The Good, The Bad…the Ugly! It may not be the most glamorous topic for discussion, but keeping you and your family healthy has a direct correlation to continued enjoyment of the RV travel hobby.
The UGLY! Cross contamination of the fresh water spigot tap can cause serious illness—and contamination of your entire fresh water system! It can happen very easily, without your knowledge or even innocently on your part and it DOES happen!
Here are just a few possible CAUSES OF CONTAMINATION to your fresh water tank:
HOW DOES CONTAMINATION OF FRESH WATER HAPPEN?
Campground issues…..these are out of your control!
Campgrounds are not regularly testing their potable water supply (yes, it happens*)
Local municipal contamination, causing an emergency “boil water” advisory- especially prevalent after major storms.
Fresh water pipes could be broken underground before they get to spigot.
Improper placement of fresh water spigots by campground ownership
AND THE BIGGEST/MOST COMMON REASON?? Fresh water spigot tap contamination from a previous camper!
What YOU and OTHER CAMPERS do DOES makes a difference!
Lack of proper procedures during their black water tank flush process
Improper series/order of steps when hooking up or breaking down camp- we have seen people cleaning/rinsing their septic hose by turning on the fresh water spigot and rinsing under the water flow. Do you have any idea how much bacteria is splashing back up on to that faucet outlet??
Improper storage of your fresh water and sewer hoses
Broken, cracked, frayed hoses or couplers on hoses
There are countless conversations on facebook, YouTube and other blogs about first hand witnessing of unsanitary (for you and them) practices or lack thereof. This is serious business, ecoli infections can kill someone!
TIPS TO BE MORE SAFE WHEN USING CAMPGROUND DUMP STATIONS AND FULL HOOK UP SITES:
Always wear clean disposable gloves when doing your sewer dumping and DO NOT leave those gloves anywhere but in your own trash bag!
Put a small spray bottle of H2O with a mild bleach solution in your outside fresh water compartment. I bought a 4 inch travel size one with spritzer nozzle at Wally World for a couple of $.
Spray your bleach water solution EACH and every time you hook upand break down! Spray it on…both ends of your fresh water hose, the spigot at the campground pedestal/faucet before you hook up your hose. Spray the ends of your fresh water filter(s) too. When spraying spray around the outside and into the openings of hoses, filters, and spigot.
NEVER set the open ends of your fresh water hoses or filter ends on the ground!! NEVER NEVER! Have a helper hold them. If you must set stuff down because you are alone, then take a clean new plastic kitchen garbage bag and put that on the ground near the water spigot and lay your items on it like a carpet. Throw bag away after use.
DO NOT store your water filters in your basement storage areas. (may be ok for modern campers with large storage areas where you can have lidded plastic totes) Way too much dirt, germs and debris can find their way into them. We store ours in a clean dish pan in our shower floor or kitchen sink.
If the weather has been wet, use a paper towel or sponge to slide down the length of the fresh water hose before storing to take off mud, dirt, bugs, etc. Be sure you get all or 99% of the water out of your hoses before storing.
Always screw the two ends of your fresh water hose together so nothing can get in there while not in use. Would not hurt to again spray with the water/bleach solution before storing.
Using your water/bleach spritzer spray off your dump valves regularly. Keep them properly greased/lubed up as directed by manufacturers recommendations. Keep your storage bays as clean as possible.
Store your “stinky slinky”, septic hose in a separate area from your fresh water hose and equipment.
Have a box of gloves, a bucket of clorox wipes and paper towels always handy in that basement bay or next one over.
Consider always carrying a gerry jug (we have two 6 gals) with you filled with fresh water you know you can trust. Just in case the water from your campsite smells a little off, has high iron or sulfur content even though it may be potable. Your AM coffee will thank you!
Install an under counter fresh water filter below your faucet. There are many types from electronic to flow through traditional. We have one on our dedicated drinking water faucet. It is so good it even removed the pink dye color from the winter antifreeze!
Consider buying a Berkey Water Filtration system that sits on your counter. Found on Amazon or their dedicated Berkey site. Not cheap but great peace of mind.
Dump the black water tank first….then the grey water!
Put at least 4-6 or so gallons of water (depends on size of your tank or how long you will be not camping) back into your toilet and add your black tank digester. We prefer Happy Camper or Unique brands.
You do not need to use RV toilet paper….any Septic Safe labeled T-paper is fine as long as you use sufficient water each time you flush. What I tell my grandsons is if you do #2…then hold the pedal down for as long as it takes you to slowly count to at least 6.
*I recall reading numerous reviews about a campground in south western Arizona that had multiple complaints and even was shut down by their local health department due to fouled fresh water being run through pipes to their campsites. It pays to read campground reviews before you park! (NOTE: we always have at least 4-6 filled milk jugs of our own home water with us on any given trip. If anything, we use them to “flush” when boondocking or using our toilet at a rest area.
Are you bothered by the beam of light that comes through your roof vent in the morning—saying “wake up its 6 AM??”
Even though we have MaxAir Vent covers in the smoke plexiglass color we still find that the morning light coming in really robs us of some extra ZZZZ’s! So I looked for an inexpensive way to fix this issue. We do have modern Fan-tastic in our Avion, but this fix could be used with other types of roof fan vents too! A quick look on Amazon and even just Google shows there are all sorts of sizes available out there.
Then again, you could wear a sleep mask but we find them a little uncomfortable and can be hot.
Key to choosing a window shade is that it should have perforations so that you can still use the fan feature when your “shade is drawn closed”. Here is an image similar to what we purchased, on clearance at Camping World for $6.
First thing I did was cut off the actual retraction roller bar part. I did not want to have to screw that into our ceiling and felt that I would not be able to get a strong enough bond to take the pressure that was needed to “pull” the shade across our vent screen area. I left the other end intact which had a stiff rod through it and a small fastening area (on left end below). I felt this would add some stability as this would be the end that will be unrolled/rolled up to stow the mesh.
