“SILVER AVIONS AND CAYOS” by Robert J. Muncy 1


Bob Muncy has completed the book “Silver Avions and Cayos” and it can be ordered by phoning (828) 963-6487.

Below is some information about the book’s content and the writing process. Bob and Jewel Dee have been great promoters of the vintage trailering through the Silver Avion Fellowship and TCT.

A REVIEW AND SOME THOUGHTS ABOUT THE BOOK:

“SILVER AVIONS AND CAYOS” by Robert J. Muncy

I began writing this book several years ago. My original purpose was to describe why Jewel Dee and I were attracted to travel soon after we married in December 1948 and later became captivated by what we considered to be the finest RV ever produced — the aircraft-constructed Silver Avion. It was, for us, an ideal traveling home on wheels. In the book, I speak of traveling as an important part of my “American Dream”. As a teenager, I was impressed to hear about the “land of the free and home of the brave” and, the pledge of allegiance to the American flag (i.e.,”..one nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all…”) motivated me to be part of the American landscape and to see and experience first hand, the cultural and geographical differences that exist in our beautiful country.

Our Silver Avion has taken us east, west, north, and south in style. I soon undertook an effort to learn the history of the Silver Avion and the Cayo family that envisioned and built such a high quality RV. I spent considerable time visiting with the Cayos, others who worked for the Cayo Corporation, and some town folks in Benton Harbor, Michigan where the Cayo plant was located. Having been a member of the Avion Travelcade Club for more than 20 years and primarily responsible for beginning the Silver Avion Fellowship, I had many sources that contributed to my story.

While visiting one day with Bill Cayo, he graciously loaned me some old slides that were taken in the early years of the Avion plant. I also had some slides that I had taken of Avion Travelcade Club Rallies, Rendezvous, and Travelcades. When I added the photos of Silver Avion Fellowship activities, I had a lot of photos. I converted these photos to CDs and loaded them into my computer.

I continued to research the Cayo family, Julius Cayo, his three sons (two of whom were key founders of the Silver Avion factory in the mid 1950s). More and more, I developed profound respect for the Cayos. I have labeled the Cayo legacy as “quest for quality and honesty.”

There are sections covering the Cayo family, early years production of Silver Avions, changes that occurred in Avion history, the Avion Travelcade Club, the Silver Avion Fellowship, some selected Avioner stories, and some material describing my early life experiences that taught me respect for quality and honesty, the Cayo legacy.

The book has 176 pages and more than 80 pages of color photos (almost 200 photos). It has a quality paper (plasticized) cover that is stitched for durability. It is printed in 8 X 10 size to enhance the photos, all of which are captioned.

If you like (or love) Silver Avions, or if you just have curiosity about Avions, I believe you will find this book enjoyable. It is perfect as a coffee table book where you can go back and view the photos from time to time. You may recognize someone.

The cost: $24.95. If ordered (by credit card or check) through my son’s business, Muncy Winds Music Company, shipping and handling fee is $5.99 per book. You can call (828) 963-6487. They will take your order, pack the book and ship it to you.

This is not a money-making thing for us. We have funded the book, prepared the text and photos, and then paid to have it printed. At first, we have ordered a limited supply until we can determine the demand. We can re-print if needed. We have been notified that the first shipment will arrive between October 5-10. We are taking orders now.

Robert J. (Bob) Muncy


Leave a Reply

One thought on ““SILVER AVIONS AND CAYOS” by Robert J. Muncy

  • Jim Elder

    I wish I had heard about your Avion book sooner. I could have added some interesting information. I was involved in the pickup camper early on, and did camper and trailer photography and some magazine PR until Loren died. After the Fleetwood fiasco I lost interest and no longer quit driving to Benton Harbor every year. Did a lot of RV photography and writing from my base in Jackson Hole Wyoming. By any case did you see the annivery issue of Trailer Life?. That included my article and some photos on campers.

