Exterior Truck Camper Renovation

Before we can get wrapped up in paint colors, fabric swatches, and flooring samples, we need to make sure our 1970 Avion C11 truck camper has a solid and reliable body. We learn a lot while upgrading the exterior of our RV.

Getting Started

After traveling the United States in a van and an improvised truck bed for a couple of years, we decide that we want a vintage truck camper for our next adventure mobile. We want a project and we want it to be unique. Over the next year, we monitor listings for an Amerigo, Alaskan, or an Avion truck camper. In the spring of 2017, we find an ad for a 1970 Avion Ultra C11 truck camper. Sure, it is a long drive to central Florida, but it looks to be in good shape and we are ready to get started on our new home on wheels.

Truck Camper Body Work

A Firm Foundation

After 50 years on the road, the aluminum body of our vintage camper is in relatively pristine shape but the wood base is rotted out. As soon as we have our new truck camper at our workshop, we began the task of stripping the truck camper down to its aluminum shell and them methodically replacing the rotten wings, floor, and cabover with rot-resistant fiberglass composite board.

Aluminum & Patching

As well maintained as our Avion's aluminum body was, our gut and rebuild of this vintage camper have required a lot of patching. We have removed the original fans, chimney, air conditioner, propane hatch, and other exterior appliances. All have left holes that we will have to patch. To start it all, we need a matching aluminum and to master buck riveting.


Broadening our horizons

Windows are a common leak point for campers. Gaskets get old. Fittings shift. And, let’s face it, technology has progressed since 1970. For all we can say, “they don’t make things like they used to,” that isn’t always a bad thing. Windows, for one, have certainly improved.

So, we take this opportunity to swap out the original single-paned windows that only partially opened in favor of new, double-paned windows designed for overlanding that fully open. At least, we try to. We have mixed success between our cabover window and the side windows. Even so, both have genuinely opened up the camper’s interior.

Stickers & Decals

Adding bumper stickers and other visual flairs to an RV is not that uncommon. But our Avion came with several original colorful icons. Most vintage campers include decals with the name of the manufacturer, ours being Avion, which you can see on the front and the back of the rig. In the early days of Avion, all campers were automatically part of the Avion Travelcade Club, denoted by a sticker on the front and back along with a membership number. Our Avion is an Ultra model and comes with extra flourishes including a red stripe on both sides with an ``ultra`` decal. All of these features remain but are terribly sun-faded. So we take this opportunity to bring back a bit of the original colors to our Avion.

The End Result

All patched up

With our exterior in one piece, we start traveling.  Is our interior complete? By no means.  But we have a safe, enclosed space and a wanderlust itch that needs scratching.  As time progresses, we alternate between renovation projects and travel.  A slow but certain road to realizing our vision for this home on wheels.

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