fused cooking oil and put on the grill above the fire, or you can even bury the packets somewhat into the coals themselves.

Reheating steak and other meats- TIP– I learned from a chef long ago to put a lettuce leaf on the top to exude moisture but no flavor into the meat when reheating. Use the same two fry pan method I show above!

WHAT IDEAS AND TRICKS DO YOU HAVE? I would love to hear from you!

–Luisa

Deadbolts and Avion Doors-A perfect marriage!

If we can prevent just ONE more Avion travel trailer door from being turned into a pretzel because it flew open while tooling down the highway we will be happy!

Not a year goes by that some poor soul posts a picture of their mangled Avion trailer door where the original Bargman lock did not hold, or even worse, a ill-suited or perhaps not well seated deadbolt failed to do the trick to hold the door locked.

laura vandermate, 2020 SAF

In truth, and in our opinion, the failure truly is in the original design fact that the hinges for these doors are “downwind” of the air flow (doors swing out and to the left) as you glide down the road.  Yes, the fact the door swings out towards the back end of the trailer was no doubt to ensure that you did not impede on the view from the window in your front living room, kitchen, etc. depending on floor plan makes sense.  BUT think about it…if the door swung open to the right, those hinges and the door would have the added benefit of wind sheer working to keep them closed, rather than working to rip them open.

WHY DO THESE DOORS BLOW OPEN?  Fact is, our trailers are beautifully made, but they also are not living, breathing things.  They are metal, they are layers of various materials and as they roll down the road, go over bumps, stop and go, they tork, they shift, the metal bends and flexes. The Bargman locks are notorious for not having a huge long throw bolt and can very easily tork and come lose enough to allow the door to pop open.  Over years of use their internal latching mechanisms become worn out, stripped or even inoperable.  Couple that with the wind helping to get into that slight opening and boom…you have catastrophe!

TO REPLACE, OR REPAIR A WRECKED VINTAGE AVION DOOR CAN COST $1,000.00’s of dollars!  Sometimes they can be bent back into shape, other times they re a loss.

WHAT STEPS CAN YOU TAKE TO PREVENT A MANGLED AVION DOOR?

  1. Routinely check your door hinges.  These aircraft hinges need tightening and realigning now and then to ensure the door seats into the door frame properly
  2. When possible, have a working Bargman lock (we consider ours a back up to the deadbolt, not the other way around).  Reconditioned or new (old stock) Bargman 300L and 400L series locks do come onto Ebay now and then.  Plan to pay between $350-$900 for the lock with key.   Note– our ’73 and our ’87 both have the 400L series.  NO…these Bargman’s are NOT made anymore!  Not sure which Bargman you have?  Open it up and you should find part #s.  Keep your Bargman maintained, check the latching mechanism, we have had to do adjustments now and then on ours.
  3. Install a HIGH QUALITY deadbolt lock keyed lock.  Turn knob is on interior.
  4. Lock, check, double check again that  your deadbolt is completely turned, fully engaged and seated in its receiver.  Check it again!

BELOW IS THE DEADBOLT WE JUST INSTALLED (July 2020) TO REPLACE A WORN OUT KWIKSET DEADBOLT ON OUR ’87.

NOTE:  I chose to rotate the faceplate putting the rounded ends on the side.  On company website it will show the faceplate with rounded sides on the top and bottom.  I like the rounded to the sides (1) because it does not hide the reminder sticker -original- to “lock deadbolt in transit” and (2) the rounded sides remind me of the design of the Avion itself, rounded front and rear.

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Schlage Commercial 12633626 B600 Series Square Corner Deadbolt with 5″ backset and 1 1/8″ Face Satin Chrome Finish.  CAMELOT STYLE  Packing Slip says:  Item # B60CAM619

IMPORTANT: we had to especially request and order the 5″ backset (throw bolt i call it) because of the length of our distance to really seat that bolt inside our door jam well.  We suspect most Avion owners will need to also use the 5″ backset length as well.  A too short backset (bolt) risks it not holding during those torks, flexes and bends that the trailer does while being towed.