I used the Scotch brand traditional velcro squares below. I did NOT use the heavy duty click together type which the velcro adheres far more permanently to your surface and these are usually what I use for far heavier items.
I then applied 3 pairs of 1″ white velcro squares on the cut end of the mesh.
When I work with velcro I match up the two parts of the velcro first, then remove the clear plastic sheet to expose the sticky side on one side- afix into place where I want it. On this project that was all done on the kitchen counter. Then when I am ready to install I peel off the clear plastic protector on the other ends and push entire thing into place. This method takes the guess work out of trying to line each piece up properly.
This cut off end will be attached to the rear edge of the vent shroud trim piece. I did not use removable velcro squares but you can find them in 3M product lines, though they might be rectangular and thinner- they will work. The mesh piece is not heavy so HD velcro is not needed. In the photo below you can see the 3 sets of pairs of velcro.
NOTE: I chose to put the black side of the mesh towards the roof vent. I felt that having the white exposed to our bedroom would make the mesh far less noticeable on the ceiling –as I plan to just roll it up and stow it on the ceiling. If you prefer, with using the velcro squares it is just as easy to take down completely when not in use- but the velcro will wear out quicker. The instructions on the package if used in a car application said the white to the outside, black to the inside of the car.
When you go to install the velcro squares to the fan trim piece be sure that trim piece is really clean. Ideally clean with a little rubbing alcohol first, and dry to ensure a great seal of the sticky back velcro.
Next step for me was to hold those velcro tabs in place a bit just to ensure they are well bonded to the plastic wide fan flange. I let the mesh hang for about 15 minutes as part of this process.
Next step was to hold up and extend the shade, using the original tab on the end that has the bar reinforcement in the hem. I held it up as taught as possible but not so tight to put pressure on the 3 sets of velcro on other end nor to obstruct or push against the rotator motor that hangs down.
Once I found that right point, I installed one more sticky back velcro square to the ceiling and one to the top side of that tab so the mesh would stay in place covering the vent screen area. There is still plenty of “air space” gap on each side so that the vent works properly. Using velcro here makes it easy to open the mesh to take down or to make adjustments on the fan controls if necessary when mesh is deployed.
Pictures of the complete install are below– Since the white side faces down and it is so light weight, I rolled it up and secured it with two blue laundry clamps, like clothes pins that I had handy. I will buy some small white ones to use permanently. As it stands right now, we plan to keep the mesh rolled up and on the ceiling and unroll as needed. Not the prettiest of hacks, but we believe this will surely solve the problem of sun beams on our face!
Total project time, about 15 minutes.
Pull down style car window sun blocking mesh screen
Scissors (to cut off retractor bar end and trim mesh if needed)
White Velcro sticky back squares (3M makes removable ones too!)
If you do this project, please let us know and post pictures of your own to inspire others!!!!
As always, stay safe, have wonderful journeys and hug your Avion!
With the exception of TIRES….the project that seems to get the most play on any of the Avion Forums, Facebook pages and Instant messaging is “what and how do I fix my windows that look like this??
We have had countless requests to create this comprehensive project blog post so here it goes. Included is step by step “how-to’s”, where to buy materials, videos, tips and tricks!
By no means are we professionals at this-we just love our Avion and want to make her whole. We make mistakes, we try to help others to not make those same mistakes if we can avoid it…but there are some folks on the Avion facebook pages and forums that have done 2, 3, 4. 6 makeovers of Avion windows who should and could be tapped for their expertise too!
(BELOW IS WHAT OUR 1987 32S LOOKED LIKE WHEN WE BOUGHT IT IN MARCH 2020)
This is what our windows looked like AFTER we finished (or nearly finished) our project
First...assemble the tools we suggest you have handy:
Heat gun (a hand held hair blow drier will work in a pinch)
Heavy duty scissors, or kitchen shears
Needle nose pliers
Set of picks (blue handles) (can be found at big box hardware stores)
also, not pictured but needed…..
Tape measure (we have found best to have a cloth measuring tape AND a regular metal measuring tape
Phillips screwdriver (in case, like with ours, the screw cover had been screwed down to hold in place after shrinkage from age had started to pull away corners)
Can of Pam cooking spray, to help lubricate the tracks before inserting new trim
Rages, shop cloths or disposable wipes & cleaner (we use GoJo Brand Workshop/Garage Hand wipes. They have a ruff side but it does not hurt aluminum skin or window tracks, but really removes grease, grime and goo from window tracks.
NOTE: For the purpose of this blog post I am going to refer to the window glass bead as “trim” and the trim that goes around the outside of later model Avions like ours (87) as the “screw cover”. The Glass Bead is what term to look for on the sites linked below that sell the right stuff. The glass bead is the rubber trim that pushes into place that sits and hugs the glass of your window. Don’t ask me why they call is a bead…it is far from that in my book…it is trim. but using the right terms, Glass Bead and Screw Cover will keep you out of trouble, especially when trying to locate the stuff online or speaking with someone at these companies.
IMPORTANT TIPS- SOME OF THESE WE LEARNED THE HARD WAY!
(Don’t skip this part please!)
Do this project when weather is warm so old trim and new is as pliable as possible.
Take your cloth measuring tape, and measure each window around the metal trims- both the bead trim and the screw cover if applicable. Using a cloth measuring tape makes it easier to loosely measure window curved corners. Get that total for each project and ADD 10-15 feet for safe measure.
Pro Tip (ha ha) make a schematic of your trailer NOW and write down each glass bead trim track and if you have them, screw cover track length for each window. This will help in installation steps to follow. ADD 2-3 INCHES TO EACH OVERALL LENGTH!
Always order at least 10-15 extra feet over what you think you need. You are going to screw up your measurements or the 45 degree corner angles , etc. on occasion.
Do NOT take any old trim off until you are ready to tackle that particular window. This we found was especially critical with the curved front and back windows. We did not know this, removed all trim and over a few weeks of very hot 90 degree summer weather, the curved/bent glass pieces shifted down. We had to manual slide them back into place and shim them to be able to get new trim into the tracks again.
