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Old 09-21-2010, 05:36 PM   #1
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Anthem , Arizona
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New Avion 34VB

Hey gang!

After selling our Class C motorhome a few years back and two kids later (total of 3) we realized how much we've missed camping - with slightly higher accommodations than tents provide. So after discussing the options, we decided a travel trailer offered the best fit, and the default brand of choice was of course Airstream. Upon further research, I stumbled upon their distant cousins Avions. Considering all of our needs, Avion's looked to hit all the check marks on our wish list. After looking all summer, I found an excellent deal on a 1989 Avion 34VB.

I just got it home and everyone is excited. I'm compiling a list of items I'd like to repair or upgrade and wanted to get some advice from others. Does anyone have a checklist of maintenance items to check and repair or replace for this era of trailers? Everything "works" but I just want to look out for the usual suspects and head off any trouble before we take it on a trip.

P.S. I've already joined a couple of the small Avion groups online, but it seems there are more active vintage trailer owners on here.

1989 Avion 34-VB - a set on Flickr
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Old 09-21-2010, 07:23 PM   #2
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Nice to see! I read the ads regularly and might recognize this one . . it was for sale in?

I had (and sold) a 34' trailer thinking that not only was a shorter trailer more desirable, but one with a rear bedroom as well. I now would enjoy having a 34XB, or a 34X from 1989-90. Aero design (and IS) mean more than weight.

I'm in favor of going after all the hitch-rigging and tow stability questions first. Roadworthiness. The GVWR of this trailer is right up against the top of the DODGE ratings.

I haven't found any advice on the AL KO axles in re replacement (as per AIRSTREAM and HENSCHEN) either testing (by measurement) or otherwise (do a search here on A/S axle replacement). One correspondent wrote that he had contacted the manufacturer but had no reply to acceptable versus worn necessitating AL KO replacement. It's worth exploring further (not ignoring; the point of being on AIR is that there are enough folks here that someone will have chased down information and not relied on some "doesn't need it" admonition/consensus in small groups).

I'd replace shock absorbers on the trailer if so equipped.

A disk brake conversion would be VERY high on my list. As would either a PULLRITE or PRO PRIDE hitch (looks like the trailer is riding nose high?).

I'd start with hitch rigging. An IS trailer needs to ride level! First item is solo -- empty -- weight of truck (driver, full fuel and only what remains in truck at all times), then:

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f238...-in-17984.html
(There are many threads on hitch rigging -- and how to -- so be ready for more reading, but this is a great approach).

I also have a CTD (2004). Tire inflation on LR-E tires can be found in MICHELIN or GOODYEAR .pdfs to get tire pressure adjusted according to load (on mine it is no more than 50 FF and 70 RR for maximum loads; a 2WD) which is only from a certified scale. I use BILSTEIN shocks, and you might read up on a rear anti-roll bar for the truck. Also, if yours is 4WD then you may already know the tendency for the balljoints and steering to have appreciable wear by 100k. (cumminsforum.com or dieseltruckresource.com or turbodieselregister.com). Happily, these trucks have no need for tuners, chips, etc. An exhaust brake is on my short list for the truck.

Tire should be no more than five years old (many threads). I prefer CENTRAMATIC balancers on mine. Alignment should be checked by a big truck shop technician.

I replaced all the exterior signal & clearance lighting on mine with LED; a TRUE safety upgrade. (Some very good discussions around here on LED interior lighting as well).

The vehicle umbilical and safety chains are ripe for replacement if they appear questionable. (Search)

I am not too thrilled by the OEM hitch receiver (lateral forces may twist it under hitch tension), so, if I do not upgrade to a PULLRITE (have a Hensley), then I will change the receiver to a TORKLIFT or similar.

I see references to AVION roof sealing with ETERNABOND. Do a search around here as I compiled a fair amount of info on sealing chemicals on this site. Check especially at awning attachment points (dealer-installed item, often) and around entry door for soft floor. Also, dried (contracted) window seals.

"TXiceman" recently picked up an '89 34V, and is an experienced RV'er (although, as a FORD driver, you might take any advice with a grain of salt), and has his SILVER STREAK up for sale. He upgraded to twin roof A/C units and a 50A panel. He and his wife have re-done the floors, etc.

With two furnaces onboard I'd label that SYSTEM the first one tackled.

But the FIRST job is the WORST job and that is cleaning. Took me almost a solid week to wipe down every single surface. RV'ers just don't do it, IMHO, and it's best to do at the very beginning; (they'd rather eat the depreciation and finance another disposable white box [a ten year trailer on a twenty year note]). I started on the ceilings (including behind cabinetry) with a dilute solution of CASTROL purple cleaner in a two bucket set-up. Then the plumbing (CLR on a rag), then the shower (GEL GLOSS), then the ovens, etc. Then the wood work (TIBETAN ALMOND STICK). Also made notes as to small problems (cabinet latches, drawer slides, etc) that otherwise never seem to get done. (Also a good time to inspect heat ducting hose). Etc (Found a new non-staining lubricant I like: JIG-A-LOO).

