I plan to buy an Avion TC one of these days and restore it. I'd like to take it as my 5th trip up the Alaska highway and one day return "home". I thought I'd jump into this forum as a member to gain ideas, what to look for, and hopefully illustrate my own journey to bringing a piece of American history back on the road. I look forward to hearing from everyone.
Welcome aboard! We're now the gang of 5 Avionistas!
Does anyone know how many we are up to now as we are almost to 2014, and this quote is from 2011?
Well for anyone in the market for a few project Avions, there is one near Santa Barbara...
C-11 mounted on an old Ford
And 3 in Virginia... One C-10 in fair shape, a C-11 in ok shape, with a complete parts C-11 to help fix the damage on the first!
3 Avions for sale between $1000 and $1500!
Hope some one can save these! I'd get the C-10 if I was closer... but DC/VA is about as far as you can get from Kodiak....
Does the Barth camper have wood on the bottom?
Here is one guys restoration Blog that is actively rebuilding a 1967 Barth.
1967 Barth Blog
Here is his interior walls, very similar to the Avions...
And here is where the big difference lies between a Barth and an Avion...
It still uses wood in many places, but less than the Avions base.
And this is before he gutted the floor.
Gary, thanks for the link to your outing. It looked cold...Regarding heating, I see you ran an additional 1500W heater. Do you think you would you have been happy with just the catalytic heater?
Even with all the added insulation, we would have not survived well with only the Wave. Partly because too much moisture is added when running the Wave. I would think if I had installed a Wave 6, then I would have been able to leave the roof vents open more to vent the moisture, and still have the BTU's to heat the camper. The Avion has a few minor downfalls for really cold camping. The aluminum framing ribs conduct the cold through and the heat out. If you looked at a few of the pics of our winter trip, you could see the ribs from running the electric heater all night. The nice thing with the electric heater, is that the vents could be closed most of the way down, with just a crack open if we were sleeping, as we give off moisture as we breath. We still had some pretty good icing. From the rib areas, from the floor as I had not insulated that area yet. from the side wing area that makes the outer portion of the dinette. If you have the room for and the weight capacity and the $$, the Atwood Everest Star (LINK) 12/16/18K BTU series of furnaces are only 23lbs, take up very little room, have a small discharge duct at the back, but would require 12V for the fan to make it run. I do not plan to get rid of the Wave, as it works well except for extreme cold, but I am thinking of saving up for the Everest heater so that it is a dry heat for periods of time camping.
I hope this makes sense! And for those near bigger places that have RV used parts, this series heater was popular in tent trailers and pop up campers, as it is small, plenty of heat for these rigs, and due to moisture/dry-rot, tend to get parted out, so you could find a good used one for much less $$.
My Avion guys...especially you Garry. I think I wrote on the Avion string that I decided I had made a mistake in keeping the exterior original. Well, "original" in the sense that the reproduction lights made in the People's Republic of China were appropriate. They are not. I need to have much brighter and reliable lights on the outside of the coach...and I intend to do that right away. As I mentioned, I had some real issues with the Wave catalytic heater. You may remember that I mounted it on a door in the cabin.
I attached a long hose to the Wave so that it could be placed on the countertop. The thing never heated up all the way. However, our CO/propane detector sounded off continuously. As a result, I spent some quality time in Artic conditions.
I would have your Wave checked out, because at 16F i could keep the camper comfortable in the 65 to 75F range, as long as I had the Reflectix over the windows. Those windows a HUGE heat sink... At -10F we had a ceramic 1500W heater and the wave on while eating dinner and before bedding down. we had to turn down the wave, of course there were 6 bodies in there too ;)
At night we would turn off the wave, and keep the Ceramic running all night. We did have ice on the ceiling and walls, but the air temperature was 65 in the camper the next morning even with the outside temp being below zero! The bathroom though was COOOLD, but still flushed thanks to the recirculating toilet utilizing windshield washer fluid as the flushing medium.
Look into the Reflectix if you ever go on another winter trip. We just used aluminum duct tape to tape the reflectix to the screen frame of the windows. I also have "foam tape" on the edges of the screen frame to the wall of the camper, to seal up drafts when teh reflectix is mounted. also minimizes rattles.
Hope this helps, and definitely keep that Wave covered when not in use! Dust will kill the matting on these catalytic's!
