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Old 05-19-2013, 07:27 PM   #1
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Main Awning Replacement -(Lots of pics)

It seems this year we may have reached the point where several of us need to replace the main awning, myself included.

Others are welcome to tag onto this thread and post their replacements and anyone can ask questions.

My awning, the original was in real bad shape along the top of the camper. The sun baked it and I was already on borrowed time using awning repair tape to hold it on. Other than the top 1 foot of it, the rest was not that bad.

I started searching a while ago for a replacement awning. I found a number of threads on RV forums where the replacement awning was not as heavy as the original. That concerned me. I tried to sort out to go vinyl or cloth and could not get a real good clear path. There was pros and cons on both sides. So I went vinyl again. I could clean it easy enough and other than the sun rot, had no real issues.

My search lead me to Sun Wave in Elkhart IN. Quality RV Awning Replacement Fabric - Lowest Price Guaranteed

This is the one we bought. A 21 footer in Ocean Blue. RV Awning Fabrics Lowest Price Top Quality From rvawningsmart

I seem to have a popular size as they where out of them, then I bought mine when in stock and they where out again. They are also running a special on reduced price as they hemmed the edges upside down. For the approx $30 savings, I waited until mine came in. Those on special are in a separate area, not on the link I posted.

It showed up in 2 days shipping. Here are some pics of the box and awning before installing. I had concerns it not shipping in a 21 foot tube, but there was no issues.



I unrolled it in the grandkids play room. (Our living room filled on one end with kids toys...)


The Color is Ocean Blue fade. I was worried it was going to be a deep navy and it is not. It is lighter than the blue in my existing awning. It was wrapped/folded in clear plastic. No issues with the shipping. Cindy came in and said. "It smells like a big fat vinyl in here" and it did . Rolled it back up when done until I could get to mount it. Being 21 foot long and 8 ft wide it took up a good part of the living room.

As a point of reference, my existing Dometic Sun chaser is 0.011” thick and all the same thickness.

  • The top 30” is heavier all white weather guard as they call it. It is 0.017” thick
  • They then weld on the main section of the awning which is 0.014” thick
  • The color fade is on both the top and bottom of the awing.
  • The valance is a separate flap
  • I can see the material is made up of 2 pieces welded together to make the one thickness.
  • The seams and cords are sewn on with as many strands as the Dometic.
  • It comes with a new pull strap.
  • The size, length and width are as they says it is and a little bigger than the Dometic it is replacing.
  • The poly cords are in the end hems to go in the awning roof channel and the roller groove.
From everything that I can see now, this is a good awning. I cannot see any defects or sloppy craftsmanship but I am not awning material expert and do this for a living either. From a machinery background comparing this to the Dometic on the camper now, the Sun Wave at this point is a better build. Time will only tell how it holds up. I will 303 UV protect it from new on the top side and all seams/threads on both sides.

There is one negative, I was skeptical when I saw it, but they must somehow have the quality control under control. It is an import awning. That said I have no idea where the Dometic replacement awnings are made.

Here are some pics. The main awning


The top weather shield, all white


Weather shield is 30" wide


The sewing has the same number of strands as my Dometic SunChaser


It is hard to see but they welded the top heavier part to the main awning


Here is the weather shield thickness at 0.017"


The main awning at 0.014"


Again my original awning was 0.011" all over.

I did get it mounted today. I will start on those posts soon. Maybe yet tonight.

Hope this helps

John
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Old 05-19-2013, 09:08 PM   #2
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Taking the Awning off

Here is the method I used to take the awning off. It is the 1st time I have done one of these. Naturally the 2nd time it will go faster. It took me approx 1 hour to get it off.

I researched and found several methods that sort of ranged all over in the approach. This method may not be the best for you. Hopefully it will give you enough to think on how to do yours, OR hire someone to do it for you.

My method is based on doing a 21 foot awning with one person. This is for sure easier with 2 people, however it is doable by one person. I am use to having to work alone and some times it takes longer as you have to approach it different. My son was tied up with work, so I took a little longer and worked out how to do this.

NOTE: There is danger in doing this. Do not attempt any of this if you feel this is beyond your skills. I have done overhead torsion garage doors before so I have some of that pre-training on how to deal with the awning tube spring. Proceed at your own risk.

I'll do most of this in pics as again this may not be for you but you can see what you are up-against and tweak the method accordingly.

Here is where I started. I ran out of daylight when I made it to the point of getting the awning off. You can't see the awning tape down 21 feet worth on top... but it is there.