The battery system will benefit by a reading on this site. With, what, [3] batteries, the more careful one is here, the better. Read up on AGM-type LIFELINE brand batteries, panels, and converters, here and elsewhere:

BestConverter - Converters, Inverters, Electrical Supplies, Electronics

The more pics the better: roof, underside, suspension, water/electrical hookups, exterior storage compartments (lit and detailed; no one else on line has done this). Getting it aired out, cleaned out, and a detailed inspection of small things -- with photos -- is a great way to start.

Looking forward to it!

.

.
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Old 09-21-2010, 09:12 PM   #3
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Congratulations

You will find they are built like tanks.

We just brought home an Avion 1989 34' rear queen.

I think we may turn our 1984 34' Airstream into an art studio.
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Old 09-22-2010, 10:01 AM   #4
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Congratulations on your purchase. I've always had a soft spot in my heart for Avions. I think they are one of the neatest trailers around. What you have is called a "basement" model. It is several feet higher than a regular trailer, as you can probably tell by the steps leading into the trailer. If everything works, I would have the wheel bearings packed by a knowledgeable shop. They can inspect the brakes and tires at that time. With 5 tons behind you, you want to be sure it has good brakes. With this trailer loaded, your Dodge may be maxed out. If it has or gets a crack above the entrance door, get it taken care of. This has been a problem with some 34 foot Avions due to the frame springing. Have fun.......and enjoy!
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Old 09-22-2010, 02:04 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by empresley View Post
You will find they are built like tanks.
A very solid feel. We picked up our 73 a couple of years ago and love it.

Congratulations,

Kevin
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Old 09-23-2010, 03:03 PM   #6
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Thanks everyone for the great tips and advice. Very pleased with how well it tows in various conditions and terrain (transported from Des Moines, IA to Phoenix, AZ). There will be plenty to do, but I think it will be rewarding to put this aluminum beauty on the road again.

REDNAX, thanks for such a detailed response. You've got a good eye, in that picture hitched to the truck, I was 5 miles from the pickup point, and decided to use a different hitch to get her sitting level. I just added a few more pictures to the album, with many more to follow. My immediate task is to replace one of the driver's side basement storage doors (fiberglass) that fell off in transit...somewhere between Trinidad, NM and Albuquerque, NM. Dr.G has also given me some pointers on these trailers as well.

After all the safety, maintenance and repair items have been addressed, I do have a few upgrade projects I'd like to undertake. Here's the short list
1. Flexible solar panels, charger and inverter upgrade
2. LED interior lighting
3. General updating and remodel items such as reupholstering, countertops and fixtures.
4. possibly a second AC for the HOT southwest summers

Any other ideas? Thanks again to all who contribute. Hope to see you out there =)
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Old 09-24-2010, 01:06 PM   #7
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We'd be interested in hearing anything Dr. Gradeless had to say, or, from any other source about the differences in the basement series. Clearance height (with and without A/C, etc).

Second A/C is mandatory, IMO. Fill out your signature and profile that let's us know a little more, please.
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Old 10-05-2010, 02:07 PM   #8
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Wow, been so swamped with work and other projects I've had little time to get working on the trailer. Trying to get my list sorted and prioritize the work.

Here's the Doc's response to one of my emails:

Here's the bad news. Even Fleetwood did not offer replacements for the basement doors on the B and M models. Everyone has had to have a new one custom made. Since there are less than maybe 500 even with the M (without the M it would probable be only about 100 units) it wouldn't be profitable for Cayo to have some made (they also would have to have an original to get a mold made

I have never asked if they could make an aluminum replacement.

But owners have have lost them have had to have a replacement covering made locally.

Sorry about that. There are quite a few shops for RV (usually listed as Motor homes and most of these do (they have to) custom fiberglass parts. Motorhome as low number as Avions so replacement body part \are generally custom made.

If you have a truly large RV dealer near you they would have a Body Shop for motorhomes. If not inquire as to where one would get a fiberglass bodied Motor home repaired at and that place makes fiberglass parts all the time and can make one.

I've looked at several and a new kind of lock needs to be made for those things.

The B and M are an example of poor engineering (meaning design). On a standard Avion the side skin goes over the roll pan and on the B and M the roll pan is fiberglass and goes over the side skin so any water running down the skin can run into the body pan. Nearly impossible to seal that (due to flexing any sealant will not seal). The cure is to have aluminum roll pans (and doors made and install the roll pan below the lower skin wall so water running down the wall goes outside the roll pan rather than inside.

Check the floors at the walls as well as at the door because with an M the water running down the wall goes in the belly and generally wick up into the flooring rotting the flooring. Generally the corners are to the first to show on the B Model.
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Old 10-18-2010, 12:47 PM   #9
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Good afternoon,

I just returned to Texas from California where I picked up my new basement model plan X Avion. The thing looks like it's never been used except for the upholstery fabric. The owner had used it to sleep in when he was on out of town construction projects and never used the appliances to speak of. What a great trailer. Picked it up, then drove from LA area to Dallas in under two days.

