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!
So it seems that we can never get away from a project. We admit it, we love bringing something old back to life again. First with our Georgie Boy Class A and then our Lance Truck Camper.
But this time we have something special. REALLY special!
Introducing “Armani” – a shiny and soon to be restored vintage 1979 Avion 28J travel trailer!
No, this is not an Airstream. Yes they are similar but definitely not the same. Airstream aficionados would argue that Airstreams of that era were better quality. Avion enthusiasts would disagree. As you can see, we fall into the latter category. No offense to all our Airstream friends! We really love Airstreams and nearly went that direction. But our friends Doug & Denise changed our minds with their purchase of their 1978 Avion “Ava”.
We located Armani via Craigslist in Phoenix, AZ. After a quick drive down there (well, 8+ hours one way) we determined that while Armani needed major interior work, the external skin, frame and “bones” were sound! A quick stop at a tire store for some new “kicks” and we were back on the road by 3pm! We decided to drive to Flagstaff and stop for the night at a motel considering that Armani was not camp ready.
That’s when we hit traffic on I-17 headed north. Some DUMB ASS had thrown a cigarette butt out his window and caused a wildfire! We crawled along for nearly 5 hours only going 43 miles!! Please, people – if you smoke so NOT throw your butts out your window!! It’s beyond stupid!!
All of this happened very quickly. We had looked at other Avions and had even driven miles upon miles to view them only to be disappointed. I guess everything happens for a reason!
We didn’t tell our friends of our purchase. They knew we were looking but that was all. We made the decision to get Armani camp ready (well, we could sleep in it and use the bathroom lol) by June 12 as we were meeting our friends at our favorite spot – Ojo Caliente!
To say they were surprised is an understatement. Look at Denise’s face!
After the initial surprise we let them get set up while we prepared lunch and champagne to celebrate.
We had a great time at Ojo Caliente and now we are off enjoying the beautiful mountain air of Pagosa Springs for the next month. We will also be putting Doug to work to get this beauty back to its former glory – you see, Doug is a master carpenter and has already renovated their Avion! The renovations have begun and we will be doing a blog post on those soon.
We’ve been working hard on the new rig every weekend! So much so, I’ve neglected the blog. 🙂 So I thought I would drop a quick post with some “before” and “during” demo shots! We have basically taken everything out – dinette, couch, carpeting, flooring in kitchen and toilet room – and are starting fresh.
To give you a general idea of the process here are some photos. These are pretty boring, I know, but just wait until you see the AFTER shots!! This rig is looking AMAZING!!! So to get you started here they are – before & during:
Ok, so that was a quick view of our taking stuff out. The new stuff will be posted soon!! We’ve had so much fun doing this remodel!!! 🙂