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Old 07-27-2010, 02:41 PM   #1
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Smile Replacing interior panels

Hi to everyone - I too have been reading and using this site for a while so I thought the right thing to do would be to join up! I recently retired after working fifty plus years. I live in Gainesville Ga. and do a good bit of camping mostly in the mountains of western N.C., my native home, We usually make a trip or two to Fla. every year but driving ten to twelve hours for a week at the beach is a little tiring.

I am very much interested in restoring a vintage camper and actually have found one that is in pretty fair condition. It's not an Airstream but a close kin. It's a 1969 Avion 18' SS. I have my work cut out for me I know but with all that i've read here, there seems to be an awful lot of good people and information available.

I plan to replace all the flooring and update appliances on an as needed basis. I would like to replace or restore the woodwork and cabinets. My one big concern is whether I should try and replace the interior panels which seems to be coated or painted aluminum panels. There must be several hundred rivets that would need to be drilled out. Any help with this would be greatly appreciated. Can these panels be bought or would I have to have them made? There not that bad but there are a lot of cosmetic blemishes and holes. It appears that someone tried patching several areas and left it unfinished. If it's not too much to tackle I would like to replace them.

Thanks in advance for any information,

James
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Old 07-28-2010, 09:19 AM   #2
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First off, welcome to AirForums and congratulations on your new-to-you Avion!

If the interior panels are too far gone for stripping and you are intent on replacing them, it probably isn't that different from an Airstream. We removed most of out interior panels on our '56 Safari and it really is quite simple for flat panels - drilling out all those rivets goes faster than you think it would and re-installing them isn't too bad either. The biggest time-saving suggestion I would suggest is to keep the old panels for templates when making your new panels.

Depending on the year, the Avion, like an Airstream has some formed panels that are not as easy to replace. They are stretch-formed with compound curves so they may not be able to be made from flat-stock. I would definitely try and locate replacement panels for those before disassembling everything - you may want to just strip and keep the formed panels while replacing the flat ones. That's what we did - once it's painted or Zolatoned - you can't see the difference.

Good luck in whatever you decide to do - post pictures when you get a chance! We all LOVE pictures...

Shari
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Old 07-29-2010, 07:18 PM   #3
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Photos of 69 Avion & Interior

Thanks all for the info. I wanted to post some photos to show what I'm facing. Any ideas on the most economical and best way to repair or replace these panels would be appreciated. I'm thinking I should remove panels to check for any problems underneath and repair panels and prep for paint or some other coating.

Thanks,

James

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Old 07-29-2010, 07:33 PM   #4
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James,

IIWM I'd start by drying the shell in. It looks as though water intrusion is/was the root of your problem. This means sealing all exterior seams and shell penetrations. Then a thorough cleaning would be next. You'll be surpirsed what a difference a good scrubbing will make.

Avion used expanding foam in the walls of their trailers so I don't know that you'd find anything under the skins. As for the floor; Avions are constructed with the body attached to the frame not the floor so replacing damaged plywood is fairly simple. Do you have the sandwiched insulated floor on yours?

Replacing the wooden bulkhead panels is fairly straight forward, you can remove them and cut new ones of a material of your desire.

We'll be in our 73 Avion for the Fall Vintage Rally from September 9th - 12th and there is an "Open House" Saturday morning. If you can travel up it may be worth your time to tour some rigs and gain some ideas.

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Old 07-29-2010, 08:36 PM   #5
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Hi Kevin, Your right, water is the root cause of most of the problems. The previous owner had a window unit air conditioner in the front window and used plywood to box it in. My guess is that's where most of the water came from. The unit sat outside exposed to all kind of weather conditions for over ten years. I do plan to check all the exterior for leaks.

My plan is to remove most everything from inside the camper and see what i've got. I'm hoping I won't have to replace all the flooring. I'm not sure what the sandwiched insulated floor is your asking about? It has 3/4" plywood with fiberglass insulation underneath that.

The reason I want to take the interior panels out is to patch, repair or replace the panels with fairly large holes that someone tried to patch. You can see in the photos some of the patching. I can't imagine why there are holes everywhere? If you know a better way, please let me know. I'm also not sure what your saying about the wooden bulkhead panels? Are you saying some of the panels are wood?

About the Fall Rally, is that the one in North Ga. Hiawassee? If it is I can be there for sure on Saturday morning for the open house. Let me know what site your in and I will look you up. I see your from Rock Hill S.C., you wouldn't know a guy named Dennis Jones would you? I was in the service with a guy from Rock Hill.

Thanks again for your help,

James
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Old 07-30-2010, 07:04 AM   #6
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Hi Kevin, Your right, water is the root cause of most of the problems. The previous owner had a window unit air conditioner in the front window and used plywood to box it in. My guess is that's where most of the water came from. The unit sat outside exposed to all kind of weather conditions for over ten years. I do plan to check all the exterior for leaks.

My plan is to remove most everything from inside the camper and see what i've got. I'm hoping I won't have to replace all the flooring. I'm not sure what the sandwiched insulated floor is your asking about? It has 3/4" plywood with fiberglass insulation underneath that.

