Day & Night Shades…

One side of the bedroom’s Day/Nite shade cord broke soon after I moved in, after attempting to open and close it a couple times. This particular cord is already prone to that because of the emergency exit handles that interfere with the shades operation and cause strain so though I was disappointed it failed so early in my ownership of  the Winnebago, was not all that surprised. A fortuitous occurrence as it turned out.  That’s because on my bike rides around the neighborhood, I’d passed a business just a few yards from the entrance to the RV park I was staying at (Ambassador Downs, 2345 E. Main St., Mesa, AZ, no web site as of early 2016), that had the supplies I needed to fix it. Named Mesa Sales. They have all sorts of curtain type stuff; needle sets, fabrics, cordage, etc. Having them nearby meant I had the resources to fix the bedroom shade rather than {gasp} just replace the entire thing, or having to find the right materials to fix it online then having them shipped to wherever I happened to be at the time. I bought 50 yards of 1.8mm nylon cord but turned out that was a mistake because after all those years they had been in business, and though they sell by the yard, not only by the spool, they used a yardstick to measure out all 50 yards by hand. Took two people. They have no winding spooler! Manual or electric. They found that one partial spool only had 25 yards on it, so I ended up with two loosely hand wound piles of cord.

Later at home, I had to dig out and wind the cord on my own spool, what a mess if those hand wound coils of cord got all screwy. And though it was marked $0.30/yard, I noticed later they charged me $0.35/yard.  GAH! I should have just bought the 100 yard spool for $22 instead of screwing with just getting 50.


Bedroom window without the shade.

If you recognize the RV outside the window of my newer RV, good eye, that’s my old ’94 Fleetwood Bounder parked next door. The RV park was kind enough to let me park it there no charge while I was moving all my stuff into my New2Me Winnebago Journey, and getting it ready for sale. Very handy. I did have to move it out of the way a couple times and park it in overflow when they rented that space. Kind of a hassle but better than paying for two spaces in the park.


 How to restring Day/Nite RV shades without measuring the cord.

Remove the shade by removing the screws in the valence. There may be a plastic clip or two that will hold it in place after the screws are removed so release it and carefully work the shade out of it. The shades upper rail is sort of in the way and you can’t really see the clip, so just twist the assembly a little while pulling until it comes free. Don’t get too aggressive and break it as you’ll want it to be there later and functional when you put the shade back up. You can unwind and remove the cord from the cords holding and tensioning spools at the bottom of the window before or after there is slack from the shade removal. Note which direction they are wound.

Here’s a link to a PDF that shows how the cords are strung in various types of shades: DayNightCompile 

Calculate String Needed

If your shades are in bad shape, here’s a link to where you can get all sorts of replacement shade parts: Repair Parts

Lay the shade face down on any flat surface as shown…I used the bed. (The face is the surface you would see when you walk into the room where the shade is installed).


 Mark the backs of the top, middle and bottom rails with L(eft), R(ight), and mark any other info you need to remind yourself how they are reinstalled. With a flat screwdriver, pry the end caps off the rails and either mark them, or place them where you’ll know which side of the shade rails they go on. Remove the bottom rail by sliding it off the shade. Bunch up the Day (lower) portion of the shade as shown in the above and below pictures. Pull, shorten, tie together loose ends of any breaks, whatever it takes, to get one of the cords back into position so you can position it in such a way that it shows you how long they need to be. There is usually no need to remove the night (upper) shade from the middle rail, just the day (lower) shade. While it’s off during restringing, deburr before running the cord. If your cord broke right near the middle section, you might want to remove both sections of shade to inspect for burrs that might have cut it.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA  Remove the top rail. This might be a little more difficult as there is masking tape holding the spring that can stick or bunch up and bind the rail to the shade. Purposeful tugging can eventually free it. Try to avoid tearing the shade. Measure the width of the top rail. Mark a centerline. Note the spring still attached to one set of cords. When you string your new cord, that spring needs to end up in the middle as shown. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA This shade’s manufacturer doubled the cord. It’s rather small diameter, 0.75mm, so two cords are equivalent to a single 1.5mm. I’m using a single 1.8mm cord to replace them.

First thing to do after removing rails and deburring, was to cut the cord off right at the spring, removed that once broken and re-tied cord (had a knot in the middle of the nite section from where I’d repaired it, which would catch on the edges of the holes in each section making moving the shade up or down difficult). Measured it once it was out and got a ‘close enough’ type measurement as backup information (3 yards long).

