This has been a long time in the making. When we bought our Avion C11 truck camper, we knew that the full bed aligned east-west would not work for our full time intent. Initially, we struggled to conceive of a method to form a queen sized bed simply by altering the interior arrangement of the camper. While we could introduce sliding or folding out bed extensions, we could not agree on a solution that wouldn't require us to regularly make and break down a bed or block the interior windows. And so, we reluctantly agreed, we would be extending the cabover.
Today, we will be removing a panel from the exterior of the camper. To do this, we will have to remove a lot of rivets: buck rivets. After a year of experience, we have a favorite method of tackling rows of rivets which we will share with you today!
A lot of our route is flexible, given the winter weather. But the Jack Sisemore Traveland RV Museum has been on our list of stops ever since we discovered that they also have an 1970 Avion truck camper on display—the same year as ours! Unlike ours, it has been maintained in its original condition. This includes the original and rather strange three jack point formation and period interior.
After a mad rush to make our rig road worthy. It is a relief to finally make it back onto the highway. It has been 6 months since we last drove with the Avion on Dodgy II. That time, we had no confidence in the tie downs (rightly so!) and took the drive from Florida to Tennessee at 45 miles per hour. Now, we have new wings floor, jacks, and tie-downs. We have the camper firmly planted on the truck. Aside from one last trip to Tractor Supply for some additional turn-buckles, we are on the road.
Timelines are an exercise in wishful thinking. I remember this lesson from my former life as a code monkey. But it's never been more obvious than when renovating a camper.
We have a departure date set and it is coming up fast. But little things keep pushing back our progress.⠀Six months ago, I thought we would have a working kitchen and bathroom by now. Two months ago, I thought we would have rebuilt the bed by now. At this point, I'd be happy to just have the pan of the camper resting firmly and securely on the truck bed.
Most of the Avion's exterior is aluminum. But, the very base of the camper, hanging off the truck bed, is made of fiberglass. It wedges in between the interior flooring and the exterior aluminum pan and holds the back water tank. In replacing the floor, we also had to remove this pan to remount it to the new floor.
The State of the Floor Address
Ladies and gentlemen, the floor of the truck camper is not pretty. After years of patches and general neglect, it is literally falling apart. Try jumping on it. The experience is not unlike that of a trampoline. The concern is for the day that it does not bounce.
We have looked at a lot of truck campers. Like any home search, there are things we love and things we dislike. One of the many appealing aspects of the Avion is its layout. There is a large table, wide open space, and a dedicated bathroom. But there is a major problem: a lot of the wooden fixtures are rotten. So, we are pulling everything out and starting from scratch. When one starts from scratch, the floor plan starts to change.
An important part in optimizing one's electrical system for boondocking is knowing what one's consumptions will be. If one already has the experience of being on the road, all one needs to do is monitor one's consumption. Sure, we have been nomads for 2 years. But that has been a matter of cooking over camp fires and working in coffee shops, libraries, or truck stops. To guess at our battery usage with all the conveniences of an RV, we an run the numbers to get a vague idea of what is to come.
I am a firm believer in not allowing the perfect to be the enemy of the good. While having a completely renovated camper is preferable, we don't want to spend years in one place, building a dream camper when we could take the process in stages and travel as we work. We are prioritizing replacing rotten flooring, old wiring, and insulation so that we can reinstall the inner walls and travel as we complete the rest of the camper. Even in its gutted state, this camper is better than the shell we were living in before.