The reason I want to take the interior panels out is to patch, repair or replace the panels with fairly large holes that someone tried to patch. You can see in the photos some of the patching. I can't imagine why there are holes everywhere? If you know a better way, please let me know. I'm also not sure what your saying about the wooden bulkhead panels? Are you saying some of the panels are wood?

About the Fall Rally, is that the one in North Ga. Hiawassee? If it is I can be there for sure on Saturday morning for the open house. Let me know what site your in and I will look you up. I see your from Rock Hill S.C., you wouldn't know a guy named Dennis Jones would you? I was in the service with a guy from Rock Hill.

Thanks again for your help,

James
Some model year Avions have a composite sandwich floor that consists of an insulation layer between two sheets of plywood. I wasn't sure if the 69 Sportsman had this.

In my earlier post I refer to skins and panels. The interior wall cover is commonly referred to as a skin, and in your case it's vinyl coated. The bulkhead panels I reference are the wood partitions perpendicular to the trailer walls. They usually makeup the ends of cabinets or are the dividers between rooms.

The interior aluminum skin can be removed and replaced but it's very unlikely that you'll find a similar replacement. So for small drilled holes I'd just fill it with a rivet. On larger holes I'd try to hang something over the hole (picture, clock, etc...) if it's in a suitable location, otherwise I'd probably patch it with a piece of aluminum.

My personal take on patches. IMHO they seldom take away from the appearance of the trailer if done well. I try to use a round patch when possible. If the patch needs to to be square or rectangular then I will round off the corners. This doesn't do anything other than make it look better (to me). It also helps to have the rivets evenly spaced and aligned. We use aluminum pop-rivets for interior applications, and olympic or bucked rivets for the exterior. One final note on patches...You might consider using an alternate material. Levon used a piece of brass to patch a hole/dent on his Daughter's Bambi. It was cut in a heart shape, engraved and looked nice.

Some Airstream owners (Zepplinium comes to mind) have been very creative in their efforts to re-skin interior portions on their rigs using raw aluminum sheet, or wood veneers. I've seen others use wall patching materials but I don't know what the service life in this instance. I suppose you could use some type of automotive body filler.

It looks like your bulkheads were chopped up to accommodate speakers and such. You could remove and replace them, or simply re-skin them with a thin wood panel or material of your liking.

We can't make the Falluminum rally in Hiawassee this year but this is a great group of people. Alan and the gang put on a fun event each Spring and Fall at the Georgia Mountain Fairground. You wouldn't be the first to attend without a trailer (Right Rachel? ) We've had a blast at the last two Springstream rallies and I know I speak for the group in saying that your presence would be welcomed.

We'll be at the Fall Vintage rally in Walland, TN which on 9/910 -9/12/10. This is a similar event that draws Airstream, Avion, Shasta, Eriba Puck, Argosy, Barth, and many other brands. There will be open house time at both rallies where you can tour rigs, talk to owners and get some ideas to use during you restoration/renovation efforts.


Best of Luck,

Kevin
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Old 07-30-2010, 07:27 AM   #7
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Attending without a trailer is very fun! (as long as it isn't freezing). My first experience at a rally was in my truck, and it was a week of record low temps to hit the FL panhandle... Other than that, it was great! I will say that hands on, direct contact with other trailers is critical to understand what people are talking about. I have yet to meet an unfriendly person. Most folks are very very helpful, or at the very least enthusiastic- about helping or just being a support group to cheer you on :-) Those who are very skilled will basically overwhelm and actually teach you more than you ever thought imaginable! I have an Overlander that needs a complete shell-off restoration. And I was not going to do it myself, until I attended the Resto Rally in New Mexico and saw what was involved. It's actually not as bad or as complicated as I thought. I now feel empowered to go ahead and do it!

I say go check out other rigs and see what people have done and then decide how you want your finished project to be. That will give you the goal to achieve and the motivation to do it :-)

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Old 07-30-2010, 07:41 AM   #8
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Hi to everyone -
Can these panels be bought or would I have to have them made?
James
This is where I buy my 0.032 2024t3 alclad aluminum, would also reommend for cutting the aluminum electic power shears.

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Old 07-30-2010, 05:08 PM   #9
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It you were to patch the holes as Kevin suggested, then you could spray Zolatone over it - you wouldn't even notice the patches. It really is quite easy and sure gives a clean "vintage" look to the trailer ~

Shari
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Old 08-22-2010, 04:05 PM   #10
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It you were to patch the holes as Kevin suggested, then you could spray Zolatone over it - you wouldn't even notice the patches. It really is quite easy and sure gives a clean "vintage" look to the trailer ~


Thanks for all the good ideas. After taking a few panels out I have found what appears to be wallpaper on the panels. On some it will peel right off on others it's not so easy. I would like to replace (what appears to be wallpaper) with a good vinyl wallpaper. Anyone have any experience or ideas on doing this?

Thanks,

James
'69 18S
Gainesville, Ga.
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