Order Summary


thumbnail image

Default Image may not reflect chosen options.
B60CAM619 / +Part # 12633626 Schlage B60 Camelot Style Single Cylinder Deadbolt
Finish: Satin Nickel
Backset: 5 Inch Backset – $13.43
Door Thickness: Standard 1 3/8 – 2 Inch
$69.43 x 1
$69.43

Subtotal: $69.43
Discount: $0.00
Shipping: $19.00
Sales Tax: $0.00
Total: $88.43

Source: www.DirectDoorHardware.com

Inside of our trailer with new Schlage deadbolt.  We had to put the faceplate as they show to line up the screws and to have it fit in space we had.

20200712_164809

 

Position of the deadbolt varies.  Rule of thumb….Go with where the current hole is from an old deadbolt if already there.  If not and you have to make the hole, we have seen installations where the lock is on the door and throws into the door frame jam (our 87 is that) and also where the deadbolt lock is in the body of the Avion and throws into the door (our 73 had that and Cayo’s garage in Watervliet MI installed that in the 80’s if that tells you anything — as we had the original receipt from a previous owner.)  There maybe rationale for preference one way or the other and we would love to see that in comments/discussion on this blog post!

Samples of installations on other Avions we have seen posted or in person:

our 73, Cayo installed orig deadbolt in 80s in body
This was the Cayo garage installed deadbolt on the body of our 1973, 28′ LaGrande

39020273_1864168890286968_9217843404627509248_o
A heavy duty commercial grade Yale lock bought at Grainger Supply, posted by Jeff Carroll, June 2018

 

Mark Obintaro, 84V
Deadbolt install on Mark Obintario’s 34V.  Mark is the host of the Avion Trailer Owners Club FB page.

INSTALLATION OF OUR NEW SCHLAGE DEADBOLT, JULY 2020:

Kevin did have to do a small clean up of the hole in the strike place removing just a little bit of the foam insulation so that the bolt could fully engage.  Be careful not to open up too much, you want it snug.   We also did not use the round collar on the circle of the lock and against the faceplate on the exterior because the size of our already cut hole was slightly too small.  If you want to, you can recut your hole opening to adjust to fit the collar and faceplate.

We did use our Avion since this installation on a trip from NY to IN over 1600 miles with no issues at all.  That being said, after speaking with so many about the door issues, we did do an extra bungy cord wrap of our door to door handle just for some added piece of mind since our Bargman lock is not working at all anymore. (thats another day’s project! VBG)

Here is the end result of our new Schlage Deadbolt install onto our 1987, 32S Avion.  We hope this blog post has helped you.  Let us know how your project goes in the comments box below!

20200712_164904

Safe Journeys!

From Kevin and Luisa

K-L and Avion-bitmoji-withCopyright2019_bye

 

Replacing Avion Rubber Window Trims

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

also, not pictured but needed…..

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

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

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

(Don’t skip this part please!)

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

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

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

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

2020-06-07 14.24.20
Here I am using the fill able syringe with Parbond to fill any open unused screw holes left when we removed the original screw cover rubber trim that lays outside the window.  This screw cover is not on earlier models (e.g.our 73 did not have)  but was on our 1987

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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(4)  To start, we put a small bit of 3M adhesive on the side we started with, then “clicked/pushed” the screw cover into place going around radius corners.  We put a bead (using the syringe) around EACH CORNER RADIUS bend too!  These corners are where you will see pop out first from age/sun shrinkage.  Having an adhesive in there should help prolong life.

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

OUR SHOPPING LIST:

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

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

SOURCE DETAILS:    PELLAND ENTERPRISES:

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

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

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

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

Model #  H009-344-19    for Hehr 5900 windows   

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

h009-482-1-Pelland Enterprises, Top Seal

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

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

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SCREW COVER TRIM:

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

 

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

3 QUARTER INCH THICK , FLEXIBLE

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

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

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

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

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

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Baby’s Got New Shoes! (Tires & Rims)

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

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

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

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

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Here is what we bought to complete this project:

TIRES:

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

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

RIMS:

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

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

CENTER CAPS FOR RIMS:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

We have ordered Centramatic Balancers: 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kevin and Luisa Sherman

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Great Marker Light Replacements for Avions!

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

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

( 3 ) red lenses in rear.

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

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Front

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Last step on this project….

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

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

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

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

Be well, travel safe, enjoy the journey!

Kevin & Luisa Sherman, thankfully Covid-19 free!

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Looking to Connect with Avion Owners?

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

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

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

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

Avion Tuesday Talks_instagram_eveninglight

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

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

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

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

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

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