Living in the Cold North of Alaska, I had heard from people here in Alaska using Arctic Foxes and Northern Lites, but having problems with the "extreme" cold. When I re-built my 1966 Avion, our maiden voyage was in temps that went as low as -16F up to a whopping 16F above zero... We left home with now water in the tank, drinking water in jugs inside the people space. And the new recirculating toilet had windshield washer fluid in it as the flushing medium, since the anti-freeze turns to slushies at these temps. What was even harder is that the TC went with us every day, so when we stopped, the inside was very cold. We did have good sleeping bags, and insulation under the upper bunk of reflectix and foam board. But we would plug in a ceramic heater at night, and have the catalytic heater going from when we stopped to when we would bed down. This minimized the ice formation on the inside of the camper, and I still had the upper vents cracked open. The biggest problem there, is that it would occasionally rain off the vents due to the warmer cabin air melting the ice on the inside of the vent lids...
You can read of our winter trip here...
Thanksgiving in Alaska a Campers odyssey
Also I learned alot about better preparing for that trip from this other Forum, where the folks are just as friendly as over here, but they are more geared for TT's and fivers.
Four Seasons Camping
Just saw one of these online today. And since I had never heard of them, thought others might like a look see!
Well, since we have not snow yet, and have been in the upper 30's to low 40's (nearly summer weather for Kodiak, Alaska, I'll leave you with the link to our Thanksgiving a few years ago that we spent in the Avion Camper as a family of 6 in near and sometimes below zero. Have a good read!
Alaskan Thanksgiving or Maiden Voyage in the 1966 Avion in the dead of winter!
Perhaps he just ran it out onto the ground..?? Or had his hose in a dump hole at a campground..??
Avion's never had grey water tanks, and yes in the old days, grey water had a small hose connection for a garden hose to direct your grey water under the truck, or just down to the ground without dribbling down the side of the truck or camper.
And, 67, based on your recent experience in Big Bend in the blue norther, what's your current thinking about catalytic heaters?
Many of us have used Catalytic heaters. You are new enough that you may not have read about the "maiden voyage" we took our Avion on here in Alaska over one Thanksgiving. Tempertures never got above freezing, and it was our whole family of 6 camping in the truck and camper! Here is the link
Alaskan Thanksgiving for a family of 6 in a 1966 Avion Truck Camper!
Hope this helps!
Garry in Kodiak, AK
I mainly daily drive it then use it to haul my rockcrawler (jeep in sig on a bumerpull car hauler) and am adding the TC in on that as well. I'm trying to prespend my xmas loot. :B
So far I've debated added supersprings and a swaybar to the existing mods. And a pass thru rear window on the truck.
Background: I had been debating getting a larger truck and making it a mix of a homebuilt class c and a truck camper then decided that'd be a lot of work to end up with exactly what I have now. So I decided to improve upon the existing setup. And I like conversations that allow me to daydream about improvements.
I see that you have a Dodge, But I went through the same process when outfitting my F350 for my TC. My sequence went like this:
Torque-Lift frame-mounted Tie-Downs
Rancho RS-9000 Shocks
All this before buying the TC
Vision Aluminum 19.5 Rims and Michelin 265--70-19.5 Load Range G tires
That was it for a while, then decided I wanted to tow ATV's etc. :
Super-Hitch and 30" Super-truss
Ride-Rite Air Bags
Still to come:
Front mounted Hitch/Rack
Supercharged 5.4L out of a Shelby Cobra:B
Garry in Kodiak, AK
Truck is fixed. I'm headed back to the dealer in a little bit to pick it up. Extended warranty covered the repair.
After I get the truck, then I'm headed to another shop to get the DOT inspection completed.
What requires you to get WA DOT to inspect your truck?
The reason I ask, is that I am moving back to WA state in a few years, and don't want to be surprised by some new requirement....
Thank you for the best TR I've read in a long time. Your photos and thoroughly engaging narrative left me wanting more - surely for a trip of 3000 miles you could write volumes! How about a little wrap-up? Did you buy any property, and will you be going back to Marfa anytime soon?
Thanks again - it was well worth the time to read.
And Us avion guys want to hear more about how the camper worked out. Anything that you are wanting to change??
FIRST... HAPPY THANKSGIVING! I am so thankful for my family, and for another year of work, and a warm home, plenty of dry firewood for the winter. I am thankful for a great fall trip in the camper, and spending time with friends. It is cool this AM. 29F with windchill of 18F.
As for the shower pan, I have nothing to start with, but just like my son welded up a 14gal grey water tank, I hope to have him weld up an aluminum shower pan, and a second 14 gal grey water tank. This would result in 40 gal fresh, 28+ gallon gray (probably closer to 30 gal due to all the piping) and 7 gal black. But before you criticize the black, there is no flushing water used to flush. Just the initial charge of 3 gallons water and chemical. We have gone a whole week with our family of 6 before needing a dump. But that is using other facilities during the day as they are available.
