The original countertops in the Avion were either a dark brown or a hideous yellow. I couldn’t stand them! But I knew we couldn’t afford to replace them so I set out to find a product that I could use to faux finish them.
After all the research I ended up going with Giani countertop paint kit in White Diamond.
I was hoping the kit would be enough to do the kitchen and bathroom counters as well as the new desk, arm rest and shelf behind the lounge.
First I had to clean the counters well, tape everything off and then apply the primer:
Then there are three sets of minerals that you dob on with a textured sponge. In this case it was a Pearl Mica, Inca Gold and a white limestone. First coat went well though it wasn’t quite the look I wanted. I didn’t care for the Inca Gold.
I had envisioned a brighter look. Fortunately I had enough minerals to go over it again. And that gave me the look I wanted!
After you get the look you want with applying the minerals you apply the epoxy clear coat over it. I had enough to do 2 coats of epoxy but would loved to have do 3 coats.
All in all this was a fun project and by only spending $90 on Amazon for the kit I was really pleased how it turned out! I would certainly do it again!
As we are on the final leg of our Avion restoration I thought I would share some money saving ideas we used during the process.
Let me preface this by saying, a full restoration is NOT cheap but it is possible to save some money on some things that would otherwise be expensive or time consuming.
Here is our list!
Paint: Probably the cheapest way to make a dark RV interior come to life for very little money. I estimate we spent around $275 in paint and supplies. Of course, the hours I put into painting were crazy but it was worth it IMO. It makes everything so clean and bright!
Reusing old hardware: I admit I wanted new hardware but when I added up all the cabinet doors and drawers I quickly realized the cost was more than we were willing to spend. So for a $4 can of spray paint I saved us over $200!
DIY: This is definitely the big one! Being handy will save you BIG BUCKS! Even if you don’t know how to do something, I can guarantee that there is a YouTube video showing you how to do it. If you can follow instructions then you can do it! Also, having friends who are willing to lend their expertise helps too. While we could have built our lounge area ourselves, our friend Doug is a master carpenter and he made it much better than we could have. Knowing your strengths is key! But don’t be afraid of researching how to fix something. Sometimes it is easier than you think!
Modify: for example, we had to replace our awning fabric. Since our Avion has curved sides there is a curved arm bracket for the hardware. It’s the original Zip Dee awning hardware. We called Zip Dee and got a quote – $1300 just for the fabric! 😳. So we looked around and found awning fabric on Amazon for $200. We modified the awning fabric on our original hardware and made it work. Now we have an awning for very little money! Think outside the box!!
Consider all electric: the fridge in our RV was no good. We had no choice but to replace it. Again we wanted to save money and by going with an Energy Star all electric fridge we saved almost $1000! Money that will be applied to our solar that will easily run this fridge while boondocking. And if you don’t boondock then an all electric fridge is a simple choice! Also, we have the added benefit of having more fridge space as the electric models don’t have all the gear on the back that the propane fridge does. And it fit in the same cabinet! Amazon for the win again!
Consider whether it’s a “need” or a “want”: Sometimes the best way to save money is just to not buy something! I know, what a crazy concept, right? But sometimes there are things you can just live without. For example, I really wanted a Precision Temp hot water heater when it was apparent we had to replace ours. But again, it was a $1000+ so we said no to that dream and went with a $380 6 gallon propane one instead.
I wanted to get new countertops but again, the cost was more than we could bear. So the next best option was to redo existing countertops with an epoxy makeover! I was skeptical at first that they could make our countertops look decent again but I figured for $90 it was cheaper than the alternative. And you know what? They turned out really well! The one kit had enough to be able to do the kitchen, bathroom, desk and shelf behind the lounge! Definitely a money saving win! And the kit can be used on almost any surface.
Electrical and propane: sometimes these systems seem daunting but with a little research the problems can be easily solved. Get yourself a test light and learn how to check for blown fuses. The 12 volt system is a pretty basic system and is easy to learn. Now be careful with the 110 system! Unless you know what you’re doing we recommend an electrician. Propane is also fairly simple and with a little working knowledge you can easily repair minor leaks or install a new changeover regulator! Just be careful to follow all safety procedures. If you don’t know what those are then seek a professional.
