Buying a fix-er-upper I'm definitely attached to my TC. I've put a lot of work and time into mine and it has turned out pretty good. Now with that said, every time we go camping (with 4 kids) space is a BIG issue! We seem to manage but I steering now towards a 5th wheel only because it's hard to relax in a TC with 4 kids and the wife. If I could keep both I would in a heart beat! But I think next summer I'll have to go to the dark side and get a bigger trailer. That will be a sad day when I have to sell it, but I know once the kids get older I'll be back with a TC! Don't get me wrong, I'll still be on this site, I don't really like the other sites to much.
Josh, I totally understand the fixer-upper program. We also have 4 kids, 18, 15, 11 and 11 (twins). When we live in the lower 48, we started over 18 years ago with a 1978 22' Ideal TT. Worked well till we got a steal of a deal in 2003 on a 2001 30' Nomad. We lived in Port Orchard when we upgraded to the 30'TT. It was great in the wet weather camping with small kids. Then we retired from the USN, and moved to Kodiak, AK. We missed camping, and living on an island we decided to try a 23' Class C. That worked well for room, and the ferry, but was limited in off road accessibility. There was only one or two places on island we could access.... Then tried a 29' Class C, since my folks upgraded, and wanted to drive the 29' to Alaska. That was nicer in room, but even worse for access off pavement. We downsized to our Avion, and havnt looked back yet. We still own the Nomad, and it is in WA. But while in AK, it will be the Avion, and my wife actually likes it now! And with kids growing up, we will probably never get rid of the Avion! And when we leave AK, the Nomad may be our home while building, and still use the Avion for camping. Those that can't make a camper work for a larger family, don't want to make it work.. (My opinion)... It is not always fun or easy, but it is doable! Just try to do as much outside when possible!!!
Garry in AK
Kodiak has no snow at sea level, but some on the mountains. So e ice still in the bays, but meling fast. We actually split firewood in t shirts last Saturday. Got 3 cord split and stacked. Loaded the Avion on the truck, and if the weather holds, will take the kids camping Friday! Momma will be out if town, so the kids and I plan to take the camper out the road to a BLM dry camp on the beach, and enjoy the weekend. If we do get out, I'll try to get. Trip report out!
Spring us definitely early this year, but I guarantee we will have snow at least one more time, since in 7 years we havnt had a spring break yet without snow....
Garry in Kodiak
I don't know how I missed this thread, but welcome from down south in Kodiak. We travel through your neighborhood once or twice a year when we can save up to take the long ferry ride from Kodiak, to Homer, then tour around Alaska in our superduty and Avion.
Again, welcome to the forum, and to Alaska!
Garry in Kodiak.
Hey all! I have been reading, but havnt answered lately. When I built and installed my grey water tank, my in/out is on the aft portion of my tank fed by a 2" abs line. Without a vent it didn't drain to well, and had draining problems with the sink, as I didn't vent that line either. Ended up pulling the tank, welding a 3" piece if 1/2 tubing to the top of the tank, drilling a matching hole in the floor, the I ran some clear 1/2" Tygon tubing up to one of my old plumbing roof vents that had been filled with foam by the previous owner, the just drilled a 1-2" hole and pushed the Tygon through the foam. Now the grey water tank works great! One thing with my floor, it is a2x4 framed floor with 3/4" plywood deck. I took out one if the cross braces to fit my 23"x48"x3" tank under the floor, as the previous owner had gone every 24 inches with supports. I now have a bit more flex in the floor where I took out the brace. Depending how you build your basement, you will need some manner of supports for the floor, so you may not be able to fill the floor with the piping... Just a few thoughts.
Garry in Alaska
Not towing trailer just the camper.
It's the left/right motion when I have too much air in the bags which keeps the overloads from engaging enough. With only 20 lbs or so in the bags, the truck sits lower than I like.
I think if I get the overloads to engage sooner it will cure both issues.
While I don't have your dodge, I have an F350. I started out with just Helwig, Stable loads and Rancho RS 9000 shocks. The truck did very well, and as the truck weighed empty 7800, I am typically around 10,500 loaded with a family if 6 and all our gear. I did not add the air bags till I got my super hitch for towing a small boat or an ATV trailer with two Honda TRX500's. I inky inflate the air bags till the overload springs Are just engaging the stable loads. It means the truck still sits a bit tail down, but I think that is more because I installed a 2.5" leveling kit to the truck, so it sits level unloaded....