We do not recommend microwaving (some do!) or laying out your new trim in the sun unless the temps outside are cold and you need to warm up the rubber to get it pliable. The concern with heating new trim up too much is you do NOT want to stretch the trim as you are putting it in because once it cools it will shrink back to its normal length causing you problems in corners and seam areas.
We do recommend using the 3M trim adhesive we will show in our steps. We used this in all radius corners (rounded corners) as well as wherever seams butted up against each other (both under the trim as well as over top the seams). This product is linked in our Amazon product list on our Resource/Links page. We used just over (1) 5 oz tube for our ’32 foot trailer. We did end up buying that second tube for like the last window, but this stuff will come in handy down the road for sure!
This project requires strong finger strength. There is no way around it. Kevin was the only one with the finger strength to get especially the glass bead (the trim that sits against the windows) to seat in properly. I had no problem putting in the screw cover which is in the outside track. Be ready for finger cramping at night!
Use continuous lengths of trim for each window. Do not piece together unless you absolutely have to. The more seams you introduce the more likely you will have failures and leaks. Some of the curved windows will required a straight side piece and then one continuous piece for the rest-for example the curved front and, if you have them the rear side windows. On our 32S we also had the small little windows underneath our picture window in salon.
When you receive your ordered new trim, dry fit a small piece in each window track to be sure you have ordered the right stuff. We found out the hard way (too!) that our front and rear large windows with curved side glass pieces had a very slightly different trim profile than ALL of the other windows.
We highly recommend using the fill-able syringe we have on our Resource Page to put the 3M Black Adhesive into so you can create a small exact bead of goo to put into track corners and at butted seams. I snip off the first 1/8″ to use with Parbond and with this 3M material otherwise the tip as it is made is so tiny, its really tough to push this thick material through.
STEP # 1: ORDERING THE RIGHT TRIM FOR YOUR TRAILER WINDOWS
Decide what trim, for your model year Avion (or other vintage trailer for that matter) you are going to need. Here is what we ordered and from whom for our 1987 Avion 32S window project. (Caution! this may or may not be what you need depending on year!) You can use the resources we have listed below to take a bit of your old trim you have cut off to measure and try to match up with the product #s online. For best search…you may want to actually SEND the company a sample and let their in house folks match you up with the right stuff you need.
Interstate and Pelland are the two we have dealt with the most. They have very good customer service, thank goodness because their websites are really pretty bad!
(at the very end of this post we will show you specific links to the product #s and sources that we used on our ’73 28 Foot LaGrande Model and our ’87 32S model)
STEP 2: REMOVE OLD TRIM OFF A WINDOW AND PREP IT FOR NEW TRIM
Like with many or all projects, good surface preparation is key to a good finished product that will last.
We found removing the Rock Guard really makes working on the front window much easier, but the rock guard can be left on if needed. To remove your rock guard, check for any set screws in the upper track used to prevent guard from sliding out inadvertently. To remove guard really is best done with 2 people on step stools. Lift guard open up to an angle where the person (normally on the left) can begin to slide the guard out to the left along that upper track. Keep sliding, the person on the right may have to help it over the bend of the guard on the end a little by flexing it out if possible or giving it a nudge, its going to be tight getting it past that point. Continue to slide guard off which ever end of the track it feels most wanting to slide to. We have found the person who helped on the right, needs to run around with their step stool to join the person on the left to guide it off due to overall length. You do NOT want to bend this guard out of shape nor have it snap or crack. They are nearly impossible to find original replacements for !
(1) Remove old trim from the window you plan to work on today. You may need a screw driver or needle nose pliers to pry it out and away from window track. Do not bend metal track! We highly suggest KEEP all the old Trim…at least for now! See photo capture to learn why!
(2) Use cloths, scrubbies and a cleaner to get out all gunk, goo, bugs, etc from metal track. Again, we use GoJo Brand Shop Wipes which are pre-moistened with a cleaner designed to remove grease, grime but are made for hands-so no harsh chemicals.
(3) Remove any unnecessary screws (in the case of the screw cover, remove any exterior screws that were put in to hold old trim stuff on. You will NOT be putting screws into the new trim.
(4) Fill any unneeded “screw holes” made from old screws with Parbond or similar. If there is obvious gaps in where the metal tracking butts up against each end, you can fill that slightly too. The premise is we want to close up any unnecessary holes that can allow water into the trailer walls.
(5) CHECK YOUR WEEP HOLES! This is a great time to check your weeping holes on most windows. They will typically appear as 2 small holes or square slots at bottom of the window on the tracks. These allow any water that does get in to “weep” out of the holes rather than “seep” into your Avion wall! I take a small pick or a screwdriver or large pipe cleaner and stick it in each weep hole to clean out grime, bugs and debris. This cleaning of weep holes can become part of annual (spring and fall) or monthly maintenance routine depending on where you are camping!
(6) Now is the time to do any black paint touch ups on the metal track that may have been chipped off or clean up any rust and repaint. We used basic Semi-gloss Black Rustoleum brush on paint and a small brush.
STEP 3: READY TO APPLY THE WINDOW GLASS BEAD (Sore Finger alert!)
(1) Take your cloth measuring tape again if you had not written down how many inches the tracks are for each window. Get your complete measurement of the bead track. Add at least 2-3 inches to that measurement. Yes, there may be some waste but if you cut to short trust me you will have FAR more waste in the end.
(2) Start at either one of the bottom corners OR the center, depending on how the original one was done. For all corners you will be doing a 45 degree “picture frame” fit. I cut it by eye but if you are a stickler for precision, I guess you can find some angle tool to help you measure it. (I do the angle cutting, Kevin would need the angle tool!) You can try to push the rubber glass bead in without using Pam spray first. If it goes in, it will require a bit of pushing with strong fingers and putting it in on a slight angle into the track first then laying it flat to the window. You may need to use the Bone Tool or a pick to get it in to some places. Here is a video we shot doing our 1973 Avion which really shows the technique that works best to get the trim in and snug to the window glass itself.