Second thing was to cut any sharp edges of fabric present near or around the plastic eyelets. Third thing was to use the lighter to melt the raw ends of the new cord so it wouldn’t fray. Than using the functional cord still strung on one side of the shade as a guide, I simply started to loosely string the new 1.8mm nylon cord, started at the top of the shade and worked towards the bottom. Discovered the large canvas needle I’d bought at Mesa Sales was too large in diameter to fit through the plastic eyelets in the rails, and I had used the lighter to melt the end of the cord to prevent fraying and finger squished it while plastic so it would fit easily through the eyelets. Once through, I use the needle to thread through the holes in the shades. That went quickly because if you bunch up the pleats so all the holes are aligned, then the needle makes short work of threading. Then pull off the needle so you can fit the cord through the plastic inserts in the rails.

I had rewound the cord on my own spool and found it convenient to put it on the floor so the cord would unwind from the spool easily as I threaded the shade.


Nice heavy canvas needle makes the work go much faster. Something else I pick up at Mesa Sales. I tried doing it by hand, and that works OK, it’s just tedious.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Here’s a picture of the tools I used. The rotary deburring tools didn’t really help as much as I’d hoped. I ended up deburring with the tip of the flat blade screwdriver and with the small wire cutter. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Once the cord for the first side was at the right length, as compared to the other side, then cut it from the spool up at the top rail and tied that loose end to the centered spring. I’d taped the spring in place in the middle of the rail earlier. Then I cut the other cord off the spring, removed it, and repeated the process of stringing new cord.  You can pull a couple feet of extra cord at the bottom of the shade to assure you have enough.

Now that both new cords were strung, I slipped the top shade into the rail, replaced the end caps, the lower shade into the middle rail, replaced the caps, and the bottom shade into the rail. Pay attention to the cord so that it lays in the middle of the rail and isn’t pinched by the sides. Not as easy as it sounds sometimes so work carefully to avoid damaging the fabric. Down at the bottom rail, I threaded the cord through the holes in the plastic end caps, tied three knots in the ends so they would not slip back inside while I was mounting the shade. This happens if the weight of the loose lower rail extends the lower shade.  I used packing tape to hold the bottom shade rail to the middle shade rail during some of this work. Doing so just makes it easier to mount the shade and the knots help prevent pulling the cord back inside the bottom rail.

Finally, holding the shade in place under the valance, clip it into the plastic clip and then drive the screws back into the original holes. Then tightly pull the cord at each side of the window and loop it clockwise over the cord tensioners at the bottom of the window on the left, and counterclockwise on the right side. The cord tensioners have a slot to hold the knotted cord securely after winding. Finished. Here’s how it looks now… OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANo longer sagging towards one side. You can see where those red emergency handles interfere with operation of this shade so I only pull it down as far as the tops of the handles for safety, as in quickness in opening the shades in an emergency, and to avoid straining the shade’s cords by not trying to cover those handles. Still, even though not all the way down, the shade does the job and it’s dark enough in the bedroom for a midday nap.

December 2016 —————– Living Room Shades

Day/Nite shades, 59″ wide, covering a 24″ tall window. I could see that the strings in two of my living room day/nite shades were becoming threadbare so it was time to do something about it. Especially when the shade right next to my dinning table & computer desk, broke and the shade got all wobbly bobbly. I did get myself a piece of stiff 1/2″ PVC to jamb under it to hold it up for a few days before I got around to working on it. Unlike the bedroom shade I’d worked on before, these two shades are wider so have 4 strings each which makes them a bit more complicated to restring. I had the drawings at the PDF link above on my computer screen to refer to so that helped.

Removing the shades required that I unscrew two screws that went up through the aluminum upper rail. Using self tapping metal screws, the factory drilled holes near the ends of the rail without regard for appearance or actual positioning. Then wood screws replace them as the shade rail is screwed into the underside of the window valance. In order to accurately access those off kilter screws, you need a long extension for your drill. I also removed the lower screws from the brackets that hold the window surround, but found out later that really was a waste of time because I never found the upper screws that actually hold the surround above. After 10 minutes of searching, I just gave up and worked around the surrounds.