I am not completely familiar with Dodges overload configuration, but with Fords separate overload springs and pads, the Stable loads are an absolute win for me.
Garry in Kodiak, Ak
A smaller version:
Steve, this is what I am planning to use.
Just trying to work out storage with a family of 6...
We already bring a 10x10 screened tent to BBQ outside in the Alaskan bugs, so we trie to travel as light as possible...
Having driven on both G and F tires, on a F350, I did not notice a large difference in ride, so personally I'd opt for the G for best capacity, and matches factory. Also, I'd opt for either 245 or 265 as they will both work with your wheels, and will gain you a bit of clearance if using 4x4 for off road. I am running 265 70 19.5 on my SRW F350 with only a Leveling kit on Vision rims. That's my opinion....
Good luck with the new truck!
Garry in Kodiak
Gary and Desertboy , just a clarification . The shower drain wasn't plumbed into any tank , it went into the 3" waste pipe just like the grey water and out on the ground ( back then ). Not that it makes any difference since you are doing a custom .
Thanks! I had been told at one time that the shower on the c10's did go to the black tank.... As I didn't have anything I went off that info. Thanks for clearing things up!
My Avion had no tanks or plumbing or fixtures when i got it. THis allowed me to make my own gray water tank, and then use an Electra-magic toilet from Thetford for the black waste. It really does work well, even with my family of 6! They are a bit pricey, but not having to buy a separate black tank is nice, and I can use it in the sub freezing weather by just placing the initial charge of fluid with windshield washer fluid instead of water for flushing, and of course the formaldehyde based toilet chemical. If you were to remove your existing black tank and plumbing, you could then replace the floor of the bathroom with a flat floor that would then allow your rear overhang to be flush with the rest of the TC, then plumb the remaining below the floor of the Freightliner to what ever tanks you would like, and use what ever toilet you would like. Since you are talking desert camping mostly, you could sandwich some 2" rigid foam insulation between the floor of the TC and the bed of the truck. With a permanent mount you are rather restricted by the current black water tank, as it sits up in the TC bathroom, and drops down below th floor too, and is rather small to begin with, AND it is your grey water for the shower too, which is not a great design. Time to separate them both, and fix it so the top flange that fails on these tanks like 69 Avion had, doesn't happen to you.
Hope this helps!
Garry in the frozen north of Alaska
I have been looking how I can have some disconnects on he back of the camper for one of the portable on demand hot water heaters, so that when we need it, we bring it along, and plug it in when desired for hot water and showers, but could be used for an out door shower too. And they are pretty inexpensive.... Any other thoughts?
Garry in cold Kodiak, AK
My wife and I stayed in this park for 6 months waiting for our place to be built. A very nice staff that bends over backwards to make your stay comfortable. Enjoy!
Where did you build at? I just bought 2.5 acres near Prosser, and will be building on it when we leave Alaska. Working now to get well drilled etc....
BAck on Topic...
Would love to join you for the visit to Prosser tc-life, but getting from Kodiak Alaska to Prosser, is rather expensive...
If one of the guys with a complete and original C-10 or C-11, wants to set some jack stands on the ground with a heavy (think 4" heavy wall pipe)bar across the bottom of the TC, then slowly lower the jacks to see if the front keeps going down or the rear, then jack back up, and readjust front or rear until you see where it is closest to balancing. That is your COG. You will want to mention how you are loaded (empty, food clothing water etc).
There were never any "posted" COG in the early days of TC's, so you'll have to figure it out.
Mine wouldn't be much good to anyone but me, since it is so modified...
Hope this helps!
Garry, thanks for explaining all that. I see now how you laid it out - and remember you writing about it.
I have looked at every Engel model and can not figure a way to set one in the cabinet. I'm now considering a front opening Engel fridge in the spot where the old fridge was located. And the "fussing" is whether we want to have a top opening freezer that would slide out, or a fridge that was mounted into the wall.
One advantage of a wall mounted Engel, is the option of a small freezer in the fridge... That is the only drawback to the MT-45, is that it is either a fridge or a freezer. not both at the same time. So we have a small Engel Ice Box, that we put the refer items into when we want to use the freezer function. And with a family of 6 traveling, the ice box is helpful for quantity of food stuffs. For just a couple, you will be pretty happy with a wall mounted Engel.