(3) The whole KEY to doing this right is to push back on the material as you push it in. This is to ensure the material will sustain its integrity and length for as long as possible once exposed to heat, sun, wind and weather changes. You do NOT want to stretch it, you want it to be in there really tight and seated into the corners, bends and butted seams. At the seams, we apply a little 3M underneath the two ends and really back off that finishing end so that the butting is very very tight. In the corners, the same thing. Cutting each end on that 45, cut it a little long and use the pick tool to force those pointed ends down inside the metal track corners too.
(4) Use the 3M Adhesive (or we used clear Parbond on the ’73) to seal those seamed joints well.
(5) Step back and take a look. If you see some areas bulging a little, go back over them with your fingers, or the Bone Tool to get them to lay flat. The bead should lay very tightly on the window glass if installed properly. (Annually check those butted seams and corners and fill with e.g. that black 3M as needed.
STEP # 4: INSTALLING THE SCREW COVER TRIM- EASY PEASY!!
Now for the far easier part! The screw cover really goes in quite easily. This is where we did use Pam spray to lube the track on some windows, while others seemed not to need it at all.
Again, the use of the screw covers on the Hehr windows was not in play until we believe the 1980’s. We also cannot vouge for fact that all screw cover product #’s are the same, so again, look at a piece of your original, measure the profile end and look at the vendors to get the right stuff. Be sure it is rubber…NOT vinyl! Although our Ebay Source (below) advertises the product we ordered as “vinyl” it is clearly a rubber product. Both are sold as screw cover, but vinyl is really sold more for boating and will not be able to bend around your radius curves. Screw cover trim is far easier to find as it is in regular use today on boats, cargo trailers, etc.
(1) Using your window measurement of that outside track with that added “fudge length” adding 2-3 inches. Cut your rubber screw cover.
(2) if you have not already prepped, cleaned, touch up painted your screw cover metal track do that now. Fill in any holes from removed exterior screws with Parbond or similar. Sand off rust, carefully repaint with black Rustoleum paint
(3) We found all screw covers on our 87 started at center bottom with a straight butted two ends together seam.
(4) To start, we put a small bit of 3M adhesive on the side we started with, then “clicked/pushed” the screw cover into place going around radius corners. We put a bead (using the syringe) around EACH CORNER RADIUS bend too! These corners are where you will see pop out first from age/sun shrinkage. Having an adhesive in there should help prolong life.
(5) Kevin found the Bone Tool very helpful by flattening out the screw cover rubber and really forcing those little hooked ends into the metal track to grip well. (see video below)
ANOTHER TIP TO SHARE: When applying the glass bead AND the screw cover it really helps to have a second person who can keep the remaining trim above or at least level with the shoulder of the person applying the trim into the windows. This prevents the drag of gravity trying to pull down on the excess material and helps the install. If you don’t have a second person, then at least lay the excess over your shoulders to lessen the gravity drag downward and fighting against you trying to install “upwards” which you have to do to do this project right!
(5) Again, just like with the glass bead, you want to NOT stretch this screw cover. During the install keep pushing it back slightly upon itself, especially around the radius corners so you are getting as much trim in as the track can hold.
(6) Butting the ends together, cut long and trim slightly as needed but to ensure a really tightly butted seam. We lay some 3M adhesive on the final few inches of the trim before we do the final cut and butting of the raw edges. Make sure those edges are straight for the neatest look.
(7) Apply a thin bead of 3M black adhesive over top of this seam as well.
This new glass bead if installed correctly should last in normal conditions at least 8-15 years or more. Of course, if you are in hot weather states in the summer and your trailer is outdoors, the longevity may be less. We know that the glass bead on ours was at least 20 years or more old and may have even been original. Our trailer was bought new in FL, lived in FL till 2012 then sold and moved to PA. Was stored outdoors.
WHAT SPECIFIC PRODUCTS WE ORDERED FOR OUR 1973 AND OUR 1987 AVIONS AND WHO WE ORDERED FROM! This may or may not be what you need! Do your research, purchase sample kits or ask them to send you a sample or buy a foot of what you think you need FIRST!
Special note-JULY 2020: We have yet to find the correct new replacement glass bead for our curved front and rear windows. We are sending a sample to a Pelland and Interstate to get them to ID and select correct one. When we get it, we will update this post with that info! All other materials that have worked for us are listed below with links to products and their distributors.
Search for: BLACK RV Trailer Thick Vinyl 3/4″ Insert Trim Mold Flexible Screw Cover 100 Ft.
July 2020 Selling for 100 feet @ $72.95 with FREE shipping!
She does sell it in various precut length hanks. Buy what you need, and then some!
NOTE: Be sure to order the correct ” Thick Vinyl 3/4 inch”. She has a lot of various similar trims in her Ebay Store. We did not order the thick stuff the first time and it was way to thin and would not have held up in the track for long and would have fallen out on the road.
So that’s it. This is hopefully a very helpful post to all who need repairs or total replacements of their window trims. The project is worth taking on. Window and seams areas are the leading source of water damage to vintage trailers.
We hope we have helped you on your journey! We love feedback so please leave a comment!
Safe travels! Hope to meet you on the road or at a rally someday!
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!”
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!
On our project list for our new to us ’87 Avion was to remove the original 1987 humongous microwave. In truth–the edges of interior box were rusty and surely this behemoth sucks a huge amount of juice when “fired up” and running. Plus…do we really want to trust the safety of a 33-year-old Microwave?
As an aside, in case you don’t know…Kevin and I have over 30+ years of 18th century living history reenacting at historic sites, museums, national and state historic parks from Nova Scotia to Colonial Williamsburg. Yes…we are THOSE people who make and wear clothing and live the life of our forefathers and mothers in 1757-1781. As a result of the immersion into this hobby, Kevin and I have long ago learned how to cook, clean and survive without a microwave for days on end.
