Tag Archives: vintage camping

Mud Flap Install- Protecting the Beauty!

We spent the following week preparing for our big trip out to Elkhart, Indiana to enjoy the Silver Avion Fellowship Rally with 41, count ’em…41 other Avions! While at it…we installed a mud flap system to protect our silver beauty!! 

Back story.……When we returned from our longest road trip to date (16 days) to Dearborn, Michigan this past May/June for the TCT (Tin Can Tourist) Centennial Rally we noticed that at some point, we must have driven over some loose gravel, rock chips in a construction zone because on the curbside of our Avion front area (yes, the area where Airstreams have those protective “wings”) we had a whole lot of small, tiny dings into our aluminum skin.  We  know these were not there prior to our trip.  It is worthwhile to note that with our multiple excursions now through Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, and Indiana…that the roads in those states are not nearly as good, or well maintained as ours are in NYS.  So ok, higher gas taxes, and over all taxes may have some redeeming quality…but we still live in one of THE most expensive states in the union–so not much solace there.

So we have decided to purchase a mud flag bumper guard set up for our tow vehicle which is a 2011 GMC 2500 Denali HD, 6L gas, 4 WD, Crew Cab with Leer extended bed cap (which we LOVE!!).

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A mudflap system would have most likely 99% prevented these chips from happening.  Only sorry we did not do sooner, 46 years on the road and our baby got dinged!  Not only does a mudflap protect from errant rocks coming up and hitting your rig, or worse yet, your rockguard or windows…BUT it also handles…well….MUD (snow, slush, dead animal debris, floating garbage or UFO’s on the highway!-yes it happens!)  Kevin works for NYS DOT and can tell you amazing stories of what his crew finds on the highways.  Mud was the other thing that washed up onto our Avion body front during this most recent trip.

Kevin got lucky when he inquired about pricing for a Rockstar Mud Flap bumper system at our favorite local after-market auto parts detailer and installer- Mac The Knife (Mac also is the one who redid our rock guard and spare tire cover- he does great work!)  Mac happened to have a left over demo model of a Rockstar brand system that he had had on display in his shop a few years back.  Yeah, it was dusty but Kevin got it for less than 1/2 price off current retail …and it is the same system being sold today for over $479 list.  Here is link to similar set up that we have which is currently available through ETrailer.com.  FYI-We have purchased several things from ETrailer.com and are very impressed with the ease of ordering online, their quick shipping and quality products.  They have a huge inventory of tons of stuff and their customer service reps are very good.

Bear in mind, these things are heavy.  We realized that since this will be a one time purchase for us…and when we are in our 70’s and 80’s and still on the road (don’t laugh…we will be good LORD willin’ and the creek don’t rise!) we needed the easiest way possible to lift this baby off the back hitch to store it away if we did not want to cruise around with it on the truck (it does add weight= lesser gas efficiency when not towing)

Here is a good video to show how you hook on the system to your rear bumper.

So Kevin had the idea to create a semi-permanent fix which was to affix the flap system to the receiver piece insert which then can be pulled out with the mud flap bumper system.  Otherwise, we would also have to be pulling off the entire (and super heavy) GenY Torsion Hitch with the whole mudflap bumper system attached as one unit.  That GenY Torsion Hitch is also a great piece of equipment and we will do a separate post just on that and cross link it here at some point.

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view of bumper step, where guard sits atop for custom look

Steps we did:

  1. Retro fit a longer 12″ insert reducer from 2.5″ to 2″ so that we could bolt the mud flap guard system right to that. Here is the link to the additional hardware bracket needed as well.   Link to hardware sold at ETrailer.com
  2. Kevin used a DeWalt Saws-All with brand new blades to cut off the excess length off the reducer.  Be sure to clamp down the reducer so you get as straight a cut as possible.  The reducer was too long and butted right  up to our spare tire, so that needed to be trimmed back by several inches.  Doing this however, then threw off the alignment of the pre-drilled side holes in the reducer, making use of a hitch pin lock impossible.
  3. He then used several different drill bits to cut new holes in the correct positions needed to now be able to throw the hitch lock 5/8 ” pin through. It has a key lock and we have had it rekeyed to match the truck ignition so you always have it handy!
  4. We followed some video’s found on YouTube for the Rockstar brand installation because as we mentioned, this was a store demo unit and therefore we had no instructions or paperwork with it.
  5. Once installed where we knew it was properly in place, we also had to install a Heat Shield (bought on Amazon, see our link/resource page) to prevent the heat from our large exhaust pipe from damaging (a.k.a melting!) our heavy rubber mud flaps.

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It is very important to have this heat shield if your exhaust goes out back before using the mudflap unit. If your pipe exhausts to the side you will not need the heat shield.

IF you are purchasing a brand new kit, you may have to put your unit together yourself.  See Video    As a demo model…Kevin did not have to do these steps!  Ours was ready for install!

 

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This is showing the install WITH the GenY Torsion hitch in place.  The GenY now can be removed by itself and the mudflap guard system stays on the vehicle unless we decide we want to take it off for non-towing times, or touring. Still to do was install the heat shield, and apply some bumper pads on truck bumper to protect from rubbing of mud flap bumper tabs.

If you have any questions about this install, or why we chose our hitch or this mudflap system, feel free to email us directly at 1973Avion@gmail.com!  We would love to hear from you!

Safe journeys!  Share photos of your mud flap project with us on our facebook page!

Kevin & Luisa Sherman

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Avion ’73 Rear Tire Carrier & Tire Cover

Recently there has been several newer Avion owners seeking info on the rear tire carrier and their original hard plastic covers.