Garry, how did you fit your Engel fridge into the Avion?
And What size/dimensions is it? I apologize if you've already explained it, but as you know this string is very long.
Here is the best shot I have from work, showing how I re-arranged the kitchen side of the camper. My horizontal propane bottle now is loaded through the propane fridge door into a new propane storage box. That is the reason for the elevated sink. I relocated the sink aft, to move the weight of all the liquids usually in the fridge up to the front of the TC. I was able to use the 110V outlet under the cabover bed for the 110V power supply, and then ran a new 12V line to the fridge from the batteries which are directly across the camper against the front bulkhead,
Here you can see where the old propane fridge vent is blocked off with some aluminum duct tape (that is spray foamed behind). This also shows my poor attempt to make a new panel for the closet, and trying to match the darn curve of the camper...
Here you can see the Engel, and how it is elevated. I did this to clear my water fill and move the Engel as far forward as possible. This allowed a drawer to be placed under the Fridge for silverware etc, since I had no drawers in the new design...
Here you can see the cupboard doors from a parted out C-11 that I re-purposed for the lower cabinet. I bought 3 on E-bay, and used the 3rd for the Battery and fuse panel access near the front. As you can also see, I ended up building the Engel in. I was going to try to make it easy to remove, but I ran into difficulties with other things, and decided to just build it in...
I hope that this is what you were looking for! Let me know!
I agree that Batteries should be as far forward as possible, especially if doing a bank of batteries. As of now I only have on battery, but I have "just" enough room for 3 group 29 batteries when I get all said and done. If yo are going with a side dinette booth like I did, Since I cantilevered out the upper bunk 8 inches to allow a "Full" Full size mattress, I needed to move the dinette aft a bit so the forward seat wasn't hitting peoples heads with the bunk extension. This gave me a convenient place to mount the batteries and all my electrical right up front near the front bulkhead. It may be an option for Dick, as he is reworking his interior to suite his tastes.
Battery and electrical area behind the seat.
starting of the electrical area...
Powermax Boondocker 45 amp Battery charger/maintainer.
This is what it looks like all sealed up, with an access door to the switch and fuses. When I have to get to the batteries, it is 4 Phillips screws to pull the seat back plywood out, and easy access to the wires and batteries.
Yes, it requires changing your receiver to a much heavier duty receiver, and the extension.
The double tube is the super truss, and it is a 32" extension to put the ball just past my steps.
Here you can see the double receiver.
Here is the hitch and truss with the chain reinforcements and no camper.
I hope this helps!
I want to get the collective knowledge of the Avionistas on the subject of solar power. I am interested in putting together a solar array. I estimate that I need around 250-300 watts to serve my 3 AGM series 31 batteries which I believe have about 280 Amp Hours.
I'm talking to the guys at Wind and Sun in Flagstaff and they have a kit with 2 Kyocera panels totaling 280 watts, with all the controllers, etc for $870. I also talked to an installer in Flagstaff who estimated (since he has not seen my camper) that the install would run in the neighborhood of $550 to $850. Total between $1400 and $1700. That seems high to me, but then the guys out there do them all the time and it should be a good install.
I've also talked to my local RV guy who has performed miracles on my electrical system. He is a highly adept guy, but hasn't done many solar installs in general and none on a truck camper.
He is interested in doing mine, however, to extend his expertise. We haven't talked money at this point. But, like I said, I have a lot of confidence in him.
We agree that the curve of the roof is a bit of an issue. Here is his solution.
He suggests installing aluminum tubes, east-west, that will be attached to the structural ribs of the Avion's roof...and then attaching the solar panels to the tubing. He believes it will minimize the danger of leaks that can occur when the "Z bracket" mounting feet are set in the roof. While we haven't really investigated my roof real estate for the exact placement, we have agreed that we can run the wires down the unused refrigerator vent. The charge controller and other gear will go in the upper cabinet next to the stove.
I hope this is making some sense in terms of my description. Does anyone have any ideas about this project both in terms of installation as well as costs?
Does anyone have solar on their Avion TC?