Yes, at home I do use a microwave, but camping life and its pace and fresh air seems to shrug microwaving for us.
When we bought our ’73 Avion right off the bat we began looking to see what cabinet we could retrofit to install a small microwave thinking we needed one in an Rv. Doesn’t every RV have one after all? (our Class A did). But our common sense took hold and I asked discerningly- “what do we really use it for??”. Perhaps heating a left over cup of coffee (can be done in a sauce pan), or reheating a left over (we rarely have leftovers and if so, tin foil can do the trick on the grill, in a covered pot on the stove or in our Avion oven). So did we REALLY need a microwave and to hack into the pristine, original cabinetry that Avion’s were/are known for? We decided to wait a year of using our 73 before we hacked. A year turned into three and there was no doubt, no microwave was needed for us. We are resourceful camping souls from the 1700’s after all- having logged literally 1000’s of hours in reproduction canvas tents, hauling water and cooking over an open fire even in 95 degree summers (with 3-4 layers of wool and linen clothing to boot)! Running water and a toilet are high style for us!
So fast forward to our newly purchased ’87 Avion. The 32S has a front kitchen. It’s one of the big reasons we love this floor plan. Here is a photo of the behemoth microwave that came with her off the assembly line in Michigan 33 years ago this past February. Yeah, the # buttons were like the size of a postage stamp!
Here below are some photos after the microwave was removed, and the cabinet interior cleaned up, a floor created over the framing and wiring for the stove exhaust hood safely wrapped, encased and secured. Kevin did a super job on this and WOW!! Look at all this space I have now! More than enough for some modern convenience contraptions I really do use like…my air fryer, small InstaPot, my crockpot and metal stock pot (for the occasional Lobsta’ dinners now and then or the rally chili cook-off contest!) Plus maybe even some oversized boxes perhaps of dry cereals, oatmeal, etc.
I had the brainstorm one night that instead of trying to salvage some original Avion cabinet doors to put in here, how about a corkboard? In 225 Sq Ft of living space you always want to err on the side of versatility and each thing, full timers will tell you, should have at least 2 purposes! So onto Amazon I went and found this beauty–a wood framed, magnetic chalkboard! I have the link for it in our page that features our Favorite things/resources. (no, we do not have an Amazon store, we do not get any residuals from anything you order, its just us helping you to find things we love, use and have tried before)
I love the way the black chalkboard matches the look of the black front refrigerator and oven. Really looks like it belongs!
So let us know?? what cha’ think? We simply love it! We used the same hardware as we had replaced in the kitchen (seen on right photo above) and so here is the big reveal below side by side….you decide!! BTW…this board is chalkboard and magnetized so i am thinking a fun place to put grandsons current photos and some little magnets from special places we go to around the USA!!
Another project checked off the list! This one took about a total of about 3-4 hours total including refit of interior cupboard, staining of frame, going to store to get hinges and the intallation this evening
May 2020….one month into ownership of our 1987 32S Avion. When we bought this Avion the former owner had been using it as his mobile residence while on construction jobs. Some of those jobs entailed camping over winter months. Understandably he had chosen to install winter RV skirting around the bottom of the rig to the ground to lessen wind and weather intrusion.
In the photo below…You can see all the (we figure over 100) plastic black “clips” that were glued on about every 6″ onto the aluminum skin perimeter of the Avion. In truth it was an initial turn off to see all of them because we had a genuine concern that they might leave a “forever mar or mark” on the skin–or quite honestly not come off. The owner assured us the “glue” used was safe for aluminum and that with some good ol fashioned elbow grease they would “pop” off. He was right!
Finally our Adirondack spring 2020 began to settle in and it has been comfortable enough to work outdoors in our RV storage garage, Kevin went to work coming up with the perfect recipe and steps to remove these little buggers. (LOL…although this Avion has additional upgrades like specially installed heated pads around its tanks, etc. we really plan to chase 70 degrees once we retire…no need for winter skirting for us–anyone need about 150 winter skirt clips?? let us know!)
Kevin’s tools to remove!
WD 40 (we used pourable from container, not spray on)
Bone Tool (find on our Links page in our Amazon item guide link
GoJo brand textured disposable wipes
Heat gun (a hairdryer could be used in a pinch too)
Small plastic tray or bowl and foam 1-2″ brush
Steps to removal (video also posted at bottom)
Break/snap off all clips using a plastic scraper. (do not use metal scrapers on an Avion! You will cut into the anodized finish and also possibly cut into the aluminum skin)
Apply WD40 using a foam brush to any remaining glue on Avion skin. Let sit overnight.
Work on section by section may be easier.
Use textured wipe and bone tool to remove glue.
Use heat gun if glue is not coming off with wipe or bone tool. Shoot heat for about 10 seconds. Adjust accordingly- might need a second time with heat gun.
Wipe area down once glue spot is removed. Continue on to the next one!
Finished!! NO sign they were ever there! (note, yes, we know she needs a bath) This project took Kevin about 2 days (about 8 hours total, taking his time)
Kevin does a video of steps to remove the clip glue spots- click here
Hope this post helps anyone who needs to remove winter skirt clips like we had!
Be well, hope to meet you on the road or at a rally!
Yes, We have sold our beloved 1973 Avion, 28′ LaGrande! This hard decision only came because we have just recently purchased a 1987 32S model that has a little more space for grandkids and visiting family/friends from out of state when we go full time living and will be traveling around the USA and Canada in our Avion beginning in 2023. Ironically, we have found out that the 28′ actually has more storage capacity than our “new” to us 32′!-more downsizing is on the “to do list”!
So our 28 footer has found a new home and new owners Val and Michael. Ironically we bought this trailer from someone on VT in 2016 and now 4 yrs later she is moving back to VT to a lovely active family who no doubt will enjoy her like we have and make many great memories!
You may have seen our sneak peak where we unveiled that we just purchased a new to us 1987 Avion 32S. We have dove right in getting to our punch list. The weather here in upstate NY still is not great (3rd wk in April and still in the 40s-50s). Thankfully for us (but not on the pocketbook) we have secured an additional RV garage bay 3 doors down from our 1973 (which is coming on for sale soon!)
