A & E by Dometic, 20 foot awning. Ripstop, plasticized fabric.
Awning seam tear – Aug. ’17
For months now, I couldn’t help but notice, as I’d glance out the passenger’s side window, the one behind the travel chair, that the seam near the top of the awning, was strained & the stitching was slowly splitting apart.
Well, the threads finally let go, and now I have to figure out a way to fix it.
Right now, I’m at a RV park where none of my neighbors have ladders. They’re mostly trailer and tent campers. So I’ll have to wait to where I’m at a place I can borrow one and attempt a fix. One potential fix is using Gorilla Tape…which I happen to have a small roll of. Problem is the tape is black. Meanwhile, I’ll query people on RV dot net to see if anyone has a simple, inexpensive fix.
And that ‘simple fix’ turned out to be a special tape. While I was staying at the Burns RV park, in their little store on the shelf was a roll of clear tape with a big ‘RV Awing Repair Tape’ label on it. So I got online and checked on the RV’ing forums I frequent. Sure enough, most posts where owners had torn awnings someone mentioned awning repair tape as the solution. It wasn’t cheap – $15 for the 60′ X 4″ roll, but it if does the job, it’s worth it.
A couple days later, borrowed a ladder from the RV park I was staying at, applied the tape per instructions. It turned out the hardest part was to get the edges of the tear together for taping. Did the best I could up on that rickety ladder.
It didn’t look bad initially. The gap was my doing…had trouble pulling the edges together. But the repair is still working and the tear hasn’t grown any. The tape is strong, a bit thicker than packing tape, incorporates UV protection, and uses water resistant glue. I applied it to at least a foot from the edge along the seam, both top and bottom.
I’d really like to get rid of this A&E awning and get a Colorado. This A&E design is just ‘cheap’ and the entire setup was poorly put together at the factory. And that transferred to a poor installation at the Winnebago factory so I always have to push on the front arm before retracting to get it to retract correctly. I prefer the Colorado design to this one. What I’ll do is keep my eyes open for a used Colorado during my travels.
Adding an awning pull cord – Feb. 2016
During my travels over the years with my 18 foot Colorado awning, I quickly found out that there is one addition to an awning that owners should attach immediately on purchase. And that’s a pull cord. Here’s a picture of mine. The addition is that white nylon pull cord that attaches to the black strap provided by the awning manufacturer. (The wooden structure in the window is a reflection).
What I’ve had happen before adding that pull cord, during a windstorm when I need to quickly retract the awning, is sometimes the black nylon pull strap that comes with awnings is nearly impossible to grab with the hook as it’s wildly whipping around, or it’s wrapped itself around something up on the roof or an awning arm assembly. I’m generally too short to reach it and unwind it. Other times, I’ll arrive at a RV park and can’t find the strap because it’s up out of reach on top of the roof. And a couple times, it’s gotten wrapped up inside the awning as I retracted it in a windstorm and lost hold of it. And those cases it takes a ladder and two people to get it untrapped. So this is my solution.
What I do is double a length of the small diameter (1/8th inch) nylon cord found in packages at Home Depot and tie it to the pull strap that people often just use their awning hook for. This prevents the pull strap from getting lost inside the awning during retraction, or lost for the other reasons mentioned and not easily reached without a ladder…which I don’t carry. Who wants to climb a ladder in the wind anyway.
Than I use a small bungee cord to attach it to the conveniently located hole in the base of the awning arm. Yes, while driving if the wind is from the right direction the strap and cord can slap the side of the RV, but it’s never harmed the paint, and it isn’t all that noisy. After hundreds of operations using the pull cord for both extending and retracting the awning, and remembering what troubles happened when I didn’t use one, I wouldn’t be without this little hack. The pull cord should come with new awnings.
June ’17 – Awning strap broken
One morning I start to deploy the awning using the pull strap and damned if it didn’t finally rip off the end piece that is inside the roller tube slot. It had been showing signs it was going to tear for months already so it wasn’t a big surprise. The problem was that it was just around a year old and I didn’t want to replace it with another one that would only get another year. Meanwhile, I was pleased that it decided to break while I was opening the awning not closing it. It would have rolled up inside the awning and been a bear to get back out. But I have a heavy duty staple gun so I used that to reattach the end of the awning strap back onto the capture rod…a small plastic rod that fits inside the slot in the awning. Looped the torn end over around the plastic rod, and stapled. There’s a lot of force applied to the strap occasionally so I didn’t think that repair would last long. But felt it would last long enough to order a new strap. Pictured below. I had bought two replacement straps a year ago, but I’d used them both. One on the old Bounder before it was sold, and one on this rig shortly after I’d bought it as they were both looking like it was time to replace them. This time I was going to get the best, highest quality strap I could find, because a single year isn’t quite enough in my book.
So I went online onto Amazon, and checked what they have. And here’s what I got for $11, a 93″ strap. It’s a Carefree brand so pretty good reputation, and has heavy stitching at the seams. Looks better than the one I’m replacing. The others I could find online might have been less expensive, but the pictures didn’t show much in the way of heavy duty stitching.
Here’s a picture before installation, with the strap all ready to replace my broken strap. I will hang onto the repaired strap as a backup in case this one breaks or gets damaged. Installation is a breeze. First make sure the awning is fully unwound but not extended (not raised). This is to ensure you can reach the slot from the ground. Using an awl or screwdriver, just push the plastic rod along the slot in the roller towards the rear of the RV, assuming you’re changing the strap in the awning on the passenger’s side. On the far end of the awning, you have to tease it out of the slot a bit but it comes out easily enough, you might need some help rolling the tube an inch this way or that into the right position, but just be sure you don’t let it wind up.
After the old strap rod is out, just push the new strap rod in the slot, and away you go. Easy. No reason to pay a shop $125/hour for that little job. But…it’s a different story if the end of the broken strap has rolled up inside the awning. In that case you’ll need a ladder and probably some help to roll it open all the way to access the strap and the tube slot. And it might be worth paying a shop to do it depending on your physical condition. However, it’s likely that someone in the RV park would be happy to help. So give it a shot. And remember to add the nylon cord extension I recommended above to the end of the new strap.