Did you know this was an OPTIONAL item back in the day when Avion’s were being ordered or purchased? Yup….a SPARE TIRE CARRIER for the rear bumper would set you back another whopping $33 for tire holder and $16 for the spare tire!!! This explains why you will see some Avion’s of this or earlier vintage with nothing on their rear bumper. I am not quite sure where or if the owners carried a spare, lets hope they did somewhere! Perhaps strapped down on the top of the 1973 Mercury Station Wagon roof rack!! [ my dad had one of these!!]

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Check out these 1977 AVION Trailer OPTIONS and Standard Equipment lists!

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(yeah…what happened to THOSE prices right!??) Above is an awesome list of options from a 1977 sales sheet we found at the archive library at the RV Hall of Fame Museum in Elkhart, Indiana in 2017!

Lucky for us our 1973 Avion (that we purchased from the 4th owner who resided in VT about 2 hours from us) had the original tire carrier welded onto the rear round bumper. We would never travel anywhere without a spare tire. But we are constantly amazed at how many RV owners of all brands and styles do! Seriously?? To us having a spare tire is safety and responsibility 101.

Here is a photo of the rear of our Avion in as purchased condition in fall 2016.

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Shortly thereafter, we purchased this great vinyl spare tire cover which I really love. This enabled us to take off the original hard plastic spare tire cover (another optional purchase when originally ordered) in prep for its refurb.

Note- if you are looking for reproductions to replace worn out Travelcade stickers like the one centered above our running lights, please visit our blog post all about Avion Medallions and Emblems. I have links to all about this sticker and where to purchase reproduction replacements!

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Here is the link to that vinyl tire cover. It has held up very well in 3 years. The elastic stays supple and strong, the vinyl has not faded and it comes in a variety of sizes.

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

These hard plastic covers were originally sold with a nice locking bolt feature (see picture below), but most of those locks are long gone now. Occasionally we will see one still existing on an Avion. Below is one that we came uponm for sale in Milford, Michigan when attending the 100th Centennial of the TCT (Tin Can Tourist) club rally. The owner of this ’74 Avion had her out on the end of a driveway for sale, BTW it was sold within 1 week of the rally! Some one got a good deal at $4500!

(below is NOT our Avion. Photo is a Avion for sale on side of road in MI in May 2019)

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Once our hard plastic cover was removed, we knew it was going to need suring up of the center mounting hole.

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There is a considerable amount of stress over 45 years that is put on that bolt and the center circular opening had stress cracks and its thickness of hard plastic worn thinner from rubbing and wear.

We took the cover to a local auto body repair shop, Dave Ure’s in Queensbury. We were pleased with the results but it came at a higher cost than anticipated, $434.00 when all was said and done. ouch!

They did do a great job of applying some additional reinforcement material on the back interior of the tire cover around the center hole while also applying a beautiful hard auto finish paint coating and sealant of the outside of the tire cover. We had selected the color to compliment our interior color scheme and add some pop to our rear end! The finish and coating applied resulted in a very durable, hard finish that no doubt will last a very long time.

For the lettering, we wanted something that would add some “bling” and even more pop to our “rear end” of the RV. We also wanted to some double duty marketing opportunity to promote ourselves and this blog. So we laid out a rendering of the lettering we wanted and took it to Mac The Knife who we had refurb our rock guard and had done an awesome job (better and cheaper than Dave Ure’s shop) Mac followed our instructions to a tee. Mac The Knife is an auto detailer on Quaker Road in Queensbury only about a mile from our house. We are very happy with the results.

Total cost of the lettering by Mac the Knife was: $200.

So while we have a considerable investment (nearly $700) in our original cover, she is beautiful and will surely last us a lifetime of enjoyment! yes, its secured in place!


Below are some photos of our rear tire carrier hardware.

This is the optional feature that sold for the $33 in 1973 when our first owner (we are owner #5) purchased our 1973, 28 foot LaGrande.

We have yet to do a repaint on this. It honestly does not show since the cover is on, but at some point we will repaint it completely. The photos may help those of you who are chosing to have one fabricated. To the best of our knowledge there is no one who currently has these for sale in stock, so you would need to be lucky enough to find one from a parts salvager. NOTE, we believe that the 1980 models and newer of Avions had a very different configuration and system for spare tire storage.

It should be noted that this carrier is really hefty and well made. It is securely welded to the round bumper. We have since installed a clamped on (with long bolts) hitch receiver so that we can mount a bike carrier or a storage shelf on the back of our bumper when needed.

One of our plans include attaching vintage metal coolers (aluminum skinned, bought on Ebay, $25-45) to the rear bumper to serve as extra storage area for sewer hose, and spare electrical cords. They can also double as ice chests for beverages once set up at camp. They even have bottle openers built into their side handles! The original hollow bumpers are too small of a diameter to handle modern sewer hoses and couplers. We DO however keep a spare 30 amp RV power cord in stuffed in there and snake it out when needed…which has happened that we need an extension to our regular built in cord. For example, at Sampson State Park in the Finger Lakes of NY.

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Safe and Happy travels to you! If you have enjoyed this post, or found it helpful please follow our blog by activating the box at top right of this page!

Let us know if you have enjoyed this information. Also let us know if there are topics that you wish we would cover and have not yet! We are always interested in what YOU are interested in when it comes to Avion life and passion!

Thank you!

Kevin & Luisa Sherman

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

HERE IS THE AVION TRAILER SHOWCASE!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you!  Safe travels!

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Luisa Sherman