Two things to consider on grey water. Unless you have rebuilt the rear wings and floor, you may need additional support to carry a tank and the water weight. Remember 8 lbs per gallon static weight. Additionally that us all weight behind the rear axle if you are squeezing it in the rear 2-3 ft. The other thought is to consider building a sub-frame under the camper. It does add some weight, but the PO of my TC replaced the entire floor, and used 3/4" plywood, but under that are 2x4's on edge. This was great to allow the C10 to clear my F350 Superduty roof. This is why I can include 2 14gal tanks in the void under the floor all forward of the rear axle! It is tight, and it adds some piping runs, but it works!
Just a few ore ideas to throw into the mix...
Can you tell us specifically why you like these chains so much?
Also, I didn't spot the V -bar ice grips. Where do you buy them?
I have bought them off e-bay and I have bought them locally.
Here is a You Tube video of them being installed on a Fire Truck. On my F350, I can lean over the top of the tire, after draping the chains over, hook the back hook, then come to the front and clasp the front, then just go around tightening the CAMS and I do not have to use any rubber bungees, or the spring thing that the firetruck uses in the video. and they are a piece of cake to install, and if they are a bit loose when you drive forward, all you have to do is tighten one more cam, or loosen them all, go one more link and then tighten as many CAMS as possible till they are really tight.
Cam Chain INstall
You can order them for any size tire, with or without V-Bar Ice links.
Let me know if there are any other questions!
It is snowing as I type here in Kodiak. Only about 1/2" so far, but expecting 3 to 6 inches by tomorrow AM.
I have been using this type of chain in Alaska now for about 5 years. I will never go back to cables or plain old chains again!
Cam style chains
Both my F350 and my Excursion I run a 235x85x16 studded mud and snow tire on here in Alaska. There have been several times I have had to chain up, and since I have pre-fit these chains, it takes me less that 10 minutes to install them. My F350, I also plow with, not commercially, but friends and family, and many times, chains have been the only way to keep going with the Ice and Snow. The ones I bought also have the "V" bar Ice grips.
With these Cam style chains, once you have them cinched up tight, I have been able to get up to 35 to 40 mph for short periods as road conditions allow. They are that good. I would recommed then to anyone that needs a good heavy duty chain for just their truck or with a truck and camper!
On a separate subject, I've taken the original Dometic refrigerator out; it's a three way type. I plan to replace it with an all-electric Norcold, no propane. Based on my reading of the Norcold users manual, this seems to eliminate the need for the roof vent, as the grill in the access door would adequate for ventilation As a boat builder, I'm always keen to avoid or get rid of holes in the hull - in this case, the shell. Anyone have experience installing/using the Norcold? How about sealing up the roof vent for the original three way refrigerator?
By the way, I have spec'd the aluminum tubing and other materials needed to construct the frames to replace the plywood in the chassis. Weather permitting, I hope to lift the camper up from the roof vents and drop the chassis out to start the rebuild over the next few days. Lots of pics coming in this process.
As a boat builder, you could do what I did, reorganize the interior... And go with a chest style compressor fridge. The Engle is great, and very easy on the Battery.
Hope this helps other go to LED's. I just wish I had gone LED on the inside from the get-go... Still working on it!
Garry, Kodiak, Alaska
I don't have to replace wiring do I. Just replace all the fixtures right?
Yes, just replace the lights!
Here are the red lights
Red clearance lights
And the amber
Amber clearance lights
And here are the tail lights I used.
Red STT 7"
I hope that this helps!
I have a Superhitch and a short Torklift extension. I would recommend the Torklift parts if money is not a concern. The system works very well and I don't have to worry about the hitch failing and injuring someone. I tow about 7,000 lbs.
I also Have a SuperHitch/Truss running the 30" extension with chains. If you watch Craigslist and teh papers, and have patience, I was able to get both the hitch and extension for $300 and another $200 to ship it from Washington state to Kodiak, Alaska. A little wire-wheel action to clean them up and some fresh paint, and I was all set!!
Eventually I will "u-bolt" this rack on top of the hitch so that I can store gasoline and a generator down under the overhang...
LED's are the way to go for visibility!
This pic was taken in a near blizzard condition, after plowing and driving in the driving snow. Some of the lights are partially covered, yet still very bright!
Here they are again, in a snow storm but at night, and they are even brighter!
Without snow they are even brighter, though when it is very dark in Alaska, the camera doesn't like to focus too well, or it may just be operator error...
This is before I finished fixing up the C-10, but right after I installed the LED's.
Taillights I purchased off E-bay, and are the 7" Truck STT. The Clearance are surface (two screw) mount that I purchased off Amazon.
Hope this helps other go to LED's. I just wish I had gone LED on the inside from the get-go... Still working on it!
Garry, Kodiak, Alaska