The flap started to crack as well from flexing. Again sun baked vinyl.


The first part is I dealt with the awning tube springs. This is the high risk area. I did the non ratchet side 1st. Mark the tube and the end cap for position, direction of spring unwind and take pics...as you may forget something. Use gloves and saftey glasses, a must. Also mark which end of the tube is front and rear. It does make a difference and could be put on backwards.





You need a good pair of Vise Grips that you know will bite in and hold. I used a step ladder to hold the tube weight and I can work off the end of it.




Now to the risk part. Sorry no pics until I was done.
  • Holding the vise grip solid, you remove the bolt part way on the end of the awning arm.
  • Take the bolt only part way out so you can feel the power of the vise-grips starting to rotate. If this is too much for you, abort now. Put bolt back in. On those size pliers be expecting a 50# pull at first. Once the bolt is out you do not stop until you are done. Go real slow and concentrate.
  • Do "Not" have your face in-front of the vise grips in case they come off, stand to the side.
  • Take the bolt out and the slide the arm out only enough to allow the vise grips to pass easier. I left the arm on to help steady the tube.
  • Count the turns slowly. I had a mark on the roll pin and every time the pliers went by was a 1 rev mark. On mine it was 14 rev's. 13 still had a little wind up.
  • The force becomes less each rev. Never let your concentration go astray and hold the vise grips. After about 1 - 2 minutes it is all over.
  • When all the force was gone I put the bolt back in to hold that end of the awning as I worked on the latch end


The latch end I did the same process. This end is a little more complex as the latch takes up space for the vise grips to pass by. But you can flip the lock lever and take a break.

Caution: The tube can spin, you have to hold the tube and the vise grips and stand to the awning tube side to stay out of the path of the vise grips.

Same process as the other end. 14 revs and it was done.






I put the arm back on the tube, the bolt in and then unhooked the arm from the camper guiding it go under the camper and the awing hang down.


Both ends


Then up top take 1 mounting arm off


Make a flair in the awning rail past the arm if needed. In my case I did so I could leave my down spouts on.


Then I employed my helper, my floor jack. I put it in the middle supporting the tube weight.


I took both arms off the awning tube and sprayed the entire 21 feet of awning channel with liquid silicone with a straw on the spray can so it would shoot up in the awning rail groove. This is to get all that length to have less friction.

Then just pull. The silicone really helps. I yanked 10 feet in less than 30 seconds. I was expecting the jack to roll, it did not, the tube just slid on top. Worked great!


Then I hit a snag... . The material rot was caught on the awning rail/gutter rail splice. So I went and fiddled with it and got it going again.

In about another 3 minutes the whole thing is off the camper. All intact still


Here is the rotted snag


Ran out of light and put the entire thing in the shed for the night.

Next is to drill out the rivets of the end caps, The rivets on mine are 3/16". I used a drill just under 3/16". They came right out.


Here is what the ratchet looks like


And the entire spring. They never painted the spring and rust has started. I'll fix that after.


With both ends caps off came, time to pull the awning and valance off the tube. Trusty silicone again. Both grooves.


Used my little 3 step ladder as a helper and the tube went 1/2 the length in about 5 seconds


Then had to get another grip for the next 11 feet... and off it came. Man that tube is long....

So it is off. I wanted to save the material for other uses. Many just cut these off, but it really was not hard to save it. The silicone I believe really helped verses have 21 feet of awning brake material to drag off.

That is it for getting it off. Now have to work on pics for mounting. More in the next post
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Old 05-19-2013, 09:25 PM   #3
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THANK YOU for this. I am about to disassemble an awning from another camper and repair it for use on mine. Since the used awning is larger than I can use, I'll have to shorten the tube up and cut the fabric to make it fit. I've looked into doing this safely, but your photos are better than any instruction manual I've found.

Keep us posted on your repair!
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Old 05-19-2013, 10:55 PM   #4
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The Awning Install

Here is the install. It starts with prepping the awning channel. Need to totally clean it and sand/file any burrs that can grab or tear the new awing.

On the install process I did not want to use the silicone, so I made up a dish soap solution with heavy on the soap as a lube. Using a paint brush I lubed the entire awning channel getting into the channel.

Then I haul the awning end up the ladder. It is not unrolled yet. Gee, I need to paint the shed door this year....


Then I brush the channel and the 2 foot of awning with soap. The weather turned hot out and the soap was drying. So have to keep brushing on more lube each time I feed material.