    I have copies of the Avion brochures and photographs if I can find them–in storage boxes. Several moves after I retired things got buried in boxes. but I will try to find them. I was involved in the decision in the Mor Ride project. Loren had rented use of the old Studebaker proving facility for a week. Loren had identical 28 ft. trailers. one with Mor Ride and one with the conventional suspension. We used Checker tow vehicles, some with offset hitches, over railroad ties, cobblestones, Belgian blocks, and other hazards. I had to ride in both trailers to watch and photograph dishes crashing or not, clothing falling to the closet floor or not. I rigged lights to do night shots showing tracks of conventional and Mor Ride trailers. After 4 or 5 days of testing Loren called Benton Harbor and told the staff it was a “GO!” from that day on. We had committed for one more day on the contract, so it was “play time” with trailers and campers. I had a modified Ford ¾ ton that posted 100 miles per hour with a camper. Cross-winds came up that afternoon, so we got to play around with trailers and campers to study wind effects. Just me, and some of the Bendix testers. Loren would not let his son near the test speed oval, much to his displeasure. What ever happened to him? Did he work with Star Stamping? I do not remember his being involved with the Cayo Camper or the Motivators. I do remember his love of dune buggies.

    Trivia note. A salesman was trying to get Loren joining another country club with a golf course. Loren told him he already had one and that enough. “But your son has two or three.” “That’s OK, but he has a rich spoiled son. One is all I can afford.”

    If you are interested, I can fill you in on how I got involved at Avion and got to know Loren. Or why my F250 Camper Special had Thunderbird bucket seats, and why Chevy finally named a ¾ ton the Custom Camper.

    I’ll close for now but I should tell you why I quit Avion when Fleetwood entered the picture. I had earned a reputation in the RV world, and with all products–RV’s, boats, sailing, interesting locations. My long-term client was Coleman. When Sheldon Coleman was alive any product was first class. Tents, sleeping bags. stoves, lanterns, everything. He shut down Skiroule snowmobile because quality control was weak. “We made a lantern that lit, and a stove that cooked. Coleman will not make a snowmobile that won’t start! ” (quote Sheldon)

    I tested anything that was not top quality, I might make suggestions, but never print anything. Anybody remember the Burro copy of the Scamper? The Scamper, and the Canadian mono Bowen (?) were good trailers. But the Burro was junk. I was supposed to take it to a sandsailing event in Arizona. Got as far as southern Wyoming and discovered cracks around the door frames and poop eruption in the shower. Called the factory and asked them to tell me where to park it. When I found using Fleetwood mostly with particle board and staples, I said adios.

    When my wife and I decided to retire, we debated our RV options. We had tested dozens of brands and types, from tent trailers to Newell motorhomes. Even had one of those for a week, before delivering it to Bobby Unser. But that was neither our lifestyle nor budget.(He bought a new one about every two years.) Several companies offered me free or “press discounts.” But we decided on an Alaskan popup. Don Wheat and his son agreed to let me do the electrical and plumbing, plus some modifications at night after they built the basic shell. Solar panels, inverters, auxiliary water tanks and larger LP bottles mounted under the frame on each side, flash water heater, compressor refrigerator–40 years of ideas. This on an F350 Turbodiesel Dually 4 wheel drive. Woody Haines, the Ford PR and special programs honcho, offered me a deal that was too good. Woody was a good friend, talked me into the Baja 1000 with John Clark Gable, from Ensenada to La Pas, 23 hours and 32 minutes of pure adrenal, to place 2nd in class, beating Roger Mears and Parnelli Jones. Not in my camper–a “skunk works” in California that built race vehicles. Looked like a Ford Ranger but had a Nascar engine, full roll cage, fuel cells, everything–good for 120 mph in cactus deserts and on sand beaches. Only 50 0r 60 on most of the no-road trails. And airborne much of the time.

    My racing and RV life is over. I am 86 and living in a retire facility in Montana. My adventures are over after running the Alcan5000 road Rally from Seattle to Prudoe Alaska and back to Anchorage. Google Alcan5000 to see our routes and maps, every second year since 1996, with my great driver/navigator wife. Her first car was a Trimunth TR3. She could drive anything. including a Chinook RV that we entered one of the Rallys just for the hell of it. Several articles are on the Rally website, including my photos and stories on Road & Track, Autoweek, and the Subaru Magazine. Suzanne died last October.

    I meant to merely tell you some Avion history. But when an old race horse is living alone, he starts remembering good times. I’ll close with an attachment, our last vehicle from the 2012 Rally. If it will transfer to your comment.

    Jim Elder