After removing the screws holding the D/N shade, there’s a plastic bracket that holds the shade in place by clamping onto it front and back. It is nearly impossible to see when there’s strong sunshine on that window and I ended up rocking and pulling on the shade until it unsnapped from that bracket. If I had been able to see it and had working room, a putty knife could have easily unsnapped it from the back of the shade rail, allowing it to be rocked down, than out of the bracket.

And there’s the little bracket, that black plastic device shown here in the shade channel. It does work fine. I like the way it holds the shade in position while you’re trying to get the screws lined up when you’re done restringing and are back to hanging it up. I broke the front section off the other one but it still hangs on fine…long enough to get a screw started.


After removing the shade, instead of using the bed to work on, I found that the couch is just the right width to put the shade on while restringing. Again with these two shades I used the 1.8mm cord I’d purchased at Mesa Sales.


Below is the pic of where the screws in the window surround that I didn’t need to remove would be when installed, they are screwed into that white bracket near the bottom. If are left in, you do have to work a bit to get the shade assembly in and out, but that’s not all that difficult. I’d recommend that the shades are bunched up to the top of the window as much as possible and then taped closed using packing tape before trying to remove the assembly…to avoid tearing the fabric.


Took me quite a while but I think I have a handle on how to do most of this work. Following the charts given in the shade repair PDF (link above), I cut enough cord, plus an extra foot, for my size shade. Knotted the center of the cords in the spring, than taped the spring in place in the middle of the upper rail. These ’02 shades only have one spring for all four cords. Newer shades use two springs. I have no idea it that makes a difference in operation, I know my single springs work fine, with no tendency to hang crooked. I routed the cords following the guide (PDF link above).

Here’s where it got tricky. When the shade was all ready to be reinstalled in the window, I couldn’t find a decent guide on how to get the four cords tightened correctly. So here’s what came up with.

  • Scrunch the shade up so it’s mostly closed up. This will result in the cords hanging loosely on either end of the shade. Rubber band the shades on either end closed. Leave the cords hanging. Loosely screw it into place in the window (do it loosely enough that later you’ll be able to remove the rubber bands. Alternatively, you can tighten the shade and later just cut the rubber bands).
  • Thread the cord through the provided holes for your type of tensioner. Tie a knot in the end. Old style tensioner is shown below. (Newer tensioners are easier to work with as the design is clever enough to allow removal of slack just by loosening the screw and pulling the cord a bit).
  • Loosely screw the tensioner into place. It should be loose enough that it can turn freely.
  • Pull the cord taunt, then pull the ends of the cord to take up nearly all of the slack except for an inch or two. It should be wrapped counterclockwise on the right side of the window, and clockwise on the left.
  • Now, twist the tensioner to wind up the cords. The tighter the cords, the stiffer the shade is moving up or down. Try to have a couple turns around this type of tensioner as the additional turns friction hold the cord so it doesn’t slip and gives some slack for adjusting the cord tightness. If needed, use a small pair of channellock pliers to twist the cord tight. Try not to squeeze the tool too much to avoid breaking the tensioner.
  • While holding tension, screw the tensioner tight against the wall. Try not to do this too often in different spots as there are small knobs on the end (bottom?) of that plastic tensioner that are suppose to be pushed into the wallboard so the tensioner won’t spin and loosen the cords. If it is screwed into the wallboard tightly and then turned, it puts little grooves in the wallboard that will allow it to turn too easily. To overcome this minor difficulty if it has occured, move the tensioner and screw it into the wall 1/4″ up or down from it’s original mounting spot so it’s contacting new areas.
  • Cut off excess cord and tie the two cords together into a knot at the end of the cord.


These shades took me far too long. The big problem was not having a good idea on how to tension the cords after restringing and re hanging the shade. The furniture in the way didn’t help a bit. Very frustrating to get it figured out. Doing the small window shade in the bedroom didn’t help with these bigger shades as I just barely figured out the BR shade. I did watch a couple videos on youtube but the only ones I found showed how to work with the newer shades that have an easier tensioning system using different type spools. I have the old fashioned spools.

The tricks I’ll remember next time after restringing and during reinstallation are to:

  1. With the shade loose, hold the shade’s upper rail in place and screw in the screws half way,
  2. bunch up the shade, rubber band it on either end to hold it in place,
  3. tension the cords a bit, loosely install the tensioning knobs,
  4. back up top, remove the rubber bands and tighten the top screws,
  5. back down below, tighten the cords at either end by rotating the tensioning knobs until there are two or three turns around the knob and the cords are fairly tight, (newer shades with the fancy tensioning knob skip this part),
  6. tighten the knob screw,
  7. readjust the tensioning as required.