The biggest “change” we have done so far in the last 12 days is the total switch out of the original cabinet hardware throughout the trailer which was a combination of off white porcelain and brass tone pulls and updating it with a new look that to us seems to go with the quintessential look of our all aluminum trailer. Before doing this switch out, I wiped down every cabinet inside and out applied Howard’s Restor-A-Finish to every piece of woodwork, doors, cabinet and closet fronts, then followed up with Howard’s Feed N’ Wax which not only makes the wood “pop” but also protects it with a non sticky wax finish. (I have placed a video from the Howard company in some additional details below)
See what you think!
You will notice that we found we HAD to re-purpose the original oval ended backplates because there was no way we could circumvent the fade and marks that they made. So Kevin had the awesome idea of spray painting them the hammered pewter finish we have used before. Below is after Kevin had by hand soaking in paint stripper, then stripper neutralizer, then green scrubbied them and finished with a steel toothbrush, then sprayed on primer. Here is our parking lot “clothes line”!
So we used the Rustoleum Hammered Aluminum (light version) to give it “the Pewter Palace look” and then installed the new brushed stainless modern handles for a clean updated look (Thanks to daughter Sarah for her #1 vote on the handles!). The handles were found at Lowes in stock, in store just under $7 each- great quality!
Below you can see why we could not go with just the handles, but needed the backing plate. By the way, this is also before I applied the Feed N’ Wax.
After, but plate ghost remains!
The finished job in the kitchen! We are so very thrilled with the way it looks and functions! We like the traditional “hammered pewter” with the modern sleek brushed aluminum handles- a melding of old world…and new!
IN CASE YOU ARE INTERESTED IN READING MORE….
Other things we have finished on our punch list between April 14 (delivery day) to 26th, 2020.
All draperies, pillow covers removed and dry cleaned. Although they were not really dirty and former owner thankfully was a non-smoker- we just figured easier to start with a fresh baseline. The curtains had been custom made just 2 years ago. There is a lot of curtaining and I am not sure I will keep it all. In fact, I know i will be moving the beige kitchen curtains to the rear bedroom because of the pattern and color schemes of our current bedding and German decor. Plus some of the curtain valances really needed pressing too to just look perfect! 40LBS of curtains, bedding, pillow covers came with our trailer…yikes that is a lot of weight!
All cabinetry doors and wood walls have been treated and fed with Howard’s Restor-A-Finish (cherry in kitchen, Maple-Pine elsewhere). Wow…what a difference- the woodwork quality in Avion’s is second to none! Then everything was treated with a coating of Howard’s Feed N’ Wax. Check out their video!
Mattresses refreshed: the mattresses have been Febreez’d, and set out in the sunshine during 4 sunny days (not every day was warm…but they were sunny! The zippered mattress covers machine washed and came out great! The mattresses had been custom made. Due to the rear twin bed configuration, the twin beds are curved at the foot on one side to align with the curve of the rear of the Avion (Airstreams do the same thing). The mattresses are an excellent coil quality, soft pillow top and only 2 yrs old from MattressInsider.com (tags still on) -so we are keeping them.
Mirrors all cleaned. Some of the mirrors are glass, others (living room and bathroom) are highly polished stainless steel which is great because they are much lighter and will not break…ever!
Breathable Beds are important: Kevin drilled some additional vent holes in the tops of the bed’s wooden platform/storage covers. We also took the fiber vent pads from our old Avion (also from MattressInsider.com) and trimmed them to fit the “new curve”!
Dining table rehab: we took off the hardware for drop down to bed dinette table. Used same hammered aluminum spray paint to cover over rusty areas, and reinstalled table. Looks great now!
Wiped down and cleaned all interior walls and ceiling: For this cleaning I have found the best results are from either using a Mr. Clean Eraser sponge with (green) Fabuloso cleaner, diluted per their instructions or for stubborn areas I use GoJo textured hand cleaning wipes. These things are truly amazing and we use them on a lot of projects-besides being great hand cleaner wipes when working with grease, paint, etc. etc.
Window projects to date: Kevin has lubricated all the window cranks, removed interior window screens and ewe have begun repainting frames with black satin Rustoleum spray paint. Washed all the interiors of windows.
The wonderful hallway double cedar closet wardrobe has been refreshed with Colton’s Cedar Spray (all natural and not a strong scent) to bring back its great qualities to repel moths and keep clothing fresh. Neat thing we found was that Avion was so quality in their thinking that there are tabs that pull down a wooden cover with rubber gasket that goes over each clothing bar when traveling, thereby preventing the proverbial clothing hangers landing on the floor and clothes in a jumbled mess!
Original 1987 pull down shades get a bath: I have decided to retain the original pull down fabric shades that are in the kitchen/dinette area, over the sofa and in the bedroom. I HAVE removed the chic “mauve and pink” woven decorative trim though! Ha ha! I will need to replace some trim with something more to my decor in the kitchen and living room though because when these were originally made the trim was sewn and glued in place and the glue is so embedded and aged golden that it must be covered over. The bedroom ones were far easier, those I was able to just cut off the original fabric scalloped tier to leave simply just a very decent off-white linen woven-look shade which will look just fine. All of them got the “hot tub” treatment in our apartment bath tub with a hefty amount of Oxi-wash and Tide. Check out that dirty water! In defense of former owner, he had heavy black out curtains made and I suspect never really used these in the past 8 years he owned the trailer.
See dirt and mold spots
getting the HOT TUB treatment
Well, that should do it for our aching backs, but so worth it for the first 12 days of ownership. We are really pleased with how things are going. Now that it stays light longer we have been able to get over the RV “carriage barn” after I finish working each day (remotely of course due to Covid-19 Pandemic) and the past two weekends.