Don’t be afraid of hard work! Putting the effort into your remodel yourself will save you a ton of money. Granted, it might take you longer than a professional but you’ll have the satisfaction of having accomplished all this yourself. It’s a great feeling! Obviously, know your limits (especially with electrical or propane) but don’t be afraid of getting dirty! ☺️
In conclusion, our remodel of this vintage rig has been expensive due to having to replace some of the main components but the fact that we were able to do these things ourselves made the cost more bearable. If we had taken this rig to Camping World or some other RV repair place the cost would have been sky high!
And while we are nearly done with all the major stuff we know that down the line we will need to do more repairs. After all, Armani is nearly 40 years old! ☺️ But we also know if something comes up we have the skill and moxi to be able to fix whatever is necessary. And it’s a lot cheaper than repairing something in a sticks and bricks!
That leads me to one other thing especially if you are hitting the road for the first time. This life is not magically perfect! The same issues you had in your home WILL happen in an RV. How you deal with those issues is the biggie. The key is having fun and being able to enjoy this beautiful country in the process of tackling these issues. That’s what it’s all about!
I thought I would give you a look at the interior of our 1979 Avion 28J before I start sharing our restoration photos.
Someone had done some “renovations” of their own many years ago in the lounge area and added some parquet stick on flooring over the original linoleum so of course all of that is getting removed and redone.
Everything else had been left pretty much original though so we wanted to keep the vintage feel but make it a more modern living space. Paint can go a long way in making a space gorgeous!
We’ve already begun the restoration. We have removed the old non-working fridge, hot water heater, water pump and toilet. All new items have been ordered and/or installed. We are going with an all electric fridge. (We will explain our reasoning behind this decision in a future post.)
We still haven’t tested the AC unit to see if it works as we don’t have 30 amps at the house. Once we get it back to a livable condition we will plan a short trip to a local RV park to check it out. If it does work then we are on the hunt for a shroud and interior cover for it. If it doesn’t work then that’s an item for the future.
We are also still working on the furnace. Fortunately parts for it are easily obtained and we know we can get it back to par again. Basically that’s the only major item we haven’t had to replace yet! But, we bought this rig for its bones and exterior. We anticipated replacing all the major items so we knew what we were getting into. It’s a labor of love but we don’t plan on letting this baby go so we are in it for the long haul!
And of course, another item on the agenda is solar. (We are Boondock or Bust, after all!) After having done the off grid cabin thing (and previous RV solar) we know what we need in terms of power. Again, that’s for the future but all I can say is that I’m so glad the cost of solar is going down!
As we’ve started on the renovations already I will be sharing as we go along. The lounge area is nearly complete so that post will be coming soon. It’s going to look gorgeous!
Due to serious health issues we have decided to put our tiny house cabin and land up for sale. 😞
Mountain Cabin with great views and abundant wildlife to call your neighbors.
600 watt solar system that includes solar panels with a battery set up with 600 Amp hours, Go Power 1500 watt inverter with and a 12 volt electrical system with LED lights etc.
Cabin has a 200 watt wind generator to provide additional on site power.
The interior bath features a Natures Head composting toilet and a separate indoor shower. There is a refillable water storage tank with pump.
Tankless hot water heater runs on propane.
Propane wall mount heater. Kitchen has a refrigerator (runs on solar) and cooking stove and kitchen sink with counter tops.
Cabin has a covered front porch and a 10′ X 20′ rear deck with fire pit and Sail Shade provides shade .
Property has a separate level gravel RV pad and terrific view and a timber covered hills. The Rio Chama Valley offer the best in all kinds of outdoor recreational activities for all 4 seasons of the year. El Vado Lake is just a short drive to great boating and fishing. If you are looking for a “Tiny House” this one is ready to go.
Click on this link to see the MLS listing on Zillow:
Well, new to us that is. 🙂 We have downsized to a 1986 Lance 900 series truck camper!
The camper is in great shape and all systems work! The only thing it doesn’t have is AC but it is wired to have an AC unit in it. At some point we will add one in.
Looking good on the GMC!
Inside is a bit dated of course. What can you expect from the 80’s? So, our mission is to totally update it and make it a bit more modern! And as we are leaving for South Carolina on July 25th we better get cracking!
What will we do for AC in the south? Well, we are just going to throw a window unit in it as a temp solution. Yeah, it will be a bit redneck-ish but better that than melting in the heat!
