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!
One thing that is imperative to have (IMO) is an awning! When you live in a box that’s less than 200 square feet, having a livable outdoor area is essential.
Unfortunately the awning on our Avion was non existent. The old fabric awning must have dry rotted (it was originally canvas) and it had been torn away. Fortunately, the original Zip Dee awning hardware was still intact!
We called Zip Dee to get a quote on replacing the awning fabric. I about died when we were quoted $1300. 😳. There was no way we could swing that. So we gave it some thought and figured we could try to modify a new style awning fabric to work.
I checked on Amazon and found this nice charcoal fade fabric that was 19’3″. Our original awning fabric was 19′ 8″ so we would be a bit short but that was ok. Also, new awnings are actually deeper (from RV to the awning hardware when extended) but we thought that might work in our favor.
So for $175 for the fabric and $25 in materials we had a new awning. Thank goodness for our friends Doug & Denise! It took all four of us to get it done but we think it turned out great! We used rivets with washers to hold the fabric in place on the long tube part and then had to tighten the spring tension. That was a lot of fun, not! The older awning tubes do not have the string slide area that the newer awnings do.
Once we got the spring tightened we had to check it to make sure it rolled and it did, but we knew we had to tighten a bit more. Now it rolls like a dream AND we saved a ton of money!!
Would I have liked to have a vintage looking awning? Of course! But honestly I like having the cash in our pockets better! We have been doing a lot of little things to save money on this restoration and I will be doing a post on that soon. But until then, I think we will go sit under our awning and relax!
When we purchased Armani it was with the knowledge that it needed a lot of interior work. The outside skin and “bones” were in great shape even after having sat in a field for the last 12 years.
But the inside was rough. Not only was it REALLY dirty, a lot of the cabinet doors were warped not to mention we had no way of knowing what systems worked or not.
We also knew it had an electrical issue. The previous owners (an RV “flipper” that dealt in Avion’s and Airstreams) had rigged up the breakers to make sure the outlets worked but that was really unsafe! Fortunately Mark is a wiz with electric and between he and Doug they got the issue sorted out and now we have nice safe GFCI breakers and nothing trips when it is plugged in! Safety first, folks!
Our next project was to get rid of the nasty dirty couch in the lounge area and to get the parquet floor pulled up that someone had put down over the original linoleum. Like I said, really REALLY dirty!
After that was accomplished and all the adhesive scrubbed up (hours upon hours with multiple bottles of Goo Gone), everything cleaned and painted it was ready for the rebuild!
As I mentioned in my previous post, Doug is a master carpenter and he has already remodeled their Avion so we drew from his experience and got going on our new “L” shaped lounge!
As all us RVers know, weight is a major concern. We didn’t want to add a ton of weight by using 2×4’s. Doug used 1/2″ plywood strips to create a box (glued and nailed together) to create the legs. He used the same plywood strips to create brackets in between and 2×2 posts against the wall for the base support. Then plywood sheets to form the base of the seat. It goes all the way to the back wall so now behind the back of the couch we will have storage not to mention all the room underneath!
Now before you think this is not sturdy let me tell you, it is SOLID! We are extremely impressed with the quality of this build and if you need any restoration work on your rig we would highly recommend Doug! He is the best!!
And now for the finished project!
We are very pleased how this all turned out! I made the cushions myself using 4″ high density foam, batting and material wrapped around and stapled to a board that fit in the appropriate space. It will be easy to change the fabric in the future if we wish or need to.
Now that the lounge is done we moved onto the old dresser area and tore all that out to build in a new desk! We’ve also installed an awning and I will be posting on that soon. Stay tuned! 🙂
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!
When we bought our truck camper at the beginning of July we knew we only had a couple of weeks to get it squared away for our trip to South Carolina at the end of the month. We were on a time crunch to say the least!
The first thing we did upon bringing it home was to check all systems out. Everything works (that we can tell at the moment) and it was good to go. We could have taken it the way it was but honestly it smelled like it had been closed up for a long time and it really needed some deep cleaning. Next thing I know I am going on a painting frenzy!
The interior was outdated and blah. We thought white cabinets would brighten every thing up! It sure did.
I will be adding a tile backsplash but for now some leftover yellow paint from the cabin works just fine.
I had the teal left over from our cabin door. I really like how that pop of color looks!
Didn’t do a drastic change in the dinette. The cushions and fabric were still in good order but we added new curtains and of course painted all the cabinetry white. The walls we went with a real light tan.
The bathroom before had that hideous wallpaper. I stripped it all off and then painted with an exterior semi gloss paint. I know it won’t hold up forever to the water. When we get back we will be tiling the walls of the bathroom and replacing the flush toilet with our compost toilet.
The bed area before had a cabinet above where our heads were. The space is tight enough without that cabinet so we removed it. Painted the walls a lighter version of the bathroom by adding some white to it.
Whew! It was a lot of work and we accomplished it all in just two weeks. We also redid the floors! We had some leftover flooring from the cabin. We think it turned out great.
We have made our way out to South Carolina – an 1800 mile trip! It’s been a lot easier than pulling the trailer (even we did tow our 4 Runner) and so far everything’s been great!
Before leaving for South Carolina we went to Ojo Caliente Mineral Hot springs. I will be doing a post on that amazing place soon!
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. 😜