Our goal is to have the interior completely knocked out and finished by end of next weekend so we can move all of our gear out of the 1973 and get her up for sale! Then we will start on our 32S exterior punch list so stay tuned!
There are a lot of camping club membership programs to chose from. Each RVer has to do research and soul searching to find what fits their current and future needs best. We spent years researching and deciding before pulling the plug to join the clubs we have so far to save $$ on camping fees and support.
I am not going to go into every club membership here in detail. A simple search of YouTube and the web will provide our followers with plenty of opinions by full time and part time RVer’s, and those who weekend (or vacation) camp only.
What I will focus on in this blog post are the decisions we made, that we felt worked best for us at this point in time. Each of you will have different needs, preferences, geographies to consider for traveling–so only you can make a decision that is best for you.
What we have in our “travel club kit” currently is the following:
Good Sam Club (regular membership, not the roadside assistance membership)
Why? for the discounts at Camping World and at participating campgrounds
Why? for roadside assistance, RV towing, and discounts at campgrounds, attractions, dining, hotels, general travel discounts at retailers.
KOA Membership: Small annual fee, you build points with stays but in truth you would have to do a lot of KOA nights to really make the points amount to much. Meanwhile we do get discount on every booking at a KOA we do with this membership. KOA’s are fairly consistent and we happen to have a few of them at points on our regular vacation travel routes- so why not stay a little cheaper? You can purchase these memberships directly at the campground or when making a reservation online they will ask you.
Passport America: We made the decision to purchase the LIFETIME membership. This membership gives you discount at participating campgrounds all over the country. There typically are # of night restrictions and many parks do not offer the discounts peak season, weekends or holiday weekends- understandable. Discounts vary from park to park. The reason we bought our lifetime membership pass now is that while we are both still working and have good cash flow, and can purchase at 2017 rate…why not? Now its paid for, and one less monthly bill coming in once we are retired and our incomes are more stretched.
You can purchase an annual pass…currently on their website that is $599 per year for one “zone” e.g. Northeast.
We also chose to purchase the VIP lifetime, nationwide membership package. BUT we did not buy “new” and we did not by the annual zone type pass. We went through a resale broker who came very highly regarded by several full time RVers we have been following for years including RV Love who has an excellent video on this and other camping membership clubs.
By going through a re-seller, we used Campground Membership Outlet,located in Florida the process was pretty simple for us, but it did take a few months for TT to get their act together for the final processing and to send us our membership documents, etc. Campground Membership Outlet has been in business over 20 yrs and we felt far more comfortable going through them than purchasing from a private seller on Ebay or Craigslist. Yes, these plans are for sale on those sites too but buyer beware as there is a lot of fine print you need to be aware of and to be sure you are getting a legit membership. The staff at CMO, Kim & Chad were excellent to work with and sent us explanations of what currently plans they had in their inventory at the time we were looking. This inventory is going to change since it all depends on what current members are turning their packages in for resale. Our package originated from someone who bought in the 1990’s. We were able to purchase a membership package for $1,000’s less but actually with better perks and less restrictions on # of overnights, less restrictions on nights out of network before you can book again and a much better 120 day advance booking window. We felt it had advantages over the annual zone pass. Thousand Trails is a national network (though there is definitely limited participating campgrounds in the middle sections of the country. See the map graphic below and check out their link for more info.
There a lot of research and comparing that needs to be done when you are looking into Thousand Trails. We have heard their TT direct sales people are pretty high pressure…(another reason we liked going through the resale broker). And yes, depending on the resold club membership package you purchase- you can also resell your membership down the road if desired and recoup some of your initial investment.
With a Thousand Trails membership you do incur the initial investment, and you do pay an annual maintenance fee. Ours is right around $550-600 per year. This too is locked in with only up to a 3% raise after 5 yrs. Again, even before we go full-timing, right now if we do 8-10 nights of camping at a TT campground we have more than paid for our annual maintenance fee.
Why did we purchase the LIFETIME membership package now in a lump sum?
We saved money compared to contemporary plans which are only going to go up in cost each year.
We have the disposable income now while we are both working full time
With inflation who knows what these packages will be once we do retire
The longer we wait, the less of those more lucrative older plans that are available because they are being snatched up by many full time RVers.
We live debt free now and want to continue that once we full time. Honestly, we have heard some folks who have purchased new plans paying upwards of $10-15K for their memberships. YIKES! P.S.Thousand Trails corporation does do financing but again, we did not want to have those monthly bills after we retire.
We use our membership now to save overnight camping costs, but more importantly we crunched the numbers and once we go full time we will literally pay for our entire package (ours was $3500) by the very first year we are full timing after less than 100 days of overnights in participating TT campgrounds.
Thousand trails participating campground fees for us now range from free to $5.00-$8.00 per night versus rack retail of $35-65 per night for the same park!
With our package we can book up to 120 days in advance, stay up to 3 weeks at the same campground, get a newspaper and 2 free coffees per day
Our children can use our membership to rent a campsite or a cabin rental with hefty discounts for up to 2 weeks each year.
We can also gift this membership package as a legacy inheritance to our children when we no longer can be on the road- and then they have it for their lifetime.
There are add on packages (some are shown on map above as blue and gold) that also include the Trails Collection (gives you access to Encore RV Resorts). We have chosen not purchase this collection yet, but will as soon as we launch full time. Encore RV properties do tend to be nicer, with more amenities and are in some prime resort areas. There is one here in the Lake George Region (Lake George Escape Campground)- but even with our current plan we can stay there for a significant discount which is ok for us right now without having invested in the $200 per year additional cost for the Trails Collection.
Full disclosure…from what we have heard and experienced ourselves, not all TT participating campgrounds are equal. In the basic TT plan, many are older parks, some certainly not what we would consider a “resort” level by any means…but when you are staying in a full hook up site for free (our program they are free for us!) to under $10 per night..we are certainly willing to deal with some cobwebs in the bathrooms, some peeling paint on playgrounds (or no playground) and perhaps worn down gravel driveways. The way we look at it, once we full time we will plan to spend 2-3 weeks in a TT campground cheaply (do our laundry, take long showers, pump out our tanks, refill our water, perhaps dip in a pool or hot tub) then roll on out to either boondock a bit…or use the money we saved by staying in a TT campground to book a week at a luxury RV resort stay at a future date. Works for us!