In the next couple of weeks we will be adding solar, repainting everything and generally just giving it a really good cleaning. There are some minor repairs to make but nothing that is too difficult.
We will get as much done as we can before leaving for SC and our daughters college graduation and will finish up all the renovations when we return in August!
Our plan is to leave our little off grid cabin before the snow flies (generally October) and then hit the road for the winter!
Stay tuned for our maiden voyage. Hopefully it all goes as planned but you never know with us. 😜
This past week we knew we had a storm coming. It mostly just showed rain but to be on the safe side we loaded up on propane, groceries and the like. And it’s a good thing we did!
Over the weekend we had a bit of rain and snow but it didn’t stick around and it really didn’t seem all that bad. Then Sunday it all changed. Around 3pm a little light snow started coming down.
And then around 5pm it really started falling.
The weather service predicted about 1-2″ of snow fall. Boy, were they wrong!
The snow was supposed to stop by 10am. But as of this writing at 11am it is still coming down heavy. It’s supposed to turn to rain later in the day which will of course melt it all off and make everything a soupy, muddy mess. As we are a mile and a half down a dirt road we will be staying put until everything dries out. The 4 Runner can make it out if necessary but it’s better to stay put and enjoy this last (hopefully) snow storm of the season! It really is quite beautiful and our new metal roof on the cabin is holding up well. Cheers!
And the RV looks pretty damn cozy too.
It’s a good thing we don’t have to be anywhere – we are pretty well snowed in for now. 🙂 We had to get up on the roof of the RV and clean off the solar panels and run the genny for a bit! It’s always nice to have a back up system.
The holidays kind of got me sidetracked. We left New Mexico on November 2nd with the intention of stopping in Quartzsite and taking it all in before heading to California for the holidays. Since we had never been to “The Q” before I checked out Wheeling It’s blog to see where they recommended. There are many BLM areas in Quartzsite that are free 14 day stays as well as an LTVA area (Long Term Visitor Area) where you can pay to stay ($180 from Sept 15-Apr 15). That area includes a dump station and water. The basic BLM areas provide no services at all.
We took Nina’s recommendation and stayed at the Dome Rock BLM area. It’s a pretty basic desert BLM area with a lot of large flat surfaces to camp on. It’s on Dome Rock Rd that gets a lot of traffic and Interstate 10 isn’t too far off so there is a bit of road noise but it has easy on/off highway access and for a 2 week stop it worked out perfectly.
The town of Quartzsite is quirky, to say the least. It is basically one big rummage sale with a few good deals thrown in. Since we arrived the first week of November there wasn’t a lot going on really but that was alright with us. We spent a lot of time enjoying the abundant sunshine, had tacos at Taco Mio (awesome tacos!) and managed to get our pizza fix on at Silly Al’s.
We made a couple of day trips as well. Lake Havasu City is a MUST SEE as well as the London Bridge! If you’re ever in the area you must get there to see this beautiful place. The river is glorious, the town is pretty cool and the drive is breath taking!
One really great thing about this life is you get to meet some amazing people! Laurie & Scott of LaurieandScott.com contacted us to let us know they were heading to Quartzsite and would love to get together. Awesome! So we met up with these two wild and crazy kids at Beer Belly’s Adult Day Care. Beer Belly’s is an open air bar in the middle of everything! At the time we were there they were not serving food but apparently when they do they have great burgers.
As things worked out, we had a great time with Laurie & Scott! They even camped with us one night and we had so much fun chatting with them. They are such great people! (Instagram @laurieandscott). They are really into health and fitness and offered a bunch of great ways to stay healthy on the road! If you’re struggling with diet and fitness or just need some encouragement, by all means, contact these wonderful people! They are fabulous coaches and will help you reach your goals while still enjoying life! Everything in moderation, people. 🙂
We also managed to meet Wheeling It (Paul, Nina, Polly & the cat crew) in person! I’ve been following their blog for years and they are truly the sweetest people. Extremely helpful and Nina knows her stuff when it comes to finding the best boondocking sites! It was a brief meet and greet with promises to get together in Desert Hot Springs for happy hour. Our kind of people! 🙂
After spending two weeks enjoying the free camping it was off to California – and the HOT SPRINGS!! A month of visiting family for Thanksgiving & Hanukkah and soaking in hot pools of glorious spring water. Ahhhhh!!!