Then start the awning and push in the groove.


Then about 4 feet worth


Then I had to stop and regroup once I made it about 1/2 way. You can only push a rope so far.... and I had the awning rafter to deal with as the awning wanted to get stuck on it. H'mm OK now what?

OK, I'll pull it on. So went hunting in the camper for rope, had an old clothes line pulley in the shed and some spring glue clamps. Created a rope and pulley setup. Worked good.






Had to fiddle with getting it over the awning rafter, but after that clear sailing.


And all the way on. One person.


Now to put the awning arm back on. Have to clean up the side of the camper and take all the old Dicor off the lag screws.


Then shoot fresh Dicor in the holes and on the lags




Install




And in my case, Eternabond over it.


Now to align the awing left to right equal and put a temporary clamp on the rail so it stays centered. You do not want to put the awning cord locking screws in yet until you know it tracks correct.

Measure both sides and center


Used glue clamp in channel both ends to hold in place


Then to put the awning tube on. Go get your helper, Jack
Soap up the channel and awning and slide the tube on. Make sure it goes on the correct slot and front is front and back is on the back of the camper. I almost put it on backwards. It will fit both ways, just will not work right. The awning rafter hole is wrong then on my long awning and so is the SunChaser label




Now the valance, again more soap




Now adjust the cords so they are equal both ends.


Get ready to put the spring in. I did the latch side first so it will hold the tube steady.


I wire brushed and painted the spring to slow down the rust. I may be the only Sunline with Ford tractor blue springs.... It was all I had in the shed....


I greased the latch gear. It had some but was lacking so I added some fresh.


Line up the spring and slide it in


Here is where you need to align the end cap correctly. For sure mark it well. I had to go back to my pics as I missed marking it totally correct. What threw me is the ratchet only fits on one orientation yet the valance groove is exposed. I thought the pull strap was in that slot. Well no, the awning strap slot is on the other end.

The Sun Chaser label is on the inside


Valance has an open slot on the latch end


The 3/16" x 1/2" long pop rivets. These do not come with the awning.


Rivet the cap on


Same thing for the back side of the camper. Here the awning strap slot is open and valance is closed off. Rivet the cap on.


More on next post
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Old 05-19-2013, 10:56 PM   #5
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Awning Install Part 2

Here is the rest

Now we set up the tube on 2 ladders to get ready to wind up the springs
The back end. Note I put the ladder in this orientation so it will not flop over as easy. It almost did the 1st time.


The front end with the latch. I did the latch side first. It will hold the tube from spinning when I go to do the non latch end. I get the awning arm up and on the camper too. Just do not bolt it on yet


Here are the tools I used. Each has a special purpose


Align the bigger vise grips so they will pass by the latch. The smaller ones where a back up but I did not need them. I can flip the latch lock and it will not spin. I put the arm on again to just hold the tube. No bolt. Make sure the vise grips are good and tight.


Now you get ready to wind.


When you are done winding, put the drift in to hold it. NOTE. Caution the tube can spin while you are winding. You have to hold the tube at the same time you are winding. Once the drift is in and the latch locked, then it is not going anywhere. Get set and remove drift and put bolt and nut in and nut on. Hold the tube again so the awing weight does not pull it towards the camper.



Move down to the other end. Same process. This end does not have a latch so careful the spring does not get away from you. There is more risk on this end with no latch. Do not stand in line with the vise grips, work from the side.

Hook up the arm to the camper and place it on the awning tube to hold the tube. Position the locking pliers set to wind, set them tight. This end the pliers will fit between the cap and the arm and the bolt still goes in. There is no latch so it helps the spacing at least.


Wind the correct number of counts, make sure you are going the right way. That was why the unwind arrow was on there so you can feel you are winding the correct direction so unwind is pushing the vise grips.


When counted the right number of rev's put the drift in


Rest a bit, Then put the bolt in. Relax and take a look


Now test the awning retracting. It may not track exactly correct the 1s time. Note to self. Take the glue clamps on the awning rail off "first". If not the awning going up will....

Once retracted look at both ends on how it is coiling up and measure to see if it is equal on both ends.




Pull the awning down. Then grab the end of the awning and pull as needed to get the top of the awning to the arms equal on both ends and on the roller tube. You can pull the entire thing one way or another.