I'll be following this, since I am looking at a similar setup. Have you also looked at the wind generators? There are many times in Alaska where I would be better served with a wind generator than a solar setup, but they each have their challenges in our Avions. Some of our challenges is where to put the batteries. Next is as you mentioned, how to mount the solar, then there are all the controllers, and wiring. Wind generators need a ladder on the back to mount to, and a place to store when traveling... All challenges that need to be worked out. I would like to add a ladder to the back of my C10, but it will have to be a custom unit, so I do not exceed 25ft truck and camper for the ferry use to get on and off Kodiak. Being a fishing port, aluminum tubing and sheet stock is readily available, but having tubing bent can get pricey...
Where did you mount your three battery bank?
Keep us in the loop,
Gents, thanks for your support and your observations. Garry, I have thought thru the bath issue and my shower pan drain will go thru one of the spaces between frame members on the right side of the door. The gray water tank will be directly below the shower. I will be using a cassette toilet, so no need for a black water tank and plumbing.
The fiberglass "bustle", as I've come to refer to it, will be sealed. That means that I'm reglassing it to eliminate the existing hatches and access panels. Then I'll put proper sealable plastic marine-style hatches in the bottom and sides to make a dirt, dust and water-free storage space, with access when necessary. I'm going to use a garden hose for draining the gray water tank. Trying to keep the plumbing as simple as possible.
That part of the new existing frame that fills the rear compartment behind the two side panels weighs about 35 pounds, not counting those lengths that extend forward towards the front of the camper. The 1.5"x1.5"x1/8th inch wall tubing is 0.8 pounds per foot.
The steps are the double folding style that Garry has on his rig and visible in his undercarriage picture. I added the extra tube just behind the threshold of the door to give a solid member to bolt the front of the step to. The back will bolt to the frame member further in. If it appears it will need more support - that seems unlikely, but perhaps so - I'll put a solid aluminum plate on the frame at the point where the steps will mount to keep everything rigid.
Just drawing up the Tyvek pattern for the bulkhead to get Gary going on that. Going to put a big sliding window in it to allow access - for dogs anyway - to the front of the truck.
Also thinking to redesign the interior to a front dinette style. I prefer that arrangement. It means relocating propane tanks but I have some thoughts about that.
Good morning Dick,
Knowing that you are utilizing the same steps that I have, I would definitely reinforce some more. My frame work is a pair of 2x4's that we're notched on top to sandwich a 3ftx3ft by 3/8" thick aluminum plate, then there is 3/4" plywood screwed down to the 2x4's, fully sandwiching in the aluminum plate. The steps are then bolted through the steps through the 2x4's through the aluminum plate with very long carriage bolts. The plywood insoles for the carriage bolts has a drilled relief so that the vinyl flooring sits flush. It may sound like overkill, but with the rear of my camper unsupported by the truck, and the tripple step extending out almost 3 ft, there is a lot of leverage force at work. With the setup I have, my 350+lb friend has come into the camper several times, and no issues. Additionally, I have kids that like to bound down the steps or up the steps, that can be a large shock load(think 6 ft 180llb teenage boy bouncing onto the steps.) this has been very comforting to know anyone that can climb the stairs and fit through the door can come visit, without worry if the steps failing. So I may overbuilt it, but I don't have to worry about tearing it all apart later to redo it.
I hope this helps in your design and layout.
Keep the pics coming!
Garry in wet rainy Kodiak.
I don't know what sort of steps you are installing....perhaps the OEM that hang down? We put in "Torklift Glowstep" scissor steps and have been pleased with their utility. We have used them with as much as 36" clearance - depending on our parking set up.
We installed a metal plate - under the coach - that reached as far forward as possible to defeat the cantilever effect on the steps. We then inserted stovebolts to the plate to preserve a flat surface for the floor.
With the placement of the steps on the ground most of the weight is relieved from the door opening. I mention this because the OEM step had racheted over the years and broken the metal at the base of the door.
I agree, that based on the type of steps you go with, you may want to add a bit more strengthening forward to keep the frame work from buckling.
Additionally, looking at the Bathroom area, you may want to think about the type of toilet and mounting that will be required, as that may necessitate moving things around on the supports to accomodate a toilet flange or shower drain flange etc.
See these pics for Ideas...
I had to deal with all this framework to get the drain fed down to the plumb all the drains...
Other than that it is looking GREAT!!
Keep the pics coming, and maybe some base line weights of each section as it is added to the mix would be helpful!