Please post details of your repairs and maintenance procedures for those of us who might want to follow your lead through the repair and renovation process.
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Old 10-03-2012, 02:24 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by acanthusarch View Post
Wow, been so swamped with work and other projects I've had little time to get working on the trailer. Trying to get my list sorted and prioritize the work.

Here's the Doc's response to one of my emails:

Here's the bad news. Even Fleetwood did not offer replacements for the basement doors on the B and M models. Everyone has had to have a new one custom made. Since there are less than maybe 500 even with the M (without the M it would probable be only about 100 units) it wouldn't be profitable for Cayo to have some made (they also would have to have an original to get a mold made

I have never asked if they could make an aluminum replacement.

But owners have have lost them have had to have a replacement covering made locally.

Sorry about that. There are quite a few shops for RV (usually listed as Motor homes and most of these do (they have to) custom fiberglass parts. Motorhome as low number as Avions so replacement body part \are generally custom made.

If you have a truly large RV dealer near you they would have a Body Shop for motorhomes. If not inquire as to where one would get a fiberglass bodied Motor home repaired at and that place makes fiberglass parts all the time and can make one.

I've looked at several and a new kind of lock needs to be made for those things.

The B and M are an example of poor engineering (meaning design). On a standard Avion the side skin goes over the roll pan and on the B and M the roll pan is fiberglass and goes over the side skin so any water running down the skin can run into the body pan. Nearly impossible to seal that (due to flexing any sealant will not seal). The cure is to have aluminum roll pans (and doors made and install the roll pan below the lower skin wall so water running down the wall goes outside the roll pan rather than inside.

Check the floors at the walls as well as at the door because with an M the water running down the wall goes in the belly and generally wick up into the flooring rotting the flooring. Generally the corners are to the first to show on the B Model.
Hope that you guys are ok and that finished your trailer restoration.
We may be facing the same issue here...

Wondering if you had that issue fixed and also if by any chance you have any manuals or schematics.
Best of luck!
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Old 10-03-2012, 04:04 PM   #11
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Step Assembly

I don't know about Acanthusarch's project, but we're finally about to tackle a few problems that we discovered. Water supply tank had a broken fitting, so we're currently in the process of replacing it. We have some rotted flooring at the entry door which appears to be a chronic issue due to poor sealant jobs at the head of the door frame. And we need to replace a little of the rubber trim around the windows and one of the basement door latches, one of the few items which is still available from the manufacturer, Southco. We couldn't be happier with this trailer, though. She tows wonderfully, is very, very comfortable and roomy, and is a real attention grabber wherever we go. The only other issue we have is the absence of our original step assembly. I'm currently looking for plans or drawings of that custom item so that I can have a welding shop fabricate a replacement for me. In the meantime, we use portable steps as Acanthusarch showed in his photos.
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Old 10-03-2012, 05:27 PM   #12
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1973 31' Sovereign
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Originally Posted by Doodle6 View Post
I don't know about Acanthusarch's project, but we're finally about to tackle a few problems that we discovered. Water supply tank had a broken fitting, so we're currently in the process of replacing it. We have some rotted flooring at the entry door which appears to be a chronic issue due to poor sealant jobs at the head of the door frame. And we need to replace a little of the rubber trim around the windows and one of the basement door latches, one of the few items which is still available from the manufacturer, Southco. We couldn't be happier with this trailer, though. She tows wonderfully, is very, very comfortable and roomy, and is a real attention grabber wherever we go. The only other issue we have is the absence of our original step assembly. I'm currently looking for plans or drawings of that custom item so that I can have a welding shop fabricate a replacement for me. In the meantime, we use portable steps as Acanthusarch showed in his photos.
Hello Doodle6
Thanks for replying.
So what year is your Avion? Just to clarify did you find the basement door latches or the gasket seals? Would you mind to share the website?
BTW what sealant did you used for the door and windows?
By any chance, do you have any manual or wiring & plumbing schematics?
So you have any pics of your trailer?
thanks again!
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Old 10-04-2012, 06:53 AM   #13
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Hello Veggie,

Sorry, I don't have photos at the moment. I'll try to get a few next month when we attend a fly in at a grass strip in the woods of deep East Texas. Yes, I have the complete original owner's manual which does include schematics. Do you need something out of it? And yes, I found the latches for the basement compartment doors. They're still in production. E3 - Vise Action Compression Latches | Southco The latch shown top row right end is the one that I have but with a slightly different key configuration. If you follow the "product literature" link, you'll find some illustrations showing "small", "large" and "3-hole mount". The three hole modified rectangular shape with the Southco tubular key (shown in the next set of illustrations of various head styles) is what my trailer is equipped with. The gasket is still in place so I haven't looked for replacement. And I haven't addressed the sealant issue yet. Any suggestions? Thanks for your help.
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Old 10-04-2012, 08:22 AM   #14
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Oh, and the trailer is an '89 model that oddly enough was originally sold in 1989 to a gentleman with an address only four or five miles from me in Dallas. I don't have any idea where it spent the interim, but I bought it in California in early 2010 and brought it back to its original neighborhood.
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