In closing, again, this is our plan and may not be right for you. Only you can decide by doing the research needed.
This year, in 2020 we will also become life time members of ESCAPEES.
This is a national club with a lot of member support, great online forums and meet-ups, conventions with workshops, etc. It is not just for full timers, though many full time RVers belong to it and love it. Reason for this is they host rallies and RV caravan trips, club members get excellent discounts on certain RV equipment needs and they too have their own RV parks where we can stay for really cheap for a great stop off point along our wanderlust trail.
Once we know our full time launch date we will most likely add Coach-net RV Roadside Assistance membership since it is deemed the most comprehensive and best for national travelers. We plan to continue our AAA RV plus however, just to be sure we are covered in all geographies and to continue to get their travel discounts no matter how we are traveling.
We also are members of Tin Can Tourists and Harvest Host too….but those and others are for another blog post in the future!
Happy travels from Kevin & Luisa Sherman in the Pewter Palace!
We spent the following week preparing for our big trip out to Elkhart, Indiana to enjoy the Silver Avion Fellowship Rally with 41, count ’em…41 other Avions! While at it…we installed a mud flap system to protect our silver beauty!!
Back story.……When we returned from our longest road trip to date (16 days) to Dearborn, Michigan this past May/June for the TCT (Tin Can Tourist) Centennial Rally we noticed that at some point, we must have driven over some loose gravel, rock chips in a construction zone because on the curbside of our Avion front area (yes, the area where Airstreams have those protective “wings”) we had a whole lot of small, tiny dings into our aluminum skin. We know these were not there prior to our trip. It is worthwhile to note that with our multiple excursions now through Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, and Indiana…that the roads in those states are not nearly as good, or well maintained as ours are in NYS. So ok, higher gas taxes, and over all taxes may have some redeeming quality…but we still live in one of THE most expensive states in the union–so not much solace there.
So we have decided to purchase a mud flag bumper guard set up for our tow vehicle which is a 2011 GMC 2500 Denali HD, 6L gas, 4 WD, Crew Cab with Leer extended bed cap (which we LOVE!!).
A mudflap system would have most likely 99% prevented these chips from happening. Only sorry we did not do sooner, 46 years on the road and our baby got dinged! Not only does a mudflap protect from errant rocks coming up and hitting your rig, or worse yet, your rockguard or windows…BUT it also handles…well….MUD (snow, slush, dead animal debris, floating garbage or UFO’s on the highway!-yes it happens!) Kevin works for NYS DOT and can tell you amazing stories of what his crew finds on the highways. Mud was the other thing that washed up onto our Avion body front during this most recent trip.
Kevin got lucky when he inquired about pricing for a Rockstar Mud Flap bumper system at our favorite local after-market auto parts detailer and installer- Mac The Knife (Mac also is the one who redid our rock guard and spare tire cover- he does great work!) Mac happened to have a left over demo model of a Rockstar brand system that he had had on display in his shop a few years back. Yeah, it was dusty but Kevin got it for less than 1/2 price off current retail …and it is the same system being sold today for over $479 list. Here is link to similar set up that we have which is currently available through ETrailer.com. FYI-We have purchased several things from ETrailer.com and are very impressed with the ease of ordering online, their quick shipping and quality products. They have a huge inventory of tons of stuff and their customer service reps are very good.
Bear in mind, these things are heavy. We realized that since this will be a one time purchase for us…and when we are in our 70’s and 80’s and still on the road (don’t laugh…we will be good LORD willin’ and the creek don’t rise!) we needed the easiest way possible to lift this baby off the back hitch to store it away if we did not want to cruise around with it on the truck (it does add weight= lesser gas efficiency when not towing)
Here is a good video to show how you hook on the system to your rear bumper.
So Kevin had the idea to create a semi-permanent fix which was to affix the flap system to the receiver piece insert which then can be pulled out with the mud flap bumper system. Otherwise, we would also have to be pulling off the entire (and super heavy) GenY Torsion Hitch with the whole mudflap bumper system attached as one unit. That GenY Torsion Hitch is also a great piece of equipment and we will do a separate post just on that and cross link it here at some point.
Steps we did:
Retro fit a longer 12″ insert reducer from 2.5″ to 2″ so that we could bolt the mud flap guard system right to that. Here is the link to the additional hardware bracket needed as well. Link to hardware sold at ETrailer.com
Kevin used a DeWalt Saws-All with brand new blades to cut off the excess length off the reducer. Be sure to clamp down the reducer so you get as straight a cut as possible. The reducer was too long and butted right up to our spare tire, so that needed to be trimmed back by several inches. Doing this however, then threw off the alignment of the pre-drilled side holes in the reducer, making use of a hitch pin lock impossible.
He then used several different drill bits to cut new holes in the correct positions needed to now be able to throw the hitch lock 5/8 ” pin through. It has a key lock and we have had it rekeyed to match the truck ignition so you always have it handy!
We followed some video’s found on YouTube for the Rockstar brand installation because as we mentioned, this was a store demo unit and therefore we had no instructions or paperwork with it.
Once installed where we knew it was properly in place, we also had to install a Heat Shield (bought on Amazon, see our link/resource page) to prevent the heat from our large exhaust pipe from damaging (a.k.a melting!) our heavy rubber mud flaps.
It is very important to have this heat shield if your exhaust goes out back before using the mudflap unit. If your pipe exhausts to the side you will not need the heat shield.
IF you are purchasing a brand new kit, you may have to put your unit together yourself. See Video As a demo model…Kevin did not have to do these steps! Ours was ready for install!
If you have any questions about this install, or why we chose our hitch or this mudflap system, feel free to email us directly at 1973Avion@gmail.com! We would love to hear from you!