I can see how easy it would be to do this job if you have room to work. But this bolted down furniture really gets in the way. My other LR shade on the passenger side is readily accessible but of course it’s in fine condition. The two little windows at either end of the LR slide don’t get used much so they’re in good condition too. I did the bedroom shade a few months ago and it’s not going to need work again for a long time so until the large window shade on the passenger side needs work, I’m all set for now.

Update: Aug. ’17

After a few thousand miles of travel, two of the shades loosened up so they would drop down while I drove along due to road conditions. One window is needed to watch outside while parking or navigating around a RV park. So I needed to adjust the shades so they wouldn’t drop down too easily, blocking the window view.

All that’s required is a pair of channel locks, and an electric screwdriver. Loosen the tension knob screw while holding onto it with the channel locks to prevent it from turning, then turn it slightly with the channel locks to add tension to the cord, then tighten. Do that on both sides, and the shades now stay all the way up when needed. Be careful with the channel locks as to not damage the plastic tension knob.

Update: Nov. ’17

Well, it finally happened. The last large window Day/Night shade broke a cord. That shade is 49″ wide, and 41″ high. So needs a lot of cord. I started working on it and shortly found out that I was about 25 feet short. Checked on Amazon and see that 100 yards is $9, free shipping, looks like the good stuff I’d found in Mesa, but I wanted to get the shade up before dark so I went to google. But found the 2 sewing shops in town were closed on a Sunday. Hmm. Well, I’m close to Walmart and drove over there just to check. I didn’t really hold much hope because back in early ’16, I’d gone to 2 Walmart stores and they didn’t have anything close to 1.8mm. Well, that was in Mesa, Arizona and I’m now in Pahrump, Nevada, it’s 18 months later, and yep, here they have cordage. A loose weave but it is 1.8mm, a tan color (they call it natural) that will match my day/night shades for the most part, and best of all, only $4+tax for 150 yards! That’s only $0.008/foot. Can’t get much better than that. It’s Red Heart brand, 100% nylon, named crochet thread, and is 18 gauge. UPC last five are 81108 if you go look for it. Cheap enough you can carry some in your RV.

Using that Red Heart brand was a bit of a disappointment though. It’s quite possibly too loose of a weave and though it’s the right diameter, it may not last as long as the stuff I got in Mesa. I had trouble with it unraveling while trying to work with it. Cutting the ends carefully, than quickly trying to melt the ends of the cords with a lighter was a chore. But, got all the prep done including that and the next day the shade was restrung, finally. And near the end, while trying to put the last bar on, two of the cords got frayed. Damnit! Don’t have the ambition to start all over, so I’ll just live with it until it breaks again.

Here’s the formula I used to calculate how much cord I’d need for that one shade:


L = Length of cord required for entire shade

W = Width of shade rounded to the nearest foot

H = Height of shade from the above mounting to the plastic cord clamps, rounded to nearest foot

Therefore L = [(W X 2.5) + H] X # of cords

So my 49″ X 41″ ( 4 foot X 4 foot) shade with 4 cords calculates to:

L = [(4 X 2.5 = 10) + 4 = 14 X 4 = 56 feet (672 inches or 18.7 yards)

Since two pairs are needed to make the 4 cords, each pair would be ~9 yards. This shade design has just one spring so the middle of each 9 yard piece of cord is knotted to the spring. Then following the drawings in the link above for my style shade, the cord is routed.

In this case, when I finished routing the cords, I had about 18″ left on the end of each. So about 6 feet left over. I first tightened the cords than wound the cord around the cord tightening spindles about 6 times, knotted the two cords at each spindle together, than cut off the 18″ excess from each cord. And now I have a working shade…yea!

One other thing I found, I was messing with the small shade behind my desk and that type of spindle has the single slot with two thin pieces of plastic where you wedge the cord so it stays in place. Well, those two thin pieces break and leave just a slot. Cord gets loose, falls out. So what I did was drill two small 1/8th” holes nearby in the spindle. Then string the cords through the holes, tie together and it’s good as gold. New life for a broken spindle.

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