Once centered, try it again retracting and extending. If all is good, then put the 2 little cord locking screws in up on the main awning rail. On mine I had to use an ignition wrench it was so tight up to the camper, but it went in OK


OK your done. Here is the bottom side. Same pattern as the top


Hope this helps. Again you do not have to use this method, alter as needed to your situation. Would be good to see your methods too.

John
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Old 06-27-2013, 03:19 PM   #6
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Since you have had yours apart I have some questions. When I extend my awning the last half turn is really tight. Is this normal? On my Jayco it was easy. When I go to retract awning I have to put my whole body weight on the strap and have DW flip leaver. This don't seem right? Some times I have to tap the leaver with something. Does it sound as the spring is wound to tight or is something jamming? PO did have fabric replaced
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Old 06-27-2013, 09:30 PM   #7
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Hi Jim,

Sounds like it is wound too tight. It may only be 1 revolution or a 1/2 a rev.

When I made it to the end, that was it. Any more and it is really forcing it. The problem when starting to count the rev's is the 1st 1 is so wimpy it is hard to tell where to start counting. Then when you get to the end, it is one too many.

What you are describing sounds like it is about 1/2 to 3/4 of a turn too tight on the ratchet lock end.

It is easier to unwind the lock side as the lock can hold it for you. Heads up to be careful. Need real good vise grips and once you have a hole of it, hang one. And do not stand in the line of fire of the grips if it flys out of your hand. Stand to the side.

The big danger lessens after about the 1st 2 revs of un-winding. However in your case you do not need to that far backed off.

Hope this helps

John
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Old 06-28-2013, 07:19 PM   #8
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Just a thought here. Would it work to unwind the spring a bit if the awning was only unrolled a couple of turns rather than the full extension. Would that leave enough room to work with a lot less tension on the spring?
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Old 06-28-2013, 08:48 PM   #9
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Gene, yes that could work and be less tension. The only down side is you are up on a ladder doing it. That said, maybe back up the PU truck and stand on the tail gate. May be better work platform.

Also thinking about this, you can only undo this in 1/2 revolutions. The bolt has to go back through the awning shaft at the awning arm. So it is 1/2 a rev or full rev. A 1/2 a rev may do it.

Also do not want to get one side to far out of tension with the other end. Try 1/2 rev and see if it solves the problem.

Good point.

Thanks
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Old 08-06-2013, 09:27 PM   #10
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Just an update on awnings ordered from rvawningsmart. I ordered a replacement fabric to replace our awning and they have changed their design. They are manufacturing the awning and the valance as a one piece unit now. I email them about this change wondering if what I received was a new or old design and they advised me they change the process and all awnings being shipped now are one piece.
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Old 08-12-2013, 12:11 PM   #11
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Bill, thanks for the update. Initially I thought I would have an issue with the 2 piece, but not really. It allows me to take it out and add a sunscreen easier using the bead rail slot. Wonder why they changed back to the 1 piece? Maybe a number of folks kept asking or something.
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Old 08-17-2013, 02:37 PM   #12
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nice writeup. I can save you a lot of that work, however. There's no need to unwind the awning all the way or even mess with springs. I do recommend a helper or two if at all possible. All you have to do is pull awning out maybe 2-3 inches, then unhook the legs and drop them to the ground to take weight off awning. Then unbolt awning at top rail and remove screws in the rail that keep it from sliding. Then slide awning out of the rail and place on ground. Put it on top of two buckets, one at each end. Don't even mess with the arms, no need to. Unwrap fabric from tube, then drill out rivets at the rear end cap(non flip catch end). Pull back end cap only 2-3 inches which will allow you to slide awning off tube (don't take cap all the way off, that way spring won't unwind). Slide in new fabric and wrap it around tube, then put end cap back in place and install new rivets. Then you are ready to slide it back into the drip rail and bolt it back to trailer. An hour job with a helper.
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Old 08-17-2013, 02:45 PM   #13
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I might add, I have bought a "cheap" awning off ebay before, and they don't last. Saved about 50 bucks over OEM but it lasted only one season. They are knock-offs made in china and are 2 sections of fabric put together with a glued seam in the middle. Any slight whip of wind and the seam comes apart. I'd stick with Dometic or Carefree original, and the things you can do to make an awning last a long time: never roll it up wet, put 303 protectant on it after it is new and/or freshly cleaned, and keep under cover when not in use. If you don't have indoor storage or an rv carport, you can buy vinyl gutters in 10 ft sections at home depot (about 7 bucks a section) and they will fit over a rolled up awning pretty well and protect it from sun and rain, leaves, pine needles etc.
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