1988 RV: A Filmmaker’s #TinyHome Remodel
Last November I found this Avion 34' (Airstream-esque) travel trailer on Craigslist for $3,300. I was in Houston and couldn’t pick it up, but my buddies Hunter and Brandon took the reigns and not only did they go pick it up but also talked him down to $2,200 + a new AC, porcelain toilet and left over remodeling supplies from the previous owner’s attempt to do it himself.
To give you some background, my buddy Hunter owns his own business called “Hunters Fix-it-All.” Before I pulled the trigger on the purchase, we had been discussing our plan of attack. We agreed to a time frame of about a month and $5,000 in labor costs… and man was that an undershot of the time it took to get this thing into shape. It ended up actually taking about 6 to 8 months and $9,000 in labor cost. Also, a huge thanks to Hunter’s wife, Olivia, who was so kind to let us park it outside their house so he could have access to his tools and shop right outside their garage.
The RV was a great shell but that’s about all it was. You’ll see from some of the initial photos we had to completely rebuild the back part of the RV’s sub floor. We had to pull out the stationary tanks that hold all the drinking, gray and black water. (FYI, for those of you who don’t know what that means: drinking water is your drinking water, obviously; gray water is your shower water and leftover sink water; and black water is your toilet water) You can see a lot of the electrical lines hanging everywhere that had to be made into some sort of light fixture, plug in or hid in some way. The only parts of the RV that we kept were the cabinets w/o the doors and the windows. Everything else was custom designed to fit the small home look we were going for.
*FYI* the ‘Avion’s’ build is actually superior to that of its competitor, the Airstream. Not only are the walls fully insulated with THICK insulating foam but the floors are made up of two sheets of plywood that sandwich 3/16" polystyrene standard foam sheet. Needless to say, this thing is built to last. Unlike your standard box-y RV, an Avion/Airstream & its aerodynamic attributes allow it to haul down the road and across the country. In the pictures below you can see Hunter sealing the pipes and then adding additional insulation to their build. As if the RV’s build wasn’t robust enough… Hunter was sure to take it up a notch throughout the remodel.
Once we completed the base and had a solid foundation, we built up from there. We begun by installing the shower mold, toilet, AC, LED lights, walls, the custom couch frame, bed frame, fur-down, and cabinets.
The exterior roof got all new vent fans, HDTV antenna, reinforced waterproofed patching, and AC installation. The front got an all new electric lift that would be required to help raise the 12,000 lb monster onto a ball & hitch.
One of the GREATEST ideas Hunter had was to build a ‘fur-down’ that would run the length of the RV. This functional design would house excessive wires and allow for the installation of all new eco-friendly LED lights and 5 - 4x4 speakers.
This work above was definitely the longest and most arduous of the remodel, taking around an off-and-on 3 months to complete. However, now that our foundation was solid and the inside build was to our liking... the fun began. First up was the paint & flooring!
Next on the to-do list was the installation of the counter tops, custom couch, cushions and pillows. The wood came a little lighter than I would have liked, so we ended up staining it a darker tone. We also applied a polyurethane coat so it would be kitchen and bathroom durable. We put in the 2 — 32" HD TV’s, 2 — 12" Subs and speakers a little early so we had to remove most of them for paint job. But afterwards, all the electronics & additional appliances were ready to be installed too.
It was starting to feel real good right about now. It was all coming together, it was so exciting, PLUS it just so happened that it was my birthday. July 7th. I was hosting a party with my boyfriend at my parents’ house in Arkansas when I got the call from Hunter that something had happened. Uh oh When he and my friend Brandon were pulling it out from his house, the back left side of the RV took a hit. The maneuver out of the driveway was a difficult one, I knew that. Hunter was sick to his stomach and his wife was so upset that she couldn’t come to the party. However, it still made an appearance and all my friends got to see the hard work that had been put into it over the past 6 months. The damage dented the back left upper side taking out a lot of the freshly placed bathroom tile. However, as you can see to the left, Hunter and his handy dad came to the rescue and restored it to beyond normal status. It was a blessing we didn’t have the glass door in yet because it would have shattered it to pieces!
Last but NOT least and probably my favorite part of the process was adding the finishing touches. This process included approximately 10 trips to Bed, Bath and Beyond, numerous flea markets, and my mothers precious time (which she loved by the way) by helping me find crafty elements from around the state of Arkansas. Taylor was also a great moral support through the process, providing input that definitely shows in the final product. We can’t wait to share more than a few adventures, head out to the pacific north west and maybe to a few of the great camping-electronic music festivals.
Below are the final photographs I took from the RV’s renovation. Enjoy!
Follow me on Instagram for more cool photos — :D @baileyeubanks
Oh! I forgot to mention… It bumps…
All in all about $23K later, the experience was a great one but still ongoing. The RV is currently at the body shop getting its dents and dings filled in. They will be applying a matte two-tone color profile to the exterior shell. There will be a dark blue textured paint applied to the bottom and an off-white/cream to the top. Other features to be added to the RV include the instillation of a 2nd AC to keep is exxxxtra cool, new exterior awnings and a couple custom window panes that have been missing. Originally I started this project with the intentions to flip it, however, since then I have fell in love with project. It feels like home and just for fun I have lived in it for about a week. Its so comfortable and cozy. Like I mentioned, I do plan to take it on a few adventures but ultimately am looking to SELL IT to the right buyer. I will deliver it and can provide answers to any questions you may have. Message me on Facebook if this RV strikes your fancy & are interested in negotiating a price.